The danger in our ignorance

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Firefighter watches as a car is set ablaze in Ferguson. Credit: Associated Press

I remember May 1, 2011.

It was the day of what was suppossed to be the May Day protests, to raise awareness on workers rights and immigration. But what caught the attention of the national media was the self-proclaimed anarchists that went around downtown, dressed in clad black, smashing windows of prominent capitalist businesses.

This was when I was in community college still, working for school paper there. It was in Bremerton only an hour ferry ride away from the emerald city when I caught wind of the news. A photographer and I went there as soon as we could.

By the time we did got there, the action had settled and the window smashers had already been taken into custody. But there were still plenty of protesters around. What I noticed from these “anarchists”, though, was that their all black attire was speckled in the very logos and emblems of the capitalist giants they supposedly hated so much. All I could deduce was that perhaps they were complete hypoctites or that perhaps they didn’t understand what true anarchy was and only knew the sort of media take on what it is.

Although the actual protests took place, they were much overlooked by the earlier damage that was done, and many people by that point seemed to be more focused on the chaotic sort of demeanor rather than the actual focal point of workers rights; the media across the nation did the same.

What was apparent, that year and the year that followed, was that despite what the message was supposed to be, it’s so often easily lost among the masses.

Earlier tonight, a St. Louis grand jury brought no criminal charges against Darren Wilson, the Ferguson ploice officer that shot and killed Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, back in August.

What started off as tense but peaceful protests, escalated into riots, with already a significant amount of damage done to the area.

There are photos coming in from Ferguson (and now even from Seattle, Oakland and other cities) as we watch it all unfold, and if one were to not pay close enough attention, it could be passed off as something from Syria or Ukraine. But it’s not, this is happening on our own soil, and its because so many Americans out there have left reason and logic back home so they can bring their anger, frustration and indifference to the streets.

Unfortunately, there was not enough evidence to really lay criminal charges on Wilson. It also did not help that the witnesses had varrying and restructured accounts of what happened the night of the shooting; it did not help that social media bottled-necked any incoming reports that could have been further investigated by law inforcement officials; and it did not help that media would take any unconfirmed report they could get to at least keeo the discussion going on their networks, and further perpetuating this incident as one based on race.

And yet people right now all across the web are saying that “the system” – the judicial system – has failed. But there was no judge behind the decision to not indict, it was a jury of peers, normal Americans randomly selected to do their civic duty. The point of a jury is to objectively look at the facts and evidence that is available from law from enforcement investigation, simply put. What a jury’s job not to do is follow the popular opinion among the people and media.

Race in America has been an issue and topic of discussion now for well over 100 years and it’s true that dispite such laws as civil rights, people of color still struggle to find equality and non-bias in several areas of this country. But this doesn’t mean that everytime a person of color, especially a very young one, is killed by a white person, that race was the motivation that led to their death.

Race in our country is something that is so easy for us to get fired up about, something that is so easy for anyone to point their finger at the police and accuse, “racial bias” “malicious intent”. Because yes, this has happened many times before.

But time and time again, so many of us rather than transcend, bury ourselves into further into ignorance. Rather than ask questions, we take to the streets pointing fingers and blaming the police or the government.

We blame the police without taking thought that someday, we may gravely need their help; we burn the American flag for the death of one without taking into consideration the millions who have died for that very flag; we set stores on fire where we used to buy groceries and have small talk with our neighbors.

The combination of ignorance with double standards is a malignant mix that will bury us as a nation.

Racism still very much exists in this nation but so does ignorance, a fog that is so deep seated among so many of us that it is dangerous to this nations well being. If we’re going to progress and succeed together and as one nation, we first need to learn to take a step back before we can take a step forward.

GOP failed outreach

By: Chanel Caulfield

When I first embarked upon the journey that became the reading of “The Growth and Opportunity Project” released by the GOP in March, I had hoped to find some understanding and perhaps, even some agreement in their policy making. I had no idea that I would find sour forms of humor and irony with their opinions regarding issues and groups of people that I closely relate to (i.e. women and youth.)

A deep part inside of me had hoped that after reading the “autopsy” of the failed efforts of the Republican presidential campaign, I would find a truth about a party I have long considered too distant from the reality of public opinion; a party that I have always associated with hot-blooded media pundits and extreme advocates for stopping social change. The “truth” that I had searched for was never found in the way I had expected it.

I discovered an assortment of patronizing tones and a repetitive attitude that minorities, women, and youth are enigmas—citizens that will never be fully understood but must nonetheless be listened to between elections. At last, I was stunned by the missing ideology of the entire report: The GOP must accept that policy, not outreach, is the way to gain public support where they need it most.

This is not the first time the Republican Party has tried to improve its minority outreach. According to The Atlantic Wire, Ronald Reagan spoke of a “New Republican Party” and said it’s “still going to be the party of Lincoln and that means we are going to have to come to grips with what I consider to be a major failing of the party: its failure to attract the majority of black voters.” Thirty-five years have passed and the Republican Party is once again forced to strategize their appeal to black voters, as well as other minority groups.
In the 2008 presidential election, Republicans nominated Sarah Palin as the Vice President elect in what seemed to be a last-ditch effort to counter act Hillary Clinton’s appeal.

While “The Growth and Opportunity Project” recommends hiring more women to work for and represent the GOP, the problem with this strategy was the lack of genuine appeal to the average woman, in exception to the fact Palin is a female. Apparently, women were not easily wooed by the attractive, soccer-mom identity Palin radiated so effectively; a persona that female Republican figures feel necessary to portray in such as Michelle Bachmann and Cindy McCain.

For now, “The Growth and Opportunity Project” insists that the most effective way to female voters’ hearts is…well, their hearts. In fact, the GOP repetitively urges Republicans that women, minorities, and youth all need to feel like the Republicans care for them or they will “not likely open their ears to [the Republican Party].” The Republican National Committee further emphasizes Republicans must be aggressive in calling out the plethora of “liberal policies that negatively impact women.”

Despite their mentality that the Grand Old Party is now the Growth and Opportunity Party, the GOP’s strategies to outreach are flawed in that they refuse to change anything about their policies and their treatment of the groups they desperately need as supporting voters. Whether it involves Rep. Don Young’s offensive use of the term “wetbacks” in reference to minorities on an Alaskan radio interview or the use of “vaginas” to refer to women by State Rep. Peter Hansen., the Republican party cannot attract voters if they do not prove to become an inclusive party.

If the GOP can recognize there needs to be youth outreach, because the younger generations are the ones who will have to deal with the poor economy in the future, why do they consistently talk economics with the older generation to secure votes? Appealing to the younger generation isn’t just about winning elections and making youth feel good about themselves.

There can be no hope for a Republican Party that still caters policy only to their beloved Reagan generation, if the government does not treat us like intelligent citizens who want to make the United States a better and more diverse nation that can be a force for positive, global change.

It is not enough to find young celebrity spokesmen or have an active twitter account to show how up to date the GOP party is with technology. As it stands, the younger generation, women, and minority groups “roll their eyes,” as the Growth and Opportunity Project explains, at the GOP because republicans cannot put their words to action.
In an interview, Republican Lenny McAllister sums up the GOP struggles simply: “We have a diversity issue and not just when it comes to racial background or when it comes to sexual orientation. It boils down to diversity of thought.”