Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Torture in the US

Samantha Johnson
Dr. Bergman 
Modern US History 
2 May 2017 
Who Should Have the Rights?
I disagree, I believe that US citizens and non-citizens should be treated differently due to the fact that they hold a different relationship with regards to the United States. I believe that these two different categories should be treated differently due to the fact that United States citizens possess different rights due to their status as a citizen that non-citizen do not possess. Furthermore, giving non-citizens the rights that citizens possess diminishes the meaning of being a citizen. I believe that currently the line is very blurred between cruel/punishing treatment and torture and that there should be specific standards that are set and followed. These standards of punishment should be: 1. This form of punishment should only be used as a final resort after other methods have been used for a minimum of 6 months (exceptions may be granted by the board) 2. It does not drop the inmates resting heart rate below 45 bmp 3. It should not result in the damaging of a inmates organs 4. regular psych evaluations must be given 5. the subject of the punishment should not continue to be punished if said psych exam is failed. Overall, I believe that citizens should have the protection under the constitution and the Geneva Convention and therefore should not be subject to this harsh treatment, however I do not believe that non-citizen should have these rights. I believe that there should be a panel that consists of respected members of the community that would make these decisions. I do not believe that one person should be allowed to make these decisions, due to the fact that they may institute prejudice. I believe that this panel should consist of members who have lived a life that has benefited the community and others and have served as good role models for an American citizen. 

The members of my family who I have discussed this with hold similar views. They too believe that these rights should only be possessed by American citizens. Furthermore, they also believe that torture within these guidelines is acceptable, due to the fact that the marginal benefit exceeds to the marginal cost. My family, consisting mainly of economics, always weighs decisions based upon this topic, when deciding weather or not to do something calculate your marginal cost and your marginal benefit. If one's marginal cost exceeds the marginal benefit, do not do it. If one's marginal benefit exceeds the magical cost then, do it. My family believes that the marginal benefit exceeds the magical cost due to the fact that the entire United States population is benefiting by isolating and obtaining information from these detainees and the marginal cost is the pain that less then 40 detainees undergo. Furthermore, they also agree that a panel not a single person should decided the guidelines for the treatment of these detainees to determine that it is fair and not unjust. On the other hand, my family members disagreed with who this council should consist of. They believed that it should consist of US citizens that hold an honorary military background so that they will understand the circumstances surrounding national security issues, hostage negotiations, and situations with detainees.  

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

World War II


In times of war, governments often must balance the needs of national security with the civil rights of its citizens.  In your opinion, did the Japanese internment order find the right balance between these competing values? Explain your reasons. 

No, in my opinion the actions which the government took by instating internment camps was not the right balance between these competing values. The main reason that this was not the right balance was because there was no proof that there was a threat to national security only a concern about security. And in response to the concern the United States took extreme measures in isolating the Japanese, therefore infringing upon their civil rights. As the background states “the American military became concerned about an attack from the Japanese on the mainland of the United States” it does not say that they received word of a planned attack from the Japanese. Therefore, by having no evidence of a threat to national security and revoking the civil rights of citizens in such a colossal way I believe the balance was not right between these values. Rather, I believe a more appropriate approach would have been to increase national security and place the funding used to creating internment camps into the armed forces. I believe that the government infringed too severely upon the Japanese-American's rights in response to such a circumstantial concern.

I do not agree that the racial prejudice does not play a role in the governments treatment of Japanese Americans during WWII. Racial prejudice, in my opinion, played a huge role with regards to the governments treatment Japanese. The Japanese were discriminated against solely based upon their race. The creation of the curfew by the “Western Command, U.S. Army, which directed that after May 9, 1942, all persons of Japanese ancestry should be excluded from that area”. In other words, this issue means that anyone who looks as though they are Japanese should not be allowed to leave their home. By this order being based solely upon the way in which a person looks and not their history or residency or travel displays that the United States Government was prejudice again the Japanese because they immediately associated the physical ape of the Japanese or what they “Japanese ancestry” to be associated with a traitor. These actions display racial prejudice rather than a fear with national security due to the fact that it only focuses upon those who look to be Japanese. There are many people who are loyal citizens or residents of Japan who are not Japanese however during this time the US government did not bring them into question despite being as connected to Japan as possible ancestors were rather they only brought the people who looked Japanese into question, therefore having racial prejudice. The same can be said with regards to attributing those who looked to have had Japanese ancestry to traitors of the country. The US government is again making this assumption purely based upon the fact that they look Japanese not weather or not they have had any contact with Japan so have conduct suspicious behavior which could have easily if not more easily, because they were not being targeted, been accomplished by a US citizen. 


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Thursday, February 23, 2017

Continuing Systems of Oppression

Racial caste is a social hierarchy in which a racial groups, specially blacks, are forced into the lowest class through legal and social actions in order to create a divide between blacks and whites. Racial caste is still evident throughout our society today as a result of mass incarceration. As Alexander argues, both Jim Crow and mass incarceration were created for the same purpose because of a “desire among white elegies to exploit the resentments, vulnerabilities, and racial biases of poor, working-class whites for political or economic gain” (1). Throughout history, many have attempted to end these systems of racial caste, specifically through the civil rights movement. The civil rights movement, which began in 1954, attempted to end social injustices because of these caste systems such as “Jim Crow” (1). As Alexander says, “segregation laws were proposed as part of a deliberate and strategic effort to deflect anger and hostility that had been been brewing against the white elite away from them and toward African Americans” (1). But, in reaction to the civil rights movement, “conservatives in the 1970s and 1980s sought to appeal to the racial biases and economic vulnerability of poor and working-class whites through racially coded rhetoric on crime and welfare” (1). 

Political forces using the vulnerability of the public to create a racial caste system is still part of our society and is one of the examples as to how racial caste perpetuated in the form of mass incarceration because of the War on Drugs. Because of the War on Drugs in which political figures negatively influenced society to associate blacks with crimes, more blacks were put into the criminal system than ever before, and at and alarmingly higher rate than whites. As a result, “many of the forms of discrimination that relegate African Americans to an inferior caste during Jim Crow continue to apply to huge segments of the black population today—provided they are first labeled felons” (1). The entire mass incarceration system not only forced blacks into the bottom ranks of society because they were admitted to jail at higher rates but also impacted the rest of a person's life. Once a citizen has been incarcerated, they not only lose the right to serve on a jury, but also the right to vote. Since more blacks are being put in jail than whites, these reprimands effect blacks in the legal system significantly more than whites because the amount of eligible blacks to vote decreases along with those eligible to serve on juries. Since these numbers decrease, there is now a racial imbalance in the judiciary system, which now resemble those that were present throughout Jim Crow due to “felon disenfranchisement laws” (2). Through the numbers of whites increasing in both juries and the voting  pools, not only court cases but also laws will be in favor of whites and against blacks. In conclusion, mass incarceration is a form of perpetuated racial caste as a result of how it confines racial groups to the bottom of society by placing them in the prison system and limiting their human rights after prison. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Age of a Racial Target

To me, the age of colorblindness is the period of time in which mass incarceration was occurring and members of the public were specifically attempting to reveal that unjust legal actions were as a result of discrimination, but the legal system declared itself to be “colorblind,” therefore proving the public wrong. In plain terms, the legal system believed that it did not identify members of the community as “likely” criminals based upon race, because the system is “colorblind.” However, through Alexander's criticism and compiling evidence with regards to the War on Drugs it becomes clear that rather the legal system instituted a color target, specifically targeting black members of society as criminals. Throughout the War on Drugs, “African Americans--particularly in the poorest neighborhoods--are subjected to tactics and practices [through the legal system] that would result in public outrage and scandal if committed in middle-class neighborhoods” (2). Just this one example amplifies how the legal system is not “colorblind,” due to the fact that it associates poorer classes and blacks as the bottom, whereas it views white middle-class neighborhoods as untouchable.

Race is also a factor “when determining whom to stop and search...the problem is that although race is rarely the sole reason for a stop or search it is frequently a determinative reason” (8). Here, Alexander rightfully displays that it is illogical to declare that one stops someone as suspicious because of their race, but is “color blind” to their race.  This naive manner can also be seen throughout court’s decisions for “racial bias in the drug war is a major reason that 1 in every 14 black men was behind bars” (2) during the time of the war. This is specifically fueled by two stages, that “will almost never be available in the era of colorblindness, because everyone knows-but does not say-that the enemy in the War on Drugs can be identified by race” (2). The first out of the two stages is to “grant law enforcement officials extraordinary discretion regarding whom to stop, search, and arrest, and charge for drug offenses” (2), and the second is to “demand that anyone who wants to challenge racial bias in the system offer, in advance, clear proof that the racial disparities are the product of intentional racial discrimination” (2). Alexander’s criticism of “colorblindness” is evident throughout his choice in the word “available” due to the fact that the main group of people who would need to use the second stage would not be able to because of their race and financial status. This is what Alexander means when she says that the “enemy in the War on Drugs can be identified as race” (2) because a person’s race is what makes them a target throughout this war.

Prosecutors also enforce racial caste through discriminatory prosecutions. “Prosecutors are well aware that the exercise of their discretion is unchecked, provided no explicit racist remarks are made, as it is next to impossible for defendants to prove racial bias” (6). This is also evident throughout Alexander’s review of drug convictions: “it is impossible for law enforcement to identify and arrest every drug criminal. Strategic choice must be made about whom to target and what tactics to employ...the question was not difficult to answer...the Reagan administration launched a media campaign a few years after the drug war was announced in an effort to police horror stories involving black[s]” (3). Here, Alexander’s piercing tone reveals her criticism of the idea that the legal system really thought themselves to be “colorblind” despite specifically targeting an entire race with regards to an entire war.

This new campaign encouraged members to transition their implicit bias with regards to blacks to explicit biases, therefore masking racial caste while also enforcing white privilege. “Colorblindness” masks racial caste because it allegedly takes away its foundation. Racial caste is the social hierarchy of members of society; however, it specifically drove a wedge between lower class blacks and whites, who were united at the time, by installing the ideology that whites are naturally superior. However, “colorblindness” masks and or attempts to hide racial cast because by the legal system, which plays a large part of where a person is in society (i.e., a felon or not), not discriminating on race everyone is equal than both blacks and whites are equal and there is no racial caste. “Color-blindness” masks, and as Dr. Bergman says “and so actually reinforces it”  racial caste because it specifically targets blacks over whites despite the use of the same drug. Throughout the war on drugs, the “practice of smoking cocaine came to be associated with poor blacks” (3), despite “the typical cocaine-related story [focusing] on white recreational users who snorted the drug in its powder form” (3). This amplifies racial caste because despite using the same drug, blacks were targeted more than whites just because their means of using the drugs were thought be be more serious. The so called “color blindness” of the legal system actually reinforces a racial caste system because it places whites above blacks despite committing the same crime.

The false continuation of the legal system being “color-blind” can even be seen throughout the court because of Lyons vs. the City of Los Angeles (8) when just because he was black, the officers suspected him of a greater crime than a traffic violation and patted him down. Throughout this pat down, Lyons was placed in a choke hold and as a result suffered serious injuries, “by the time his case reached the Supreme Court, sixteen people had been killed by police use of the choke hold, twelve of them black men” (8). This case displays the reinforcement of racial caste because these police officers associated black men as more of a threat than whites and as a result conduct more physical assaults upon them.  As a result,  this “color-blindness” throughout the war on drugs also enforces white privilege because it associated whites with good. For example, in New Jersey “although whites are more likely to be guilty of carrying drugs, they were far less likely to be viewed as suspicious, resulting in relatively few stops, searches, and arrests of whites” (9). This enforces white privilege because it benefits white people by creating a system that does not even perceive than as suspects just because they are white.

Ideology of “color-blindness” can also be seen today throughout the “All lives matter” movement. “All lives matter” is a form of “colorblindness” that reinforces a racial caste system due to the fact that it devalues black Americans. It creates the ideology that all races are treated the same when in face they are not, it reinforces white supremacy because it holds blacks, who as a result of our system are treated as inferior, at the same level as whites and therefore lower.  As the Huffington Post said with regards to the topic: “The basic premise behind 'All Lives Matter' = we should not highlight that black lives matter because all lives matter. As it turns out, you’re not wrong: all lives do matter. But the problem with this premise lies in what goes unaddressed in your line of thinking. See, 'Black Lives Matter' is trying to highlight that there is demonstrable evidence that black lives matter less than white lives to the criminal justice system (and the American government as a whole)”. By saying that All Lives Matter a person is saying that all races lives matter equally, which is revealed by centuries of history to be untrue.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Conservative "law and order" Rhetoric

The call for “law and order” began in the late 1950’s when Southern whites attempted to mobilize white opposition to the Civil Rights movement. However, in the later 1960’s and the early 1970’s there were two “schools of thought” with regards to “law and order,” and these were the conservatives and the liberals. The conservatives fought to offer a new racial bribe whereas the liberals fought for justice for the oppressed, such as through the “War on Poverty” (2). The conservative party felt “angered and alienated by the Democratic Party’s support for civil rights reforms” (3) because they felt as though their was a need for white reform. As a result, “Conservatives argued that poverty was caused not by structural factors related to race and class but rather by culture—particularly black culture” thus instituting a new racial bribe (3). This provided a new racial bribe because it created a system of class, where the placement in that system was based upon race. Just as how it had been evident in society after Jim Crow that labeled blacks as the lowest class. This ideology is present again throughout the conservatives due to the fact that it identified black culture, more specifically blacks with poverty, and therefore associating them to not only be the cause of the chaos and turmoil in society but also identifies them as the bottom of society, the poorest. The conservatives then continued to provide a new racial bribe to whites, specifically low- and lower-middle class  whites when they took legal actions. They “succeeded in using law and order rhetoric in effort to mobilize the resentment of white working-class voters, many of whom felt threatened by the sudden progress of African Americans” (3) . This "law and order" rhetoric specifically provided a new racial bribe to low- and lower-middle class whites because these were whites who were “suddenly forced to compete on equal terms with blacks for jobs and status” (4). However, by associating blacks as the lowest it created a new racial bribe due to the fact that it allowed even these citizens of the lowest class to be higher than someone, it gave them the ability to say: “at least I'm not black”. 

These polar opposite views with regards to the conservative and liberals school of though had major effects upon society. Mainly, with regards to the Democratic party. This wedge impacted the Democratic party by breaking up “the new Democratic New Deal 'bottom-up' coalition” (3). Meaning, that this coalition required the support of both middle/lower class whites and blacks; however this was unattainable due to the fact that these two groups had been divided and set upon opposite sides of the elections since “racial issues rather than socioeconomic status were the primary determinate of voter’s political self-identification” (3). The wedge impacted the Democratic party but not only dividing it but also weakening it since the coalition was no longer united.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Lesson 4 Blog Post


After the Civil War ended in 1865, a period to reunite the country by bringing the South back into the Union known as Reconstitution began. During this time period, the North attempted to fight for better treatments of blacks in the South; however, the Southerners only increased their physical attacks on blacks. For example, during this time there was a resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan (4), which many later referred to as a “terrorist campaign” (4). Reconstruction soon ended when the Northerners gave up with regards to their efforts by “withdraw[ing]…federal troops from the South and the effective abandonment of African Americans” (1) in the South. As a result, many blacks were still severely suppressed in the South because whites “no longer made any effort to enforce federal civil rights legislation” (1) that would protect the rights of blacks. Not only were the rights of blacks not enforced but discriminatory legislation was also put into place, specifically “vagrancy laws and other laws defining activities such as “mischief” and “insulting gestures” as crimes were enforced vigorously against blacks” (1). These specific acts reinstated another system of slavery, which was supported in the Ruffin v. Commonwealth case that “put to rest any notion that convicts were legally distinguishable from slaves” (1). That attitude is still present throughout our society today. “Convict leasing” (1) means that anyone who has been convicted of a  crime can be used by the prison system and “highest private bidder[s]” (1) can claim prisoners as a source of labor. These laws that were specifically against blacks and the economic need for labor created “the nation’s first ever prison boom” (1) due to the fact that blacks were being specifically targeted and arrested (1).

The true beginning of Jim Crow, or the segregation of blacks and whites, began with legal attempts to separate whites and blacks in society. For example, “segregation laws were proposed as a part of a deliberate effort to drive a wedge between poor whites and African Americans…these laws were, in effect another racial bribe” (2). These legal, binding actions, were the beginning of Jim Crow due to the fact that it began a time of complete separation of races. It was a “movement [that]  pursued an aggressive campaign of white supremacy” (2). These laws came into play largely in the South, “every state in the fourth had laws on the books that disenfranchise blacks and discriminated against them in virtually every sphere of life” (2). This oppressive treatment of blacks ended due to one Supreme Court Case, Brown vs. Board of Education, and many other legal cases that followed. Specifically “Brown threatened not only to abolish segregation in public schools, but also, by implication, the entire system of legalized discriminated in the South” (2). This court cases power originated from the North due to the fact that the Northerners began to see the unjustness of the Jim Crow laws and due to “increased political power of the blacks due to migration to the North and the growing membership and influence of the NAACP” (3). This continued a serial effect for in 1946 “the Court ruled that state laws requiring segregation on interests buses was unconditional” (3) and in 1948 “the Court voided any real estate agreements that racially discriminated” (3). These legal actions, specially the Brown case, marked the end of Jim Crow because it made efforts to end segregation and unfair treatments of blacks.

These legal movements, specifically the “Supreme Court’s decisions and a shifting domestic and international political environment” (4),  began a movement called the Civil Rights Movement (4). Throughout this movement not only was the Civil Rights Act of 1964 passed, which “formally dismantled the Jim Crow System of discrimination in public accommodations” (4) but also the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which “rendered illegal numerous discriminatory barriers to effective political participation by African Americans” (4). This movement was a new phase that worked towards improving and ensuring the rights of blacks, for “within five years, the effects of the civil rights revolution was undeniable” (4).

The Civil Rights movement ended due to a shift from social concern to economic concern “civil rights activists became increasingly concerned that, without major economic reforms, the vast majority of blacks would remain locked in poverty” (4). Here, the focus shifted from protecting black’s social rights to improving their economic opportunities, this shift to the “Poor People’s Movement” (4) marked the end of the Civil Rights Movement. 

All of these historical events brought about many effects throughout social relationships. The author, Michelle Alexander, said that these movements (specifically the Civil Rights Movement) brought about a “major disruption in the nation’s racial equilibrium” (5) -- meaning that the justice of the races were no longer equal. Furthermore, Alexander raises the issue that whites struggled “to define” (4) as another problem that arose as a result of these makers. These whites struggled to define “a new racial order with the understanding that whatever the new order would be, it could not include slavery” (4). In simpler terms, the issue that arose was that whites struggled to reinstate the social hierarchy that instituted white supremacy due to the fact that whites could no longer institute slavery. It is evident that the author raises this as a problem due to the following line: “conservative whites began, once again, to search for a new racial order that would need conform to the needs and constraints of time” (4) meaning that whites would attempt to reinstate what they believed to be a “need” (4) for a class hierarchy that has been used throughout “time” (4). Alexander views this as a problem because it would eliminate all the advancements that had been made with regards to the treatments of blacks. His main concern was that these “conservative whites” (4) would obtain this social structure by “install[ing] a new racial caste system” (4), just as it had been instates during the time of slavery.


Racial Bribe


Racial bribe is defined in The New Jim Crow as a purposeful effort to grant "special privileges to poor whites in an effort to drive a wedge between them and black slaves” (2) in the 17th century, after Bacon's Rebellion. This racial bribe was created when there was a large divide between those who are economically prosperous and those who were not, specifically within those who are white. The racial bribe was created as a result to separate or “drive a wedge” between these members to ensure that there would be no unity between whites and black; as Dr. Bergman explained, it was saying to a lower class white male, “well at least your not black.” Despite being in identical situations with regards to economic status and place in society, racial bribe created a divide between members of society, but different races, therefore eliminating “the risk of future alliances between black slaves and poor whites” (2). Therefore, identifying a person's rank based upon their race, and immediately place a race as inferior.
            The racial bribe helped to construct the idea of race in America because it identifies people's place in society based upon their color. This ideology is still evident throughout society today. Specifically, racial bribe constructed the idea of race in America because it provided whites, who were labeled as higher, with special privileges. For example, throughout the original time it was created it allowed “white settlers…greater access to...land….police slaves…[and] free labor” (2). Furthermore, it created the ideology that “the degraded status of Africans was justified on the ground that Negroes, like the Indians, were an uncivilized lesser race, perhaps even more lacking in intelligence and laudable human qualities” (2). This mentality is the main aspect that helped to construct the idea of race in America due to the fact that it identified blacks as an “uncivilized” (2)  or “lesser” (2)  and therefore gave whites the justification to identify them as inferior. The specific quality of being “uncivilized” (2)  can be seen throughout present time as blacks, specifically, have an image associated with them as being aggressive or dangerous, which are characteristics that would be associated with someone who is “uncivilized” (2). Furthermore, the “racial bribe” associating with blacks as “lesser” is also evident throughout society today. Often times, blacks are stereotyped (implicitly or explicitly) as being uneducated or as being a lesser human because of their roots. Overall, the “racial bribe” helped to construct the idea of race in America due to the fact that it “degraded [the] status of Africans” (2). It not only displayed the cause of the unfair hierarchy of races in America due to white supremacy, but it also layer the foundation for the justification of the ranking of citizens based upon race.

These attempts to uphold white supremacy span so far as to be found throughout our country’s founding document, the Constitution. Whites, specifically located in the “Southern slaveholding colonies” (2),  argued for a Constitution that would not interfere with their rights to own slaves, therefore helping not only white supremacy but also the racial caste, and federalism was used to accomplish this. A compromise was made. Throughout the constitution it defines a slave as ⅗’s of a man, not even a whole man, just a fraction of one. White Southerners sought it necessary to include the definition of a slave in the ideals of democracy, or standards in which forefathers created in order for a democratic government to continue. Meaning, that within the outline of the Constitution, Southern whites defined slaves as less than themselves. Whites attempted to conform the system of democracy into the system of slavery by declaring that it was legal to hold slaves, however the end result was that a slave was only equivalent to ⅗ of a person, specifically a white person.