James Baldwin and American Slavery: The Effects and Repercussions

By Joshua D. Glawson | United States

James Baldwin was one of the leading speakers during the Civil Rights movement for equal rights of Blacks in America. Although he eventually moved to France, he continued to travel to the U.S. to speak about race issues. He lived a life of segregation as being Black, a convert to the Nation of Islam, and as being a homosexual. France became a refuge for him in between speaking and writing on the Black struggles faced in America. He pushed the ideas of ‘Civil Rights,’ ‘Affirmative Action,’ and ‘Social Justice.’

It was often Baldwin’s criticism that no matter the increase of success stories in the U.S. for Black people, he felt that because of the origins, establishments of the former enslavement, and segregation of blacks, it was not possible to have equality. Retribution was never given by the U.S. after the freeing of slaves, and this was a sign of a lack of justice in the system that bore him.

Baldwin held a deeply seeded skepticism of people and thought it best to trust no one other than his own experiences (Baldwin, 8). This skepticism was most likely a symptom of Baldwin’s life experiences growing up in a racist society that treated him as being lesser of a human being than Whites for his being Black.  The sad thing is that this was a common thought among Blacks in the U.S. of Baldwin’s day. It was difficult to see the successes that even he had accomplished, and to be grateful for his growth as a person, due to the origins of his ancestry and their poor treatment. Beyond just his ancestors’ treatment as slaves, Baldwin had to live a life of mistreatment and often with a lack of ‘justice.’

As Frederick Douglass’ story pointed out the struggles of actually being a slave and becoming a self-made success, Baldwin’s story shows the backlash of the American system through an ongoing struggle with resentment as Baldwin’s lack of being treated as an equal to Whites. It had been around 70 years since Douglass had passed and Baldwin was still seeing the repercussions of slavery and the mistreatment of Blacks in America, especially in the Southern states. This racism in America had become extensively held conviction for most of the nation, and the culture was not shifting quickly enough for Baldwin and most Blacks at that time. Baldwin’s solution to the problem was to not run away completely, although he did move away to France, his solution was to write and speak out against the racist system, and society itself, and join the Civil Rights Movement in pursuit of ‘social justice’ and Affirmative Action.

A tenet of the Civil Rights Movement was that even forcing society with the coercion of the state was a step in the direction of ending racism and the mistreatment of Blacks in the U.S. Of course, the Civil Rights Movement was also fighting against the legally systematic racism such as that of Jim Crow laws of the South, which enforced segregation at public facilities and transportation. These laws chanted the idea of “separate but equal.” In contrast, Baldwin was in pursuit of ‘together and equal.’

Baldwin’s circle of influential people included Elijah Mohammad of the Nation of Islam. Unlike Elijah Mohammad, Baldwin rejected the idea that Whites were inferior to that of Blacks, and did not see them as being “devils” (Baldwin, 76). Baldwin also did not agree with continued segregation of Whites and Blacks in America, as he saw them as equals. Baldwin’s primary concern was to shape society’s view that Blacks and Whites are equal and should be treated as equals, both in society and by the state. His idea was to “free” White people from the delusion that Whites are superior, and this was the necessary step for ensuring Blacks’ equality and “freedom” from racism. His means of accomplishing this “freedom” were by writing, speaking, and pushing the judicial agenda of the Civil Rights Movement.

It is clear to see the frustration that most black people had in America during Baldwin’s time. They were forced to pay taxes and were still treated as being lesser in a society that treated Blacks as if they were not welcome. Many White businesses did not serve them, whether that be banks, restaurants, retail stores, etc. Everywhere they turned, they were harassed or their rights violated. These violated rights did not just occur within free society, they also occurred in the judicial system where ‘equality under the law’ and ‘justice’ were atypical for Blacks in America. Most Blacks, and people of color, thought the only solution was to force a systematic change in order to gain true equality.

From Thomas Jefferson to Frederick Douglass there were drastic changes made within the state to free the enslaved via the Thirteenth Amendment, grant equal citizenship for Blacks via the Fourteenth Amendment, and enforcing equal voting rights for black men via the Fifteenth Amendment. The fumbling of not ending slavery from the beginning of the U.S. by Jefferson and the Framers of the Constitution led to further victimization and a broken justice system for all. To abrogate the rights of one individual or group is to abrogate the rights of all, as ‘justice’ is the equality of treatment under the law.

The continuation of slavery in America reinforced racism in society and the state, while holding back the growth of those enslaved and the slave owners themselves. From the unbalanced foundation of the U.S. system, inequality and its repercussions were well established. Racism was then destined to take hold as it was then backed by the coercive clutches of government. Even with added Amendments, new laws to get around those were created and enforced. This is the difficulty of a democratic system which tyrannizes the minority by the vote of the majority, and racist laws are a prime example. The benefit of a democracy is that within it people tend to attempt, at least, to correct what was wrong, although it can be a rather slow process.

From Frederick Douglass to James Baldwin, prior to the Civil Rights Act, it does not appear there were many positive changes in the U.S. government system. In fact, racism and inequality persisted throughout both the South and North. This is another example of the dawdling of a democracy. Even after the Civil Rights Movement, racism towards Blacks continued and still exists today. The hesitations and reluctance of Thomas Jefferson are echoed throughout U.S. history until the days of James Baldwin. The repercussions of slavery and systematic racism are ongoing.

My position on slavery is that people are never born to be slaves. This is to say that I do not support the philosophical ideology of Aristotle on this particular matter. I do think that people, in general, have genetic predispositions for certain levels of mental capacities. Just as twin brothers can be born in the same family, with the same socioeconomic class and family, they can have different outcomes, skills, and abilities from each other. This is in part because they are individuals that can decide what to pursue, and also because there is evidence of their innate differences. These differences do not comfort the notion that one brother may or should enslave the other because of any hierarchical claims. One’s intelligence level is only compared to the other’s.

A system of ‘justice’ requires that all people be treated equally under the law, and the determinant of who is and who is not a ‘person’ is not the position of a government. Once there is room for subjectivity in law, the once balanced scales of ‘justice’ are disproportionate. From Jefferson’s ‘antiquation’ of law, or refusing to pass laws required to end slavery, led to ‘dispensation’ which is to say the system only allowed particular instances of ‘justice.’

From the time of Frederick Douglass, Amendments were added, but ‘subrogation’ was permitted, meaning that sub-clauses were provided by State and local governments to find ways out of upholding Federal laws. Finally, from the time of James Baldwin, ‘derogation’ of laws, or the removal of certain laws, was accomplished. Nevertheless, ‘abrogation,’ that is the destruction of ‘law’ and ‘justice’ persisted from the time of Jefferson through the time of Baldwin, and there is evidence that this continues today, all because of the subjectivity allowed into the legislation and judicial system.

Thomas Jefferson’s subjectivity of law was that he felt it necessary to allow government to decide through the voice of a democracy who was and who was not a ‘person.’ So, this continued injustices and slavery. James Baldwin’s subjectivity lied in his concept of ‘social justice,’ as that is by its very definition shaped by the situations and perceptions of a society. ‘Social justice’ is unbalanced and a perversion of ‘justice.’

Although Baldwin’s shared position with the Civil Rights Movement that public services should be shared equally among taxpaying citizens was a push for ‘justice,’ enforcing private businesses and people to provide equal services to Blacks was an attack against ‘justice’ through Affirmative Action. Baldwin’s concern was that the people behind the government system were immoral and that immorality was corrupting the system (Baldwin, 23, 47). I would suggest, then, that is evidence the system has too much subjective power, and the perfectibility of mankind through the coercion of the state is ignorant of empirical evidences contrary to that notion. To believe that it is noble to pursue such a goal in the face of evidence and the very nature of mankind, is utopian and naïve at best.

My position against Affirmative Action is that it is an overreach of government into society. I am aware that this view is not popular and often attacked. After all, Affirmative Action was implemented to attempt to rectify past injustices against Blacks and people of color. It was sort of a ‘reparation’ from slavery through to inequalities of Baldwin’s time. Nonetheless, I see racism as being a moral issue, not a legal issue. I think racism is a natural evil and inclination of the ignorant person, and it takes place universally. But forcing people through the proverbial gun of the government to be ‘ethical,’ does not create ethical people.

The Aristotelian approach here is that moral laws do not make moral people. In order for a person to make a moral decision, they must be free to do so. Simply being racist and not wishing to do business with someone is not a direct attack on someone, it is a personal choice of association and exchange. A free society allows for people to freely associate with whom they please; and in a free society there is a free market that would “correct itself,” like a democracy, in pursuit of the most dollars. A successful business would learn to accept any race, because if they do not, their competition surely will.

So, as a clarification, I do think racism is immoral, and slavery is one of the worst things one can do to another. I do not think a ‘just’ government should be able to regulate immoral behaviors that are of the ‘negative liberty’ type- that is liberties that do not infringe on the rights of others. I do think a ‘just’ government is required to prevent any ‘positive liberties’ which directly infringe on the rights of others. I also think government has the crucially imperative role of preventing and/or punishing those that harm others such as through acts of violence, theft, threats, death, and/or enslavement, etc.

Furthermore, I do not think an entire race is to be condemned because of the actions of a majority. Every action is performed by an individual as suggested by ‘praxeology’ or ‘methodological individualism,’ that is the study of the actions of individuals. Not all black people were enslaved, and not all white people were slave owners.

Some continue to push the notion that all white people in America are to be blamed, even to this day when no legalized slavery in the U.S. exists; this is a symptom of what happened, or a ‘repercussion’ as it were. Perhaps, there is no way to escape the transgenerational trauma that many Black people have from the horrific history of slavery. At least not until individuals, not acting in ‘collectivism,’ begin to stand up and make changes in their own lives in order to see the world for what it now is and what it can become. No matter the case of one’s ancestry, our individual thoughts and actions matter in the present, and we are each responsible for those.

From the establishment of slavery in the U.S. to the unwillingness to end it by Jefferson and others, the repercussions of such injustices were magnified the longer they took place. From Baldwin’s subjectivity of ‘social justice’ through the Civil Rights Movement and Affirmative Action, I can only imagine the continuation of injustices leading to furthering despotism in the U.S. for years to come. I am ever grateful that we no longer have slavery in this nation, and I am happy to see racist laws no longer existing as far as I am aware. To Thomas Jefferson, I am thankful for our nation. To Frederick Douglass I am thankful for the inspiration to pursue ‘Liberty,’ ‘Justice,’ and ‘Freedom.’ To James Baldwin, I am thankful for his desire of integration and charisma for change.


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July Movie Preview: A Rundown of the Biggest Hits

Brennan Dubé | @Brennan_Dube71R

July 4

The First Purge

This will be the fourth installment in the ‘Purge’ franchise. However, it will be the first not directed by James DeMonaco although he will still return to write and produce this film. On a budget of just $13 million, Universal Pictures should make a solid profit on this film considering two of the last three ‘Purge’ films have surpassed $100 million at the box office. This prequel action-thriller will be a hit at theaters due to the ‘Purge’ name attached to it. Despite poor reviews from critics, these films continue to obliterate their budgets and draw in crowds that enjoy a good thrill.

July 6

Ant-Man and the Wasp

The sequel to the 2015 film ‘Ant-Man’ will open up in theaters this Friday. Riding the wave of ‘Infinity War’, it should make some rather significant cash. The first film opened to $57 million in July of 2015. It went on to gross over $500 million globally, a little low in terms of Marvel movies but still a good draw considering ‘Ant-Man’ is much lower profile than the other heroes featured in the past few years. ‘Ant-Man and the Wasp’ will draw in the family crowd and the superhero fans, and should go for a win at the July box office.

Whitney

‘Whitney’ is a documentary about Whitney Houston that premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May. It will get its theatrical release this Friday. The film will have a limited release, meaning it won’t be released nationwide right away. Instead, it will slowly expand its theater count as most documentaries do. The documentary will feature never before seen footage and rare performances as well as exclusive demo recordings by Whitney Houston.

July 13

Skyscraper

The Dwayne Johnson action/thriller, ‘Skyscraper’ will be released this month and should play out like any usual Dwayne Johnson film. If it follows the course of ‘Rampage,’ which was released earlier this year, it will open around $30 million and go on to gross a good sum at the box office.

Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation

‘Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation’ debuts this month and is the first ‘Transylvania’ film to be released in summertime. This animated feature should do well and with a very conservative budget of $65 million, they will be able to make a strong profit. Both previous films opened to $42.5 and $48.4 million respectively. The third may see a different result due to a summertime release, but I still expect it to be a good draw among families as most wide release animated films are.

Eighth Grade

This A24 studio film received high praise at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year and is expected to be a big hit among critics when it opens this month. The movie is a coming of age comedy-drama. Early screened critics have this film currently sitting at a 97% on Rotten Tomatoes.

July 20

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again

This is the sequel to the hit 2008 film ‘Mamma Mia!’ which went on to be the 5th highest grossing film of 2008. It grossed $615 million on a budget of just $52 million. The sequel is expected to follow up with similar success, considering much of the star-studded cast is returning and there haven’t been many true musicals as of late. The musical film fans may be craving something and that would definitely help this sequel.

The Equalizer 2

Denzel Washington returns to star in ‘The Equalizer 2,’ an action/thriller. The film should have a good draw among action movie fans and it gets a small jump on the next ‘Mission Impossible’ film, which comes out the following weekend. The first film had a budget of $73 million and went on to gross $192 million globally. This will release in the first weekend following the World Cup which may help out its chances with doing better in foreign markets.

Unfriended: Dark Web

This found footage horror/thriller film is a stand-alone sequel to the 2014 film ‘Unfriended’ which went on to gross $64 million dollars on a budget of just $1 million. The movie was filmed secretly last year and had a surprise announcement in March of this year.

July 27

Mission: Impossible – Fallout

This will be the sixth film in the ‘Mission: Impossible’ franchise. Tom Cruise continues to defy all odds with some never before seen stunts in this film. The movie will get a good draw from casual movie goers as well as action movie fans. Should ‘Fallout’ do well, expect more ‘Mission: Impossible’ movies to come.

Teen Titans Go! To the Movies

This animated film based on the television series is releasing this month. The movie is written by the writers of the show and is directed by series producers, Peter Rida Michail and Aaron Horvath. Warner Bros. will hope that this animated superhero comedy will get a good draw from the family audiences.


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Statist Rhetoric: “If You Don’t Like It, Why Don’t You Leave?”

By Andrew Lepore | United States

Libertarians often advocate a wide range of policies, from limiting intervention overseas to the abolition of certain government programs. In many cases, opponents simply reply, “If you don’t like it here, why don’t you just leave?” If you haven’t triggered enough cognitive dissonance in a statist to blurt out that line, you’re probably not trying hard enough. Statists often resort to this appeal when a real argument does not exist. This phrase is the statist’s last line of defense when they have exhausted all else.

The Statist Logical Fallacy

This “argument” is in fact not an argument at all. it is neither moral nor utilitarian. It, in fact, is one of the worst things to say in a debate. Essentially, this line says that nobody should resist oppression. It implies that people should not try to overturn unjust laws, and instead should simply run away from the mob majority. A free society does not allow the mob majority to have such control in the first place, and this rhetoric brings us further away from a free society.

The fact of morality is that aggression is immoral. It simply does not matter what majority decided it was okay. It likewise does not matter what group has a monopoly of power in that area. No imaginary borders, no majority, no social contract, can make what is immoral, moral. Libertarians just want to live their lives free of coercion. Statists, on the other hand, seek to control. They are the ones who dictate to others how to live, who take part of the fruits of others’ labor and spend it how they please. Yet, they have the audacity to say that if someone doesn’t like it, they must leave. With the power-hungry iron fist of the state, they seek to rule the lives of fellow men. So, how are libertarians in the wrong for wanting to live and let live?

Refutations to Self-Exile

If confronted with such an absurd response by a likely nationalist, flag waving, Trump praising statist, who probably quotes the founding fathers when it suits them, point out that by their own principle the founders should have just left the colonies. Apparently, the founders were just crybabies for demanding freedom and fighting for it. They should have just left. it appears logical consistency is of little importance to the statist.

If confronted by a collectivist, when pointing out the evils of the state extorting half of your income, point out a quite similar situation that occurred in our history. By their own principle, abolitionists were just crybabies who should have left America if they didn’t like the enslavement of Africans. After all, the majority had said it was okay to own slaves. By this logic, the abolitionists were wrong even for advocating the end of slavery. Next, watch them backpedal.

This principle can be applied to any example of tyranny throughout history. If the Jews in Nazi Germany didn’t like what was going on, why didn’t they just leave? If those living in the Soviet Union didn’t want to starve, I guess they should have just left. Neither the state nor anybody else has the right to rule over others’ lives.

A Contradiction of Logic and Morality

Thus, it appears that the argument is a clear contradiction of logic and morality. Rather than simply walking away, fight for positive change in society. Disagreeing with an aspect of such a society does not mean that the society as a whole is not worth living in.

Tom Woods excellently states the fact that without a doubt, the moral burden in this case lies only on the state.

“Why should I leave? Why is the moral burden on me when in fact you’re the one with a gun to my head. Your the one who wishes to expropriate me then use the proceeds to fund drone strikes. It would seem to me that a healthy moral reckoning would have it that you would have to demonstrate your right to do that before I would have to demonstrate my right to sit here unmolested” – Tom E. Woods.


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America – The Land of the Free! Not so Much.

By Indri Schaelicke | United States

The first brave immigrants who came to the US arrived knowing that they were in the land of the free, as long as they did not hurt others. In the 242 years since this nation was founded, we have been manipulated, used and tricked into giving up our liberties in exchange for the completely illusory concept of safety. This 4th of July, consider how being truly free means we must remove the chains of government from around or wrists, and demand that we be placed in control of our own lives.

Perhaps the most cynical form of government control is the way that the state holds our liberties hostage. In many ways, they require citizens to hold a license to engage in standard activities. When the government mandates that we must obtain a license to lawfully participate in an activity, they take one of our natural, God given rights. Then, the land of the free sells it back to us.

Permits, too, follow a similar immorality. In many instances, public assembly permits restrict on the right to free and open assembly. Though the First Amendment guarantees this right, government restricts it nonetheless.

Requiring permits also violates private property laws. A great example of this is a building permit. Building permits allow the government to control what you can and cannot build on your own land. What one does with their own property that they have legally acquired is no business of an ever meddling government.

Permits and licenses also interfere with the market. An individual permit is not a large expense for a business. However, when government forces them to purchase several permits at once, it can be a great financial burden. The added costs of obtaining the license can make it difficult for the business to turn a profit and expand their enterprise. Maintaining compliance with the permit or license can also impose added costs in the long term, preventing the business from ever reaching its full potential. If an area loses many businesses due to bankruptcy, their local economy will tank and unemployment will rise. Damage to local economies can affect generations, especially in secluded, rural areas where people do not have much access to different employment opportunities.

Licensing can further lead to cronyism within our economy. Corporations can lobby the government to require certain license to join the marketplace. These licences make it more difficult for new businesses to enter the market, and protects the existing ones from competition. It is in this way that corporations can use the government as a weapon against potential competition and maintain their near-monopolistic control on the market.

It may be easy for us to gripe about our great loss of liberty in the alleged land of the free. Despite this, compared to many other industrialized nations, we still have considerably more freedom. The 4th of July holiday should serve as a reminder of how fortunate we are to still have the freedoms we possess. But, it also should also serve as a rallying cry to gain back those we have lost.


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Abandoned Independence: The True Story of a Young Girl in Gaza

By Joseph Brown | United States

WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGES (BLOOD/GORE) BELOW

It’s that time of year again.

The taste of sulfur from a barrage of fireworks collides with the familiar smell of barbecue as the nation commemorates the ol’ red white and blue. For many Americans, the 4th of July is seen as a way to celebrate the capstone of American accomplishment, and any elementary school kid could tell you that the United States of America gained its freedom against all odds by forcing colonial British forces from its land.

Who has time for royal weddings when you have Monday Night Football anyway?

The classic tale of a determined ragtag band of rebels defeating the most powerful military force in the world has influenced thousands across the globe. It has inspired subsequent revolutions, formed modern American culture, and of course, created the masterful cinematic universe of Star Wars (Let’s not talk about the last one).

The memory of early American revolutionaries is alive and well in American society, but their legacy might have died with the founding fathers. Let’s take a gander at what life would have been like for a family in colonial America:

Amanda is a young woman living in the coastal city of Boston during the height of the American Revolutionary War. Though previously privileged enough to receive post-secondary education, Amanda was forced to abandon her studies and her talents after the conflict between Imperial and Rebel forces escalated. With hostile forces occupying a portion of her hometown, and the infamous British fleet blockading Boston’s ports, life in the besieged city has slowly begun to fade. Rations are running low, and the community is forced to face the possibility of starving,  while wandering a few blocks in the wrong direction could lead to a fate even worse than death.

If you thought life couldn’t seem any more bleak than it already is, you’re wrong.

Amanda’s brother was shot in the leg by British soldiers during a protest to lift the blockade, and for the past 64 days, Oliver has existed in a hellish state of unimaginable pain. Rebel forces have commandeered the majority of goods, and the merciless blockade prevents any significant aid from entering the dying city. Amanda and her family have no choice but to sit and watch Oliver writhe in excruciating agony before finally losing consciousness in what is the only remote escape from his pain.

While her brother sleeps, Amanda gathers bits of rubble and driftwood as a means of insulating her home from the bitter Atlantic winds. The war seems impossibly hopeless, and she doubts her brother will survive the winter. Every night, she watches the sun set on the silhouettes of British warships, as they strangle what’s left of her broken city.

Luckily for you and I, we know the ending to Amanda’s story. We know that the Continental Army would eventually manage to defeat British forces, and the rest is history, right?

Unfortunately, not everyone has the privilege of such happy endings.

Although the above narrative is a perfectly probable allegory describing life in the midst of a great American conflict, it is modeled completely upon the true experiences of a family on the other side of the world.

You’re familiar with Amanda, but have you met Asmaa?

During her lifetime, Asmaa al-Housh has witnessed unimaginable amounts of destruction and despair, much like our fictional Amanda. The only difference?

Asmaa is from the Gaza Strip.

Formerly an outgoing photographer and active student at her local university, Asmaa was forced to abandon her aspirations after her brother, Omar, was shot in the leg by Israeli security forces while attending recent march protesting the Israeli blockade of Gaza. As of May 30th, 2018, Israeli border patrols have killed at least 134 Palestinian protesters and injured 15,000 others during the protests. Among the dead and wounded are men, women, and children. Since 2007, no one has been allowed in or out of Gaza territory, and a merciless land, air, and sea blockade has prevented the transportation of significant medical supplies and basic goods.

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In Gaza, the most brutal wounds are often treated without any pain medicine due to a resource blockade.

 

Asmaa provides full time care for her twin brother, and for the past two months, you can almost always find her at his bedside. With local hospital facilities lacking staff, supplies, room, and tools, emergency services are quickly overwhelmed, and patients who are in need of critical care are often dismissed, or could face lengthy treatment times. Some can’t survive the wait.

The horrendous conditions of healthcare facilities merely reflect the state of being in the Gaza Strip. Residents of the besieged city are lucky to have four hours of electricity a day, and often resort to collecting driftwood or rubble as a means of heating water among the demolished ruins of Gaza neighborhoods. Blackouts are frequent, and uncertainty looms in every corner of human existence. Is the water clean? Where will we get our next meal? Will our house be bombed tonight? Will my son even make it home alive? These are the real questions that residents living in Gaza are forced to ask themselves every day under the Israeli occupation.

Few Palestinians within Gaza ever have the chance to have their voice heard beyond their own neighborhood. When asked what she would tell Americans about her homeland, Asmaa told me that few Americans can comprehend what it’s like to live there.

“Gaza is a prison. I have  dreams to travel…but none of this is possible. I have great hope, but it is not always this way. When I hear my brother scream or see his wounds, I am very tired.”

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Omar lays wounded in a hospital, where even the most essential resources are scarce.

The conflict between Israel and Palestine has proven to be one of the most divisive and dynamic disasters of modern history, and continues to be a polarizing political issue, both internationally and within the United States. Yet, amidst the heartbreaking violence and hopeless political upheaval, the victims of the conflict have largely been forgotten, and are seldom represented as anything more than a statistic. Israeli or Palestinian, these are human lives, and this is as much of a human issue than a political one.

So before you crack open a beer, or eat one of those generic Walmart sugar cookies with colored sprinkles, take a moment to recognize that the principles of freedom and self determination aren’t exclusively American. There are thousands of oppressed peoples around the world who will die before they see the fruits of their resistance, and there are children in Gaza who could teach an American a thing or two about “The rocket’s red glare”.


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