Journal Entry #2

A frequent topic on Facebook recently has been about the Syrian refugee crisis. Ever since Justin Trudeau announced his plan to bring 25 000 Syrian refugees to Canada, news sites as well as social media have given their opinions on the matter.

Many people are opposed to the refugees coming into Canada. Presidential candidate Ben Carson wrote an article for Time Magazine stating his reasons for being against the migration of refugees. In his article, Carson says that one of the terrorists behind the attacks in Paris was able to get into several European countries by posing as a refugee. He states his belief that the same will happen in the United States.

While he states that he does not believe that all Muslims are extremists, he says that there will not be proper investigations into the refugees, and that terrorists who pretend to be refugees will not be discovered.

Others have stated their support for the migration of refugees. Supporters have accused the detractors of Islamophobia and Xenophobia, and have compared the crisis with the refugees to the Jews during WWII. They say that the incident is very similar to when countries tried to stop the Jewish people from entering.

I believe that most of the coverage of this situation has been very biased. Many of those who are writing articles or are posting statuses on Facebook in defence of the migration are people who have family members in Syria. Many of those who oppose this, whether intentional or not, are unfortunately letting their prejudices be known. While there are certainly people who are genuinely concerned for the safety of their families should the United States or Canada unknowingly accept terrorists into their country, others are reacting to this news based off of stereotypes or inaccuracies.

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Delayed Justice

Police officer Jason Van Dyke has been charged with First Degree Murder. He was arrested thirteen months after committing the crime, even though a video of him shooting and killing 17 year old Laquan Macdonald was released not that long after his first appearance in court.

Van Dyke’s case led to numerous protests in Chicago. The case is a hot button issue, due to numerous cases of police related violence this year.

The video that was released shows the victim running down the street, only to run into police cars with sirens. He tried to run again, but was shot 16 times in 15 seconds.

Van Dyke’s lawyer has tried to suggest that the video is one sided and doesn’t tell the full story. While he admits that the video is hard to watch, he says that Van Dyke was scared that Macdonald would harm him or the other police officers.

Other people have contradicted the lawyer’s claims. Macdonald was standing at least 10 feet away from the other officers when he was shot. Additionally, Van Dyke is the only one who fired shots.

Protesters reportedly got into a circle and started to chant the names of other people who were killed by the police in Chicago.

Five people were arrested during the protest, and four police officers were injured.

Chicago is one of the most violent cities in the world, and is known as the “Murder Capital” of the United States.

This is the latest in a series of protests regarding African Americans being targeted by police. The group Black Lives Matter was established in 2012 to bring awareness to racists incidents in the United States.

Jason Van Dyke had 18 complaints against him prior to this incident, but was never punished for it. These complaints include racial verbal abuse, complaints about his arrest and lock up procedures, as well as other complaints about violations.

Statistics show that African Americans made up 31% of victims that were killed by the police in 2012, even though they only represented 13% of the population.

Statistics from this year report that, out of the 776 deaths caused by police this year, 161 of the victims were unarmed.

Another study shows that racial minorities represent 62.7% of unarmed people that have been murdered by the police

One of the reasons that many police officers face no punishment for killing someone is that they are legally allowed to shoot someone that they think is dangerous, whether or not they actually faced a threat.

 

Police officers are allowed to shoot to protect their lives and if someone is escaping and they believe that person poses a threat.

The reason for these laws is that it is believed that police officers should be able to make decisions on the spot to determine if someone is dangerous. Many people have criticized this due to the amount of innocent people that are killed every year. They also say that most of these attacks or killings are things that could be easily prevented.

Many police officers get off the hook due to eyewitnesses that are not seen as trustworthy, or to police officers being reluctant to arrest someone from the same department as them.

Only 33% of police charged with a crime are convicted, and only 36% go to prison.

 

 

 

Journal Entry #1

Something that is trending all over Facebook and Twitter at the moment concerns the tragic terrorist attacks that occurred in Paris. Much of the controversy concerns how this will affect the Muslim population in France, a community that already faces their fair share of discrimination.

While many are expressing their hopes that the actions of these terrorists aren’t confused with the actions and beliefs of all Muslims, there are some  who believe that this is reasoning to not allow any more Muslims into the country.

On Friday Night, actor Rob Lowe tweeted “Oh, NOW France closes its borders #Hollande”. This tweet received a lot of backlash, with many accusing the actor of insensitivity and racism.

Some pieces that trended on Twitter was one of two CNN news anchors criticizing the Muslim community of “shirking” their responsibility for the Paris attacks. This attracted controversy and anger, with many saying that the Muslim community doesn’t owe anyone an explanation and rightly calling out a double standard, saying that White people are never asked for a comment or an apology whenever there is a White shooter or terrorist.

Another piece that trended is that of a conversation with a Muslim London Taxi Driver.

The man, a second generation immigrant with a Pakistani accent, has said that he no longer watches the news because he is unable to bear the misconceptions that many have about Islam.

“What am I supposed to tell my son? He’s only ten. Every time I turn the news on, people are talking about Islam, about the religion I’m bringing him up to love.”

He discusses how his religion has become equated with evil, and how the Muslims are unfairly blamed for this attack.

These two pieces show the uncomfortable reality that Muslims are forced to live with everyday as well as the double standard and racism they face.

 

When must comedians draw the line?

On November 7th, Donald Trump hosted Saturday Night Live. His hosting stint was met with negative reviews and various protests, with many threatening to never watch the show again.

Obviously, we all understand why having Donald Trump on a comedy show is a bad idea. His views and presidential campaign are offensive and potentially harmful to various religious and ethnic groups, and he has shown himself to be a stubborn and mean person who insults anyone who disagrees with him.

However, should we be blaming Saturday Night Live as well? Should we be angry at them for chasing the ratings and press that a show 41 seasons into its run rarely receives?

Many expressed anger at Saturday Night Live because they believed that having Donald Trump on the show legitimized his campaign and views. They were outraged that a show that had been known for its biting political commentary was going easy on a candidate that they hadn’t hesitated to make fun of before.

I am of two minds about the Donald Trump hosted episode of SNL. On one hand, the episode was uncomfortable as well as unfunny. Donald Trump, as well as various members of the cast, looked unhappy to be there. While Donald Trump only had 12 minutes of screen time (to get past equal time laws), his presence cast a shadow over the rest of the episode, with the Weekend Update anchors dedicating their time to insulting Trump’s political rivals and a long sketch that showed how much better the world would be if he was made president.

On the other hand, SNL doesn’t owe anyone an explanation. They are not a moral authority, and have no duty to choose only upstanding citizens to be their hosts. If they believed that having Donald Trump on their show would bring them attention, viewership, as well as the material required to make an engaging and entertaining episode of television, then that is their right.

It is when they fail to create an episode that justifies the controversy that there becomes a problem. When watching this episode, it becomes clear that Saturday Night Live thought Donald Trump’s presence was the only thing they needed to create an enjoyable episode of television. They were so concerned with getting a message across, as well as concerned with offending as little people as possible, that they failed to do the one thing their show is supposed to do: be funny.

Comedians, and especially any other celebrities, aren’t role models. We don’t have to look up to them, or agree with their opinions and actions. All that we ask is that they are good at what they do. But when their actions get in the way of their job, that is when there is a major issue.

Why I chose this topic: I chose this topic because it was something I have been thinking about for a while. I read various articles and reviews that criticized Saturday Night Live for its actions, and said that it should know better. It got me to think about whether SNL had a duty to not give Donald Trump more airtime, and I realized that they didn’t. Sometimes, terrible people can contribute to making great art. While they obviously did not succeed in doing that, I still think that it was worth a shot.

 

World Press Assignment

1) Christmas Factory by: Ronghui Jen (China)

This photo was very moving and sad. The subject of this photo is a man who is working at a labor factory in China. He is wearing a hat and a mask in order to not be exposed to the toxic chemicals and diseases that are in this factory. The man is wearing a hat that symbolizes a holiday that is supposed to be one of the happiest times of the year, however this has no meaning to the man. He is suffering and risking his life in order to manufacture a product for someone more fortunate then he. The photo has a red glow, which gives it an ominous and almost scary feeling. We fear and worry for this man, not knowing what will happen to him. The unpleasant red colour is contrasted with the more pleasant red on his Christmas hat. He is ironically wearing something very joyful while in one of the least joyful places of all.

2) Act of Forgiveness by: Arash Khamooshi (Iran)

This is a wonderful picture. Looking at it through a Western perspective gives us a different impression of what this story is trying to tell. While one might look at this picture and see the woman as enraged and almost joyful at hurting the person being executed, it is really the opposite. She is saving him. This man has murdered her son and so she is slapping him. While one not accustomed to this culture might think she is doing this out of anger and spite, her slap saved this man from execution. It is incredible to find someone with so much forgiveness in her heart to be able to spare the life of someone who caused her so much pain. As a mother, she probably wanted to save his family from the grief that she encountered. The photo is dark and dreary, with everyone in it wearing black. This is suiting because this is a sad occasion. The only not solemn face in the picture is the mother, probably because she knows that she is doing a great thing by not letting this man die.

3) Istanbul Protest,  by Bulent Kilic

This photo is striking because you instantly feel sympathy for this girl, without even knowing her story. You know that she is very disoriented, confused, and scared. You see that she is covered in water which makes you wonder if she’ll survive. Seeing her surrounded by police officers who are much larger then her makes you worry even more for her safety, knowing that the people who are supposed to protecting her aren’t doing their job properly. It turns out that this girl was involved in a protest. The protest was concerning a young boy who died because of government officials. It is a bit ironic to see the people we are supposed to look up to and feel safe with have harmed an innocent boy, and are now attacking an innocent girl. Even though the girl is wearing a bright green shirt, the brightness has dimmed in the picture, because this is a very scary and dark situation. We feel a sense of guilt looking at this picture, because the girl is looking at us and asking for help, and we are unable to offer it.

4) Jon and Alex by Mads Nissen

The dark room, closed blinds, and worried expressions in this picture give the impression that the two subjects are hiding something. That’s because they are. This photo was taken in Russia, where homosexuality is illegal. The goal of this photo is clearly to make a statement, and to show how loving and normal these two look. They are clearly very intimate with each other, as we can see by how close their bodies are, and we can see by how one looks at the other that they are very much in love. This photo was important but very risky. It was important to show that homosexuality is no more different then heterosexuality, and that the love between two men is as valid as between a man and a woman. However, this picture was extremely risky. The subjects, and potentially the photographer, risked being imprisoned or maybe even death by revealing their relationship and exposing themselves to this kind of scrutiny. However, I suspect they believe that the risk was worth it, because they were telling a story that was very much worth telling.

 

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