Sunday, September 24, 2017

Intolerance in the Time of Trump

Intolerance is a dominate force in political and social environments today.  What has happened to the morality, at least on the surface, of this nation?  Should we keep fighting for what is “right”, or has the influence of leadership on hegemonic culture ingrained a practice of intolerance?

I saw a graphic in the days following the tragic act of terrorism in Charlottesville, and Donald Trump’s subsequent comments on the incident.  The graphic introduced the Paradox of Tolerance by the philosopher Karl Popper:
“Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance.  If we extend unlimited tolerance even to these that are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them” (Popper, 581).
Popper’s message is a warning that if we, as a society, keep tolerating the intolerant, eventually the intolerant will gain control, society will fray at the edges, and the fabric of our tolerant society will tear apart, sending us into a black hole of intolerance which we cannot return.  But, have we already begun this spiral into the paradox?

Over the last year we have watched a growing intolerant society of racism and nativism spark the Brexit movement, and elect Donald Trump President of the United States -- whose policies are exclusive, and his rhetoric littered with racism, sexism, fearmongering, and bigotry.   Trump condoned the actions of Nazi and white supremacists in Charlottesville, following a terrorist attack that killed one and injured many, by not condemning it.  Rather saying, “I think there is blame on both sides”.

Living in a country led by Donald Trump has blurred the lines as to what is right or wrong.  Spending a considerable amount of time working with refugees and the U.S. school system the intolerance of Trump’s policies could be seen in the youth of America.  Trump’s discriminative policy affecting American youth.  “You’re not welcome here”, “go home terrorist”, were comments directed at refugee and immigrant students.  What once was a hate crime in a school is now just parroting the voice of the leader of the free world.  Schools actually had to formally assess if these comments were right or wrong!

How did this become our reality?  How could a man so full of fear and hate become our president?  Why were so many people tolerant of a man who epitomizes intolerance?  Hoping to understand, I asked a colleague who voted for Donald Trump; someone who identifies as being a “Reagan Republican.”

He described a difficult decision, based not on what he liked about Trump, but more so on what he identified as a dislike for his opponent.  Although he is a proponent of Trump’s policies to bring back manufacturing jobs to the United States, ending Obama-era policy on coal regulations, and the end of the affordable care act (ACA), he does not agree with Trump’s position of denying climate change, and his attempts to dismantle the ACA without a reasonable replacement. He also tolerates the “circus” which is Donald Trump on social issues.

When asked in-depth about tolerance, my colleague defined tolerance as, “being tolerant, to me, means understanding that not everyone believes the same way I do and I need to give them the same right to exist as I expect to receive from them.  Being tolerant of something does not mean I must respect it or agree with it” (Miller).

So why has intolerance taken such a firm grip today in the U.S.?  Is this intolerance a product of Donald Trump, or is Trump the product of an intolerant society?  I see the next three years as a crucial point in defining our interconnectedness with tolerance.  Do we rise-up, and persecute intolerance, as Karl Popper proposes:
  “We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance.  The right not to tolerate the intolerant.  We should claim that any movement preaching intolerance places itself outside the law, and we should consider incitement to intolerance and persecution as criminal in the same way as we should consider incitement to murder as criminal” (Popper, 581). 
Or, do we stand idly by, and let the paradox of tolerance and, intolerance take hold?  Or, should we as humanity do what’s morally right, follow Popper’s charge, and stand-up and defend the right to defend ourselves?

Thursday, December 8, 2016

¡Adios Hipócrita! A Farewell to the Revolutionary Who Failed his Revolution

It was in the early morning hours of the middle of the night when I received the same message from different notifications:

Breaking News: Cuba's Fidel Castro, age 90, has died, state-sponsored media reports.

Once again, the world focused its lens on the largest country of the Antillean islands. Hundreds of exiled Cubans and Cuban-Americans, accompanied by the mayor of Miami, assembled on the streets of Little Havana to sing, "¡Se Fue!"

He's gone. However, his shadow is not.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

The Day After...

Having to Answer to America's "Unwanted"

pic from
November 9, 2016

I am a civil servant.  My work as a Family Engagement coordinator at a small refugee center with a mission directed at educating and integrating refugees into the US school system is both personally and altruistically rewarding.  I had a meeting to enroll a Syrian family into an inner city school this morning, and the routine gathering and discussion became a battle between cultures, full of mistrust and anxiety. 

“Do you work for Trump?  Is that why you are trying to make this enrollment so confusing? I hope we get kicked out of this country so we can go back to Jordan!”

Monday, October 3, 2016

Progress Made, But We Cant Stop Here: Muslim Women in Media

Source: Playboy

Generally when you see a Muslim, particularly a women wearing a hijab in the media it is usually associated with some form of propaganda or 'terror' related accusation. Hijab is a target of islamaphobia and a hindrance to exercising freedom in a western patriarchal society.  Recently two very prominent veiled women Noor Tagouri and Amena Khan have been featured in two different very well-known brands. These promotions show great progress but also prove there is still a lot of work to do.

Friday, April 8, 2016

"Champion... Champion!"- Why West Indies' Cricket Triumph Should Excite the Global African Community

"You know what's wrong with our West Indians? No damn discipline. Look at this business this morning. That Hall and Trueman nonsense, kya-kya, very funny. But that is not the way the Aussies won tests." V.S Naipaul

The above sentiment, from 1963, might as well have been uttered in 2016. In fact, it has. The denigration of West Indian cricket's penchant to infuse residual African norms and uniquely island flamboyancy into the definitive imperial British 'gentleman's game'- all the while performing exceptionally- is as old and enduring as the game itself, in spite of an incredible cricketing legacy to show for all their 'indiscipline.'

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

From Jack to Cam- a Brief History of the Unapologetically Black Athlete

By Guest Blogger Jessica Newby

I've had this on my mind for a few days now and since it IS Black History month, I finally figured, what the heck? Mini history lesson/musings for y'all.
Let me just preface this by saying that I do not closely follow NFL football. (I'm more a college ball girl.) I didn't know very much about Cam Newton personally, or his career prior to this season. What I have been following and watching lately is the media firestorm that's been surrounding Cam Newton in the days up to and following the Super Bowl. I'm gonna say something about it.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Anti-Heroes of the Year (2015)

Abdelhamid Abaaoud, alleged mastermind of the Paris Attacks, drags Syrian victims behind his truck
This is the type of list you hope that, at some point, you will stop making. It's not a particularly pleasant one. It is, however, the detestable gift that keeps on giving. Now on our third installment, this year has been laden with anti-heroics: from human error to pure evil, misfortune to villainy. Without further ado, here is our 2015 list of Anti-Heroes.

10) Brian Williams