Archive | Perspectives RSS feed for this section

Social Justice Can’t Succeed Without Open Dialogue

22 Feb

Omair Ali

Perspectives Editor

America has experienced various waves of social justice and associated reform throughout its history. Some of the more prominent periods of social justice include: social justice preceding the Revolutionary War, the abolitionist movement prior to the Civil War, the era of “Progressivism” facilitated by President Theodore Roosevelt, and the great Civil Rights movement in the mid-20th century. The era we live in today can also be considered a significant period of social justice, as we are experiencing a brand new wave of reforms centered around various ideas.

Now, with the advent of an administration that is bent on fulfilling its personal goals, it is no surprise that social justice is one of the hottest topics in our society. The Center for Economic and Social Justice (CESJ) defines social justice as the “virtue” that guides the creation of institutions that would provide socially good resources and also enforces individual contribution to the greater good so that progress can be made in “personal and social development.” In other words, social justice is the instrument by which all human beings would remain entitled to rights and resources in the form of institutions and upholding the law.

Failures in Today’s Social Justice Movement

While social justice in the past incorporated Social justice fails to adhere to one principal: Being representative of the needs of all people. Unfortunately, social justice, as defined by current conventions and mainstream media, is now identified in tandem with a clear political agenda, in which the supposed “victims,” or ethno-racial minority groups, have risen to become the principal plaintiffs of the social justice movement. Black Lives Matter, third-wave feminism, and many single-issue groups demonstrate these single (or few) issue agendas, often sharing opinions with only one political party without encompassing a holistic approach to social justice. Not only that, proponents of social justice are admittedly less tolerant of opposing views, making it hard for politically stagnant individuals to sympathize with these groups.

While social justice of the present has largely been a peaceful movement, there have been violent elements that have plagued the collective efforts brought forth by social justice. The recent University of California, Berkeley demonstration is one instance of social justice that was obscured by violent measures taken by extremist groups. The violent demonstration at this event perverted the ideas of social justice and obstructed the right to free speech, which has made many members of the public less fond of social justice. It also important to note that Berkeley wasn’t the only instance of violent action taken in the name of social justice in recent times.

Social justice has not only become a movement that fights only for “victims” but also a vehicle for antagonizing political entities. In particular, proponents of social justice appear to denounce the current presidential administration rather than trying to work with it, all the while social justice has become a big-name player in the game of post-truth politics. This also makes social justice organizations unrepresentative of the wishes and needs of the majority of people, let alone all people, which ideally it should strive to be.

Perhaps it is time to acknowledge that the current model of social justice needs to be amended and adapt to the existing conditions: Divided communities and hatred among each other. If the point of social justice is to improve the overall goodness of society, then this means that the social fabric within every community must be strengthened. And what I mean by social fabric is the quality and quantity of interactions between members of the community, excluding no one. So how can the social fabric be strengthened in communities? Well, community-wide engagement in political dialogue is one feasible way of improving the love of diverse ideas in the community.

Political dialogue strengthens the social fabric of our community by providing a safe environment for people of all beliefs to share their thoughts. As well, political dialogue challenges the existing notion of political dissonance because the point of dialogue is to listen to and share a broad range of ideas, meaning that opposing sides of the spectrum must be willing to respect each other. In fact, forceful indoctrination of beliefs is the antonym of the open-minded discourse that dialogue has to offer, which is why political dialogue can be used to facilitate social justice in all aspects of American life without offending anyone. Personally, I find political dialogue to be very rewarding because I always become inspired by ideas and stories that I hear during dialogue, and through this build-up of information I am able to construct and refine my own political beliefs and ideas.

Would you be surprised if I told you that there are platforms for open dialogue on campus?

Become Involved with Dialogue Groups, Forums, and Other Events on Campus

It is a fact that students on campus are interested in participating in events that are dedicated toward social justice. Events from last semester such as the talk on undocumented immigration, the panel on criminal justice, and the post-election reflection were packed with curious students and staff, indicating that social justice is something that the Benedictine community wants to partake in. Luckily, Benedictine University is not short of these activities in the near future.

As a free-thinking community, Benedictine University houses multiple platforms for discussion that are not exclusively pertaining to social justice. Student political groups that host political dialogue, such as the Political Science Student Association, exist on campus. Faith-based groups affiliated with the Campus Ministry such as Interfaith Dialogue provide additional, safe places for people to share stories, opinions, and ideas. Several other clubs have missions that resonate with the core principles of social justice. Events are also held throughout the school year, featuring guest speakers from a variety of disciplines and activities that encourage civic engagement. In fact, the most prominent of social justice events, Teach-In day, will take place all day on March 6. This event will focus on several aspects related to social justice and race, with guest speakers and activities focused on enhancing civic engagement. This day is important for all advocates of social justice as well as politically active individuals who want to learn new perspectives about our society.

All of these opportunities would enable all of you to become free thinkers and interact with people of different backgrounds, both of which would help promote social justice in an effective manner. So what are you waiting for?

One Month In: Has Trump “Made America Great Again” Yet?

22 Feb

Lubna Ziauddin

Staff Writer

During his Presidential campaign, President Trump famously stated that he would “make America great again”. That he would rescue the failing country from the destruction of President Obama and restore peace and prosperity back to the land of the free. But according to a Gallup Poll, it took only one week in office for President Trump to have a majority disapproval rating. Unlike Mr. Trump, President Obama maintained majority approval for 306 days, and his predecessor President Bush maintained 1107 days of approval. Despite his majority disapproval, the current administration maintains optimism as they communicate with the press. This is exemplified when White House aid Stephen Miller said that President Trump “has done more in three weeks than most presidents have done in an entire administration.” While campaigning, President Trump had high claims for his first 100 days in office, but being almost a third of the way though his first 100 days, what has Trump really accomplished so far?

One of the first executive orders President Trump signed was the order to “minimize the economic burden of the patient protection and affordable care act pending repeal”. Contrary to public speculation, Trump didn’t immediately repeal the Affordable Care Act, since that would be a lengthy process that would require the approval of Congress. Instead, Trump could use his executive order to instruct the Secretary of Health and Human Services and other departments to interpret the Obamacare regulations as loosely as possible in order to minimize the financial burden on individuals, insurers and health care providers. While this is one of the first steps to dismantle Obamacare, it doesn’t entirely repeal the Affordable Care Act. And Obamacare will continue to exist until the Trump Administration can come up with a plan to replace it.

President Trump also reinstated the Mexico City policy, also known as the global gag rule. The policy bans federal funding for non governmental organizations that promote or provide abortions. Since it was originated by President Ronald Reagan in 1984, this policy has been rescinded and reinstated depending on the political party, so it was no surprise that Trump had it reinstated.

In regards to fighting terrorism in the United States, President Trump suspended the US Refugee Admissions program for 120 days and froze travel to America by non-citizens from 7 Muslim-majority countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Syria. At a law enforcement conference in Washington DC, Trump said that he enabled the executive order for the immigration ban because “it was done for the security of our nation, the security of our citizens.” Yet, within the past 15 years, no terrorist attacks in the United States have come from any of those countries that are banned. Inf fact, according to Global Research, of the 2,400 terrorist attacks on US soil between 1970 and 2012, only 60 or 2.5% of attacks were carried out by Muslims. His executive order ended up failing due to the actions of  U.S. District Senior Judge James Robart of Seattle, who issued a nationwide restraining order to block the travel ban. So in efforts to fight terrorism, President Trump decided to focus his safety concerns on bending the truth rather than the real problems that lies within our country, such as the high homicide rate that plagues many cities.

On February 16, 2017, President Trump held his longest press conference, which lasted 77 minutes. In regards to Russia, intelligence leaks, and National Security Advisor Michael Flynn’s resignation, President Trump said, “The news is fake, because so much of the news is fake.” However, in that same conference President Trump claimed he had, “the biggest electoral college win since Ronald Reagan.” As for Trump’s own report of fake news, CNN proved that President Trump actually had one of the slimmest wins in Presidential History. Several presidents after Reagan, including Obama and Bush had more electoral votes since Reagan than did Trump, contrary to his statement during the conference. After being called out for his error by NBC correspondent Peter Alexander, Trump said, “I was given that information…Actually, I’ve seen that information around. It was a very substantial victory. Would you agree with that?” It seems that Trump has focused much of his efforts to lash out on the media and label them as fake, yet he enjoys providing the country with alternative facts.

During the Obama Administration, President Trump had a lot to say about former President Obama’s “habitual vacationing”, making sure to remind the American people that their hard earned tax-paying money was being used for the President’s luxury, rather than fighting terrorism. However, according to the Independent, President Trump’s past 3 trips to his Mar-A-Lago club in Florida have cost approximately $11.3 million, almost surpassing President Obama’s average annual expenditure of $12.3 million. Even though Mr. Trump claimed he wouldn’t take a presidential salary, that does mean he isn’t using taxpayer money for his own luxury. This shows that Trump isn’t living up to his own tweets on the financial responsibilities the President should have.

According to Mother Jones, President Obama banned the use of torture by the CIA, signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act as well as a $787 billion stimulus bill, and had a net job approval rating of +27 percent, all within the first month of his presidency. On the other hand, President Trump has signed no legislation and only standard executive orders for pay/hiring freezes, reinstated the Mexico-City Policy that most of his republican predecessors have done before, made no statement to North Korea’s missile launch, and has presided over an administration where bets are being made on when officials will be leaving office.

So has Trump made America great again? I believe the answer is a resounding no. Within 1 month, President Trump has demonstrated hypocrisy not only with spending taxpayer money lavishly but also with his claims of “fake news” being spread by the media to present false facts at his own press conference. So despite Stephen Miller’s claims that Trump has done more in office than any other President, the answer to that is Trump really hasn’t made any real progress in comparison to President Obama, other than having his net job approval rating drop by 8 percent. Miller’s claim really is just another instance of “fake news” provided by the Trump Administration.