Thursday, December 14, 2006

Rwandan Priest Sentenced to 15 Years for Allowing Deaths of Tutsi in Church

Some of the most gruesome attacks took place in churches and missions! I found this article really surprising and it reminded me of the movie we watched in class - in particular, the scene in the church. If you're still reading blogs, check this out.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

US: Justice Dept. Brings First Charges for Torture Abroad

It was announced today that the United States Justice Department has arrested a U.S. citizen for human rights abuses committed abroad. This is the first time the U.S. has pressed criminal charges against a citizen for torture outside the country.
More specifically, Charles “Chuckie” Taylor, Jr., son of the former Liberian president, was detained in Miami for committing human rights abuses in Liberia during his father’s presidency. Taylor was responsible for an elite anti-terrorist unit that has been accused of committing various violent assaults, rape, beating people to death and burning civilians alive. “Today’s first-ever charges for torture committed abroad are a crucial step by the US government to ensure justice for this crime,” said Elise Keppler, counsel with Human Rights Watch’s International Justice Program. “It is especially significant for Liberian victims of Chuckie Taylor’s alleged abuses. After years of civil war, Liberia’s justice system is in no shape to pursue this type of case.”
While this is indeed an important moment for the U.S. Judiciary System, I wonder how this could affect Americans who have been accused of similar crimes abroad. I think this is especially relevant considering our classes’ ongoing debate about CIA “black sites.”

ASEAN urged to establish human rights commission

ASEAN was formed 40 years ago to battle human right violations in Southeast Asia. The organization still has no body to fight these violations. People within ASEAN have talked about ways to confront the issue but no one has made any movement toward making a change. Leaders of Southeast Asian countries say that they are working to make the ASEAN community a reality by looking for violations of human rights in their own countries. They contribute the headway that they have made to industrial and commercial development.
I see this as an attempt by these countries to move forward and live up to the international call for the respect of human rights.

A Real Pay-It-Forward Project

A friend sent me this url. I thought you might like to read it and think of alternative pay-it-forward projects. What do you think?

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

now even peace is controversial

What can possibly be said of the state of things when people take offense to a peace sign?

First of all, I feel the satanic symbol complaint borders on being hilarious. As for the complaint from those who have children serving in the war-I feel as though whether you have children or other relatives in the war or not, taking offense to a peace sign seems unwarranted. Clearly, those with loved one's off fighting would be definite proponents of peace, as that would likely mean the safe return of their loved ones and a worthwhile end to their fighting.

A peace sign wreath around Christmas time is in no way comparable to a sign that says “drop bombs on Iraq.” It is doing just the opposite, it is a symbol of peace-not an advocate of death and suffering.

Stop dying and start living

Seems like the situation in Darfur is getting worse every day. It's spread to eastern Chad as well as the Northern Central African Republic and threatens to disrupt over 6 million lives. Despite these horrors I cannot say that I would take up arms and fight. My life is as good as those that are lost in the fighting, so why would I risk losing it?
Giving aid and getting involved in evil situations is not the only way to promote good. When I read about all of the terrible events that are occuring each day I make a promise to myself to make up for them by living as well as these lives were lived poorly. I do the same tedious daily activities as everyone else but force myself to keep my eyes on what matters. When little things are getting me down I have to stop myself and remind me of my duties. But I always think about when students a hundred years from now look back to today, what will there be that justifies the horrors that we're dealing with? To make up for the Holocaust we gave a homeland to those who had suffered... but in retrospect we know this didn't solve anything. Even if Israel was at peace, would that make up for the millions of individuals whose lives were made into the opposite of what life should be? So I've decided to be the justification. I've decided that I want to give the world something that makes people say, "A child was just raped and mutilated in front of her parents? That's horrible. But look at what this man did with his life." And my accomplishments won't include trying to stamp out all the evil in the world so that it's neutral instead of ugly. Instead, I'll be pulling up the other side: the good, joyful, and beautiful.
So here's my statement to all of you. Instead of rushing out of your way to put out the fires that surround you, hold your path. You can spend your entire life trying to put out these fires, but in the end what will you have gained? I'm not advocating denying any sort of aid to anyone, but remember that extinguishing a flame doesn't replace what it consumes. Everyone of us has been given such good circumstances in which to live, so use what you have to increase the beauty of the world. I have a lot to make up for. Won't you help me?

Monday, December 04, 2006

Bush Meets With Iraqi Shiite Leader

Is it possible that the United States is committing a human rights abuse by remaining in Iraq when the leaders have asked us to leave?
It talks about how the Iraqi Shiite leader is asking the US to leave so that peace can be restored. Bush claims that our presence needs to be increased due to a recent rise in violence. Is it possible that the rise is violence is due to our prolonged presence?
I think that the Iraqi people feel like the fight is between two groups of people and we are interfering in a civil war.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Secrets

So this is an interesting blog, that I feel is worth seeing. It's a blog that accepts anonymous postcards featuring people's secrets on them. Some of them are amusing and asinine, like last week's Macaulay Culkin scares me, and some of them are moving, dealing with people's battles with cancer and abuse. It might not be human rights to the scale of Darfur or the Iraq war, but it's an interesting site that shows people's battles with good and evil on a very personal level. I'm not so much looking for a reaction on this blog as much just showing a different angle of humanity.

Chavez coasts, human rights abuses continue

"Venezuela is one of the most violent countries in the world" said a researcher from UNESCO who conducted a crime study in the nation recently. Venezuela had the highest gun-related deaths of all 57 nations surveyed. Homicides are up 67% since 1999 and Chavez still seems cozy.
Experts say that this is possible since Chavez's policies have made a good deal of difference in the lives of his people. Ironically, however, the people who are worst affected by crimes are the poor in Venezuela, who also make up Chavez political base. The crimes against the rich are recognized. However, when the poor are killed, or injured, it often goes unnoticed.
Chavez's opponent in the upcoming elections is taking a stand on this issue and is making it a concern for the people.

Thailand: Insurgent Attacks Shut Down Schools

Malay-Muslim Separatists are targeting teachers as symbols of the state in provinces of Southern Thailand and eradicating the area's students their human right to education. On last Monday, teachers of the provinces of Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat decided to close all 944 government schools for fear of safety. Since schools are run by the government, the insurgents are making a statement by terrorizing civilians and now targeting the child population through their education. Since November 1st, a total of 5 teachers have been killed, 2 injured and at least 10 schools burnt to the ground by the insurgents. These attacks are a direct threat to Thai children's safety and right to education. Though the Thai government is trying to work out negotiations with the insurgents and allow for a safe return for teachers and students in the area; imagine how each of us would feel if we were in danger if we were to pursue our education? Such an immediate attack on there poor kids human right to their education is appalling!

Is torture "sometimes" okay?

Below is my comment to Dr. D’s post on “When is a CIA blunder worth American justice?” I’m posting it separately because it is a controversial topic that I want to get more opinions on from others in the class before the post goes into the archives.

This comes back to our class argument about whether torture is okay sometimes. In class, there were good arguments made by both sides. If you say that it is “sometimes” okay, that would almost justify Masri’s case if the CIA could produce evidence that they had enough suspicion to detain and torture him. I do not doubt that torture of any sort is a human rights abuse. I even feel that torture of a known mass murder is wrong, because at the end of the day, he is still human. If someone is a threat to society, he can be imprisoned, but he still deserves to be treated humanely. Keepers of justice should never bring themselves down to the level of the criminals – something that is prevalent in justice systems throughout the world today, unfortunately.

Anyone who would read this article would be sympathetic towards Masri. If we were in his position – after all, he is as innocent as any of us – we would be outraged at the CIA and US justice system. They have no right to torture and degrade us in such a humiliating and completely unnecessary manner; however, are the “mistakes” worth it if a terrorist is found every once in a while using this system? Well if I was in Masri’s shoes, the answer would be an immediate “no!” Of course not. If you take a step back and look at the situation from the cushioned, leather chair of a top politician, the answer may “depend.” Ensuring security for all will inevitably lead to a few “mistakes” along the way, but “the end will justify the means.”

As for me, I am just left confused. I feel as though I need to study the work of the CIA, their effectiveness, and other alternatives to make a decision on this topic. I feel there is a lot more under the surface that needs to be considered in this complicated issue before I can effectively argue one side or the other. Our class debate was like the blind fighting the blind with no quality arguments (in my opinion) being brought up by either side. It would be interesting to see how the arguments would change after rigorous investigation of the topic.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Westboro Church Banned...

...in tribal lands. They wanted to protest at a dead native American soldier's funeral, and the tribal authorities banned them from entering their territory. The head of the tribal authority stated: "We will not tolerate any harassment that is intended to provoke ill feelings and violence"

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Sixth-grader Tasered in School

I decided to share this article in light of the recent attention to the tasering incident at UCLA. This is case is particularly interesting because the kid who was tasered was 11-years-old.
The 11-year-old was having a dispute with a female classmate during lunch that became physical and in order to separate the two the boy was tasered twice. He was tasered by a school resource officer with the local police department. It seems particularly worth reviewing the use of tasers especially in a Middle School were I could not imagine many of the kids are big enough that they could not be controlled by other, less harmful, means.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

U.S. to pay 2million and apologizes for false terrorist arrest

It was announced today that Brandon Mayfield, who was arrested in connection to the Madrid bombings, would receive $2 million and an apology from the United States Government for wrongly detaining him.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation released this statement:
"The United States of America apologizes to Mr. Brandon Mayfield and his family for the suffering caused by the FBI's misidentification of Mr. Mayfield's fingerprint and the resulting investigation of Mr. Mayfield, including his arrest as a material witness in connection with the 2004 Madrid train bombings and the execution of search warrants and other court orders in the Mayfield family home and in Mr. Mayfield's law office."
This is an interesting case because it may provide a precedent for hundreds of people who are currently being detained by the U.S. government. However, Mr. Mayfield is a U.S. citizen and may subsequently restrict the use of this case to a finite number of individuals. Regardless, the court’s decision is a monumental step towards resolving a human rights issue that has plagued the current administration.

Scarcity Brings out the Worst

In our last class on Monday someone raised the question of scarcity and if it makes people violent. When I heard this story I was shocked but felt that it was a great example of what we were talking about.
It is the Christmas season, people are trying to get all of their shopping done. But what happens when everyone wants to give the same gift, the new PlayStation 3 game system for example. In my home town of Putnam CT about two weeks ago a long line of eager customs formed outside of the local Wal-Mart (the same one that I shop at when I am home) waiting for the doors to open so they could grab the PS 3. Two gunmen walked up and down the line demanding money and the one man who resisted was shot. Not too far in Manchester CT a shopper was beaten and robbed of his PS 3. Has everyone gone crazy? People are getting shot over PlayStations?! Clearly scarcity in even luxury items brings out that animal instinct in people.

When is a CIA blunder worth American justice?

Check out this article about the "extraordinary rendered" Khaled al-Masri who was "grabbed by Macedonian agents, handed off to junior CIA operatives in Skopje (Macedonia) and then secretly flown to a prison in Afghanistan that didn't officially exist". He was subjected to "extreme interrogation techniques", which you can read about in the article.
The article is about whether he has a right to sue the US government -- he was an innocent man -- the CIA made a mistake -- a big one. So what should be done?

A little late

It's a little late, I know, but what's a class in human rights violations without a nod to one of America's biggest fumbles, the mistreating of the Natives of our great land. This article is a little out there, but it makes an incredible point that American's celebrate holidays without realizing what it is they're celebrating. Thanksgiving and Columbus Day are the two big fall holidays that come to mind, both of which essentially celebrate the destruction of a native culture. Columbus, of course, known mainly for the "discovery" of the new world (it was discovered by the people who walked here in the last ice age, and the Vikings after them), was a little less known for his other feats, namely spreading plague and raping and torturing locals. Thanksgiving is thought of as a celebration of togetherness, and every good American schoolchild is shown the image of the pilgrims and the Natives sitting down to eat together, yet this article paints a very different picture of the feast, one that more people should know about, rather than the one sided history taught in schoolbooks today. The overall question here, is it right to celebrate holiday's that historically celebrate human rights violations, even if the messages behind them are good?

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Video Games and our friend Dozier

This is a study emphasizing the complaints of neurotic parents, video games do have an effect on the brain. Violent video games produced effects in the different areas of brain resulting in decreased self-control and activating the fight or flight response. This supports Dozier's ideas of the repto-mammalian brain; there is no real threat to the child's survival yet the game is able to arouse that response, demonstrating the susceptibility of the primitive part of the brain. Further research is needed to see if there are any long term effects on the brain from violent video games.

Religion v. Atheism

Professor Dicklitch pointed out this article form the Christian Science Monitor in class and I thought was quite relevant to our discussions. The article by Dinesh D’Souza discusses both atheism and religion in connection to historical killings. The article addresses the argument that religion is “the most potent source of human conflict, past and present.” The article mentions Richard Dawkins’ assertion that the majority of recent world conflicts demonstrate the connection between religion and violence. However, D’Souza believes that Dawkins exaggerates the crimes that involve religion. D’Souza uses Hitler, Stalin, and Mao Zedong to illustrate how atheists could cause the deaths of over 100 million people. D’Souza recognizes that some claim Stalinism and Maoism were political religions, and that Nazism resulted from years of Christians disliking the Jews. However, D’Souza does not believe those ideas at all.
D’Souza believes that certain conflicts labeled as “religious wars” are not actually fought over religion. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is mentioned as an example because D’Souza sees the conflict cause by ethnic rivalry. D’Souza does not understand why religion is made out to be a major cause of violence. Rather, D’Souza emphasizes how religion provides a moral code that condemns the slaughter of innocent people. Basically, D’Souza concludes that “religions of the world put together have in 2,000 years not managed to kill as many people as have been killed in the name of atheism in the past few decades,” making atheism the cause of historical mass murders.
D’Souza raises a very interesting issue. Is religion to blame for violence/murder? Is atheism? What about atheism pushes one to behave violently? Is there actually a direct link between atheism and violence? Does the fact that religious people have killed less than atheists mean that atheism is responsible for violent behavior? There are many questions to be asked, and can they ever be fully answered to reveal the truth?

Monday, November 27, 2006

Although the Right, there Still are Wrongs

Although the previous blog highlights a positive aspect about the genocide in Sudan, difficulties with the struggle continue to arise. Today, it was reported that Darfur rebels attacked an oil field in Southern Kordofan (east of all previous attacks, extending towards central Sudan). The attack in Kordofan by the National Redemption Front (NRF) shows a leap in the range of their campaign since they have traditionally remained in Northern Darfur. The NRF stated that it destroyed the government garrison guarding the oil field; however, the Sudanese military stated that its forces repelled the attack, claiming that efforts to extend violence to other parts of Sudan have failed. If discrepancies between the military and rebels continue, they will make recognizing, and consequently solving the problems with Darfur much more difficult. It is encouraging to know that some progress is being made with Darfur (e.g. identification of perpetrators, enlargement of African Union force, etc.), but progress will be stifled if the NRF can successfully expand its violent campaign. Also, the persistence of discrepancies will provide hurdles for those within and outside of Sudan.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

On Darfur: They came out and said it…FINALLY!

At the annual meeting of the International Criminal Court’s member states in The Hague, chief prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, stated that the Court had sufficient evidence to identify perpetrators of the atrocities in Sudan’s Darfur region. He also said that the Court had “reasonable grounds to believe” that crimes against humanity were committed. The Court identified the following atrocities: “rape, torture, willful murder, sexual and inhumane violent acts, extra-judicial killings and the forcible transfer and prosecution of civilians.”

Moreno-Ocampo’s investigators interviewed judges, prosecutors, Sudanese investigators, a top Sudanese military official, and a senior political official. 600 potential witnesses were screened and 100 in-depth interviews were conducted. “To define the truth is important, and to define the responsibility is important, to prevent it from reoccurring.”

Last week in Ethiopia a tentative agreement was reached to boost the 7,000 member African Union force with 10,000 more UN troops. Sudan, who has opposed deployment of UN troops, has asked for a delay until Wednesday. A senior US official stated that the Sudanese government fears that UN troops “will discover more evidence. What they don’t realize is that there is more than enough evidence now.” Andrew Natsios, a US presidential special envoy to Sudan said, “There is no doubt that the Janjaweed and those who are committing atrocities are an extension of the Sudanese military.”

For those following the situation in Darfur, many of these findings are not new; however, this is a significant step in sending help to the area. Now that the international community is not turning a blind eye to Darfur, some progress can be made to put a stop to the genocide. In regards to the case in Rwanda, Clinton stated after the genocide was over that the US could have sent about 5-10,000 troops that probably could have saved about 400,000 people! I feel the same would be true in Darfur. Even a relatively small effort on the part of the US would be capable of saving hundreds of thousands of lives. Hopefully this statement by the ICC will spur some action by the international community before it’s too late…

Remembering

Thousands of Ukrainians gathered in Kiev this Saturday to remember the millions that died under Stalin's rule. In 1932-33, some 33,000 people died every day of starvation. The Ukrainian Parliament is asking the world to recognize Stalin's systematic starvation as a genocide against the Ukrainian people. Starvation was a tactic that Stalin devised in order to force the Ukrainian peasants to turn over their private farms and become part of the collective farmland that the USSR was developing.
The Russian government has refrained from labeling this event as genocide and have been referring to the incident as a tragedy. They claim that Stalin's campaign did not specifically target Ukrainians.
So far ten nations, including the United States, have recognized the starvation of the Ukrainian people as a genocide.

Blair to stop short of apology for British role in slavery

Blair apologizes for Britain’s role in the slave trade. (I am assuming the massive slave trade by the East Indian Trading Company). There is an advisory committee that will determine “how Britain should acknowledge its historical responsibility”. I think this is a little weird and way to late. Maybe it might shed light on modern slave trade and hopefully prevent future slave trading.

Iran and Syria helping to rearm Hizballah

I smell another war in the mist. Iran is smuggling weapons through Syria to re-arm Hizballah. Western diplomats in Beirut says that the weapon estimates are low and that in actuality the weapons smuggled across the board come close to 20,00 short-range missiles (the estimates are around 3,00 missiles). Now if that’s not frightening enough just read this….

“Moreover, Obaid says, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and Iran's Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) are using the Iranian embassies in Damascus and Beirut as command and control centers -- an allegation that was also confirmed to TIME by Israeli military sources. Obaid says there appear to be direct communications links between the Iranians and Hizballah, via Hizballah officers working inside the Iranian embassy in Beirut, and Iranian officers in the field with Hizballah fighters”

No wonder why the UN can’t stop the smuggling of arms across the boarder. The article brings up the point that it might be Iran’s attempt to expand Shi’ite influence throughout the Middle-East. Just for the icing on the cake Hizballah broke the UN cease fire and the Lebanese government wants to bring a few Syrians to a UN tribunal court for trying to blow up a few cabinet members. Does not look good for the credibility of UN law

Friday, November 24, 2006

More trouble in Iraq

More horrific violence coming out of Iraq this week, it's the highest death toll from violence between the two major sects of Islam. Shiite militia members took a large number of sunnis and burned them alive. Here's the worst part: Iraqi soldiers stood nearby and watched as these militia members torched human beings. This leads to the big question: is the US presence in Iraq actually doing any good in the area? It seems to a lot of people like the US invasion has lead to a lot more harm than good. Is this just the struggles of a nation that's recently achieved freedom, or violence brought on by the US's removal of a the keystone that held the country together. I'm in no way supporting Saddam, but it seems like things get worse on a day to day basis over there.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Cultural Relativism at its worst

Human Rights -- Human Wrongs

I know about realpolitik. I know about oil. I know about keeping the Middle East stable. But if you're not viscerally offended by the idea of a U.S. official flying to Saudi Arabia to apologize to King Abdullah for punishing a rapist, there's something wrong with you.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Chinese official admits torture

We've seen it all over the world, and now it seems to be happening in China; officials torturing suspects in order to get confessions. What is especially interesting in this case is that someone actually admitted that these acts were being done. Wow! This is a refreshing change. Someone in the Chinese government took responsibility and admitted the truth. Only after this will China be able to correct these corrupt policies. I find it horrifying that confessions obtained through the use of torture are still being used in courts. It is absolutly inexcusable to put the wrong person to death. Now that Wang Zhenchuan has admitted the abuses, what is to be done? Who will investigate? Will anyone investigate? Should the ICC get involved?

Saturday, November 18, 2006

UCLA UCPD use tazer gun on Iranian-American Student

Since we have been discussing torture off late in class, I feel that this issue is very relevant to our understanding of Human Rights. Mostafa Tabatabainejad, 23, a student at UCLA did not show ID to campus police, while working in one of the university's libraries. The police then used a tazer gun on him. The excruciating video of this incident can be viewed on youtube. The link to it is below:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m3GstYOIc0I

I could not watch the whole thing. You can clearly hear the student say that he would leave, but the police continue to abuse him. What was even more shocking was the number of students who just stood there. Yes, there were some who asked the police for their badge numbers. They yelled at the police and the police just seemed to yell back.

The video is long--over six minutes. I could not watch the whole thing. It was just too painful.

'Evil' teen sentenced to life in prison for hate crime

With all the debate over whether there are evil people or just people that commit evil acts, I found this article particularly interesting. The article tells the story of 18 year-old David Henry Tuck from Houston, Texas who was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 30 years. He received this sentence after severely beating and sodomizing a Hispanic boy during a party while shouting “white power.” The boy nearly died during his three-month stay at the hospital. The prosecutor referred to Tuck as an “evil person” that would not be able to be rehabilitated. The defense posed questions as to whether or not Tuck’s white-supremacist views come from the influence of his skinhead older brother who is also in jail. This was not the first incident of violence for Tuck and perhaps he truly is an “evil person” and not just one that commits evil acts. Is it possible for someone who commits evil acts to change or stop such violent acts?

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Iran joining the nuclear club

So Iran wants to keep their nukes. The President of Iran has come out and declared that Iran will be nearing the last stage of its nuclear research and production. What will this mean for the US, the world, and the U. N. who again is having its resolutions trampled on and ignored?

There are many questions to be asked about Iran's "need" for nuclear power plants. Why does a nation with its own large oil reserves so badly need nuclear power plants? Why would they want nuclear power, which has now been recognized as problematic, prime targets for terrorism, and creates environmental disasters with its waste? Also, why would Iran be so intent on creating another form of power, that is so controversial that both the US and UN are upset about. Not to mention Israel which has a history of destroying the nuclear aspirations of hostile nations (i.e. Iraq under Saddam, where Israel attacked a reactor with jets and destroyed it after other nations were unwilling to stop Iraq).

There are two possible reasons why Iran is so willing to create nuclear power. One may be that they want to obtain nuclear power simply for nationalistic bragging rights. They may use it as a symbol of their defiance and independence. It would be a sign to the world that Iran can achieve anything and takes orders from no one.

Much more likely though is that Iran wants to create a nuclear arms program. Why else is it so important that they obtain nuclear power. Why else would it be so important to ignore the world and do as they please. A nuclear Iran would be a counter weight to Israel in the region. It would also legitimize them in the eyes of many of the world’s nations. It would give them a pulpit to speak to the world. It would also sway the power of the Muslim countries from Saudi Arabia to Iran.

No matte what happens, Iran, in my opinion should not be allowed to become a nuclear power. If that means stricter sanctions, a blockade, or more direct action, I don't know, but a nuclear Iran is something to worry about.

The Baby Trade

How far would you go to adopt a baby?
A mother in Guatelmala had her baby taken from her right out of the hospital because attnorney Javier Oswaldo Morales claimed that she was unfit to have it because she was single and unemployed. Bascially Elivia Ramirez Cano was bribed with money to give up her baby for adoption.
There has beena growing demand for orphan babies from Latin America in both the US and Europe. In the 1980s thousands of children disappeared during the "dirty wars" that were waged on civilians in Latin America from governments. It has now been discovered that most of those children currently reside in the US, Canada, and Europe because they were taken and sold as "war orphans." Currently Guatemalan attorneys are using social workers to coerce, bribing, and forcefully take babies from their homes in order to supply the high demand. They falsify birth records and accuse mothers of being abusive and or a drug user. Meanwhile 20,000 Guatemalan orphans sit in poorly funded orphanages, because the older the child is the less desirable, everyone wants a baby.
The US has finally decided to end the baby trafficking and has threatened to stop allowing adoptions of Guatemalan children unless Guatemala changes its adoption system. While this is a step in the right direction it is appalling that this has been going on since 1980. The whole thing seems wrong to me on so many levels, not only are the child's rights being violated but so are the mothers. And the fact that the families who are buying these babies turn a blind eye to the illegal process makes it seem so synical. Some might argue that these kids are given a better life in the long run, but I see it as stealing someone's baby.

(The link is to a an older article from the late 1990s, but a recent article can be found at http://news.yahoo.com)

Monday, November 13, 2006

The Midterm Elections: What can they tell us?

W.C. Fields once said, "I never vote for anyone. I always vote against."

"In its simplest terms, that's what this election was all about - it was a vote against."
According to Tim Egan of BBC news the midterm elections last week were an important step in gaging American sentiment about the current administration and the war in Iraq. Among the most important issues were the administration's record with torture and war policy against terrorists. Egan also pointed out that "corruption" was one of the most important issues to the American people. He then goes on to summarize the recent scandal involving Reverend Ted and the evangelical church. What was this past election really about? I think that corruption is an appropriate word. It covers domestic corruption of elected officials as well as war-policy corruption such as the process of extraordinary rendition. I think that this past election was a referendum on the policies of the current administration, and obviously the American people had something to say...

On Positive Note

FRANKLIN AND MARSHALL STUDENTS RAISE MONEY FOR WOMEN IN AFRICA, AND TRY TO RAISE AWARENESS. Last night our pay-it-forward group had our fundraiser for The International Organization for Women and Development (IOWD). The link attached is a recording of one of the songs that was played at the concert. We were just shy of making our goal of $100, but what we have is better than nothing, and we are all proud and pleased that we can make a contribution to the IOWD.

Human Face of Genocide

On the front page of the NY Times Website today, there is a video on the Human Face of Genocide. Journalist Nicholas Kristof speaks of how the international community is ready to provide bandages to those who are mutilated as a result of this genocide, but that we seem to be doing little to end it. The video shows a man whose eyes have been gouged out as he lies in bed. So we ask, "how can someone do this to others?" And, then as Kristof points out, we provide bandages once the damage has been done. But is that where our role ends? Is that all we can do? This viedo really got to me because Kristof seems to be asking the questions that makes you question yourself.

It is a video that is hard to watch...

Rumsfeld and Others to be Tried for War Crimes.

Only one week after the midterm elections and the resignation of Donald Rumsfeld as Secretary of Defense, the Center for Constitutional Rights is filing a request in Germany for investigation and prosecution of at least twelve high-ranking officials in the Bush Administration who allegedly ordered or failed to prevent torture, including Rumsfeld, George Tenet, and Al Gonzales. Eleven of the plaintiffs were held at Abu Ghraib, and one other at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. A similar complaint was filed in 2004 but was dropped after pressure by the United States. This new complaint reportedly has new evidence and comes on the heels of the Military Commissions Act and the resignation of Rumsfeld, which apparently removed his immunity from war crimes prosecution. A brief, easy-to-read PDF file can be found on the linked site which details the new complaint.
How far do you think the case will go? Should the US put pressure on Germany to drop the case, and if they do, is that tantamount to admission of guilt? We've talked about Pinochet's punishment being 'too little, too late,' so isn't this case a good thing? I say let the trial commence. If these men are guilty, they should pay. Why should Americans be above the international laws and conventions to which they have agreed?

Sunday, November 12, 2006

The Genetic Basis for Behavioral Differences

Dmitri K. Belyaev studied the genetics of domestication in an animal breeding farm in Siberia. In 1959 he started developing colonies of silver foxes. Belyaev hypothesized that the single criterion that led to domestication was selection for tameness. He tested his hypothesis by breeding silver foxes, an animal which had remained wild, despite being kept on farms for about 50 years by fur farmers. After 40 years of the experiment, "a group of animals had emerged that were as tame and as eager to please as a dog...they were clean and quiet and made excellent house pets."

I found it interesting that this species that had been aggressive and wild could be bred into a domesticated pet by only letting the tamest of the silver foxes mate. Is the effect genetics plays on our behavior greater than we think? Applying the findings of this experiment to humans seems to suggest that the offspring of aggressive parents are much more likely to be aggressive themselves because they either have an "aggression gene" or lack a "tame gene." Could the end to human rights abuses actually lie in the hands of geneticists? Currently the technology to silence a targeted gene is readily available. We also know how to determine the role of genes. If there is a gene for aggression and we know where in our chromosomes it lies, we will have the potential to "domesticate" the most vicious criminals.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Another Nazi Scheme

Apparently starting World War II and the Holocaust wasn't enough for the Nazis...

This article describes a lesser known project of the Nazis to expand their 'superior race'. This program was called 'Lebensborn' or 'Spring of Life'. Supposedly, the program was developed to halt the high rate of abortions occurring during the inter-war years. More importantly, the program wanted to create 'racially and genetically valuable' families. It took in orphaned children with Aryan qualities and gave them to high ranking SS officials. The program also encouraged 'blond, blue-eyed' men and women to mate and increase the master race.

Recently, children from the Lebensborn program who are now around 60 years old are stepping forward and confronting their dark past. Many of them are unsure of their past and do not know who their real parents are. And then there is always the fear of finding out if their fathers were war criminals.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

The Big Verdict!

Well, I will be the first to post on this breaking news that I am sure you have all been hearing about. Saddam Hussein has been sentenced to death by hanging. Many Iraqis are celebrating this verdict, feeling that in this way justice has been served regarding the many human rights abuses committed under Hussein's regime. This is such a huge development- with all of our discussions about punishment for powerful leaders who have orchestrated campaigns of violence, this certainly provides an example of the most extreme form of punishment. As a strong believer in the need for harsh punishments for leaders guilty of human rights abuses, I surprised myself by feeling slightly bad for Hussein as I watched the video of his reaction while his death sentence was delivered. But it only takes a tiny reminder that we are looking at the face of evil. President Bush, as expected, is extremely pleased with this verdict and sees it as a symbol for the promising future of Iraq. Personally, my views on the death penalty are not firmly formulated- but whether you support it or not, we can perhaps agree that if death as a punishment should ever be enforced this instance might be it. Is this the best way justice can be delivered to the Iraqi people? Should this set precedent as punishment of other guilty world leaders?

Jesus Camp

http://www.jesuscampthemovie.com/

In class it seems we’re always asking, “how could that happen?” and “how could someone bring themselves to commit crimes of hate against someone else?”
We wonder how the Nazis were able to massacre Jews, how some Islamic extremists wanted so desperately to destroy us, and the list (unfortunately) goes on.
This trailer shows just how easy it is. These camps focus on the manipulation of innocent minds and the creation of a generation of children who want nothing more than to die for Jesus. They are teaching blatant religious stereotypes and we’ve seen the devastation that springs from that.

These young children are learning that “there are two types of people in this world, people who love Jesus and people who don’t.” They are learning separation from those who don’t is the right thing to do and even separate themselves from other schoolmates, neighbors, etc. by pledging allegiance to the Christian flag. They are learning to alienate those who think differently, instead of learning cooperation

Every conflict we’ve studied starts this way: with one group declaring to be the chosen ones- the ones who are right while everyone else’s beliefs are wrong. These divisions are obviously not just a thing of the past or something occurring somewhere else across the ocean. Intolerance is being taught right here in the United States, right now.

Guard our secrets: Deny you a lawyer

Majid Khan, 26 immigrated from Pakistan and graduated form Owing Mills High School, Maryland. He was arrested in 2003 while in Pakistan and spent more than three years in a CIA prison. Defense attorneys say that his treatment in the prison amounted to torture. Being labeled a "suspected terrorist," Khan has been denied access to a defense lawyer and in September of this year, he was transferred to Guantanamo Bay. This is the Military Commissions Act in practice. Even worse is the reason that is being given to deny this man a lawyer: according to the government,the CIA's network of prisons, are among the nation's most sensitive secrets. Prisoners who spent time in those prisons should not be allowed to disclose that information, even to a lawyer.

I'm just wondering what prisoners can do then? They can't get a lawyer. If by some stroke of luck, they are somehow given access to a lawyer, they cannot give them information about their treatment while in prison. So basically, this situation implies that prisoners who are in all probability being tortured have been abandoned not only by the government, but also that people who could help them cannot because it is necessary to guard the secrets of this nation.

Friday, November 03, 2006

"Halloween in the Hood"

Comment board: http://www.wjla.com/news/stories/1006/372071.html#boards

more links to articles:

http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/education/bal-md.hopkins01nov01,0,5974361.story?coll=bal-local-headlines

http://news.google.com/news?hl=en&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&tab=wn&ncl=http://news.monstersandcritics.com/northamerica/article_1216757.php/Mock_lynching_puts_fraternity_on_carpet

You know, I thought Halloween was supposed to be something fun, it always was when we were younger, but now - I'm not so sure. On my way to work one morning a radio station was asking people to call in about obnoxious costumes people saw out last night... one caller said someone had dressed as a dead amish girl. I almost started crying while I was driving. Then this article was posted by one of my friends on facebook. The comments absolutely sickened me. I was shocked to read the article, because, you would hope that Johns Hopkins University would house students who have awareness of such issues ... but obviously not. And maybe it takes just one student to make a bad rep for the college, but still - hanging a stuffed african american from a roof with a noose ... is this for real? Are we really in 2006 and students (Johns Hopkins!!!!) think that it's "funny" to joke about slavery? This is someone's comment from the comment page "People complain too much. Just shut up and laugh about it once in awhile and stop being so insensitive. It was meant to be funny not racist." Meant to be funny huh ... it's not funny, it's just not at all funny. The fact that someone thinks it's funny makes me so angry, and then utterly sad ... because I only hoped that somehow this world was changing ...

This really hit a personal note for me - I'm in an interracial relationship, and have lost friends because of it. Lost friends, because of who I'm dating. I'd be lying if I said to you all I didn't look around and see color, everyone "sees" color, but not everyone judges color. It has taken me a long time to realize that because of where I grew up, and because of what I have watched on the news, what I once "believed" or thought to be fact about African Americans, or any race, is not what I really believed, but what I was taught and raised to believe. (I hope that made sense.) Society seems to be a breeding ground to make people believe certain things about certain groups of people, whether it's through the media, maybe where you're from - I don't know, and I don't care what the reason is - for me, it's this simple. Maybe I've said this before on the blog, but when I was in sixth grade, my teacher told us, "we're all pink on the inside." We are all pink. I wish people would really take the time to think about that, really think about it. We're all tied together, because we're all humans.

Granted, what happened to certain groups of people will forever be a part of their past, and what happened at Johns Hopkins is inexcusable.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Bad teens

Are UK’s teens some of the worst behaved in Europe? This study by the Institute for Public Policy Research seems to suggest so. The article gives a lot of statistics about various indicators of “good” behavior. Some of these include:
- spending evenings out with friends
- eating regularly with family
- marijuana experimentation
- binge drinking
- consumerism
The study then goes on to suggest that “drugs, drink, violence and promiscuity” are some of these “bad behavior” characteristics. I think that this study may have even graver implications.
In an article which we read at the beginning of the year, entitled “Basic Human Needs, Altruism, and Aggression” Ervin Staub proposes a list of needs which every human needs in their life. He then goes on to suggest that the lack of one or more of these needs can increase an individual’s propensity for aggression. Ervin’s list of needs includes:
- physical and phychological security
- personal autonomy and control
- positive sefl esteem
- positive connections and relationships with others
- understanding of reality
It seems that the teens in Europe may be missing some of these basic needs. I absolutely believe that these needs are necessary for the positive development of an individual. In this case, this generation of adolescents in the UK may be little “genociders” in the making. What do you think?

Just one guy's opinion on torture

I know this post might take a lot of heat but im going to write it anyway. When I was eating lunch today I saw a table set up protesting torture in America. Now I don't think torture is right just like I don't think that killing is right, but wIen i think of all those who died in SeptemberI11 i have to think if we had maybe tortured a terrorist and he had told us the plan could it all have been avoided? Now there are many, flaws in my thinking like if we were to detain the wrong person and torture someone who was innocent all along that would be a terrible thing. Or if we were to torture someone who didn't know anything. I don't think torture is right again but in times of war I think in some extreme cases it is necessary to save lives. Now the way in which the government has set up these laws I don't believe is right, every one should have their constituency rights to a lawyer and a trial but if then convicted as a terrorist, I believe the government should do what is necessary to keep the people of this nation from having to deal with another terrorist attack, that killed hundreds of innocent people. This is a new kind of war where the enemy doesn't wear a different color so you can pick them out, and I think this war needs to be fought differently for the safety and well being of American citizens. I know this stance may anger some people reading it and I would love to justify my opinion if you happen to comment.

FGM in the United States?

On Wednesday, November 1, 2006, an Ethiopian man from the United States was sentenced to 10 years in prison. Although the man was of African descent, he was tried in the US, which became the country's first such circumcision case. The Ethiopian man circumcised his 2-year-old daughter with scissors in 2001 and was eventually arrested for his action. The case has recently fueled a debate in Africa where some approve of the punishment while others believe that people should learn to understand the purpose behind female circumcision (or female genital mutilation-FGM). The practice of female circumcision is actually widespread throughout Africa although the United States even recognizes at a reason to grant asylum. About 3 million girls are mutilated or cut each year throughout Africa because it has become a custom to many cultures and is believed to reduce women’s sexual desire and lesson promiscuity. Should those beliefs be worth the possible infection, pain, psychological harm, problems with urination, and complications with childbirth later in life caused by female genital mutilation? Sadly, people accept such a destructive process as tradition, even in the 21st century. But why? How can it occur in the United States?

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Human Rights vs. Cultural Norms

Human Rights -- Human Wrongs

Those of you who've taken a class with Professor Billig know how much he loves to mention Lee Kuan Yew. Oxford-educated, Yew was the prime minister of Singapore for over 30 years; naturally, his time in the West gave him a keen insight into the Western mind. "We don't want democracy or free speech in Singapore", he often declared, "we want stability. Who are you to push your cultural norms onto us?" This was hardly tin-pot dictator posturing: Singapore has complete religious freedom, the lowest crime rate in the world and a flourishing economy. In return, they have severely restricted most of the freedoms that we in the West enjoy. Most of you have probably heard about the American kid who was caned there for vandalising cars, or the large fines levied on litterers or even gum-chewers. You may not know that Singapore's laws make it almost impossible to move out of one's parents' home until 25, or that being caught with tiny amounts of heroin can lead to a mandatory death sentence (the title article paints a grim picture; it's a couple of years old, so the exact number may be off, but the spirit is still very much alive).

So what do we do? Lee was castigating "open-minded" Westerners who couldn't accept that some non-Western cultures place a low value on individual liberty. Is that right? Do we tell Singapore that they're violating universal human rights, or do we accept that these people have voluntarily given up what we consider essential because they think something else is more important?

Forgiveness

President P.W. Botha, a former South African President died in his home yesterday at the age of 90. He was one of the men in charge for keeping Nelson Mandela behind bars for nearly 30 years. Nelson Mandela was quoted saying "While to many Mr. Botha will remain a symbol of apartheid, we also remember him for the steps he took to pave the way towards the eventual peacefully negotiated settlement in our country," Could you forgive a man who kept you locked up for 27 years of your life?
Zizi Kodwa, a spokesperson for the ANC Youth League stated "We should bear no grudges against people ... We are building a new country. Let's show them that we are human, we are not these terrorists that they said we were before. Let's embrace the spirit of reconciliation." Could you embrace the spirit of reconcilliation toward a man who oppressed your poeple for so long?

China Acts to Reduce High Rate of Executions

Just yesterday China took action to reduce its rate of executions. She is responsible for over 80% of the people put to death every year. The way the reform works is that all death penalty cases are required to go through the Supreme People's Court, a power that was stripped from the Supreme Court in 1983. I am interested to see how well these measures work since China does not have an independent judiciary.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Good New?!

First bit of positive news posted on this blog in quite a while. Charges have officially been brought against the ex-leader of Chile, Augusto Pinochet. He's been put under house arrest for one homicide, 35 kidnappings and 24 cases of torture. It's a start, considering the dictator has been avoiding most charges, claiming his poor health as an excuse to not be brought to justice.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Doctor chops off limbs for beggars

In the United States, it is not very common to find young children with swollen bellies, and maimed bodies begging for money at traffic signals. However, in urban India, this is not an unfamiliar sight. What might surprise people even more is the fact that most Indians are aware of what is known as a "beggar Mafia" that is run by middle-men (known as "babus"). These babus kidnap children, or buy them from their desperate parents who can no longer support them and get them to beg. Often, their limbs are also chopped off to make them seem more sympathetic to the public. However, as if this wasn't enough, the link to this post provides an expose on who actually mutilates these children's bodies. One would think that such acts would be committed by some unqualified, "evil" people. However, in this case, a senior orthopedic surgeon talks about how he has no hassle with chopping off limbs of other human beings.

He speaks of how he can charge up to Rs. 10,00 for every such procedure (approximately $200). Is it then man's greed for money that lets him commit human rights abuses? Are we really that materialistic or is this medical-pracitioner simply evil?

Africa’s World of Forced Labor, in a 6-Year-Old’s Eyes

This is a very unique article about child labor in Africa because it has actual testimony from child slaves, sold into the fishing industry by their parents for as little as $20 a year. It also has quotes from the man who owns these indentured servants. An interesting piece that shows how desperate people can be driven to do evil things. Click on this link to watch a slideshow of pictures accompanied by the journalist's voice-over:

www.nytimes.com/packages/html/world/20060308_AFRICACHILD_FEATURE/blocker.html

Friday, October 27, 2006

The Lord's Resistance Army: Time to Pay for Past Sins

In a recent article in the International Herald Tribune, "What comes first: Peace or Justice?", Nick Grono rightfully calls for the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor to proceed with his prosecutions of the top brass of the LRA. Many think this will derail peace talks -- I'm not sure that peace talks will ever work with an individual like Joseph Kony -- head of the LRA. For almost 20 years Northern Uganda has been ravaged by war led first by the Holy Spirit Movement (Alice Lakwena -- related to Joseph Kony) then the LRA. Why hurry now? Too many dictators and murderers have avoided justice in return for peace. But what kind of peace would there be? Idi Amin was able to seek refuge in Libya, then Saudi Arabia. Milton Obote lived happily ever after in Tanzania -- although he always wanted to return to Uganda. It's time for some real justice for the Ugandan people: anything less would be suggesting that their losses are not worthy of international condemnation. It was not only a crime against Ugandans, it was a crime against all of humanity.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

The Hangman

This is a pretty well known poem that everyone should read if they have not. It refers to the evils of doing nothing. Many primary school teachers use it as a classroom tool. I think it is a good way to reflect on this subject matter, especially for enlightening a younger audience.





The Hangman

by Maurice Ogden

1. Into our town the Hangman came.
Smelling of gold and blood and flame
and he paced our bricks with a diffident air
and built his frame on the courthouse square

The scaffold stood by the courthouse side,
Only as wide as the door was wide;
A frame as tall, or little more,
Than the capping sill of the courthouse door

And we wondered, whenever we had the time.
Who the criminal, what the crime.
That Hangman judged with the yellow twist
of knotted hemp in his busy fist.

And innocent though we were, with dread,
We passed those eyes of buckshot lead:
Till one cried: "Hangman, who is he
For whom you raise the gallows-tree?"

Then a twinkle grew in the buckshot eye,
And he gave us a riddle instead of reply:
"He who serves me best," said he,
"Shall earn the rope on the gallows-tree."

And he stepped down. and laid his hand
On a man who came from another land
And we breathed again, for another's grief
At the Hangman's hand was our relief

And the gallows-frame on the courthouse lawn
By tomorrow's sun would be struck and gone.
So we gave him way, and no one spoke.
Out of respect for his Hangman's cloak.

2.

The next day's sun looked mildly down
On roof and street in our quiet town
And stark and black in the morning air,
The gallows-tree on the courthouse square.

And the Hangman stood at his usual stand
With the yellow hemp in his busy hand;
With his buckshot eye and his jaw like a pike
And his air so knowing and business like.

And we cried, "Hangman, have you not done
Yesterday. with the alien one?"
Then we fell silent, and stood amazed,
"Oh, not for him was the gallows raised."

He laughed a laugh as he looked at us: "
...Did you think I'd gone to all this fuss
To hang one man? That's a thing I do
To stretch a rope when the rope is new."

Then one cried "Murder!" One cried "Shame!"
And into our midst the Hangman came
To that man's place. "Do you hold," said he,
"with him that was meant for the gallows-tree?"

And he laid his hand on that one's arm.
And we shrank back in quick alarm,
And we gave him way, and no one spoke
Out of fear of his Hangman's cloak.

That night we saw with dread surprise
The Hangman's scaffold had grown in size.
Fed by the blood beneath the chute T
he gallows-tree had taken root;

Now as wide, or a little more,
Than the steps that led to the courthouse door,
As tall as the writing, or nearly as tall,
Halfway up on the courthouse wall.

3.

The third he took-we had all heard tell
Was a user and infidel, and
"What," said the Hangman "have you to do
With the gallows-bound, and he a Jew?"

And we cried out, "Is this one he
Who has served you well and faithfully?"
The Hangman smiled: "It's a clever scheme
to try the strength of the gallows-beam."

The fourth man's dark, accusing song
Had scratched out comfort hard and long;
And what concern, he gave us back.
"Have you for the doomed--the doomed and black?"

The fifth. The sixth. And we cried again,
"Hangman, Hangman, is this the last?"
"It's a trick," he said. "that we hangmen know
For easing the trap when the trap springs slow."


And so we ceased, and asked no more,
As the Hangman tallied his bloody score:
And sun by sun, and night by night,
The gallows grew to monstrous height.

The wings of the scaffold opened wide
Till they covered the square from side to side:
And the monster cross-beam, looking down.
Cast its shadow across the town.

4.

Then through the town the Hangman came
And called in the empty streets my name-
And I looked at the gallows soaring tall
And thought, "There is no one left at all
For hanging." And so he calls to me
To help pull down the gallows-tree.
And I went out with right good hope
To the Hangman's tree and the Hangman's rope.

He smiled at me as I came down
To the courthouse square through the silent town.
And supple and stretched in his busy hand
Was the yellow twist of the strand.

And he whistled his tune as he tried the trap
And it sprang down with a ready snap
And then with a smile of awful command
He laid his hand upon my hand.

"You tricked me. Hangman!," I shouted then.
"That your scaffold was built for other men...
And I no henchman of yours," I cried,
"You lied to me. Hangman. foully lied!"

Then a twinkle grew in the buckshot eye,
"Lied to you? Tricked you?" he said. "Not I.
For I answered straight and I told you true"
The scaffold was raised for none but you.


For who has served me more faithfully
Then you with your coward's hope?" said he,
"And where are the others that might have stood
Side by your side in the common good?,"

"Dead," I whispered, and sadly
"Murdered," the Hangman corrected me:
"First the alien, then the Jew...
I did no more than you let me do."

Beneath the beam that blocked the sky.
None had stood so alone as I
And the Hangman strapped me, and no voice there
Cried "Stay!" for me in the empty square

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Another One?

Yet another "ethnic cleansing" occurring in the world, this time in Iraq. The US army recently found material that a Shiite militia is slowly and methodically removing Sunni families from Wabash. After seeing more and more news coming out of Iraq of incidents like this, I'm starting to wonder if the presence of the "coalition of the willing" is really helping the people of Iraq, or if matters are only getting worse. To the best of my knowledge, the problem's existed since the collapse of the Ottoman empire, and the drawing of maps to natural lines, rather than ethnic lines, in essence, smooshing people together that hate each other. Is there a solution to this problem, or is US isolationism the only cure?

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Forgiveness: a necessary evil?

I have been thinking alot about the nature of forgiveness. The previous post and our discussion in class on Monday have further provoked my thoughts. What is the nature of forgiveness? Can someone ever truly forgive even as the memory lingers? We can see forgiveness as foundational in such religions as Buddhism and the Amish sect of Christianity. The fact that the Amish forgave Carl Roberts so quickly and seemingly effortlessly will never cease to amaze me. Is there really a power of forgiveness? I like to think yes, someone can truly forgive an action and thus heal from the past, but I am not so sure. It is awfully hard to forgive someone who has viciously murdered you family. What about someone who orchestrated a genocide such as Hitler? Can we ever really forgive him? Is there a certain degree of transgression which we can forgive? Where do we draw the line?

Forgiveness: a necessary evil?

I have been thinking alot about the nature of forgiveness. The previous post and our discussion in class on Monday have further provoked my thoughts. What is the nature of forgiveness? Can someone ever truly forgive even as the memory lingers? We can see forgiveness as foundational in such religions as Buddhism and the Amish sect of Christianity. The fact that the Amish forgave Carl Roberts so quickly and seemingly effortlessly will never cease to amaze me. Is there really a power of forgiveness? I like to think yes, someone can truly forgive an action and thus heal from the past, but I am not so sure. It is awfully hard to forgive someone who has viciously murdered you family. What about someone who orchestrated a genocide such as Hitler? Can we ever really forgive him? Is there a certain degree of transgression which we can forgive? Where do we draw the line?

Monday, October 23, 2006

Can there be forgiveness of LRA?


A recent Christian Science Monitor article by the long-time Africa-watcher, Abraham McLaughlin reports on the return of former LRA fighters to their villages. Can there be reconciliation in Northern Uganda? Is the International Criminal Court necessary? Will the inditements against Joseph Kony (picture above), the leader of the Lord's Resistance Army, and Vincent Otti (the second in-command) help the peace process or harm it? Will it help bring an end to the 20 year conflict or will it prolong it? Will it bring justice for those who lost their lives?
Is peace within reach?
The jury is still out on that, but maybe we can learn something from the Ugandans' willingness to forgive...but not to forget?
(Picture uploaded from: pub.tv2.no)

Human rights do begin at home


A recent Christian Science monitor Op-ed piece really hammered it home for me: human rights do begin at home -- so does the work of human rights. Lisa Suhay who attended a talk by former high commissoner for the UNHCR, Mary Robinson, recognized that Robinson was right: you can't expect human rights to thrive in the rest of the world, if you don't even have it in your own backyard -- well that's not exactly what she said -- but that's my paraphrase. Robinson quoted one of my favorite heroes: Eleanor Roosevelt -- chairman of the UN Human Rights Commission of 1948: "Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? I small places, close to home -- so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person: the neighborhood he lives in; the school or college he attends; the factory, farm, or office where he works...Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world". Thanks for helping us re-think the terrible things that are going on in this world and what we should do...
(Picture uploaded from: cityguide.pojonews.com)

Could this Save the World....of Warcraft

or
Can Video Games Change How People Think?

I was reading the NY Times this summer and I saw an article about socially conscious video games and whether they can make a difference. The question was whether or not the video game industry has matured enough that they could present a subject like the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict in a serious and probing matter like other forms of entertainment have been able to do.

Well from what I have seen so far from this game Peacemaker, I believe they could. Peacemaker is a political simulation that deals with the Middle East Conflict. A player can either choose to be either the Israeli Prime Minister or President of the Palestinian Authority. Once they choose sides they must attempt to secure the region and promote peace. The game has realistic actions and responses and can help explain to people a very complicated situation in an active and interesting way.

So. Can video games change the world? I don't know, but what I do know is I can't wait to see.


Sunday, October 22, 2006

Air Torture

Wanna take a trip to an exotic destination... its free. All you have to do is disobey.

I was reading through the site and I saw that Amnesty International holds guerrilla theater performances in airports. Personally I find this to be quite effective and dramatic. Imagine yourself preparing to board an airplane when suddenly you see someone bound and gagged being transported through the terminal. This kind of protest works on two levels. The first is that it draws immediate attention. People do not know that this is staged. For all they know that person being dragged away is really going to be tortured. The second level is that protest and civil disobedience, is only effective if it is "dangerous" or illegal. Seeing a bunch of twentysomethings holding signs and shouting in the streets has been adopted into the political culture. It is not dangerous any more, the government, or whoever the protesters are protesting do not feel threatened (I am not speaking only about physical violence or property damage, the threatened feeling could simply be that there is some new and unexpected force counter to them).
The old forms of protest are tired and anticipated. For example, if anyone remembers both the Democratic National Convention and Republican National Convention, then you may remember the "free speech zones". The "free speech zones" were fenced in cages where legally permitted protest was allowed to occur. Since when does free speech reside in a cage? To me, anyone who "legally" protested in the cage was simply a tool. The real protesters where on the streets, they were among the cadres of both parties; they were acting outside the law and what was expected of them. The reason why the protest of the 60s and 70s where so effective was because it was unexpected and forceful. The Freedom Riders, the Lunch Counter Sit Ins, the campus take overs, all were illegal. These were the people who caused great change, not those who were simply willing to follow the rules and asked for their turn to speak. The people who make a difference demand their turn to speak, and that makes all the difference.

More Problems in Sudan

As if the situation in Darfur isn’t difficult enough, Sudan gave the top U.N. official in the country, Jan Pronk, three days to leave. The government of Sudan continues to undermine the international community’s efforts to bring peace to the region. Sudan expelled Jan Pronk for openly criticizing Khartoum (Sudan’s capital) and rebel groups on his web log. It’s quite disheartening that efforts to help with the genocide in Sudan are unsuccessful due to those contributing to the problem. Even the Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir refused a U.N. resolution approved on August 31st authorizing the creation of a more robust peacekeeping mission because it would violate his country’s sovereignty. Does Sudan have a right to claim sovereignty?

When measures are taken to the help with the situation in Darfur and eventually defeated, improving the situation becomes a challenge and near impossibility. Is there any hope for an end to the violence?

The Immigration Debate in Russia

We have spoken about the issue of immigration especially illegal immigrants in the United States. This post, however, is about the issue of immigration in Russia. The article I found on the NY Times website is about, in part, a man named Aleksandr A. Belov. He is the founder of an organization known as the Movement against Illegal Immigration. His main claim is that Russia, unlike the United States is not a nation built by immigrants. The post-Soviet generation in Russia, therefore, it seems trying to come to terms with its identity. Who is a Russian is an important question in this regard. What defines Russians-religion, ethnicity, nationalism?

Belov is of the opinion that Russia has never welcomed immigrants. However, the question is not just about Russia's identity. For the sake of argument, I am going to exclude illegal immigrants from this scenario. Therefore, what about those people who want to enter Russia, have all the requisite documents and are making use of legal means to enter the nation? Do we just ignore their right to migrate to Russia because Russia was not built by immigrants? Isn't freedom of movement a basic right? Is the us vs. them distinction so deep in Russia that there is not place for people who are ready to get into the country the "right" way?

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The Military Commissions Act - an outrage on civil rights.

Remember that old saying innocent until proven guilty? Apparently there is no room in the War on Terror for such legal delicacy. Ever since 9/11, the Bush administration has incrementally eroded the rights of not only foreign terror suspects, but American citizens as well. I give you the Patriot Act, the NSA wiretapping (which is far more extensive than the administration admits) and now the Military Commissions Act. Under this bill, which Bush signed into law today, anyone he or Rumsfeld want can be detained indefinitely without charges and eventually tried by a military tribunal without even seeing the evidence against him. The text of this bill can be seen in part here: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/F?c109:4:./temp/~c109xDe3kj:e8389:
and in entirety here: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/D?c109:2:./temp/~c1095sklM9::
In the first link, take note of Sec948d.(c), and below it note that punishment can include the death penalty. The courts can not even challenge this legislation. This is outrageous. Is the President unconcerned about how he will be remembered - as a war-monger, as a hypocrite, as a civil rights eroder? - or is this nothing more than an October surprise to remind his base about the nebulous War on Terror in order to fire them up for next month's elections? The President says "we do not torture," but after all the other lies and vagaries we have been fed, who really believes him?
In this class, we often focus on the plight of others in the third world, and they are certainly suffering rights infractions far greater than we are in this country, but at what point is enough enough? What will Bush do next in the name of "protecting the homeland" while we watch his wars on TV?
If the military commissions act doesn't concern you, what about a national ID card outfitted with RFID chips? What about the notion that speaking out against the government could be considered aiding terrorists and land you in one of these tribunals? This is just beginning and we should all be very concerned.

Is peacekeeping ineffective?

The genocide in Darfur has not only led to the deaths of many, but it has displaced numerous Sudanese. An article from the Washington Post mentions how the refugees in Sudan believe that an African Union peacekeeping mission is not providing protection. It is a problem that peacekeepers in Darfur are only there to monitor the violence and not fight it, similar to the U.N.’s presence in Rwanda. Therefore, many believe the African Union mission has been ineffective in protecting and improving the conditions of the refugees. At one of the refugee camps near Kassab, a health clinic had shut down, so refugees were forced to seek treatment from nearby towns. The female refugees are extremely vulnerable because they are exposed to robbery and rape while having to search for firewood and go to surrounding villages. Other refugees have trouble sleeping at night for fear they will need to flee at any instant.
Fighting between the Sudanese army and rebel groups has been ongoing sine 2003. After 3 years, the people of Sudan are still not safe. Even those seeking refuge are exposed to unsafe conditions. Should forces outside of the African Union be sent to Darfur? Or, should others ignore the situation in Darfur and let the Africans help themselves? Should we be allowed to sit around and let others suffer when the situation is not their fault? How is it that a peacekeeping mission does not provide the protection the Sudanese need? Is peacekeeping altogether ineffective?

Yunus’ Pay-It-Forward: Saving an economy with $12 loans

Who would have thought that opening a bank to provide loans to the poor of Bangladesh would end up winning the next Nobel Peace Prize? Here’s a perfect example of a small act of kindness going a very long way. When I first read this article, I could not help but think how impractical Muhammad Yunus’ idea must have seemed when he first decided to open a bank to provide loans to individuals that any rational bank would turn away. His first simple act of kindness was loaning $27 to 42 villagers near the University where he taught economics. This small act spurred the creation of the Grameen Bank, a bank devoted to providing microloans to Bangladesh’s poorest citizens. On the outside, a horrible business endeavor, but the potential for growth was more than any of his critics had expected. This reminded me of a past post on the Origin of the Paradoxical Commandments: The biggest men with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men with the smallest minds. Think big anyways. More so than his actual act of opening Grameen Bank, I find it admirable how he was able to persevere through constant criticism for something he believed was the right thing to do, even if it was not the most economical. Even within this one article, there is mention of Yunus’ critics on several occasions. I am glad he did not head their advice or else there would be 80,000 more beggars in Bangladesh than there are today.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

World Day against the Death Penalty

10th October 2006, marks the fourth anniversary of World Day against the Death Penalty. This day was established by the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty, of which Amnesty International is a member. Pro-death penalty activists claim that the death penalty serves as a deterrent. However, according to Amnesty International, a September 2000 New York Times survey found that during the last 20 years, the homicide rate in states with the death penalty has been 48 to 101 percent higher than in states without the death penalty. Something else that jumped out at me was the fact, as AI states, that 97% of those awarded the death penalty worldwide come from the U.S., China, Iran and Vietnam.
This summer I interned with Amnesty International back home in New Delhi, and worked with them on their anti-death penalty campaign. AI says that 121 nations worldwide have abolished the death penalty in one form or the other and that 86 out of these nations have abolished the death penalty for all crimes. Philippines in the latest addition to this list. However, both India and the United States retain the death penalty. I carried out extensive research on the use of the death penalty in India and found that while the government claims that it has executed 55 people since independence in 1947, the real figure is close to 1400. I found this information by collating lists from different prisons across the nations, spending time with death row convicts and meeting with members of the Law Commission. Something to think about...

Monday, October 09, 2006

For women, greatest threat to violence is at home

Most of the human rights abuses we have been talking about in class involve hate groups and government-affiliated militia groups. This article stood out to me because it takes a different view of violence. It focuses on the greatest threat of violence facing women today - domestic abuse. I found this investigation by the World Health Organization particularly interesting because it focuses on both the developing and developed world.

Can you believe that in EU countries, 20 - 25% of women are estimated to be victimes of domestic violence? I couldn't believe the numbers were so high! And in a developing country, such as Ethiopia, that number sky-rockets to roughly 71%!

How can a man, intimately connected to a women, abuse her? Where did the hate arise from a relationship which is based on love?

Student, 13, fires AK-47 in Missouri school

This article is about a 13 year old boy who came to school in the morning with an assault rifle.
I believe that this shows that even those we see as harmless are capable of doing evil and morally wrong things. The age of the child I found particularly interesting because I think that it shows that any person of any age has the ability to do evil, therefore evil must be in all of us. I think it comes down to whether or not our rational thinking deems something to be evil or not in our own minds. I doubt this kid felt what he was doing was wrong, in his mind what he was doing was fine. His ideas of right and wrong are most likely rooted in society and nurture.
Would this be an example of how society and our surroundings create evil in people?

Sunday, October 08, 2006

The Origin of The Paradoxical Commandments

The previous blog “the significance of a Small Deed” reminded me of a lecture I heard a while back by the mayor of Lancaster during a club leadership conference. The mayor talk about a book called The Origin of The Paradoxical Commandments which was written my Kent Keith in 1968 when he was 19, a sophomore at Harvard. Kent writes the book to help student understand the world a little better and to encourage them to do good things. He states "I saw a lot of idealistic young people go out into the world to do what they thought was right, and good, and true, only to come back a short time later, discouraged, or embittered, because they got negative feedback, or nobody appreciated them, or they failed to get the results they had hoped for.”

Kent encourages that students work and help other not for the fame, glory, or honor that would more or less come from noble acts of kindness but rather act because you truly care and deep down in your soul you know it’s the right thing

In his book he states the 10 paradoxical commandments

1) People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered. Love them anyway.
2) If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives. Do good anyway.
3) If you are successful, you win false friends and true enemies. Succeed anyway.
4) The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.
5) Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable. Be honest and frank anyway.
6)The biggest men with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men with the smallest minds. Think big anyway.
7) People favor underdogs, but follow only top dogs. Fight for a few underdogs anyway.
8)What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight. Build anyway.
9) People really need help but may attack you if you do help them. Help people anyway.
10) Give the world the best you have and you'll get kicked in the teeth. Give the world the best you have anyway.
I encourage all you, my classmates, to read these words of wisdom a few time before making a true judgment. These commandments can not be preached nor can they be taughted. They can only be seen through action and once that is understood purely good intentions will become automatic and seen and realized by the rest of the world.

Remember DO GOOD ANY WAYS

Friday, October 06, 2006

Straw veil call sparks Muslim fury

It had occurred to me when seeing the headline that this article would be about an outbreak of violence. I mean, personally the word "fury" has some pretty strong connotations. Put that together with the word "Muslim" and anything is possible. Taking into account the last two massive outbreaks of violence emanating from the Muslim world after comments or cartoons, when one sees this headline you think that this must be something similar. I mean what else are Muslims if not violent, unruly, hate mongers. Oh the "fury" came, there was no stopping these crazed Muslims, but just before they could burn down churches or kill clergy something odd happened. It seems that the "Muslim fury" spoken about was simply citizens redressing their government. The "fury" amounted to complaints from the Muslim community about insensitivity to their culture. But wait there is hope, a "radical" Muslim group, they will make things make sense again, this "radical" group released a vitriolic statement that called for the beheading of Jack Straw....oh wait never mind, they simply stated that the "Muslim community does not need lessons in dress from Jack Straw."

So wait. No killings? No calls for assassinations? No burning churches or dead clergy? What kind of "fury" is this? If I have learned anything from our government and culture, it is that Muslims are violently insane people, but somehow that doesn’t fit with reality before my eyes. Is it possible that they are people just like us?

So, does anyone else find this headline a little weird? It just seems that we are taught to fear Muslims now. Even when they aren’t doing anything, we are still pushed to fear them. Kind of ridiculous if you ask me.

ps. I hope you all caught my sarcasm
Aaron

The Significance of a Small Deed

Hi everyone,

I thought this video clip would be particularly uplifting amidst all of the sad posts on the blog. It is a Liberty Mutual commercial that gives me chills every time I see it, so I thought I would share. It really demonstrates to me the domino effect of doing a good deed.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Evil in Africa?

You all need to take a look at Anderson Cooper's 360 Blog on his travels to Africa -- very disturbing, especially the gang rape of a 3 year old child. Does true evil exist in the hearts of some men? How else can you explain this?

"Side by Side" The Amish & English

I thought I'd share this wonderfully, heartfelt written article by a Washington Post staff writer about the Amish and "English" communities coming together after the absolutely horrific tragedy of the Amish school house shootings.

It really helps calm my soul a bit if anything can after such a horrible tragedy.

I've lived in Lancaster County for almost 10 years now -- always curious but respectful of the Amish community. I have an even deeper respect for them now.

I wish that we could do something to make it better -- but I know that we can't. I just hope the Amish community realizes that the rest of the world, and particularly Lancaster County shares their grief.
I encourage all to donate to The Mennonite Central Committee's fund set up to help with medical expenses, etc., for the stricken Amish families. You can find this website at:
http://www.mcc.org/news/news/2006/2006-10-03_support.html

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Girls abused in New York's Juvenile Prisons

I was on the Human Rights Watch website and found this article. Turns out it was on the main Human Rights news page. If we thought that human rights abuses occur in other countries that are removed from "us," this story brings home the truth. I also thought that the article tied in very well to what we were talking about in class today--what credibility we have in the global politics when human rights abuses are occurring in our own backyard.
The article is shocking as it points out the inhuman ways in which these girls are treated. Sometimes, simply being sloppy in making one's bed can lead these girls to get inhumanly beaten. In the past five years, there have been five cases of staff having intercourse with these girls as well. I am not American and have heard people make statements like "the prison system is less than perfect," or "it needs reform." However, I had no idea that things got this bad. Has the public been kept in the dark about this issue or do we just have blinkers on?

Torture Bill

On September 27 the House passed a piece of legislation that approves torture methods for the interrogation of terroist suspects. The legislation places restrictions on the type of torture that is to be used but its definition of "cruel and inhuman treatment" is very loose. In addition, the bill can deny detainees the right to legal counsel and habeas corpus. New York representative Jerrold Nadler believes that denying habeas corpus to detainees would be a mistake, in an interview he said: "This is how a nation loses its moral compass, its identity, its values and eventually, its freedom..." Bush is also pushing to protect CIA officials from prosecution for using "aggressive interrogation tatics."
Should we really be allowed to torture these people and take away the prospects of accountability? No one wants to live in a world with terrorists and terrorism, but terrorists are people too and according to Donelly the purpose of human rights is because we have a vision of human potential. "Treat people lioke human beings...and you will get truly human beings." Are we justified in torturing these people because we think they are bad people, that makes us no better than the Latin American governments of the 70s and 80s who tortured people because they thought they were a threat. Americans today are generally sympathetic with the victims of torture from the past, not with the torturers. With this passing of this legislation have we, as Nadler says "lost our moral compass?"

Monday, October 02, 2006

On a Positive Note

On a far more positive note than today's other events, today is the Indian holiday Gandhi Jayanti. It celebrates the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, one of the originators of the concept of non-violent resistance. Gandhi proved that through diplomatic and nonviolent means, you can achieve an epic goal. After Gandhi proved non-violent resistance a powerful tool to liberate a country, why do so many still use violent means to try to liberate their countries?

Saturday, September 30, 2006

UN 'must drop' Darfur peace force

I'm an F&M alumnus who used to be part of this class last year.
The link above refers to an article about UN top officials claiming that a UN peacekeeping force in Sudan is not the best solution to the genocide taking place there. "Outgoing deputy secretary general Mark Malloch Brown has meanwhile said the US and UK's use of "megaphone diplomacy" is almost "counterproductive" in Sudan."
There is a bigger push for funds directed towards the African Union Force--a peacekeeping body in Africa. Considering that the UN is promoting this solution over their own peacekeeping force, maybe we ought to raise awareness (and money) towards the AU Force, instead to writing letters to US senators. Any thoughts?

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Who Directs Our Moral Compass?

Does understanding good and evil mean we must first understand what is right and wrong? Or do they all come hand in hand? If we try to understand right and wrong, who has the authority to impose their moral beliefs and claim that certain things are right, while others are wrong? Archbishop Desmond Tutu from South Africa believes we have moral compasses that guide us away from what is wrong. He states the people of South Africa have lost their sense of right and wrong because they lost their morals compasses. How does one lose that sense and how does one get it back? Tutu is trying to shed light on the growing problems within South Africa (an increasing crime rate, the killing of innocent people, raping children, etc.). Can one man bring others to realize their “wrong” behavior? Unlike many others who sit and watch while evil overcomes, Tutu, a Nobel Prize winner, is taking an initiative to illustrate how one might become evil and must change to do what is right. Will it help?

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Israel Sets Goal of Pulling Troops Out of Lebanon by Sunday

I was talking to a friend about our class and he asked me if all we focused on was evil. This moved me to show that sometimes there is good arises in times of evil.
This article talks about how Israel has plans to pull back there soldiers to help bring peace back to the area. This gesture will hopefully act as a catalyst to cool down heated groups who are looking to violence as the answer to their problems.
I think that by being as the first to advocate peace by action rather then by making promises and proposing peace, that others will soon fall in suit and the high tensions will be addressed diplomatically.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The Root of Evil?

Last Monday, to kick off the University at Buffalo's Day of Education, His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet, gave a short speech at the conclusion of an interfaith service. After listening to various priors from several faiths, including Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, Judaism, and a Native American welcoming chant, the His Holiness finally took the podium to give a small welcoming speech. In this speech, He politely thanked all for coming, and than proceeded to talk about a recurring theme in his two lectures, the importance of having a warm heart, and being compassionate towards all. His Holiness stated the point of all religion was this, to help to foster a warm heart. His country's struggle against Red China is an excellent example of how faith can help to prevent death. Starting in 1950, the PLA attacked Tibet, and began slaughtering and torturing innocent Tibetan citizens and monks. The Dalai Lama, the leader of Tibetan Buddhism, instead of encouraging violent rebellion, recommended that his people pray for their enemies. Instead of declaring a holy war against the PLA and China, His Holiness tries to educate people worldwide of his culture. If religion really is the source of evil and violence as people on this blog have claimed, and Dawkins claimed in his "Root of Evil" clip, than how can you explain the passive resistance of the Tibetan Buddhists?

Anti-Semite at the age of 3??

After our interaction with Mr. Schulz last week, I really wanted to examine how early can hatred really start in people? Well, apparently, very. In this interview a 3 year old Saudi girl, talks about why she hates the Jews who she refers to as "pigs and apes." At the age of three, I don't think I even knew the difference between Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus and so on. I knew that there was someone we prayed to who I called "God." I knew that God was supposed to protect us from evil, but beyond that I was completely unaware of much else.

Relating this to the Holocaust, can we truly say that that was a tragedy of the past and that it will never happen again? Can we really claim that Hitler was the only person who was charismatic enough to indoctrinate the young Germans to hate? Can we propose that today people are much more rational about what they teach their children? If we do believe that the events such as the Holocaust can never take place again, then what is to be said of a 3 year old Muslim girl who has been taught to hate the Jews?

Monday, September 25, 2006

Answering Questions asked in Class 9/25

I wanted to post about the discussion questions in class today. I believe in Browning's theory that ordinary men can kill under social pressure. I think the environment and our surroundings can influence a person's actions as well as social pressures, thus forcing people to commit evil actions or giving them a choice to do so. In our readings we read about how the internet influences people to take actions, by becoming a member in a sort of community online. People need to feel as if they belong somewhere, and exist for some purpose, and such hate groups attract the people that need that feeling in their life. Cults can do the same thing, they're breeding grounds for hate and violence. Ordinary people can be influenced to kill under social pressure ... and we all admitted that today, when some people said they would kill the innocent civilians to save their own life ... we were all asked if we would shoot the 100 or 50 people for injuring just one German life ... and people came up with scenarios, like if they had families to think of, but no matter what other circumstance, I believe to kill the 100 or 50 people just because one German was killed or was wounded is going along with the actions of 'evil' ... I would rather die than 'go along with' the command or keep living knowing what I had done was wrong. It's not even about being a martyr, it's about not following the evil actions of others, and standing up for what one believes in, since I know we all think killing and murdering innocent civilians is wrong. I think it's easier for youth to be brainwashed, since children look up to adults and mimic their actions. Children need to be taught the ways of the world, and once they get old enough can decide for themselves, but take the Hitler Youth for example, Mr. Schulz was 10 years old when he joined, innocent and naive. He said that his older brothers did not believe in what Hitler preached, because they were older, but he did because he was young. Children still have so much room to acquire knowledge, whereas adults take more time to learn new things or break/change old habits, in general. I think it's a sad fact of life thus far in the world that people turn their heads and pretend the bad things of the world don't affect them. Just because a situation may not directly affect a person, a state or a country doesn't mean it's not their duty to intervene. Instead of thinking about us vs. them, it should be all of humanity, as one, working to protect and help one another. As far as getting rid of the Holocaust Memorial Day and desinating a Genocide Memorial Day, I think any genocide should be remembered, separately. Each deserves a day of rememberance, and because the Holocaust was such a horrible event, the day should not be taken away. I can only hope that the people who need to find a place of belonging do so in a way that actually helps them, and can only hope that people start to see that we are all connected, because we are all people.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

The American Muslim Dilemma

“Richard A. Falkenrath, New York City’s deputy police commissioner for the counterterrorism, recently warned Congress, ‘The possibility of a ‘homegrown’ terrorist attack against New York City or any other American city is real and is worsening with time’.” In Richard Falkenrath’s testimony list 18 events from the “recent past” (found as a pfd file in the article) that point out that terrorism is not an “abstraction” to New York City.
Eben Kaplan, the author of the article, states that “Richard Falkenrath is just one of the many experts in the recent months to warn about the danger of ‘homegrown’ terrorism and that the next attackers will likely be ‘a lot closer to the Columbine killers, then traditional jihadis. Eben Kaplan goes further to talk about the American Muslim community and their “great assets for foiling homegrown Islamist terrorist.” Yet also states that CFR Senior Fellow Steven Simon warns that an “increase of alienation among American Muslims could produce a rejectionist generation.”
To sum up Eben Kaplan’s article, he reports about the growing fear of terrorism in the US and that the American Muslim community is working to stop terrorism but also is being isolated and targeted as threats.
This article coincides with a previous blog titled “U.S. Practice of Renditions” for it talks about how American Muslims are being look at and how the US is responding to terrorism. The article reminds me of the Japanese internment camps during WWII for now American Muslims suspected of terrorism are not sent to camps but placed in jail till the war on terror ends. The questions I have is, “how can we, as Americans, remove the fear we have for American Muslims?” and “How can we get Congress to see past these terrorist reports and believe in the prevention of social segregation instead of trying to enhance our fears and funnel our energy and thoughts to fighting terrorism?”