Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Muslims Post Election

Muslim Americans: you have every right to feel worried about what the future may hold for you. Trump’s campaign gained momentum through picking on people who don’t fit the White American ideal. Now that he is destined for the White House, no one really knows what will happen in regards to the deportation of undocumented people as well as to the Muslim minority. Let’s not forget this is the same guy who wanted to start an online registry for Muslim Americans.

In the days following Trump’s election to the presidency, hate crimes have been increasing all over the country. It’s as if Trump being put into office has suddenly given people a mandate to be xenophobic assholes. The following happened on November 11, 2016.

A man approached a University of Michigan student and demanded she remove her hijab or else he would set her on fire with a lighter. The student complied. The university immediately called the off-campus incident a hate crime and Ann Arbor police say they are investigating the incident. The Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations said the “alleged attack is just the latest anti-Muslim incident reported since the election of Donald Trump as president.”[1]

Despite these unfounded criminal acts, some Muslims are hopeful that the American Democratic process that put Trump in office will protect them. Whether or not it will, I guess we will have to see.

“In my heart, I believe there is a system, a law in the United States [that will protect minorities],” Sifan, 52, told The Daily Beast. “I tell my kids, the CIA and the FBI, since [Trump] becomes the president, they start giving him reports and directions.” Sifan said he is hopeful that the new information from intelligence agencies will restrain Trump’s rhetoric and help him focus on the real issues. “Because [the campaign was] politics. Now, he is the president.”

Maybe we should give Trump’s establishment a chance. Maybe, just maybe, there is a sliver of hope that is some kind of closeted progressive that will usher our nation into a time of unprecedented growth and progress. Or, maybe not. However, what is clear is that Trump is somewhat malleable and is capable of changing his mind on things, as we have recently seen in his views on gay marriage. When asked about the possible over-turning of landmark LGBT marriage legalization, Trump said the following:

“These cases have gone to the Supreme Court. They’ve been settled. And I’m — I’m fine with that,” he said.[2]

Maybe this shows that his view on Muslims and Latino-Americans can change too. After being asked about what he could say about the reports of his supporters harassing Latinos and Muslims, Trump said this:

“I am so saddened to hear that. And I say, ‘Stop it.’ If it — if it helps,” Trump said, turning from Stahl to another camera positioned inside his Trump Tower apartment. “I will say this, and I will say right to the cameras: Stop it.”2

It’s clear that Trump’s rhetoric has a palpable effect on the actions of his supporters. The President-Elect has an opportunity to showcase that he is capable of compassion and empathy, no matter how much of a sociopath he may be. Though the past week or so has shown the uglier sides of America, there is potential for Trump to change this. If he advocates for tolerance of those that are not White Christians, maybe his fan base can come to the realization that this is the twenty first century and we shouldn’t be threatening to set fire to people’s public displays of their own religions.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Legalize(d) It!

Legalize it! As many potheads and “regular” Californians alike know, weed is about to be legalized thanks to proposition 64[1]. Rightfully so. The legalization of government regulated and taxed recreational cannabis will bring unprecedented benefits and at this point, there just isn’t any conceivable reason for weed to remain illegal.

Growing up, it was commonplace to see places getting busted for marijuana sales on the news. Clinics got raided and trashed just because a plant near impossible to “overdose” on was illegal at the time. Scenarios like this of course, inadvertently led to a black market for marijuana, implicating millions and encouraging an unwanted and unnecessary drug war against weed-smuggling and selling cartels. Clearly, legalizing recreational and government regulated cannabis would reduce these occurrences and provide other benefits for the state of California as a whole.

First of all, let us not ignore the fact that proposition 64 would impose state taxes on commercial cultivation and sales that could eventually raise more than one billion dollars a year (1). This added state revenue will be pumped into environmental rehabilitation programs as well as law enforcement programs and educating younger generations on drugs.

Though on paper all these programs sound good already, we have to take steps to make sure these programs “do it right”. Children, when being taught about drugs and other substances, should be told the objective realities of drug usage, emphasizing a “use responsibly” mentality instead of simply painting a bad picture of drugs/users overall. Educate, don’t over-regulate. Focus on harm reduction instead of brainwashing that these types of things are inherently bad to begin with.

Also, it is essential that we make sure these programs actually fix the damage that has been done by the illicit marijuana trade. The money made off taxed recreational cannabis better not just end up in a politician’s pocket, or should I say “private charity”.

Money made off the sales and taxations of legalized pot should ideally be put towards programs that enrich former illegal grow sites and rehabilitate prisoners who were formerly incarcerated for petty marijuana crimes. It should be restorative and revitalizing and the money shouldn’t go straight to some big-wig corporations.

Secondly, along with legalization, we should make sure that the buying/consuming age is continually set at 21. Though obviously not foolproof like we have seen with underage alcohol use, this will be our best bet at discouraging our youths from over indulging—as the general consensus is that our brains are still developing into our early 20’s. Legalize it, but ensure the safety of the public and the younger generation.

Start programs that raise awareness about its possible downsides and make sure people know what is at risk when they smoke weed. Though it can undoubtedly be great, make sure users are aware of possible drawbacks.

I do not want weed becoming the next tobacco. Even if I am a staunch proponent of legalizing recreational cannabis, the additional revenue in brings to the state should also be invested into public health and research should continuously be done on marijuana in order to better understand and implement its potential in medicine. The last thing I want is the government to use all the extra cash to sprinkle harmful additives on weed to get people hooked and die or deliberately sell bad-quality strains in order to milk profits.

Thirdly, proposition 64 would finally put the nail in the coffin in the illegal marijuana trade. It would no longer make financial sense to drug dealers and cartels to invest time and resources on smuggling marijuana. Just think of a place where people don’t have to get into someone’s questionable vehicle to trade money for marijuana. It will make the streets safer and an end to marijuana prohibition would make the whole process of buying weed safer for all parties involved.

To add onto this, police officers wouldn’t have to worry about busting random potheads in their cars who might be armed and willing to put up a fight against the cops.

Stop looking at weed like it’s heroin or some other actually harmful “hard drug”. We should welcome this change and be proud of our state’s progression. It’ll add much needed revenue we can put towards resource management and helpful social programs. Instead of being afraid to legalize it and continuing to postpone its inevitable passage, we should see the economic and social benefits marijuana legalization can bring to our state. Hopefully, proposition 64 starts a trend and more states pass similar measures.

[1] http://www.latimes.com/opinion/editorials/la-ed-proposition-64-20160918-snap-story.html

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Trump Shenanigans

As if Trump getting this amount of attention is not already bad enough, the newest shenanigans we as a country must come to face with are the possible risk of violence on election day. Violence, I should say, is an understatement. With influential politicians claiming that they will “take up their muskets” if Trump doesn’t get his way, these threats of violence should be heeded seriously, even though it’s hard to take Trump himself seriously.

The reason for all this is that Trump is actually encouraging his voter base to become vigilante policemen at polling stations.

Trump “claims that the stakes are so high, the situation is so extraordinary, that some form of intimidation, presence, provocative behavior is necessary to preserve the republic, preserve civilization,”[1]

Trump cannot even comprehend the world outside of his ethnocentric bubble. Though I must say that’s not even that shocking. What I am most shocked about though is that he is so convinced by his own delusions that the election is rigged that he is making a call to violence. Just how desperate can a man get? Let’s keep in mind a portion of Trump’s supporters are gun-toting racist militias that won’t hesitate to use force if they don’t get their way.

“You have preexisting, organized, armed militias who have said that they might see it as their duty ... to attempt violently to topple the government or kill the president,” Jay Ulfelder, a political scientist who studies democracy and violence, says. “I can’t think of any other case where there’s been something like that, either in a developed democracy or less [developed one].”1

This type of reasoning [or lack thereof] is rooted in paranoia. It’s pointless and anything but progressive to escalate situations that we don’t have control over. As much as we’d like to control the elections one way or another we don’t really have much of a say. Putting guns into the equation jut makes this whole situation incredibly more unstable and unpredictable. Though the right wing militia groups may not be the ones to directly cause violent interactions, they can definitely incite it.

It’s a situation you can easily imagine escalating out of control. A fight breaks out between a Trump supporter and, say, a Black Lives Matter advocate — and one of them is armed. A radical Trump supporter, perhaps a member of a far-right militia or neo-Nazi movement, shows up at a polling station with the intent of using force to stop minorities from “rigging” the vote. It could also go the other way: A Hispanic American or African American tired of being demonized by Trump could see one of his supporters and go looking for a fight.1

His rhetoric and fear mongering politics shamefully illustrate the state of our nation’s right wing. Unfortunately, a lot of Americans, as we have seen are easily convinced by his ignorant tirades on Muslims and immigrants. At its heart, all of this is probably due to White Americans feeling a loss of identity with the America they once knew. They fear change and progression and changing ways of life. I think we should welcome such things instead of being so afraid of the unfamiliar. I don’t really have any idea as to how we can combat Trump’s divisive techniques besides to plug our ears and stop feeding into his rhetoric.