Editorials

Confederate_Rebel_Flag

Given the recent controversy surrounding the flying of the Confederate flag following the tragedy in Charleston, South Carolina, the Wheel asked the Barkley Forum to debate the pros and cons of removing the flag from display.  The following was written by Barkley Forum members Mollie Fiero and Dillon Hall.

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There is no place for the Confederate flag in contemporary American society, except, perhaps, a museum.
It’s astounding that the emblem of a racist, failed secession could still be on display by government bodies. Although simply dyed cloth, the Confederate flag carries a deeply embedded significance. Danger stems, however, from those who romanticize the Confederacy in justification of the flag, either ignoring or outright glorifying the embarrassing and brutal memory of slavery in the United States.

Fears of slavery’s abolition drove secession preceding the Civil War, thus making the foundation of the Confederacy one of racist violence and enslavement. Georgia, South Carolina and Mississippi all placed concern over maintaining slavery at the forefront of their declarations of secession. Even after the abolition of slavery and end of the war, the identity of former confederates was still closely linked to white supremacy, leading to calls for the Black Codes during reconstruction and Jim Crow much later.

In mainstream popular culture, the Confederate flag only made resurgence when desegregation became a political issue at the beginning of the Civil Rights movement. The segregationist party, called Dixiecrats, toted the Confederate flag alongside their racist agenda starting in 1948.

Those who call on the “heritage” preserved by the flag must consider the gravity of their appeal to a time of absolute domination, assault, disempowerment, and mass death at the hands of slave owners and traders. There is no neutrality to the flag, or to the Confederacy, and any perspective that excludes the sinister realities of what the Confederacy was made for, to maintain slavery, takes a skewed and naïve view of history.

The ramifications of the subjugation of black Americans are still evident today; socially, politically and economically. Wage gaps, drop-out and incarceration rates, healthcare inequities, educational disparities and rates of police brutality all serve as evidence of the structural racism inherent to modern America. Media and popular representation of black Americans can often be drawn to racist stereotypes used to justify the existence of slavery or the general principles of white supremacy. This intensifies the need for an excising of artifacts of the Confederacy, because even without slavery, racist sentiment and realities persist.

More than a historical relic, the flag actively represents and promotes a system of oppression and terroristic violence towards black populations. It acts as a rallying point, a provocative and incendiary nonverbal statement endorsing anti-black violence. The flag is revered by hate groups such as the Klu Klux Klan (KKK) as well as violently racist individuals. The flagpoles of the KKK and government buildings ought not to share such an overlap, and an overt symbol must be deemed inappropriate in a so-called representative democracy.

Those who call on the “heritage” preserved by the flag must consider the gravity of their appeal to a time of absolute domination, assault, disempowerment, and mass death at the hands of slave owners and traders.

As recently as June 17, nine black churchgoers were slain during a Bible study in an act that could only be described as terrorism by a white gunman, Dylan Roof. Pictures have since surfaced of Roof gripping the Confederate flag in one hand in a pistol in another, with a menacing glare. His manifesto may have easily been spoken from the mouth of a white plantation owner in 1810, reading, “Niggers are stupid and violent.” He speaks to the inadequacy of the American flag, clearly favoring a more explicitly segregationist, pro-slavery representation in the form of the Confederate flag.

The flag strikes chords of profound fear, anger, and sadness in the hearts of many who see it. Consider Reverend Clementa Pinckney, state Senator, killed at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. When reporting to the South Carolina capitol, he passed underneath the Confederate flag, which represented a mindset that he should never be free, never have a stake in government or even agency over himself. He lived below that flag, until he was killed under it.

The flag itself is terroristic; it represents a racist, violent past and promises a similar future. It is the physical incarnation of centuries of discrimination, subjugation, and terrorism towards the black population. The only ethical position is to advocate the complete removal of the Confederate flag from any all display in government and public spaces. There is legal precedent, such as in California, for a government ban of its sale and display. Too many have died fighting for Civil Rights, and too much is at stake to accept such a flagrant violation of fundamental principles. The Confederate flag’s presence is more than homage to a secessionary, failed southern aspiration, but is tacitly complicit and an endorsement of the racist legacy of slavery which still has very real social and economic ramifications.

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When most people hear “the Confederate Flag should not be taken down,” an old-fashioned, neon sign blinks inside their head, illuminating the common argument against such: “RACISM.”
Because of the violent, inherent racism that created and now justifies the Confederate flag, modern citizens commonly mistake removing the Confederate flag as a progressive action. It’s simple: if you get rid of something racist, racism vanishes! Following Dylann Roof’s mass shooting, which was an attempt to reinvigorate a formal race war largely influenced by the Confederacy of the Civil War, the fight against the Confederate flag has largely dominated the media’s coverage of the tragic murder of nine people.

While claims that the Confederate flag serves to justify and promote racism are certainly valid, the elimination of state support for confederate flags in South Carolina, Mississippi and Virginia is undoubtedly not what’s needed right now.

First and foremost is the issue of racism. Even though the Confederate flag is a symbol of slavery and racism, it is very plausible that removing the flag in and of itself reinforces racism. Many members of both the left and the right have presented the removal of state support for the flag as a one-step solution to racism; after the flag has been removed, shootings like the Charleston Church massacre will no longer occur and racist ideologies will dramatically decline. This couldn’t be more untrue.

Even though the Confederate flag is a symbol of racism, it is not the underlying structure that enables racism. The United States was founded upon slave labor and black people are constantly oppressed in a variety of ways outside of one single racist symbol: police brutality, incarceration rates, employment discrimination and much more.

Thus, if you buy the claim that removing state support for the Confederate flag will reduce racism in the United States, broader calls for racial justice will begin to reach less and less ears—many will say that action has been taken to prevent racism when the flag was taken down, and further actions to prevent racism are redundant or unnecessary. Calls that racism is of the past will arise again, and racial violence will continue unabated.

The second issue with removing state support for the Confederate flag is that it concentrates the variety of factors surrounding the Charleston Church massacre into one solely about the flag. Issues of gun control, mental illness, religion and terrorism have all been drastically glossed over when discussing the Roof shooting—even the victims of the shooting are barely talked about. The media, even this debate itself, have all been fixating upon state governments no longer supporting the Confederate flag, rather than the wide variety of other elements to this massacre. The media’s relative silence upon these other issues not only ensures that racist attacks continue to occur, but also leaves many more doors open.

Thirdly is the more conservative justification for maintaining state support for the Confederate flag: the Constitution. Historically, the United States has never outlawed a domestic flag. In fact, the Nazi flag is still legal to wave. The First Amendment protects supporters of the Confederate flag under the claim that it is merely an exercise of the freedom of speech. Before the state no longer supports the Confederate flag, there must be a clear precedent for what flags should be legal and what flags should not. The logic to remove the Confederate flag very likely applies to the American flag as well. Claims such as “it’s a symbol of genocide, racism, etc.” all ignore the very fact that the American flag operates under these very same justifications. After all, the United States was founded upon the extermination of Native Americans and nearly two centuries of black slave labor.

Thus, if you buy the claim that removing state support for the Confederate flag will reduce racism in the United States, broader calls for racial justice will begin to reach less and less ears.

Once the governments no longer support the Confederate flag, will there be support for any flag? Seven states in the south, including Georgia, all have the Confederate flag as a part of their state flag.

In addition, will the United States continue to restrict the right to freedom of speech?

The logistics of legal precedents brings forth the issue that the justifications behind ending state support for the Confederate flag will be applied to a variety of more cases.

South Carolina, Mississippi, and Virginia should NOT eliminate state support for confederate flags. Now is not the time. Now is the time for larger discussions to occur. Discussions that are premised off of structural racism, mental illness, gun control, terrorism, religion, and much more.

Removing the confederate flag now is merely a distraction.

| Photo by Erin Baker, Staff

Emory Panhellenic Council (EPC) takes the claims outlined in The Emory Wheel’s most recent staff editorial “Sorority Recruitment Disempowers Women” extremely seriously. We believe in the community of care that EPC cultivates and the positive experience of our Panhellenic women. As such, we would like to take the time to address, contextualize and correct some of the misconceptions outlined in this piece.

EPC works tirelessly to streamline and refine the Recruitment process and admit that Panhellenic Recruitment, as with any student-run organization on campus, is not perfect. As incoming EPC President Olivia Czufin wrote to the Wheel in “Greek Organizations Welcome New Members,” recruitment, “is continuously evolving and improving, and will continue to do so next year.”

In an effort to respond to the sweeping allegations presented in the article, we have grouped the claims into six major categories: strictness, exclusion, economic stratification, superficiality, emotional toll and degradation of gender roles.

First, the article accuses EPC of being unnecessarily strict, taking away phones, not allowing them to talk to one another and enforcing strict silence. These rules are specifically in place in order to make the process as free from pressure, stress and influence for members of the community. With these guidelines, we aim to foster as individualized and uninfluenced an experience as possible. Many potential new members (PNMs) can be swayed by an experience that is not their own, perhaps causing them to make a choice that is not best for them. These rules help the women make the best decision possible.

Additionally the Wheel mentions herding the women into lines and yelling at them. First, we take issue with the article’s word choice, which implies that the women are treated like animals. With over 500 women participating in the recruitment process, it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to organize the women, communicate attendance and relay important information. Often times a megaphone is necessary to ensure that all pertinent information reaches 500 women in an outdoor environment with many distractions. Much the same way a coach communicates loudly with his or her athletes who need imperative instructions and information.

The Wheel also made several strong accusations regarding EPC’s allegedly exclusionary policies. The Wheel’s claim implying that Panhellenic is racist is ill-researched and most obviously disproved by the diversity in Panhellenic leadership, mirrored in each individual chapter. The selection of women is based off of a multitude of factors, none of which include race. We maintain a non-discriminatory policy and any individual who identifies as a woman is welcome to participate in recruitment.

Similarly, the Wheel insinuated that EPC celebrated heteronormativity while excluding individuals identifying as transgender or LGBT. Empirically, EPC has never excluded someone from the recruitment process based on identity, making this claim unfounded and offensive. More specifically, the Wheel articulates that excluding “boys” (one of the five B’s) from conversations of recruitment also inherently excludes the LGBT community. What the Wheel fails to address is that the “5 Bs” are merely an easy way to remember broader themes to stay away from, with boys representing relationships. Just as “Barack” does not only mean ‘do to talk about the current president’, using the word boys in an acronym does not imply a discriminatory policy against gender preference.

Finally, the Wheel makes several claims surrounding the ambiguity of the selection process and PNM placement. While selection processes vary by each chapter’s national policy, EPC employs software that ensures a mutual selection process, weighing the PNM’s input as well as the input of our campus’ chapter’s yielding an outcome that is a function both of recruiter and recruitee. Conversations that the women have during recruitment are unequivocally the most important factor in the process, similar in form to a job interview wherein a recruiter is seeking to understand fit of a potential candidate or the Wheel, for example, is seeking to understand fit of a potential new member of its staff.

The Wheel’s next attack focused on recruitment as economically stratifying. The registration fee is necessary to purchase each PNM a shirt and provide them with food and drinks during the process, ensuring that they are comfortable during the long days. The accusation resolves itself within the Wheel’s own article: the registration fee that may place financial stress on some women can be waived at the PNM’s request.

EPC also recognizes the financial burden of joining a Greek organization. EPC maintains full transparency regarding this commitment, constantly informing PNMs of the range and average of our chapter’s dues. Each sorority’s dues are not released to help PNMs make the best choice based on the chapter where they feel most comfortable.

If a PNM becomes an initiated member and realizes she cannot finance her dues, she has many options. EPC strives to relieve the financial commitment set by individual national organizations by offering scholarships each semester, awarded through a blind application process. This scholarship program, launched this year, was in direct response to feedback from the EPC community. Additionally, each chapter also offers scholarships and payment plans so they can fully accommodate members, including women of all economic backgrounds.

The Wheel’s final economic complaint was that women are forced to purchase new clothing for recruitment. This is simply untrue. Chapters welcome women with all different styles and quite frankly, would have no way to know whether a PNM’s clothes were new or old, a point communicated to the PNMs prior to recruitment. Women are encouraged to present their best self, just as they would in an interview to give the best first-impression

The next major topic was superficiality. While the conversations actually last longer than five minutes, this brevity is necessary in order to maximize the number of sisters a PNM can meet, giving her a better window into the organization. As the recruitment process continues, conversations are lengthened in order to allow for more in-depth discussions with members, absolving any problems with superficiality.

The Wheel trivializes the emotional experience that a PNM can undergo during the recruitment process, failing to recognize that a sorority is a lifelong commitment. In order to properly prepare, EPC introduced a new partnership with Counseling and Psychological Services in order to properly train their Pi Chi Recruitment Counselors through several training sessions. This training, coupled with the assistance of on-site Campus Life Professionals, allowed EPC to be fully equipped for any situation that might arise.

Finally, the Wheel insinuates that the EPC recruitment process reinforces degrading gender roles. EPC offers suggestions and guidelines, the “5 Bs”, to initially abstain from engaging in conversations, which might alienate or make any participant uncomfortable or unintentionally insulted. In no way do these guidelines aim to propagate inequitable gender norms. These guidelines help PNMs (in a sorority as well as a fraternity recruitment setting) feel comfortable, a priority for EPC and our chapters. This should not later become an issue, as Panhellenic women, like the Emory community, are accepting of diversity and open dialogue.

In conclusion, we recognize the Wheel’s concerns. EPC is always open to criticism, feedback and suggestions, yet is disappointed in the medium the Wheel has chosen to express their unresearched and unsubstantiated opinions. EPC encourages the Wheel to strive to facilitate productive discussions while also reporting on the innumerable positive aspects of our community. EPC resolutely supports its recruitment process, our new members and the extraordinary contributions made by the Panhellenic women in our community.​

— By Emory Panhellenic Council

Photo Courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons
Photo Courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons
Photo Courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

So run the famous lines from The Notebook, Nicholas Sparks’ popular romance novel that made it to the big screen: “They didn’t agree on much. In fact, they didn’t agree on anything. They fought all the time and challenged each other every day. But despite their differences, they had one important thing in common. They were crazy about each other.”

Absolutely sigh-worthy, though we may be sighing for different reasons. It’s a familiar tale — not only to Sparks’ enthusiasts, but to anyone who has seen a Hollywood romance in his or her day. I’ve never been in a serious relationship, but I’ve seen enough of them to know that what Sparks writes are not “romance novels” — they’re fairy tales, pure and simple.

So why don’t we treat them like fairy tales?

Reality check: Sparks is filing for a divorce, citing “irreconcilable differences.” He was married for 25 years. He reified Hollywood’s notion of romance in popular culture. Look up “romance” in the dictionary, and you can expect his picture pasted in by one of his fans. Judging by his books, if he can’t make a romance work, no one can.

According to Twitter user @LANDOW747: “Nicholas Sparks getting a divorce could be equated to your rehab physician doing cocaine.”

But it was Sparks himself who told us to judge by actions, not words: “You’re going to come across people in your life who will say all the right words at all the right times,” he wrote in The Rescue, “But in the end, it’s always their actions you should judge them by. It’s actions, not words, that matter.”

So, let’s judge him, and let’s judge the flowery romantic nonsense he passes as literature, by his actions: he is getting divorced. As the blogger Matt Walsh has pointed out, Sparks suffers from a disease, a disease infecting millions of our nation’s men and women: fantastical and unrealistic perceptions of romance. He has some highly problematic notions about romance, which he propounds in his novels. And what’s more? He’s contagious.

Ultimately, Sparks’ ideology is not merely mistaken; it’s hideously and insidiously misleading, and his novels and notions do an immeasurable amount of harm to our culture. Readers and viewers who do not understand the limitations of fictitious romance as a predictor for real-world romance will find themselves expecting Sparks’ characters to walk off the page and into their lives.

But in the real world, the one you and I inhabit, meeting Noah Calhoun from The Notebook wouldn’t be a heart-melting experience.

Let’s think about it. This guy jumps onto a Ferris wheel seat between some girl he’s never met and an equally strange guy, insistently asking the girl out. Then he hangs from said Ferris wheel, threatening to let go unless said-girl-he’d-never-even-met went out with him. (“I was drawn to you” is his excuse.) When she gives in and they go out, he lies down in the middle of the road, which is somehow supposed to be romantic. “Trust me,” he says, telling her to lie down next to him; they almost get run over. Still catching his breath, he asks her to dance on the same road. Seriously.

Calhoun meets all the criteria of a psychopath. But this dark stranger from the other side of the tracks, this mythological, rough and rugged character so adored by women in popular media (think Christian Grey from Fifty Shades of Grey), “probably has herpes, a coke habit and a criminal record,” as Walsh puts it. And yet Calhoun and characters like him continue to establish our society’s romantic standards.

Over Thanksgiving I watched the movie The Fault in Our Stars (different author, same problems) with some friends. Let me ask you: if someone you had never met just stared at you during a cancer support group, smiling knowingly when you looked his way, would you really find that flattering and attractive?

It’s just creepy. But when I objected, I was told you can pull it off in real life, but only “if you’re cute enough.” Later on in the movie, Gus Walker tells the girl, “All your efforts to keep me away from you are going to fail.” Let me just say that there is a good reason people carry pepper spray.

Still, it wouldn’t be fair to say that characters like Calhoun and Walker are all creep and no charm. There are the romantic picnics, witty and endearing remarks and those bedazzling good looks. But all these only compound the problem.

 

Love isn’t always flaming affection, scenic picnics and passionate physical intimacy …

We can’t forget that after everything, this is a world of narrative; someone makes a living spending countless hours crafting a minute-long scene. That’s why everything will always be “perfect.”

But real life just isn’t like that, and it’s incredibly damaging to hold on to these ideals as a real-world standard. We find ourselves longing for and expecting something that sounds good on paper or on-screen, but these same ideas are what we actually find disturbing or weird in real life. Or we long for and expect a romance so “perfect” that could only ever exist on paper or on-screen. Like pornography, it sets unrealistic and unachievable standards that leave a second party inadequate, powerless to satiate. It’s a lose-lose situation.

Although paperbacks and “chick-flicks” are more than capable of ruining a generation of lovers, an increasingly media-saturated and social network-validated culture has exacerbated the problem. Through technology, we have gained the ability to isolate ourselves, displaying selected pieces of our lives in the form of selfies, status updates, etc. Of course, we only show the best parts, the highlights and even those we like to embellish (hence the numerous photo filters on your phone). But who do you know who has tweeted their divorce filings? When has your Instagram feed featured pictures of tears, smeared makeup and disheveled hair, with the caption “first fight! :)”?

We extrapolate an image of what romance is “supposed” to look like from Sparks and social media. But of course, such a detached view of life will be idyllic; everything looks good from far away, as the saying goes. But life is not a Monet painting.

Instead, we are forced to take a closer look every day, and our noses are shoved into its unpleasantries. It’s the same with romance: we are pressed to see the ugliness, the dark recesses of our loved ones, and then we continue loving them.

As most people have experienced, love involves a lot of mundanity. Love isn’t always flaming affection, scenic picnics and passionate physical intimacy; nor is it always rainbows and butterflies. In fact, it often looks a lot like a friendship. Real love — not the stuff Sparks propounds — integrates the mundane, the everyday, the chores and the obligations, the sacrifices and concessions — everything that Sparks will avoid if he wants to continue making money. It takes all these things and it redeems them, giving them a new meaning, a new beauty.

This is precisely the love we find in the Gospels, the Romance of all time. John’s Gospel tells us that, “No greater love has anyone than this: that he would lay down his life for his friend.” Paul finishes the thought in his letters: “Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person … but God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Jesus’ selfless death and his reckless pursuit of a broken humanity exemplify the kind of love modern relationships could truly benefit from. Jesus didn’t send us sappy love letters; he took on flesh and spoke face-to-face, and he said some pretty harsh things — because he loved us.

Likewise, Jesus didn’t wine and dine us with romantic picnics, but he gave us his very flesh and blood. Jesus didn’t have butterflies in his stomach when he dragged his cross to Calvary. Nor did he endure that cross because he had some kind of vague, fuzzy feeling for us. Rather, Jesus let himself be murdered because he loved us, with a love so selfless and flawless that we can’t even comprehend what or why it is.

Let’s forget everything Sparks has taught us about romance; that stuff only ends in divorce. (According to the American Psychological Association, the U.S. divorce rate is 40 to 50 percent). It’s time to examine the gaps in our News Feed, to ask ourselves what the Instagram photo looks like without that snazzy color saturation. It’s time to ask our parents, grandparents and friends what their romance looked like — and what it looks like 10, 20 and 50 years later. It’s time to understand that love, real love, is gritty. It involves pushing past “irreconcilable differences”; it takes persistence, hard work and the forgiveness of faults.

Love doesn’t just form magically overnight, lasting forever or until cancer or Alzheimer’s strikes. Let’s escape the lies of Sparks and social media, and the expectations those lies lead to. Not only is it unfair for others, who can never fulfill our expectations, but it is ultimately unfair to us, who can never have our expectations fulfilled.

Jon Warkentine is a College junior from Almaty, Kazakhstan.

Cartoon by Priyanka Pai, Staff
Cartoon by Priyanka Pai, Staff
Cartoon by Priyanka Pai, Staff

As of Friday, Jan. 16, Americans will now be allowed to travel to Cuba without a special government license. This move is part of the Obama administration’s normalization of relations with Cuba, which also includes liberalization of trade restrictions, increasing the amount of remittances allowed and reopening diplomatic relations. This normalization of relations can be attributed to many factors: the failure of the embargo to topple Fidel Castro’s regime, pleas form the international community and a changed domestic political landscape.

One reason for the administration’s shift on Cuba policy has received little attention, yet is possibly one of the most important reasons for this historic rapprochement: the new conflict between the United States and Russia. President Obama does not want to repeat the mistakes of America’s Cuba policy during the Cold War, in which the United States isolated and embargoed Cuba in an attempt to remove the Castro regime from power, but actually just drove Cuba in the hands of the Soviet Union.

The politics of Cuba was a matter of great importance in American-Soviet relations for much of the 20th century. Only 90 miles from Florida, communist Cuba was one of the USSR’s greatest points of geopolitical leverage over the United States. Cuba is best remembered for its role in the Cuban Missile Crisis, in which the world came closer to nuclear annihilation than it ever has before or since. But the Soviet Union also basically supported the entire Cuban economy, buying its entire sugar crop and supplying heavily subsidized oil. When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, and aid to Cuba ceased, the Cuban economy went into deep recession for four years. The Soviets also ran the Lourdes spy base on the island, the USSR’s largest spy base outside of its own borders, which greater than 75 percent of the Kremlin’s strategic information on the United States filtered through at its peak.

While Cuba is no longer as close to Russia as it once was to the Soviet Union, the two countries continue to have deep connections. Approximately 55,000 Russians visit Cuba every year, often for beach vacations away from Russia’s cold winters.

In the past year, as a part of Russia’s new aggressive and expansionist foreign policy, the Kremlin has tried to become closer to its former Caribbean ally. In July, Putin visited Havana and met with Raúl and Fidel Castro. In a deal accompanying the visit, Russia agreed to forgive $32 billion in Cuban debt to Russia, and in return Cuba is allowing Russia to reopen the Lourdes spy base, explore for oil and gas in Cuban waters and help build a large seaport. Russia is attempting to rebuild its connections to Cuba to gain leverage over the United States, as the USSR did during the Cold War.

The Obama administration is determined to not let Cuba fall within the Kremlin’s sphere of influence. A Russia-aligned Cuba would be a great security liability since the country is so close to the United States. A showdown of the magnitude of the Cuban Missile Crisis would be unlikely to occur because the United States’ current conflict with Russia is less heated and communication between the two countries is better than it was during the heyday of the Cold War. But a Russia-aligned Cuba would serve as a springboard for the Kremlin’s anti-Western foreign policy in the Western Hemisphere.

There is already an alliance of anti-Western leaders in Latin America led by Venezuela, and largely fueled by its petrodollars, that includes Cuba, Bolivia and Ecuador. While members of this loose ideological alliance are vocal critics of the United States, they are not powerful enough to challenge the United States in any meaningful capacity. Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez infamously called President George W. Bush “el diablo,” but he cannot do much more than this cheap talk.

If these states were to align with Russia though, together they could threaten the United States and its allies much more significantly. Russia could finance insurgencies and extremist parties across Latin America, using these allies like Cuba and Venezuela as bases of operations and partners, as it has done in its own European front yard and as the Soviet Union did during the Cold War.

Obama’s historic rapprochement with Cuba should hopefully avoid this scenario. By reestablishing relations with Cuba, the United States will have much more influence over Cuba — influence that it can use to pull Cuba away from Russia using positive incentives such as foreign aid, trade links and broader cultural connections.

The year 2014 has unfortunately shown that Russia is once again a geopolitical threat to the United States and overall global security. By pursuing rapprochement with Cuba, the Obama administration is ensuring that we do not repeat the fiasco that was American-Cuban relations during the Cold War, as the United States now enters a new Cold War of sorts with Russia. It was a brilliant policy move by the Obama administration in both means and end. By reengaging Cuba in a manner that will hopefully promote democracy, liberty and prosperity for the Cuban people, President Obama is also countering Russia’s geopolitical aggression.

While American foreign policy often does not learn from its own mistakes, by reopening relations with Cuba, Obama is ensuring that the failed Cuba policy of the Cold War does not continue into the new conflict with Russia.

Ben Perlmutter is a College junior from Chappaqua, New York.

Cartoon by Mariana Hernandez, Staff
Cartoon by Mariana Hernandez, Staff
Cartoon by Mariana Hernandez, Staff

Last Saturday, Jan. 18, four different Fox News anchors took time out of their normal programs to utter a word not often heard on mainstream television: “Sorry.”

The apology from the most watched cable news network in the U.S. was in reference to their repeated discussion of so-called “no-go zones” as a contributing factor to the terrorist attacks on the Charlie Hebdo headquarters and a kosher grocery store in Paris earlier this month.

In a Jan. 12 article on the Fox News website titled “Paris attacks prompt fears France’s Muslim ‘no-go’ zones incubating jihad​,” the no-go-zones are described as “breeding grounds for radicalism” where “poor and alienated Muslims have intimidated the government into largely ceding authority over them.”

According to Fox anchors and their recruited anti-terrorism experts, these are the areas where terrorists such as the Kouachi brothers who attacked the Charlie Hebdo headquarters in Paris are able to thrive.

This type of anti-Islamic analysis is not uncommon at Fox News and across much of mainstream American media, but these particular comments received intense international criticism.

British Prime Minister David Cameron called one of Fox’s so-called terrorist experts a “complete idiot” for stating that the city of Birmingham is “totally Muslim where non-Muslims just simply don’t go,” while the French TV station Canal+ mocked Fox by visiting the no-go zones and interviewing ordinary French citizens. Unfortunately Fox’s absurd comments, deemed laughable by our Western European allies, were widely accepted here in the U.S.

In one of the four apologies last Saturday, Fox anchor Julie Banderas explained that the network had “made some regrettable errors on air regarding the Muslim population in Europe” and that “there is no formal designation of these zones.”

Certainly a commendable act, but what is more regrettable than their failure to sufficiently check their facts about the no-go zones is their propensity to leap headlong into support of such a story simply because it substantiates their argument against Islam.

But when a major news station inaccurately reports information that ostracizes a religion practiced by nearly a quarter of the world, is sorry really enough?

Continuing this kind of reporting will only contribute to the growing divide currently isolating Islamic groups throughout the Western world.

Following the conclusion of the nationwide manhunt for the perpetrators of the Jan. 7-9 attacks, news stations from Fox News to CNN to MSNBC attempted to explain how and why these incidents took place in a Western nation that is not too unlike the U.S.

They began searching for someone or something to blame, and inevitably came up with the Islamic religion as they so often have in the decade and a half since the 9/11 terror attacks.

These anti-Islamic sentiments in TV journalism are manifested in a variety of ways.

Fox News anchor Bill O’Reilly seems to enjoy quoting scripture from the Quran that undeniably encourages a Jihad against the Western world.

Fellow Fox News anchor Sean Hannity’s favorite pastime appears to be moderating debates between himself, an anti-Islamic guest and a pro-Islamic or Muslim guest whose comments are often drowned out by Hannity’s own raised voice.

Other less prominent anchors often supplement their opinions with imported experts on terrorism, Middle Eastern politics or military strategy, but the message is quite consistent: Islam promotes violence, Islam poses a threat to the Western world and Islamic extremism is an Islamic problem that the Muslim community has failed to snuff out.

Fox News is not alone in mainstream TV’s so-called “Islamophobia.” A CNN interview from Sept. 2014 with Reza Aslan, a prominent Muslim author, religious scholar and professor of creative writing at University of California, Riverside, has resurfaced since the Charlie Hebdo attacks.

In the nine-minute interview, Aslan is visibly frustrated and baffled as his interviewers continuously cite human rights violations as problems of the Muslim religion despite his cited evidence of more regional or national causes that are unassociated with religion in any way.

According to a 2014 study by the American Press Institute, 87 percent of Americans watch TV to follow the news, leaving a tremendous amount of responsibility on networks to distribute accurate information to the American people. Meanwhile, the Pew Research Center found that only 38 percent of Americans know a Muslim individual personally.

So, 62 percent of Americans are left to form their opinion of a group of people comprising nearly a fourth of the world population — not to mention more than two and a half million Americans — based on what they see, read or hear. It should not come as a surprise then that a recent study from Pew assessing American feelings towards religious groups found that Muslims are the least trusted crowd in the country, and coming in just behind atheists and far behind Jews, Catholics and Evangelical Christians.

Islamophobic reporting is unfortunately not the only form of misinformation represented in major news networks either. In 2014, Ebola, race riots and tensions with Russia briefly took the spotlight from Islamic extremist groups as the premier threat to America.

And yet, here we all are happily on our way in 2015. Where is the apology for Dr. Craig Spencer, who was accused of endangering thousands of New York City residents by riding on a subway with a fever after returning from West Africa? And what about an “our bad” to the African American community for the blatant racism often exhibited during coverage of nationwide protests that followed the Michael Brown and Eric Garner grand jury decisions?

At some point, news networks and media outlets of all forms must be held accountable for the information they present to the American people. The government has no control over what stories the media covers, how the news is presented or in what way opinions are conveyed. And rightfully so: freedom of speech is one of the founding tenets of our country and should most certainly be defended at all costs. The Charlie Hebdo attacks only serve to reinforce this necessity.

Fox News is proud to provide the forum for individuals with conservative or right-wing views to express their opinions, just as MSNBC is proud to do the same for the left. Without this type of platform for national debate, freedom of speech certainly loses some of its meaning.

However, when the opinions of these groups begin to infringe upon the ability of U.S. citizens to live freely and speak freely, action — beyond retrospective apologies — must be taken. And in this free, ratings-driven industry, it is we, the viewers, who must hold the networks accountable for how they present information; we choose to support or counter their opinions, watch or not watch their programs, accept or reject their apologies.

The presentation of Muslims as a threat to Western society does nothing to alleviate the threat of Islamic extremists. Continuing this kind of reporting will only contribute to the growing divide currently isolating Islamic groups throughout the Western world.

Fox’s apology therefore should be directed at the entire Islamic community for inciting unnecessary distrust of a peaceful religious group and, frankly, other news stations should follow suit.​

Chris Hoover is a fifth year student in the Rollins School of Public Health from Manchester, Tennessee.

Screen Shot 2015-01-23 at 5.52.50 AM
Screen Shot 2015-01-23 at 5.52.50 AM
Photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

 

There is an alarming trend happening in higher education across the country.

From Harvard, Stanford and Yale to Kansas State and Valdosta, universities are choosing to censor themselves and their members rather than risk the chance of someone saying something that could possibly offend or cause controversy.

This is mostly due to two factors: increased litigation resulting in policy to decrease liability and the good-natured attempts from administrators to protect students from “harmful ideas.” At best, this is a misguided infringement on the freedom of conscience. At worst, it is the institutionalization of thought-police.

I hold that it is somewhere closer to the former at the moment, but fear the implications if left unchecked.

In today’s “liberalized society,” it is becoming more and more difficult to have opinions on controversial topics without offending the senses of some group. I have felt it impossible to discuss the hostilities (for lack of a better term) in the state of Israel, inside the context of the Political Science Department without hearing vehement accusations of anti-Semitism or Zionism.

Self-censorship has silenced a department whose entire purpose is to discuss the state and conflict resolution on what could arguably be considered the most important conflict of the 21st century. If only one thread is pulled through this series, let it be this: censorship is antithetical to the very idea of a university.

A common misunderstanding when dealing with free speech is that we value the freedom of speech because it is the first right in our Bill of Rights. In other words, we value free speech because the Constitution says that we do.

This is not true. Our Constitution values free speech because it is essential to liberty and therefore a core belief of our society. Speech is protected because it is inherently good for both society and the advancement of learning.

If only one thread is pulled through this series, let it be this: censorship is antithetical to the very idea of a university.

It is ridiculous to think that we only have the right to free speech if that speech is something which the majority ascribes to. There is no need to protect something which is not under threat. Instead, it is marginalized groups who need protection.

Groups like ethnic or religious minorities, political dissidents and those who disagree with essential social norms — these people are minorities for a reason. There is a reason why the majority of people in society do not agree with them.

Sometimes they are just ahead of the times, sometimes it is because their beliefs are in conflict with the existing system of power and sometimes it is because they are just awful human beings.

Case in point: LGBT persons in the 1950-60s. These individuals were vilified in the media, popular culture, the churches and even the scientific community. Until 1973, the American Psychiatric Association regarded homosexuality as a disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Openly gay men were not allowed to work in schools or hold federal positions, and faced the threat of employment termination even in the private sector.

If society had used its power to oppress the speech of what it viewed as an obscene and predatory minority, we would not be able to live in a country where 19 states recognize the right for LGBT couples to marry. Society evolves over time, and what is offensive and obscene today may become an encouraged norm in the future.

It is not possible, or wise, for society to regulate against what it feels to be objectionable or obscene. Russia had passed a law recently making it a crime to speak about homosexuality in the presence of a minor, causing public outrage before the Sochi Olympics. The logic used by the Russian government is the same logic that many censors use domestically, only differing in the premise of whether or not homosexuality is bad for society.

Because society has shown itself unable to determine what is good and bad speech, it follows that all speech must be protected, especially when it offends. This means that racist organizations will have the right to rally, fascists can hand out fliers, war opponents can protest in the streets and that guy you hate in calculus can make a snide comment about how short the skirt is on the girl in the second row.

Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis once said that “Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman.” If the free exchange of ideas, even objectionable ideas, is stifled, then ignorance will have a chance to breed.

Bigotry and hatred must be thrust out into the light so that it can be examined and crushed through reason and compassion. When people are free to say what is on their minds, they generally will. And when that thought is offensive, others will comment on it and spark dialogue. That is how to remove intolerance, not through censorship.

People often tell me something along the lines of: “Emory is a private institution, though. Shouldn’t we have not only the right, but the responsibility, to regulate what message we send about ourselves?”

My answer is an unequivocal “yes.” Yes, we are private, yes we should monitor what message we send to the world, but no, we ought not to send this particular message. It is the role of the university in its abstract to question the status quo and push the limits of society.

The university is an institution founded to progress the sciences, arts and culture, and Emory is a leader amongst universities. By allowing the majority to control speech and, by extension, thought that deviates from our norms, we run counter to our mission to better society.

If our universities are not free to push boundaries, then who will? It is left to us to lead the charge to defend our freedom of conscience, because it seems that if we do not, no one will.

Connor Crum is a College junior from Maryville, Tennessee.

Courtesy of Shadyart87 / Wikimedia Commons.
Courtesy of Shadyart87 / Wikimedia Commons.
Courtesy of Shadyart87 / Wikimedia Commons.

At long last, the economy appears to be improving. ​So who do we thank? President Barack Obama? The Federal Reserve? Oil companies? Mitch McConnell would have us thank the GOP, which took control of Congress on January 3. “The uptick appears to coincide with the biggest political change of the Obama administration’s long tenure in Washington: the expectation of a new Republican Congress,” McConnell said.

PolitiFact rated this claim a flat-out false. “Even leaving aside the question of causation, key statistics show that the economic recovery was under way well before September, which is our best estimate for when the ‘expectation’ of a GOP Senate solidified,” PolitiFact wrote. McConnell’s statement seems to suggest that the a Republican majority Congress will pass legislation conducive to continuing the economic upturn. But so far Congress has proven that just the opposite is the case.

Among the 114th Congress’s initial pieces of legislation is the Promoting Job Creation and Reducing Small Business Burdens Act, which, in spite of its title, will likely do little to improve either of those goals. What it will do is gut the Dodd-Frank Act, passed in 2010 to prevent the sort of negligent financial activities that led to our most recent recession. If the legislation passes, banks will be able to hold onto risky assets for an additional two years and derivative trading will become less transparent, factors that might ripen our financial sector for another meltdown. How disappointing it would be for the United States to end up back where it was in 2008 just when things are starting to get really good, with unemployment at 5.6 percent and with 2.95 million jobs added over the past 12 months.

Prices at the gas pump have dropped by half, a phenomenon that is projected to last well into 2015.

The bill was passed on Wednesday. President Obama is likely to veto the bill, but Congress has proven its point: that it is largely unconcerned with the well-being of the people of this country. We elect our representatives and senators. But we are not the only ones they represent. In fact, “we the people” don’t even come first. We must wait in line behind the lobbyists, individuals and corporations who contribute large sums of money to increase the likelihood that their chosen representative will get elected and stay in power. With the vast income gap in this country, money increasingly becomes the key determinant of political power in this country.

We elect our representatives and senators. But we are not the only ones they represent.

Actions like passing the Promoting Job Creation Act are clear examples of how unrepresentative Congress is of its voters. It makes an enemy out of regulation, the bane not of the common people but of the cronies of big business.

If these members of Congress, bent on deregulation, wish to simultaneously call themselves promoters of capitalism, considered a strong American ideal, they’d better open their eyes to how far this country has deviated from capitalism as Adam Smith saw it, which fundamentally requires a regulating body to protect the market from failure. Government, designed to protect the interests of the public at large, ideally fill this role. But when conflict of interest arises in government, it can no longer function as an effective regulating body. Obviously corporations despise the blow to the profit margin, but we need anti-trust laws to keep them from monopolizing entire industries. The Dodd-Frank Act may not be perfect, but the regulation it sets keeps the financial institutions from taking our economy out on another cheap thrill ride followed by a seven-year-long hangover.

Most people are either unaware of this reality or are aware but simply apathetic toward it. I fall into this latter category. So why do I even discuss it? Because the whole thing makes me wonder why it is we as a society, myself included, remain so apathetic towards the corrupt relationship between our government and big business.

But the result of this apathy is the failure of democracy, the sort that allowed the GOP to take control of the Senate in this past midterm election. Although we generally anticipate low voter turnout in midterm elections, this particular election had the lowest turnout since World War II with only 36.4 percent of eligible voters casting ballots last November. Are we so naive as to see the presidential election as more important than the election of members of Congress, who on average serve for nine or ten years, longer than the maximum amount of time the president can serve?

Such low voter turnout should speak for itself. Were the act of not voting to be read as a vote of abstention, then we could toss the current candidates in favor of ones who might incite better turnout, meaning candidates who more fully represent their constituency. But that’s not the way the law is written. But the power is ours for the taking, if we so dare. Or rather, if we so care.

Assistant Editorials Editor Erik Alexander is a College junior from Alpharetta, Georgia.     

Courtesy of F.RdeC / Wikimedia Commons.
DSM, mental disorder
Courtesy of F.RdeC / Wikimedia Commons.

 

The Wheel retracts the below article because it is based off of an incorrect premise. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) fifth edition did not remove Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) from its catalog.

Attention everyone! Everybody look at me! There’s a new normal in town. You can read all about it on my Facebook page.

Several months ago I wrote an editorial decrying the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual fifth edition (DSM-5) for its treatment of the autistic spectrum. I now return to said DSM-5 regarding the removal of narcissistic personality disorder from its catalog.

You may recall the original Narcissus of Greek mythology, who starved to death because he was unable to part with his reflection in a pond. He prefers bathroom mirrors now, if his Instagram account is any indication.

The DSM continually publishes revised editions for two reasons: firstly, it makes the American Psychiatric Association more money than does any other single source and, secondly, as social norms change, so too must the definitions of deviations from them.

This is the DSM’s job: to gauge what is and is not normal … with one major caveat.

Normal means functional, so regardless of what behaviors or symptoms one might display, technically the only way one can be said to have a disorder is if it impairs their performance. So as long as unreasonable self-importance was hurtful, it was a disorder. But it’s become functional, the new “healthy ego.” How did we get here? We rewarded it with a ‘like.’

Unlike in my previous editorial, I am not criticizing the DSM-5 itself for its revisions; instead, I am criticizing society for making this revision so justifiable. The so-called “selfie generation” has brought neediness to a new level, and we’ve let it happen. A colleague some time ago offered the very appropriate example of Kanye West: brash and egotistical but hugely successful. His fame is unimpeded by his self-importance and made greater in a world where interruptions and sex scandals get one name recognition in the industry rather than getting blacklisted. Self-absorption is, for the most part, no longer self-destructive.

At least, not to the individual; this is the country whose people learned the National Security Agency was spying on them and were flattered by the extra followers.

Self-absorption is, for the most part, no longer self-destructive.

I’m reminded of the old adage “if everyone’s special, then no one’s special,” but reapplied: if everyone’s narcissistic then no one’s narcissistic, because the term is now meaningless. Somewhere between ubiquitous participation trophies and trashy reality television we found ourselves in a post-narcissist world. I don’t care for it. And, to phrase it in a more post-narcissistic way, what does it say about Western society that the image obsessed, “Twitter famous” navel-gazer is our new mascot?

I realize that I am not the best person to volley this complaint. I’m not humble; I’m arrogant, even. I put down the next guy as much as the next guy. My speech is more verbose than the word “sesquipedalian” itself.

Also, not to force the point but it’s probably good that I have mirrors not far from the kitchen.

So the fact that this message is coming from me should be a statement in and of itself. The message is, we did this and we can undo it. Remember what social media was originally supposed to be about: interconnectedness.

The thing about narcissism or post-narcissism is that it requires one to acknowledge others but not to value them. Acknowledgement is insufficient for human connection, just like meaningless “likes” or halfhearted tweets. We are bombarded with so much to acknowledge, but what and who do we really value? Now there’s something to post about.

It’s not even the products and sites, really; it’s the mindset. iDoThis, iDoThat. So you can keep your profiles, your instagrams and your tweets. But, in an inversion of Kant’s categorical imperative, remember to use them always as means and never as ends. As in an improv showcase, always ask, “Yes, AND…?” Or perhaps just a simple, sincere “How are you?” instead of a “Here’s how I am.”

The DSM is a living document and you have no idea how important the little things will be to society’s state of mental health a generation from now.

Sam Ready is a College sophomore from Atlanta, Georgia.

Courtesy of JeanBono / Wikimedia Commons.
Courtesy of JeanBono / Wikimedia Commons.
Courtesy of JeanBono / Wikimedia Commons.

Cultural appropriation and “whitewashing” in popular media are issues that have plagued minority communities within the U.S. for centuries. Whitewashing is a metaphor used to explain how the achievements and cultural milestones made by people of color have historically been erased and appropriated by the white population. Since as early as the 1930s, Hollywood has made white actors portray people of color in films, such as “Charlie Chan Carries On” (1931), in which a middle-aged Asian man is portrayed by Warner Oland, a white actor, and “Cleopatra” (1963), in which Elizabeth Taylor, a white actress, played the Egyptian queen Cleopatra.

According to a study conducted by The University of California — Los Angeles, whites eclipse minority groups in every aspect of film and media, ranging from acting to directing films.

The being said, racist tendencies have not been limited just to Hollywood. In the music industry, artists such as Gwen Stefani, Avril Lavigne and Elvis Presley have each played a role in cultural appropriation in a bid to gain attention. As early as the 1950s, Presley, also known as “The King of Rock and Roll,” exhibited cultural appropriation when the idea of rock and roll was conceived.

According to Larry Ford’s “Geographic Factors in the Origin, Evolution, and Diffusion of Rock and Roll Music,” rock and roll originated from African American blues musicians, such as Robert Johnson, and a mixture of other primarily white genres such as country and pop.​

In the early 2000s, Stefani began a publicity stunt centered on her interest in Japanese culture that quickly spiraled out of control. In 2004, Stefani hired four backup dancers who she named “Love,” “Angel,” “Music” and “Baby,” respectively, after the title of her album. These four girls were forced to speak in Japanese at all public events and were known as the “Harajuku girls.”

Asian American comedienne Margaret Cho publicly criticized Stefani by comparing the Harajuku girls to blackface: “Even though to me, a Japanese schoolgirl uniform is kind of like blackface, I am just in acceptance over it, because something is better than nothing. An ugly picture is better than a blank space, and it means that one day, we will have another display at the Museum of Asian Invisibility, that groups of children will crowd around in disbelief, because once upon a time, we weren’t there.”

However, the works of Stefani and Presley were not nearly as controversial as the rise of a relatively new artist Amethyst Amelia Kelly, better known by her stage name “Iggy Azalea,” whose fame and image are solely dependent on her skills of mimicking people of color.

Azalea is an Australian rapper from Mullumbimby, New South Wales. At the age of 16 she flew to Miami, Florida to pursue a career in rap. Azalea had her first major breakthrough in the U.S. in early 2014 with her U.S. debut single “Fancy” featuring pop vocalist Charli XCX. The single, released by Island Records, became a number one hit on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart.

Many of her fans might find her success story inspirational, but Azalea has proven to be an incredibly polarizing figure. Many find her “rap skills” to be insulting due to her use of a southern accent in her songs that does not reflect her native Australian accent. Others find her ability to rap at all debatable.

Azealia Banks, another female rapper, who grew up in Harlem and achieved widespread acclaim for her album Broke With Expensive Taste recently, was interviewed by Hot 97 Radio co-hosts Ebro Darden and Peter Rosenberg about her stance on hip-hop culture and Azalea’s recent fame and Grammy nominations.
During the interview, Banks focused on her frustration of cultural smudging that occurs in modern-day music, especially in the hip-hop genre. She explains that America is a country that was built on the backs of slaves and that modern capitalism is essentially the result of slave labor: “Everybody knows that the basis of modern capitalism is slave labor and the huge corporations that are still caking off of slave labor.”

She continues by arguing that this undercurrent of racial prejudice in America has continued on in pop music in the form of cultural appropriation as white rappers are becoming more prevalent and famous than black rappers: “That Macklemore album wasn’t better than the Drake record. That Iggy Azalea [record] is not better than any black girl that’s rapping today. And when they give those awards out — ’cause the Grammys are supposed to be accolades for artistic excellence — Iggy Azalea is not excellent […] When they give these Grammys out, all it says to the white kids is ‘you can do anything you put your mind to’ and it says to the black kids ‘you don’t have anything, you don’t own anything, not even the things you created for yourself.’”

At the end of the day, whether or not everyone agrees with Banks’ sentiment, her argument brings up a question that people have been asking for decades: Where do we draw the line? Is it okay to transcend these cultural barriers? Fifty years ago these questions may not have even been brought up. But as America continues to evolve and recognize the nuances of culture, the underlying problems of racism have gradually become more important.

The fact is that even though some might view the mimicking of other cultures by popular artists as harmless, the underlying message reflects something far more sinister. Stefani and Azalea are conveying a message that it is acceptable to steal the works of people of color in the name of art and entertainment, similar to how blackface was socially acceptable in the early 1900s. Americans must remember that race does matter and that it is necessary to be respectful of other peoples’ culture.

Jesse Wang is a College freshman from Audubon, Pennsylvania.

Less than a century ago, black people in the United States were still denied the basic rights we have today, and were largely treated as second-class citizens.

During the Civil Rights Movement, those marginalized people decided to stand up and demand what was rightfully theirs. Protesting was an effective tool used during the movement, instrumental in expressing the people’s conviction and highly effective in demonstrating the power and impact a large unified group could have. Today, in the wake of the highly publicized killings of black victims, such as Eric Garner and Tamir Rice, protests are once again being utilized to demonstrate the will of the people in places such as Ferguson, New York City and Atlanta.

However, this is not the Civil Rights Movement of days past and protesting is not as effective now as it was back then.

One problem with protests today is the lack of organization and coordination. With the exception of continuous protesting in Ferguson, the foundation of these recent protests, most protests that have occurred across the country have not endured for very long. If the protests don’t grow with time, the focus they are meant to draw will quickly fade away. Without a person or a group to organize the movement, the difficulty of continuing the protests will remain great.

Also, with a lack of coordination comes the lack of any voice. These protests don’t necessarily need one single leader; Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X were just two of many leaders during the Civil Rights Movement.

However, these protestors need people to look to for guidance, to clarify the movement’s purpose and to work with other leaders to give their actions a unity that would bring more power. We live in a representative government, and the necessity of having representation can’t be overlooked. It would make these protestors more than just people yelling and marching in the street; it would give not only the protestors someone to look to, but it would give those outside of the movement a source to work with. Without any leaders, who could be trusted to meet with the government on behalf of everyone involved to express their opinions and concerns?

Another purpose of having a voice is to make motives and intentions clear. A popular distinction made between King and Malcolm X is how they viewed the issue of violence in obtaining their rights. Had there been no leaders during the Civil Rights Movement, it would have been very possible for people to lump all people under Malcolm X’s violent approach, with no one to claim otherwise. So, in the midst of these current protests, when some unruly citizens decide to vandalize or loot, who is there to speak on behalf of the protestors and separate those criminal activities from their own goals?

With a lack of coordination comes the lack of any voice.

Furthermore, protesting is ineffective because protesting itself is not enough. Something more needs to be done. Protestors need to be more proactive in bringing their goals to fruition, and in taking subsequent actions to express their will. For instance, after Rosa Parks was famously arrested for refusing to give up her seat on the front of the bus to a white passenger, people boycotted the buses in Montgomery for over a year. That is much more than just a protest; that boycott further demonstrated their community’s cohesiveness and their willingness to act further, and it had a direct impact on the city that eventually led to the integration of buses.

Finally, perhaps the greatest disadvantage these protests face is how they are perceived. A few days ago students at Ohio State University flooded the streets to celebrate their NCAA championship win, and committed a huge number of acts of vandalism and arson. In the media, they were referred to as revelers and fans.

When one fire was lit during protests in Ferguson, the entire group of protestors was referred to as thugs, looters, rioters and savages.

One purpose these protests are supposed to serve is to draw attention to the issues at hand, and to expose the injustices that are present. If the protests were to cease, there would be no attention drawn to the issues at all, but when the protesters are largely portrayed as villains, the protests cease to draw attention to the issues and instead draw criticism to the protestors. The message the media is sending is drowning out the message the protests are meant to send.

I realize no solution is offered here, and I did not intend to offer one. I only meant to point out that the ongoing fight is not the same one our forefathers fought, and therefore cannot be fought in the same way. The institutionalized racism and horrible treatment of black people that still exists in this country is a terrible injustice that needs to be addressed.

I can’t say whether or a not there is a clear solution, but I can say that protesting as it’s being done now will not be enough, and alternative means to an end must be discussed.

Nathyia Watson is a College freshman from Buffalo, New York.