Friday, November 25, 2011

Dangers of Tear Gas

Hey everyone, sorry I keep posting so much! It's my way of procrastinating on other work.

I just saw this article on BBC and thought it was interesting, particularly with all the riots going on in Egypt, Syria, and even at Occupy Oakland.

What do you think? Should tear gas be used as a means of dispersing angry crowds? Or does the threat of injury and sometimes death outlaw its use? How should governments deal with potentially violent mobs? Do citizens have an unlimited right to free speech and assembly, or should governments place limits on human rights?

Life in the "Golden Cage"

For many undocumented immigrants, life in America is a "Golden Cage"--full of prosperity and a better life, but without true freedom. As an undocumented immigrant, the threat of being found out by authorities is ever-present. Undocumented immigrants go to extreme lengths to protect themselves, making life a "prison" at times.

Recently, Carlo Alban came out and revealed that as a child actor on the TV show Sesame Street, he was actually without proper documentation. Coming from Ecuador, Carlo and his family were waiting to get their proper paperwork:

"The family had been working with a lawyer to earn their green cards, but the process was taking much longer than the four to five years they initially hoped, as changes in the law obliged them to resubmit forms and information. Throughout his tenure on the show, Carlo's immigration status continued to be an issue. When the cast was scheduled to appear in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade, they had to provide their documentation to parade security. "I had to turn in a photocopy of my fake green card and for whatever reason, it had the wrong birthday on it," he says. "They knew me and they knew when my birthday was because I'd celebrated it on the set. I was terrified that someone was going to notice the date, get suspicious and start looking into things."No-one ever found out, but it was one of a series of close calls."

Luckily, Carlo has now received his green card and has a happy life in America: the perfect Hollywood ending. However, it makes you wonder whether there are other children who are not so lucky, children who could grow up and benefit America as a whole. 

What do you think? Is a right to immigration a human right? Carlo came from Ecuador, a relatively stable developing nation in South America. His family came to America not out of fear, but out of hope for a better life. Is it a human right to get to live in America, or should Carlo and his family have been thrown out had they been discovered to be illegal?

Fight over Immigration Detention Center in a Florida Town

A fight has broken out between residents of the south Florida town of Southwest Ranches and their local government. The local government has been working for years to have one of the governments largest detention centers for immigrants. The town stands to make a significant amount (between 400,000 and 1.5 million) annually in revenue from the prison, and it should create about 300 permanent jobs. Local residents, however, tend to have higher incomes and do not feel they need the jobs and do not feel comfortable having a prison in their town.

The new detention center is not a regular prison, but a special detention center for immigrants who have not committed any crimes. It is supposed to provide more humane treatment for non-offender immigrants and provide easier access for family members and lawyers.

The residents of Southwest Ranches may be skeptical, but I for one and very much in support of the idea. Every day immigrants flee to this country in search of a better life and every day we throw them in prison, alongside murderers, rapists and other offenders, even if they have committed no crime other than crossing our boarder. While I would prefer we not detain them at all, if we have to I think specialized detention centers that can accommodate the unique needs of these immigrants is a great idea and something that should be pursued.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Always Those Darn Christians

One interesting thing I’ve found while taking the Human Rights Human Wrongs class is how involved Christian organizations are in the fight for human rights. Atheists such as Richard Dawkins or Christopher Hitchens always blame Christianity for atrocities like the Crusades or the Inquisition. But in the twenty-first century, it seems that the majority of the organizations that are fighting for human rights on the front lines are Christian!

Think about it. Every day in class, we hear about the incredible work that Church World Service and Lutheran Immigration & Refugee Service both do with refugees in Lancaster. Water Street Rescue Mission in downtown Lancaster provides meals and shelter to hundreds of homeless people every day. The Salvation Army also does great work in feeding the hungry and caring for the poor. Notably, the largest nonprofit organization in the entire world, WorldVision, is a Christian organization. Examples abound: Living Water International has dug 10,000 wells in nations where drought is prevalent. Every day, while living in Jerusalem, I could see the ancient church on the Mount of Olives that is now a non-profit Christian hospital run by Lutheran World Federation.

Victoria Augusta Hospital. Mount of Olives, East Jerusalem
Obviously, there are tons of charities and many of them are not Christian. It just seems odd to me that SO many charities are based on Christian principles. And these aren’t just to make converts: pushing Christianity is explicitly forbidden in WorldVision’s code of conduct.

The stereotype that some people have, that Christians only care about the afterlife, seems not to be true. So what exactly explains the preponderance of Christian aid organizations? Are they motivated by Jesus’ commands to care of the poor, the weak, the oppressed, the widows, and the orphans? Or is it just a coincidence that they happen to be Christian?

What do you think? Should religion play a part in advancing human rights? Or should Christians stay out of it?

I have my own opinions but I’m curious what you think. 

Monday, November 21, 2011

Charity Water

Recently, I came across a charity that's dedicated to bringing clean water to people around the world. I know it's not necessarily about asylum seekers but everyone should have access to clean water and I just want more people to be aware of this cause. Honestly, I would even argue that access to clean water should be a human right. Charity water funds projects like water facilities in a clinic/school/village. Here is what they have done so far:

In five years, they funded 4,282 projects and helped over 2 million people. I think this cause is very inspiring and I hope you all feel the same way.