“I Don’t See Color”: Racism

Personally, few things are more infuriating when you can see that there is a problem and others can also see that there is a problem but the supervisor/teacher/parent/authority figure denies it or just claim not being aware of it. Sometimes, it’s laziness. Sometimes, it’s an “ignorance is bliss” defense but it is indefensible to those who are affected.

This is essentially what color-blind racism is. It boils down the present as to be just being the present with no historical, social or political influences taken into account and looking at an individual as having full agency instead of being one part of many within our society. None of us are truly self-made beings; our values and beliefs are shaped by the society we grow up in, our attitudes and behaviors are modelled by those we deem role models, and punishments and lessons teach us what’s right and wrong. It is not until we are at a significantly ripe age mentally that we are even able to self-reflect and see the effects of our environment and the people around us on our development and what we hold dear. However, these are just values and beliefs and behaviors that everyone is subjected to within a society. Other factors like gender, race, class, sexuality, gender identity, sexual orientation, ability, etc. limit us in other ways.

Our societal systems ascribe certain essential attributions to groups of people under each of those categories and these attributions may come in the form of stereotypes but also manifest within our policies, our culture, how employers hire new employees, the production and consumption of media, and similarly pervades every other facet of society. There might be some inclination of guilt if one is privileged by such a system that disadvantages everyone else but again, the individual often has little to do with the power structure already in place so rather than a passive hopelessness and paralysing guilt, there needs to be a proactive effort to seek out the ways how this privilege manifests and to challenge it wherever it is seen in your life. As he does best, here’s James Baldwin on color-blindness in 1968:

Here’s a transcript for some of what he says that are particularly relevant today:

“I don’t know what most white people in this country feel, but I can only conclude what they feel from the state of their institutions. I don’t know if white Christians hate Negroes or not, but I know we have a Christian church that is white and a Christian church that is black. I know, as Malcolm X once put it, the most segregated hour in American life is high noon on Sunday.

That says a great deal for me about a Christian nation. It means I can’t afford to trust most white Christians, and I certainly cannot trust the Christian church.

I don’t know whether the labor unions and their bosses really hate me — that doesn’t matter — but I know I’m not in their union. I don’t know whether the real estate lobby has anything against black people, but I know the real estate lobby is keeping me in the ghetto. I don’t know if the board of education hates black people, but I know the textbooks they give my children to read and the schools we have to go to.

Now, this is the evidence– you want me to make an act of faith, risking myself, my wife, my woman, my sister, my children on some idealism which you assure me exists in America, which I have never seen.”

**If you haven’t read or seen any of his work, I highly suggest checking them out.**

Let’s look at a modern-day example:

The San Francisco Housing Crisis

There are several examples I would like to look at within the context of this housing crisis. First, there is the invisibility of poverty that is relegating the homeless people of San Francisco to the sidelines and the physical fringes of society because people don’t want to see them and local governments take great pains to keep them out of public spaces. Then, there are the historical processes that started with slavery and continues today with redlining, income inequality and other everyday cases of racism that further push and keep minority populations down the socioeconomic ladder.

Then, there is the circular relationship between reality, perception and discrimination. There is a racist preconception existing in the American psyche that black men (especially those of lower socioeconomic status) are violent and a danger to society and themselves, that black women are nymphos that have kids from multiple men and live off of government welfare.

The perception of black people as being the majority of the homeless and the meritocratic assumption that people are homeless because they’re lazy and/or are drug addicts leads to less effort to support the homeless community and ignores existing racist institutional practices and historical maltreatment which does nothing to alleviate the problem and so the cycle continues.

News footage shows us the homeless population in these urban centers as being predominantly black, which is not reflected in the statistics (over 30% of the homeless population in SF are black while they make up less than 10% of the city’s overall population).

The statistics above show us two things: 1) African-Americans are overrepresented in the homeless population, 2)African-Americans are overrepresented in the media.

People naturally seek out what confirms their preconceptions (confirmation bias) and the media footage proves that. That confirmation strengthens the previous biases and justifies them. Meanwhile, the underlying reasons why this huge population of people are homeless remain untouched.

Why are there so many single mothers caught in the mass evictions in San Francisco? Does it have anything to do with the over-policing of black communities that often land black men in jail? Perhaps the lack of access to adequate education and the school-to-prison pipeline that lock members of the community out of a job market that increasingly sees a college education as a minimal requirement, therefore keeping them poor and uneducated? Is it the lack of good financing options/de facto segregation that pushes minority populations out of desirable housing markets and into situations where they’re more likely to default?

It’s all three and more. What mass incarceration is doing to the men of minority communities, eviction is doing to the women. It pushes the narrative of this dysfunctional community of thugs and loose morals and a regressive lifestyle. But hearing the news stories and seeing the pictures of homeless black women with their children don’t tend to evoke these discussions about how the system has consistently treated them as second-class citizens or why so many of the minority populations have ended up concentrated on the lower rungs of the social ladder.

Color-blindness ignores all context and points at an individual’s shortcomings to blame for their situation in life. Why are there so many single black mothers? Because the men were taken away to be locked in jail. Why were the men committing crimes? Crimes rates are higher in majority-minority communities and also for lower-income communities. Is it because these communities had more criminals or were there just more policing? In these communities and for those targeted as part of the “efforts to crack down on crime”, even (jay)walking can turn into tense, potentially life-threatening encounters.

As far as it goes, fraud and embezzlement are as much stealing as larceny or burglary and the former often involves far greater amounts of money but it’s easy to see how the treatment of those convicted of them differ vastly from each other.

However, even that is questionable because we’ve seen over and over again how the criminal justice system treats those who pass through it. As far as it goes, fraud and embezzlement are as much stealing as larceny or burglary and the former often involves far greater amounts of money but it’s easy to see how the treatment of those convicted of them differ vastly from each other. The way we see those crimes as a society and how they’re portrayed in the media are certainly different because it’s not that richer people don’t commit crimes, it’s that their crimes and their actions are afforded more privacy and, with more power and better lawyers, they can more often get out of convictions (just look at what’s come into light since #MeToo).

There are so many layers to how our society and its institutions consistently favor some over others and once you start looking, it never ends. It’s hard not to get overwhelmed. For example, social mobility in the US is minimal; very few actually move up the socioeconomic ladder. For a country where social mobility (i.e. The American Dream) is lauded as one of the nation’s great virtues, its social classes are remarkably stable. That’s because social and cultural capital figure into how many and what type of resources people have access to and the ways upwards are increasingly exclusive and hostile to those trying to move up.

Intergenerational wealth is also a huge factor; there is very little an individual can amass against the power and influence of a fortune that’s been accumulating for several centuries; even more so in a country with minorities like African-Americans who literally didn’t have any money for most of American history and were kept from any significant means of supporting themselves even after “liberation”.

“…there is very little an individual can amass against the power and influence of a fortune that’s been accumulating for several centuries…”

Let’s talk about something else. Native American mascots:

I could only find partial clips on YouTube but the entire documentary is worth watching.

There is this notion that everyone is somehow “equal through consumption”. You can see it in how minority cultures are seen as things to be appropriated and gentrified. For example, black culture has long been commercialised to great success by celebrities and artists to be “edgy” and “counterculture” but the people that the cultural symbols came from whether it be the way they speak, the clothes they wear or the music they create, the original creators and holders of this culture are ridiculed and seen as uneducated, “ghetto” and a multitude of other stereotypes and slurs.

It is the same way with Native American mascots. We say, “What? It’s just a mascot. It’s not hurting anyone.” But it is. By commercialising and making a cultural symbol a commodity, a spectacle, it is the erasure of the original purpose and meaning of this symbol. It is the usurpation of what a community holds dear and is part of their identity. But it is not all abstract either. The reactions to abolishing Native American mascots are very real. Activists get attacked, spit on and receive death threats. If it is only a symbol, only for fun, as they say, then why such a hostile reaction to doing away with it?

It’s the sense of entitlement and the interruption of the comfort people had twisting another people’s sacred symbols for their own entertainment. This interruption of their comfort zone, this accusation of racist intent, of insensitivity. How dare they make me uncomfortable in a place I should belong?

Of course, this sort of casual comfort with disregarding the sanctity of others’ culture doesn’t limit itself to thoughts and “harmless” fun for sports games. Something else that Charlene Teters (the Native American woman speaking in the documentary) mentions later on is that the vestiges of Native American culture are doubly precious because its preservation has been fought for through bloodshed and struggle. To diminish that culture is to mock those ancestors who died being ripped from their homes, those that died fighting to protect their people and their lands, those initial Native Americans struck down by foreign disease and the Native children that were “re-educated” through Indian boarding schools.

That is what people don’t think about when talking about political correctness. That is what people don’t think about when they see paraphernalia for sports teams with Native mascots in gift shops. It should be. It’s not some abstract concept about what is an “appropriate” opinion in polite society. It affects real people. Looking at it from a colorblind stance where you only see the mascot as a harmless bit of fun during football halftimes is willful ignorance of a people’s heritage and history. A true understanding of the situation requires knowledge of history and an awareness of others and their perspectives.

“…politics is what gets to decide if you are counted as a person. It decides your rights and your access to resources and public facilities…. whether the law will protect you or hang you out to dry.”

Then, there are those like the Yale professor in the James Baldwin video above that was about to say “Not all white people are racist!” and more or less did complain about Baldwin “pulling the race card”. You might complain, “why does everything need to be political?” But you have to remember that politics is what gets to decide if you are counted as a person in this country. It decides your rights and your access to resources and public facilities. It decides whether the law will protect you or hang you out to dry.

Things like the Census are integral to this. For example, the first Census had three categories: free whites, all other free persons, slaves. Since it is a Census year in 2020, this is a reminder to take the Census seriously because it not only determines the distribution of representatives, it also determines the resources allocated to a population and if minorities are undercounted, as they likely will be, then the government funds set aside for our development won’t reach the communities that need it.

Only those who can live comfortably knowing that their government and elected officials will represent them and have their best interests at heart can afford to hold the worldview that the personal, the moral and the political can be separated. For the rest of us, colorblindness makes us invisible and that is deeply problematic where the visibility of a population dictates how kindly we are treated.

More Reading Material

Police Bait Truck: Entrapment?

Bubble Tea and How it Figures into East Asian-American Identity

Race, Class, and the Framing of Drug Epidemics

**Featured Image is of the payroll of African-Americans, both enslaved and free, that built the Capital.**

Othering and Purity Culture

I recently finished Pure, a book about the purity movement in evangelical Christianity (and beyond)and the psychological effects it has left on the generation of girls that grew up under it. It’s a really good read and offered me a lot of insight into the minds of a community that I have always had a hard time understanding. (I don’t have firsthand experience being immersed in this sort of culture so please read the book if you’re interested in learning more.) In it, there was one idea that really struck a chord with me — a lightbulb went off:

Othering (n.) – The process of perceiving or portraying someone or something as fundamentally different or alien.

So today, we’re going to explore a little part of the purity culture with the concept of othering as well as some other topics to explore a little more about the human condition. **To be clear, in relation to our discussion about purity culture, I will be focusing on the effects on women; for some sources exploring how it has affected people more broadly, check out the bottom of the article for additional resources.**

Purity Culture

In the book, the concept was introduced when the author pointed out that many within the communities that adopted the purity movement saw how it was affecting their children negatively with none of the benefits that it was supposed to guarantee (lower sexual activity, delayed sexual “debut”, lower teen pregnancy rates, etc.) and yet did nothing about it. The leaders of the communities often also refused to acknowledge the damage done to the members of their community. Even those close to victims could often found to be unsympathetic or worse, judgmental. Why?

There is a prevalent sense of shame associated with any deviation from this culture. Those who deviate aren’t worthy, unsaved, dirty, used, and somehow less. To further enforce these ideas, some communities associate the deviations with biases and prejudices the community may hold, subconscious or otherwise. These biases/prejudices may be based on race, class, ethnicity or religiosity (and obviously, being a gendered issue and also affecting women disproportionately, gender). This, then, introduces a strong divide in what people perceive that those that are like and those that are unlike themselves. Since much of the US’s, and indeed, the world’s Christian communities are heavily influenced and dominated by those considering themselves Caucasians and evangelical, the out-group will be made of those who are decidedly not those things. Subconsciously or not, people who are sexually active, sexually expressive, sex positive, have been r*ped/assaulted etc. will be thought of being black/brown, poor, uneducated, atheistic, etc. and therefore, not the image of a good, white Christian so these sort of things will never happen to them. This obviously will play out in the many ways these beliefs can manifest in racist acts etc. but we won’t talk about that now.

There is a prevalent sense of shame associated with any deviation from this culture. Those who deviate aren’t worthy, they’re unsaved, dirty, used, and somehow less. To further enforce these ideas, some communities associate those who deviate with biases and prejudices the community may hold, subconscious or otherwise. These biases/prejudices may be based on race, class, ethnicity or religiosity (and obviously, being a gendered issue and also affecting women disproportionately, gender). This, then, introduces a strong divide in what people perceive that those that are like and those that are unlike themselves.

Since much of the US’s, and indeed, the world’s Christian communities are heavily influenced and dominated by those who identify as Caucasians and evangelical, the out-group will be made of those who are decidedly not those things. When being a virgin and untouched is synonymous with being a good Christian girl while those used as an example of a sexual sinner is someone who is homeless, a minority, an immigrant or someone who dresses “immodestly”, then when confronted with a Christian girl who isn’t sexually “pure”, many would try to ignore it in hopes of denying the fact that it could happen within a good Christian community. This is especially troubling when faced with issues like pedophilia, r*pe and other forms of sexual abuse.

Failing to conform to the standards of sexuality makes one as other as someone who is not accepted within the community. Such guidelines create room for other implicit interpretations which leads to ostracizing the “others” instead of addressing whether their inability to conform is their fault or if the guidelines themselves too unforgiving. Someone who is sexually assaulted is at fault for “not fighting back hard enough” or for being a “tease”. Nonconformity immediately places one outside the umbrella of protection offered by the Christian community. No longer are you a child of God being tested by the devil but someone who must be avoided so that the unacceptable behavior does not become acceptable by mere exposure or “infect” the rest of the pious community. The book goes into more detail with personal accounts of how this culture has created an atmosphere of almost constant shame and anxiety even when individuals hadn’t done anything to be ashamed or anxious about.

And the thing is, this doesn’t even touch on the fact that this seems to leave some Christian minorities perpetually with two bad options. If you fit the stereotype, then it enforces their beliefs and is used as justification for ill treatment. If you don’t, there is still a sense of shame and fear moreso because you’re seen as more likely to “succumb” to it. For example, black girls are often seen as more sexually mature and more capable of adult-like thought than their white counterparts and are punished more severely as a result. This happens despite the fact that black girls cannot control the rate at which their bodies mature and are often sexualised at a young age (starting as young as five). This intersection of both race and gender under this religious context creates a doubly toxic environment for those growing up with it.

Intra-Racial Dynamics

The effects of interracial dynamics whether positive or negative are well-documented especially between groups that have in contact for thousands of years but those within a race are less obvious and less understood. There is othering within racial groups as well that cause significant social issues. Race has been simplified in large part to skin color in the history of the US and it plays a huge role in how the in-groups are formed within a racial minority. In Asia, colorism is highly prevalent and can be seen in everyday media, marketing and in the popularity of whitening creams. This exists to a large extent in most of the world touched by Western influences. White was beautiful, dark was not. This creates the lighter-skinned in-groups and the darker-skinned out-groups.

This not only impacts people’s opportunities for social and economic mobility but also exposes them to discrimination from their own racial group in an effort to distinguish more markedly the difference between the two groups, though oftentimes the differences were non-existent and based on stereotype. Think of Dr. Bledsoe‘s character in Invisible Man.

Because of these divides within the communities, it undermines any effort to progress the group’s rights or status as some within the group are content to cater to the majority by stepping on others within their group.


I didn’t go into a lot of detail in this second part so I’ll leave some supplementary material below if you would like to learn more.

Let us know what you think in the comments or the contact form, follow us or leave us some appreciation on our Patreon if you would like to support future articles.

In any case, hope you’ve learned something new and we’ll talk to you next time,

——

Written by LtDemonLord
Edited by Nemoulysseus

December 2018 Quote of the Month

Choose your leaders with wisdom and forethought.

To be led by a coward is to be controlled by all that the coward fears.

To be led by a fool is to be led by the opportunists who control the fool.

To be led by a thief is to offer up your most precious treasures to be stolen.

To be led by a liar is to ask to be told lies.

To be led by a tyrant is to sell yourself and those you love into slavery.

Octavia E. Butler, Parable of the Talents (Earthseed, #2)

4-Part Analysis of Invisible Man (Part 3)

[Synthesis with “Caged Bird” by Mary Angelou]

I thought this poem was very representative of the IM’s internal dissonance in what he’s doing and in what he’s feeling. This something that we see throughout the book but in these hundred pages, we also see him assume another identity; one of a public speaker for the Brotherhood. When he makes the speech for the old lady who was getting kicked out, he got his first taste of power. Before, when he makes speeches, he was ignored and talked over. This time, he had the power over the crowd and managed to make the authorities lose ground. After he joins the Brotherhood, he is indoctrinated into the ideals of the Brotherhood and he’s taught to use the science-oriented rhetoric they use. However, with his newfound ability, he also has restrictions on him that he’s never had before. This is can be seen in how although the IM is “allowed” to sing, his wings are still clipped and his feet are still tied. They tell him that he has to make speeches the way the Brotherhood makes speeches (through an appeal to logos, not to pathos like he’s used to) and he was specifically told that he shouldn’t “underestimate the discipline [of the Brotherhood]” meaning that although he’s been given an elevated position, he is still tied to the Brotherhood and has to listen to what the group decides. This will come up later during the trial, which we will not talk about just yet.

Like a caged bird who sings fearfully, the atmosphere of uncertainty that surrounds his position in the Brotherhood and as he became more involved in the Brotherhood, a feeling that something bad is going to happen grows. The first big cue for this was in the scene where the IM was taken to El Toro in the middle of the night. There are several things that gave off a bad vibe. First is the calendar that he notices. The date is April 1st, April Fool’s Day. So, whatever is coming up isn’t going to be good for the IM as he’s been playing the fool the entire book. We know enough of Brother Jack’s character now to know that he’s in the Brotherhood more for power than for change as he treats the IM as a means to an end and not as an individual. The other smaller detail is in the name of the place, El Toro, or the bull in Spanish. So, effectively, the IM is getting bull and being played for a fool.


[The IM treated as a means in The Brotherhood]

The Washington Post on how the fate of the Dreamers was used as leverage for the 2018 funding bill (link):

AFTER ALL of President Trump’s bluster about his “great love” for “dreamers,” brought to this country as children through no fault of their own, it turns out he’s content to use them as leverage in a high-stakes game of political horse-trading. Mr. Trump seems willing to strip them of jobs, security and homes unless Democrats buckle on a range of Republican immigration priorities, including an even longer-standing object of the president’s ardor: a beautiful border wall.

In September, it was Mr. Trump who terminated the Obama-era protection for dreamers that shielded them from deportation while granting them work permits if they had clean records and met certain other requirements. At the time, he gave Congress six months to fashion a legislative fix; failing that, the president suggested he would act unilaterally to ensure their protection.

It soon became apparent that Mr. Trump’s passion for his base, whose anti-immigrant fervor he stoked in the course of the 2016 campaign, exceeded his feelings for the dreamers. Prodded by White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller, a nativist hard-liner, Mr. Trump has made clear that his price for helping the dreamers is steep — not just the wall and additional funding for border security but also an overhaul of the immigration system to end family-based migration and the visa lottery, whose beneficiaries are mainly from developing nations.

That agenda is anathema to Democrats and would harm the country. It’s worth debating the merits of expanding visa quotas to allow more high-skilled and highly educated immigrants, but that’s not what the White House is pressing for. Rather, Mr. Trump is more interested in tearing down programs than building new ones. And, as he made clear, he now regards dreamers as a means to that end. Democrats, he said in a tweet last week, are on notice that dreamers are out of luck “without the desperately needed WALL” and “an END to the horrible Chain Migration & ridiculous Lottery System of Immigration.” But the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program cannot and should not be the mechanism by which the United States’ immigration system is refurbished.

The clock is ticking for Congress. The grace period extended by Mr. Trump to dreamers expires in early March but, as three former homeland security secretaries told Congress on Wednesday, the real deadline is mid-January. Unless a bill is passed and signed by then, there will be insufficient time to establish a system by which dreamers can apply and be vetted for whatever new status is available. Without such a system in place by March 5, dreamers will lose not only protection from deportation but also their work permits — a disaster for them and a blow to the businesses that employ them.

Many Americans may regard congressional dysfunction as a given. That doesn’t mean they will easily forgive a failure to protect dreamers, which would expose so many blameless young people to calamity with so little justification.

This article was written earlier this year when there was major concern over whether Congress would be able to pass a spending bill for the new year especially when the new bill would be cutting a lot of programs and be funnelling the money towards things like the potential wall at the Mexican border. In this case, the Dreamers were held as bargaining chips to get the Democrats to agree to the other “terms and conditions” that the Republicans put in the bill. Effectively, what happened was that a small nation of citizens was left as human collateral in a political game in which they had no say.

This, in a lot of ways, is what’s also happening in the Invisible Man. There are multiple characters who seek to capitalise off of the situation as it is with the black race and the white race. Even Brother Jack, the leader of the interracial Brotherhood, is in it only for the power. His view is very similar to what America’s Founding Fathers thought of democracy — they didn’t like it, stating that “The United States is not a democracy, never was, and never was intended to be.” Brother Jack thought the average man didn’t know what was best for him and that they needed some superior mind to guide them, much like how the Founding Fathers characterised democracy as “mob rule” and for a big chunk of American history, voting rights were only restricted to those who owned a significant amount of land and had to meet certain incomes (some would argue that this is also how politics are run nowadays but I digress).

In this case, the IM was used as a tool to gain support with Harlem and with his talk with Brother Hambro, the IM realises that they never really cared about Harlem anyway. Once Harlem was perceived as not beneficial to their quest of power(“weak”), they abandoned it. The IM then realises that to the Brotherhood, his race wasn’t what made him invisible, it was his “functionality”. They saw him as a tool and when they didn’t have a use for him anymore, they just threw him away along with Harlem. The mysterious letter he received is evidence of that (one of Ellison’s foreshadowing devices), warning him that while his work is to support the black community, his real allegiance should be to the Brotherhood and that if he tries to “go too fast”, they will oust him. It is like Trump having Omarosa and Ben Carson by him, both of whom, mind, the black community do not think represents their race and using that to say that he’s not racist. It’s like a misogynist saying he likes at least one woman and using that to justify that he’s not misogynist. So, as an educated black man, the IM is being used as a connection to the people the Brotherhood is trying to gain power from. He’s just a superficial puppet that smiles and stands behind the leader that uses him to gain something from his people and the IM was an unsuspecting host. Of course, Omarosa and Ben Carson was never the spokesperson that the IM was but that’s besides the point.

If the Dreamers weren’t such an essential point to getting the Democrats to sign the new funding bill, then they would have been thrown aside in a heartbeat in a similar fashion.


[On the mysterious letter that the IM recieves]

“Brother, This is advice from a friend who has been watching you closely. Do not go too fast. Keep working for the people but remember that you are one of us and do not forget if you get too big they will cut you down. You are from the South and you know that this is a white man’s world. So take a friendly advice and go easy so that you can keep on helping the colored people. They do not want you to go too fast and will cut you down if you do.”

The first layer of meaning that I thought of when I first read this was, “Wow, what an obvious threat.” The words “cut you down” was written twice, that’s how serious it is. Yikes. This was the first clue that the Brotherhood wasn’t working towards the progression of the black race because, in this letter, the progression of the black race was merely a front; the real focus of its members should be in expanding the influence of the Brotherhood. The diction of this letter, the two appearances of the word friend, is kind of sinister. It reminds me of mafia interrogation where the inquisitor is implying castration or torture by fingernail removal all the while insisting that they’re here to help and that they can be trusted.

Besides the blatant paradox between the Brotherhood’s supposed goal and the obedience this letter is demanding, the phrase “you can keep on helping the colored people” as if they themselves weren’t colored leads me to believe that whoever wrote this was someone who would feel threatened if the IM got too popular and that they weren’t black. Of course, the obvious suspect would be Brother Jack; he has the most to lose if the IM does keep on going fast.

Another layer of meaning lies in what it’s saying about real life social movements. One side effect of social movements like the rise of black civil rights sentiments in the 50s and onto the 60s is that people see opportunities to gather an audience and through their audience, gain power and influence. Riding the wave, so to speak. This can be clearly seen when Ras accused the black Brotherhood members of being sellouts. They were seen as partnering with a group of white people who were simply using the black members to pull the wool over the populace’s eyes with a false ideology. Again, this is the question of whether people can actually affect change. People like Bledsoe only believes in power within the system. He would also be labelled a sellout. These are people who are, on the surface, protesting against the establishment while taking advantage of it as well which is why intersectionality is such a big deal when looking at issues like sexual harassment or racism because, in the end, different groups experience different forms of the same thing and have more or fewer options based on gender or race or income etc etc. For example, when women got the vote in the form of the 19th Amendment, those rights were reserved for white women. Black women still struggled under Jim Crow for decades to come. We see here advantaged people fighting against the thing they’re advantaged by while simultaneously also benefiting from their advantage. The most obvious current example of this would be in the increasingly popular beauty trends based off of black culture, in other words, cultural appropriation aka taking the culture’s characteristics while at the same time believing the culture is bad. On Kylie Jenner, big lips and cornrows are attractive and a ground-breaking fashion trend. On a black woman, it means she’s not as accepted because she doesn’t adhere to the beauty standard set by white women. Social movements are complex and contain many personalities, many of whom are actually sabotaging the group’s efforts. It is no different in today’s environment as it was in Ellison’s era.


Discussion Questions

  1. How have the words of the IM’s grandfather changed in meaning in this section of the book?
    1. At the beginning of the book, the grandfather’s words could be seen as a dying confession of the guilt he’s harboring over betraying the dignity and identity of his people. The IM didn’t understand why his grandfather said that and he didn’t until this section of the book when he sees really how the system, though professing its support for the black people, is really corrupt in its own greed. In Bledsoe, he was disillusioned about his mentor’s character. In Brockway, the old man clearly had a few screws loose. However, in the Brotherhood, there were no excuses that the IM could find to justify what happened. He’s followed the system even now, listening to a white man and accepting a name given to him by a white man. There is something strange about a white man appointing a black man to be a spokesperson for the black people. Isn’t the whole point to having the black people’s voices be heard so shouldn’t the black community decide who their spokesperson is? Before, the grandfather’s words had a message of rebellion, warning the IM from the system and the IM feels uneasy about it since he’s been taught to follow “the straight road”. Now, it is one of bittersweetness, of not realising soon enough or not having the strength to buck the system. It says something about the tone of the rest of the book where marginalised groups had to learn, either through their parents or through experience (the hard way) that there really is no place for them, inside or outside the system. That people are born in a skin or an identity that can be perceived as inherently wrong and inferior and not being able to get out of it. The IM had to grow into the realisation and it’s painful and ultimately, he breaks down and gets out of the system, believing a non-existence is better than conformity and degradation.

 

  1. What is the meaning of the Sambo doll?
    1. The Sambo doll in the scene was another one of the shock factors in Ellison’s book. It is a grotesque caricature of a black man. The IM notices that the doll is controlled by an almost invisible string. This symbolises the hold that society has on them in various forms of oppression and microaggressions that they often cannot grasp or articulate. The words that are used to sell this doll also suggests a degree of dehumanisation, a circus act, if you will. A toy. What I think Ellison is trying to get at here is Brother Clifton’s breaking point and it kind of predicts what will happen in the 60s. It reminds me of McMurphy’s plight in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Basically, both characters are pushed past their breaking point but they’re forced to live on in this institution called society. In McMurphy’s case, his death liberated the rest of the patients in the ward. With Clifton, there was no savior moment. All that signified his death was the pool of blood after he was shot. This was a man that became too self-aware and so he was punished. There are no saviors in this world. Really, the Sambo doll and what it represented and what happened to Clifton was the despair event horizon for the IM. I think that this was a bigger turning point in the book than anything else before it because it physically showed what the IM was experiencing over the last dozen and a half chapters and he was forced to come to terms with it and with that, came the same realisation that Clifton had (although the IM did take his sweet time about it even after witnessing Clifton’s death).

 

  1. Was Ras’s approach better or the Brotherhood’s?
    1. For this question, I want to talk about the historical context. The setting is the Civil War era. Lincoln was forced to make the Civil War about slavery (the details of which I won’t go into but Lincoln was definitely not the progressive guy everyone thinks he is). Since the slavery issue was forced, Lincoln had to decide what to do with the black people he emancipated. Some wanted them to be moved to Liberia. A minority thought that they should carry through and integrate black people into white society. Many others had opinions in between and a lot of them thought that the emancipation was a bad idea. So, those that wanted the freedmen to be moved Liberia would be Ras’s ideology and those who wanted integration would be the Brotherhood (if the Brotherhood wasn’t corrupt). Historically, integration won out and that’s what started to happen albeit at a painfully slow pace. The project to make Liberia a haven for freedmen ultimately failed so although I can’t say either approach was better because, to be honest, neither have the right attitudes, I would say that integration historically has worked out better.

July 2018 Quote of the Month

“I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and Constitutions. But laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.”

    – Thomas Jefferson

[Poem] Bound

An extension of the June Quote of the Month.

Xiao Mei lives to see the dawn of the day.
The hues of brisk yellow match her skin like Chardonnay.
“Be a doctor or lawyer,” both of her parents say.
“It’s not like artists make money anyway.”
Michael is Michael because Mwenye was too hard to pronounce.
But “DeShawn” and “Tyrone” were his names thrown around.
“I bet your dad left you!” his classmates tease and flounce.
But they were the ones who left him feeling broken down.
Fahima always wore her hijab proud.
“It’s not that fashionable. You’re like, wrapped in a shroud.
But this doesn’t affect our friendship,” her friends vowed.
Though when they made plans, she was never invited out.
Jesus strives to uphold the legacy of his name.
His strong arms lift the burden of disdain.
He takes on the jobs no privileged man would claim.
But you know the privileged man doesn’t feel the same.
What constitutes as the American Dream?
Success and wealth and the idea of being free?
Maybe what it is, is what it is indeed.
The meeting of high standards of an oppressing society.
Whether goal-bound, homebound, or career-bound,
Their opportunities are limited to what their surroundings allowed.
Bound? More like boundaries, clearly marked on the ground
Of the caged individuals in the lost, stray pound.
Bound by their parents, their school, their friends.
Bound by their jobs, and never-ending dead ends.
Bound by this dream neither yours nor theirs.
Bound by a system where nobody cares.
To achieve the Dream, a lot more has to be done
Than just sitting around thinking, “One day, we shall overcome”.

Dedicated to an acquaintance of mine, M, and every other POC who feels bound by the restrictions of this seemingly “free” country.

[Repost] Are Schools Violating Child Labor Laws?

The title of this article is a bit provocative but there is merit in what the content of articles says. As students, we have to be at school for a certain number of hours for five days a week. Then, to get into a good college, we need extracurriculars and for most of us that will have to pay for our college education out-of-pocket, we will need to get a job.

For example, I’m taking six AP classes this year, I fence competitively and I have a job on the weekends. While you may say that I might have just chosen not to do all these things. I wasn’t forced to take all AP classes. No one told me I had to do sports. You get the gist. The only problem is that we are forced to do this. The competition for quality college education is intense. Prestigious institutions like the schools in the Ivy League are seeing their admission rates drop way below 10% in the past couple of decades. What a 4.0 GPA in the 90s and earlier is worth more than a 4.0 GPA now. Now, with that 4.0 GPA, we would also need to volunteer, be part of Student Council or some other leadership position, have high SAT and ACT scores, play sports and also have non-academic talents like in art or theatre. Because of the large pool of highly-qualified students who apply to these institutions every year, a lot of whether you get admitted or not may be a factor that’s obvious to the applicants and is sometimes due to pure luck.

So, in an effort to be competitive, students are saddled with too many activities and so little time. On top of the usual teenage uncertainty, they are forced to take on responsibilities that they shouldn’t be having. With an 8-hour school day, that’s already 40 hours a week. With homework and extracurriculars, the students are working major overtime hours.

So, how do you remedy this? One of the causes of this extreme competition is in the shortage of supply. The spaces at universities aren’t enough to accommodate the number of students who want to go to said universities. This doesn’t only apply to the Ivy League– it applies to local and state colleges too. With high demand and not enough supply, the price of college has shot up to several times over what had to be paid in the late 1900s. So, if universities can expand to accommodate a bigger student body in proportion to the increase in the overall student population, then we can control the level of competitiveness. Of course, we don’t have control over that.

So, the bottom line is, students have a lot on their plate so please don’t give busy work and otherwise unnecessary projects to us. I know that a lot of school districts have requirements as to how many grades are needed for each grading period (trimester, quarters etc. and includes interim grade reports) so I’ve had it where teachers had to assign work that we didn’t need to do just to meet the quota of six grades per grading period.

The article included today talks about how teachers not only assign a lot of homework each night, especially for high-level classes and then students either find themselves with a test, assessment or project every day of a week or have three or more of them stacked in one day. Here’s an excerpt from the article:

Child Labor laws were created to protect children against being overworked and mistreated in the workplace, but what regulations are protecting students in schools?

According to US News, students, on average, spend 8 hours at school, spend 3.5 hours a night on homework, and have hours of extracurriculars and jobs. Personally, I have over 7 hours of extracurricular activities a week, with Wednesday being my only day to come home right after school, and I spend all of that time doing homework and catching up on readings from earlier on in the week.

According to the Georgia Department of Labor, minors under 16 cannot work more than 8 hours on a non-school day and 40 hours on a non-school week. The law in England extends this age to 18 and also enforces that those under 18 have a 12- hour rest between each working day. Currently, in school alone, we more than violate these standards.

Link to article here.

[A Repost] Obese Autopsy: The Post Mortem | A Documentary

A scary up-close view of one of the most widespread epidemics in the Western world.

What ISIS Is Really Trying To Accomplish

 

Islamophobia is a growing fear in our world today.

Politicians today are starting to waver, as more and more people are growing fearful of potential attacks coming upon them. The number of anti-Islamic attacks have grown significantly. In a study conducted by California State University, it was found that there were over 196 hate crimes against Muslims in 2015 alone, a 78 percent increase from 2014. [15] And in another study by CAIR found that there was another 44 percent increase from 2015 to 2016. [15] And some countries, such as the U.S., have implemented policies to slow the flow of Muslim refugees crossing their borders. [24]

But what would ISIS gain from Muslim refugees not being allowed to enter any Western countries? The Muslims that are forced to stay in these nations where ISIS have taken over have but two options at that point; to stay opposed and be killed, or to join the movement. ISIS is trying to expand their jihadist-extremist ideology, and with these anti-refugee policies that may be enacted, it is a golden opportunity for them, that they WILL take advantage of. Not only would it allow the organization to grow, but it could incite more hatred for the Western countries, as they would be seen as “turning away” the Islamic religion.

Background of ISIS

To describe ISIS in a few words, it is an organization based in Syria and Iraq that consists of far-right, Jihad extremists. But their background is much larger than that.

The tender beginnings of ISIS are said to have started in the early 2000s. [2] The forager of the group was Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian with an unimpressive past. He grew up near a Palestinian refugee camp, and was a petty criminal in his youth. [1] Surely no one would’ve suspected he would create such a large movement, where his legacy lives on today.

During his years in prison from 1992-1999 [7], he began to grow a Jihadist mentality [2] (Jihad meaning “holy war”, but in this sense, it is being used to encourage violence against “the enemies of Islam” [8]). He grew a following while in prison, and once he was released, he was regarded as a leader of Jihad, deemed a “holy warrior”. [2] Out of prison, he also caught the attention of Bin Laden, and traveled all the way to Kandahar in hopes of meeting with him, but was dismissed as being too brutish. [2] Bin Laden initially thought of him as a poor recruit, but nonetheless, he gave him funds to start running a camp and by 2002, Zarqawi was training more “warriors”. [2]

Bin Laden and Zarqawi disagreed fundamentally on how they wanted to organize the group. Zarqawi wanted to focus on areas such as Jordan and Maliki government, while Bin Laden wanted to go straight for the U.S.. [1] Zarqawi also had a strong resentment for Shia Muslims, which Bin Laden didn’t agree with. [1]

Zarqawi’s group, known as Jama’at al-Tawhid wa’al-Jahad (JTJ), conducted their first attack in Jordan killing Laurence Foley, a USAid manager. [9] At the time, the events of 9/11 were still fresh in people’s minds, so President Bush was desperate to gain more intel on Al Qaeda. [10] Secretary of State Colin Powell presented an intel report to the American people, and used Zarqawi as a link between Hussein and Bin Laden. [2] This statement was refuted by foreign analysts, and it was said he “went off script”. [2] They believe he inflated the importance and role of Zarqawi at this time and that it was “counterproductive”. [10] This gave Zarqawi some notoriety [12], and led to more recruits.

This led to the U.S. occupation of Iraq, but by then, JTJ conducted 40 explosions in Baghdad alone. [2] Hussein’s Sunni soldiers were disgruntled and out of work, so Zarqawi saw this as the perfect opportunity. [2] Zarqawi took them under his wing, and they soon became his loyal followers.

In 2003, there was a massive bombing at the UN headquarters, and it was a defining moment. It only led the U.S. troops to be more determined. [13] Another notable incident was the beheading of Nick Berg. [2] It was the first instance Zarqawi was on video, and created more sentiment among Muslims with similar ideologies. Some found it admirable that he carried out the beheading himself. [2]

maxresdefault
A snapshot of the video with Nick Berg, just moments before the beheading. Source: http://ken-welch.com/Berg/the_beheading_of_nicholas_berg/

However, a majority of the Muslim population found the group’s actions to be deplorable, and they turned off a lot of possible recruits. [4] The group despised Shiite Muslims, and carried out numerous assassinations against them. Even Bin Laden argued that the attacks on fellow Muslims were not required, and much too barbaric. [2]

The beginning of the insurgency in Iraq was prompted by the bombing of an important Shiite shrine on February 22, 2006. [2] This resulted in 27 retaliatory attacks on the Sunnis in Baghdad, creating a Muslim civil war. [1]

Prior to the attack, Zarqawi revealed his intention to create an “Islamic State”, a caliphate. [1] However, on June 7, 2006, Zarqawi was killed in a U.S. airstrike. There was a surge of U.S. soldiers, and the local population began to resent Al Qaeda. [2] The group saw a decline, and a majority of the members went into hiding. [1]

From 2006 to 2008, the members of the group and other Islamic extremists were wound up and put into Camp Bucca, a crucial part of the group’s resurgence. [17] Here, several of the prisoners made contacts with one another, including Haji Bakr with future leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. [3][17] Bakr was a former soldier of Hussein, and was looking to join the Jihad movement. In this environment, it was the perfect place for them to plan, as the American soldiers couldn’t speak Arabic, so they took advantage of the situation. [17]

A man by the name of Masri held control of the group for a time, but in 2010 he was killed in an air raid. [1] Bakr, a then high-ranking official, made his move in finding a new leader. [3] The new leader is Baghdadi, and he was looking for an area to be their new target. The group looked to Damascus, the capital of Syria, where there was political unrest. The Syrian president, Assad, was met with protests that resulted in violence against the citizens, something the group could capitalize on. [2] They fought against the Assad regime [1] and by 2012, they had successfully overtaken Damascus. [1] Afterwards, there were two different terror campaigns; “Breaking Walls” of 2012, in which they released the group’s incarcerated members, and “Soldier’s Harvest” of 2013, in which they targeted Iraqi security forces. [1]

In April 2013, after the expansion into Syria, the group changed the name to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). [1] Intelligence analysts encouraged the then-president, Barack Obama, to interfere, but he was reluctant. Once he finally decided to help, however, it was too late. [2] ISIS continued their slaughters, however, they wanted to move back into Iraq. They saw an opportunity after seeing the unrest in Iraq, due to the Shiite prime minister cracking down on the Sunnis. In this, ISIS successfully took over Fallujah, Ramadi, and Mosul. [2]

Somewhere around late June of 2014, Baghdadi declared himself Caliph of the “Islamic State”, and was seen in public conducting a sermon for the first time. He succeeded in what Zarqawi couldn’t. [2]

IMG_1996
The first instance of Baghdadi on video, in which he declared the Caliphate. Source: http://www.cnn.com/2014/07/10/world/meast/iraq-baghdadi-watch/index.html


Strategies

The group initially targeted American and Coalition forces, but they then began to aim for Maliki government. [1] During the Iraqi insurgency, the group also attempted to slow the transition of American troops, by attacking U.S. oil companies, humanitarian aid groups, and other Sunni opposition groups. [1]

Another thing high on the group’s agenda was killing Shiite Muslims, as they viewed them as apostates (those that renounce a religion), simply from the fact their branch of Islam has different beliefs. [16] They also successfully pinned Sunni and Shiite Muslims against one another, to the point of commencing civil wars (such as in Damascus and Baghdad). [2]

The group also utilized IEDs (improvised explosive devices), and had their members conduct suicide bombings. [1] The group also used chlorine gas. [1]

Their beheading videos gave the group publicity, especially when news outlets began to report on the events. The group relished in this fact, especially Zarqawi.

After Zarqawi’s death, however, they took up new, more refined techniques.

They first targeted government and opposition groups, but then moved on to taking over territory. [1] They often took areas that were fragile and with high Sunni populations.

Once Baghdadi took control, the group began initiating campaigns and using more sophisticated propaganda. Their “Breaking Walls” and “Soldier’s Harvest” proved to be fruitful endeavors [1], and the group even publishes their own magazine called Dabiq. [1] The magazine looks surprisingly sleek, and is even published in English, Russian, French, German, etc. [16] This produced a spike in foreign fighters.

IMG_1997
From the “Breaking Walls Campaign” in Mosul, in which they released up to 1,000 prisoners. Source: http://foreignpolicy.com/2014/06/26/the-great-iraqi-jail-break

The group also grew a massive following on Twitter, employing hashtags for the group. The tool was useful for recruitment, and keeping contact with ISIS followers from around the world. [16] The group is very effective at inspiring international attacks, even if they experience setbacks of their own. [11]

A large leader of the group by the name of Haji Bakr (as mentioned earlier) used intelligence to his advantage. [3] He went about sending his henchmen into villages getting information and answer to questions such as:

  • Who are the powerful families?
  • Who are the most powerful individuals in these families?
  • What is their source of income?
  • List names, and sizes of any possible rebel groups.
  • Find out who the leaders are.

He conducted these tasks to use for blackmail later on. They would also gain information on things such as who may be homosexual, who may be in an affair, etc. [3] They were told to find info that could fragment and compromise the local population. The group also used “spy cells” [1] in areas that they intended to take over later. [3]

The Ultimate Goal

The main strategy of the group is completely dependent on the West. [4] The group, because of its tactics and the reputation they give, are hated by Muslim countries, so not a lot of the citizens actually join willingly. So the group must create a narrative of a global conflict, and further prove that these countries are not only turning against ISIS, but against Islam. [4]

The group has proven itself to be a well-grounded force, as foreign troops often come and leave, and never stay to fight. [34] This can give the impression to some Muslims that they may not care, and that ISIS is much more determined. It could also be the reason for foreign fighters joining at such an alarming rate.

Their intimidation also through their murders of groups that oppose them is also enough motivation for them to join. [34]

The group also strains relations between predominantly Islamic nations and Western society. [6] Every time after the U.S. withdrew their troops, the group saw a higher member rate, and it was easier for them to carry out their attacks. [2]

Seeing as how the group follows the Sunni branch of Islam, the fact that that the prime minister of Iraq, a Shii, had persecuted Sunnis was all the more reason to join, with the Sunnis seeing it as an act of resistance. [1]

These actions are knocking politicians off their feet, and making them initiate policies against refugees.

Growing Islamophobia Around The Globe

There are a number of anti-Islamic groups that have risen from 34 to 101 in 2016. [6] In a Gallup poll from 2011, 52 percent of Americans believe that Western society doesn’t respect Muslims. [14] This is a significant number, seeing as how at this time, ISIS hadn’t had their resurgence. One in four people believe that Muslims in the U.S., Britain, France, and China are treated unfairly. [14] There have been various other hate crimes in the U.S., such as graffiti on mosques, protests, people burning the Quran, and many others. [28] In Canada on January 29, there was an attack on a mosque in Quebec that left six dead and eight injured. [31] In Israel on June 13, a father killed his daughter after discovering she was dating a Muslim, saying that it disgraced the family. [30] On June 21, there was an acid attack on two cousins in the UK, and was treated as a hate crime, and showed the surge of Islamophobia. [29] In India on July 12, a Muslim family of 10 were assaulted with iron rods on a train, with the attackers saying “Kill them, they are Muslims”. [32] There are incidents happening all over the globe, and these are just to name a few in 2017.

IMG_1998
From a demonstration outside a mosque in Phoenix, AZ. Source: https://en.trend.az/world/other/2400543.html

Anti-Islamic Policies & Views in Politics

  • The U.S. government is allowed to profile. They can document high risk minorities who they believe can have “malintent”. The government also encourages law-enforcement and even citizens to report those who they believe may be up to suspicious activity, but could subject Muslims to unjust harassment by authorities. [5]
  • Governors have even tried to stop the flow of Syrian and Iraqi refugees after the Paris attacks, and the House of Representatives passed a bill to make it harder for these refugees to settle and have to go through more difficult screenings than refugees from low-Muslim population countries. [5]
  • Technology companies are also being subject to the government, and constantly being pressed to reveal any information on any potential “terrorist activity”. Often times they cooperate, but it is thought that it is asking too much for such companies to keep track of all of this activity, especially on larger platforms (i.e., Twitter). This allows for censorship. [5]
  • The federal government set up an initiative known as Countering Extreme Terrorism (CVE). The program encourages people of all occupations to report any individuals who they believe may have radical views. Again, this could allow for unwarranted discrimination, seeing as how it is even being perpetrated by the government. It hasn’t proven to be successful. [5]
  • The U.S. has a watchlist system that has proven to have certain groups, such as Muslims, be subject to being accused as being a terrorist, and not be allowed to fly into the U.S. The watchlist is often ”riddled with errors” that can deter innocent people based off of broad standards, and once on the list, it is hard to get yourself off. [5]
  • In February 2017, Trump attempted to create a travel ban for refugees from “high-risk” countries, those that also happen to have high Muslim populations. [19]
  • In Xinjiang Province in China, they banned burqas, veils and certain beards as a way to combat extremism. [18]
  • In the Netherlands, a parliament member created a political party called the “Freedom Party”, that holds strong anti-Islamic views. [20]
  • In Australia, two parliamentary members called for an immigration ban on countries where violent extremism is rife. [21]
  • In Denmark, a bill was passed in hopes of discouraging immigration to the country. This includes a reduction of government benefits for refugees, people must wait 3 years before they can apply to have their family members join them, and the Danish government can seize any belongings worth over $1,450. And this bill is coming at a time in which immigrants from predominantly Muslim countries are trying to seek refuge. [22]
  • In Israel, the country bans people from numerous countries with high Arab and Muslim populations from becoming citizens. [23]
  • After the 2015 Paris attacks, France and Belgium had temporarily closed their borders. [24]
  • In Poland, the minister of European affairs stated that they would ‘not respect” the decision of the EU to relocate refugees and immigrants to all of the countries in the EU. They stated that they want to “retain full control of their border”. [25]
  • In Hungary, the mayor of a small village declared “a war on Muslim immigration”. [26]

Conclusion

In conclusion, ISIS has more to gain from these policies than to lose. They are a radical group with very clear intentions. They want to create an “Islamic State”, and they know exactly the means to getting there. Banning our allies along with our enemies will fail to yield a good result, and it could cause thousands more of innocent lives to be lost, more than there already have been. There have been numerous other countries, such as Canada and Sweden, that have decided to keep their borders “open” [27], because they realize that a majority of people in these countries don’t have bad intentions. Even a study from Pew Research Center has concluded that views from Muslims on ISIS are overwhelmingly negative, being an average figure of 74%, with only a mere 3% of Muslims viewing them positively. [33]

ISIS wants to get rid of the “gray zone”, which is the area in which Muslims live in peace with other populations. [2][4] They want us to be afraid, and make irrational, selfish decisions because of our fear.

We need to snap out of this anti-Muslim sentiment, as isolating these groups is going to do nothing but help them grow. We need to realize that we and these refugees have a common enemy: ISIS. Although we cannot alter the strategy of ISIS, we can control how we react to it.

 

Note: Hi, this is Adriana. This is my very first article, and I would LOVE some feedback. This is a quite heavy topic, and is somewhat relevant at the moment. I wrote this in late July, but I still thought it’s a noteworthy article. So what do you guys think? Do you agree with my stance or think that something else may be at hand…? 

 

Source of the Featured Image: 

http://time.com/4717319/mosul-iraq-offensive-civilians-human-shields/

Bibliography

[1] Cassman, Daniel. “The Islamic State.” The Islamic State | Mapping
Militant Organizations. April 14, 2017. Accessed July 20, 2017. http://web.stanford.edu/group/mappingmilitants/cgi-bin/groups/view/1.
[2] Frontline. Accessed July 22, 2017.
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/film/the-secret-history-of-isis/transcript.
[3] Reuter, Christoph. “The Terror Strategist: Secret Files Reveal the Structure of Islamic
State.” SPIEGEL ONLINE. April 18, 2015. Accessed July 16, 2017. http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/islamic-state-files-show-structure-of-islamist-terror-group-a-1029274.html.
[4] Gude, Ken. “Anti-Muslim Sentiment Is a Serious Threat to American Security.”
Center for American Progress. November 2015. Accessed July 20, 2017. https://cdn.americanprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/25074358/ISISTrap.pdf.
[5] “Anti-Muslim Discrimination.” American Civil Liberties Union. Accessed July 20, 2017.
https://www.aclu.org/feature/anti-muslim-discrimination.
[6] Al-Othaimeen, Yousef bin Ahmad. “Islamophobia and Anti-Muslim Policies Help
ISIS.” Time. March 28, 2017. Accessed July 21, 2017. http://time.com/4699591/isis-far-right-islamophobia/.
[7] Smith, Laura. “Timeline: Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.” The Guardian. June 08, 2006.
Accessed July 21, 2017. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2006/jun/08/iraq.alqaida1
[8] Kabbani, Muhammad Hisham, and Seraj Hendricks. “Jihad: A Misunderstood
Concept From Islam – What Jihad is, and what is not.” ISCA. Accessed July 23, 2017. http://islamicsupremecouncil.org/understanding-islam/legal-rulings/5-jihad-a-misunderstood-concept-from-islam.html?start=9.
[9] “– LAURENCE FOLEY’S MURDER.” Global Jihad. January 1, 2008. Accessed July
23, 2017. http://www.globaljihad.net/?p=3065.
[10] DeYoung, Karen, and Walter Pincus. “Zarqawi Helped U.S. Argument That
Al-Qaeda Network Was in Iraq.” The Washington Post. June 10, 2006. Accessed July 20, 2017. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/06/09/AR2006060901578.html.
[11] Mansour, Muhammad. “Islamophobia: What the Islamic State Really Wants.” The
Washington Institute. 2016. Accessed July 22, 2017. http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/fikraforum/view/islamophobia-what-isis-really-wants.
[12] “U.S. military: Al-Zarqawi was alive after bombing.” CNN. June 6, 2006. Accessed
July 28, 2017. http://edition.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/meast/06/08/iraq.al.zarqawi/.
[13] “U.N. attack branded ‘ruthless’.” CNN. August 19, 2003. Accessed July 16, 2017.
http://www.cnn.com/2003/WORLD/meast/08/19/sprj.irq.int.reaction/index.html.
[14] “Islamophobia: Understanding Anti-Muslim Sentiment in the West.” Gallup.
Accessed July 26, 2017. http://www.gallup.com/poll/157082/islamophobia-understanding-anti-muslim-sentiment-west.aspx.
[15] Pitter, Laura. “Hate Crimes Against Muslims in US Continue to Rise in 2016.”
Human Rights Watch. May 14, 2017. Accessed July 22, 2017. https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/05/11/hate-crimes-against-muslims-us-continue-rise-2016
[16] Williams, Michael J. “ISIS as a Strategic Actor: Strategy and Counter-Strategy.” The
Mackenzie Institute. March 08, 2016. Accessed July 21, 2017. http://mackenzieinstitute.com/isis-strategic-actor-strategy-counter-strategy/.
[17] Parks, Brad. “How a US prison camp helped create ISIS.” New York Post. May 31,
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[A Repost] Is China the next United States?

This started out as any normal day; I was surfing the web, searching up anything that intrigued me and clicking on articles that seemed interesting. One way or another, I stumbled into Quora and one of the questions I saw caught my eye. It’s the same question as the title of this article. I was curious as to how people answered and clicked on it. In the process, I read one of the best imaginable responses possible to this question. Here it is:

No. The United States is the World Police turning into a Bouncer for Hire. China’s aspiration is to be the Cook.

The United States was catapulted into Superpower during WWII, where its entire industrial base was turned into arms manufacturing. It could have disarmed after WWII, but one thing led to another, that was never done, and so here we are, with Mr. Trump selling protection and blackmailing other countries for protection money.

China is concerned about getting enough to “eat”, and she has figured out that the cook never starves, no matter who else might be starving. So she’s been going around cooking up iPhones, trains, pots and pans, and bridges for other people, and, well, making a tidy sum out of it, and feeding her own family with cents on the dollar (‘cause she makes the stuff herself, so no restaurant mark-up).

So what happened next, was that Mr. Obama calling China “a free rider for thirty years”, because she doesn’t do anything for “global security”. But I think Mr. Obama failed to appreciate the fact that a cook can not look like a bouncer and going around cracking other people’s heads – who in the world will order dinner from a cook that looks like a bouncer? Basically if you want to be the cook for the world, you have to be (or at least appear to be) AMIABLE to everybody! China is friendly with both the US and Russia, both Iran and Saudi, both Israel and Palestine, all four different governments in Yemen, etc.

But if you are a bouncer, well, you’ve got to take sides (“Good vs. Evil”), show your muscle, and beat up somebody occasionally. And you need enemies, otherwise, how do you get customers coming to you looking for protection? Right? But if you are going to fight for the Saudis, the Iranians are probably not going to be buying iPhones and automobiles from you. C’est la vie.

So no, China is not the next United States, because a Cook doesn’t need any Enemies, only customers.

-Answer written by Robin Daverman

Here’s the link to the original page.

This answer was perfect in every way and although it sort of trivialises the complexities of international politics, it does wrap up the general idea quite well.

If you agree with me, comment so below and if you disagree, let me know what you think as well. Share if you thought this was as good as I thought it was and this is Lieutenant, I’ll talk to you later.