Sunday, February 22, 2015

Will Obama "Ace" the ISIS Test?

With Mosul in Iraq being the "de facto" capital of the Islamic State, US intelligence agencies and the Pentagon are struggling to infer how difficult it will be to retake the city. The Obama Administration will have to deal with the struggles of Urban Warfare and whether to deploy teams of American ground troops to help advise Iraqi troops on the situation. Many believe that this is going to be a major test of the Obama Administration to stop the spreading of terrorism in the Middle East.

In my American Studies class we have been learning about the Perilous Times or times the United States have been at war. From the Quasi War in 1798 to the most recent War on Terror-(ism), we have been learning about how civil liberties are limited in wartime. As of now, the United States is fighting the War on Terror that has been going on since the 2001 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Centers, Pentagon, and failed attempt at attacking the White House. The Bush and Obama Administration have been working for years to come up with some kind of solution to stop the spreading of Terrorism. 

In class we talked about how the issue of terrorism is similar to the issue of communism during The Cold War. Administrations of many past and present presidents are "tested" on how tough they are on foreign and domestic policy to control the situation. The Truman Administration was constantly assessed on how well they could contain communism. This caused the Truman Administration to have to limit civil liberties such as the freedom of speech as an attempt to contain communism. Seeing from past precedents of past wars that citizen's civil liberties are often violated during war time I wonder how The Obama Administration's decisions will affect its citizens.

Is ISIS a catalyst for more change in the US? What potential civil liberties could be limited this time? 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

"We're Sorry, Applicants. We Accepted You in Error."

(INSTAGRAM PICTURE) Harvard Gates: It's cold outside the gates of success
Big-name schools including Ivy Leagues such as Harvard and prestigious institutions decline thousands of hopeful students each year. The rejection of a prestigious school including those of Ivy Leagues can make a lasting impression on rejected student's lives everywhere. After visiting Harvard during their Model UN conference, I thought about William Deresiewicz's argument of "Excellent Sheep" that my American Studies class learned about in the beginning of the year. Getting into an Ivy League school basically means that you are at the "gates" of success. Is getting an higher education the new "American Dream"? Having the stamp of an Ivy League education on your resume means that you are pretty much "set for a good life." Does a good life mean a happy one? Are people at Ivy Leagues actually happy?  

Yes, of course college students that go to Harvard or Yale or Princeton are ecstatic that they got in but does that mean that they are truly happy with the lives that are now set out for them? It's cold outside the gates of success and it's also cold on the inside of the gates of success as well. I couldn't help but notice during my campus tour of Harvard the amount of students that had their heads low and dark bags underneath their eyes probably from spending the entire night studying or doing assignments. No one looked really too thrilled to be there. It is hard enough to get into Ivy Leagues but to live the Ivy League life is even more challenging. 

This week Carnegie Mellon University, a highly prestigious university, emailed an estimated 800 applicants from around the world saying that they were accepted into a graduate computer science program. As in turns out, later that day the newly hopeful graduate students got some earth-shattering news; it was a mistake. Carnegie Mellon is not the only school to make this mistake, another big-name school such as Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has made this mistake as well. Because of Carnegie Mellon's highly technological reputation, this is especially ironic because both of these schools are known for their computer programs. For a "computer-foul up" to happen is tragic. 

Although Carnegie Mellon sent out an apology to all the declined applicants, does it make up for the sacrifices that people had to make to come to the University? "A young woman in India wrote on Facebook that in the hours between her Carnegie Mellon acceptance and rejection, she quit her job and her boyfriend proposed marriage, ending her post, 'What do I do now?'" (New York Times).  Should people allow Ivy Leagues and prestigious universities to dictate people lives? 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Really? Again??

The now infamous hipster clothing store Urban Outfitters has struck again selling yet ANOTHER piece of offensive merchandise. From blood stained Kent University sweatshirts to shirts that promote eating disorders, this item of tapestry has definitely been deemed inappropriate by many costumers. The item that has come into question, "features gray and white stripes and several pink triangles" says Time Magazine. A picture of the tapestry is shown to the left.

Many have said that the tapestry or curtain highly resembles the prison uniforms that gay Jewish men were forced to wear in Nazi concentration camp. Here is an image below of the Nazi concentration camp uniform for gay men for comparison. The photo is from the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. The stripes in both the images are not identical, but they are very similar, the only difference is that the uniform is striped vertically and the curtain is horizontally striped. However, the pink triangle that is on both of the material cloth is very prominent and one could definitely interpret the patterns as being very similar.  
Due to the social media backlash of the item, obviously the company's choice to sell the shirt has offended many potential customers. As of now, the curtain was taken down from Urban Outfitter's website but Urban Outfitters has yet to make a comment on the public reaction to this item. To what extent are companies allowed to sell clothing that is offensive? Should there be some limitations on merchandise rather than the reaction of many angry customers? Should clothing companies be limited to what they can sell to the public? Technically, clothing companies do have the right to sell whatever they choose to but because of a company like Urban Outfitter's reputation for selling inappropriate merchandise, have they gone too far?