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When Justice Failed

Today’s Google Doodle honors Fred Korematsu, an American civil rights activist who objected to the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. As a child in elementary school, I read When Justice Failed: The Fred Korematsu Story as required summer reading, and it changed my life. It was the first time I had heard about Japanese Internment. This book shaped my broader interest in social policy, especially in regards to how immigrants and first-generation Americans are viewed.

Being Assyrian-American, I have never felt I quite fit in; not with white Americans or with other brown people. Quite frankly, I fly under the radar and can “blend in” a lot more than many of my Asian, other Middle Eastern, Latino or Black friends, simply because of my physical appearance. But as a child of immigrants, I have always been conscious of the fact that–while I love my country and am an American patriot–others do not view me as American. This has been reinforced time and time again thanks to the wonders of the internet, where people have told me to “go back home” or “go back to your hooker country” (I don’t even know what that one means). These interactions have happened on the comments of this blog as well as on Twitter. And the funniest part to me is that, technically, I am considered “White” (thanks for the privilege, US Census!), and I legitimately don’t look that different from Americans whose families have been in this country for a few more generations than mine. This is how I know first-hand that racism is not limited to skin color. It is not based in fact or truth about who other people actually are. Racism is taught and learned behavior. It is an attitude that promotes fear of the other.

For those who are saying that President Trump’s Executive Order temporarily banning immigration from specific countries is not racist, or who disagree that it is dangerous, I implore you to read about how Japanese-Americans were treated in the US. All this while Jews, gypsies, Poles, Slavs, and people with disabilities (to name a few) were being rounded up and executed en masse by Nazis in Europe. I encourage everyone to read Mr. Korematsu’s amazing story, and about the stain this tragedy left on the American story. Less literary, I recommend watching “The Siege” with Denzel Washington, Annette Benning, and Bruce Willis. The eerie part is that it was made before September 11.

I want to say that the response to President Trump’s policy agenda is not a bunch of leftist sore losers. This is not hysteria. This is genuine fear of known, fairly recent history repeating itself. It can happen here unless we stop it. And the most selfish reason it is so important for me to personally stand and speak against these actions, to condemn them as racist, and to give voice to those harmed is that I know if I do not stand for them now, there will be no one to stand for me later.

I will leave you with Luthern Pastor Martin Niemöller‘s poem in response to indifference to discrimination in Nazi Germany:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

Kentucky clerk, Kim Davis, refuses to issue same-sex marriage licenses

Kim Davis, a county clerk in Kentucky, continues to defy the Supreme Court in approving same-sex marriage licenses. Despite the landmark ruling earlier this summer Davis is resolute in her religious convictions in denying gay couples marriage licenses. She maintains she is “acting under God’s authority.” Davis states that same-sex marriage violates her religious beliefs and she is thus exercising her religious freedom by denying the licenses. Read More…

Californians might be voting for the passage of the “Sodomite Suppression Act”

(Credit: Mariusz Niedzwiedzki via Shutterstock)

(Credit: Mariusz Niedzwiedzki via Shutterstock)

Yes…You correctly read the headline.

According to a Salon.com article, the above mentioned act proposed by a lawyer (someone should check his credentials or at the least his sanity) would punish “the abominable crime against nature known as buggery, called also sodomy” with a bullet to the brain (or death “by any other convenient method”) and also mandates a decade imprisonment plus permanent relocation from California for anyone who advocates LGTBQ rights to an audience that includes minors.” The initiative needs 365k valid signatures to make it to next year’s ballot. As absurd at it might seem the state might have to allow this debauchery to proceed due to the state’s 1974 Political Reform Act which sets procedures (including a $200 fee) that allows for citizens to propose acts for state ballots. Read More…

Should obesity be considered a disability?

(Lucas Jackson/Reuters)

(Lucas Jackson/Reuters)

Yesterday, I read an interesting article in the Chicago Tribune. The paper’s editorial board shared their opinion on the thought of considering obesity as a disability. The consensus was a resounding negative to the notion.

They write: Read More…

Government Shutdown Looming…Again

At the White House 10

At the White House 10 (Photo credit: afagen)

At midnight on September 30th the U.S. government will once again be on the brink of a government shutdown.  Looming deadlines of default have become commonplace for today’s politicians.  An über-partisan, political climate has created an environment of animosity, redundancy and more importantly inadequacy.  While government shutdowns aren’t new (since 1976, there have been 17 separate government shutdowns per The Washington Post) they are certainly a byproduct of an inability to realize the circumstances and challenges of this country.  It is a byproduct of meagerness amongst politicians. Read More…

Should you be able to name your baby ‘Messiah’?

cute baby

A judge in Newport, Tennessee, made national headlines last weekend when she took it upon herself to rename a 7-month-old baby whose parents were before her at a child-support hearing, to resolve a dispute over the child’s surname.  The baby’s given name was “Messiah DeShawn Martin.”  The magistrate judge changed the child’s name to “Martin DeShawn McCullough” (McCullough is the father’s last name).  She said the word ‘Messiah’ is a title and a title that has only been earned by one person and that one person is Jesus Christ.  Read More…

Halle Berry and Jennifer Garner Take on Paparazzi

Halle Berry and Jennifer GarnerOn Tuesday, celebrities Halle Berry and Jennifer Garner appeared at a legislative hearing in California to urge passage of a bill that would increase penalties against paparazzi that “harass” the children of celebrities.  They argue that the paparazzi can take as many pictures of them as they like, despite their chagrin, but when it comes to their children they should exhibit restraint in the best interest of the child.  Read More…

Could economy handle a $15 minimum wage?

McDonald'sIn recent weeks, organized workers have protested outside various fast food restaurants demanding an increase to their hourly wages to $15.  The federal minimum wage is $7.25 ($8.25 in Illinois).  Protesters are demanding their hourly wages more than double so that they can better support themselves.  They argue that their current pay is insufficient in coping with a meek, economic recovery.  They don’t want to struggle to support their families.  Read More…

Illinois Lawmakers care…about their paychecks of course

Scott Stantis cartoon of Mike MadiganLast month I posted of Illinois Governor Pat Quinn’s decision to freeze the pay of Illinois lawmakers until they reach a solution to the state’s ballooning, self-manufactured pension crisis.  Gov. Quinn is weary of state lawmakers’ excuses in their inability to resolve the crisis.  The only solution state lawmakers have managed to pass is the formation of a committee to find a solution.

No, you did not incorrectly read that last sentence.  A committee to find a solution.  Yes, that’s their grand solution.  I hope Illinois taxpayers know that this is the “best” our politicians have managed to legislate on this issue in over eighteen months of “negotiations.” Read More…

First Lady Michelle Obama Changes National Platform to now Promote Stricter Gun Control

Michelle ObamaThis morning the Associated Press reported that First Lady Michelle Obama will be changing her platform for President Obama’s second term.  In 2010, the First Lady began the “Let’s Move” campaign.  The campaign was championed by many celebrities (including Beyonce) as a means to combat the ballooning obesity epidemic plaguing the children of this country.  The First Lady wanted to find a means to begin to combat the ill-effects of poor diet and lack of adequate exercise amongst America’s youth.  In a surprising move she is now focusing her time on preventing and deterring gun violence.

On Sunday I read an interesting article in the Chicago Tribune.  Matea Gold and Kathleen Hennessey asked: “Did food industry alliances move first lady to silence?”  I was planning on writing about that topic later this week but after today’s announcement I feel the question has become even more so relevant.  The article states that she initially told executives “to step it up” to improve the foods they market to children.  Gold and Hennessey suggest she was silenced a year later when many of her own supporters “mounted a fierce lobbying battle” against her guideline proposal in 2011. Read More…