Here’s Why Rescinding DACA Sucks (including links to help you speak out)

Last Tuesday, Trump decided to end DACA.

It’s no secret that I am very much not on the Trump train, and this just adds to the reasons why.

Trump claims that the reason behind moving to rescind DACA is basically that it’s not good enough, and that the US isn’t ready for a “comprehensive immigration plan.” But if that were the real reason, and he honestly wanted a better immigration process, he wouldn’t be rescinding DACA. Rescinding means taking a step back, not moving forward.

Trump claims that the 800,000 DACA recipients — DREAMers — are taking jobs away from millions of Americans. Those are his words. I have two problems with that.

First of all, like most of the things Trump says, it’s highly illogical. It’s literally impossible for 800,000 people to “take” jobs from millions. It’s true that 800,000 people (if they all have jobs, that is) are preventing another 800,000 people from having those exact same jobs, but by that logic, I’m taking a job away from someone else too. So is my fiancé. So is almost everyone I know. Yes, the job market may be brutal, but you don’t “take away” someone else’s job by having a job yourself. That doesn’t make sense.

Second, DACA recipients, by definition, have grown up in the US. They are children of people who have come here illegally, so while they are technically also undocumented, they have spent almost their entire lives in the US, living as and among Americans. Culturally, socially, and mentally, they are Americans. They pay for American goods, work jobs that serve Americans, and go to American schools. As residents, they’re contributing members of American society, and most of them don’t know anything different. They are Americans. The only thing they lack is the paperwork, and DACA was Obama’s attempt to give them the time they need to make their status legal. What will the US gain by taking that chance away?

I can’t answer that, but I can tell you what we will lose.  By rescinding DACA, we will lose hundreds of thousands of people that could be bettering and investing in our society.  We will lose more respect than we’ve already lost by electing Trump in the first place.  And we will lose the trust of everyone, not just DREAMers, who were told that the US government would welcome them, help them, and value them.  The only thing rescinding DACA will accomplish is announcing to the world that if you weren’t born American, Trump doesn’t care about you.  But I’m pretty sure we all knew that already.

Trump’s America is the opposite of what America is supposed to be.  Emma Lazarus wrote the famous poem “The New Colossus” in 1883, as an effort to fundraise for part of the Statue of Liberty.  We all know the famous lines:

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Starting DACA was one way Obama tried to put those lines into practice.  Trump may as well take the torch from Lady Liberty.

Unless, of course, Congress passes the Dream Act of 2017.  

This act was initially introduced in 2001, but it didn’t pass.  Now, with DACA being rescinded, it has been introduced again.  You can read the actual text here, but in a nutshell, the Dream Act would protect DREAMers from deportation and give them a legalization process, which DACA did not do.  It is not a perfect process, I’m sure, but it would be much, much better than deporting 800,000 people.

From what I’ve read, phone calls are the best way to get noticed by your congressmen.  However, any way to make your voice heard helps, so here’s how to find your representative and your senator.  Let’s get the Dream Act passed and stop the ridiculousness.

 

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Discussion: Political Statements in Jane the Virgin

I posted awhile ago about all the reasons the TV show Jane the Virgin is one of my favorites.  As season 3 comes to a close, every one of those reasons still holds.  Jane the Virgin is definitely in my top five favorite TV shows ever (up there with Parks and Rec and Breaking Bad, in case you’re wondering).

Jane the Virgin is also one of the most politically active fictional TV shows I’ve seen.  Other shows may use politics as a small plot point here and there, but Jane the Virgin sets itself in modern day, where the characters can react to politics and other current events as they happen.  It makes the show even more relevant than it already is, and may serve to get viewers more interested in current events and activism.  And it makes so much sense that the show is like this, because Gina Rodriguez, who plays Jane, is very politically and socially active.  She advocates for many minority groups on social media, and has an Instagram feature called #MovementMondays where she highlights minority actors and activists to get her followers learning and excited about change.

One example of current politics done well in Jane the Virgin is the status of Jane’s grandmother, Alba.  Alba is a Venezuelan immigrant, and when the show begins, she is completely undocumented.  For this reason, she is deathly afraid of police and other authority figures, and wants to apply for her green card but is afraid her lengthy illegal status will get her deported if she applies.  Jane and her mother help Alba overcome her fears and apply for her green card, and she later ends up marching in a protest to advocate for herself and for her boyfriend, who is undocumented when they meet.  It’s a very real situation for many here in the US, and Alba becomes a stronger character because she overcame her fear.

But there are other political statements that feel like they’ve been forced into the plot.  For example, Jane begins dating Fabian, one of her father’s coworkers, and feels she is ready for casual sex.  So she goes for it, showing up at his apartment dressed to impress, but Fabian ends up talking to her for two hours about books.  She’s frustrated, obviously.  But at the beginning of the scene where Jane tries to bring up her intentions, Fabian first asks a question about one of the books, to which Jane replies with a statement about free speech for everyone.  Then they launch into the sex conversation.

To me, that interaction felt forced.  It didn’t flow like a real conversation might have.  We didn’t see any of the previous book conversation, and after that one statement was made, there was no follow-up.  It wasn’t part of the plot, or part of any character’s development.  It was social commentary with no basis in the story, stuck into a conversation seemingly at the last minute.

Another thing that bothers me is the use of Jane’s child, Mateo.  At this point in the show, Mateo is about 4 years old.  Like any 4-year-old, he notices things about the world and wonders about them.  But I don’t know if the statements he makes are ones that a 4-year-old would think to ask.  He asks about abstract and complex concepts often.  Of course, young children are often much wiser than we give them credit for, and can surprise us with incredibly deep questions.  But the way they ask them is different than the way an adult or an older child would ask them, and I think Mateo’s writers may need to further study the way 4-year-olds process information.  Also, the fact that Mateo is even used at all to further the show’s political agenda (because it’s clear there is one) is a tad cringe-y to me.  Kids themselves do ask intelligent, political questions, but Mateo is used more as a mouthpiece for the writers than his own character, and that’s not the high quality storytelling that Jane the Virgin has shown previously.

Another show that makes political statements often is the comedy Last Man Standing.  Its views are on the complete opposite end of the spectrum from those on Jane the Virgin, but the statements are usually more tastefully made because the characters’ political leanings are often a crucial part of the plot.  The father character on the show, Mike, holds opposite political views from his oldest daughter and some of his friends, and these differences are sometimes the basis of entire episodes.  As a sitcom, political differences make good fodder for jokes intertwined with the characters’ (and presumably the writers’) deeper values.

Last Man Standing, which aired on ABC, was discontinued on May 10, 2017 after 6 seasons.  Six seasons is a pretty good run for any show, but some are saying that ABC stopped it because the show is staunchly conservative.  I hope that’s not the case, for two reasons.  One is because TV shows should be protected under freedom of speech and expression, and removing a show because it differs in values is a little sketchy.  The other reason is because having different perspectives represented in TV is important.  People use TV for a ton of different reasons, but arguably the biggest is to relax.  Most people have come home from work or school and vegged out in front of the TV for a few hours, because it gives us a break from our own reality.  It gives us a reason to laugh or cry, and it gives us something to enjoy even when we’re so exhausted we can barely move.  Different perspectives need to represented on TV because everyone watches, and we all like to see ourselves.

Since we’re all watching TV anyway, adding some political and social commentary in there can be beneficial.  When it’s done artfully, it gets people thinking, and then maybe acting.  When it feels forced or not genuine, it alienates people from the perspective it’s trying to portray.  That’s why the best way to insert commentary is to do it subtly, make it an important plot point so that it doesn’t feel forced, and don’t overwhelm the show with it.  Regardless of my complaints, I feel that Jane the Virgin, overall, does an excellent job balancing social and political responsibility with superb storytelling.  I just hope the writers don’t go overboard.

Why Do We Hate Discussing Controversial Issues?

I know very few people that enjoy discussing politics and controversial social issues.  Most people, including me, tend to shy away from these topics and stick to lighter, more enjoyable, less divisive conversations.  In my experience, the people who actively bring up politics and divisive issues are the ones who have strong opinions backed by very little research (not always, but usually).

I have one friend I typically discuss social issues with.  She’s a sociology major, so she often talks about current events in her classes, and we generally have similar opinions.  Even if we disagree, we know how to do it respectfully, and we both admit when we have and haven’t done research on a topic.  Last time we met for coffee, we intended to stay away from politics, but ended up discussing them and other controversial issues almost the entire time we were together.  It was intellectually refreshing.  And then we wondered why people don’t do this more often.

Of course, there is the obvious reason.  Politics and social issues are divisive.  I’ve mentioned before that talking about politics means talking about everyone’s baggage as well.  It’s uncomfortable and annoying, and sometimes not worth the arguments that will inevitably ensue.

But why do these things hold so much passion for us?  One reason is that our political beliefs are closely related to how we view ourselves — our self-identity.  I read an article the other day about what parts of our brains light up when we discuss politics.  I couldn’t find the original article, but I did find this (older) one that got similar results to the one I read.  In the study, scientists monitored subjects’ brains while they evaluated “information that threatened their preferred candidate” just before the 2004 presidential election (I told you it was an old article).  Here’s what they found:

“We did not see any increased activation of the parts of the brain normally engaged during reasoning,” said Drew Westen, director of clinical psychology at Emory University. “What we saw instead was a network of emotion circuits lighting up, including circuits hypothesized to be involved in regulating emotion, and circuits known to be involved in resolving conflicts.”  [emphasis mine]

Discussing politics isn’t the same as discussing what color to paint the walls.  Attacking someone’s political beliefs is more like insulting their kid.  The parent isn’t going to think rationally about that (at least at first); they’re going to be angry.  How dare someone say that about their kid, who they have a strong emotional connection with?  How can they believe x, when clearly y is true?  It’s hard to separate reason from that innate emotional response, and it’s much the same for politics.

I think another reason it’s hard to discuss these things is because it requires true self-examination.  It’s hard work.  First, we must inform ourselves about what’s really going on.  Then, we have to compare our moral values against what’s happening in the world, and then we have to pick a stance, and then we have to defend it.  It’s difficult.  It’s time-consuming.  In my experience, I’ve never just known what my opinion is on a hot button issue.  I have to research.  I have to discuss.  I have to mull it over.  And then I sometimes end up changing my mind.  It’s introspective, and introspection is hard, because it requires us to really know ourselves.  And sometimes, we don’t like what we find.

Other times, we think we do know ourselves.  We have opinions and we stick to them. But we still avoid discussing hot topics because what if someone has a better argument?  What then?  If my views are disproved, am I really who I think I am?  Good counter-arguments can dismantle us, and our sense of self-identity, completely.

But as uncomfortable as it is, these things can’t be avoided.  If we avoid learning and trying to form opinions, we will get used, or ignored.  We’ll be seen as ignorant or outdated.  Our usefulness to society declines.  My friend brought up this specific situation: over the past two summers, she has worked at a children’s Christian sleep-away camp.  It’s similar to the quintessential camp experience: horseback riding, rock wall climbing, and overnight camping trips.  But the staff faces big issues.  Last summer, they received  call from a mother wondering what the camp’s policy was for transgender children.

Transgenderism and gender dysmorphia is something that Christians typically avoid.  It’s incredibly difficult to understand, especially within the context of Christianity, and on top of that it has to do with sex, which is often a taboo topic in Christian circles.  But if the camp staff hadn’t discussed it, they would have come across as willfully ignorant to that mom.  And they might have missed the chance to minister to a group of children that needs love the most.

Politics and issues like this aren’t fun.  We live in a messed-up world that often just looks bleak.  But the only way to affect it is to know what’s happening, and know how we feel about it, so that we can do something to enact change.  They say nothing good in life is easy, and in this, it’s more than true.

On the Election

I didn’t want to write about the US Presidential election at all.  I dislike getting into politics.  I don’t know a lot about it, and I just don’t like what it does to the vibe of a room.  You bring up politics, and you bring up everybody’s baggage right along with it.  Obviously, politics are incredibly important, and paying attention to current events is just part of good citizenship.  But that’s not what I want for my blog, so I’ve refrained from posting about it.

However, this election is different than any other election we’ve had here. I was stunned to wake up yesterday morning finding out Trump won. I honestly didn’t think it would happen. 

But what shocked and saddened me more than anything were the blog posts I saw throughout the day. Nobody in my area made a big deal about the results in person (at least that I saw), but the internet blew up. I didn’t realize how many minority bloggers I follow until yesterday. It didn’t truly hit me how scared people are until I read the reactions. 

I am also afraid of a Trump presidency. But I’m a white, straight, middle class woman. I have much less to fear than black people, gay people, and immigrants. Yesterday, I read about people wondering if they should leave the country before they get deported. I read about people getting physically sick with anxiety over what may happen to LGBT rights. I read about people getting harassed like it’s the 19freaking60. 

I don’t want to be upset about the election. I want to stop thinking about it, and remember that there are checks and balances, and just focus on my semester of school. But I know that a lot of people can’t because they are afraid. 

I don’t know what I can do to make things better. The election is over. All I can do right now is say that I see you. I see your fear and your anger, and I am so sorry that America has failed you. 

Discussion: Is It Ethical for an Entire Editorial Board to Take a Stand Against a Candidate?

About a week ago, I got into a quick Twitter conversation.  (I rarely get on Twitter, but since realizing that it’s a form of mini-blogging I’ve tried to get more on board.)  Charlie Burris, a newscaster for the UT Vols, had tweeted this:

The link leads to a USAToday editorial that explains why people should not vote for Trump.  You may want to go look at it, just for context.

I saw that it was an editorial, and replied:

He then replied back:

(Behold my snark above, usually reserved for close friends)

In the time it took him to reply, I read the actual article (which yes, I should have done before tweeting), and realized it was not written by one sole editor, but was a collaboration of the entire editorial board of USAToday — that is to say, ALL of their editors worked together to write this piece.  So I understood much better what it was that Burris was saying, told him so, and left it at that.

That realization got me thinking.  The USAToday editorial board was obviously within their rights to publish an article like this.  Every American citizen has the right to free speech, and they published the article inarguably as an opinion piece.  While they didn’t all agree on Clinton, they were all united against Trump, and they said so.  The real question here is, was it ethical for them to do so?

In today’s world, there’s almost no such thing as unbiased media.  Journalists can try to be as objective as possible, but it is very difficult to weed out every instance of human bias.  Most big media companies in America lean liberal or conservative, and everyone knows which is which.  However, rarely do we see the leaders of a media company uniting publicly on a hot-button issue.

The more I think about it, the more okay I am with the article.  If media companies are going to lean left or right regardless, I would rather them put that opinion out in the open, if the other option is to claim neutrality and then publish meticulously worded news stories that lean one way or the other.  If I know without a doubt that a company holds certain ideals, it makes it easier to me to filter their articles through my own ideals.

However, I really do see Burris’ point.  News media in its purest form is meant to deliver facts and facts only, and an entire editorial board publicly expressing one opinion completely undermines that goal.  It is hard enough these days to filter through the media, and USAToday probably alienated a lot of readers by taking a public stance against Trump.  Even though they had the right to speak against him, Americans don’t like to see media companies being so blatantly one-sided.

Do you have an opinion on this?  Let me know what you think with the poll below, and feel free to elaborate in the comments.