Saturday, April 19, 2008

Genocides..Will They Ever Cease?

The Armenian Genocide, the Holocaust, the Cambodian Genocide, the Rwandan Genocide, and now Darfur. These are just a few of the genocides that have occured throughout mankind's savage history. Millions and millions slaughtered in horrendous conditions that were simply unheard of. Society says, it is the past and we must move on. However, when society does not acknowledge and punish those reponsible for causing these genocides, than they are allowing the pathway of genocide to be opened once again. Society ignored Rwanda's Genocide. Now, they are ignoring the Darfur Genocide. Ignoring, and turning heads during such painful times isn't a new phenomenon.

April 24, 2008 will mark the 93rd year of the Armenian Genocide. It not only marks the 93rd year of the occurence, but 93 years of denial as well. April 24, 1915, Armenian intellects, scholars, musicians, public officials were gathered and slaughtered by the Ottoman Turks. It was an orchestrated event sponsored by the government leaders. They were knowns as the Pasha brothers; Talaat, Enver and Djemal. It was their ultimate goal to wipe out the Christian minority in the predominant Muslim territory. Thus the attmpt of the annihilation of a race began.

Families were forced to leave everything behind. From the start, most body abled men were separated from their families. Sadly, many of them were slaughtered from the beginning. They were beheaded. Their heads placed on pole sticks and placed into pyramid formations. The women raped, captured and forced to live as slave brides within Turkish homes, and forced to abandon their helpless children. Pregnant women were immediately targetted having swords gushed into their stomaches. Rivers full of blood and dead bodies were travelling alongside the marchers. No one dared to look sideways. Many, finding cliffs nearby, would simply commit suicide rather than endure death by the swords of the Ottomans Turks. "Many took their own and their children’s lives by flinging themselves from cliffs and into rivers rather than prolonging their humiliation and suffering." Genocide Some were forced to swim through the bloody rivers, only being able to choose one of their children to carry. Mothers were forced to choose which child was to live leaving the other behind for the vultures.

Stories have been passed down from generation to generation. A father chose to take the lives of his three daughers, instead of seeing either of them get raped by the Ottoman Turks. Husbands were forced to see their wives raped. Husbands were forced to see their pregnant wives being stepped on. These stories will never end, even when the last genocide survivor passes away.

In the end, as many as 1.5 million Armenians perished. The government agenda was to wipe out the Armenian population from the Ottoman Empire. They failed. While they may have taken away 1.5 of my people in an attempt to eliminate my race, I am still here today.

What angers me the most is that neither Turkey, nor the United States has recognized the Genocide. The Genocide that was the first of the 20th Century has been overlooked. Raphael Lemkin, a Polish-Jew coined the term genocide in 1943. "In fact, when Mr. Lemkin coined the term genocide the Armenian events were one of the two archetypes he used in his work." Lemkin The other was the Holocaust. Turkey and the United States for several decades have said that it is not genocide, but simply war casualties or random murders. What is peculiar is that most of these individuals that were killed, were killed in areas where there was no sign of war.

In the midst of all the denial, of all the ignorance, of all the heads turning away, one mand stood up pleading for help. The US ambassador to the Ottoman Empire was present during this horrendous time in history. He demanded, pleaded for action but recieved nothing. He stated, "When the Turkish authorities gave the orders for these deportations, they were merely giving the death warrant to a whole race; they understood this well, and, in their conversations with me, they made no particular attempt to conceal the fact." Morgenthau It happened while the entire world watched. Rwanda happened while the entire world watched. Darfur is happening while the entire world is watching.

If society does not pay attention to history then they are bound to repeat it. And we all can see that now. Every year passes and every year the Armenian community sees the United States denying the existance of the genocide. US has military bases in Turkey and thus would not dare jeapordize their relatioship over a humanitarian issue. So once again, I will hear America saying that they are sorry for the loss of the Armenian community by the tragic events that occured during the war not even mentioning the word Genocide, or systematic killings once. France, Germany and many other countries have recognized the Armenian Genocide. It's time for the country who is advocating democracy around the world to do so as well. A colleague's blog Gov4Sale says it best, "The fact that the U.S government refuses to accept and label what had happened as “Genocide” just to protect its interest with the Turkish government is hypocritical, being the super power that it has labeled itself and the protector of Democracy and humanity." Essentially it needs to be recognized in order for us to advance as a democratic world.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

To Buy a House, or Not to Buy a House

With the recent housing crises, my family ironically decided to buy a house. For those of us who were unable to buy extremely inflated homes a couple of years ago, this was the perfect time. Think about it, with so many houses under foreclosure, a need for buyers is crucial. A couple of years ago, several families would fight over a single house, now one family can have the choice of several houses. It is ultimately the buyer's market. With house cut down by as several hundred thousand dollars, it would be simply uncanny to not get your hands one of them. And this is what my family did last month.

Constantly hearing the news about the housing crises, gave my family a sense of hope. We realized that, with the amount of houses being confiscated, the banks needed to sell them at a cheaper market. The banks would rather sell the house up to 50 percent of its originalmarket price than pay the property of the full price themselves.

So what was one of the factors that contributed to the housing crises?Sub-prime mortgage. These are "housing loans made at higher-than-normal and adjustable interest rates to borrowers with little or poor credit history or an income that wouldn't typically qualify them for a mortgage--lie at the center of the crisis." Foreclosure People with little or bad credit were tricked by lenders into buying houses with low adjustable interest rates and even no money down. Ironically, these family were unaware that property taxes were going to rise, the APR was going to rise and for some families, their mortgages were going to double. It's been estimated that more than "3 million houses will be foreclosed by the end of 2008." Foreclosure

The housing crash not only effects the families who are having a hard time paying their bills, but a ripple effect is also present. With people not buying houses, construction was down. With people not buying homes, real estates and loan lenders had no jobs. Thus the economy as a whole was effected. Personally, I believe that the government needs to take more action to prevent further foreclosures. The prices of some of these simple homes are more than half a million just because of the housing surge a couple of years ago. Now, they are not even worth 400,000.

"The catastrophic damage could be so widespread that the crisis could reach $600 billion in losses to home owners, Wall Street investors, mortgage companies and banks." Crisis THis is not good for anyone. When real estate goes down, the ripple effect begins. The housing surge was motivated by money hungry corporations, and now they are suffering. And now, families who did not fall under trap have the upper hand.

My family had decided to buy a house a couple of years ago in Hollywood. Everywhere we turned they were asking 500,00-800,000 for a measly 800 square footage home. It was ridiculous. Lenders were promising no down payment, low rates and so forth. But thankfully we did not fall into that trap. We waited and waited, and recently purchased a house in North Hollywood, about 1700 square foot, and the price was unbelievable. So the housing crisis has benefited families like mine who had waited for the perfect time to buy a house. Politosaurus Rex states, "Because the economy is doing so poorly and inflation is on the rise, less families are purchasing homes." While this statement is true, I feel as though, families who want to buy a house now, who were unable to afford the inflated prices would benefit the most. Prices are reasonable now and my family felt it was time to buy one.

But, the condition should not have gotten this far where 600,000 dollars homes are being sold for ridiculous amounts. The government should have adjusted the interest rates for many of these "on the edge of foreclosure" houses. Foreclosure is the worst ultimatum for both lenders and families. So the best solution is to actually prevent that from happening in the first place.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Farewell Grandpa

On April 1st at 2:20am my grandfather passed away. His blood pressure and heart rate fell drastically and his heart could no longer fight the battle. It has been a very tough week for my family and my uncle's family. My grandfather had two children; my mother and uncle. My uncle has two boys and my mother has two girls. We're a very small family and thus he would always ask us, "If we die who will come to our viewing?" On April 10th we had the Viewing at St Johns Church. My grandfather would be proud that the entire church was filled with friends, neighbors, and loved ones. After the viewing we went to our grandmothers house where my grandfather used to reside. A night of sadness and tears was not over. In our tired condition we all had to drive to Las Vegas in the middle of the night because the funeral was going to be there the next day at 12:00pm.

This death was the first that hit close to home for my sister, me and my two guy cousins. All of us even though we knew he lived to be 82 years old, were crying like little babies. My mother fainted during the Viewing and the Funeral. My uncle left speechless. But in the midst of all this, my grandfather's death brought us together. Relatives camped out at my uncle's house in Vegas. More than 20 people slept in one house. Sofas were turned into beds and many mattresses were used. A week has almost passed since my father picking up the phone at 6:40 am and my mother immediately figuring out that her beloved father has passed. To this day it seems like a dream. In the end, my grandfather did not allow us to make the decision of pulling the feeding tubes and oxygen. He did not allow us to have that decision hanging on each of our shoulders for the rest of our lives.

We love and miss you grandpa

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Vegetative State--What Should My Family Do?

On Easter Sunday of 2008, my grandfather was rushed to the emergency room. Having been in bed rest for the past 2 months, going to the emergency was a routine event. Every month we would take him to the hospital, have water pumped out from his lungs and bring him back home.

On March 24, my grandparents were to move to Las Vegas to live with my uncle. We went on Sunday to help pack and celebrate Easter. Who knew that this would have been his last. All of a sudden he closed his eyes and would not respond to any of us. My mother became hysteric seeing her father in that condition. We shook him. We yelled out his name. Nothing. Watching 3 men carry my helpless grandfather onto chair was traumatizing.

We all went to the hospital following the emergency car. From 4:00pm to 10:00 pm we had no clue what was going on with our grandfather. We sat in the waiting room expecting the worst. Then around 10:00pm the doctor said we can go and see him one by one. We all had smiles on our faces. Sadly those smiles were going to turn into tears and utter chaos in the following days.

On Monday one day after he was sent to the hospital, my family woke up to go and help my grandmother and uncle move their belongings into the moving van. Everything was set. Everything was packed. Everyone was ready to go except no one went anywhere. My grandmother had to stay with my grandfather. My uncle, who had arrived from Las Vegas to help with the move had no other option but to take their belongings to Vegas since he had given more than 600 dollars for the moving van. So while my grandparents belongings are in Vegas, my grandparents are here.

We were all eager that my grandfather would be released on Monday and my uncle would be able to take him to Vegas. This was surely not the case. Since Monday, my grandfather has not spoken a word nor has opened his eyes. He doesn't respond to us. He can't see us. He has feeding tubes in his nose and is on oxygen support. He is 82 years old and has never smoked nor drank and yet he has had open heart surgery.

For the past 6 days my grandfather has been in a vegetative state according to one doctor. According to another doctor he is in a coma. My family can't decide what to do. Do we still feed him through the tube and transfer him to a nursing home in hopes that he will get better? Or do we pull out the feeding tube and let him die? Just the thought of having to make this decision is traumatizing for both my mother, uncle and my grandmother. They have to decide what to do. Do we put him in a nursing home and make my grandmother stay in LA? Do we simply allow him to starve to death? It's a tough situation.

I remember watching the case of Terry Schiavo's case where there was a conflict between the husband's wishes and that of the parents. The husband wanted her to die and the parents wanted her to live. I guess you could see in my tone that I want my grandfather to live. Do we allow my grandfather to be in pain, having millions of tubes around him or shall we simply pull the plug and let him rest. The decision to take away food from someone you love, and watching him die is just unheard of.

I just came back from the hospital with my family. We sit there around my grandfather and start crying. We sit there touching his feet, touching his hands hoping he would give some sort of feedback. But nothing. My mom wants to shake him, wants to yell him so he can wake up. But there is nothing. He is breathing, he is sneezing, he is coughing, he is yawning but he is not alive. It's always easier to judge other people by saying how can you let someone die, how can you remove the feeding tubes while his heart is still breathing? It is always diferent when it is personal. My mother and uncle and grandmother are going to have a final talk with the doctor to decide my grandfather's death. I still can't believe this is happening to my family, to my grandfather. The same person who at every occasion said, "Everything is wonderful" is now laying helpless in room 510.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Argentina Did it---Can We???

One of the most twisted elections occured last year in Argentina. There wasn't any ballots misssing, there weren't any fights, but for the first time a country saw its former first lady become president. Néstor Carlos Kirchner was the President of Argentina from 2003 to 2007. Who would be better to rule the country after him..his wife of course. Thus in December of 2007, Nestor's wife, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner became President of Argentina. The final tally came. She was victorious over her running mate by over 22 percent. One of the biggest margins Argentina has ever seen. Argentina, in the year 2007, witnessed their first elected female president, first Gentleman of the house, and the first husband and wife power team. Now, United States is in the same situation. We could have the first female president and first Gentleman of the White House. I know I'm ready for this..are you?

Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner is another one of my powerful woman figures. A devoted wife of 32 years. A mother of 2 children. And a politically qualified individual. She served in the Senate, part of provincial legislature, and was one of the key figures who helped her husband get elected. While she may seem delicate on the oustide, her speeches have been compared to that of Eva Peron, the woman who was dubbed the "Spiritual Leader of the Nation" and was known as Evita." She wasn't a candidate to be reckoned with.

Cristina appealed to suburban working class and the poor. Ironically, she did not win the 3 populous cities of Argentina. "She will face an uphill battle in gaining the confidence of voters in larger urban areas, especially middle and upper-class strongholds." Council of the Americas She appealed to the average working families. She lacked the vote of the middle class but that didn't matter because she won. After she won, some scandals did arise. The United States claimed that there were illegal financing to her campaign summing to about a million dollar. As a referendum, Cristina limited the US ambassadors abiliites. Cristina and even her opposition leaders said that the United States was trying to divide up Latin America. Whatever the scandal was, it definitely has not contributed to Cristina's popularity. Majority of the people have very high hopes for her and her administration.

Her husband, Nestor, paved the way by "steering Argentina out of its worst economic crisis in 2001, when it defaulted on $80 billion in loans." Herald Tribune Venezuelan president, Hugo Chavez even helped with the loans. The relationship between Argentina and Venezuela has grown immensely and some claim that the US is watching closely. Now the world is watching as to what Cristina is going to do.

Again the issue of whether her husband paved the way or not was stated. Some claimed that if her husband wasn't president she wouldn't stood a chance. But the reality is that she was successfull on her own without her husband. She was elected into office several times. She was dubbed Queen Christina, because of her strong personality. Whatever the reasons are, she is here today. She is the President. It is up to her to advance Argentina and broaden its influences across the globe. It's simply a new adventure to see how much she can do for her country. Having a former president as her husband is a bonus.

This is what I see happening in November. Hillary Clinton becomes the first female President of the United States. Bill Clinton being swarmed in as the First Gentleman. He stands behind the scenes with Hillary running the show. While yes, of course, they will share opinions with each other, but in reality all couples do that. In addition, we must not forget that Bill Clinton was a smart man so I don't see anything wrong with having 2 powerful individuals influencing this country. Some even see Hillary becoming more powerful than her husband. Maybe that's why some people are scared of her. Whether this historic event happens or not, we now know that it HAS happened elsewhere. So, ony time will tell with the US.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Solidarity, Sister! Paying Prostitutes a Little Respect

I've spent the last few days watching anchormen on the local news channels refer to prostitution as the “world's oldest profession” with a sly grin on their faces. Though prostitution, or advertising sex in exchange for foods and goods, has played an essential role in our evolutionary past, I believe we now have the resources to make prostitution completely unnecessary. And thanks to the Spitzer scandal, this issue is back on the front page of newspapers and is at the forefront of everyone's mind.

Everyone is asking the same question: should prostitution be legalized? But a far more important question to ask is what can we do so that women don't resort to desperate measures such as selling their bodies for cash? What alternatives can we create for them? How do we eliminate prostitution from the grounds up?

Many American cities think the best solution is shaming the men who solicit the services of prostitutes. The photos of these male clients are posted not only on websites but printed and dispersed throughout the community. Some towns go a step further and send letters to the relatives of these men, informing them of their crime.

But trying to cut demand seems unreasonable. It's safe to assume that some men will seek sex outside of their established relationships, even if prostitution is eliminated. If they're not paying a few dollars for anonymous sex or thousands for high-class escort services, they will simply have “affairs, lovers.” They'll go on dates, bars and clubs, looking for casual sex. It's also safe to assume that some women will readily accept the “no strings attached” sex. Therefore, trying to curb the demand by men seems foolish. Humiliating these men, like we did to now ex-governor Pitzer, doesn't solve anything. Neither does sending them off to jail. (Unless of course, they use the government's money for their “private needs,” like it is alleged of Pitzer.)

Charging and arresting female prostitutes, however, is a much more ridiculous notion. Prostitutes don't pose a danger to society; in fact, they're in one of the most dangerous “professions.” We should be helping them, not arresting them. They're probably more likely to die on the job than any other “professional.” Putting them in jail does nothing but overcrowd our prisons with these harmless women. Instead of raising taxes to build more prisons to house these “small-time criminals,” we should use those funds to create alternatives for the lower-class and poverty-stricken women who look to prostitution in order to make ends meet.

We need to create jobs, raise the minimum wage, create free educational and vocational programs for adults, have a national health-care and daycare system. In other words, we need to eliminate all the problems that force women into prostitution. Prostitution is not an isolated problem; it is the result of a faulty economic and political system.

We need to stop looking at prostitution as a “victim-less” crime. These women, these prostitutes ARE the victims. They're the victims of a system that has given up on them, that chooses to allocate money for wars that don't need to be fought and abstinence-only programs that are proven ineffective instead of on poverty, job training, instead of on them.

Little girls don't grow up wanting to become prostitutes. They don't want to go to work at a time where the rest of the world goes to sleep. They don't want a job that can get them killed. Little girls don't dream about being a part of the sex industry.

But prostitution happens. We already know why. The jobs they have don't pay enough; the jobs they want aren't given to them. Their children need to be fed, clothed, immunized. They need support and don't find it in their familial harms.

But these issues are tangible, treatable. If we fix these roots, they wouldn't branch out to become “prostitution.” So it's not a question of making it legal or not; it's a matter of ethics, of humanity. Let's start caring about these women, yeah? And each other.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Bitches Work Hard for Their Money!

She's a bitch. Get over it.

If a bitch is someone who is intelligent and wise, fights for what she believes in and isn't afraid to speak up, then Hillary Clinton is a bitch. A major one.

I always thought a bitch was someone who was cold-hearted, only thought of herself and had no respect for the opinions of others. I never thought a bitch in terms of someone who makes her own decisions. But appparently, this is the case for Hillary.

Regardless of what you may think of Hillary's presidential potential, it's easy to see that in the media and in our homes, people see her as a bitch.

This is disheartening. The definion of "bitch" has changed with the times; as more women began to seize opportunities for success, "bitch" has come to describe more women.

Bitches are women who decide to work. Bitches are women who put their kids in daycare. Bitches are women who are promoted before their male counterparts. Bitches are women who protest. Bitches are women who demand better pay. Bitches are women who aren't silent. Bitches are women who aren't afraid to bark in outrage. Bitches are women who take the road less traveled. Bitches are women who pave the way for others.

Hillary Clinton is a bitch. A major one.
So why are other "bitches" hesitant in voting for her?

It's unfair to assume that all women want female leaders, but it's important to ask what KIND of women THESE women want.

Should a female president be feminine? Should she be more masculine than her male opponents? Should she be able to cry? Should she not show any emotion?

What do we want from Hillary?

The public seems to have an oddly focused eye on Hillary. While politicians are expected to be under scrutiny, it's not a stretch to claim that Hillary is getting most of this action.

She's criticized for being too "cold." When she is near tears, people either accuse her of "acting" or using it as evidence that a woman can't hold it together, that she's too emotional.

My God, what will happen if she's on her period? Or worse, what if she's suffering from hot flashes?!

Even her wardrobe is criticized. When she wears skirts, the length is never right; it's too long, it's too short. When she wears pants, people claim it's too manly. When some cleavage is shown, people are outraged. Breasts?! She has breasts!?!

Yes, I can confirm that Hillary Clinton has breasts. See ---->

The only thing people seem to agree on is that Hillary is a bitch.

While a colleague Reluctant Republican might state, "Hillary is hard and emotionless and despite all of her efforts to appear feminine and soft she cannot seem to get it right " I believe this is simply dandy.

Tina Fey points out on SNL, "Bitches get the work done!"
I for one will be voting for a bitch for president. What about you?

Today is Women's Day

March 8th, 2008 marks the International Women's Day festivities around the world. It started in Russia and was celebrated mostly across the Soviet bloc. Now it is celebrated across the globe. A day to thank your mothers, your sisters, your daughters and wives. My mother grew up in a household that would celebrate March 8th as if it was Christmas. Relatives would gather at her house, drink, eat and dance the night away. They would share personal stories of struggles and how they overcame each obstacle.

Today I woke up to find my father giving my mother a kiss and warm embrace. He said to her, "Thank you for being the woman you are today."

Today is a day of historic signifance. A day to show the progress that we have achieved, and the amount of obstacles we yet have to overcome. It is in a way discouraging that in the United States we do not celebrate this day accordingly. To many Americans, it is simply another day. Unfortunately, some are not even aware of today's significance, which saddens me truly.

I am not one of those individuals that has forgotten what my ancestors went through in order for me to have the many opportunities I have today. Love them for who they are--not what they look like. Privilege Indifference had written an article that notes how women, these days, are trying to change who they are, what they look like just to fit in. It is essential that women on this day, come together and praise each other's beauties rather than degrade one another just because one is considered by society to be prettier. Respect and love one another. So I am taking this day to reiterate my appreciation for my mother, my grandmothers, my aunts, and my sister for being as powerful and beautiful they are.

I hope you did the same.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Africa's "Iron Lady"

She's not your typical grandmother. She was given the Medal of Freedom on November 5, 2007. This honor is considered to be the "highest civilian award" by the United States. So one might wonder who was the recepient? It was none other than Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. For individuals who do not follow international news, she became "Africa's first elected head of state following Liberia's presidential runoff. " BBC She was elected to office in 2006. We have also seen another female take take control of a country-Michelle Bachelet of Chile. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, just like Michelle, did not lead a serene life.

She too was imprisoned. She was exiled. She was charged with treason. Through all this, she did not give up. Some say she is the "Iron Lady" because of her iron will and determinism. A follower of Ellen's political career states, "It would have been much easier for her to quit politics and sit at home like others have done but she has never given up." Ellen signified strength. Ellen portrayed power. Ellen presented hope to a country that had seen too many years of civil wars, of corruption, and of civilian casualities.

She wasn't just another candidate running for presidency. She lived through the political turmoil. She was a victim. "When she opposed the military rule of Samuel Doe, she was imprisoned before eventually fleeing Liberia." Time Luckily she decided to return to her mother country. Ellen knew that staying away from Liberia was not going to solve anything. While she was in exile, she was able to work at the World Bank and the United Nations. Being charged with treason and being exiled did not stop her from her political endeavors.

Through the struggles and obstacles, she obtained a position that no one would have ever thought. Even with her being president, some still are hesitant of having a female president. It's always frustrating when individuals use the gender card. I mean, for the past centuries, males have ruled our countries. Males have raged wars. It would simply be interesting to see what females have to offer. We honeslty cannot do any worse. Women have nothing to lose, but everything to gain. Ellen had nothing to lose and gained everything.

Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, just like Michelle Bachelet, did not have a husband by her side when she ran for the presidency. She was a divorcee with four sons. Laura Bush said, "Johnson-Sirleaf's courage and commitment to her country are an inspiration to me and women around the world." Time Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf appears to be a women of power, of intelligence, of strength and courage. She defied all odds. She's in a position that many men and women dream of. She's on top of her game and did not allow any male figures to take her chances away. She fell, but she got right back up. So for women today, to simply say we have no control of anything, they are dillusional. If women in war torn nations, are able to get to the top, then what is holding our women living in top notch countries to reach our full potentials?

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Public Intellectuals--Are they simply after fame or justice?

Ralph Emerson said it best. “The public intellectual is the world's eye. And he communicates his ideas to the world, not just to fellow intellectuals.” Emerson A public intellectual, in my mind, is not necessarily someone who has graduated from a prestigious school and has simply decided to speak his mind on whatever topic he deems to be important. A public intellectual is an all around individual, who discusses the needs of the average individual; he/she is an individual who tries to bring about change for the public. She is not an individual who's goal are to sell you many books as possible, but to bring about enlightenment to the masses. Emerson states, “ the intellect is a person who embodies all dimensions of human potential and actuality-- the farmer, the professor, the engineer, the priest, the scholar, the statesman, the soldier, the artist. Emerson So from my understanding, a public intellectual needs to present him/herself as an individual who is knowledgeable about issues concerning the poor, the middle class and the wealthy; an individual who knows what is important to people and what needs to be done.

Defining what a public intellectual is can be very controversial. When I think of public intellectuals I think of Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Sojourner Truth and Martin Luther King. When I read articles stating that Ann Coulter is among the top 100 public intellectuals, I think to myself, “Are we really out of influential individuals that we have resorted to putting a sexist, bigot, racist woman on the list.” We all remember Ann Coulter's comment against presidential candidate John Edwards. She states, “ I was going to have a few comments on the other Democratic presidential candidate, John Edwards, but it turns out that you have to go into rehab if you use the word “faggot.” Coulter Another favorite incident occured, right here, on the USC campus. I watched her speech inside Annenberg School of Communication. I remember her implying we should nuke every country that gets in our way, similarly to how we “shut up the Japs.” Now if this isn't wan intellectual speaking, than I dont know who else would be classified as one? I mean come on!

The way I look at it, society needs to praise those individuals who want to bring about peace and harmony. All Ann Coulter represents is dividing up the country against those who are “true Americans” and those who are not. Who is she to divide up millions of people just because of what they believe in? She doesn't propagate change. She doesn't represent average individuals like myself. She doesn't stand up for my rights as a female. She doesn't believe in my right to vote as a female. I'm sorry, but, no matter how many books she has sold, she is not a public intellectual. Ann Coulter is simply out there to make money. Just because she worked for the Senate Judiciary doesn't mean squat if she's ignorant of concerns for the common folks like me. I don't despise her because she is conservative, I despise her because she is useless.

Observing the other side of the ideological perspective, we find Michael Moore. Now he may not have gone to Cornell, but he seems to be more intelligent than someone who simply blurts whatever idiotic thing comes to their mind. Michael Moore, to me, is an individual who tries to reach out to the public. With his documentary Sicko, he uncovered insurance issues that pertain to more than half of this country. He even received an Oscar nomination for it. Moore He took a chance. He made a film. He criticized the elite for not taking drastic measures. He discussed a topic that was important to the public. That's a public intellectual!

Personally, I can't give you a specific reason why some are regarded as public intellectuals, while others are not. What are the specific topics that need to be discussed in order to attract the attention of the public? Is it the issue of health insurance? Is it the issue of education? Is it the issue of poverty? What I perceive to be important might seem irrelevant to the next individual. The public intellectual needs to tackle issues that a majority of individuals can relate to. And I don't want an intellect commenting on some meaningless celebrity who has been caught driving under the influence, or which type of perfume attracts the male figure. Some topics should just be left alone. I don't care if you've discovered the perfect way to apply lip liner so your lips look full. I care about someone who is going to discuss my personal rights, my health coverage, education, the safety of my home and so forth. Another issue that conerns me is just because you've received a BA does not give you the authority to call yourself a public intellectual. Don't go around writing a book on how to save the Middle East, if you don't even know what countries belong in the Middle East.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Religion and Politics

Society has mistaken religion with faith. The way I distinguish religion is by attributing it to a church or institution. However, faith is an entirely different matter of subject. Someone who has faith does not necessarily mean they are religious. Faith is one's beliefs of values, morales, of how they look at their surroundings, and how they see themselves as playing a role in a very diverse world. When government and state's discuss separation of church and state, I believe there is a misrepresentation. This should simply mean that the Church should not have the authority to interfere with state business and vice versa. However, we all know that they both go hand in hand. Gandhi said, "Those who say religion has nothing to do with politics do not know what religion is."
Church vs State

One needs to realize while there might be a separation between church and state, there will never be a separation between faith and politics. One's faith, not necessarily meaning they are Christian or Muslim, determines their morales, their beliefs and how they look at government. There are many Christians who are anti abortion and there are many Christians who are pro choice. We cannot directly say that the Christian Church has influence on the state in regards to abortion laws. Taking the Catholic Church as an example, the church might condone abortion, but the state is not going to change it's status just to abide by the Church Institution's perspective.

When I hear people saying religion and politics should not interfere I always wonder what kind of a nation that would look like. Don't misunderstand me, I don't want my church making up laws, but I'm just skeptical of whether there will be enough people to ignore what the Church states. Growing up, being taught right from wrong, my parents never said, "As a Christian, you should do this and that." The religious affiliation was never even a factor. It was my faith in humanity that played a role. It was my faith as a moral individual do to right upon others, not because my church told me, but because of what I believed in.

The way I look at it is that most religions preach the same ideals; justice, freedom, respect towards one another, honor and loyalty. And in some sense, I want a government that is moral, that offers freedom to everyone, that offers loyalty to its citizens and so forth; not because they are Christian or Muslim or whatever, but because they are citizens of the United States. One noteworthy quote that President Bush stated was, "I believe in an Almighty God, and I believe that all the world, whether they be Muslim, Christian, or any other religion, prays to the same God. That's what I believe. I believe that Islam is a great religion that preaches peace. "

The quote in itself, whether he believes it or not, is essentially significant into our understanding of how religion and faith will always be present in our society. I don't find it necessarily a bad thing when religion is used in trying to bring peace, but when religion is used to justify violence, then that's when everything becomes tricky Not one religion advocates killing. Some might say that the fundamental Islamists advocate that, but we must also not forget the Christians who were responsible for the many lynchings of African American individuals. We cannot, as intellectuals, generalize these actions by hungry driven individuals to the entire religion.

Noam Chomsky comes to my mind when reading about news articles that tend to generalize everything by one incident. In his "Clash of Civilizations” thesis on the power of religion he states that "religion is the central motivating factor in political tensions today."
Chomsky It is a sad outcome where religion, the power of faith, the power of peace, the power of eternal happiness brings suffering to many people of all shades of colors. Whether one wants to admit it or not, religion plays a vital role in politics. It plays a vital role in war policies, it affects our economy, it effects every single one of us. Now I would want religion to be present to solve problems, not to create them. Am I being too optimistic for asking a favor like that?

While wanting religion to be present in solving every day problems, I definitely do not want it to force its rules and regulations on me. The liberals in essence are accurate in fearing that the Christian Right might interfere with their usual powers if they obtain higher power. In Stephen Mack's article, ClericIntellectual, Peter Beinart states,

"what liberals are saying is that the Christian Right sees politics through
the prism of theology, and there’s something dangerous in that. And
they’re right. It’s fine if religion influences your moral values. But, when
you make public arguments, you have to ground them—as much as
possible --in reason and evidence, things that are accessible to people of
different religions, or no religion at all. Otherwise you can’t persuade
other people, and they can’t persuade you. In a diverse democracy, there
must be a common political language, and that language can’t be

In essence, it is a necessity to keep religion and politics separate. Having one specific religious institution in control is going to isolate the rest of the community. There needs to be a separation of church and state. While I am not saying individuals in power should not be associated with a specific religion, they should NOT endorse their own religion over the other. They should NOT infer that their personal religion is superior compared to the rest. They should NOT create domestic or intetnational policies issuing attacks on other religions. They should NOT take away women's rights just because their religion condones abortion. Religion and state are two different sects. They should not interfere. They can coexist but should never intertwine.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Single Mother Who Became President

Michelle Bachelet had to endure torture, exile, imprisonment, and her father's death in prison but was still able to become the first female President of Chile. Her father, Alberto Bachelet was an Air Force General working under Salvador Allende's administration when he was imprisoned after a coup in 1973 by Augusto Pinochet. The struggle and pain that her family had to endure, is one of many during that decade.

Despite the trauma of many thousands like her, she stood and said in front of millions, "Because I was the victim of hate, I've consecrated my life to turning hate into understanding, tolerance, and why not say it -- love." While it may be hard to forget, she said it is better to reconcile than to fight anger with anger.

Michelle Bachelet is a woman who has climbed up the ladder without a man by her side. She is a single mother. She is the President of Chile. She's a pediatrician. She's a socialist. And she was the former Minister of of Health and Defense. Without even being the president, she was already an accomplished individual. Running for president, was her ultimate fight and she definitely won that battle. Despite Latin American countries being known for their machismo attitudes, she won a historic battle. And when she won, she knew that she had to provide that equal opportunity for many struggling women.

Immediately after being swarn in, she divided her cabinet equally. She vowed to have woman in central decision making roles and her top 20 was equally divided between men and women. Her election, was not only one that signified that women were making their presence known but that Latin America was going through a change. With the presidency of Evo Morales, an Indian in Bolivia, a Revolutionary fighter in Venezuela being Hugo Chavez, a worker Luis de Silva of Brazil, a single mother, Michele Bachelete of Chile showed that it was a drastic time of change and renewal in some sense for Latin America.
Fighting for Women's Representatives

Michelle Bachelet wouldn't have imagined, being captured and exiled in her home country, that one day she would become the President of the same country where she was exiled from. On top of that having her opponent Sebastian Pinera stating, "he wanted to pay homage to all those millions and millions of women who with much strength and tenacity have finally achieved the place and the situation they deserve in our society" was a sweeter reward

Thus seeing the progression of women in top ruling positions around the world, Chile and Germany for example, one wonders whether the United States will have that opportunity anytime soon. Hillary Clinton is fighting for that historic triumph right now. And one wonders, if she wins, will it be because America was ready to see a women's perspective or she simply was the "suitable" candidate compared to the others? And if she loses, will it be because America would vote for less qualified candidates rather than seeing a woman in charge or that she was too rough around the edges?

No matter what the outcome is, if other once military dominant dictatorship countries are able to have female presidents, then it is time for the United States to have one soon; whether it be Hillary or not.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Breaking Down Doors: An Introduction to Women's Work

For centuries, women have been expected to fulfill the ideal role of both perfect wife and mother, and this meant putting the family first before their own needs. If for whatever reason, a woman acted out of the norm--- chose to speak her mind, chose to work outside the home--- then her husband was criticized for not handling her properly. Throughout the history of man, women have stayed home and taken care of the family and home with rarely any assistance from the husband. Since he was the breadwinner, it gave him the perception that bringing home the money was sufficient work, that it was all the work he had to do. It was left to the mother, the wife, to feed, clean and clothe the children. If a mother chose to not pay attention to her family, she was ostracized. This still holds true for today. The mother is criticized for not placing the needs of the family first far more often and severely than is the father. For example, if there is a newborn in the family, and the mother chooses to go back to work immediately after its birth, she is told by society that she's not doing her real job. Society doesn't criticize the father for leaving a newborn child to attend work; he is, in fact, applauded for considering the financial needs of his family An argument has been set forth that since women can breastfeed, they must---for the health and proper development of the child--- stay home during the early stages of childhood. Thus, the woman is placed in the difficult position of having to balance the multiple roles expected of her with the roles she wants to carry out for herself.

Though women have acquired the legal right to work, there is still plenty of sexism in the workforce. On average, women get paid .75 cents to a dollar less that men make for doing the same type of work. Women are also encouraged to take up the stereotypical jobs such as secretarial, clerical, nursing, childcare, social work, elementary teaching and so forth. Many statistics also show that women are staying away from the maths and sciences. The business world also lacks strong female figures; while there are plenty of secretaries and assistants working for major corporations, the number of female CEOs and women in power are few. These statistics demonstrate the unfortunate condition facing the women who do fight to work outside the home.

When a woman chooses a career, she also considers the effects it would have on her family life. While the"wife's presence in the labor force means higher income," the jobs women do take illustrate their concern for making time for the family (Duker). This doesn't encourage them to go after high-paying, high-demand jobs. Most women take on a typical 9-5 office workday so that they can be home to cook dinner, do the laundry and oversee the children's homework; they come home to a second shift. But household work is not compensated. Mama's apple pies do not have any value. At first, the thought of a woman leaving her family to go and find a job elsewhere was unfathomable. But the fight for women's rights was not to be deterred; it was just as much about economics as it was about making a stand. "In a sample of Irish Roman-Catholic families with at least one child of elementary-school age, we have shown that both in the working class and in the middle class the working wife exerts more influence in family decision-making than the non working wife" (Heer). Because they had a source of income, women began to fight for the chance to have a say about how the money was used in the home. This paved the way for the notion of equality within the home. But a job hinted at financial independence and many men felt threatened by the idea.

Being able to go into work
hasn't been an easy fight for women to win.Through
times of necessity, they were called upon to work and women have taken advantage of these periods in our history. During times of war, women were called in to complete the tasks that men were normally assigned to. A common advertising appeal was made by Rosy the Riveter; you could do it, you can help with the war, she declared! And they did. When the male population was off to war, women began to work in industrial plants, the manufacturing factories and small businesses. They worked in mill stations and developed weapons through long strenuous hours. Women had to endure bodily injuries, emotional trauma, and even the risk of death at the work place. Meanwhile, they still had to go home and put food on the table. Working both inside and outside the home is not a 21st century phenomenon; women
have done it for
decades. Unfortunately, when the male population came back, women's jobs were taken away. It was a priority for the male to have a job, to maintain the idea of a male breadwinner. But women enjoyed having that temporary feeling of power and when it was taken away from them, there was conflict. "Dominance of the wife may be assumed to be a deviant patter" (Heer).However, once women experienced that sense of freedom, there was no going back.

They began to take on stereotypical jobs. There has been an established ideology of what jobs are suitable for working mothers and what aren't. Being a secretary of a business is logically suitable. Being a businesswoman, meanwhile, will take too much time away from her family, and thus was not a logical path for a mother. Women should be nurses, and not doctors; they surely could not be on call 24-7. What about her family?

It wouldn't hurt to have the husband support his wife through her struggles to find independence. Even though that might sound ironic, the husband plays a crucial role in helping the wife advance. If the husband is willing to compromise with the duties that are related to the household than the wife has a better chance of become successful. If a husband is hesitant to support the wife, she might not want to follow through with her intuitions. The male population is very important in the success of women. They essentially have to power to help their wives succeed. If a husband and wife are very supportive of each other, able to come up with solutions to their problems, then there shouldn't be a problem of both of them succeeding together. There truly is no need for competition. Both spouses working is beneficial for the entire family.

There are those who like their wives to have a mind of their own. With the help of the husband, women can find freedom and happiness---and a happy woman is a happy wife and mother! With the support of the husband, the wife feels as though she has backup and can venture into new fields. If the husband does not want to help, then she has to worry about who's going to cook, who's going to clean the house, who's going to take care of the children and so forth. An article published in The American Physiological Society, illustrates the amount of commitment it takes between the husband and wife for both their careers to become successful. One male cardiothoracic surgeon described, "the difficulties he had in balancing his work with family, but stated that it was in fact his wife that was always there to take care of family responsibilities" ( should not need permission from their husbands to work, but they surely need their support.

In reality, not all husbands are going to support their wives working. If the husband is not supportive of having the wife in the work field, it does not signify that she should give up. There are husbands who want their wives to only be housewives, to only care about the well being of the family. Most of these men are concerned about how society would view them if they allowed their wives to work. They don't want to give the impression that they need the extra financial help, that they are in such a dire economic state that the wife must forsake her kids to go out and work. While stay-at-home dads are increasing in number, they are still viewed as "deadbeat dads" rather than noble husbands. But society should not criticize those men who choose to stay at home while the wife works. Instead they should be praised more, since a women's job is never ending. All men need to stay at home, jobless, for at least a month to realize just how much work
is put into the household without any form of compensation.

A significant number of women believe that women must stay at home and place the family before themselves. While it is admirable for a woman to choose stay at home, taking for her family, it should not be the norm, it should not be expected of all. If there are women who want to stay home instead of achieving success at the workforce, then it is their choice. But there must be a choice! If there is a choice, then women who choose to not follow that pattern will not be stigmatized as much. They should be allowed to choose whichever lifestyle they want without having to be compared to those who chose the family over the career. For example, society shouldn't say a housewife is more respected than a working woman. They shouldn't say it is more suitable for a mother to be a nurse rather than a doctor. They shouldn't say that men being the breadwinners should be a priority. All should be given the equal opportunity and the equal compensation.

But given equal opportunity does not guarantee equal representation. While technically women can apply for the "male" dominant jobs, it does not guarantee that they will be equally chosen. Some businesses claim they do not discriminate, but statistics prove otherwise. The issue of time commitment and maternity leave play vital roles in hiring woman. The notion that woman might have children, entails that they would need to take time off from work. This ultimately suggests that they will have to be paid for a specific amount of time without any work It is logical that companies wouldn't want to hire women; it is not beneficial economically. So we must ask how we can change this reality. Perhaps tax-breaks should be given to those businesses that hire women significantly more than their rivals. Perhaps governments should provide a majority of the maternity-leave compensation. Perhaps this would level the playing field a bit.

Women with families and their husbands fall under 3 categories: women who work with the support of the husband, women who work with the disapproval of the husband and women who do not work. In a study of the marital disagreements of wives, it was estimated that "the wife with the approving husband group does not perceive conflict more frequently than either of the other two groups in any area, and presents it less frequently in six areas, increases the importance of our findings"(Gianopulos). Thus a support system within the marriage is very essential. Having both the wife and the husband working might not necessarily mean it is easier, but having the support and strong friendship of each other can make a stressful situation of balancing family life and careers a bit less painful.

Simply t
aking a case study, one can see how much the support of each spouse contribute to both marital and familial success. A successful woman by the name of
Christin Carter-Su,is a professor of physiology and a mother of two. She says to become a successful mother/career person, the following needs to be established within a relationship, "choosing a mate carefully, getting lots of outside household help, building a strong support network, forming friendships with other working families, forgetting about domestic perfection and delegating" Each family establishes guidelines for themselves that allows them to juggle work and family.

Other research has also been administered to see if there is a way to have it all for working women. Research done by David, I, Soybel Md. an associate professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School analyzes the percentages of females entering the medical field and not necessarily staying at the level or those who have changed their occupation to registered nursing. He states that about half the entering class in medical school are women. He notes that while it is arduous on the women to find ways to manage both lifestyles, he says men are in the same realm as well. Recently male residents have been "taking paternity leaves, something that was not offered 20 years ago" are changing; the male population is realizing that they need to support their wives, their daughters, their mothers in their pursuits of happiness and independence. Dr. David Soybel says, " You might be able to do it all, but not all at the same time." It is essentially a balance of work and family life. No one said it would be easy, but it is possible.

Through the progression of time, more and more working women will take on higher positions. In 2006, only 10 fortune 500 companies were run by women. Some of these included companies like Avon, Ebay, Sara Lee In 2007,there was at least 10 female-headed companies in the top 50 stakes of the 500 listed; they included Xerox, Ebay and PepsiCo.

There have been many advancements on the issue of working women. However, a little progress made does not imply that progress is achieved. There is a present trend of more and more female college students pursuing doctorates in hopes of higher paying jobs. Society is observing changes. In an article entitled, “Effects of the Employment of Mothers on Parental Power Relations and the Division of Household Tasks, the author writes, “the employment of mothers may be seen as part of a general trend toward a decrease in the differentiation of sex roles (Wladis). Other variables that might be included in this trend are: increased participation of fathers in routine household tasks, a change in power relations from male dominance toward husband-wife equality, and corresponding changes in ideology about sex roles in the family (Wladis).

In reality, the struggle to maintain a happy and balanced career and family life will take many decades for women. We have seen some changes made, but we must still demand to utilize the rights we have so long fought for. Women should not sacrifice a fulfilling career in order to maintain peaceful relations within the home and companies should not favor male workers for economic reasons. Once we have the support of our husbands, fathers and governments, then we will see progress---real progress---made. Then we will have made it.


Duker, Jacob M. Housewife and Working-Wife Families: A Housing Comparison Land Economics, Vol. 46, No. 2. (May, 1970), pp. 138-145.

Gianopulos, Artie and Howard E. Mitchell. Marital Disagreement in Working Wife Marriages as a Function of Husband's Attitude toward Wife's Employment Marriage and Family Living, Vol. 19, No. 4. (Nov., 1957), pp. 373-378.

Heer, David. M. Dominance and the Working Wife Social Forces, Vol. 36, No. 4. (May, 1958), pp. 341-347.

Heer, David. M. Husband and Wife Perceptions of Family Power Structure Marriage and Family Living, Vol. 24, No. 1. (Feb., 1962), pp. 65-67.

Hoffman, Lois Wladis. Effects of the Employment of Mothers on Parental Power Relations and the Division of Household Tasks Marriage and Family Living, Vol. 22, No. 1. (Feb., 1960), pp. 27-35.

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