By Michael Tashash
Our generation often fails to fully acknowledge the impact perseverance as well as courage has made in the fight for God given rights. It is through push and shove that we, as a nation, strive to achieve equality. Contribution to the fight for black equality is essential for progress. People tend to fear the outcome of unstable situations, but it is those bravely fight through sweat and tears for prosperity of our nation who deserve all due credit. The struggle for black equality has a long history, and the fight is yet to be over. African Americans were deprived of their rights. They were suppressed and not recognized as part of the American society. They did not falter in the fight for equality nor did they cower behind all the problems that would arise during the protests after World War ll. The strenuous battle between African Americans and suppressors of black people rights led to abounding conflicts. America was facing an internal dilemma concerning the distribution of power among races. Nevertheless, United States did an adequate job rebounding from the internal conflicts of racism but there is still a long way to go.
America is a relatively new country. If a timeline of the events that led to the parity of blacks in the United States were to be put together, it would be possible to notice that the struggle for equality started to become more intense from WWII. African Americans developed the Double V campaign with hopes of putting an end to discrimination nationally and abroad. The double V campaign was controversial but still contributed to the decline of racism. In a sense, the Double V campaign gave people a taste of the blacks’ dedication to achieve a Utopia. The Double V certainly influenced Truman and inspired him to end discrimination in the segregated US army, but further confrontations with black power suppressors were inevitable. The distribution of racial powers on the streets remained untouched.
Lack of positive outcomes that resulted from the Double V campaign was unprecedented and uncalled for. Further measures to ensure equality were being put into place. Children of black citizens of the United States were targeted in schools and the segregation was rampant. “In 1954, large portions of the United States had racially segregated schools, made legal by Plessy v. Ferguson (1896)”. The public was outraged and National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) along with concerned black US citizens interfered and declared segregation unacceptable. There had been many circumstances where NAACP had conquered the US courts with issues regarding the racism in schools. Brown v. Board of Education case, had replicated itself in schools that declined African Americans. The Brown v. Board of Education case was the final blow to the unconstitutional segregated schools. Brown v. Board of Education consisted primarily of 5 separate cases. “These cases were Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Briggs v. Elliot, Davis v. Board of Education of Prince Edward County (VA.), Boiling v. Sharpe, and Gebhart v. Ethel.” Despite the plethora of various different facts associated with these cases, they all had one thing in common – unlawful and unjust discrimination of black children in public schools. Through extensive research and persuasion, the Marshall and NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund argued a strong case that lead to a victory. “The decision held that racial segregation of children in public schools violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, which states that “no state shall make or enforce any law which shall … deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws”.  This victory was a step forward on a bumpy road to racial equality in the United States.
Some form of organization/leadership was necessary in order for the struggle for equality to end. Such leader needed to have determination and willpower. The Civil Rights movement decided to elect the precocious Martin Luther King Jr. as their leader and motivator. The black US citizens admired the tenacity of Mr. King who tackled the issues on inequality head-first. King chose the road less traversed by adopting Gandhi’s methods of peaceful demonstrations which later played an essential role in gaining the sympathy of the general public. Although countless other people were involved in the problem of racial inequality, King played a vital role by inspiring others to fight with him.
Boycotts and peaceful demonstrations were prevalent practices of the civil rights movement and played a fundamental role in the battle of racial inequality. The first major breakthrough in racial boundaries was initiated when African Americans took a decision to refrain from using public transportation. The black citizens of US were infuriated with what happened to Rosa Parks. “On December 1, 1955, four days before the boycott began, Rosa Parks, an African-American woman, refused to yield her seat to a white man on a Montgomery bus. She was arrested and fined”. The equal relationships between black and white US citizens was nonexistent. Mr. King took advantage of the opportunity presented and encouraged the NAACP as well as the concerned US black citizens to act promptly. King came up with a strategic plan to refrain from using public transportation. Eventually, the bus companies had no other choice but to end the segregation in busses due to the lack of revenue. The Montgomery Bus Boycott proved to be one of the most influential events in the civil rights movement. This protest proved to be a great success, and most of all, it showed American society how determined African Americans were to gain equal powers.
Inspired by the victory, King as well as NAACP members were eager to push further down the road of equality. In Birmingham, Alabama, the city government published a provision prohibiting any marches/protests without consent from authority. Dismayed by the unjust law, African Americans retaliated. Led by King, “Activists in Birmingham, Alabama launched one of the most influential campaigns of the Civil Rights Movement: Project C, also known as The Birmingham Campaign.”(Pbs.org). The Birmingham campaign ended up further educating the general public on the brutality of the situation regarding racism and hate toward blacks. The police used force against the unarmed peaceful protestors and are responsible for many of the gruesome scenes that took America by surprise. Furthermore, America felt sympathetic towards the innocent children that were being mistreated. “JF Kennedy had stated that what was happening in Birmingham was damaging America. King responded accordingly”. Eventually the protests led to an abrupt stop as “The Birmingham Campaign ended with a victory in May of 1963 when local officials agreed to remove “White Only” and “Black Only” signs from restrooms and drinking fountains in downtown Birmingham; desegregate lunch counters; deploy a “Negro job improvement plan”; release jailed demonstrators; and create a biracial committee to monitor the agreement”. During the next couple of months that followed the Birmingham Campaign, racial equality issue was being taken in consideration.
The suppressed voices of the mentally and physically abused African Americans were to be heard on the March of Washington. After gaining sympathy from people all across the United States, King, NAACP, and those who were passionate about putting an end to the unjust racial boundaries partook in what is considered to be the largest protest in the national capital. The March approximately consisted of a staggering 200,000 Caucasian and African Americans. King delivered his influential and well acknowledged “I have a Dream” speech concerning the ill-fated future of the country if drastic changes regarding racial inequality don’t occur.
“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal”. King boldly spoke in depth on the matters pertaining to the unjust treatment towards blacks. Despite some of the previous presidents being unfazed by the strenuous efforts blacks made to gain equal rights, President Kennedy recognized that the struggle for equality had to be fully addressed. The outcome of the March of Washington resulted in creating a “momentum for the Civil Rights Act”. The event shed a negative light on racism, and encouraged people not to express any hate towards blacks. Further obstacles were to be overcome; however the March of Washington was the last major final blow to the US government.
Equal rights are present in our society; however racial bias is still lurking. Despite the arduous journey our country endured to end the racism, there are still people who favor whites over blacks. The bias towards blacks is a serious issue not only in the United States but across the globe as well. Although the government acknowledges the racism as a crime, there is an underlying bias against blacks no matter how much we retaliate. Several occurrences with police shooting innocent black people illustrate our society’s inability to fully accept racial equality. The main culprit, as in most instances, is mainstream and entertainment media. Media shapes people’s mentality, and there seems to be a direct correlation between the media covers the black community and prejudice against African Americans. Media assigns “social roles” to blacks and generalizes the African American population. “Media have divided the working class and stereotyped young African-American males as gangsters or drug dealers”. Problems regarding black acceptance surface when the media perpetuates blacks as convicts.
This ongoing dilemma can be resolved if mainstream media and entertainment industry filter their racial content. Media should stop manipulating the public and creating false notions. Rappers, who often degrade the general African American population by referring to black people using “N” word and have music that contains verses encouraging blacks to “toughen up” and display a violent behavior in order to fit in, will have to reconsider everything they rap about. In other words, the very culprits who are blamed for promoting racism should clean up their act and instead raise awareness regarding the racial issues to make sure that wearing a hood should never be a reason for profiling.
 “Brown v. Board of Education (1954).” PBS. PBS, n.d. Web. 22 Nov. 2015.
 “History – Brown v. Board of Education Re-enactment.” United States Courts. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Nov. 2015.
 “Montgomery Bus Boycott.” History.com. A&E Television Networks, n.d. Web. 22 Nov. 2015.
 “Birmingham 1963 – History Learning Site.” History Learning Site. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Nov. 2015.
 “The Birmingham Campaign.” PBS. PBS, n.d. Web. 22 Nov. 2015.
 King, Martin Luther, Jr. “I Have a Dream.” Maryland, United States, Washington D.C. Speech.
 Weber, Peter. “4 Big Accomplishments of the 1963 March on Washington.” 4 Big Accomplishments of the 1963 March on Washington. N.p., 28 Aug. 2013. Web. 22 Nov. 2015.
 Balkaran, Stephen. “Mass Media and Racism.” Mass Media and Racism. N.p., Oct. 1999. Web. 22 Nov. 2015.
Since the end of World War II, there has been significant progress made in race relations in the United States. African Americans have struggled for equality and justice in order to end the racism that has plagued this country since its inception. African-Americans have fought tirelessly during the 20th and 21th century to demand equal protection under the law, specifically in the areas of education and cultural expression.
Although there have been many movements that have resulted in educational and social change, none have been more critical than the Brown vs. Board of Education case and The Harlem Renaissance. Brown vs. Board of Education influenced African Americans to begin to advocate for change in racial relations. The Harlem Renaissance made African American cultural developments more often recognized.
These movements were critical in initiating a revolution on how whites relate to the African American population because both caused significant change in how African Americans were referred to as a whole. However, there is still much work to be done in the areas of economics and social mobility. America’s implication that white is automatically better continues to be a reoccurring issue in race relations.
Brown vs. Board of Education is often referenced to be the initial battle in the fight for equality. The case was brought forth by a black family who wanted to educate their daughter but found it extremely unfair that they had to travel unreasonably far to do so. Eventually, the Supreme Court found the segregated education law unconstitutional by the Fourteenth Amendment. The case ultimately started the civil rights movement, as it created an image to blacks that change was possible. It sent a message to America that blacks were citizens just as whites were citizens, and imposing unfair punishment just by the color of one’s skin would no longer be tolerated. There had been many other small incidents that called for civil rights, but the case made the biggest initial impact. Once the schools were desegregated, black people began thinking of other ways they could bring justice to the Jim Crow inspired American racial system.
The Harlem Renaissance proposed a new outlook on African American’s cultural contributions during the 1920’s. Taking place after the great migration, the Renaissance encouraged African Americans to embrace the African side of their culture. The Renaissance also encouraged them to reject White America’s view of them, and diverge from their set position as an inferior race of people. The Renaissance gave African Americans new hope, convincing them that it is okay to represent themselves expressively, through art, literature, and education. During this period, a record-breaking amount published authors, recognized artists, and college graduates were black who began to realize that whites were not superior to them in any way, and refused to be ridiculed and disrespected silently any longer. The influence the Harlem Renaissance carried forced White America to acknowledge blacks, and forced blacks to step out from the shadows. Thus, this time period is monumentally important to the advancement of racial relations in America.
As a result of these and other events progress has been made. However, “equality for all” is nowhere near achieved. Though we are an integrated society, since the 1960s, the gap from the median household income of whites, and that of blacks, has widened by nearly ten thousand dollars per family. This means that if a white man does the exact same job as a white man, the white man will earn at least ten thousand dollars more than the black man. In some cases, the black man could be more experienced and qualified for the job, but he will never make as much, or be thought of as valuable as the white man. Moreover, in overall household wealth, black households are worth approximately twenty thousand dollars less than a white household.
Furthermore, white Americans continue to hold Social Capital, which means they are granted privileges, immunities and support simply for being born white. America has set up a social caste that is designed for white people to be successful; a caste built on the backs of African Americans, dependent on their failure. Meaning, black babies are born with the assumption that they will fail. This means blacks have to work ten times harder for success to even come into consideration. White babies already have a whole country supporting them, and it is a lot less difficult for them to succeed.
Until America has been reconstructed from the ground up, there will never be “equality for all”. There will continue to be a static gap between white and black America until major reconstruction is imposed. There will not be a truly equal society until this happens.
Equality simply means freedom. However, consider this; if someone has to give one freedom, is one truly free?
On June 6, 1944, General Dwight D. Eisenhower said to his troops that they were embarking on a crusade to free people who have been oppressed and deprived of their human rights by dictators, and that is why they had to fight.
Human rights are rights inherent to all human beings, whatever our nationality, place of residence, sex, national or ethnic origin, color, religion, language, or any other status. We are all equally entitled to our human rights without discrimination. These rights are all interrelated, interdependent and indivisible. This quote from the United Nations Human Rights website accurately describes what human rights are.How can we, as human beings in New York with all of our houses with clean water, electricity, and electronics, understand all of the problems in the world that people are experiencing every day? People who might have had the misfortune of being born in the industrial sectors of China, the crowded areas of India, or the people living in the middle of the fighting zones of South Sudan? The answer is technology. Many organizations, such as the United Nations, and many individuals have taken advantage of the internet and the social media to spread the word about the horrible things going on. Through technology we can avoid these problems and aid the innocent people stuck between them.
General Eisenhower started a crusade to restore human rights, and it is now our job, as the new generation, to fulfill this crusade and bring human rights to everyone. One way we can do this is through the social media, and paying attention to everything going on and being aware of the things happening throughout the world. For example, in Nigeria, hundreds of girls were kidnapped to be sold as slaves. This was done because the group wanted to put an end to western education and said the girls should be married already. One basic human right is to be educated. Everyone should have access to education. We need to make sure things like this get attention, and we need to make sure people know about it. Social media, like Facebook and Twitter, can spread a message very easily and in a split second. The first step to solving anything is always to find out what is going on first, and through the news channels, social media like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, word about these kidnappings has spread quickly. We need to make sure everyone knows that not everyone has it like we do, with sanitation, clean water, and electricity. Many parents are constantly worrying because the risk is very high that their children could get killed, kidnapped, or forced into labor or fighting.
The second step to guaranteeing everyone basic human rights is to make sure people do something about it. Many times, people, including me, will skim over a picture, look at it and feel bad for a second, and then forget about it five minutes later. This is something we need to avoid. We need to stop pretending like things will go away and take action. Often this is hard, because some countries are so far away and we do not fully understand the situation. But we don’t always need to go to the country or place in order to fix what is going on there. Charities are one big way of helping people out, and organizations such as Amnesty International, United Nations, Unicef do a great job of helping people through donations, but there are other ways too. I am sure everyone here has had a pen pal at some point. It may not have been someone in a horrible situation, but writing to them probably made their day. Writing to people, or making them know you care in any way, will have a big impact. There are also many campaigns or parades, or even clubs in our school, that are focused on helping people in need and making sure things get done. Join those clubs, and even though it may not feel like it sometimes, you will be making a difference just by putting the effort in to care and reach out with your heart to people outside of our community or state.
Those things can all be done by each and every one of us. Sometimes, however, we need help from a government or bigger organization like the United Nations to get things done. Through technology and social media, it is now easier than ever to express your feelings or ideas. Instead of keeping these to yourself, put it out there! Get people aware of what is going on, create a petition or join one if you think it will help out your fellow human beings, and chances are more and more people are going to notice, and eventually maybe even the president himself! When you have one person asking for a change, chances are you are not going to get noticed, but when you have a school or district all working together and spreading the word through social media, people will notice and actions will be taken.
Soldiers like Richard Kemper and the 100 other Mamaroneck High School students gave their lives in World War II to defend human rights, and it is our job to make sure that their lives are not lost in vain. We must spread the word about atrocities like the genocides in Africa and the kidnappings in Nigeria and the extremely low wages in China and we must take action to make sure that this stops and never happens again. In this day and age we have to our disposal a great arsenal of tools, like iPhones, tablets, and computers, so let us make sure that these get used for the better of the people, not just for us. Instead of posting a selfie, next time post a picture or share an article about some of the things you feel need fixing in the world, and make people aware! Let’s make a difference, in honor of all the soldiers who fought for the very rights we have today, let’s show them that we are ready to take up the task to change the world.
What Are Human Rights. What Are Human Rights. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 May 2014.
Nossiter, Adam. “Nigerian Islamist Leader Threatens to Sell Kidnapped Girls.”The New York Times. The New York Times, 05 May 2014. Web. 06 May 2014.
Take Action, Petitions, Membership, Sponsors, DVD, Booklet and Educational Materials : Youth For Human Rights. Take Action, Petitions, Membership, Sponsors, DVD, Booklet and Educational Materials : Youth For Human Rights. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 May 2014.
Get Involved. For Human Rights. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 May 2014.
On June 6th, 1944, thousands of brave men heeded General Eisenhower’s call to arms and fought and died on the beaches of Normandy to free the world from tyranny and help restore basic human rights for millions of oppressed people. As we are about to celebrate the 70th anniversary of this historic battle, it is important not only to look back and honor their sacrifices, but to look forward and think about what we can do to help ensure equal rights for all people.
On October 9th, 2012, a young girl answered to a different call to arms. Her name is Malala Yousafzai and since the age of eleven years old she had been speaking out demanding equality in education for the girls in her country. She understood that the only way girls had a chance at an equal future and a life free from oppression was through access to education. On this particular day, she was riding the bus on her way to school in the Swat province of Pakistan, when a man on the street forced the vehicle to stop. He boarded the bus and asked,
Who is Malala? Fourteen-year-old Malala raised her hand. The man shot her in the head, gravely injuring her and harming two other innocent schoolgirls. Now we all ask the question,
Who is Malala? In 1950’s America, we asked,
Who is Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.? and in South Africa of the 1960’s, people asked,
Who is Nelson Mandela? At one time, these men too were ordinary people with a single voice who decided to speak up against injustices in their society. Though these individuals were put through much tribulation in their lives, including threats of violence and imprisonment, they were never silenced. They continued to speak out for change and equality, and now their names are amongst those famed people who have almost single-handedly changed the course of history.
Malala was attacked by a member of the Taliban. The Taliban is famously against education for women, and they act against anyone who disobeys them with brutality and violence. In Pakistan, 5.1 million children do not attend primary school even though it is their constitutional right. In addition, about 50 million Pakistani adults are illiterate, two thirds of who are women. Other countries around the world face similar issues, such as Nigeria where hundreds of young women were just kidnapped from their school by the Boko Haram. This terrorist group share similar beliefs to the Taliban in terms of education for women. Malala has made it her duty to spread the message of equality in education, no matter what the cost or what she has to go through to do it. She has raised her voice through writing her book, speaking on international television, and making public speeches. In her book, I Am Malala, she says,
One child, one teacher, one book, one pen can change the world.
Malala understands that getting through school is one step on the path towards making a difference and having a voice in the world. Children must sustain their education throughout their childhood to be able to contribute to the world later in life. If there is inequality in access to education, then there will be inequality for the rest of their lives. Knowledge is power, and as long as you try your best to take your education seriously, you can stand up to anything in your way. A single girl has made a world of a difference, even if these are just baby steps towards real change. Through the Malala Fund, Malala has raised money for funding education throughout impoverished parts of the world. She has revealed the injustices in her society and has highlighted the topic of girls’ education. She speaks for the women of the world who do not have a voice of their own. The true heroes are the ones who fight for what they believe in no matter what the cost. I am exceptionally grateful for all of the heroic men and women who bravely sacrificed their lives on June 6th, 1944. We, as a nation, will forever remain in their debt, along with all of those across the world who they fought for as well. Improving rights for education worldwide is a big part of what we must do now, to honor these heroes and their goal of human rights for all. We must not let anything or anyone get in our way of accomplishing this. As Malala told herself,
Don’t be afraid—if you are afraid, you can’t move forward. When it comes to fighting tyranny, we must never be silent.
To state it concisely, Bashar al Assad is systematically exterminating his own people. He has violated nearly every single right that is guaranteed to everyone on Earth. His soldiers have shot at peaceful protesters demanding freedom, they have gang raped young boys contrary to the anti homosexual laws in Syria, and they have even used children as young as eight years old as human shields. The Syrian Civil War has lasted over 2 years and there is currently no end in sight. The UN estimates that over 70,000 people have been killed and that approximately a million refugees have fled to other countries. The Syrian Civil War has gone on for long enough and the United States of America cannot stand for the execution of an entire people by their own government. America has to continue to stand up for the right for citizens to be heard by their government. Our nation’s leaders need to implement the values that we hold closest to our hearts, in Syria. These values include the right to a transparent government constructed through a democratic process, and the rights guaranteed to us in our first amendment that allow a government to flourish. We do not stand for dictators in any way, shape or form. We did not support a Führer in Germany or a military dictatorship in Japan, and we will certainly not support the Ba’ath party in Syria.
In April 2011, protests erupted across Syria. These protests were part of a wider movement called The Arab Spring. The Arab Spring was a series of pro-democracy protests in several Middle Eastern nations that resulted in tremendous changes in government. When protests started in Syria, soldiers from the Syrian army were forced to shoot at protesters. In a report from the UN that was released in November 2011, a defector from the Syrian army described how he was ordered to fire at peaceful protestors carrying olive branches. His group indiscriminately mowed down the people in the crowd including children. Other defectors saw their fellow soldiers get executed. They had been ordered to fire directly into crowds of civilians but instead, they fired into the air to disperse them. Security forces in the row behind them executed the non-compliant soldiers in the first row for not following orders. The actions ordered by Syria’s military leadership are in direct violation of Article 21 of The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Article 21 states that “The right of peaceful assembly shall be recognized.” Syria ratified that treaty which makes it obligated to abide by it. Even the Syrian constitution allows for peaceful assembly. However, Syria had been in a state of Emergency for over forty years which led to a suspension of most rights guaranteed by the Syrian constitution.
In the United States we are used to our constitutionally guaranteed freedoms. Our first amendment allows for the American people to speak their mind and to be heard by the government. In Syria, things are a lot different. According to the UN report, “Decades of tight control of freedom of expression, as well as surveillance and persecution of opponents, have severely limited political life and the constitution of an autonomous civil society.” The Assad regime has repeatedly infringed on the universal right of freedom of expression that the Syrian people have. People have been arbitrarily detained, tortured, beaten and killed for exercising their god given rights. Obviously this is wrong and it is in violation of Article 9 of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights which says “No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.” By arbitrarily detaining people for expressing their opinions, the Assad regime has effectively controlled speech in Syria for the past few decades. Without the ability to speak out, it is impossible to form a fair government. The people cannot hold their leaders accountable for their actions because they are unable to vote them out. If they try to install new leadership or even show interest in reform, they disappear. The Arab Spring was what the Syrian people were waiting for; a chance to peacefully show the government that they wanted reform. Instead of reform, the people of Syria got bullets to the head from snipers, shrapnel from the rockets fired into civilian neighborhood and even according to some new reports, a dose of sarin gas from chemical weapons.
The United States of America is the defender of some of the most important principles in the world. These principles include the right to free speech and assembly, and the right to a democratically elected government. These rights are the most important ones that humans have because without them, a government can do whatever it wants. By having the freedom of expression, people can not only say what they think their government should do, they can also take to the streets and rally support for their ideas. Since a government’s function is to protect the rights of its people, if it is immoral it can completely ignore the needs of its population. The people give a government its legitimacy, but when it begins to abuse its power, the people can take it away. That is the strength of democracy and that is why it is guaranteed in Article 21 of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The problem with Syria is that the government amassed so much power that it became incredibly hard to attempt to oust it. There was heavy infrastructure in place to deny the people their freedom of speech which included secret police networks. Lacking the freedom to speak their minds, the people were unable to elect the leaders that they wanted for more than 40 years. When they tried to ask the government for reform they were slaughtered. As the protector of the free world, the US has to intervene in Syria to ensure the implementation of basic human rights.
Help from a more powerful country in order to secure freedom is a pattern that has been repeated in history time and time again. When the American colonists under British rule demanded independence they were met with ships full of redcoats to deny them representation in government. In the bloody war that ensued, the colonists won not only because of their innovative and adaptive battlefield strategy but also because of support from the professionally trained French forces. The US returned the favor in 1944 when it began to liberate France from Nazi rule. The people if France would be speaking German if America did not free them. This type of intervention from a larger power is exactly what needs to happen in Syria. Syria is too important to degrade into a failed state like Somalia or stay under the rule of the oppressive Assad regime. Government forces have become a lot more depraved in recent weeks. According to CNN, US intelligence officials believe that sarin gas has been used in Syria. This is an obvious violation of international law. Even though Syria has not signed the Chemical Weapons Convention, it must respect it. The use of chemical weapons is the very obvious red line that President Obama has set for Syria. The only problem is that when the Assad government crossed it, the Obama administration barely acknowledged it.
Congress and the Obama Administration need to offer lethal assistance to the Syrian rebels. The country is locked in a bloody stalemate which foreign intervention could easily break. Currently, the government has only sent over food and medicine. Also, Obama recently approved a new aid package that included military equipment such as body armor and night-vision goggles. That is not nearly enough aid for the Syrian rebels. The Syrian rebels need weapons. Congress needs to approve an aid package for Syria that includes lethal aid. While it would be extremely imprudent to put boots on the ground in Syria, limited military involvement would definitely help the Free Syrian Army get rid of Assad. America cannot become involved with another prolonged ground war in the Middle East so this assistance should take the form of air support and possibly even bombardments from naval assets in the region. Fighter jets could strike locations that are strategically important for Assad’s forces and provide reconnaissance for the rebels. This is the strategy that worked well in Libya 2 years ago. The agreement of America’s allies will be vital in Syria. The US also has to get NATO support in declaring a no fly zone over Syria. There are Patriot missile batteries in Turkey but those are for defensive purposes only. The only way to get around that is if there is overwhelming NATO support to use them. The Israelis have begun to target shipments of weapons and other military threats in Syria. Their motivation is self-preservation since they do not want Hezbollah getting hold of powerful weapons, but Israel would gladly work with the US to oust Assad. Getting rid of the Assad regime in Syria will be the biggest blow to Iran in decades. It also means the end of the rule of a vicious dictator with a total disregard for what we view as the most important principles that we stand for in America.
Assad has to go. He is one step short of committing genocide. Amazingly, for years the Ba’ath party has been tolerated by America, but that has to stop. Assad and his Orwellian security forces have violated the most sacred rights that people have. They have laughed at important human rights treaties and openly defied them. The sounds of the pleas of their own people were drowned out in the crack of sniper rifles and the whistling of rockets tipped with chemical warheads. They have angered the rest of the world by limiting freedom of speech and freedom of assembly to deny the Syrian people the right to choose their own leaders. The Assad regime has put a lot of thought into its inhumane treatment of the Syrian people, but what it has not thought of is America’s response to such a gross violation of human rights. We stand by our most important principles even if that means taking military action to defend them. We hold the freedom of expression as our most sacred principle and also as a responsibility. It is our responsibility to ensure that that right is available everywhere on earth because we know that where it is available there is democracy. Where there is democracy there is unabridged political freedom that guarantees a high quality of life. Therefore, since freedom of expression ensures democracy, it is our most important principle to defend. It is a principle that we will defend all around the world until we do not have the power to defend it anymore. That is what Bashar al-Assad does not understand and that is why he has to relinquish control of Syria. The Assad regime is clearly playing with fire. By depriving the Syrian people of their rights for years, President Assad has created an environment that is dangerous for him to live in. Assad and his inner circle face assassination or trial at The Hague. One of those events will happen because of America’s unwavering support of its core values. The only thing to wonder about is when its leaders will allow it to happen.
Report of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic. Rep. United Nations General Assembly, 23 Nov. 2011. Web. 13 Apr. 2013.
Aarthun, Sarah, Barbara Starr, Chris Lawrence, and Elise Labott. “Sarin in Syria: What’s the United States’ next Move?” CNN. Cable News Network, 01 Jan. 1970. Web. 05 May 2013.
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“The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, UDHR, Declaration of Human Rights, Human Rights Declaration, Human Rights Charter, The Un and Human Rights.” UN News Center. UN, n.d. Web. 13 Apr. 2013.
As a student of United States history this year, I’ve gained an increased understanding of the significance of our nation’s history in relation to my own life. Learning about each event that has shaped my country has given me significant insight into the importance historical moments have; each turning point has molded society into what I now call “America”. But I’ve come to realize that not everyone feels the same way I do about the circumstances that have caused our country to become the great nation it is today. Historian David McCullough once fearfully stated in a 60 Minutes interview that, “We are raising children in America today who are by and large historically illiterate.” Growing up in Mamaroneck surrounded by many students that are somehow just as passionate about New Deal reforms and Andrew Jackson’s economic policies as I am, I originally found this statement hard to believe. But upon further examination, I feel that I am definitely living in a generation that is perhaps not “historically illiterate”, as McCullough claims, but “historically unaware”. People simply need to learn why history is important before they can find value in it. It’s true: many of my peers may not be initially enthralled by the concept of coming to see a memorial, regardless of how geographically close to them it is or how much it connects to their lives in a town rich with history. But a good number of those uncaring individuals honestly just don’t understand the true significance of a memorial, just as many don’t grasp why history itself is so important. What we must focus on as a society is stressing the importance of both memorials and the events being memorialized in order to create a more educated and historically aware group of young adults, thus creating an educated populous and an able-minded generation of future leaders.
Writer and philosopher George Santayana once said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” History is cyclical; anything I am experiencing now, my grandparents and great grandparents lived through it at some point in their lives. Economic recessions, debates over immigration regulations, the fight for the expansion of women’s rights – each large event in my lifetime can ultimately be traced back to something that has already happened in American history. This is why grasping and understanding historical concepts is so important. If we do not educate ourselves about the events that have happened in the past, how can we expect to make informed decisions on resolutions to problems we face in the future? If today’s U.S. leaders didn’t examine the ways former American leaders dealt with economic recessions, international conflicts, and social battles, how could they hope to effectively fight ones we face in America today? It simply does not make sense to ignore what’s happened in history so far when we attempt to rectify conflicts in the present and the future, and memorials allow us to easily remember the paths our predecessors have taken. Memorials take these historical turning points and concretely sanctify them. The names on the Kemper Memorial, for example, allow us to remember World War II as something palpable. Memorializing an event that we may have otherwise only thought about briefly in passing allows us to easily remember its colossal significance and keep its spirit alive not only on holidays, but also in our daily lives.
Understanding historical events is significant even just for the purpose of storytelling. There are some things in history, such as the Revolutionary War, the Vietnam protests, and the Great Depression, that we should just know simply to know, and to pass along to future generations. If your parents or grandparents have ever told you an anecdote from their own lives about something you’ve learned about in history class, then you know how amazing it is to hear a personal account of an enormously life-changing event. We don’t want to lose that incredible part of the American identity. We’ve always been a nation of storytellers and entertainers; it is part of what makes us such a novel group of individuals. If we stop taking note of historical events as we live them, this amazing part of American culture will be lost, and an important link binding each of us to our nation will be broken.
Memorials are as vital to the intellectual integrity of our society today as history lessons are. They serve as physical manifestations of the great events we learn about in history classes. They bring to life concepts and events that we sometimes cannot even fathom in ways that are incredibly moving; from the haunting empty chairs of the Oklahoma City Memorial, to the fatigued statues of the Korean War Memorial, to the scrolling names engraved on the Kemper Memorial, memorials allows history to come to life before our eyes. The fact that this vivid preservation of historical events is so underappreciated is utterly dumbfounding. How can we, as a society, actively avoid taking interest in the memorialization of events that have shaped our nation? The answer is, quite simply, that we are living in an age of increased self-awareness at the expense of world-awareness; the things most of us notice on a day-to-day basis are largely things of great personal significance. Other things we tend to ignore. Because of this, we must work to better educate ourselves about how memorials directly influence us. Of course, memorials take events in American history and celebrate them, but to someone lacking a deep interest in history, that reverence can have little appeal. Memorials possess something very personal, as well, and it’s something that is rarely touched on when people discuss them. The Kemper Memorial doesn’t commemorate just any World War II soldiers; it brings special attention to those who went to Mamaroneck High School. The soldiers who fought and died were from our town. They patronized many of the same stores, they walked a lot of the same halls, and they lived in a few of the same houses that we do. The Kemper Memorial gives us, as Larchmont/Mamaroneck citizens, a special connection to our town’s history. It allows us an opportunity to bridge any gap we may feel between ourselves and the history of our nation simply by spending a few minutes reading the names of the fallen soldiers with whom we share so much. By honoring the lives of such great Americans, the Kemper Memorial provides an accessible community outlet that gives us the opportunity to reach back to our roots. The Kemper Memorial, and those like it, remind us of the things that are truly significant: our families, our nation, and our history.
The idea that history is unimportant because it is “over already”, or that memorials aren’t important because they commemorate supposedly outdated events is ludicrous. History will always remain alive, because it is always being created. Memorials take events and people that we all need to know about and glorify them, allowing us to remember and cherish their importance. My generation is not a lost cause. We still have a chance to become “historically aware” and “historically literate”. And I believe a historically educated generation is definitely something worth fighting for.