Tuesday, May 2, 2017

The Torture of Detainees

          Torturing a human being in exchange for information or a plea has been widely debated across the world for years. After the terrorist attack on 9/11, The Geneva Conventions and the International Convention Against Torture regulated harmful treatment of detainees and prohibited both physical and mental torture. In January 2002, the members of Al Qaeda were deemed “unlawful combatants” meaning they were not members of regularly constituted armies. Methods of interrogation were altered for this case, and some believe these methods are considered torture...seeing as many detainees died because of the extremity of their maltreatment. I believe, as a nation, it is necessary to draw the line where need be, specifically in the treatment of detainees. In order to stand by the nation’s value of upholding the individual, each federal case should be handled thoroughly and carefully. By using torture in the past, the U.S has already begun to break trust with other nations.
          There should be a clear distinction when treating citizens and noncitizens. Whether the detainee is a citizen or not, their type of treatment should be based on how threatening they are towards the U.S. The point of capturing individuals in places like Guantanamo Bay is to reduce the number of threatening persons from attacking our nation. Their treatment should be handled as such.
          There is a big responsibility that comes with these decisions. I do not believe the President is or should ever be the sole individual responsible for these decisions. By gaining the opinions of those in the Supreme Court and the decision board at Guantanamo, a more thorough and intellectual decision will come to fruition.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Japanese Internment Camps

The U.S government did not give equal attention towards national security and the rights of citizens during the Supreme Court case of Korematsu vs. the U.S. According to Korematsu’s conviction (1994), “any law or order that discriminated on the basis of race or ethnicity could only be constitutional if it served an extremely important purpose for the government.” In order for this conviction to fully be supported by the 14th amendment, an American citizen should not be tried on accounts of their race or ethnicity. In this case, Korematsu was convicted because of this race. While the executive order was issued towards a particular racial group, the Court deemed that it was not based on hostility towards the Japanese and their ancestry. Interestingly, I also believe that racial prejudice also plays a role in the government's treatment of the Japanese during World War II. The Supreme Court stated that every citizen faces hardships, and the Court argued that the “racial hardships” were only an aspect of being an American citizen; but these hardships were only imposed upon the Japanese. In order to make the conviction fair, the order would have been enacted on all citizens.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

The "invisible" race

Despite the achievements of the Civil Rights Movement, racial caste in America has not dissipated, but transformed itself into mass incarceration. Both in the time of Jim Crow Laws and in the present, racial caste is provoked by the need to feel superior and to highlight the vulnerabilities of others for economic, political, and social gain. “Racially coded rhetoric” was used in the 1970’s and 1980’s in order to maintain white supremacy, and can be recognized in aspects of the War on Drugs. Interestingly, when we learned about discrimination, it is hard to believe that something so terrible ever existed. But the problem is that discrimination still exists...and is still legal. Not only were black men excluded from jury duty during the Jim Crow Era, 30% of black men are ineligible to complete jury duty today because of their label as felons. Yes, there have been some improvements in racial equality over the years, but the government ignored to act upon the legitimate concerns of the nation's well-being and instead, perhaps unintentionally, began to re-build the racial caste that millions worked hard to break down. For example, by not eradicating all of the racist Jim Crow tactics used suppress black people, some of the laws during the War on Drugs banned black men from voting and that loss of privilege still lingers today. These various instances of unintentional/intentional racial bias allowed the nation to become numb to the large amounts of suffering and segregation across the country, which again made certain races inferior to others, thereby, making the racial caste even stronger.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The "age of colorblindness"

The “age of colorblindness” is our own era, when many argue “I don’t see race” or “I am colorblind to other races.” This has spiraled into a national debate over racial profiling, mass incarceration, and the masking of old racial castes. The “age of colorblindness” began to proliferate when challenging racial bias in the criminal justice system was no longer permitted, and the criminal justice system, Alexander argues, continuously acts as a manipulator of racial control. During the War on Drugs, for example, Reagan’s administration profiled black people as the main consumers of crack cocaine nationwide. This theory was held up by the use of publicized horror stories, depicting black men as crack dealers and users in order to build support for the new war.

The Supreme Court neglected to protect and guarantee the rights of “groups deemed unpopular or subject to prejudice” (Alexander 4). Under the fourteenth amendment, the Supreme Court diminished any hope of challenging racial bias in the criminal justice system. In our nation today, many politicians and public figures make an effort to mask many castes: between gender, race, and social status. While many of these efforts become very successful and make an impact, most movements are faced with difficulties and challenges. For example, if you search “Women’s March” many articles are provided; yet written in most of the titles is a counter argument as to why the movement may not have been as successful as shown. There may never be unified opinions related to these social, political, and racial issues in our nation, but what does this say about past efforts to mask racial caste and how we should alter these efforts to enact real change?


Tuesday, February 7, 2017

A second "racial bribe"

         The "law and order" rhetoric was introduced in the late 1950's in alignment with the white opposition to the Civil Rights Movement. "Criminal" tactics were used to delegate public responsibilities to Southern states, who said the Civil Rights movement was the cause of the decline of law and order. After Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's civil disobedience philosophy, conservatives began to use crime as an opportunity to focus and act upon impoverished black communities, with violence and harsh laws.
         In October 1982, President Reagan announced the nationwide War on Drugs, which intended to not relieve the nations' concern about drugs and their escalating popularity, but focused primarily on race and how it divides us. At the beginning of the War on Drugs, the many inner city jobs that once existed had dissolved and the new jobs were located in suburban cities which were often difficult  to to reach. In order to earn money, this resulted in a rise of crack cocaine production and distribution within inner cities and impoverished areas. President Reagan's primary effort to minimize drug consumption had not succeeded, but managed to leave in its place a system of unequal job distribution. The lower class whites were able to occupy jobs not based on their merit, but because of their race and social privilege. As Reagan's successor, President George H. W. Bush utilized this newly discovered lower class white mobilization tactic of negatively referencing race, by shedding light on Willie Horton; a racial appeal that fueled his campaign from beginning to end. After reading The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander, it can be argued that many of the executive decisions made during the Civil Rights Movement were made based upon race; some of which have ultimately effected how our world operates and exists today.

The Racial Bribe

In history class, we have begun to read "The New Jim Crow" by Michelle Alexander; many important old ideals are highlighted as current issues in our world today. One of these important terms happens to be a "racial bribe." During the colonial period, it was difficult for plantation owners to find workers, and the only people who cooperated with the hours and pay were the black slaves. Overtime, as colonists became frustrated, poor & middle class whites began to receive special privilege which ultimately resulted in the creation of a racial caste system. This caste was built upon the idea that Africans were a "lesser race" and blacks lacked any intelligence; whites were deemed to deserve special treatment. Whites intended to reconcile for these differences by stating, in our nations Constitution, that slaves are partially human, thereby giving anyone the "right" to own and utilize slaves.
Nathaniel Bacon was a white property owner in Jamestown, Virginia, who united slaves, indentured servants, and poor whites in an effort to overthrow the planter elite. He created huge land grants and accumulated uncultivated lands to restrict the options of free workers. Bacon planned to seize Native American lands to acquire more property for himself and others and nullify the threat of Indian raids. When Virginia's planter elite denied him militia support, he retaliated by leading an attack on the elite, their homes, and property. Since slaves occupied the lowest position in the social caste and suffered the most under the plantation system. In an effort to protect their superior status and economic position, the planters shifted their strategy for maintaining dominance by creating the "racial bribe".  Specifically, how relevant is this old caste system in our world today? How irrelevant is this system?


Saturday, February 4, 2017

Is history repeating itself?

Throughout The New Jim Crow, Michelle Alexander, describes history as repeating itself time and time again. Specifically, Jim Crow laws were described as a "natural...return to sanity" (Alexander 2), but the process of slavery was reconciled in that same way, as a "final, sane, and permanent" (Alexander 2) system for justice. Alexander believes that Reconstruction began in 1863 when the slaves were freed in the north and ended in 1877, when federal troops from the South were removed. The death of Jim Crow can be traced back to the Brown v. Board of Education supreme court case where the "separate but equal" doctrine was overturned. "Brown threatened to not only to abolish segregation in public schools, but also, by implication, the entire system of discrimination in the South" (Alexander 3). Naturally, this statement caused large amounts of backlash and violence, and White Citizens Councils were formed in nearly all Southern states in order to support the writing of new black codes, made in retaliation to the end of Reconstruction. Activists, civil rights leaders, and clergymen organized boycotts, with the hope of erasing this caste system. This is considered to be the start of the Civil Rights Movement, which hit a high point in 1963 when it became "the largest mass movement for racial reform" (Alexander 3) in the twentieth century. On June 12th of that same year, President Kennedy announced the proposed the Civil Rights Bill that made him an ally to the civil rights movement. After his assassination, President Johnson was committed to enact full civil rights legislation in the U.S. In 1964, the Jim Crow system of discrimination was dismantled by the Civil Right Act, and later influenced the Voting Right Act in 1965. Dramatic change evolved into a new social norm throughout the country, and as the Civil Rights Movement took the form of the "Poor People's Movement", activists began to explore that socioeconomic differences and racism were leading causes of poverty and other social issues.
While in his speech, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stated that while blacks have earned some of their deserved rights as humans, there was still a massive racial issue. Even during the time of reconstruction, we learned that whites still had trouble defining a new racial order without slavery, and even after it had died, the nation awaited to learn what would take its place. There was never a full resolution to some of these issues, which is why we still hear about them today. I believe, like Alexander, that even today history is constantly repeating itself. I believe this perspective is very important to keep in mind when we analyze what is currently happening in our nation; the same ideas are being brought back to life. Our nation is split and, unfortunately, there is no driving force pulling it back together.