School Life
Signature Programs

The Blaine Essay

"Everything we do in the history department culminates with the Blaine essay. Students pose challenging questions and complete intensive research in order to establish original and well-supported arguments."
-  History Department Chair Lindsay Peterson
The Blaine essay prize is awarded each year to a graduating senior who offers the best essay concerning an issue of contemporary or historical significance. It is presented in memory of Harrison Tweed Blaine '38, a United States Marine who died during World War II. Established by Mr. Blaine's parents, it was originally awarded through the mid-1960's and was reinstated in 1982.

List of 18 items.

  • An End to Human Smuggling and Trafficking in the US: Recognition and Change - Mikayla Vitiello '23

    Mikayla Vitiello
    Ms. Peterson
    Immigration and Migration
    An End to Human Smuggling and Trafficking in the US: Recognition and Change
    Human trafficking and smuggling are two interconnected issues that have long been prevalent across the world, leading to the exploitation and suffering of millions of people, especially migrants. Human smuggling is a consensual transaction where the transporter and the transportee agree to circumvent immigration control for mutually advantageous reasons; human trafficking, on the other hand, is the transportation, transfer, or harboring of persons by means of threat, force, coercion, or abduction. These issues are particularly relevant to immigrants as many individuals who migrate to other countries are often vulnerable to exploitation by traffickers and smugglers. The United States has implemented various policies and initiatives to combat human smuggling and trafficking, yet these efforts have largely failed to produce significant results. This is due to how layered the issue is, involving transnational criminal networks and the exploitation of vulnerable individuals. The criminal organizations behind human trafficking and smuggling are highly adaptable and continuously evolve their tactics to evade law enforcement measures. The focus on border security and immigration enforcement often neglects the root causes of human trafficking, such as poverty and lack of opportunities in countries of origin. The criminalization of migrants and the use of harsh penalties for smuggling and trafficking-related offenses can further victimize those who are already vulnerable. A more comprehensive and nuanced approach from the U.S. that addresses the root causes of trafficking, strengthens victim protections, and targets the financial and logistical networks of traffickers is necessary to effectively combat this complex issue. In order to resolve this matter, the U.S. must first recognize why their past attempts at stopping the issue have not worked and then take a different approach: foreign aid. 
    Most, if not all, migrants know the danger that they are putting themselves in when being smuggled; however, even if they know the risks, the push factors to leave their home country are so great that they are willing to participate in this activity. It is estimated that around 800,000 people are smuggled across the border each year. Millions of people throughout different countries are forced to leave their homes due to poverty, lack of opportunity, persecution, civil unrest, and ecological degradation in source countries. Based on these push factors, migrants are drawn into countries, such as the US, due to greater perceived economic opportunity, lifestyle, and political stability in their countries of destination. For immigrants, especially those who are less educated and lack necessities like money, the immigration process seems daunting and impossible. Because of this, thousands of immigrants resort to smuggling themselves over the border. Unfortunately, even those who are successfully smuggled often don’t find life to get easier but are instead stuck in cycles of violence, exploitation, and abuse. Coyotes, people who smuggle immigrants across the Mexico–United States border, constantly take advantage of migrants who feel they have no other choice but to involve themselves in smuggling. In some cases, coyotes kidnap, torture, abuse, traffic, rape, murder, and threaten migrants in order to receive more money. Compared to past decades, smuggling has transformed from just freelance coyotes into multi-billion-dollar international businesses controlled by organized crime. In 2022, 53 migrants were found dead in the back of a suffocating tractor-trailer without air conditioning in San Antonio. This is the worst smuggling incident known to date. If push factors are not directly addressed, immigrants will continue to knowingly put themselves in these fatal positions.
    Human trafficking in the U.S. is perpetuated by reliance on human smuggling by immigrants, who believe they have no other option and are willing to do anything to increase their opportunities. While human smuggling may seem like a consensual transaction, many smuggled migrants end up becoming victims of human trafficking due to their vulnerability and lack of protection. The American Civil Liberties Union reported that, “The U.S. Department of State estimates between 14,500 and 17,500 victims are trafficked within the United States each year. An estimated 72% of these victims are immigrants.” The desperation of migrants and the lack of proper border security measures make them easy targets for traffickers who use various tactics to exploit them, including threats, coercion, and physical abuse. According to the Human Trafficking Institute, “7% of forced labor victims citing threats of deportation as a primary form of coercion used to keep them in bondage.” Other tactics include actual force, threats to the safety of family members, isolation, retention of identity documents, withholding drugs to induce withdrawal sickness, or sunk-cost schemes (false promises to pay wages in the future). Unfortunately, there is no way for migrants to know whether smugglers and coyotes have the genuine intention of helping immigrants or are actually traffickers. 
    Human trafficking is also perpetuated by companies within the U.S. who knowingly disregard the trafficking that occurs around them. Trafficking is the second-largest criminal industry, bringing in an estimated $150 billion annually. Traffickers are aware that different organizations throughout the US will not try and stop them, even if the organizations know what is happening. Some companies are not necessarily directly involved in human trafficking but choose to “look the other way” when trafficking takes place around them in order to make money. Just this year, 2023, Meta board members and senior executives “turned a blind eye to sex/human trafficking, child sexual exploitation, and other predatory conduct occurring on Meta's online platforms.” The unwillingness to care about the situation at hand, especially by larger companies, does nothing but perpetuate the crime. Companies may not be directly trafficking, but they are willing to add to the issue as a whole by allowing traffickers to believe what they are doing is ok, therefore contributing to more trafficking. The U.S. must hold companies accountable for their actions and ensure they are not complicit in human trafficking. Companies that knowingly allow trafficking to occur around them must be held responsible and face legal consequences. By doing so, the U.S. can send a clear message that human trafficking will not be tolerated and perpetrators will be brought to justice. It is crucial for the U.S. to address the root causes of these issues by using foreign aid to provide support and assistance to vulnerable populations.
    While the U.S. has tried to combat the issue of smuggling with protocols and increased border security, these attempts have been unsuccessful and, in some cases, have actually worsened the situation. In 2000, the U.S. signed the Palermo Protocol, a UN document that is a “Protocol against the smuggling of migrants by land, sea and air, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime.” In Article 11, paragraph 1 of this protocol, the UN states that “Without prejudice to international commitments in relation to the free movement of people, States Parties shall strengthen, to the extent possible, such border controls as may be necessary to prevent and detect the smuggling of migrants.” This article is unclear as it leaves a lot of room for interpretation by each country. Many countries may automatically assume that increased border security will entirely solve human smuggling and trafficking, leading to a major increase in border patrol and other border security initiatives. However, increased border security can actually be counterproductive to the issue of human smuggling and trafficking. While the intent of border security is to prevent illegal border crossings and associated crimes, it can inadvertently create conditions that facilitate human smuggling and trafficking. Tighter border controls force smugglers and traffickers to take more significant risks and use more extreme methods to evade detection, often placing the individuals they are exploiting in even more dangerous situations. Moreover, increased border security may divert resources away from efforts to address the root causes of human smuggling and trafficking, such as poverty, political instability, and lack of opportunities in countries of origin. Increasing border security may increase border apprehensions but will not stop people from trying to seek refuge and safety in the U.S. The National Action Plan outlines a three-year comprehensive approach to combat human trafficking, including actions to strengthen the prosecution of traffickers, enhance victim protections, and prevent the crime from occurring within our borders and abroad. Just like the Palermo Protocol, the NAP fails to address the root causes of human trafficking, such as poverty, lack of education, and unemployment, instead focusing on the symptoms of the problem. This approach may provide temporary relief, but it does not solve the underlying problem. Without adequate resources, the NAP may remain an aspirational document without any practical impact on the lives of trafficking victims.
    Another way that the US has attempted to attack smuggling and trafficking is by creating the S visa, sometimes called the “Snitch visa; ” while the S visa is a step in the right direction, it alone cannot stop trafficking and smuggling, and other approaches are necessary to effectively combat these criminal activities. The S visa was designed to provide legal protection and encourage individuals who have been victims of trafficking and smuggling to come forward and assist law enforcement in prosecuting their traffickers or smugglers. While the S visa was a well-intentioned policy, it has not been entirely successful in stopping trafficking and smuggling. One of the main reasons for this is that many victims of trafficking and smuggling are hesitant to come forward and testify against their traffickers or smugglers due to fear of retaliation or deportation. For example, over one-third of the women interviewed by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine in 2003 reported that “traffickers threatened to harm family members, and women in this study and others have frequently cited threats against family members among the primary reasons they felt immobilized or trapped in their situation.” Additionally, in a 2015 Trafficking in Persons report, it is stated that “NGOs reported trafficking victims among the migrant populations did not report potential trafficking crimes to the police for fear of arrest and deportation.” Even if victims do come forward and testify, the criminal networks that engage in trafficking and smuggling are often well-organized and well-funded, making them difficult to dismantle through prosecution alone. Additionally, the S visa application process can be lengthy and complex, making it difficult for victims to access this form of legal protection. Overall, the S visa is a good first step in addressing the issue of smuggling and trafficking, but due to victims' fear of violence and deportation, is not able to fully manage this problem.
    The U.S. needs to recognize that past attempts to end smuggling and trafficking have not been successful and begin to transfer to managing foreign aid in order to address push factors, such as poverty and crime. While the U.S. does already issue a considerable amount of money to international financial aid, they fail to allocate money to specific needs within these countries; the U.S. needs to have a plan for where the money they give goes within each country. Currently, the U.S. devotes around 1% (62 billion dollars) of the US federal Budget to foreign aid. While this is a substantial amount of money, in most cases, it tends not to prioritize funding that targets immediate causes of forced migration, choosing to focus on regional security initiatives, governance projects, and devoting resources to counternarcotics plans strengthening the justice sector. However, parents in countries like Honduras, El Salvador, or Guatemala are constantly worried about their children getting raped or killed; families are worried about starvation and survival, not about random projects that do not address the main push factors. According to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection in the 2021 U.S. State Department's Trafficking in Persons Report, the majority of individuals encountered at the U.S.–Mexico border are from Central America, with the highest number coming from Guatemala, followed by Honduras and El Salvador. In the past, programs by the U.S.-funded Central American Regional Security Initiative to reduce violence have successfully lowered crime victimization and increased citizen’s perceived security. Programs like these display that if local violence were decreased, then migration would decrease, and the perceived need to be smuggled would decrease as a result. Other than violence, Northern Triangle countries cannot handle the challenges posed by globalization, climate change, and food insecurity, which are all high and forecasted to increase. In Guatemala, 16 percent of the population faces chronic severe food insecurity, and 22 percent lives with moderate insecurity; in El Salvador and Honduras, 20 percent and 23 percent of the population live with moderate or severe food insecurity. The only way to slow migration is to stop it at the source by addressing safety within these countries. Currently, for every 1 dollar of aid from rich to poor countries, between 7-10 dollars returns to rich countries, ultimately benefiting the US, meaning that the net transfer of wealth is 200 billion dollars per year from poor countries to rich countries. In order to successfully provide financial aid to countries in need, the U.S. needs to send targeted aid that addresses immediate causes of forced immigration and does not exploit countries that are already in need.
    Improving how foreign aid is dealt with by reviewing instances that have worked in the past will and basing future projects on these instances will, in the long term, decrease smuggling and trafficking by decreasing the incentive to be smuggled. Over a third of international migrants in 2022 were forcibly displaced from their homes because of persecution, violence, or natural disasters. Because the US often receives the greatest amount of immigrants at their border, it is likely that many of these displaced people came to the US border. However, according to the US’ strict asylum and visa requirements, many of these displaced people do not qualify for legal entry and are therefore forced to immigrate illegally if they are determined to leave their home countries. This results in a large influx of smuggled immigrants in the US, and the most efficient way to lower this number would be to help fix the issues in countries that are forcing people to leave without a plan to get citizenship. It is clear in examples from the past that when international donors or organizations give targeted aid to certain departments in countries, it can be incredibly beneficial and show tangible results. For example, in 2005, the International Justice Mission sent donations to Guatemala to be used to create special police and prosecution units focused on sexual assault. In the years following this aid, arrests in Guatemala tripled, and convictions doubled. Not only did this aid clearly make Guatemala’s police force stronger, but it also decreased the number of Guatemalan citizens immigrating to the US illegally. In 2005, 22,594 undocumented immigrants from Guatemala were convicted in the US; however, by 2008, this number decreased by around thirty percent to around 16,000 people. Because immigration as a whole decreased from Guatemala during this time period, it can also be assumed that smuggling and trafficking decreased as well because there was less incentive to leave the country and, therefore, less urgency to be smuggled. Although there are very few other examples of foreign aid that were successful in decreasing undocumented immigration, there are also a few other instances of foreign aid that had a strong target of where to send the money. If the US prioritizes sending aid to targets that are the immediate causes of forced migration, they could create great change similar to what Guatemala experienced. This form of decreasing undocumented immigration, if done so correctly, would be extremely beneficial because it would be a more permanent change. This aid could make countries safer for a long period of time, keeping people from immigrating involuntarily also for significant periods of time. Other options for dealing with undocumented immigration, such as strengthening border walls and creating strict policies on visa overstays, do not have the ability to create such permanent change. It is important to recognize that contributing to foreign aid is not an easy or small task. It is a process that takes a large amount of time, effort, and money. However, if the problem of smuggling and undocumented immigration as a whole is to be solved, it is one of the only effective solutions.
    A smaller and more temporary solution would be to begin an informational campaign that dissuades undocumented immigrants by providing facts about the risk of undocumented immigration/smuggling, which, by dissuading undocumented immigration as a whole, would ultimately decrease the willingness to be smuggled. The U.S. advertises itself as a place that, once you reach, offers limitless opportunity and an easy-going life. In reality, a 2016 report by the National Alliance to End Homelessness estimated that approximately 11% of the homeless population in the United States are non-citizens. Another study published in the Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved in 2018 found that approximately 20% of homeless individuals in Los Angeles were undocumented immigrants. The reality is that once undocumented immigrant reaches the U.S., there is no guarantee that they will receive any better of a lifestyle than they once had. There is also always the risk that once they reach the U.S., they will be quickly deported or create roots and then get deported. This campaign could use a variety of mediums to deliver the message, including social media, television and radio public service announcements, flyers, posters, and community events. Featuring real-life stories of individuals who have experienced the challenges and risks associated with undocumented immigration, as well as testimonials from experts in immigration law and policy, would make this all the more effective. The campaign would include the risks and challenges of the journey to the United States, including the dangers of crossing the border illegally and the risks of falling into the hands of human traffickers. The difficulties of living in the United States as an undocumented immigrant, including the challenges of finding work, housing, and healthcare, and the lack of legal protections. The potential consequences of being apprehended and deported, including the impact on families and the challenges of reintegrating into their home countries.
    Ultimately, the only way to decrease smuggling and trafficking would be to improve foreign aid and advertise that adversity does not immediately disappear as soon as you enter the U.S. Past attempts at stopping smuggling and trafficking have been unsuccessful due to immigrants' willingness to place themselves in harm's way, despite knowing the risks, in order to access a perceived better life. Governments, law enforcement agencies, and civil society organizations can work together to address the root causes of smuggling and trafficking, including poverty, inequality, and lack of opportunities. Finally, educating the public about the dangers of these practices and campaigning this idea to immigrants can significantly impact ending smuggling and trafficking and creating a safer, more just world for all. Smuggling and trafficking are a violation of human rights and dignity. By addressing this issue, we can help to protect the most vulnerable members of society and ensure that their rights are respected. Additionally, smuggling and trafficking can have negative impacts on national security, and addressing these issues would create a safer world for those currently living within the U.S. Finally, addressing the issue of smuggling and trafficking is a moral imperative. Everyone has a responsibility to ensure that their societies are safe, just, and equitable. By working together to combat smuggling and trafficking using foreign aid, the U.S. can create a world that is more humane, prosperous, and just for everyone.


    “2021 Trafficking in Persons Report - United States Department of State.” U.S. Department of State. U.S. Department of State, September 14, 2021. 
    AFP. “Red Alert over Malnutrition in Guatemala: Official.” The Tico Times | Costa Rica News | Travel | Real Estate, October 16, 2021.,situation%20of%20moderate%20food%20insecurity. 
    Batalova, Jeanne. “Top Statistics on Global Migration and Migrants.”, September 30, 2022. 
    Bhabha, Jacqueline. “Trafficking, Smuggling, and Human Rights.”, September 21, 2021. 
    Gershel, Brad. “Shining a Light on the ‘S’ Visa: A Long History of Unfulfilled Promises and Bureaucratic Red Tape.” NACDL, 2021. 
    “Green Card for an Informant (s Nonimmigrant).” USCIS, December 14, 2017. 
    Haugen, Gary. “Sending Aid Is Key to Solving the Central American Migrant Crisis.” The Hill. The Hill, November 5, 2018. 
    “Human Trafficking: Modern Enslavement of Immigrant Women in the United States.” American Civil Liberties Union, 2023. 
    “Impact Evaluation of USAID's Crime and Violence Prevention Approach in Central America.” LAPOP. Accessed April 7, 2023. 
    Ingram, George. “What Every American Should Know about Us Foreign Aid.” Brookings. Brookings, March 9, 2022. 
    Jordan, Miriam. “Smuggling Migrants at the Border Now a Billion-Dollar Business.” The New York Times. The New York Times, July 25, 2022. 
    Naranjo, Monica, Rebekah Carey, and Alyssa Grzesiak. “2021 Federal Human Trafficking Report Is Now Available.” Human Trafficking Institute, 2022.,8%25%20were%20for%20forced%20labor. 
    “The National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking - White House.” The White House, 2021. 
    Niethammer, Carmen. “Cracking the $150 Billion Business of Human Trafficking.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, October 12, 2022. 
    Press, Author: Associated. “A Look at the Deadliest Migrant Suffocation Incidents.”, June 28, 2022. 
    Sanford School of Public Policy. “Could Foreign Aid Help Stop Central Americans from Coming to the U.S.?” Sanford School of Public Policy, 2019. 
    Sapp, Lesley. “July 2011 Fact Sheet Patrol: 2005–2010 - DHS,” July 2011. 
    “Topsy-Turvy World: Net Transfer of Resources from Poor to Rich Countries.” UNCTAD, May 11, 2020. 
    Town, Kevin. “Transnational Organized Crime:Let's Put Them out of Business.” Smuggling of migrants: the harsh search for a better life. Accessed April 4, 2023. 
    “Trafficking in Persons Report - United States Department of State.” united states department of state, July 2015. 
    X, Science. “Suit Says Meta Board 'Turned Blind Eye' to Human Trafficking.” Tech Xplore - Technology and Engineering news. Tech Xplore, March 22, 2023. 
    Zimmerman, Cathy, Katherine Yun, Charlotte Watts, and et al. “The Health Risks and Consequences of Trafficking in Women and Adolescents,” 2003. 

  • The Reconsideration of Nuclear Energy: How to Cleanly Meet Increasing Energy Demands - Greg Levin '22

    It is no doubt that the burning of oil, coal, and gas throughout the past 300 years has allowed for possibly the most exponential societal and economic growth in the history of mankind. The world took control of this short window and innovated. We live in a world where you can press some buttons on a smartphone to customize your own Poke bowl which will be made and delivered, all within 30 minutes. Even more impressive, fossil fuels have provided the necessary advancements in science and technology to make themselves obsolete. There is no longer a need for such carbon-intensive energy that serves as the largest contributor to climate change and pollution. The agreed-upon alternatives to carbon energy are solar, wind, and nuclear. These options although, are posed with obstacles that hinder their full adoption. The first two, solar and wind, are challenged by the fact that they can only produce energy intermittently, require battery storage for generated energy, and take up large amounts of space. But nuclear’s limitations don’t derive from intermittent production or demanding special requirements, but simply from anti-nuclear sentiment. Power plants are often looked at through the lens of past catastrophes – most notably Chernobyl and Fukushima. As a result, nuclear’s funding and share of energy production have been declining for the past 20 years. With increasing energy demands and global climate change, a consistently reliable, zero-emission energy source should be the focus. Nuclear energy should be thoroughly reconsidered for its cleanliness, efficiency, and safety.

    Most developed countries in the world have put policies in place to stabilize and ultimately reduce greenhouse gas emissions in an effort to curb global warming. The broad scientific consensus is that our increasing atmosphere temperatures are unsustainable. Increasing energy demand is a major contributor, with fossil fuels currently accounting for nearly one-third of emissions worldwide. In 2019 around 33,500 million metric tons of energy-related carbon dioxide were released into the atmosphere; 5,000 of which came from the United States.1 Considering the energy-intensive nature of our society, this number seems pretty fitting. A shift to alternative energy sources is needed to help preserve our planet and its inhabitants.
    In 2017 there was an estimated 3.83 million deaths attributed to air pollutants worldwide.2 According to the United States Geological Survey, nearly 1.05 million or 27.3% of related deaths could be avoided by eliminating emissions from fossil-fuel combustion.3 With over a million people a year dying from fossil-fuel-related combustion, it is arguably a more pressing issue yet less discussed than climate change. The world would be exponentially better if one million people a year were alive - not just economically.

    Nuclear energy is a zero-emission energy source. Power plants generate energy through the fission, or splitting, of Uranium atoms. During fission, a Uranium atom is bombarded with a neutron causing the atom to split and release heat. The Uranium atom splits into two smaller atoms: barium and krypton, while also releasing more neutrons that cycle back to react with untouched uranium. This process is called a nuclear chain reaction. 

    1“How Much Carbon Dioxide Does the United States and the World Emit Each Year from Energy Sources?,” How much carbon dioxide does the United States and the World emit each year from energy sources? | U.S. Geological Survey, accessed April 21, 2022, faq.
    2 Erin E. McDuffie et al., “Source Sector and Fuel Contributions to Ambient PM2.5 and Attributable Mortality across Multiple Spatial Scales,” Nature News (Nature Publishing Group, June 14, 2021),
    3 Ibid.

    This reaction uses heat to make steam, which spins a turbine and can finally be converted into usable electricity. The key point is that the reaction does not release any carbon dioxide, a harmful byproduct of fossil fuel combustion.

    These facts, although, are not all that clear to many. A survey in a study by MIT discovered that “In the United States, people do not connect concern about global warming with carbon-free nuclear power...” They conclude: “Public education may help improve understanding of the link between global warming, fossil fuel usage, and the need for low-carbon energy sources.”4 The white clouds pictured flowing from the top nuclear reactors are no more than steam.

    Public opinion surrounding nuclear power has had a rough track record throughout history. It is often looked at through the lens of the Chernobyl and Fukushima disasters. The weight of these two specific instances on the public’s outlook on nuclear energy is much greater than it should be. The explosion of the Chernobyl plant, for example, happened as a result of a faulty reactor design and poorly trained operators under the Soviet Union. None of the standing reactors today would be faulty in the same way or have such poor operation, yet the fears still linger. Public adoption serves as the primary hindrance of nuclear power playing a role in the shift to a zero-emission grid, not any fundamental issues. A study by MIT found that “Discrimination against nuclear as a low-carbon energy source is not rooted in technical issues of electricity market design. Rather, it is primarily rooted in public attitudes toward nuclear. These public attitudes translate into discriminatory public policies outside of wholesale market rules, which in turn shape profitability.”5 

    4 “The Future of Nuclear Power - MIT Energy Initiative,” accessed April 22, 2022,
    5“The Future of Nuclear Energy in a Carbon-Constrained World,” accessed April 22, 2022, Executive-Summary.pdf.

    In many cases, politicians today must adhere to public opinion. In fact, they have a major incentive - their job is on the line. It is a shame that such an obstacle hinders the shift to a cleaner and safer future in energy. It is expected that In most developed countries, most notably the United States, the use of nuclear power will not expand. Nuclear power has been excluded from renewable, zero-emission energy policies that give subsidies and tax breaks for all other types of sustainable energy. Without competitive pricing, nuclear will never be able to compete as a viable energy source. Quite recently in the UK, nuclear was even subject to a “carbon tax” despite the fact that powerplants emit virtually no CO2.6 The policy has since changed, although it serves as a primary example of how nuclear has been deeply misunderstood, even by the world's leading politicians. A more objective approach will better help the world tackle the climate change problem at hand.

    In 2020, about 470 million metric tons of Carbon Dioxide were avoided by the use of nuclear power in the US.7 The only CO2 released as a result of nuclear power comes indirectly from the construction of the plant, primarily from cement and steel production. Coal plants emit about 820g of C02 per kilowatt-hour and natural gas about 490g of C02/kWh, while nuclear emits a mere 12g CO2/kWh8. Of all baseload energy sources, nuclear produces by far the lowest CO2 emissions over its total life-cycle. The phasing out of nuclear production worldwide is a mistake. Some might argue renewables take the place of closed power plants yet this isn’t the case and is likely not feasible. 

    6“The Future of Nuclear Power - MIT Energy Initiative,” accessed April 22, 2022,
    7 “Annual Emissions Avoided by U.S. Nuclear Industry,” Nuclear Energy Institute, accessed April 21, 2022,
    8“Carbon Dioxide Emissions From Electricity,” Carbon Dioxide Emissions From Electricity - World Nuclear Association, accessed April 21, 2022, tricity.aspx.

    MIT professor, Jacob Buongiorno, stated in an interview with National Geographic that “Taking out nuclear power plants completely destroys gains with renewables.”9 After the San Onofre nuclear power plant closed, which produced nearly 8 percent of California’s power, electricity prices significantly increased and carbon dioxide emissions rose by 9.2 million tons. It remains evident that there is no replacement for nuclear energy as a baseload zero-emission energy source.

    Renewables like wind and solar seem to be the clear leaders in clean energy to many. After all, they don’t produce any byproducts from energy generation. These industries are not clean as many think. Wind turbines illegally kill hundreds of thousands of birds each year from energy generation. The tiny dent these wind turbines put in carbon emissions comes at the cost of many endangered species. Additionally, the materials needed to construct these turbines pose another environmental trade-off. The steel, iron, and concrete production needed for turbines are not at all clean. This although is a minor problem compared to other components used to manufacture turbines. Magnets inside turbines require large amounts of rare earth metals such as neodymium and dysprosium. China almost exclusively mines these metals, controlling 90% of the world’s supply.10 A two megawatt wind turbine uses about 800 pounds of neodymium and 130 pounds of dysprosium.11 The mining of these elements produces toxic waste. 13kg of dust, 9,600-12,000 cubic meters of waste gas, 75 cubic meters of wastewater, and one ton of radioactive residue are released for every ton of rare earth elements produced.12 In 2012, it was estimated that 4.9 million pounds of rare earth elements were used in wind turbines.13

    9Lois Parshley, “The Controversial Future of Nuclear Power in the U.S.,” Environment (National Geographic, May 5, 2021), .
    10“Does China Pose a Threat to Global Rare Earth Supply Chains?,” ChinaPower Project, May 12, 2021,,%2C%20alloys%2 C%20and%20permanent%20magnets.
    11“The Myth of Renewable Energy,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, July 10, 2018,
    12“Internal Guidance Report - Eurare Project ,” accessed April 22, 2022,
    13“Big Wind's Dirty Little Secret: Toxic Lakes and Radioactive Waste,” IER, April 3, 2019,

    This means the radioactive waste produced is also 4.9 million pounds. Comparing this to nuclear’s 4.4 - 5 million pounds of radioactive waste, wind doesn’t look significantly cleaner. Similarly, Solar is not as clean as it seems either. Although the sun is renewable, the photovoltaic panels are not. With a functional lifespan of 25 years, disposed of panels contain many toxic metals that often leak into water supplies.14 Nuclear energy seems to rival if not outperform all other energy types when it comes to cleanliness. A shift to a greener plant only comes with a shift to nuclear energy.
    With the world’s increasing energy needs nuclear serves as the most efficient energy source. Despite this, Solar and wind are alluring to many as the easy, clean answer to the problem. As a result, money has poured into the “renewables'' sector over the past 20 years. In many cases, Governments are offering large subsidies to influence the shift. Who wouldn’t want to power the world with solar and wind? Although, the shift to run our power grid on renewables is faced with many major challenges. The sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow all the time – these energy sources are variable. Take a place like Bogotá, Colombia that only gets around 1,300 hours of sunshine a year.15 Solar simply isn’t viable in certain climates. Yes, this is a specific scenario but it stresses the importance of a baseload power supply. A consistently reliable, zero-emission energy source should be the focus.

    With the world's increasing power needs energy efficiency has become a top priority. Nuclear energy wins this battle by a landslide. The capacity factor or time spent outputting maximum power, of a nuclear power plant sits at around 93%.16 

    14Posted by James Taylor | On 29 June and Name *, “Study: Solar Power 300 Times More Toxic than Nuclear,” Spark Of Freedom Foundation, June 29, 2017,
    15 Ashley Viens, “World Cities Ranked by Average Annual Sunshine Hours,” Visual Capitalist, October 26, 2019,
    16“Nuclear Power Is the Most Reliable Energy Source and It's Not Even Close,”, accessed April 21, 2022, ear%20Has%20The%20Highest%20Capacity%20Factor&text=That's%20about%201.5%20to%202,than%20wind% 20and%20solar%20plants.

    Nuclear power plants can run at such high efficiency because they require less overall maintenance and are designed to run for longer stretches without refueling. Most power plants have a fuel cycle of 1.5 to 2 years allowing for greater efficiency. The closest competition comes from geothermal at a 74% capacity factor followed by Natural gas at 57%.17 As explained earlier, one can see where wind and solar fall short in inefficiency. The wind doesn’t blow 24/7 and as a result a turbine only operates at max power 35% of the time.18 Not surprisingly, solar lacks even further behind, only producing at a capacity factor of 25%.19 Nuclear runs at a capacity factor of 2.5 to 3.5 times its other zero-emission counterparts. Not only are the power plants efficient but so is the fuel itself. One uranium pellet, about the size of a blueberry, can create as much power as 2000lbs of coal or 149 gallons of oil.20 Although uranium is naturally occurring it is so powerful that supply doesn’t pose a huge issue. The harnessing of nuclear elements to power our cities is one of the most extraordinary discoveries in recent history. It should be concerning although, that after a hundred years of strong growth nuclear energy has declined to a meager 5% of global primary energy production.21 A 2018 study by MIT best describes the problem at hand “In the 21st century the world faces the new challenge of drastically reducing emissions of greenhouse gases while simultaneously expanding energy access and economic opportunity to billions of people.”22 Nuclear serves as the most efficient way to achieve this goal.

    17 Ibid.
    18 Ibid.
    19 Ibid.
    20“Nuclear Provides Carbon-Free Energy 24/7,” Nuclear Energy Institute, November 6, 2019, 20most,that%20it%20could%20potentially%20generate.).
    21“The Future of Nuclear Energy in a Carbon-Constrained World,” accessed April 22, 2022, Executive-Summary.pdf.
    22 Ibid.

    Some might infer that since nuclear is so energy efficient, over the long term it will be more profitable compared to competitors. Unfortunately, this is not the case as subsidies for other energy sources trump those of nuclear energy. Throughout the early 2000’s nuclear power plants were highly sucessful: their capital cost had been largely paid off over the past decade and the price of fuel was relatively cheap compared to fossil fuels and renewable energy. Around 2007, the energy industry quickly took a turn for the worse as electricity demand decreased as a result of the recession and large quantities of cheap natural gas became available. As a result, the United States has witnessed a series of plant closures due to the steady decline in profitability. The same holds true for Western Europe. Today, the cost to build a nuclear power plant is so high it significantly constrains the growth of nuclear power. In the many parts of the world where carbon constraint is not a pressing issue, fossil fuels are generally a lower-cost alternative. Even in more carbon-conscious environments, renewables like solar and wind are heavily subsidized and offered at lower costs than nuclear. The previously mentioned MIT study finds that “A major source of revenue deficiency for nuclear generators today is the fact that they are not fully compensated for their low-carbon attributes. Ameliorating this deficiency would change nuclear energy’s market position and conserve much existing nuclear capacity.”23 Public policy to reduce carbon emissions should treat all technologies equally and should not discriminate against nuclear energy.

    Nuclear energy should be heavily reconsidered as it is one of the safest energy sources available. It is quite evident how damaging fuels are not just to the environment but to the public as well. Coal for example is by far the most unsafe energy source and kills about 30 people per terawatt-hour.24 These deaths come from either mining accidents or are pollution-related. 

    23 Ibid.
    24Hannah Ritchie, “What Are the Safest and Cleanest Sources of Energy?,” Our World in Data, February 10, 2020,

    One terawatt-hour is about the same as the annual electricity consumption of 187,000 people in Europe.25  Surprisingly, these numbers don’t even seem that bad when looking at other countries like China, where mining accidents killed more than 6,000 people in 2012 alone.26 Compared to nuclear, coal kills five times as many workers from accidents, 470 times as many people from air pollution, and leaves 1,000 times the amount of people with serious illnesses.27 The only threat to safety nuclear poses is from radiation. Generally, these hazards are less than most people are led to believe. In the first four months following the Chernobyl accident, only 28 people died of radiation-related illness. To this day, around 4,000 to 33,000 premature deaths were caused by the accident. These death tolls are dwarfed by the annual 1.05 million fossil fuel attributed deaths from pollution alone.28 Replacing fossil fuel pollution with nuclear energy should be a top priority of governments worldwide. A study by NASA in 2013 estimated that between 1971 and 2009, nuclear energy saved about 1.84 million lives by displacing fossil fuels from entering the global energy mix.29 Nuclear is not just safe, it saves lives. Of all the baseload energy sources nuclear remains by far the least harmful to human life.

    Seemingly the only drawback to nuclear energy is the disposal of spent fuel. The largest misconception surrounding nuclear power is the concept of waste. Many think we are putting off an indefinite problem for someone else to deal with in the future. This is a valid concern, although the issue is not quite as large as people believe it to be. About 97% of spent fuel is considered low or intermediate-level waste.30 

    25 Ibid.
    26David Brown, “Nuclear Power Is Safest Way to Make Electricity, According to Study,” The Washington Post (WP Company, April 2, 2011), /2011/03/22/AFQUbyQC_story.html.
    27 Ibid.
    28 Erin E. McDuffie et al., “Source Sector and Fuel Contributions to Ambient PM2.5 and Attributable Mortality across Multiple Spatial Scales,” Nature News (Nature Publishing Group, June 14, 2021),
    29 “Pubs.GISS: NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies ...,” accessed April 22, 2022,
    30“24 Nuclear?,” Ch 24 Page 161: Sustainable Energy - without the hot air | David MacKay, accessed April 21, 2022,

    According to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, low-level waste consists of items like “protective shoe covers and clothing, wiping rags, mops, filters, reactor water treatment residues, equipment and tools, luminous dials, medical tubes, swabs, injection needles, syringes, and laboratory animal carcasses and tissues”.31 This 90% of “nuclear waste” comes from contaminated equipment that poses no real long-term harm to inhabitants. Low-level waste is stored on-site and gives off little radiation. The high-level waste from spent fuel is the main issue at hand. This problem although is relatively small. Since 1950 the U.S. has only produced 83,000 metric tons of waste.32 The total spent fuel is small enough to fit on a football field with a depth of 10 yards.33 Long-term storage is still an issue although. The task at hand: find a location where spent fuel can sit for 1,000 years (the time it takes to revert to the radioactivity of uranium ore). With the Yucca mountain depository shut down despite complying with all regulatory standards, scattered interim storage is needed. These facilities consist of air-tight dry casks made of steel which then become encased in concrete. A radiation detector monitoring the San Onofre independent spent fuel storage installation (ISFSI), reads just 13 microems per hour.34 For context, when flying cross-country, passengers are exposed to about 3,500 microrems from being closer to the sun.35 Although, the radiation from flying doesn’t concern many. The disposal of spent nuclear fuel poses no immediate health risks. The key point is, that nuclear waste doesn’t end the annual one million lives that fossil fuels do. 

    31 “Low-Level Waste |,” accessed April 22, 2022,
    32“5 Fast Facts about Spent Nuclear Fuel,”, accessed April 21, 2022, ut%202%2C000%20metric%20tons%20of%20used%20fuel%20each%20year.
    33 ibid
    34 Rebecca Tuhus-Dubrow, “What Should America Do with Its Nuclear Waste?,” The Washington Post (WP Company, April 15, 2022),
    35 ibid.

    James Lovelock, a renowned British environmental scientist wrote: “The nuclear waste is a minor burial problem, but the carbon dioxide waste will kill us all if we go on emitting it”.36 The choice is a matter of human life and it is deeply saddening that bias consumes many. Although there is yet to be a long-term solution for spent nuclear fuel, the rewards of its energy production greatly outweigh the risk posed by its waste.

    It should be made clear that the nuclear reactors being built and operated today are safe. These plants are not “nuclear bombs” waiting to explode. In fact, the fuel is not enriched past 5% while much more enrichment is needed for explosives.37 Nuclear power plants worldwide keep safety as the top priority. “Defense in depth” is a term used to describe the diverse approach to safety used by power plants. Multiple overlapping safety measures are taken to prevent any accidents on site. Reactors are made from thick, reinforced concrete. Inside, the fuel is encased in steel rods which are surrounded by a robust cooling system. Unlike disasters of the past, nuclear power plants have backup plans for backup plans and are run with the greatest integrity. In the United States the Nuclear Regulatory Committee, an independent federal agency, evaluates reactors on safety, radiation, and security. Each year about 2,000 hours of baseline inspections are conducted at every nuclear power plant in the country.38 The resident inspectors live nearby and are granted 24/7 access to the plant.39 Nuclear power plants have undoubtedly the most regulation in the entire energy industry. This is for good reason and it upholds the high safety standards of the industry. Bill Gates claims that “Nuclear energy, in terms of an overall safety record, is better than other energy.”40 

    36 J. E. Lovelock and Simon Vance, The Vanishing Face of Gaia a Final Warning (New Westminster, B.C.: Post Hypnotic Press, 2011).
    37Safety of Nuclear Reactors - World Nuclear Association, accessed April 21, 2022, spx#:~:text=The%20safety%20of%20operating%20staff,areas%20with%20significant%20radiation%20levels.
    38 Kelly McPharlin, “Is Nuclear Energy Safe?,” Nuclear Energy Institute, November 22, 2019,
    39 IBID
    40“Safety,” Nuclear Energy Institute, accessed April 21, 2022,

    People are starting to wake up to the positive reality of nuclear. The disasters of the past don’t define our future. We continue to phase out nuclear energy like we do fossil fuels as if they pose similar risks. This is a grave mistake. Nuclear energy should be deeply reconsidered as one of the safest energy sources.

    With increasing energy demands and global climate change, a consistently reliable, zero-emission energy source should be the focus. Nuclear energy should be thoroughly reconsidered for its cleanliness, efficiency, and safety. The splitting of the atom remains one of the most pivotal discoveries of the 20th century. Fossil fuels paved the way for this discovery, manufacturing equipment, building labs, and keeping the lights on. Now, atomic energy has the potential to propel our society to further heights while saving the world we live in and its inhabitants. There is no doubt that the true adoption of nuclear energy will increase the standard of living for all people. Fossil fuels are ready to be phased out and we must not let the past faults of nuclear influence the bright future ahead.

    “24 Nuclear?” Ch 24 Page 161: Sustainable Energy - without the hot air | David MacKay. Accessed April 21, 2022.

    “5 Fast Facts about Spent Nuclear Fuel.” Accessed April 21, 2022. .S.%20generates%20about%202%2C000%20metric%20tons%20of%20used%20fuel%20e ach%20year.

    “Annual Emissions Avoided by U.S. Nuclear Industry.” Nuclear Energy Institute. Accessed April 21, 2022.

    “Big Wind's Dirty Little Secret: Toxic Lakes and Radioactive Waste.” IER, April 3, 2019. e-earth-minerals/.

    Brown, David. “Nuclear Power Is Safest Way to Make Electricity, According to Study.” The Washington Post. WP Company, April 2, 2011. -according-to-2007-study/2011/03/22/AFQUbyQC_story.html.

    “Carbon Dioxide Emissions From Electricity.” Carbon Dioxide Emissions From Electricity - World Nuclear Association. Accessed April 21, 2022. xide-emissions-from-electricity.aspx.

    “Does China Pose a Threat to Global Rare Earth Supply Chains?” ChinaPower Project, May 12, 2021. 20still,%2C%20alloys%2C%20and%20permanent%20magnets.

    “The Future of Nuclear Energy in a Carbon-Constrained World.” Accessed April 22, 2022. rbon-Constrained-World-Executive-Summary.pdf.

    “The Future of Nuclear Power - MIT Energy Initiative.” Accessed April 22, 2022. Executive-Summary.pdf.

    “How Much Carbon Dioxide Does the United States and the World Emit Each Year from Energy Sources?” How much carbon dioxide does the United States and the World emit each year from energy sources? | U.S. Geological Survey. Accessed April 21, 2022.

    “Internal Guidance Report - Eurare Project .” Accessed April 22, 2022.
    Lovelock, J. E., and Simon Vance. The Vanishing Face of Gaia a Final Warning. New Westminster, B.C.: Post Hypnotic Press, 2011.

    “Low-Level Waste |” Accessed April 22, 2022.

    McDuffie, Erin E., Randall V. Martin, Joseph V. Spadaro, Richard Burnett, Steven J. Smith, Patrick O’Rourke, Melanie S. Hammer, et al.
    “Source Sector and Fuel Contributions to Ambient PM2.5 and Attributable Mortality across Multiple Spatial Scales.” Nature News. Nature Publishing Group, June 14, 2021.

    McDuffie, Erin E., Randall V. Martin, Joseph V. Spadaro, Richard Burnett, Steven J. Smith, Patrick O’Rourke, Melanie S. Hammer, et al. “Source Sector and Fuel Contributions to Ambient PM2.5 and Attributable Mortality across Multiple Spatial Scales.” Nature News. Nature Publishing Group, June 14, 2021.

    McPharlin, Kelly. “Is Nuclear Energy Safe?” Nuclear Energy Institute, November 22, 2019.

    “The Myth of Renewable Energy.” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, July 10, 2018.

    “Nuclear Power Is the Most Reliable Energy Source and It's Not Even Close.” Accessed April 21, 2022. even-close#:~:text=Nuclear%20Has%20The%20Highest%20Capacity%20Factor&text=Th at's%20about%201.5%20to%202,than%20wind%20and%20solar%20plants.

    “Nuclear Provides Carbon-Free Energy 24/7.” Nuclear Energy Institute, November 6, 2019. 20plants%20are%20the%20most,that%20it%20could%20potentially%20generate.).

    Parshley, Lois. “The Controversial Future of Nuclear Power in the U.S.” Environment. National Geographic, May 5, 2021.

    Posted by James Taylor | On 29 June, and Name *. “Study: Solar Power 300 Times More Toxic than Nuclear.” Spark Of Freedom Foundation, June 29, 2017. ar/.

    “Pubs.GISS: NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies ...” Accessed April 22, 2022.

    Ritchie, Hannah. “What Are the Safest and Cleanest Sources of Energy?” Our World in Data, February 10, 2020.

    Safety of Nuclear Reactors - World Nuclear Association. Accessed April 21, 2022. nuclear-power-reactors.aspx#:~:text=The%20safety%20of%20operating%20staff,areas%2 0with%20significant%20radiation%20levels.

    “Safety.” Nuclear Energy Institute. Accessed April 21, 2022.

    Tuhus-Dubrow, Rebecca. “What Should America Do with Its Nuclear Waste?” The Washington Post. WP Company, April 15, 2022. .

    Viens, Ashley. “World Cities Ranked by Average Annual Sunshine Hours.” Visual Capitalist, October 26, 2019.
  • Not Only Constitutional; DACA is Beneficial - Charlie Weisberg '21

    The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 and the history of previous Presidential administrations implementing their own immigration policies without the approval of Congress clearly gives the executive branch constitutional authority to pass DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). Congress has given the executive branch the authority to establish immigration policies for reasons they see fit, and the executive branch has the power to implement deferred action, which is the basis of DACA. Not only does the executive branch have the power to pass DACA, it is a beneficial act that helps American citizens and immigrants alike through tax revenue, higher educational opportunities, and an increase in the labor force. However, DACA is a very controversial program because it is seen to many as an overreach in power by the executive branch. Many people believe that President Obama did not have the power to let undocumented immigrants become legal and be provided with federal benefits. They argue that only Congress has the power for such programs, because of the powers outlined in Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution. While Congress does have this power outlined in the U.S constitution, DACA is still constitutional because of the powers given to the executive branch in the INA of 1952, the precedent of Congress allowing deferred action, and the fact that DACA is reviewable on a case by case basis.
    President Obama enacted the DACA memorandum because of his frustrations with Congress for their inability to pass any legislation that provided a pathway to citizenship for
    undocumented immigrants that arrived as a minor and were contributing members to society. The DREAM (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) Act was first proposed in 2001 by Congress, and despite support from both political parties and both sections of Congress, the DREAM Act has never been passed. The Act has gone through many different proposals, but in general it has aimed to “allow undocumented immigrant students who met certain criteria protection from deportation and then allow them to apply for and receive lawful permanent residency.”1 Obama became increasingly frustrated with Congress, and decided to move forward with his own solution to the immigration crisis by creating DACA.
    Obama stated “In the absence of any immigration action from Congress to fix our broken immigration system, what we’ve tried to do is focus our immigration enforcement resources in the right places. This is not a path to citizenship. It's not a permanent fix. This is a temporary stopgap measure that lets us focus our resources wisely while giving a degree of relief and hope to talented, driven, patriotic young people.”2 Obama had no plans to enact an immigration policy himself, but was hoping Congress could get legislation passed to provide temporary relief for undocumented young immigrants in an effort to prioritize and allocate enforcement resources effectively. Congress’s inability to pass legislation forced Obama to pass DACA, as the immigration system was broken. Illegal immigration was increasing before and during Obama’s tenure as President, and Obama along with many other people thought it was very important to prioritize different groups of people for immigration enforcement. The Obama administration prioritized deportation efforts for criminals and recent arrivals, and part of prioritizing deportation efforts for criminals and recent arrivals is also deferring deportation efforts for young
    1 Leah Cabrera-Marquez, “The DREAM Act and DACA ,” Khan Academy, accessed April 24, 2021, ivics/x231f0f4241b58f49:what-is-the-difference-between-citizens-and-non-citizens/a/the-dream-act-and-d aca.
    2 ibid
    immigrants who are helping the U.S. This is extremely important because in order to focus efforts on solving the immigration crisis, there has to be clear goals and things within the immigration crisis that specifically should be solved. If the Obama administration tried to solve the whole immigration crisis at once, it would solve nothing. This is why Obama knew it was vital to pass DACA, because removing enforcement efforts with young immigrants who did not pose a threat to the U.S and that were actually contributing would allow for more enforcement efforts for immigrants who did actually pose a threat, like immigrants with a criminal history.
    The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 clearly outlines the authority given to the executive branch to implement immigration policies and to decide which groups of people are going to be exempt or prioritized less for immigration enforcement. The INA expressly acknowledges the existence of deferred action by admitting there are groups of people that have
    members of certain United States citizens shall be eligible for deferred action.
    children that were brought to the U.S illegally under the age of 16 and that have no criminal
    certain exemptions to laws in immigration policies.
    states that petitioners under the Violence Against Women Act (a law passed by President Clinton in 1994), “are eligible for deferred action and work authorization” and “certain immediate family
    history to escape deportation on a two year renewable basis.
    exempt categories of individuals from federal enforcement, which Congress has routinely acknowledged is permissible in the INA and in subject to the INA, Congress has assigned the Secretary of Homeland Security “responsibility for establishing national immigration
    A later Amendment to the INA in 1994
    The purpose of DACA is solely to
    DACA permits
    3 “8 U.S. Code § 1181 - Admission of Immigrants into the United States.” Legal Information Institute. Accessed April 10, 2021.
    4 “8 U.S. Code § 1227 - Deportable Aliens.” Legal Information Institute. Accessed April 10, 2021.
    5 “Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA),” USCIS, February 4, 2021,
    enforcement policies and priorities.”6 The Supreme Court has also recognized in Arizona v. United States in 2012 that “[a] principal feature of the removal system is the broad discretion exercised by immigration officials . . . . Federal officials, as an initial matter, must decide whether it makes sense to pursue [someone’s] removal at all.”7 The Supreme Court ruled that federal immigration officials have discretion on deciding which groups they will prioritize in enforcing immigration laws to, and which groups they will not. DACA is simply a discretion to not enforce immigration laws for a specific group of minors, which the Supreme Court outlines they have the power to do here.
    Congress has routinely allowed deferred action in previous administrations dating all the
    way back to 1956, which shows that Congress approves of a program like DACA, giving
    precedent to its constitutionality. President Eisenhower, after the Soviet Union destroyed the
    Hungarian Revolution, “paroled” 38,000 Hungarians that would otherwise be illegal immigrants
    into the U.S under the parole statute of the 1952 INA, and received no official contention from
    Congress and was not reviewed by the Supreme Court. This is inherently similar to DACA, and
    even more of a reach of power by President Eisenhower as he is not letting functioning members of American society continue their stay in the U.S, he is actively bringing in people from another country that are not legally allowed to be in the U.S. If President Eisenhower can implement that, and it is reviewed as legal by Congress, then DACA, which is less of a reach of power than Eisenhower’s program, should therefore be legal as well. Also, President Eisenhower, Kennedy,
    6 6 U.S.C. § 202(5).
    7 Michael Tan, “DACA Is and Will Always Be Constitutional,” American Civil Liberties Union, August 15, 2017,
    8 "Department of Homeland Security v. Regents of the University of California," Oyez, June 28, 2020,
    9 Anita Casavantes Bradford, "“With the Utmost Practical Speed”: Eisenhower, Hungarian Parolees, and the “Hidden Hand” Behind US Immigration and Refugee Policy, 1956–1957," Journal of American Ethnic History 39, no. 2 (2020): 5.
    Johnson, and Nixon paroled more than 600,000 immigrants into the United States through many
    administrations was the Family Fairness Program which was enacted by President Reagan in 1987. The program “provided eligibility for extended voluntary departure to spouses and children of individuals in the process of legalizing their immigration status under the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, even though the Act itself did not cover spouses and children.”11 President H.W Bush expanded this program in 1990, and ended up providing relief for an estimated 1.5 million people, which was around 40% of the undocumented population at the time of the program. These instances of previous administrations implementing deferred action into their immigration policies shows the legality of DACA because if Congress has allowed these administrations to implement these programs, it can be assumed that they view deferred action as a legal process. Administrations have set the precedent for these types of immigration policy, as well as Congress by not contesting previous administration’s policies. Some people also try to distinguish the Family Fairness Act from DACA by arguing that “there was an arguable statutory basis for extended voluntary departure in the INA.”12 However, there is also an arguable statutory basis for DACA, as seen in 8 U.S.C. § 1103(a)(3)). This U.S Code states that the Secretary of Homeland Security has the power to “issue such instructions; and perform such other acts as he deems necessary for carrying out his authority under the provisions of this chapter.”13 The Secretary of Homeland Security in this U.S code is given the power to
    Perhaps the most similar parallel to DACA that was carried out in previous
    10 American Immigration Council, Executive Grants of Temporary Immigration Relief, 1956-Present October 2014, mmigration_relief_1956-present_final_0.pdf.
    11 "Department of Homeland Security v. Regents of the University of California," 12 ibid
    13 8 U.S.C. § 1103(a)(3))
    perform acts “as he deems necessary” to uphold U.S law as he best sees fit, and enacting DACA is within the power of Homeland Security because of the powers given to the secretary here.
    Deferred action is constitutional and a necessary part of immigration law, as it is statistically impossible to deport or enforce immigration law on every undocumented immigrant in the United States. The United States has over 11 million undocumented immigrants, a number
    that is only going to grow.
    No administration has deported more than a fraction of them because
    of the large quantity of undocumented immigrants, so it is vital to prioritize who out of 11
    million immigrants will be deported. This is no different than other laws that apply to a large
    group of people. Federal laws that ban drug use are not enforced to every person that illegally
    uses drugs, even though there are places where it is well-known that drug use is prevalent, such
    as college campuses. It would not be plausible to enforce every single illegal use of drugs, so it is
    necessary to decide which cases of illegal drug use provide a greater threat to people, and those
    are enforced. It is the same logic applied with deferred action, as DACA recipients did not travel
    to America on their own merits and all do not have a criminal background. They do not pose an
    active threat to American people, which is why they are not prioritized for immigration
    enforcement. The USCIS came out with a report on DACA recipients that states, “2,130 DACA
    recipients from fiscal year 2013 through 2017 had their eligibility terminated due to criminal or
    gang activity, with nearly all of those terminations — 2,030 — due to criminal arrests or
    convictions not related to gang activity. Through fiscal 2017, there were a total of 798,980
    DACA application approvals.”15 This report shows that less than 0.5 percent of DACA recipients
    have been arrested for criminal activity, and less than 0.00001 percent being arrested for gang
    14 Ilya Somin, “Yes, Obama's Executive Action Deferring Deportation for Millions of Immigrants Is Constitutional,” Reason, April 19, 2016,
    15 Lori Robertson, “The Data on DACA and Crime,”, November 13, 2019,
    activity. DACA recipients do not pose an active threat to the safety of the American people, as well as recreational marijuana users, and that is why both groups of people are not prioritized in enforcement.
    DACA is also legal because federal immigration officials have the ability to review each
    DACA recipient on a case by case basis, a direct exercise of prosecutorial discretion which the
    executive branch has power to do. Many critics argue that DACA is unconstitutional because it
    provides legal residency to a broad category of undocumented immigrants. This means that
    critics believe that DACA is too broad of a policy, and allows too many undocumented
    immigrants to obtain legal status without proper review of who is obtaining the legal status.
    However, The Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) advised the Obama Administration before DACA
    was announced that “such a program would be permissible, provided that immigration officials
    retained discretion to evaluate each application on an individualized basis.”16 The DACA
    memorandum incorporates this advice by stating that “requests for relief pursuant to this
    memorandum are to be decided on a case by case basis as part of the exercise of prosecutorial
    will be granted in all cases.”18 DACA would be considered unlawful if it was not reviewable on an individualized basis, and immediately granted a large group of undocumented immigrants admittance into the U.S or exemption from deportation out of the U.S without any exceptions. This means that if DACA immediately gave legal residency to any person who had immigrated to the United States when they were under the age of 16 and had stayed in the U.S for at least 5 or so years, it would be unlawful. However, DACA is reviewed on a case by case basis and relief is not guaranteed to every person in every case. Recipients can be removed or non-renewed after
    The memorandum further states that “DHS cannot provide any assurance that relief
    16 "Department of Homeland Security v. Regents of the University of California," 17 ibid
    18 ibid
    a 2 year cycle if circumstances cause the need for removal. This means that immigrating to the U.S under the age of 16 and staying in the U.S does not automatically give you legal residency, as each individual case has to be reviewed with DHS in order to obtain legal status. DACA is not a generalized law that grants legal status to anyone who wants it, it thoroughly reviews each individual case in order to uphold the safety of the United States.
    Even if DACA was a “categorical” policy, (which means it provides legal status to a broad category of people), which it is not, the U.S has passed numerous categorial policies before which do not differ greatly from DACA. Many people try to distinguish these categorical policies as “interstitial” or “country-specific”. For one, there is no explanation as to why deferred action for a specific country is more lawful than other categorical policies, as they are just another group of people seeking illegal entry into the U.S. Also, distinguishing other policies as “interstitial” does not make DACA any less lawful. In a memorandum called Guidance Regarding Surviving Spouses of Deceased U.S Citizens and their Children passed in 2009, it states that “individuals eligible for deferred action under this policy - certain surviving spouses of deceased U.S. citizens where the surviving spouse and the U.S. citizen were married less than two years at the time of the citizen's death - had ‘no avenue of immigration relief.”19 However, there was an avenue of immigration relief in the form of proposed legislation in Congress to provide legal status to these spouses and children, but the USCIS allowed its enactment
    19 “AILA - USCIS Memorandum Regarding Surviving Spouses of Deceased U.S. Citizens and Their Children,” American Immigration Lawyers Association, December 2, 2009,
    20 "Department of Homeland Security v. Regents of the University of California,"
    regardless of the existence of proposed legislation.
    regarding this issue, but there was no true way of knowing whether this policy was “interstitial” at the time. The same can be said about DACA, and if Congress eventually passes legislation
    Congress did eventually pass legislation
    providing a path to legal status for recipients, then DACA could also be considered “interstitial”, but there is no true way of knowing in advance.
    The argument that DACA is invalid because it violates the “Take Care” clause is invalid itself because the “Take Care” clause does not state, and is not meant to be interpreted as the President is required to enforce every law to its fullest extent. Critics of DACA argue that DACA is unlawful because the “Take Care” Clause of the Constitution states that the president must "take care that the laws are faithfully executed.”21 This is invalid because as stated before, it is impossible to deport every undocumented immigrant, or to enforce many other federal laws to its fullest extent. If the law was interpreted as the President is required to enforce every law to its fullest extent, deferred action would be illegal and every President would be in violation of the Take Care clause because it is impossible for one person, or branch, to fully enforce the full extent of the law in every scenario. Critics make a better argument when they state that DACA is more than just not enforcing the full extent of the law, but that it also provides employment and other federal resources to undocumented immigrants which is considered illegal under 8 U.S.C § 1324(a)(1)), which states, “It is unlawful for a person or other entity—
    to hire, or to recruit or refer for a fee, for employment in the United States an alien knowing the alien is an unauthorized alien.”22 However, DACA recipients are explicitly allowed to be given employment as stated in the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA), which allows undocumented immigrants who are “authorized... to be employed... by the attorney general.”23
    Not only is DACA lawful and within the powers the executive branch has, it is a highly effective policy that has created numerous economic benefits for DACA recipients and the
    21 Somin, “Yes, Obama's Executive Action Deferring Deportation for Millions of Immigrants Is Constitutional.”
    22 U.S.C § 1324(a)(1)), 23 ibid
    American people as well. Just in tax revenue alone, DACA recipients contribute 1.7 billion dollars annually in federal, state, and local taxes, money that would be lost with the rescission of
    ensuring all who are eligible for the program are enrolled would increase estimated state and local revenue by $815 million, bringing the total contribution to $2.5 billion, and increasing the effective tax rate for those enrolled to 9 percent.”25 One and one third million immigrants out of the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States are elgible for DACA, and providing them with temporary legal status allows them to be taxed at higher percentages and
    According to the Institute of Taxation and Economic Policy, “Continuing DACA and
    gives them better job security to pay taxes, which in turn helps the American economy out. Rescinding DACA would cause massive losses in tax revenues for years to come.
    DACA recipients contribute to the economy in a major way through their economic spending as well. In a study conducted by the Center for American Progress, they found two-thirds of the DACA recipients in the study reported purchasing their first car after they were granted DACA status, as well as 16% purchasing their first home, and that number increases to
    24% for recipients 25 years or older.
    DACA recipients, and these companies are huge economic boosters for the American economy. Wages have also increased for DACA recipients since receiving DACA status, as “The average hourly wage of respondents increased by 69 percent since receiving DACA, rising from $10.29 per hour to $17.46 per hour. Among respondents 25 years and older, the average hourly wage
    Also, 72% of the top 25 Fortune 500 companies employ
    24 Meg Wiehe and Misha Hill, “State & Local Tax Contributions of Young Undocumented Immigrants,” ITEP, April 30, 2018,
    25 ibid
    26 Rosas Greisa Martinez, and Tom K Wong, “DACA Recipients' Economic and Educational Gains Continue to Grow,” Center for American Progress, September 19, 2019, c-educational-gains-continue-grow/.
    27 ibid
    increased by 84 percent since receiving DACA.”28 These higher wages allow for more economic spending and more money being put into the American economy, as well as more taxes being paid to governments who need money for relief programs.
    Most importantly, there has been an increase in entrepreneurship within immigrants since DACA came into effect. The employment rate for DACA recipients is already 93% for people 25 years and older, but 5 percent of recipients started their own business after receiving DACA
    status, and this number climbs to 8% for people 25 years and older.
    business owners within the American public is 3.1%, which means DACA recipients are
    becoming business owners at a higher rate than the American public.
    entrepreneurship within DACA recipients creates jobs not only for DACA recipients, but American citizens too. In general, entrepreneurship boosts the economy by inputting spending value into the national economy and tax revenue increases as a result of the new jobs created through entrepreneurship.
    DACA has also allowed for greater educational opportunities which lead to recipients finding better jobs in the American workforce. 72% of DACA recipients currently in school are pursuing a bachelor’s degree or higher, on top of 36% of recipients who already attain a bachelor’s degree or higher. According to a new report from the U.S Census Bureau, only 32.1% of American citizens that are 25 years or older contain a bachelor's degree compared to the 36% of DACA recipients, which means DACA recipients are obtaining bachelor degrees at a higher
    28 ibid
    29 ibid
    30 ibid
    31 Martinez and Wong, “DACA Recipients' Economic and Educational Gains Continue to Grow.”
    rate than the American public.
    results for the American public overall. More access to education allows DACA recipients to
    Access to education for DACA recipients can lead to beneficial
    The average rate of
    The boost in
    obtain jobs like teaching and providing health care, which directly help the American people. According to a study performed by Next100, “nearly 15,000 DACA recipients serve as educators for more than 325,000 students annually.”32 Also, health care workers may be the most visibly important force in the fight against COVID-19, working long hours at great personal risk to themselves to diagnose and treat the disease. An estimated 29,000 health care workers are DACA recipients.”33 Without access to free education, many of these DACA recipients would not be able to become teachers or health care workers, and therefore would not be able to help out American citizens in the manner in which they are right now.
    While there were immediate economic benefits from DACA in 2017 and until now, the estimated revenue that DACA recipients will bring is more enticing to the American economy. According to estimates made by the Center for American Progress, DACA will create 21,433
    will increase to 230 billion in the next 10 years.
    go up, they are not the only ones that will benefit from DACA, as the cumulative increase in the income of all Americans is estimated to go up 46 billion dollars in the next 5 years, with that
    jobs annually over the next 5 years, and 28,814 jobs annually over the next 10 years.
    the next 5 years, the cumulative increase in the U.S GDP will be 86 billion dollars, and that total
    total increasing to 124 billion dollars in the next 10 years as a result of DACA.
    While wages for DACA recipients will surely
    Also, over
    The economic
    32 Alejandra Vázquez Baur, “Why We Need to Protect and Support Our DACAmented Educators,” The Century Foundation, September 30, 2020,
    33 Nicole Prchal Svajlenka, “A Demographic Profile of DACA Recipients on the Frontlines of the Coronavirus Response,” Center for American Progress, April 6, 2020, -recipients-frontlines-coronavirus-response/.
    34 Silva, Mathema “Assessing the Economic Impacts of Granting Deferred Action Through DACA and DAPA,” Center for American Progress, November 18, 2016, mpacts-of-granting-deferred-action-through-daca-and-dapa/.
    35 ibid 36 ibid
    benefits of DACA are major, and not only in the short term but in the long term as well. DACA provides a stable income, job security, and educational opportunities for close to a million undocumented immigrants, which increases their wages, spending, and ability to start a business. DACA purely from an economic standpoint is an extremely effective policy for the United States, without taking into account any of the humanitarian and social issues it tackles.
    DACA is a lawful policy because of the powers granted to the executive branch in the INA and because of the precedent previous administrations have set with their own deferred action policies. DACA is reviewable on a case by case basis and is not categorical, it does not illegally grant undocumented immigrants relief and employment because it is granted in IRCA, and deferred action is a necessary part of immigration law that Congress has routinely approved of and has granted the executive branch the power to carry out. DACA is not only clearly constitutional, but it has become a very beneficial policy to the U.S economy and society alike. DACA has created much more tax revenues for cities, states, and the U.S, as recipients obtain better wages, and are employed at a higher rate which allows them to be taxed more. DACA recipients also now have more spending power within the U.S economy as a result of their new employment, higher wages, and better job security, and some are even starting their own business. The tax revenue created by DACA helps out everyone in the U.S through other forms of relief and programs that can be enacted by local or federal governments. DACA is constitutional, with a lot of precedent to rest upon, and is a highly effective policy.
    “6 U.S. Code § 202 - Border, Maritime, and Transportation Responsibilities.” Legal Information Institute. Accessed April 10, 2021.
    “8 U.S. Code § 1103 - Powers and Duties of the Secretary, the Under Secretary, and the Attorney General.” Legal Information Institute. Accessed April 10, 2021.
    “8 U.S. Code § 1154 - Procedure for Granting Immigrant Status.” Legal Information Institute. Accessed April 10, 2021.
    “8 U.S. Code § 1181 - Admission of Immigrants into the United States.” Legal Information Institute. Accessed April 10, 2021.
    “8 U.S. Code § 1227 - Deportable Aliens.” Legal Information Institute. Accessed April 10, 2021.
    “AILA - USCIS Memorandum Regarding Surviving Spouses of Deceased U.S. Citizens and Their Children.” American Immigration Lawyers Association, December 2, 2009.
    American Immigration Council. Executive Grants of Temporary Immigration Relief. 1956-Present October 2014. S_of_temporary_immigration_relief_1956-present_final_0.pdf.
    Baur, Alejandra Vázquez. “Why We Need to Protect and Support Our DACAmented Educators.” The Century Foundation, September 30, 2020.
    “A Brief History of Civil Rights in the United States: DACA and the DREAM Act.” Guides. Accessed April 24, 2021.
    Bradford, Anita Casavantes. "“With the Utmost Practical Speed”: Eisenhower, Hungarian Parolees, and the “Hidden Hand” Behind US Immigration and Refugee Policy, 1956–1957." Journal of American Ethnic History 39, no. 2 (2020): 5. Accessed April 10, 2021. doi:10.5406/jamerethnhist.39.2.0005.
    Cabrera-Marquez., Leah. “The DREAM Act and DACA .” Khan Academy. Accessed April 24, 2021. itizens-us-gov-civics/x231f0f4241b58f49:what-is-the-difference-between-citizens-and-non -citizens/a/the-dream-act-and-daca.
    “Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).” USCIS, February 4, 2021. a.
    Department of Homeland Security v. Regents of the University of California (Supreme Court of the United States September 27, 2019).
    Mathema, Silva. “Assessing the Economic Impacts of Granting Deferred Action Through DACA and DAPA.” Center for American Progress, November 18, 2016. he-economic-impacts-of-granting-deferred-action-through-daca-and-dapa/.
    Nietzel, Michael T. “New From U.S. Census Bureau: Number of Americans With A Bachelor's Degree Continues To Grow.” Forbes, February 22, 2021. ber-of-americans-with-a-bachelors-degree-continues-to-grow/amp/.
    Robertson, Lori. “The Data on DACA and Crime.”, November 13, 2019.
    Rosas, Greisa Martinez, and Tom K Wong. “DACA Recipients' Economic and Educational Gains Continue to Grow.” Center for American Progress, September 19, 2019. ients-economic-educational-gains-continue-grow/.
    Somin, Ilya. “Yes, Obama's Executive Action Deferring Deportation for Millions of Immigrants Is Constitutional.” Reason, April 19, 2016.
    Svajlenka, Nicole Prchal. “A Demographic Profile of DACA Recipients on the Frontlines of the Coronavirus Response.” Center for American Progress, April 6, 2020. hic-profile-daca-recipients-frontlines-coronavirus-response/.
    Tan, Michael. “DACA Is and Will Always Be Constitutional.” American Civil Liberties Union, August 15, 2017. stitutional.
    Wiehe, Meg, and Misha Hill. “State & Local Tax Contributions of Young Undocumented Immigrants.” ITEP, April 30, 2018.
  • Answering Second Amendment Questions with First Amendment Precedent: The Constitutionality of R.C.N.Y. §5-23 - Jack Bloom '20

    The Supreme Court’s decision in District of Columbia v. Heller (2008)[i] thrust Second Amendment jurisprudence into a new era with the declaration that the Second Amendment does, in fact, guarantee an individual the right to keep and bear arms. Painting in broad strokes, Justice Scalia outlined a new philosophy for how the Second Amendment ought to be understood in theory, but did little to provide a road map for how that philosophy should be applied in practice. Now, the Court must interpret this decision when deciding the case of New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. City of New York (2019)[ii], the first major Second Amendment case heard in nearly a decade. The general lack of Second Amendment jurisprudence makes this case an exciting opportunity for the justices to clarify just what they meant in Heller. With a lack of clear precedent to apply in Rifle & Pistol, it would be wise for the justices to consider the Second Amendment question in light of First Amendment jurisprudence. That is, the Court should consider the principles central to the right to keep and bear arms through the lens of established First Amendments precedent. Such an analysis would show clearly that New York City was well within its rights to regulate the possession of firearms. This decision would dramatically aid the formation of Second Amendment precedent for the modern day by providing a concrete standard to test for whether a statute concerning the right to keep and bear arms is constitutional.  
                Rifle & Pistol focuses on the nuances of the statute that regulates the possession of handguns in the City of New York. New York State law requires residents to obtain a license to purchase and possess a handgun, but allows local governments (counties and cities) to pass legislation concerning licensing logistics and prerequisite qualifications.[iii] Though the statue[iv] lists five licenses, in practice a premises license is the most easily attainable and therefore most widely issued. These premises licenses allow a licensee to purchase a handgun and then keep it in possession at their New York City residence, one of seven authorized shooting clubs within the City, or in transport between such locations. Petitioners were all in possession of premises licensees when the case originated. They sought to transport their handguns to shooting ranges outside of New York City as they were closer to their homes than those in the City. Some additionally sought to transport their handguns to and from second homes in the State of New York. Joined by the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, petitioners brought suit against the City claiming the statute infringed upon their Second Amendment rights. 
                First Amendment jurisprudence recognizes that the rights the First Amendment protects should be free from unnecessary interference. The Court has been quick to protect the sanctity of the First Amendment in a number of situations where it could have justified intervention. The case of Brandenburg v. Ohio (1969)[v] considers the conviction of Clarence Brandenburg, a leader of the Ku Klux Klan. In an impassioned speech, Brandenburg advocated for the use of violence to further the Klan’s agenda. On review of his case, the Supreme Court yielded a Per Curiam decision in favor of Brandenburg, overturning his conviction. The decision found that the statute at issue, Ohio’s Criminal Syndicalism Act, was unconstitutional as applied. Quoting the decision in Noto v. United States (1961)[vi] the Court found that “the mere abstract teaching … [of the] moral necessity for a resort to violence is not the same as preparing a group for violent action and steeling it to such action.”[vii] Similarly, in the case of Terminello v. City of Chicago (1949),[viii] the Court overturned the conviction of Father Arthur Terminello who was arrested after violence broke out following a malicious and racially charged speech. Since Terminello did not explicitly promote violence in his speech, the Court found that speech must not be restricted “unless shown likely to produce a clear and present danger of serious substantive evil.”[ix] 
                First Amendment jurisprudence has also come to acknowledge that the rights of the First Amendment are not absolute. Though rarer, a number of First Amendment cases have identified situations where “Congress shall make no law”[x] does not actually apply. For example, the case of R.A.V. v. City of St. Paul (1992)[xi] found that direct threats of violence fall beyond the protection of the First Amendment. Writing for the Court, Justice Scalia concludes that “protecting individuals from fear of violence”[xii] is one of the many compelling reasons Congress has to restrict speech. Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire (1942)[xiii] is another case where the Court excluded a class of speech from the First Amendment’s reach. After peacefully distributing pamphlets that directed ad hominem attacks at town officials, Walter Chaplinsky was arrested under a New Hampshire statute that make it illegal to use slanderous or defamatory language against an individual. Upholding Chaplinsky’s conviction, the Court unanimously found that on its face and as applied the statute was constitutional. Speaking for the Court, Justice Murphy writes clearly that “[r]esort to epithets or personal abuse is not in any proper sense communication of information or opinion safeguarded by the Constitution.”[xiv]
    Modern day Second Amendment jurisprudence lags behind the dynamic base of First Amendment precedent. Most notably for Rifle & Pistol, there has yet to be the recognition that the Second Amendment, just like the First, has its boundaries. In Heller, Justice Scalia alluded to certain limitations on the right to keep and bear arms (like reduced access for convicted felons or intellectually disabled persons) but did not provide a concrete rule for the categorical exclusion of Second Amendment rights. Following Heller, the case of McDonald v. City of Chicago (2010)[xv] incorporated the individual right to protection to the States. Rounding out the whole of applicable Second Amendment precedent, Caetano v. Massachusetts (2016)[xvi] found that stun guns are protected under the Second Amendment, in turn protecting more modern means of self-defense and not just those that existed when the Constitution was first framed and ratified. Though these cases have strengthened the Second Amendment, the dictum that “the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed”[xvii] must have its own limits. The Second Amendment is disadvantaged as, unlike the First Amendment, the Court has been unable to test the constitutionality of its everyday applications. Rife & Pistol finally offers that chance.  
    Applying the principles of First Amendment precedent to Second Amendment questions requires the recognition that the two Amendments are comparable. Up until now, the judiciary has widely disregarded the clear connection between the first two Amendments. Though some circuit courts have taken this approach in recent years, it is still a relatively new practice in judicial review.[xviii] Beyond the divisive split between the political left and right as to the reach of the Second Amendment there lies some middle ground that the Court has a responsibility to define. Ultimately, the Second Amendment, just like the First, serves chiefly as a safeguard for the people against oppressive government. Though facially different, the first two Amendments achieve the same end through different means. In effect, the Second Amendment gives teeth to the First, allowing the people to better advocate for themselves if their peaceful protest goes unnoticed. As they work together to carry out this common goal, it is fair to think that those situations where the First Amendment does not apply may hold true for the Second. Thus, to find an answer in Rifle & Pistol, an untapped body of precedent lies in the types of expression the Court has excluded from the First Amendment, and the tests that led to those exclusions.
    When considering a statute that infringes upon fundamental rights of the people (those in the Bill of Rights, for example) the Court employs one of the three levels of judicial scrutiny:  increasingly skeptical readings of the law to determine if the statute passes constitutional muster.[xix] All three levels are rooted in the same basic premise: for a limitation on rights to be permissible, such limitation must serve a government interest through a means related to that interest (this is the entry level of judicial scrutiny dubbed rational basis review). Over the years, the Court has come to land on the next level of judicial scrutiny, referred to as intermediate scrutiny, as the appropriate litmus test for First Amendment cases. Immediate scrutiny sharpens rational basis review by requiring that a statute serves an important government interest through a means substantially related to that interest.[xx] This view splits the burden of proof between the people and the government and is most appropriate for First Amendment cases as often times challenged statutes affect only parts of the general freedom to expression, and not the First Amendment as a whole. This two-pronged test has been built upon in recent decades, with the Court concluding that “time, place, and manner” restrictions are permissible limitations on fundamental rights under intermediate scrutiny. At bottom, the statue at issue in Rifle & Pistol is a time, place, and manner restriction. The statute does not ban New Yorkers from keeping and bearing arms outright, but rather calls for the specific times, places, and ways in which they may keep and bear their arms.
    Numerous cases contribute to the current state of time, place, and manner restrictions when it comes to First Amendment freedoms, helping provide applications for Rifle & Pistol. For example, the case of Perry Education Association v. Perry Local Educators’ Association (1982)[xxi] considers restrictions on communication in public school buildings. The Perry Educators’ Association (PEA), as de facto bargaining organization for Perry Township’s teachers, had sole access to professional mailboxes for communicating the Union’s agenda. The Perry Local Educators’ Association (PLEA) served district teachers as well and sued, claiming their First Amendment rights to communication and express their ideas were infringed upon. The Court found against the PLEA and ruled that the district’s choice to select one union to have sole access to just one means of communication with the district’s faculty was not a suppression of the right to expression. Representing the 5-4 majority, Justice White writes “Reasonable time, place, and manner regulations are permissible, and a content-based prohibition must be narrowly drawn to effectuate a compelling state interest.”[xxii] Under this standard, the New York City statute passes constitutional muster. With their statute, New York City places only reasonable limitations on the people’s right to keep and bear arms. Though New Yorkers must apply for a license, they will get one, save for universal red flags like those outlined in Heller. While nuanced, the statute’s intricacies make it a narrowly drawn limitation of a fundamental right. To serve the City’s compelling public interest of keeping the peace, the vast majority of licenses issued place heavy restrictions on the time, place, and manner of bearing arms outside one’s home. Under all licenses, however, those restrictions leave the constitutional right to protection widely untouched in private residences. In turn, the City Council did no more than was needed to serve the City’s interest in keeping the peace and protecting the greater public. 
    Building upon Perry, the Court later affirmed that narrowly tailored time, place, and manner restrictions are constitutionally permissible if access to the right remains intact through alternate channels. In the case of City Council v. Taxpayers for Vincent (1984)[xxiii], the Court upheld a Los Angeles City statute that prohibited posting political sings on telephone poles, public lampposts, and other similar structures. Speaking for the 6-3 majority, Justice Stevens writes “there must be a realistic danger that the statute itself will significantly compromise [constitutional] protections … to be facially challenged on overbreadth grounds.”[xxiv] In Vincent, the Court determined that Los Angeles’ decision to prohibit posting signs on certain locations was not a widespread denial of Frist Amendment protections. Rather, because ample space both public and private remained open to display posters, those rights remained intact. Similarly, just because New York City’s statute generally prohibits carrying firearms in public, that does not mean the right is completely inaccessible for residents of the City. The right to keep and bear arms still exists, just through alternative channels. The barrier of requiring a license of purchase a firearm is not a denial of the Second Amendment, but rather a narrowly tailored restriction that serves the City’s interest to the fullest extent possible.
    Justice Stevens further writes “a restriction on expressive activity may be invalid if the remaining modes of communication are inadequate,”[xxv] though the remaining modes in Rifle & Pistol are more than adequate. Licensees of a premises license can still keep and store their guns in their residence for personal protection and are further permitted to use them for recreation at the authorized shooting ranges located in the City. Per the Court’s finding in Heller, the Second Amendment primary applies to one’s individual right to self-protection in a location like their home.[xxvi] Though there may be an implied right beyond self-defense, New York City’s statute protects the spirit of the Second Amendment as understood by Heller by giving citizens adequate leeway to keep their guns in their home and use them for safe recreation. Even beyond that, there remains an “availability of alternative channels of communication.”[xxvii] Beyond the basic protections of the Second Amendment, more nuanced means of exercising the right to keep and bear arms are clear in New York City’s statute. A variety of different licenses cater to different citizens’ needs so long as they can demonstrate a necessity for an open carry license, concealed carry license, etc. Because the statue does not ban the right to keep and bear arms, but rather prescribe reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions, it remains consistent with the precedent set in Vincent and the intermediate scrutiny doctrine.
    Tying together the core ideas of Perry and Vincent, the case of Ward v. Rock Against Racism (1989)[xxviii] is perhaps the widely known First Amendment case to use this test. Respondent Rock Against Racism is a now-defunct group that famously promoted antiracist sentiments through an annual concert held in Central Park’s Naumberg Acoustic Bandshell. Tenants of residences on the adjacent street, Central Park West, complained each year about the loud volume, prompting the New York City Parks Department to amend protocols. Under these amended procedures, event manages utilizing City-owned venues were required to employ a City approved sound engineer who would keep volume at a reasonable level. The Court decided against Rock Against Racism, claiming that these protocols were not a violation of First Amendment Freedoms. Speaking for the Court, Justice Kennedy writes that time, place, and manner restrictions “need not be the least restrictive or least intrusive means of [serving the state interest].”[xxix] Though petitioners argue that the statute is too far-reaching, the Court maintains that such restrictions do not need to be the least drastic means to achieve a stated end. Whether or not it is possible that some other iteration of the statute could have allowed laxer transportation regulations, or less stringent guidelines for approved shooting clubs, is a moot point. At the end of the day, New York City leaves the right to keep and bear arms available to its citizens. The inconvenience posed by the regulations for some residents do not alone lead to the statute’s unconstitutionality. Further, available data supports the conclusion that the statute has worked in achieving the City’s interest of keeping the peace, New York City posting gun-related crime stats far below peer cities.[xxx] Though the statute may not be the least invasive possible regulation, it still leaves Second Amendment freedoms intact, while preserving the right to keep and bear arms, leaving it consistent with the precedent set in Ward, further strengthening the statue’s legitimacy under intermediate scrutiny. 
    Certain cases considering time, place, and manner restrictions have also yielded decisions in favor of the people, striking down certain statutes for being overly broad. Some may point to these cases to argue against the statute. Carey v. Brown (1980)[xxxi] is one such case where the Court determined that Illinois reached too far to serve its intended interest. State law in Illinois prohibited picketing or protesting outside of private residences, with the only exception being residences that doubled as places of public business. Illinois argued that this law was necessary to reach the State’s goal of keeping the peace and preserving tranquility within residential neighborhoods. Justice Brennan, on behalf of the 6-3 majority, writes “The maintenance of the opportunity for free political discussion … [is] essential to the security of the Republic, [and] a fundamental principle of our constitutional system.”[xxxii] In the case of Carey, the Court was dissatisfied with the alternative options available to protesters. The broad prohibition on picketing outside any private residence for any reason essentially disregarded the freedoms granted by the First Amendment by leaving no viable alternative. Though opponents of the statute at issue in Rifle & Pistol could point to a case like Carey in support of finding the law unconstitutional, key differences between the two cases are clear. Though Carey did consider a time, place, and manner restriction, it was overly broad and not a narrowly tailored fit to the State’s problem. New York City takes care to ensure they only go as far as they need to with their restrictions. Further, New York City leaves the right to keep and bear arms intact, it just adds intermediate steps to get there. In Carey, Illinois stripped citizens of their First Amendment rights without leaving open any true alternative. The Second Amendment, just like the First, is fundamental to a free Republic. New York City’s statute is a well-balanced limitation on this fundamental right that leaves it accessible to the people.  
    No First Amendment analogy to the Second will be perfect. Despite all the two Amendments have in common, differences remain. That said, the spirit underscoring First Amendment precedent on time, place, and manner restrictions have a well justified application to the right to keep and bear arms. A review of the cases employing the intermediate scrutiny test show no right is absolute, and that even the most scared rights in the American constitutional system may be limited if that limitation serves an important government interest through a substantially related means. The statue in Rifle & Pistol does just that, helping the City keep the peace through a well thought out statue. Given the lack of Second Amendment precedent to apply in Rifle & Pistol, the Court should use First Amendment jurisprudence to help inform their decision. Doing so would show clearly that the City was well within their rights when passing R.C.N.Y. §5-23. Further, use of the intermediate scrutiny doctrine would help inform Second Amendment jurisprudence for the modern day by providing meaningful day-to-day applications for the lower courts to consider when future cases arise.

    Table of Authorities
    Brandenburg v. State of Ohio, 395 U.S. 444 (1969)   
    Caetano v. State of Massachusetts, 577 U.S. ___ (2016)   
    Carey, States Attorney of Cook County, Illinois v. Brown, et al., 447 U.S. 455 (1980)   
    Chaplinsky v. State of New Hampshire, 315 U.S. 568 (1942)   
    District of Columbia, et al. v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008)
    McDonald, et. al v. City of Chicago, 561 U.S. 742 (2010)
    Members of the City Council of the City of Los Angeles v. Taxpayers for Vincent, 466 U.S. 789 (1984)
    New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc., et al. v. City of New York, et al., 590 U.S. ___ (2020)
    Noto v. United States, 367 U.S. 290 (1961)
    Perry Education Association v. Perry Local Educators’ Association, 460 U.S. 37 (1983)
    R.A.V. v. City of St. Paul, 505 U.S. 377 (1992)  
    Stromberg v. State of California, 283 U.S. 356 (1931)  
    Terminello v. City of Chicago, 337 U.S. 1 (1949)
    Ward v. Rock Against Racism, 491 U.S. 781 (1989)  
    N.Y. Penal Law §256.01
    N.Y. Penal Law 256.20(a)(3)
    N.Y. Penal Law 400.00(3)(a)
    R.C.N.Y. §5-23(a)(3)
    Constitutional Provisions
    United States Constitution, Amendment I
    United States Constitution, Amendment II
    Other Authorities
    “Intermediate Scrutiny.” Legal Information Institute. Accessed April 7, 2020,   
    Morshedi, Mariam. “Levels of Scrunity.” Subscript Law. March 6, 2018. Accessed May 3, 2020,
    Petition for Writ of Certiorari. New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. City of New York.   18-280, *i (SCOTUS filed Sep. 4, 2018).  
    U.S. Library of Congress. Congressional Research Service. Post-Heller Second Amendment
    Jurisprudence, by Sarah Herman Peck. RL44618, (2019). Accessed February 27, 2020,


    [i] District of Columbia, et al. v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008).
    [ii] New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc., et al. v. City of New York, et al., 590 U.S. ___ (2020). While writing this paper, the Court ruled in a Per Curiam decision that the case was moot. When the case first went to trail, New York State amended their gun law thus voiding the New York City statute at issue. In light of this, the Court could not justify handing down a ruling, though Justice Alito (joined by Justices Gorsuch and Thomas) filed a dissenting opinion lamenting at the lost opportunity to clarify the reach of the Second Amendment. This paper will proceed as if New York did not amend state law and as if the Court has not yet ruled as Rifle & Pistol still offers a valuable thought exercise for future analysis.
    [iii] N.Y. Penal Law §256.01, 256.20(a)(3), 400.00(3)(a).
    [iv] R.C.N.Y. §5-23
    [v] Brandenburg v. State of Ohio, 395 U.S. 444 (1969).  
    [vi] Noto v. United States, 367 U.S. 290 (1961).
    [vii] Brandenburg, 395 U.S. at 448.
    [viii] Terminello v. City of Chicago, 337 U.S. 1 (1949).
    [ix] Id. at 4. 
    [x] U.S. Const. amend. I 
    [xi] R.A.V. v. City of St. Paul, 505 U.S. 377 (1992).  
    [xii] Id. at 388.
    [xiii] Chaplinsky v. State of New Hampshire, 315 U.S. 568 (1942). 
    [xiv] Id. at 572.
    [xv] McDonald, et. al v. City of Chicago, 561 U.S. 742 (2010).
    [xvi] Caetano v. State of Massachusetts, 577 U.S. ___ (2016).  
    [xvii] U.S. Const. amend. II
    [xviii] U.S. Library of Congress, Congressional Research Service, Post-Heller Second Amendment
    Jurisprudence, by Sarah Herman Peck, RL44618, (2019), accessed February 27, 2020,
    [xix] Mariam Morshedi, “Levels of Scrunity,” Subscript Law, March 6, 2018, accessed May 3, 2020,
    [xx] “Intermediate Scrutiny,” Legal Information Institute, accessed April 7, 2020,
    [xxi] Perry Education Association v. Perry Local Educators’ Association, 460 U.S. 37 (1983).
    [xxii] Id. at 46.
    [xxiii] Members of the City Council of the City of Los Angeles v. Taxpayers for Vincent, 466 U.S. 789 (1984). 
    [xxiv] Id. at 801.  
    [xxv] Id. at 812.
    [xxvi] Heller at 570.
    [xxvii] Id. at 815.
    [xxviii] Ward v. Rock Against Racism, 491 U.S. 781 (1989). 
    [xxix] Id. at 798.
    [xxx] Complied data from CompStat 2.0, the NYPD’s online data service, murders, and other violent/gun related crimes have been down in the past three years. Other data from FBI crime analysist Jeff Asher shows that New York has a significantly lower murder rate than any other major American city. Further, data suggests a general decline in guns owned in New York City compared to other cities.
    [xxxi] Carey, States Attorney of Cook County, Illinois v. Brown, et al., 447 U.S. 455 (1980).   
    [xxxii] Id. at 467. (quoting Stromberg v. State of California, 283 U.S. 356 at 369 (1931)).
  • Citizenship Revocation as A Tool of Genocide: A Case for the Rohingya People in Western Rakhine - Pam Nguyen '20

    In February of 2020, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) at the Hague ordered the Myanmar government to take active steps to protect the Rohingya people, the nation’s Muslim minority in the western state of Rakhine, from acts of genocide, including mass killing, rape and burning of villages. While the ICJ investigation and lawsuit have focused on the recent violent outbreak in Rakhine in 2017, the violence committed against the Rohingya began as early as the 1970s with the revocation of their citizenships and the intense enforcement of new citizenship laws in Myanmar. The 1982 Myanmar Citizenship Law, in particular, excludes the Rohingya people from the national race list and imposes upon the Rohingya unreasonable requirements to apply for full legal status. As the result, the lack of citizenship has stripped the group of basic human rights and restricted their access to movement, education, healthcare and even birth and marriage. The law also paved ways for continued acts of violence and discrimination towards the Rohingya people, including the 2017 outbreak instigated by the local military force which resulted in hundreds of thousands of Rohingyas fleeing to the neighboring Bangladesh. The Myanmar government, however, continues to deny responsibilities for its actions in the Rakhine State as they do not view the discriminations towards the Rohingya people a result of state actions. In order to hold the Myanmar government accountable, the United Nations and the international community should view the 1982 Citizenship Law and the continued denial of rights and legal status to the Rohingya as an active step to systematically deprive the group of basic human rights and consequently, erase them. More broadly, from the case of the Rohingya people, a government’s ability to revoke citizenship to a group or class of people must always be examined under scrutiny as it can result in the systematic erasure, in whole or in part, of the subjected group.
    While the Rohingya people are a Muslim minority living in a predominantly Buddhist population, the violent actions and harsh conditions they have experienced was prompted not by religious division, but by deliberate state actions that serve to foster and exploit such differences. In other words, the central issue of the Rohingya struggle has always been the ongoing denial of their legal status by the Myanmar government. Although the first post-independence government of Myanmar acknowledged the Rohingya as an indigenous ethnic group, General Ne Win’s military government, which took over in a 1962 coup, began a campaign of violence against the Rohingya people. Under his rule, the military government initiated an operation called Naga Min to identify and register all residents and expel all foreigners from the western Rakhine State. While Naga Min was enforced throughout the whole country, there was evidence that the program targeted the Rohingya people as it became especially aggressive in Rakhine, where many of Myanmar’s ethnic minorities resided.[1] It was reported that about 1,734 persons were arrested and put in detention camps, resulting in widespread panic among the Muslim minorities in the region. Over the course of a few months, Naga Min caused over 200,000 Rohingyas to cross the border and seek refuge in Bangladesh.[2]
    In 1982, the Myanmar government made the discrimination against the Rohingya official as they took an unprecedented step to revoke the citizenship of a group of people based on their ethnicity. The 1982 Citizenship Law effectively denies citizenship to the Rohingya, who had previously enjoyed rights and privileges similar to other Burmese nationals. Chapter II § 1 of the law creates a list of groups recognized by the Myanmar government as national race or taingyintha, which excludes the Rohingya people.[3] This means that the Rohingya can only apply to naturalize as associate citizens if they identify as Bangladeshi or have documents to prove that their family had settled in Myanmar prior to British colonial rule.[4] These requirements put the emphasis on the government’s belief that the Rohingya people were outsiders, who entered the country with the help of the oppressive British regime. The unreasonable requirement of proofs dating back over a century effectively revokes and denies citizenship status to the majority of the Rohingya people and since then, has rendered them stateless. The 1982 Citizenship Law also establishes a completely arbitrary system of citizenship that allows the list of national races to be altered at will by the Myanmar government. Chapter II § 4 of the Law gives the Council of State the power to “decide whether any ethnic group is national or not.”[5] By drastically changing the country’s mechanism to determine citizenship and associating citizenship to a subjective and skewed sense of national ethnicity, the Myanmar government has used its state power as a tool to begin the systematic erasure of the Rohingya people, which has gone on for over five decades.
                In order to assess the genocidal intent and consequences of Myanmar’s 1982 Citizenship Law, it must first be understood that there exists a human right to nationality and citizenship. The right to nationality was first stated and agreed upon in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN General Assembly in the aftermath of the Holocaust in 1948. It was created as a framework to set out and protect the fundamental rights of all human beings in recognition of their inherent dignity, and of their inalienable rights to “freedom, justice and peace in the world.”[6] In order to protect these rights against government violations, the General Assembly noted in Article 15 of the Declaration that “everyone has a right to a nationality,” and that “no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality.”[7] The right to nationality is named on this list because it is often referred to as the right to have rights. In other words, the right to nationality enables accountability on the side of the country of citizenship to provide, protect and preserve the fundamental rights of its people. Thus, it is understood that the right to nationality must go hand in hand with the government’s duty to implement a reasonable, impartial and fair system of citizenship. The United Nations similarly argues that the right to retain a nationality “corresponds to the prohibition of arbitrary deprivation of nationality.”[8] Through the 1982 Citizenship Law, the Myanmar government denies the Rohingya people collectively of such rights, leaving serious impacts on the Rohingya population that amount to the possibility of erasure. 1982 Law and continued government actions to arbitrarily deprive the Rohingya people of citizenship must be considered acts of genocide, defined in the 1948 Genocide Convention as acts that were “committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.”[9]
                The Rohingya’s lack of citizenship and legal status, as a result of the law, has greatly restricted their access to movement, education, employment, healthcare and reproduction. Without these rights and the political ability to advocate for themselves, the Rohingya people are facing the risk of erasure from the western state of Rakhine and surrounding refugee camps. There have been various reports of state-enforced restrictions on the Rohingya’s freedom of movement as a result of their lack of citizenship status. Since the passage of the Citizenship Law in 1982, the lack of access to legal documentations such as National Registration Cards has greatly impeded the Rohingya people’s freedom of movement and subsequently denied them of services outside of their respective area. Given the ambiguity of their legal status, the Rohingya people must carry the Village Departure Certificate (Tauk Kan Sa) in order to travel beyond their villages in Northern Rakhine. In order to acquire the certificate, individuals are required to obtain the signatures of 100-House Hold and the Village Administrator in the area. They must also provide an extensive amount of personal information that may be used against them by local law enforcement. The failure to comply to these restrictions is punishable by up to two years of imprisonment according to the Residents of Burma Registration Act of 1949. [10] In order to enforce these restrictions, the Myanmar government has also given local police authorities in Rakhine “discretionary powers to restrict access to certain areas if they consider that it will prevent ‘disturbance of the public tranquility, a riot, or an affray among other things.’”[11] The local government’s large discretionary power, together with the existing system to deny documentations to the Rohingya, is often used to further discriminate against the Muslim minorities living in northern Rakhine villages. The hostilities against the Rohingya have also created informal boundaries that restrict their ability to move and travel safely beyond their villages. Many Rohingya people point to the lack of legal actions to condemn hate crimes against them as a direct reason why they feel threatened to leave their designated areas. In an interview conducted by the Independent Rakhine Initiative, a 30 year-old woman states that government inactions lead her to fear leaving her own village, “if something happens, we have no justice, and the government also never makes decisions for us equally.”[12] The active negligence of the Myanmar legal system towards the Rohingya people and the unfair restrictions on their movement continue to prevent many from getting the essential services that are not often provided in their village.
    Notably, one of these essential services is healthcare. Without the ability to move freely outside of their villages, the Rohingya people must rely on the healthcare system within Northern Rakhine, which is known to be inadequate to provide even the simplest of care to its patients. According to many international organizations, such is the result of the Myanmar government’s conscious negligence towards the Rohingya people. Through a series of investigations in Northern Rakhine in 2015, the International State Crime Initiative revealed the visible lack of healthcare in the region, stating that there were “empty, largely unstaffed clinics; minimal or no medical equipment, and reported healthcare visits from Rakhine doctors once or twice a week for up to two hours.”[13] BBC also reported the same year that there was no emergency healthcare available in the entire region after Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), the only provider was suspended after making a statement about the extremely high rate of HIV/AIDS, malaria and TB among the Rohingya population.[14] Not only does the Myanmar government not provide healthcare access to the Rohingya people, they block other health organizations from speaking out for the group and advocating for their well-being. While it is true that the Rakhine State is among one of the poorest regions in Myanmar, the lack of health care services for the Rohingya people, together with the restriction on them to seek services elsewhere, is a direct result of the Myanmar government’s conscious negligence and discrimination against the group. By inhibiting the Rohingya’s freedom of movement to nearby villages while also denying adequate healthcare services in Northern Rakhine, the Myanmar government is running an active campaign of negligence and inactions, made possible by the Rohingya’s lack of citizenship status.
    Combined with the lack of healthcare in Northern Rakhine is the state-enforced repression of Rohingya reproductive rights and systematic denials of healthcare to young Rohingya children. This has been an issue since the 1990s with early reports of forced contraceptive measures in the Rakhine State. In 1995, a UNHCR official reported that the Burmese Ministry of Health has imposed birth-spacing program and forced contraception on many Muslim women in Rakhine, especially Rohingya women who just returned from Bangladesh through a repatriation program.[15] More recently in 2015, Burma introduced a four-piece legislation aimed at controlling the birth rate and population growth of its Muslim minorities in the Rakhine state. The law, signed by President Thein Sein, allows local governments to “request a presidential order so that local authorities can ‘organize’ women to have a gap of 36 months between births.”[16] Not only is the Myanmar government limiting the right to give birth in order to reduce the population of its ethnic minorities, they are also refusing to issue birth certificate for Rohingya children and denying them of necessary vaccinations. In 1994, the Myanmar government stopped issuing birth certificates to Rohingya babies, leaving thousands of children unregistered and without the essential healthcare services they need.[17] As a result of the law, the Harvard School of Public Health, in a study in refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar, reported that “a high number of Rohingya children had received no vaccines while in Myanmar.”[18] In particular, the results show that of the 167 children below the age of two, “61.7% had received no doses of injectable vaccines in Myanmar, and only 2.4% had received five or more doses in Myanmar.”[19] This has led to a series of outbreak among the Rohingya population, including the recent diphtheria outbreak in Cox’s Bazar refugee camps that infected over 800 cases and reported 15 deaths in total.[20] These programs must be looked at with extreme scrutiny from the international community as the systematic repression of reproductive rights has been recognized as an important indicator of genocide due to its direct impacts on the population of the subjected group. Notably, Article II Section d of the 1948 Genocide Convention includes on its list of genocidal acts the act of “imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group.”[21] There have also been various recognized instances of genocide that employed forced-sterilization and birth-preventive measures to erase the subjected group. In the case of the Rohingya people, the Myanmar government has been able to employ these methods for decades since its passage of the 1982 Citizenship Law without facing serious scrutiny from the international community. The Myanmar government’s programs of forced contraception and their refusal to register Rohingya babies are leaving dire impacts that amount to erasure in Northern Rakhine. These programs, made possible by the Rohingya’s lack of citizenship and documentations, must be considered acts of genocide committed by the Myanmar government through its active campaign of negligence and ill-treatment.
    Although the 1982 Citizenship Law was passed almost 40 years ago, its impact and perceptions of ethnicity continue to inform the decisions of current lawmakers in Myanmar and perpetuate the discriminatory system that is working to erase the Rohingya people at large. The government’s outlook on the Rohingya is perhaps best summed up by President Thein Sein in 2012, “We will take care of our own ethnic nationalities, but Rohingyas who came to Burma illegally are not of our own ethnic nationalities, and we cannot accept them here.”[22] Here, the President continues to openly rely on an arbitrary citizenship system set forth in the 1982 Citizenship Law as a legal justification as to why they do not have to take care of the Rohingya people. This citizenship law denies altogether the fundamental human rights of the Rohingya people, subjects them to countless forms of discrimination, yet creates a narrative that provide justifications for it. The cloak of legality creates a system in which few Myanmar citizens question the state’s mistreatment towards the Rohingya, making it easier for its leaders to further the plan to brutalize and eventually erase the Muslims minority from the Rakhine State. If the international community refuses to recognize the 1982 Citizenship Law as an act of genocide, it will also give in to this false sense of lawfulness that allows the Myanmar government to continue its horrid mistreatment of the Rohingya people.  The experience of the Rohingya people provides a compelling case as to why the international community must consider the revocation of citizenship towards a group or class of people an act of genocide. The revocation of citizenship, especially in cases where it renders the subjected group stateless, can effectively lead to the erasure, in whole or in part, of that group. By denying access to movement, healthcare, employment, reproductive rights and the political and legal ability to advocate for them, citizenship revocation can facilitate a slow-burning genocidal process without meeting the current definition of genocide. In other words, the Myanmar government is able to practice definitional denial and effectively erase the Rohingya people without facing the consequences guaranteed by the 1948 Genocide Convention.
    As of right now, the Rohingya crisis is of the highest level of urgency. Over a million Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh, posing an international concern as Bangladesh has declared that it does not have the resources to take in more refugees. Not only so, the disenfranchisement of the Rohingya people has led to widespread violence and instabilities in Rakhine and the region at large. It is thus important for the international community to call out Myanmar’s use of citizenship as a tool of genocide as the 1982 Law continues to leave open the possibility of citizenship revocation to any ethnic minority residing in Myanmar. As aforementioned, Chapter II § 4 of the Law allows the Myanmar government to alter the list of ethnic groups that are considered “national race” at their own will.[23] The system of citizenship set forth by the law allows not only for discrimination of the Rohingya people, but the revocation of legal status of any ethnic minority that is at odds with the Burmese majority. This sets a dangerous precedent for other countries as they encounter racial, religious and ethnic clashes. As a result, it is the duty of the member countries of the 1948 Convention on Genocide to include on the list of genocidal acts the arbitrary revocation of citizenship to a group or class of people on the basis of color, race, and ethnicity.
    While sovereignty must be respected, under no circumstances, can arbitrary revocations of citizenship to a group of people be justified as they inherently lead to systematic discrimination and deprivation of fundamental human rights. In recognizing each country’s sovereignty over the issue of citizenship, the international community must equally acknowledge that citizenship is first and foremost a human right as it encompasses a variety of rights and protection that are vital to the well-being and existence of a people. In the case of the Rohingya, the manipulation of citizenship as a state tool has been used to openly discriminate against the group, deny them of basic governmental duties and in consequence, erase them in a slow-burning genocidal process. In order to address the current situation, the international community must recognize the 1982 Citizenship Law and following state actions that revoked and denied legal status to the Rohingya people an act of genocide with the intention to erase the group through negligence and inactions. Such recognition and necessary intervention by the signatories of the 1948 Genocide Convention will hold the Myanmar government accountable and prevent future use of citizenship as a tool of mass killings and genocide.

    Bhatia, Abhishek. “The Rohingya in Cox’s Bazar: When the Stateless Seek Refuge.” Health
    and Human Rights 20, no.2 (2018): 105-122.
    Buchanan, Francis. “A Comparative Vocabulary of Some of the Languages Spoken in the 
    Burma Empire.” Asiatic Researches 5, (1799): 219-240.
    Burma Citizenship Law. “National Legislative Bodies. October 15, 1982. https://www.
    “Burma: The Rohingya Muslims: Ending a Cycle of Exodus.” Human Rights Watch.
    September 1, 1996.
    “Call to Put Rohingya in Refugee Camps.” Radio Free Asia. July 12, 2012. https://www
    “Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.” United Nations
    General Assembly. December 9, 1948.
    “Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness.” United Nations General Assembly. August
    30, 1961.
    “Diphtheria—Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh.” World Health Organization. December 13, 2017.
    “Freedom of Movement in Rakhine State,” Independent Rakhine Initiative, March 2020,
    accessed April 16, 2020,
    Green, Penny. Countdown to Annihilation: Genocide in Myanmar. London: International
    State Crime Initiative, 2015.
    Haque, Mahbubul. “Rohingya Ethnic Muslim Minority and the 1982 Citizenship Law in
    Burma.” Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs 37, no. 4 (2017): 1-16, https://www.
    “Issues to Raise Concerning the Situation of Stateless Rohingya Women in Myanmar
    (Burma): Submission to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against
    Women.” The Arakan Project. October 2008.
    Lee, Ronan. “Myanmar’s Citizenship Law as State crime: A Case for the International
    Criminal Court.” State Crime Journal 8, no. 2 (2019): 241-279. https://www.
    Mako, Shamiran. “Cultural Genocide and Key International Instruments: Framing the
    Indigenous Experience.” International Journal on Minority and Group Rights 19, no. 2 (2012): 175-194.
    “Medecins Sans Frontieres’ Shock at Myanmar Suspension,”, February 28, 2014,
    Perria, Sara. “Burma’s Birth Control Law Exposes Buddhist Fear of Muslim Minority.” The
    Guardian. May 25, 2015.
    “Right to Nationality and Statelessness.” The Office of the High Commissioner for Human
    Rights. Accessed April 13, 2020.
    Scully, William. “Burma 1978: The Thirtieth Year of Independence.” Asian Survey 19, no. 2
    (1979): 147-156.
    “The World Factbook: Burma.” Central Intelligence Agency. February 1, 2018. https://www.
    “Universal Declaration of Human Rights.” United Nations General Assembly. December 10,

    [1] William L. Scully, “Burma 1978: The Thirtieth Year of Independence,” Asian Survey 19, no. 2 (1979): 152,
    [2] Ibid.
    [3] Burma Citizenship Law,” National Legislative Bodies, October 15, 1982,
    [4] “Burma: The Rohingya Muslims: Ending a Cycle of Exodus,” Human Rights Watch 8, no. 9 (1996),
    [5] “Burma Citizenship Law,” National Legislative Bodies, October 15, 1982,
    [6] “Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” United Nations General Assembly, December 10, 1948.
    [7] “Ibid.
    [8] “Right to Nationality and Statelessness,” The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Accessed April 13, 2020.
    [9] “Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide,” United Nations General Assembly, December 9, 1948.
    [10] “Freedom of Movement in Rakhine State,” Independent Rakhine Initiative, March 2020, accessed April 16, 2020,
    [11] Ibid.
    [12] “Freedom of Movement in Rakhine State,” Independent Rakhine Initiative, March 2020, accessed April 16,  2020,
    [13] Penny Green, Countdown to Annihilation: Genocide in Myanmar. London: International State Crime Initiative, 2015.
    [14] “Medecins Sans Frontieres’ Shock at Myanmar Suspension,”, February 28, 2014,
    [15] “Burma: The Rohingya Muslims: Ending a Cycle of Exodus,” Human Rights Watch 8, no. 9 (1996),
    [16] Sara Perria, “Burma’s Birth Control Law Exposes Busshist Fear of Muslim Minority,” The Guardian, May 25, 2015,
    [17] “Issues to Raise Concerning the Situation of Stateless Rohingya Women in Myanmar (Burma): Submission to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women,” The Arakan Project, October 2008,
    [18] Abhishnek Bhatia, “The Rohingya in Cox’s Bazar: When the Stateless Seek Refuge,” Health and Human Rights 20, no. 2 (2018): 105-122,
    [19] Ibid.
    [20] “Diphtheria—Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh,” World Health Organization, December 13, 2017,
    [21] “Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide,” United Nations General Assembly, December 9, 1948.
    [22] Ronan Lee, “Myanmar’s Citizenship Law as State Crime: A Case for the International Criminal Court,” State Crime Journal 8, no. 2 (2019): 241-279,
    [23] “Burma Citizenship Law,” National Legislative Bodies, October 15, 1982,
  • Creating Gender Equality through Tampon Subsidies - Claire Rutstein '20

    A 2015 study conducted by the International Women’s Health Coalition found that there are more than 5,000 slang words to refer to menstruation in 10 different languages. [i]Although these euphemisms such as “aunt flow” and “time of the month” seem innocent, they are indicative of a larger stigma regarding menstrual health around the globe. The negative attitudes and lack of conversation surrounding menstruation lead to little in-depth investigation of the topic, allowing great inequalities to persist. This results not only in a lack of equality between the sexes, but also in a sub-optimization of our economy: lack of access to menstrual products places a hardship on female students, who find themselves falling behind their male peers, and female employees, who miss work due to inaccessibility of menstrual products. [ii] This, in turn, reduces the productive output and overall available human capital of our nation; a 2019 study conducted by Thinx revealed that 84% of teens in the U.S have missed class or know someone who has missed class due to lack of access to period products. [iii] Shining a light on such issues reveals problems that must be addressed for the expansion of human capital, which is necessary for the ultimate betterment of the United States.
    Public policy around menstrual products is flawed. First, menstrual products are treated less favorably by the tax code than many other similar goods, such as medications and clothing. Second, social support systems - such as federal food stamps and Medicaid programs - fail to include menstrual products for those in need.[iv] In order for the United States to maximize its productivity, menstrual products must be subsidized in areas of the population that have trouble affording them, allowing for girls to be present in school, and women to be present in the workforce.
                Gross Domestic Product, the monetary value of all goods and services produced in an economy annually, is widely recognized as an efficient tool in measuring a nations’ success. And in many cases, human capital is the key to driving GDP higher. Human capital is “the sum total of skills embodied within an individual: education, intelligence, charisma, creativity, [and] work experience”. [v] The cumulative total of human capital within an economy represents a form of wealth available to nations and organizations to increase productivity and innovate. Human capital, however, is fluid, and investment in education and training often leads to an increase in productivity. A study of countries in the European Union concluded that nations with a surplus of human capital tend to have higher GDP rates. [vi] Thus, at its base level, the key to economic growth is investment in human capital, which then paves the road for innovation and increasing productivity that causes GDP to rise.
    Investment in human capital begins with the education of the population at large. High quality education has shown to be an effective means of increasing GDP. In fact, investments in high-quality childhood education in the United States can generate up to $7.30 per dollar invested, largely through reduced future costs of crime and government assistance, according to the First Five Years Fund. [vii] A separate study in 2003 concluded that for every $1 invested in high-quality education, the state economy will earn a $2 to $3 return on investment, measured through increased employment opportunities and earning for state residents. [viii] Despite the obvious advantages of education, half of the adolescent population is receiving this education at a second-class rate: girls. Across the globe, women are given significantly fewer educational opportunities than men, and some girls are unable to attend school at all due to longstanding social stigmas and discrimination. While the United States passed Title IX in 1972, a law intended to establish and promote gender equality in schools, there is still significant work to be done to establish equal access to education. [ix] Female education has astronomical effects on the economy, as seen in a global study conducted by U.S Aid that found if 10% more adolescent girls attend school, a country's GDP increases by an average of 3%. [x] In addition to the economic growth, investments in female education positively affect many social indicators. For example, another study showed that higher investments in female education lead to positive changes in the Health Index, the Human Development Index, the Environmental Performance Index, infant mortality rates, and poverty rates in the United States. [xi] However, there are blockades that stand in girls’ way to pursuing an optimal education, such as violence and gender-based discrimination. While largely unrecognized, lack of access to period products is a form of gender-based discrimination, and a meaningful factor in keeping girls out of school every month. The term ‘Period Poverty’ refers to the “inadequate access to menstrual hygiene tools and educations, including but not limited to sanitary products, washing facilities, and waste management.” [xii] Millions of girls across the United States suffer from lack of menstrual products and menstrual stigma, keeping them out of school, and limiting the growth of human capital. According to the American Medical Women's Association in 2019, lack of access to menstrual products resulted in 12.7% of girls in the United States missing school, 15.01% being late to school, and 23.91% of girls leaving school early. [xiii] Title IX mandates equal access to education, but many girls are unable to receive this education as they are forced to miss or leave school due to their period. As discussed, human capital is the superhighway for rising levels of GDP, but the United States is losing human capital rapidly each time a girl misses school because of menstruation.
    For those females later in life, the same principles hold. Working age women also struggle to afford period products, keeping them out of work, and resulting in a further sub-optimization of our national productivity. A 2019 study revealed 36% of low-income women have missed days of work due to lack of proper menstrual hygiene. [xiv] Women, as well as girls, are vital to economic growth in the United States. A study conducted by S&P Global showed that if women entered, and stayed in the workforce at a pace in line with Norway - where 60% of the workforce is women compared to 47% in the United States - the U.S economy would be $1.6 trillion larger than it is today. [xv] However, period poverty and menstrual stigma stand in the way of this growth occurring. Unfortunately, many girls who experience period poverty at a young age endure hardship later in life. A different study showed that nearly two thirds of women who experienced period poverty in the U.S during their early education lack confidence because of bullies at school, who picked on girls with blood stains and makeshift products who were unable to afford proper menstrual hygiene. Of those women, 39% now suffer from depression or anxiety. [xvi] And with those conditions, they are less likely to be hired - not because of performance but rather the social stigmas associated with mental illness. [xvii] A study conducted in Toronto revealed that depressed job applicants were less likely to be hired than applicants with hypothyroidism, despite being evaluated similarly. Since the symptoms of these two illnesses are extremely similar, the disparity in employment between those with depression and those with hypothyroidism are likely related more to the stigma of mental health problems than to concerns of symptoms or work performance. [xviii] The data are clear that menstruation-related social stigmas continue to stand in the way of employment, and it is not surprising that after finishing their education, 44% of women who experience period poverty struggle to find employment. [xix] And even those who find employment are still disadvantaged, as they are often penalized when absent from work due to lack of menstrual products. [xx] Although the United States has long been known as one of the world's most prosperous economies, there is latent human capital that can and must be tapped to achieve maximum productivity; both in access to female education, and female presence in the workforce. Examined through the lens of period poverty, there are concrete steps that can be taken to include women and girls in the economy, leading to improvements in human capital and GDP.
    Over the past few years, there has been a growing movement across the country to exempt menstrual products from sales tax, with proponents arguing that these products are just as essential as groceries, medicines, and medical devices -- all of which are broadly sales tax exempt. [xxi] While widely known as ‘The Tampon Tax’, the added cost is not a tax specifically added to menstrual products. Rather, it is the general sales tax applied to menstrual products when the state does not exempt them by categorizing the products as necessities or non-luxury items. Some states, including New York, Massachusetts, and Florida, have passed bills to exempt period products from sales tax. But, 29 states continue to tax menstrual hygiene products. [xxii] Many proponents of repealing the tampon tax argue largely for the social returns. By removing the tax on menstrual products, states are recognizing the issue of period poverty and beginning to normalize menstruation, all while acknowledging that these products are a necessity, and should be available to all. However, the economics of such a tax repeal do not deliver a meaningful financial benefit to those who struggle to afford period products. First, repealing the tax on menstrual products, like any tax repeal or reduction, results in decreased government revenue that must be gained in other ways, such as increasing the overall sales tax. Evidence suggests that for each additional sales tax exemption, the rate of sales tax increases by between 0.1 and 0.25 percent. [xxiii] Secondly, the taxes on menstrual hygiene products only represent a small portion of the price, and may not be the best way to help lower-income women afford products. A woman spends an average of $84 dollars annually on menstrual products, and the average state and local tax rates nationwide is 6.56%. [xxiv] This means that the average annual revenue from the tampon tax, per woman, is approximately $5.52, less than the average price of a box of tampons, which is $7. [xxv] Thus, repealing the tampon tax is largely ineffective at making products more affordable, both because the tax represents a fraction of the price of products, and because the overall sales tax will most likely increase to make up for the state's lost revenue. [xxvi]
    Rather than targeting the Tampon Tax in order to provide increased access to menstrual products, policy change should instead target subsidies to reduce the financial burden of period products for lower-income segments of the population. To do so, these products should be subsidized through federal Medicaid and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance programs (SNAP). This approach has the advantage of targeting segments of the population that need assistance, while leaving a large portion of revenue from the Tampon Tax to the state. Repealing the Tampon Tax, on the other hand, makes products marginally more affordable for those in need, while higher income women reap a benefit they do not require - not to mention the likely increase in the sales tax rate. Thus, the most effective way to provide products to those in need while simultaneously maximizing the available human capital in the United States economy is a subsidy, allocated to federal assistance programs. While the need for such products within SNAP and Medicaid is hard to assess due to the lack of current statistics, there are approximate calculations that can be made. In 2019 there were 25 million women utilizing Medicaid [xxvii], of whom approximately 16,750,000 are menstruating, given that the average age of menopause is 51, and 67% of the 25 million women are ages 19-49. [xxviii] While girls younger than 19 require menstrual hygiene products, it can be assumed their parents or guardians will purchase them through Medicaid or SNAP. In 2019 there were 38 million people nationwide receiving aid through SNAP,[xxix] and in 2016, 58% of adult participants in SNAP were non-elderly women.[xxx] Based on this, a fair estimate can be made that there are approximately 22,040,000 menstruating women currently utilizing SNAP. Thus, the total number of menstruating participants of these two programs is approximately 38,790,000. It is important to note that this figure assumes all menstruating age women are, in fact, menstruating, as certain hormonal forms of birth control can stop a woman's period, as well as certain medical conditions. Assuming there are 38.79 million women in need - at a retail cost of $84 annually - the subsidy would cost approximately $3.25 billion annually. [xxxi] However, seeing the great possible economic impact that women and girls can bring to the United States, this subsidy would aid the U.S greatly in the maximization of human capital and productivity. As S&P Global has noted, continued reductions in workplace gender inequalities in the U.S have the potential to increase GDP an additional 5-10% - more than enough to offset this investment. [xxxii]
    Thus, the lack of access to menstrual hygiene products presents a handicap to the economy overall. To optimize productivity and equality, the United States must permit women and girls to be full participants in the workforce and in schools. There are two equally compelling arguments to do so. First, there is a clear moral obligation to make these products more accessible, especially in a nation that cherishes equality and fairness. It is therefore the responsibility of the U.S to ensure that women of all ages are not disadvantaged by the biological reality of their sex. Second, there is an economic imperative to address the issue of period poverty. As this paper demonstrates, there are great economic incentives to do so, as a more productive female workforce will yield tangible dividends to our national competitiveness and GDP growth. To accomplish this goal, the strongest policy choice would be subsidization through SNAP and Medicaid, rather than the more obvious -- but less effective -- approach of merely making period products tax exempt. Removing the sales tax on period products does make them marginally less expensive for those in need - with the average woman saving approximately $0.46 through the tax break each time they purchase a box of tampons.[xxxiii] But subsidizing the purchase of these products through SNAP and Medicaid will offer a much greater return - though at a higher cost. Ultimately, there is a strong economic argument for these policy changes; there is also an equally strong moral argument. The girls and women of our nation deserve equal access to the products they need to be as effective and productive as their male counterparts. Either rationale should be sufficient to put these policy changes into effect forthwith.

    "AMWA." American Medical Women's Association.
    Anthony, Christopher. "Menstruation Management in United States Schools and Implications for Attendance, Academic Performance, and Health." SSRN. January 19, 2019.
    Anthony, Christopher, Rozema, and Kyle. "Who Benefits from Repealing Tampon Taxes? Empirical Evidence from New Jersey." SSRN. July 18, 2017.
    Bahn, Kate, and Annie McGrew. "A Day in the U.S. Economy Without Women." Center for American Progress. March 07, 2017.
    Beachum, Lateshia. "Male Lawmaker Frets about Loss of State Income If Tampons Are Included in Tax-free Holiday." The Washington Post. February 13, 2020.
    Bivens, Josh. "Fundamental Health Reform like 'Medicare for All' Would Help the Labor Market: Job Loss Claims Are Misleading, and Substantial Boosts to Job Quality Are Often Overlooked." Economic Policy Institute.
    Blackburn, Laura. "The Hidden Effects of Period Poverty in the US." Thinx. October 17, 2019.
    Recht, Hannah. “What Life Would Look Like Without the Tampon Tax”, October 2018.
    Bourne, Jo, Jennifer Pye, Shanna Kohn, Katy Bullard, and Krystyna Sonnenberg. "Why Educating Girls Makes Economic Sense." Global Partnership for Education. March 06, 2014.
    Bartik, Timothy. “Early Childhood Programs as an Economic Development Tool ...” Accessed May 6, 2020.
    Bovino, Beth A., and Jason Gold. “The Key to Unlocking U.S. GDP Growth: Women.” The Key to Unlocking U.S. GDP Growth: Women | S&P Global. Accessed May 8, 2020.
    "California Just Officially Eliminated Its 'Tampon Tax'." Global Citizen.
    Cammenga, Janelle. “State and Local Sales Tax Rates, 2020.” Tax Foundation, February 13, 2020.
    Carmignani, Fabrizio. "Does Government Spending on Education Promote Economic Growth?" The Conversation. June 03, 2019.
    Capatides, Christina. “What Is Period Poverty?” CBS News. CBS Interactive, May 28, 2019.
    "A Closer Look at Who Benefits from SNAP: State-by-State Fact Sheets." Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. March 16, 2020.
    College for Public Health and Social Justice. "Unmet Menstrual Hygiene Needs Among Low-Income Women : Obstetrics & Gynecology." LWW.
    Crain, Abbey . "National Period Day Calls to End Tampon Tax in Alabama." Al. October 17, 2019.
    Conrad, Melissa. "Menopause Treatment, Signs, Symptoms & Age." MedicineNet. July 15, 2019.
    Delalibera, Bruno Ricardo, and Pedro Cavalcanti Ferreira. "Early Childhood Education and Economic Growth." Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control. November 02, 2018.
    Department of Community Health. "Mental Illness and Employment Discrimination : Current Opinion in Psychiatry." LWW.
    Dunn, Jennifer. “Sales Tax by State: Non-Taxable Items.” TaxJar Blog, March 31, 2020.
    Elsworthy, Emma. "Women Who Experience Period Poverty 'more Likely to Suffer Anxiety or Depression'." The Independent. July 18, 2018.
    Epstein, Rachel, Rachel Epstein, and Marie Claire. "Does Your State Have a Tampon Tax? This Map Will Show You." Marie Claire. January 21, 2020.
    Gihoon, Kim, Geunhwan, Sim, and Seung-Gyu. “Female Education Externality and Inclusive Growth.” MDPI. Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute, June 17, 2019.
    "Girls' Education: Education." U.S. Agency for International Development. October 01, 2018.
    "Hygiene Equity Goes Beyond Tampon Taxes." Governing.
    Kaeding, Nicole. "Tampon Taxes: Do Feminine Hygiene Products Deserve a Sales Tax Exemption?" Tax Foundation. June 27, 2019.
    Kane, Jessica. "This Is The Price Of Your Period." HuffPost. December 07, 2017.
    Wilson, Rob A., and Geoff Briscoe. “The Impact of Human Capital on Economic Growth: a Review,” January 2004.
    Litman, Jill. "Menstruation Stigma Must Stop. Period." The Public Health Advocate. June 05, 2018.
    Loughead, Katherine. "Sales Taxes on Soda, Candy, and Other Groceries, 2018." Tax Foundation. August 09, 2019.
    "Norway Female Labor Force Participation - Data, Chart."
    Oot, Torey Van, and Torey Van Oot. "Here's How Much the Tampon Tax Is Still Costing American Women." InStyle.
    "PERIOD. Leading the Menstrual Movement." PERIOD.
    "Poverty & Opportunity." Women in the States.
    Published: Mar 28, 2019. "Medicaid's Role for Women." The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. September 09, 2019.
    "Quality Early Childhood Education - Economic Impact." First Five Years Fund.
    Ranji, Usha, Yali Bair, and Alina Salganicoff. "Medicaid and Family Planning: Background and Implications of the ACA - Medicaid Family Planning Policy." The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. June 19, 2019.
    "Relationship Between Female Labor Force Participation Rates and GDP." The White House. February 07, 2019.
    Rosa, Shawna De La. "Report Finds 'period Poverty' a Top Reason Girls Miss School." Education Dive. October 21, 2019.
    "SLU Study Spotlights Low-Income Women's Menstrual Product Access Issues." SLU. January 10, 2019.
    Salam, Maya. "Goodbye, Tampon Tax (at Least for Some)." The New York Times. November 09, 2018.
    Schanzenbach, Diane Whitmore, and Ryan Nunn. "The 51%: Driving Growth through Women's Economic Participation." Brookings. December 19, 2017.
    Schechter, Maayan. "SC Could Get Rid of 'tampon Tax' That Charges Extra for Feminine Hygiene Products." Thestate. November 26, 2019.
    Sharma, Jeena. "The State of Period Poverty in the United States." PAPER. September 11, 2019.
    "Tampons Will No Longer Be Taxed as Luxuries in Germany." ZME Science. November 11, 2019.
    "The Official U.S. Government Site for Medicare: Medicaid." Medicaid Home.
    "Title IX - Gender Equity in Education." American Civil Liberties Union.
    Tso, Tiffany. "How We Can Take Down the Tampon Tax and End Period Poverty." Rewire.News. April 01, 2020.
    "Two-Thirds of Poor U.S. Women Can't Afford Menstrual Pads, Tampons: Study." Eastern Carolina Women's Center. January 16, 2019.
    U.S. Census Bureau. "Payday, Poverty, and Women." The United States Census Bureau. September 10, 2019.
    U.S. Census Bureau. "Poverty Rate for People in Female-Householder Families Lowest on Record." The United States Census Bureau. September 13, 2019.
    "United States Ranks Among the World's Best Countries." U.S. News & World Report.
    Weinstein, Amanda. "When More Women Join the Workforce, Wages Rise - Including for Men." Harvard Business Review. April 23, 2018.
    "Women Forced to Choose Between Food and Menstrual Products." WTTW News.
    "Women's Education and Economic Well-being." Taylor & Francis.
    Young, Angela. 12 Stats About Working Women.
    Zraick, Karen. "22 States Considered Eliminating the 'Tampon Tax' This Year. Here's What Happened." The New York Times. July 12, 2019.


    [i]Litman, Jill. "Menstruation Stigma Must Stop. Period." The Public Health Advocate. June 05, 2018.
    [ii]"Women's Education and Economic Well-being." Taylor & Francis.
    [iii]Thinx, and PERIOD. “State of the Period .”, October 17, 2019.
    [iv]Recht, Hannah. “What Life Would Look Like Without the Tampon Tax”, October 2018.
    [v]Charles Wheelan. “Naked Economics: Undressing the Dismal Science.” W.W. Norton & Company, 2010. 127
    [vi]Wilson, Rob A., and Geoff Briscoe. “The Impact of Human Capital on Economic Growth: a Review,” January 2004.
    [vii]"Quality Early Childhood Education - Economic Impact." First Five Years Fund.
    [viii]Wilson, Rob A., and Geoff Briscoe. “The Impact of Human Capital on Economic Growth: a Review,” January 2004.
    [ix]"Title IX - Gender Equity in Education." American Civil Liberties Union.
    [x]"Girls' Education: Education." U.S. Agency for International Development. October 01, 2018.
    [xi]Gihoon, Kim, Geunhwan, Sim, and Seung-Gyu. “Female Education Externality and Inclusive Growth.” MDPI. Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute, June 17, 2019.
    [xii]"AMWA." American Medical Women's Association.
    [xiii]Thinx, and PERIOD. “State of the Period .”, October 17, 2019.
    [xiv]"Two-Thirds of Poor U.S. Women Can't Afford Menstrual Pads, Tampons: Study." Eastern Carolina Women's Center. January 16, 2019.
    [xv]Bovino, Beth A., and Jason Gold. “The Key to Unlocking U.S. GDP Growth: Women.” The Key to Unlocking U.S. GDP Growth: Women | S&P Global. Accessed May 8, 2020.
    [xvi]Elsworthy, Emma. "Women Who Experience Period Poverty 'more Likely to Suffer Anxiety or Depression'." The Independent. July 18, 2018.
    [xvii]Department of Community Health. "Mental Illness and Employment Discrimination : Current Opinion in Psychiatry." LWW.
    [xviii]Kapoor, Arunima. “[PDF] Depressed People Need Not Apply : Mental Health Stigma Decreases Perceptions of Employability of Applicants with Depression: Semantic Scholar.” Depressed People Need Not Apply : Mental Health Stigma Decreases Perceptions of Employability of Applicants with Depression | Semantic Scholar, January 1, 1970.
    [xix]Elsworthy, Emma. "Women Who Experience Period Poverty 'more Likely to Suffer Anxiety or Depression'." The Independent. July 18, 2018.
    [xx]Capatides, Christina. “What Is Period Poverty?” CBS News. CBS Interactive, May 28, 2019.
    [xxi]Dunn, Jennifer. “Sales Tax by State: Non-Taxable Items.” TaxJar Blog, March 31, 2020.
    [xxii]Epstein, Rachel, Rachel Epstein, and Marie Claire. "Does Your State Have a Tampon Tax? This Map Will Show You." Marie Claire. January 21, 2020.
    [xxiii]Anthony, Christopher, Rozema, and Kyle. "Who Benefits from Repealing Tampon Taxes? Empirical Evidence from New Jersey." SSRN. July 18, 2017.
    [xxiv]Cammenga, Janelle. “State and Local Sales Tax Rates, 2020.” Tax Foundation, February 13, 2020.
    [xxv]Kane, Jessica. "This Is The Price Of Your Period." HuffPost. December 07, 2017.
    [xxvi]Anthony, Christopher, Rozema, and Kyle. "Who Benefits from Repealing Tampon Taxes? Empirical Evidence from New Jersey." SSRN. July 18, 2017.
    [xxvii]Published: Mar 28, 2019. "Medicaid's Role for Women." The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. September 09, 2019.\
    [xxviii]Conrad, Melissa. "Menopause Treatment, Signs, Symptoms & Age." MedicineNet. July 15, 2019.
    [xxix]"A Closer Look at Who Benefits from SNAP: State-by-State Fact Sheets." Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. March 16, 2020.
    [xxxi]Kane, Jessica. "This Is The Price Of Your Period." HuffPost. December 07, 2017.
    [xxxii]Bovino, Beth A., and Jason Gold. “The Key to Unlocking U.S. GDP Growth: Women.” The Key to Unlocking U.S. GDP Growth: Women | S&P Global. Accessed May 8, 2020.
    [xxxiii]Kane, Jessica. "This Is The Price Of Your Period." HuffPost. December 07, 2017.
  • Linguistic Relativity - Kevin Wang '20

    It is commonly recognized that language plays an important role in the propagation of culture in all human societies. According to cultural anthropologist Alfred Kroeber, “culture started when speech was available, and from that beginning, the enrichment of either one led the other to develop further.”[i] The intertwined nature of language and culture is easily perceivable even by the general public. A particular language often points to a specific group of people with a unique culture. Language learners need to consider cultural differences in order to fully grasp the nuances in a foreign language. To understand the relation between language and culture, anthropologists have often referred to the theory of linguistic relativity, which states, in short, that the structure of language strongly influences its speakers’ cognitive categories, hence people’s perception of reality is relative to the languages they speak.[ii] While the theory can account for certain correlations between language and culture, it fails to prove the direction of causality. In fact, based on existing evidence found throughout the past century, it is more reasonable to conclude that language has an extremely weak impact, if any impact at all, on people’s perception of the world. Instead, it is the existing culture that determines a people’s cognition, which is then reflected by their use of linguistic categories.
    The idea of linguistic relativity was first introduced in the early 20th century when anthropologists Franz Boas and Edward Sapir wrote about the extent to which languages can embody “the spirit of a nation.”[iii] Sapir’s student, Benjamin Lee Whorf, argued “that language fundamentally shapes the categories and structures of how we perceive the world, and thus, our world is colored, or even determined, by the linguistic structure in which we think and speak.”[iv] In other words, language determines reality, which, in turn, shapes culture.[v] Whorf often defended much of his theory with his study of the Hopi language spoken by a native Uto-Aztecan people group of North America, which according to him had “no general notion or intuition of time as a smooth flowing continuum in which everything in the universe proceeds at equal rate, out of a future, through the present, into a past.”[vi] The lack of grammatical tenses and the denotation for time led Whorf to hypothesize that the Hopi perceive and process reality differently: “A day followed by night is not so much a new day, but a return of daylight.”[vii] Later studies on the variation of color perception between speakers of languages that categorized colors differently (e.g. the word siyóname in the Tarahumara language covers a range of colors from green to blue) also seem to support Whorf’s hypothesis.[viii]
                While supporters of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis have succeeded in demonstrating a level of correlation between language and culture, and the theory of linguistic relativity is still favored by many scholars today, it fails at proving that the correlation is caused by the language’s influence on the thought process of its speakers, and not the reverse, that the categories of thought influences the features of a language. Given that there is some correlation, it is no longer possible to argue in favor of linguistic universalism, “that the modes of thought all people are essentially similar”; however, existing evidence clearly falls short in substantiating linguistic relativity as the explanation for the coevolution of cognitive categories and language structures.[ix] Instead, the alternative, that thought patterns precedes language patterns, should hold its place as a much more viable theory.
                As American linguist Charles Hockett pointed out, “languages differ not so much as to what can be said in them, but rather as to what is relatively easy to say.”[x] Oftentimes, what is perceived as linguistic differences do not actually result in a different way of thinking. For instance, the word schadenfreude in German refers to the idea of “deriving pleasure from someone else’s misfortune”, and while many languages lack a specific cognate of the word, it does not mean that speakers of languages other than German are unable to perceive this concept.[xi] In fact, once the literal meaning of the word is explained, most people would immediately understand the different sentiments related to the schadenfreude without any further explanation. While it is certainly true that the lack of certain vocabulary, syntax, or grammar can prevent speakers of some languages to convey ideas as concisely as speakers of other languages would, it does not suggest that these cognitive categories are limited to certain languages only.
                While the limitations of languages can be so great that it is impossible to articulate certain concepts in a particular language, it does not create a significant difference in the people’s perception of reality. Whorf’s research on the Hopi language in the 1940s led him to conclude that the Hopi “have no concept of time.”[xii] However, as the case of the Hopi language was brought into examination in the 1980s, linguist Ekkehart Malotki published a 600-page study of the grammar of the Hopi language in which he refuted Whorf’s original hypothesis on the Hopi’s perception of time.[xiii] According to Malotki, the Hopi conceptualize time as structured to progress from past, through present, into the future, despite not having a corresponding word for “time” as in English or the past/non-past distinction used in English.[xiv] Instead, the Hopi language distinguishes between a conditional tense and a non-conditional tense, where the suffix “ni”, roughly translated to “yet” in English, is often used when discussing events that have “yet” to happen, i.e. the future.[xv] While the Hopi do lack a word for “time” as it is used in English, they “employ words to refer to a duration (pàasa), time measured by a clock (pahàntawa), or an occasion to do something (hisat).”[xvi] When Malotki interacted with native speakers of Hopi, there was no evidence that could indicate that the Hopi perceived time differently than speakers of English, and they told stories in chronological narratives that would suggest quite the contrary.[xvii]
                In a more general sense, linguistic diversity does not necessarily lead to cultural diversity. Among the six native American tribes that populate northwestern California, three closer to the center identify as the Yurok, the Karok, and the Hupa, while slightly peripheral are the Tolowa, the Wiyot, and the Chilula.[xviii] Anthropologists observed that “the Yuroks shared this civilization in identical forms with its neighbors, the Hupa and the Karok. The adjacent Tolowa, Wiyot and Chilula adhere to the same culture in every essential trait.”[xix] Later research found little lexical or syntactic similarity between the languages spoken by any of the tribes, while the culture among each triad is close to an astonishing degree. In particular, although the Yurok, the Karok, and the Hupa share almost no vocabulary, participants from each tribe presented similar answers to taxonomical questions such as “Is a toad a fish?” or “Is a strawberry a plant?” in their respective languages.[xx] Further investigations showed that all the three tribes shared rituals of similar nature and had similar ways of labeling their environment.[xxi] As opposed to Whorf’s hypothesis that language determines the natives’ categories of thought, the situation of the aforementioned tribes would indicate that environmental factors and other non-linguistic factors are at play. 
                As the world becomes increasingly globalized, the successful fusion of languages also seems to disagree with Whorf’s hypothesis on the strong influence of language on culture. In particular, the prevalence of second language acquisition and multilingualism would not have been possible if language was deterministic or even played an important role in people’s cognitive categories.[xxii] The fact that multilingual children are able to perfectly execute many languages at once while still remaining as an ordinary member of a culture would suggest the contrary to linguistic relativity. Moreover, anglicism, the borrowing of English words into other languages, suggests that the change in languages is often caused by cultural and environmental factors. In particular, anglicism is not caused by the fact that certain concepts did not exist prior to the introduction of the English word (except for in the case of a new scientific or intellectual discovery, such as the internet or computer); instead, anglicism often occur as a result of non-linguistic factors such as a country’s alliance with an English speaking country, past colonization, international popularity of certain phrases or names, or simply for convenience.[xxiii] For example, saying 公交汽车, literally “public transit vehicle,” in Chinese is perfectly viable, but the phonetic borrowing of the word “bus” in English, 巴士, is simply easier to say. The adoption of English words is also extremely common in the spheres of business and information technology in Latin America and Spain.[xxiv] However, by borrowing words from other languages, or even speaking in an amalgamation of languages (e.g. “Chinglish”, the English spoken by native Chinese speakers using Chinese syntactic features), one does not change their outlook of reality. Instead, it is the rapidly changing environment of a subgroup of a culture which promotes the adoption of new words that ultimately results in the establishment of new forms of speech in a language.
    If we trace the evolution of a single language without considering cases of foreign influences, it becomes more evident that culture plays a decisive role in shaping a language. For instance, a study on the English vocabulary concluded that the word “friend” is used much more frequently today and has had its meaning weakened significantly since Shakespeare’s time, “when it designated an exceptional, intimate, and life-long bond of trust, affection, and mutual assistance.” [xxv] This change is considered to correspond with a shift towards “a more flexible and broadly-based (if ‘shallower’) mode of social relationships.”[xxvi] This particular change in usage of vocabulary in English is a direct result of the drastic change in the economic and social structures of many English-speaking countries since the 16th century. Another familiar example is the emergence of the phrase “to google” something in English, or the equivalent forms in other languages (e.g. googlear/guglear in Spanish), which appeared as a result of the popularization of the search engine Google as well as the notion of finding answers to questions through the internet among different communities around the world.[xxvii] It is evident that cultural changes often precede the changes in linguistic patterns that they are associated with.
                Advocates of linguistic relativity would generally refer to the studies on the variation of color perception based on language, as well as recent studies on cognitive perception as a result of grammatical genders in their arguments. Nevertheless, neither are sufficient to indicate the deterministic influence of language on culture. As observed in a recent study involving English-speaking participants and Tarahumara-speaking participants, where the word siyóname can mean a range of colors consisting of various shades of green and blue, the influences predicted by the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis is observed to only affect 30-50 percent of the experiments.[xxviii] Moreover, although English does not categorize the color pink as “light red”, English speakers easily recognize a level of affinity between the colors red and pink without categorizing them as the same color in a linguistic perspective.[xxix] The widely known research by Brent Berlin and Paul Kay in 1969 also identified eleven basic color categories that exist among all known languages of the world.[xxx] In the cases of languages with fewer than eleven color categories, Berlin and Kay also observed that the description of colors “followed a specific evolutionary pattern,” which they summarized in seven basic rules, three of which include: [xxxi] 
    “1. All languages contain terms for black and white.
     2. If a language contains three terms, then it contains a term for red.
     3.If a language contains four terms, then it contains a term for either green or yellow (but not both).” [xxxii]
    While Berlin and Kay’s research cannot prove that there is a universal perception of colors, no other studies have found significant results that would support the opposite argument to the same extent.[xxxiii] Hence the difference in language patterns have not been observed to cause sufficient differences in color perception that could be used to validate Whorf’s hypothesis on linguistic relativity. .
    In comparison, the studies on the correlation between cognition and grammatical gender achieved more promising results, since they revealed that speakers of languages with grammatical genders tend to assign “feminine” and “masculine” traits to inanimate objects due to their grammatical genders. In a study comparing speakers of different European languages including Polish, German, Spanish, French, and Italian, researchers found that grammatical genders affect the way people describe objects.[xxxiv] For example, “a key was described as heavy and metallic by German speakers (der Schlüssel – masculine gender) and as small, shiny and beautiful by Spanish speakers (la clave – feminine gender).[xxxv] Gender effects also occurred when participants were asked to assign certain features stereotypically related to one sex to nouns (e.g., masculine nouns were evaluated as “stronger” than feminine nouns).”[xxxvi]  Nevertheless, such studies oftentimes fail to address the underlying premise that although “masculine” and “feminine” genders are linguistic properties, “masculine” and “feminine” features are subjective to a specific culture. Descriptions such as “heavy and metallic”, “small, shiny, and beautiful”, “stronger” are associated with masculine and feminine stereotypes evolved in a culture over time. In contrast, the denotation of grammatical gender came from the latin word gener (type, kind, group), which did not originally have the same meaning of genders in the modern age.[xxxvii] It can be further demonstrated that the gender of the speakers can impact their assignment of grammatical genders, since people are more susceptible to different biases due to their own genders.[xxxviii] Therefore, the assignment of gendered traits to inanimate objects and concepts is at least a combined result of linguistic and non-linguistic factors, making it insufficient to support Whorf’s hypothesis. 
                While it is true that learning foreign languages often allow people to expand their view of the world, it is usually the opposing customs, attitudes, and opinions found in different cultures that enhance one’s ability to perceive reality, rather than the acquired language abilities that affect one’s cognitive structure. The discussion is not about universalism: it is almost a given that people from different cultures tend to view the world differently. However, as evidence stands, language does not shape culture; it is culture that shapes language. In modern anthropological debates, perhaps it would be beneficial for us to reconsider the role of linguistic influences not as a source but as a product of human cognition and behavior.
    “A. L. Kroeber.” Encyclopædia Britannica. Accessed May 6, 2020.
    Barnard, Alan and Jonathan Spencer. "Sapir-Whorf hypothesis." In Encyclopedia of Social and
    Cultural Anthropology, edited by Alan Barnard, and Jonathan Spencer. 2nd ed.
    Routledge, 2009.
    Bayramova, Ayten Mahammad. "Interrelation of language and culture." Theory and Practice in
    Language Studies6, no. 10 (2016): 1940. Gale Academic OneFile. Accessed May 6,
    Berlin, Brent, and Paul Kay. Basic Color Terms: Their Universality and Evolution. Stanford,
    Calif: CSLI Publications, 2000.
    Boroditsky, Lera. “Space, Time, and Number in the Brain.” Academic Press, 2011: 285-291.
    Bright, Jane O., and William Bright. "Semantic Structures in Northwestern California and the
    Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis." American Anthropologist, New Series, 67, no. 5 (1965):
    249-58. Accessed April 22, 2020.
    Cibelli, Emily, Yang Xu, Joseph L. Austerweil, Thomas L. Griffiths, and Terry Regier. "The
    Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis and Probabilistic Inference: Evidence from the Domain of
    Color." PLoS ONE 11, no. 7 (2016): e0158725. Gale OneFile: Health and Medicine
    (accessed January 19, 2020).
    Cohen, Henri and Claire Lefebvre. “Handbook of Categorization in Cognitive Science. ”
    Elsevier Science, no.2 (2017): 312-327. ISBN: 9780128097663.
    Crawford, T. D. “Plato’s Reasoning and the Sapir—Whorf Hypothesis.” Metaphilosophy 13, no.
    3/4 (1982): 217-27. Accessed January 20, 2020.
    KNOWLEDGE." Berkeley Journal of Sociology 11 (1966): 14-31. Accessed January 20,
    Deutcher, Guy. “Does Your Language Shape How You Think?” New York Times. August 26,
    Engle, John. “Of Hopis and Heptapods: The Return of Sapir--Whorf.” ETC.: A Review of
    General Semantics, no. 1 (2016): 95.
    Francis, Alexander L, Laura J Tigchelaar, Rongrong Zhang, and Adriana A Zekveld. 2018.
    “Effects of Second Language Proficiency and Linguistic Uncertainty on Recognition of
    Speech in Native and Nonnative Competing Speech.” Journal Of Speech, Language, And
    Hearing Research: JSLHR61 (7): 1815–30. doi:10.1044/2018_JSLHR-H-17-0254.
    Gabbert, Elisa. “Can Ideas Withstand Shifts in Language? Considering the Sapir-Whorf
    hypothesis for translation, emoji, and pop culture.” Guernica. Accessed May 3, 2020.
    “Google (verb).” Wikipedia. Accessed May 6, 2020.
    Hoijer, Harry. Language in Culture. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1963.
    Ji, Yinglin. 2019. “Cognitive Representation of Spontaneous Motion in a Second Language: An
    Exploration of Chinese Learners of English.” Frontiers in Psychology 10 (December): 1.
    Kalectaca, Milo. Lessons in Hopi. Tucson, Arizona: University of Arizona Press, 1978.
    Kaye, Alan S. "Linguistic Relativity." In Key Ideas in Linguistics and the Philosophy of
    Language, by Siobhan Chapman, and Christopher Routledge. Edinburgh University
    Press, 2009.
    Kempton, Willett. “What Is the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis?” American Anthropologist, New
    Series, 86, no. 1 (1984): 65-79. Accessed April 20, 2020.
    Kennedy A., D. Heller, J. Pynte, and Ralph Radach. “Reading As A Perpetual Process.” North
    Holland, no.1 (2000): 178-190. ISBN: 9780080436425.
    Lähteenmäki, Mika. "The Soviet Reception of Edward Sapir's Linguistic Ideas from the 1920s to
    the 1950s.” Russian Linguistics 38, no. 1 (2014): 47-62. Accessed January 20, 2020.
    Maciuszek, Jà Zef, Mateusz Polak, and Natalia Owia̧tkowska. "Grammatical Gender
    Influences Semantic Categorization and Implicit Cognition in Polish." Frontiers in
    Psychology (2019). Accessed April 19, 2020.
    Malotki, Ekkehart. Hopi Time: a Linguistic Analysis of the Temporal Concepts in the Hopi
    Language. Berlin: Mouton, 1983.
    McLeod, Sharynne, and Kathryn Crowe. 2018. “Children’s Consonant Acquisition in 27
    Languages: A Cross-Linguistic Review.” American Journal Of Speech-Language
    Pathology 27 (4): 1546–71. doi:10.1044/2018_AJSLP-17-0100.
    Mintz, T. H. “Language Development.” Encyclopedia of Neuroscience, no.1 (2009): 313-319.
    Accessed Jan 20, 2020.
    Rainer, Franz. “The Language of the Economy and Business in the Romance Languages.”
    Oxford Research Encyclopedia. Accessed May 1, 2020. doi:
    Shipley, Thomas F. and Philip J. Kellman. “From Fragments to Objects.” North Holland, vol
    130, no.1 (2001): 217-225. ISBN: 9780444505064.
    Smelser, N. J., and P. B. Baltes. “International Encyclopedia of Social & Behavioral Sciences.”
    Pergamon, no.1 (2001): 79-81. ISBN: 9780080430768.
    Trask, R.L.  Language: The Basics. London: Routledge, 1999.
    Vanhove, Jan. “Metalinguistic knowledge about the native language and language transfer in
    gender assignment.” Studies in Second Language Learning and Teaching 9, no. 2 (2019):
    397. Gale Academic OneFile. Accessed May 6, 2020.
    Vitevitch, Michael S., Joan Sereno, Allard Jongman, and Rutherford Goldstein. "Speaker Sex
    Influences Processing of Grammatical Gender." PLoS ONE 8, no. 11 (2013). Gale
    OneFile: Health and Medicine. Accessed May 6, 2020.
    Chinese Linguistics Monograph Series, no. 26 (2016): Vii-X. Accessed January 20, 2020.
    Whorf, Benjamin Lee. “An American Indian model of the universe.” Language, Thought, and
    Technology Press of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1956. ISBN 9780262730068.


    [i]  “A. L. Kroeber,” Encyclopædia Britannica, accessed May 6, 2020,
    [ii]  Alan Barnard and Jonathan Spencer, “Sapir-Whorf hypothesis,” Encyclopedia of Social and Cultural Anthropology, edited by Alan Barnard, and Jonathan Spencer. 2nd ed. Routledge, 2009, accessed May 6, 2020,
    [iii] Alan S. Kaye, “Linguistic Relativity,” Key Ideas in Linguistics and the Philosophy of Language, by Siobhan Chapman, and Christopher Routledge, Edinburgh University Press, 2009,
    [iv]  John Engle, “Of Hopis and Heptapods: The Return of Sapir--Whorf,” ETC.: A Review of General Semantics, no. 1 (2016): 96,
    [v] Ibid, 97.
    [vi] Benjamin Lee Whorf, “An American Indian model of the universe,” Language, Thought, and Reality: Selected Writings of Benjamin Lee Whorf (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Technology Press of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1956), 57. ISBN 9780262730068.
    [vii] Ibid, 261.
    [viii]  Willett Kempton, "What Is the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis?" American Anthropologist, New Series, no. 1 (1984): 69, accessed April 20, 2020,
    [ix] T. D. Crawford, “Plato’s Reasoning and the Sapir—Whorf Hypothesis,” Metaphilosophy 13, no. 3/4 (1982): 218, accessed April 20, 2020,
    [x] Harry Hoijer, Language in Culture (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1963), 122.
    [xi] Elisa Gabbert, “Can Ideas Withstand Shifts in Language? Considering the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis for translation, emoji, and pop culture,” Guernica, accessed May 3, 2020,
    [xii] Benjamin Lee Whorf, “An American Indian model of the universe,” Language, Thought, and Reality: Selected Writings of Benjamin Lee Whorf (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Technology Press of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1956), 224. ISBN 9780262730068.
    [xiii] Ekkehart Malotki, Hopi Time: a Linguistic Analysis of the Temporal Concepts in the Hopi Language (Berlin: Mouton, 1983), 12.
    [xiv] Ibid.
    [xv] Milo Kalectaca, Lessons in Hopi (Tucson, Arizona: University of Arizona Press, 1978), 157.
    [xvi] Ibid, 155.
    [xvii] Ekkehart Malotki, Hopi Time: a Linguistic Analysis of the Temporal Concepts in the Hopi Language (Berlin: Mouton, 1983), 76.
    [xviii] Jane O. Bright and William Bright, “Semantic Structures in Northwestern California and the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis,” American Anthropologist, New Series, 67, no. 5 (1965): 249, accessed April 22, 2020,
    [xix] Ibid.
    [xx] Ibid, 252.
    [xxi] Ibid.
    [xxii] Alexander L. Francis, Laura J Tigchelaar, Rongrong Zhang, and Adriana A Zekveld, “Effects of Second Language Proficiency and Linguistic Uncertainty on Recognition of Speech in Native and Nonnative Competing Speech,” Journal Of Speech, Language, And Hearing Research: JSLHR61 (7): 1815. doi:10.1044/2018_JSLHR-H-17-0254.
    [xxiii] Franz Rainer, “The Language of the Economy and Business in the Romance Languages,” Oxford Research Encyclopedia, accessed May 1, 2020. doi: 10.1093/acrefore/9780199384655.013.476.
    [xxiv] Ibid.
    [xxv] Smelser, N. J., and P. B. Baltes. “International Encyclopedia of Social & Behavioral Sciences.” Pergamon, no.1 (2001): 80. ISBN: 9780080430768.
    [xxvi] Ibid.
    [xxvii] “Google (verb),” Wikipedia, accessed May 6, 2020,
    [xxviii] Willett Kempton, "What Is the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis?" American Anthropologist, New Series, no. 1 (1984): 69, accessed January 20, 2020,
    [xxix] Brent Berlin and Paul Kay, Basic Color Terms: Their Universality and Evolution (Stanford, Calif: CSLI Publications, 2000), 75.
    [xxx] Ibid, 88.
    [xxxi] Ibid, 92.
    [xxxii] Ibid. The remaining four rules are:
       4. If a language contains five terms, then it contains terms for both green and yellow.
       5. If a language contains six terms, then it contains a term for blue.
       6. If a language contains seven terms, then it contains a term for brown.
       7. If a language contains eight or more terms, then it contains terms for purple, pink, orange or gray.
    In addition to following this evolutionary pattern absolutely, the languages studied also selected “virtually identical focal hues for each color category present.” For example, the term for “red” in each language corresponded to the same shade in the Munsell color system. Thus, Berlin and Kay posited that the cognition of each color category is universal.
    [xxxiii] R.L. Trask, Language: The Basics (London: Routledge, 1999), 45.
    [xxxiv] Jà Zef Maciuszek, Mateusz Polak, and Natalia Owia̧tkowska, “Grammatical Gender Influences Semantic Categorization and Implicit Cognition in Polish,” Frontiers in Psychology (2019), accessed April 19, 2020,
    [xxxv] Ibid.
    [xxxvi] Ibid.
    [xxxvii] Jan Vanhove, “Metalinguistic knowledge about the native language and language transfer in gender assignment,” Studies in Second Language Learning and Teaching 9, no. 2 (2019): 397, Gale Academic OneFile, accessed May 6, 2020,
    [xxxviii] Michael S. Vitevitch, Joan Sereno, Allard Jongman, and Rutherford Goldstein, “Speaker Sex Influences Processing of Grammatical Gender,” PLoS ONE 8, no. 11 (2013), Gale OneFile: Health and Medicine, accessed May 6, 2020,
  • When, Where, and Why Rape Does Not Occur: An Exploration into the Etiology of Rape and How to Eradicate the Prevalence - Clare Carty '19

    Rape is an extremely prevalent issue around the world, affecting all genders and ages, and leaving a severe psychological toll on the victims. Rape has been seen throughout history in all types of societies, from tribal societies to industrialized modern societies, and the recent #MeToo movement has brought awareness to the issue around the world. Countless theories about the origin and causes of rape, ranging from evolutionary and biological causes to narcissistic elements have been put forth. However, the real cause for the prevalence of rape is best revealed by looking at the cultures which lack male rape of women and comparing and contrasting those to societies where it is extremely prevalent. The few cultures with lower counts of rape demonstrate the importance of cooperation and lack of competition for power and authority. Rape is not an accident, but a feature of competitive societies. Therefore, it is a problem that can only be resolved by full cooperation between the sexes and with the natural, social, and economic conditions.

    Many popular theories seek to explain why men commit rape and why violence against women takes a sexual form, instead of a purely violent one. Common theories are the evolutionary theory, feminist theory, self-control theory, and American Dream and crime theory. The evolutionary theory was created by anthropologists Thornhill and Palmer, who argue that men who force their sexual desires on women reproduced more efficiently, leading to more offspring with their traits. They argue that this evolutionary trait survives because it guarantees a continued human species. The feminist theory is much different and asserts that rape is only one part of the much larger issue: a male-dominated society. This theory categorizes rape as a violent rather than sexual act, with the purpose of dominating and degrading the victim. Another theory is the self-control theory created by Polaschek and Ward. Proponents of this theory believe that men commit rape because their sex drive is uncontrollable, and that they cannot be held responsible for their actions. A more recent theory is the American Dream and crime theory created by Messner and Rosenfield. They claim that American values and goals that come from the American dream are conducive to crime. Since the American dream emphasizes power, and not how to achieve that power, citizens will use any means necessary to gain power.

    A common thread through all of these theories is power and exploitation. While all of these theories can explain certain aspects of the etiology of rape, to understand the underlying causes, societies that are successful in escaping the cycle of rape must be examined. These societies confirm that eradicating rape requires that societies be cooperative and embrace the natural, social, and economic conditions.

    A study of the Mbuti Pygmies, a rape free society in Africa, reveals that their relationship with their forest and natural environment leads to them be a rape-free society. Peggy Reeves Sanday, a professor of anthropology and an author, defines a rape-free society as “those where the act of rape is either infrequent or does not occur”. In Sanday’s Socio-Cultural Context of Rape, which is a comparison between rape-free and rape-prone societies, she explains the cultural practices of the Mbuti Pygmies. Among this indigenous population, violence between the sexes or anyone is unheard of, and their attitude toward the forest is reflective of their attitudes towards each other. They address the forest as “mother” or “lover” and see the forest as their provider of everything: food, shelter warmth, clothing, and affection. There is little division of labor between the sexes, with men and women both participating in the hunt. A man can often be seen gathering mushrooms and cleaning the babies. The sexes cooperate with one another, working together to maintain order in their society and take care of one another. The Mbuti Pygmies make no attempt to dominate or control their surrounding natural and social conditions.

    The Mbuti Pygmies created a cooperative and sustainable society in which the utmost importance was put on the forest because the forest provided all they had and needed. Their relationship with the forest supplants domination or power struggles because the forest was the most powerful thing. Their reverence of and cooperation with the natural and social conditions surrounding them meant no strife for domination and power, and no benefit to gaining power over women. This led to a rape free environment.

    Contrary to the Mbuti Pygmies, tribal societies with high instances of rape correlate with exploitation and manipulation of the surrounding conditions, which leads to competition. In the Socio-Cultural Context of Rape, Sanday examines many societies which she considers rape prone, “one in which the incidence of rape is high, rape is a ceremonial act, or rape is an act by which men punish or threaten women”. One rape prone society is the Gusii of Southern Kenya, which was studied by Robert Levine. Among the Gusii, an assault is only classified as rape if an examination shows that the hymen was recently penetrated by violent force, and if this evidence is unobtainable, it is only considered indecent assault. Levine estimated, based on court records from 1955 and 1956, that the annual rape rate was 47.2 per 100,000 population, but believes that this is a gross underestimate. By contrast, the same year in the United States, the annual rate of rapes in cities was 13.85 per 100,000, confirming the extraordinarily high rates of rape among the Gusii. Normal heterosexual intercourse among the Gusii is an act where men overcome the resistance of women and cause them pain. In his study, Levine said “legitimate heterosexual encounters among the Gusii are aggressive contests involving forced and pain-inflicting behavior." One example of this is that on their wedding night, the groom is considered a real man if he leaves his new wife unable to walk and can boast about making her cry. Cases of gang rape are widespread, and sometimes boys will drag girls to far off huts and not release them for days. Much of this can be explained by the British Colonization and exploitation of the human environment.

    In 1907, Britain invaded the land of the Gusii and other Bantu groups, and established a colonial government, declaring themselves rulers. Native people originally resisted with arms, but stopped after World War 1. The British changed the living conditions and factors in which the Gusii lived. This introduced a new power dynamic among the Gusii wherein they had to compete to keep their cultural ideals and norms and were constantly dissenting against the British rules. The led to a society wherein the Gusii were competing for power and dominance over the British Rule, and women were used to gain power. The masculinity of men was threatened, and they gained power by assaulting women.

    War time rape in both indigenous and developing nations reveals how rape is a consequence of competition. Rape has been seen in wars throughout history and was even described in biblical passages. The Yanomami are a group of indigenous people who live in the Amazon rainforest between Venezuela and Brazil. The Yanomami, who have been studied by Napoleon Chagnon and Marvin Harris, are infamous for their violence and brutality towards women. According to Harris, the Yanomami “practice an especially brutal form of male supremacy­ involving polygyny, frequent wife beating, and gang rape of captured enemy women." The Yanomami consider fights over women the primary causes of war. Groups raid each other’s villages to look for wives, because the practice of female infanticide has left women in short supply. However, Harris argues that this is not the latent underlying cause, and instead asserts that the Yanomami diet is deficient of protein and the wars between different communities are competition for hunting territories. The Yanomami exploited their natural environment, eventually running out of natural resources and protein. As is common in societies that have a lack of resources, the Yanomami began violently competing for protein sources. Additionally, the Yanomami exploited their natural living conditions by practicing female infanticide to decrease their population. With this exploitation, and the resulting shortage of women, men attempted to gain power and territory through war time rape, in which they captured enemy women for marriage, so they could “mark their superior status as fierce men.” Their competition for wives led to a culture where assault and rape of women became the norm, revealing that rape is both a consequence of war and competition, which is caused by degradation of the social, and natural living conditions.

    War time rape has been seen many other times throughout history and was used to help exploit the natural living conditions of many societies and gain power. In fact, fifty-five wars since World War II include documented cases of war time rape, but it was not until the wars in Rwanda and Bosnia in the 1990’s that rape became widely recognized as a potential strategy or weapon. The Rwandan Genocide was directed at the destruction of the Tutsi as a group. Civilians, and soldiers were encouraged to kill or assault members of the Tutsi group, resulting in rape, gang rape, sexual slavery, and sexual mutilation. According to the Human Rights Watch, “rape in conflict is also used as a weapon to terrorize and degrade a particular community and to achieve a specific political end." The Rwandan government created a competitive society because they incentivized gaining power by violently destroying a cultural group. A large consequence of this was sexual assault and rape being used to achieve the goal of eradicating the Tutsi. While trying to gain power over the Tutsi, civilians, soldiers, and the government used sexual violence against women to regain power.

    Changes in the economic conditions that lead to increased competition also cause higher rates of rape. This can be seen in China, as economic development increased rapidly over a period of thirty years, and rape incidents increased with it. The 1980’s were a time of great economic reform in China. In 1978, Deng Xiaoping’s reforms greatly increased the GDP per capita from around 500 to 1,600 in a ten-year period, creating competition in the economic environment. Since the 1980’s, rape incidents have increased with the economic development. W. Wang found that the rape incidents put on file for prosecution and investigation from 1981-1986 were “30,808 in 1981, 35,361 in 1982, 37,712 in 1985 and 39,121 in 1986”. In a period when China changed the culture to one of competition, rapes increased steadily. People were working to quickly obtain wealth and power, and this increased the rates of rapes as men tried to gain power through sexual violence.

    This pattern can also be seen in American fraternities, which are an extremely competitive microcultures. Many cases of rape occur at fraternities and fraternity parties, and this is due to the hypermasculine culture focused on dominance and competition. According to a study done on fraternities and gang rape by Patricia Martin and Robert Hummer, fraternities are vitally concerned with masculinity, and valued members go along with a very narrow conception of masculinity that includes competition, athleticism, dominance, wealth, willingness to drink alcohol, and sexual prowess. They observed that “financial affluence of wealth, a male-associated value in American culture, is highly valued by fraternities.” Fraternities are a hyperbole of the competition for domination, power, and wealth that can be seen throughout the world and in particular the United States, leading to extremely increased rates of rape. According to a study done by John Foubert, Jonathon Newberry, and Jerry Tatum on rape prevention programs, men in fraternities are three time more likely to rape or commit a sexual assault than men outside of fraternities. Fraternities are extremely competitive and are focused on gaining dominance and power, and a result of this culture is extremely increased rates of rape.

    Microcultures in the United States show that reverence and cooperation with the natural and social conditions is the only way to end rape. In Peggy Reeves Sanday’s study on rape-prone and rape-free campuses, she studies microcultures in the United States that can be examples and models for societies to reduce their rates of rape. She studied college campuses where rape incidents were extremely high and found that rape incidents at fraternities were extremely high. She attributed this to the hypermasculine culture of fraternities, where “insecure young men bond through homophobia and ‘getting sex’.

    This leads them to display their masculinity through sexual performance, aggravated by high levels of alcohol consumption. Sanday found one rape free campus, in which everyone is on a first name basis which makes the atmosphere more egalitarian than most campuses. It is a cooperative society where decisions are made by consensus, and interactions are guided by respect for the individual. Those who are disrespectful are ostracized, as campus life puts community and the common good as highest priorities. No one group dominates the social scene, and sexual assault is a serious offense treated with suspension or expulsion. She also found one fraternity which she considers rape free. The brothers say they are not a real fraternity and prefer to see themselves as a group of friends. At this fraternity, heavy drinking is not a requisite, nor is it part of initiation, and at the parties, brothers always look out for the girls. The brothers started a group about changing perceptions of masculinity, as well. This fraternity changed their lifestyle to be egalitarian and focused on cooperation between the sexes, contradicting many of the norms of masculinity and competition for power, and as a result, rape is non-existent.

    While there are many theories and beliefs surrounding the prevalence of rape, the real cause is competition, and rape will always be prevalent if competition dominates societies. Societies where rape is extremely prevalent are extremely competitive due to exploitation and manipulation of the natural, social, and economic conditions. Rape free societies, including the Mbuti Pygmies and microcultures within the United States stand as proof that rape incidences can be prevented by stopping the exploitation and manipulation of the natural, social, and economic conditions and adopting an approach that reveres the surrounding world and individuals. However, they also show that extreme changes need to happen in order to eradicate or decrease the incidences of rape. Awareness and stronger policing are not the solution. Rather, stepping away from competition and domination, and instead living cooperatively with the surrounding conditions and world.
  • Solution to the Real Estate Industry's Abuse of the EB-5 Visa - Cici Wang '18

    In May 2017, the Securities and Exchange Commission launched a probe into the Kushner Companies, a real estate firm owned by the family of President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, for their use of the EB-5 visa investment program. The SEC’s investigation focused on how Jared Kushner’s company deceived its investors and misused its funds, which are typical problems that have entrenched the EB-5 program since the Great Recession of 2008. The EB-5 visa of the United States was established in 1990 to stimulate the economy through capital investment by foreign investors, who will be granted permanent residency in return. While investors are obligated to endow $1 million in American businesses and create 10 full-time jobs, 97% of the applicants chose to invest in real estate projects located in “Targeted Employment Areas (TEA).” TEAs, which only require foreigners to pay $500,000, were permitted by Congress and the USCIS to encourage investments in less popular regions. In contrast with how these projects supposedly promote rural areas’ development, real estate firms like the Kushner Companies systematically spend the funds on luxurious, urban projects. Since businesses are able to create regional centers that qualify as TEAs, the intended goal of the program is constantly unmet. The systematic abuse of the EB-5 visa can be prevented by using specific projects to fulfill the role of regional centers.

    While TEAs intend to promote capital investment in unpopular regions, most of the EB-5 funds end up benefitting developed areas in reality. According to the USCIS, a Targeted Employment Area is a rural region or an urban area with an unemployment rate that exceeds 150% of the national average. Since infrastructural projects in these areas hardly attract domestic sponsors, Congress established a significantly cheaper price of $500,000 for investing in TEAs to incentivize foreign financing and assist local economy. Contrary to Congress’s intention, more than 90% of the EB-5 projects created in TEAs were actually qualified for domestic loans, as they were, in fact, a luxurious project that profited business owners and wealthy tourists instead of the locals. The Kushner Companies, for instance, received $50 million EB-5 financing for its New Jersey project, a Trump-branded high-rise tower in Jersey City that qualified as a TEA in 2016. While the apartments supposedly create living spaces for its poor southern neighborhood around Oak Street, the year-long rent for a two-bedroom apartment costs twice as much as the neighborhood’s median household income. Similarly, the Skyrise Miami project gained its TEA status for locating in Miami-Dade County, which had an average unemployment rate of 11.6% in 2013. Since the national average unemployment was 7.4%, Miami-Dade County exceeded the requirement for TEA by 0.5%. However, instead of creating long-term jobs for the locals, the expensive entertainment facilities in Skyrise Miami are designed for rich tourists that will pay directly to the company. Consequently, the project could in fact harm Miami-Dade County’s economy, as tourists would be diverted from local restaurants and other attractions. Although these problems have been prevalent since 2008, the USCIS failed to act against them because it lacked the personnel to scrutinize the plans, cash flow, and capitalization of businesses. In addition, since the number of active EB-5 projects has exceeded 1,000 since 2009, the USCIS does not have the resources to follow up on each project’s local impact. Thus, the TEAs within the EB-5 program are clearly abused, as most of the projects failed to benefit impoverished local community. 

    The real estate industry’s abuse of TEAs and the EB-5 program is fundamentally caused by gerrymandering, which is permitted by the businesses’ creation of regional centers. In response to peoples’ initial lack of interest in the EB-5 visa, Congress established the Regional Center Pilot Program in 1993, which allowed both private companies and local governments to create investment pools called regional centers. As a result, instead of trying to launch businesses in an unfamiliar country by themselves, foreigners can simply put either $1 million or $500,000 (TEA) into an established regional center project that will supposedly generate enough employments in its surrounding regions and meet the job creation requirement for each of its EB-5 investor. By establishing this convenient program for foreigners, Congress hoped to boost the number of applicants for the EB-5 visa. Since these regional center projects are generally large-scale, long term constructions, the USCIS recognizes two types of job creation: direct job and indirect job. While direct jobs are the local workers that the building employs both during and after its construction, indirect job refers to people in the adjacent regions that indirectly benefit from the economic opportunities brought by the new construction. Nevertheless, the USCIS does not define nor limit the size of the regional center for each construction project. Consequently, businesses are enticed to gerrymander by lumping together multiple poorer contiguous tracts to create one large regional center that can meet both the condition for a TEA and the job creation requirement for its EB-5 investors. In theory, this one particular construction will be able to promote the economy of all the tracts included in the regional center. Nevertheless, in reality, the building is often physically located in the wealthy neighborhood and intentionally designed to only accommodate the rich residents. The loophole in the system of regional center, thus, allowed businesses to concentrate the EB-5 program’s funding in the hands of the rich. 

    Gerrymandering can be found in many of the most well-known EB-5 projects all around the United States. Kushner Companies’ New Jersey Project, for example, gerrymandered 16 census tracts that had an average unemployment rate of 9.8%, which exceeded the required 9.3% of TEAs. 

    Nevertheless, the two buildings are actually located on Trump Bay Street, in which unemployment rate was less than 3%. By including the neighboring Oak Street and Greenville into the regional center, the Kushner Companies were able to attract foreign investors at the cheaper price of $50,000. Likewise, while the Waldorf-Astoria Beverly Hills is located on the Wilshire Boulevard with an unemployment rate of only 1.3%, it aggregated 12 adjacent census tracts. The average unemployment rate of those 12 tracts qualified the Waldorf-Astoria Beverly Hills as a TEA and attracted $150 million EB-5 financing for the company. The same tactic was also used by the Hudson Yards project, which stitched together the poorer Harlem census tract with lower Manhattan to increase its unemployment rate. Thus, the fundamental cause of the EB-5 program’s abuse is the companies’ ability to gerrymander through creating regional center. 

    The trend of constructing luxurious projects through gerrymandering is fueled by two factors, which are foreign investors’ preference and companies’ profit. Since foreign investors cannot retrieve their money nor obtain a green card if their regional center fails to generate enough jobs, 97% of applicants prefer projects that are located in the less costly TEAs. Nevertheless, at the same time, Chinese and Dubai investors particularly favor grand, luxurious amusement constructions, which they are more familiar with. The Skyrise Miami project, for instance, attracted $258 million from Chinese investors alone because the amusement facilities, which include restaurants, night clubs and ballroom, allowed investors to relate to the project. Similarly, by following the preference of Chinese investors, a Chinese-styled casino in Las Vegas successfully gathered nearly $1 billion from 2,000 Chinese citizens, who would all receive green cards after waiting for approximately 10 years due to the limited annual visa allowance. Therefore, in order to satisfy the investors’ demands, businesses are motivated to build skyscrapers near distressed neighborhoods. At the same time, real estate companies also prefer to obtain funding through the EB-5 programs instead of banks or domestic investors. Since foreigners do not demand any return from their investment other than American permanent residency, businesses can pocket their profit instead of paying both the capital and the interest to their investors. In addition, EB-5 investors do not vest construction schedules and dispenses as closely as banks, which makes it easier for developers to get funding at the initial stage of the project. Thus, due to the preferences of both the investors and the real estate companies, gerrymandering becomes increasingly prevalent and detrimental. 

    Other than failing to promote the local economy, gerrymandering also harmed foreign investors by inducing fraud in the process and increasing their waiting time for permanent residency. Since companies are able to report their region instead of the specific location of their construction, it is extremely difficult for investors and governmental agencies to vet their projects. The Securities and Exchange Commission in Vermont, for instance, found that nearly $200 million were bilked out of foreigners by an unqualified developer who claimed to be building a ski resort. While the suspects were prosecuted, the trial only obliged them to pay back $81 million, which means the investors have to cope with the tremendous financial loss. Furthermore, the Department of Homeland Security also issued a report in 2013 stating how the businesses’ ability to gerrymander 16 tracts into one regional center made it impossible for the USCIS to monitor each specific construction site. Clearly, therefore, gerrymandering has given companies opportunities to beguile their investors by presenting untruthful information. Moreover, while many projects should not have been categorized as TEAs, gerrymandering has allowed them to obtain the cheaper price of $500,000. The existence of these projects have increased the number of TEA regional centers and multiplied the number of EB-5 applicant by four times between 2010 and 2014. Since the EB-5 program’s annual cap, 10,000 visas, cannot accommodate the number of applicants, all investors who have already endowed the money and created enough jobs need to wait for the following year’s quota to actually get their green card. However, due to the soaring number of applicants, this waiting time has exceeded 10 years in 2016 and in turn caused a 30% drop in the number of new Chinese applicants. By having gerrymandered constructions, investors under those projects immorally occupied the quota for other investors. Therefore, it is clear that the detriments of gerrymandering also extend to foreign investors. 

    The abuses of the EB-5 program can be successfully prevented by using specific projects, instead of regional centers, as the determinant for TEAs. Rather than counting multiple neighborhoods as one investment pool that can all benefit from the new construction, the USCIS should only consider the project’s single census tract to determine its qualification for TEA. Specifically, the USCIS should solely acknowledge direct job creation from the construction and recognize the unemployment rate of the single census tract where the building is actually located. Consequently, constructions like Kushner’s New Jersey Project and Waldorf-Astoria Beverly Hills, which are located on Trump Bay Street and Wilshire Boulevard respectively, would not be able to gain TEA status. The investment price for many of these luxurious constructions, as a result, will rise from the gerrymandered $500,000 to $1 million because they no longer count as TEAs. Since a Chinese citizen has to pool 13 relatives' annual transaction quotas just to transfer $500,000 to the United States, they will most likely lose interests in these luxurious buildings, which do not comply with the original intention of the EB-5 program, and choose projects that are truly located in TEAs. Thus, by solely considering the single census tract of each project, gerrymandering can be stopped among real estate companies. 

    The elimination of gerrymandering will greatly benefit American citizens by fulfilling the original goals of the EB-5 program. Since Chinese citizens account for more than 85% of the EB-5 applicants, businesses will be pressured to accommodate the preference of Chinese investors and change the location of their constructions in order to keep the cheap EB-5 funding. As a result, real estate companies will begin to actually develop poor, rural regions through establishing new commercial buildings. This change in the real estate industry can hugely improve the living standard of many poor Americans, as demonstrated by the example of the Hardesty Renaissance in Kansas City. The single census tract that Hardesty Renaissance is located in has an extremely high unemployment rate of 11.5% in 2013, when the national average unemployment was 7.4%. Nevertheless, as Hardesty Renaissance attracted consumers and generated blue-collared jobs for the unemployed after its completion in 2014, the town was able to build a food hub, develop small business retails, and even construct a new university, which all in turn created increasingly more long-term jobs. Another exemplary EB-5 project was the Far Rockaways supermarket in New York, which acted as a replacement for the local grocery store destroyed by Hurricane Sandy. By eradicating the possibility to gerrymander, the USCIS promotes the development of more projects like the Hardesty Renaissance and the Far Rockaways, which improve the life of American citizens and fulfill the true intentions of the EB-5 program. Thus, the single census tract of the specific EB-5 projects should be used to determine its qualification for TEA. 

    By presenting each specific project as an independent investment pool, the USCIS also better protects EB-5 applicants from fraud. Currently, there are 1,387 regional centers posted on the USCIS’s website, which does not show the nature nor the location of the project. Consequently, the Kushner Companies’ New Jersey project was able to make false advertisements during their presentations in China by declaring that both the President and American celebrities support their construction. Since there is not an official site that lists and categorizes the actual projects, investors can be easily misled by fraudulent information from the companies. If the concept of regional center is eliminated, the USCIS can then directly post the projects’ exact location and content on its official website, which allows investors to recognize all the different investment pools available. While some people may argue that regional centers help investors to pool money together and meet the job creation requirement, specific projects can also fulfill the same role. According to the 1993 Appropriations Act, the purpose of regional centers is so that foreigners do not have to personally create businesses in an unfamiliar country. By investing in an established project, foreigners can enjoy the same benefit without gerrymandering multiple tracts. Therefore, specific projects should replace regional centers in order to minimize the fraud in the EB-5 program. 

    While some investors and companies may still prefer urban projects, all EB-5 applicants can benefit from a shorter waiting time caused by the higher price of some constructions. According to CNN, the most significant motivation behind Chinese investors who applied for the EB-5 visa is to get American residency for their children’s education. However, the waiting time that has exceeded 10 years in 2016 means that their children could be too old to qualify for a family green card. As the termination of regional centers prevents gerrymandering, the fundamental cause for the increase in both applicants and waiting time, real estate companies that still need to build urban constructions would receive less EB-5 investors due to the higher price. Consequently, the decline in the number of applicants means that investors who either paid $1 million or truly assisted areas of poverty can get their green card in time. Although some people may argue that the decrease in applicants can harm domestic firms by diminishing their cheap EB-5 financing for urban projects, companies may continue to attract Dubai investors who still prefer luxurious skyscrapers regardless of the investment price. Therefore, it is clear that the benefits of removing regional centers outweigh its costs, as the revision will establish a fairer pricing system. 

    As the current EB-5 program will expire on September 30th, 2018, multiple proposals in Congress have depicted different futures for the program. While some people advocate for ending the program, the EB-5 investments have significantly benefitted the American economy by contributing $3.58 billion to the national output in 2013 and generating more than 41,000 jobs, which accounted for 2% of all jobs created that year. Therefore, instead of abolishing the EB-5 visa completely, it is much more beneficial for both the United States and foreigner with an American dream to modify the program. Since the fundamental cause of the companies’ abuse of the program is gerrymandering TEAs with urban areas through regional centers, it is necessary to replace regional centers with independent, specific projects. While established projects can also fulfill the role of investment pool, they are much easier for the USCIS to manage and monitor. Thus, in order to make the EB-5 program more beneficial for both foreign investors and the local economy of distressed areas, the USCIS should use specific projects to fulfill the role of regional centers.
  • Crime and Hashtags: An Analysis of the Humanization of Perpetrators Through #MeToo - Claire Kissane '18

    The #MeToo movement was created to counter the widely propagated paradigm that certain people have the right to abuse people beneath them because what those in power are doing is too important to hold them accountable. As a movement #MeToo unites victims of sexual abuse, rallying them and their supporters with the objective of holding the perpetrators accountable. Critics of the movement argue that #MeToo has created an environment in which all accusers are to be believed implicitly and all the accused are to be condemned without the benefit of due process— calling it a type of glorified witch-hunt. However, these critics have misunderstood the goal of the movement. This movement is not focused solely on giving support to the victims. It focuses on the fact that the perpetrators need to be confronted by the suffering they have caused. Abusers targeted by the #MeToo movement had failed to recognize that the suffering of anyone touched by their crimes will ultimately bring transformation to society and the abuser; the #MeToo movement communicates that truth. The power of this movement was anticipated by Dostoyevsky in his Crime and Punishment. He theorized that no single person is above morality, and that it is the suffering of others that ultimately brings a three-tiered transformation. Dostoyevsky describes a process in which the transformation of victims empowers them to transform perpetrators, which in turn transforms society. The essential difference #MeToo that sets it apart from other movements is that it not only protects victims, it humanizes perpetrators.

    Dostoyevsky illustrates in Crime and Punishment the fundamental mistake in the idea that any single person can break the rules of morality without consequence. Raskolnikov, Dostoyevsky’s main character, believes that he has the power to depart from the human community and create his own standards of morality. The type of person Raskolnikov tries to become, as dubbed by Friedrich Nietzsche—and adopted by Dostoyevsky— is known as the Übermensch. The Übermensch is amoral, in that he believes morality does not apply to him. He is an “artist” who will push the known boundaries of societal law to create his own set of values. During this murder, he incidentally kills the woman’s young half-sister, as well.

    Raskolnikov chooses to step over the threshold of humanity by murdering a woman he believes is useless to society. Ironically, Raskolnikov tries to save people from misfortunes such as poverty and sexual abuse, even as he contemplates the killing of another. This bifurcation of ideals illustrates Raskolnikov’s original mistake; he believes that he can rise above morality and decide when to give life and when to take it. He did not anticipate that the murder would impact anyone other than the victim, and he did not anticipate that his incidental murder of the young half-sister of the woman he intended to kill would have any repercussions; yet, he is met by response from the larger, human community of which this woman was a part. Raskolnikov comes in direct contact with the suffering of his own community, and this ultimately reveals to him that he cannot separate himself from the human community. This revelation is what brings Raskolnikov back to the realm of humanity, causing him to turn himself in. Thus, the suffering of his victims is the catalyst for his transformation; to be human is to suffering, and the confrontation from his victims brings Raskolnikov back into humanity so that he can suffer for his crimes. Raskolnikov is humanized by the amalgamation of the suffering of his victims.

    Social science confirms Dostoyevsky’s ideas. Political scientist Cass Sunstein shows that social cascades drive most, if not all, interactions and movements within a community. A social cascade is an event “in which many people end up thinking or doing something because of the beliefs or actions of a few ‘early movers,’ who greatly influence those who follow.” This social trend is where modern society derives its moral code, as well as how activist movements are started. The ‘beliefs or actions’ of only a few in society are enough to cause a cascade on a global scale. Further, these cascades are most effective when “people are united by bonds of affection.” Thus, Dostoyevsky’s literary theory is proven through social science. Raskolnikov had believed that from his position above the community he had the ability to kill one person, and only that one person would be negatively affected. He assumed this would not create a ripple in the societal pond; however, he is met by a strong wave of morality from the entire community—stemming from only a few directly affected people— that brings him back into the fold of humanity. By these definitions, #MeToo is a uniquely effective cascade.

    As a movement #MeToo relies upon its unification of victims, creating a large and strongly bonded community to humanize targeted perpetrators. The #MeToo movement was originally founded in 2006 by Tarana Burke to help marginalized women find pathways to healing after sexual assault; however, the movement in current society acts as a platform to oppose the growing paradigm that certain people have the right to abuse people beneath them because the benefit of what they are doing outweighs any wrongful acts they might commit. The hashtag became widely propagated on social media by both celebrities and average men and women, creating a wide-spread unification of victims. While the hashtag is used to target any sexual abusers, it specifically aims to take down abusers such as Larry Nassar and Harvey Weinstein. Nassar and Weinstein are the Übermenschen of modern society. They feel isolated from the community because of the work that they create and the power that they derive from that work. Thus, they believe that they are above morality, just as Raskolnikov believed. #MeToo has created a cascade that effectively acts in the same way that Raskolnikov’s community acts. The movement embodies the suffering of victims and confronts the perpetrator with this suffering. This contact then catalyzes a transformation within perpetrators, fulfilling the goal of the movement.

    This movement has been criticized from all sides, being called a glorified witch-hunt by its opposers. Critics claim the movement is unclear and that it creates an environment in which all women are victims. Specifically, Catherine Deneuve, a French feminist, wrote an open letter in which she stated, “just like in the good old witch-hunt days, what we are once again witnessing here is puritanism in the name of a so-called greater good, claiming to promote the liberation and protection of women, only to enslave them to a status of eternal victim and reduce them to defenseless preys of male chauvinist demons.” These critics, however, have barely begun to understand the movement on its surface. According to Dostoyevsky, the movement’s power exists in its inherent ability to unite. Criticizing the movement based on the fact that it creates an environment that may paint women as victims is to actually compliment the movement. The efficacy of #MeToo lies in the fact that perpetrators are confronted by the suffering they have caused to victims and society. The uniting of all women together underneath the status of ‘victim’ ultimately helps push the movement forward. It creates a larger basis on which to convert and humanize the perpetrator— the more suffering he is forced to confront, the more reformative the movement.

    Further, the power and efficacy of the movement can be seen specifically through the remorsefulness of perpetrators who had previously abused their power. The fact that perpetrators recognize the suffering of their victims indicates that they have returned to the human community. The Übermensch would never recognize suffering as he creates his own morality, but #MeToo was able to confront perpetrators with a large cascade of suffering that ultimately humanized them. Louis C.K., a popular comedian, had been accused of sexual harassment by five separate women, and he has recently written an open apology letter, in which he said,

    The power I had over these women is that they admired me. And I wielded that power irresponsibly […] The hardest regret to live with is what you’ve done to hurt someone else. And I can hardly wrap my head around the scope of hurt I brought on them. I’d be remiss to exclude the hurt that I’ve brought on people who I work with and have worked with who’s professional and personal lives have been impacted by all of this.

    This apology recognizes the power of the #MeToo movement because Louis C.K. identifies the large community in which he had caused suffering. Much like Raskolnikov, he realized that his actions against a single person had a cascade of consequences within society. Another comedian accused of sexual harassment, Aziz Anzari, has also publicly apologized for these accusations. These two public apologies symbolize the power of the #MeToo movement, in its nascent stages, to humanize and transform perpetrators.

    The transformation of the perpetrators created by the #MeToo movement is an internal transformation, and will not always be completely obvious to society. In Crime and Punishment, the transformation of Raskolnikov was only visible because it was written as a narrative of his internal thoughts. To an outsider, Raskolnikov would not have undergone any visible transformation. This is yet another critique of the movement. Critics argue that #MeToo simply creates a platform for victims to ‘complain’, and that their words will not be transformative; however, critics fail to realize that the transformation stimulated by #MeToo is a centrally internal transformation. Both Louis C.K. and Aziz Anzari, among others, publicly voiced their transformations, but both Dostoyevsky and Sunstein indicate that more transformation is coming, perhaps quietly. The cascade effect of the hashtag will create, as critics claim, an environment in which many women are considered victims. This will power the movement’s humanization of all perpetrators who believe they have the ability to leave the human community.

    Regardless of whether or not the transformation of perpetrators is visible to the eye, the movement’s effect of society is no less. Even the most depraved of abusers can be transformed, by the principles of Dostoyevsky. Svidrigailov, in Crime and Punishment, represents this person for whom morality does not exist. Not only has he exited society, but has done so successfully. Svidrigailov, as a symbol, is both repelling and attractive at the same time to Raskolnikov. In the age of #MeToo, Woody Allen is the quintessential example of this type of figure. Sexual abuse allegations have been a controversy surrounded Allen for about 25 years, since he was accused of sexually abusing not only young actresses he worked with, but also his own daughter. Still, “Allen has made dozens of movies since the accusations against him were first made. He’s been honored with lifetime achievement awards.” Both Svidrigailov and Woody Allen represent the normalization of the behavior that certain people can abuse those beneath them because what they are doing is too important for them to be held accountable, making it an attractive and attainable symbol to others with power. However, transformation may be coming even for Woody Allen through this movement. In Crime and Punishment, Svidrigailov ultimately is brought back to the realm of humanity through the suffering of his own victims. He sees clearly that everything he touches, he destroys and causes suffering; this confrontation causes Svidrigailov to recognize his own humanity through suicide. This indicates that even those whose abuse has been supported, normalized, and imbued in society—as Woody Allen’s abuse has been— can be able to experience transformation through the #MeToo movement.

    Humanity is imminent for even the most isolated perpetrators.
    This movement forces perpetrators to confront the suffering of victims, stimulating transformation in the individual abusers, society, and the #MeToo movement as a smaller community. #MeToo will bring abusers back into the fold of humanity through their suffering, as the movement illustrates that abusers are not above the suffering of others. Further, it will transform members of the #MeToo movement itself. The movement empowers victims who would otherwise be alone and without power. Through unity, it also restores a certain sense of humanity to the victims. To feel empowered is inherently human. Victims will be transformed by a sense of power and creation, as they are reforming and reinforcing community standards. This leads to the final transformation of the society. By drawing a large following, #MeToo demonstrates that every person in the human community is affected by the fact that some people believe that their work is too important for them to be held accountable for their actions. It will heighten the moral code and, effectively, the laws of society. Ultimately, outside members of society not part of the #MeToo movement are bettered by it. Seeing and experiencing the suffering of the many victims, even with no contact, is emotionally transformative. It augments the awareness of the community and staunches the further suffering of other victims by bringing perpetrators back into the folds of moral society.
  • International Volunteerism and Cultural Superiority: Why Service Trips are Harmful - Amanda Clizbe '17

    Across the United States and in Europe, the concept of “globalizing” education has become increasingly popular and is now being applied in most universities and high schools- including Millbrook. The primary goal of a global education is to develop more complete, worldly and successful individuals, and to promote the extension of study abroad and international service opportunities, which aim to push students beyond their economic and cultural comfort zones. This sentiment is explicitly addressed in Millbrook’s service-learning statement, which also lists the countries to which Millbrook students and faculty have embarked on service-learning trips, like Ghana, India, Guatemala, Tanzania, and Cambodia. The stated purpose of global education and international service is that they increase a student’s sense of the necessity to understand and be accountable for global issues, as well as to help the needy citizens of underdeveloped societies. The unintended consequences, however, reveal a latent underlying form within the concept of international humanitarianism itself, as well as a large-scale global issue of which Millbrook is a representative. The type of service trips promoted by global education is often between three weeks to three months, and involves a small group of untrained students volunteering at schools, orphanages or other aid facilities, mainly teaching and providing manual labor. Because these trips are so short-term, the lasting impacts of this volunteer work are often negligible, and the inexperience of the volunteers is ultimately frustrating and unhelpful to the people they are intending to serve. Service trips have also been shown to reinforce negative stereotypes about poverty, which often lead students to downplay and ignore the shared responsibility for global poverty and marginalization. The problem with current international service trips is that they are an outcome of Euro-American sentimentalism, a phenomenon that creates emotion-based claims to moral superiority as justification for one’s actions. Sentimentalism seeks to cultivate certain moral sentiments among Westerners, and tends to bolster these audiences’ sense of their own ethnic and cultural superiority, especially in regard to populations in developing countries. Because this concept is so deeply rooted in both large and small-scale humanitarianism, international service trips are ineffective and ultimately harmful to those they mean to serve. 

    Western volunteerism and service trips have been shown to promote the exploitation of children through a corrupt industry is known as “orphan tourism”, thus creating a dangerous and exploitive environment for the very people the trips are aimed at helping. According to a recent UNICEF report, orphanages are one of the most popular destinations for individual international volunteers. At its most basic, orphanage tourism can mean visiting an orphanage for a few hours as part of a scheduled tour that also involves more conventional activities such as sightseeing. Many service-learning trips choose to spend longer periods volunteering in orphanages, paying for the opportunity to play and read with the children, or teaching them English. Since almost all residential care centers are funded by international donors, many of them turn to tourism to attract more donors. This concept becomes the basis of a business, in which children are routinely asked to perform for, or befriend donors, and in some cases to actively solicit funds for the orphanage itself. These orphanages rely on volunteers as a means of making money, thus turning orphans into a lucrative business that can endanger the proper care of children. 

    In the past decade, the number of orphans has declined worldwide, whereas the number of orphanages in many developing countries has risen in response to the demand from tourists wishing to volunteer. Since 2005, Cambodia alone has seen a 75 percent increase in the number of residential care facilities, with 269 residential care facilities housing 1,945 children in 2010. However, most of the children who are classified as “orphans” and are living in these orphanages actually have two living parents. In fact, of the nearly 12,000 children living in Cambodian orphanages, only 28% have lost both parents. In some countries, it is even less – in Bali 10%, in Sri Lanka 8%. These numbers show that children are being separated from their parents for reasons that do not include death. Some parents give their children up to orphanages in hopes of giving them access to education, shelter and basic necessities. Sometimes the children are taken to orphanages against the family’s will. This problem was most recently brought to light by UNICEF, who did an extensive study on the attitudes towards residential care in Cambodia in 2011.

    However, this is not only a problem in Cambodia. In a 2014 study, the Child Safe Movement concluded that most developing nations are victims of orphan tourism, and cited field studies in countries such as Nepal, Ghana, Guatemala, Haiti, India, and Thailand. By repeatedly visiting these orphanages and contributing to the orphan tourism industry, service-learning and volunteer trips are actually producing a demand, and thus creating more orphanages. 

    Western volunteers perpetuate the orphanage problem in developing countries, often based on stereotyped and generalized assumptions about the culture of the population, and further promote a sense of cultural superiority and privilege. As mentioned before, the majority of orphans in countries like Cambodia and Haiti have living parents. In the case of Cambodian orphan tourism, findings indicate that despite knowing of this problem, a number of western donors and orphanage staff mistrust the families of the children, and feel that money given to child support in families would be squandered. This is not true. Most of the extremely poor families who are being given monthly food support send their children to school, and when families are offered community-based care options, most prefer to keep their children at home as opposed to putting them into residential care. These assumptions suggest that these Western donors and volunteers consider themselves to be morally superior to the Cambodian families, and that Western outsiders have an elevated sense of what is good for Cambodian children. The irony in service trips wanting to save and protect young children in poverty and in turn creating more of the poverty they intended to repair is a perfect example of sentimental humanitarianism. Because these recipients of humanitarian charity are entitled to sympathy or pity, they are to be treated with humanity, but still can be considered ethnoculturally or civilizationally inferior. 

    Living in an orphanage has been shown to negatively impact the physical and emotional development of children. In the case of developing countries, this problem is exacerbated by short-term relationships created with volunteers, making the presence of volunteers detrimental to the health of the children living in residential institutions. One illustration is a study on Reactive Attachment Disorder, which is a clinical disorder found to be common amongst children living in orphanages, and particularly children who have been institutionalized in developing countries, like those in which orphan tourism is widespread. A researcher in an Indian orphanage in 2001 described her experience as often being greeted at an orphanage by children who ran up expecting hugs or to sit on her lap, asking questions in English. As shown in the study, this behavior is consistent with indiscriminate affection, a manifestation of Reactive Attachment Disorder. The same study found that many residential centers accept volunteers for as little as one hour, and few service trips work at an orphanage for longer than three months. This shows that while orphans, in general, are more prone to attachment disorders, this is made worse by volunteers who create emotional connections with the children and then leave after a short period of time. International service trips and volunteerism create orphanages through demand, but also aggravate the problem by contributing to the mental instability of those who live in them.

    Not only is short-term international volunteer work harmful to the emotional health of children, but its lasting benefits are often negligible. Since many volunteer trips are brief, there is rarely enough time for volunteers to become adjusted to the system of the country, town or community they are in, let alone cause a significant change. For example, in 2008, a team of physicians from the United States made 140 trips to 27 institutions in 19 countries in order to sponsor pediatric cardio-surgical missions. The group of physicians found that many of the institutions did not undergo any change during their time there, and later documented a number of reasons for the failure of their missions. Such reasons included the economic situation of the country, national politics, personality conflicts, continued lack of resources, interpersonal disputes within the institution, and a difference in language between the team and the host country. Ultimately, they found that every single one of these problems stemmed from the nature of short-term intervention. Without stable, collaborative partnerships with local physicians and community workers, it was difficult for the medical missionaries to sustain practices and ensure institutional memory. Put in perspective, if an organized team of trained medical professionals found it difficult to create impactful change in a short period of time, it is highly unlikely that a group of inexperienced students with vague parameters with which to work could create meaningful advancements. Two weeks or two months is nowhere close to enough time to begin to understand and serve a community, which is why short term service learning volunteer groups often find few positive lasting impacts on the community they intend to serve. Furthermore, placing young Americans and Europeans in impoverished countries for short periods of time and convincing them that what they are doing is making a positive difference reinforces ethnocentrism and cultural superiority in that they are led to believe that their presence, even for a short amount of time, is both beneficial and necessary to the survival of marginalized populations. 

    In many cases, particularly in high school and college service trips, volunteers are told that they need no training, prior experience or specific qualifications in order to go on the trip. In an ethnography done on tourism in Africa, teachers in Ghana described having to deal with untrained volunteers running their classes. The teachers interviewed for the study said that when they agreed to host Western volunteer teachers in their schools, they had assumed that the volunteers could actually teach and had received some prior teaching training. The teachers later realized that the service program had placed completely untrained volunteers in schools and that the children were no longer learning the correct syllabus. Not only is this approach ineffective in doing a service to the school, but it continues to promote the underlying concept of cultural superiority. The study quotes a Ghanaian teacher who notes the imbalance in white volunteer work. “We say we are independent but we are still favoring useless whites over trained blacks to teach our children.

    When will we ever learn? All this talk of cross-cultural learning; every time an untrained volunteer comes to teach, our children are still seeing that white is best”. Such comments return to the issue of ‘whiteness’ and the argument that Africans have been forced to realize that with white skin comes power and status. The replacement of trained Africans with untrained white volunteers does not serve anyone; it simply acts to reassure both parties that it is the role of Western culture to save the developing world, and that they are capable of doing so with little to no qualifications. 

    Another issue with international service trips and volunteerism are their capability to reinforce negative stereotypes about poverty and inequality. In a case study done on a school service trip to Guatemala, it was found that the students forwarded the rationalization that happiness is relative because the people they encountered were ‘poor but happy’. This phrase, while also being cliché, emphasizes the sense of difference between the volunteers and the locals, and ultimately downplays commonalities and ignores shared responsibility for the poverty and marginalization of Guatemalans. Although the purpose of global education is to help students comprehend their own accountability in respect to global issues, international service trips often do the opposite of this by providing a relatively narrow view of poverty and global inequality.

    Furthermore, often when untrained volunteers offer to do a task for free, they are hypothetically taking away jobs for local people. For example, in the UK alone, 85 organizations place 50,000 volunteers overseas every year. The majority of these organizations are for-profit travel agencies charging high fees to their customers, who are white, affluent and in their twenties. One organization, Projects Abroad, charges a minimum of $2,215 to cover the costs of two weeks’ teaching in Cambodia, which is estimated to be enough to pay a local teacher for more than a year. The same goes for manual labor. Many untrained service groups spend their time digging trenches, building wells, and completing other construction tasks. Although this form of service is more tangible than the kind of service you might find in an orphanage, like “providing love,” what ultimately ends up happening is a group of people pay a large amount of money to do a job for free that could have been done in the form of a paid job by a trained local person. 

    Service-learning trips further impose a sense of cultural superiority by routinely imposing Western religion and culture onto the groups they are theoretically helping. In UNICEF’s report on Cambodian charity and volunteerism, findings indicated that a large proportion of donors also tended to promote Western culture through orphanages, schools and other residential care centers. In some cases, this took the form of religious influence. In other cases, residential care centers were built with the intention of creating an environment more in line with western society, displayed through architecture, inner furnishings and landscaping. In many orphanages cited in the study, English was the dominant language and the children spoke only rudimentary forms of the local language, Khmer. Some centers changed the names of the children to traditional American names. It was also found that the culture within these orphanages as well as activities done with outside service groups often incorporated multiple non-Cambodian features into the education curriculum, recreational time, and taught foreign or western sports to the children in the orphanage. By promoting and imposing Western culture, volunteers and service-learning programs are actually perpetuating inequality and bolstering the sense of Western superiority in both the volunteers and the people who they are serving. 

    Western sentimentalism invites consumers of global education to believe in the simple connection between consciousness and social change and promotes the idea that Western influence is a necessary solution to global poverty. This assumption is a much bigger problem that has also underpinned much of humanitarianism today- school service trips are just a microcosm of a much larger global issue having to do with cultural superiority and inequality. Global education and service-learning target young, enthusiastic students- the same group of people that will control the next generation of government, international aid and human rights. Instead of being taught that the success of the developing world is dependent on their presence in those countries, consumers of global education should be reminded that international service-learning is a noncontentious form of activism. It sponsors a narrative in which underprivileged populations remain objects to be manipulated by outsiders, instead of a dynamic context with knowledgeable actors, compelling ideas, and potential resources. To combat this, schools like Millbrook need to rethink how they produce global citizens and challenge the assumptions of American sentimentalism that are deeply embedded within it. In order to achieve change, the concept of service-learning needs to abandon its superficial innovations in favor of a deep engagement with the substantive, material, political and philosophical meanings of citizenship on a global scale. Such a process would deny its students of the self-satisfying big emotional experience of an exotic adventure in helping others and instead promote engagement with the realities of global inequality, the politics of that inequality, and our varying individual and collective responsibilities within them.
    Read More
  • Power of Individuals: Utilizing Strategies of Dissent to Unveil the Blue Sky from a Grey Curtain in China - Patrick Quian '16

    As air pollution became more pervasive and severe over the past decade, both the Chinese government and ordinary Chinese citizens started to shift their focus and effort to alleviating and resolving this problem. However, as the citizens and the international community waited and observed, the air still remained grey and smoggy when the Chinese government promoted new policies to cap coal consumptions and improve energy efficiency. Even though it is unreasonable to expect this huge problem to be resolved immediately, ordinary citizens in China can significantly facilitate this process if they know that anyone is able to promote significant change as an individual. The paradigm in China has always been that government officials and leaders know what is the right thing to do, and people just follow the orders of their leaders. In the case of air pollution, however, more results seem to be produced when citizens take matters into their own hands. They are justified to dissent against this paradigm because the severity of the air pollution significantly affects every Chinese citizen living in a polluted area. Despite the fact that China has been meeting previous goals of limiting pollution, simply setting more general goals for the future does not put pressure on local officials to actively look for and punish factories or power plants that are violating the regulations, which means that the air pollution problem is not being solved as quickly as possible. Individual citizens can use different forms of media to produce and publicize works about air pollution to combat the government's lack of transparency and responsibility by attracting media coverage and promoting public discussion, thus putting affiliated government officials' personal interests at risk and forcing them to take a more active role in reducing air pollution. The effective actions of individual citizens would have the same effect as a policy that would associate coal consumption and pollution reduction with the evaluation of the local official's performance. This policy would bind the task of reducing air pollution more closely with officials' personal interests, which means that they would be more likely to investigate and shut down possible sources of pollution. Even though it might be very hard for an individual without any resources or political connections in China to push for such a big policy change, it is entirely possible for someone to apply the same form of pressure on local officials so that they would enforce the policies.

    In order to solve this issue in a more efficient and rational fashion, citizens first need to understand what exactly they are fighting against and the fundamental cause of air pollution. The primary sources of air pollution in China are particles including dust, dirt, soot, smoke, and liquid droplets found in air and suspended for a long period of time. Particles less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter (PM2.5) are referred to as "fine" particles and pose the greatest health risks because of their ability to enter deep into the lungs. The Ministry of Environmental Protection uses the concentration of PM 2.5 particles in the air to create the Air Quality Index (AQI), which is basically the scale of severity for air pollution since PM 2.5 are the most pervasive and harmful pollutants in the air. According to a report published by Harvard University in 2015, the majority of PM 2.5 particles and carbon emission are mainly products of fossil fuel combustion like coal-burning and cement production.

    Even though there are many other contributors to PM 2.5 particles like the combustion activities in motor vehicles and other industrial processes, the coal-burning factories and power plants are the root sources of air pollution in China. In the 2028 days between April 2008 and March 2014, the air quality index in Beijing has been above 100 for 1632 days according to U.S. standards. This indicates that the air quality in the capital of China was so poor that it was unhealthy for Beijing citizens to inhale the air most of the time throughout the six years. Compared to the southern regions of China, the northeastern regions not only rely more heavily on coal burning as the main source of heating but also have a policy that provides free indoor heating for all households during winter. Even though the citizens don't have to pay money for the heat, they are paying for it with their health as the air pollution peaks during winter time.

    One of the major problems that arise when China deals with air pollution is the lack of transparency and information for the public. Although China has increased its capacity to monitor small particulate matters in the air from only 47 cities in 2002 to 367 cities in 2015, the monitoring data wasn't available to the public until 2008. Even when the data is available, it has the potential to be misleading because the levels of concentration of PM 2.5 particles in the air China uses to categorize the level of severity of air pollution is two and a half times higher than the WHO guideline. Although the Air Quality Index might indicate that the air quality is good, it could actually be unhealthy for sensitive people according to WHO standards. Besides, there have been numerable times when the AQI reported by the Beijing Environmental Protection Bureau is lower than the report from the U.S. embassy around the same area at the same time. This inconsistency does not necessarily imply that the Chinese government is intentionally tuning down the severity of the air pollution, but Chinese citizens should not rely solely on the government, as it can sometimes be unreliable and lack credibility. To promote more actions from the government, it is not only important for people to become aware of this issue, but also be able to use this lack of transparency and information as a tool when they are dissenting against the government.

    A famous reporter called Jing Chai took matters into her own hands. She utilized this tool and conducted her own research on air pollution and released her findings on the internet. As a result, they became the most-discussed topic in China for weeks and sparked immediate reactions from the government. Ms. Chai traveled to the most polluted towns in China to conduct interviews with the residents, sought expertise from well-known environmental scientists, and obtained a lot of data regarding air pollution from a variety of sources. She combined everything that she learned into a 104-minute long presentation and uploaded the video to the internet, and named it "Under the Dome".

    The documentary immediately received millions of views and became the most discussed topic on all Chinese social media. Speaking from the perspective of a mother of a new-born child, Ms. Chai's documentary had a special appeal to the Chinese public who has been listening to pedantic and sometimes unreliable government officials reporting air pollution status in the news. The main purpose of this documentary was not to raise awareness among the Chinese citizens but to provoke both the government and the citizens to react to the content of the video. Everyone already knew that air pollution was becoming worse, but the citizens only complained and waited for the government to come up with more effective regulations to improve the air quality while the government only set long-term goals and barely enforced the rules. This documentary enabled the public to start thinking critically about the air pollution issue and helped them to realize that ordinary people could take matters into their own hands and force the government to take actions as well. Although Ms. Chai intentionally removed some anti-government commentary from the documentary, the Chinese propaganda department took it off all websites in China and censored certain keywords like "Under the Dome" and "Chai Jing" about a week after the release of the documentary. The official explanation of this censorship was that the propaganda department feared that this documentary might threaten social stability in China since many people might react irrationally and violently against the government. "Under the Dome" had about 200 million views when it was censored, sparking reactions from countless Chinese citizens and government officials, including President Xi Jing Pin, who vowed to "punish, with an iron hand, any violators who destroy ecology or environment, with no exceptions" the same day "Under the Dome" was censored. Ms. Chai used her resources as a reporter and her professional skills to unveil part of the grey curtain that enshrouded the actual air pollution situation in China and showed many forms of dissent that an individual could adopt to create some form of pressure on the government officials.
    It might appear to be hard to improve the situation when dealing with this huge national air pollution issue, but an ordinary individual in Beijing found his own way of dissenting against the norm in China. Zou Yi was a 55-year-old man who decided to use his cell phone to take a picture of the same skyline from his window every day for three years. By compiling all of the pictures into a huge collage and uploading it to the internet, Zou Yi was able to show how many days of these three years had a blue sky and all the buildings were visible, and how many days when everything was covered by a thick smog. Since a clear, blue sky has always been an accurate representation of good air quality, Zou Yi's pictures were considered a more accurate representation of Beijing's air quality than the AQI released by the environmental bureau, which entertained a much lower standard than WHO guidelines. Ironically, while Beijing categorized almost 45% of the days in 2010 as "blue sky days", only 15% were actually within the international standard, which means that a "blue sky day" announced by the monitoring sites in Beijing can actually be grey and smoggy. Zou Yi showed the public that someone as ordinary as him can reveal something the Chinese government was withholding from the general public. His collage received both national and international attention and was able to put pressure on government officials as an ordinary individual with a very simple act of dissent.

    Another obstacle on the path to improve air quality is the fact that Chinese government has always prioritized economic and GDP growth over environmental stewardship and sustainability, which means that when it comes to air pollution, the Chinese government needs more incentives to actually push for changes in policies and enforce them, even if that would result in a lower GDP growth. There is not a lack of regulatory policies on factories and power plants from the Chinese government, but the lack of enforcement due to close ties between many state-owned power plants and government officials, and the lack of cooperation between the Ministry of Environmental Protection and the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) due to their conflict of interest hinders the entire effort to alleviate air pollution in China. The lack of enforcement from the central government is one of the major problems because government officials who are closely affiliated with state-owned power plants who benefit from their activities would not risk their personal interest and punish these plants for not following the regulations. When it comes to the central government itself, the NDRC holds more power in the government and wishes to continue or even accelerate the economic growth in China, which has been very reliant on coal-burning.

    On the other hand, the MEP has been looking for solutions for air pollution such as phasing out inefficient coal-burning power plants and replacing them with non-fossil fuel powered plants. Although it is very difficult for Chinese citizens to directly influence these governmental organizations, they are still able to take smaller steps to facilitate the process with acts of dissent to create incentives for local government officials to actively regulate air quality.

    Although individuals have the power to produce significant results in alleviating air pollution, the power a group of people has when they unite under the same goal should not be dismissed. In rare cases when people were able to organize themselves and performed acts of dissent that might otherwise not be possible for an individual, they were able to promote a much greater change in a much shorter time span. For example, in May 2008, residents of a community called "Warm Home" in the suburbs of Hangzhou formed a self-help group called "Protest Against Air Pollution" to locate the severe air pollution and water pollution that have been troubling the residents of the community for years. The community was located close to multiple chemical plants and factories that used coal as their primary source of energy and very likely released the waste in violation of the regulations. The residents were constantly filing complaints to the local Environmental Protection Bureau (EPB) about the air pollution, but the officials always replied that they could not do anything if the source of pollution was not located. Therefore the residents themselves used an online forum to communicate with each other and organize investigations and protests. Although none of them had professional equipment or knowledge about air pollution, they were able to find out that some factories released more pollutants at night and took pictures and recorded videos as evidence. The residents submitted this evidence to the local environmental bureau and requested their assistance. After more investigations by the EPB, two factories were found to operate with no permit for emitting pollutants, and the Warm Home residents pleaded the local EPB to shut down these two factories. While the officials of the EPB were able to shut down the factory owned by a private firm within a month, they met many obstacles when they were trying to close up the factory of a state-owned business, Hangzhou Blue Peafowl Chemical Fiber Co., Ltd. because of its close ties with certain government officials. The EPB was only able to order the factory to relocate, but no time limit was given. The residents of Warm Home were not satisfied with the result, so they expanded their activities from locating the source of pollution to collecting signatures for petitions that were sent to important local government officials and many media agencies. By doing so, they were able to attract national attention to the issue they were facing and put a lot of pressure on the officials that were affiliated with the chemical factory. The residents were also able to alert powerful figures like the mayor of Hangzhou and persuaded him to take a more immediate action against the factory. As a result, the Hangzhou Blue Peafowl Chemical Fiber factory had to reduce its production level starting in September 2008 and eventually shut down in March 2009.

    The Warm Home community case has been one of the most successful cases of dissent against air pollution in China. When ordinary residents of a community united and organized themselves to deal with air pollution with effective strategies and relentless spirits, they were able to put pressure on and persuade officials to enforce their own regulations and punish the violators, including the state-owned factories. It was also a unique case in the sense that the community consisted of six thousand families, which was a manageable number for a voluntary self-help group, but large enough for the officials to understand the severity of the issue. Their community was located close to the pollution source, which gave the residents a sense of responsibility and power that allowed them to walk around and look for the source of pollution by themselves. They were also able to utilize the online forum only open to the residents of Warm Home to discuss possible protesting strategies without censorship from the government because the forum seemed so insignificant that it was under the radar of the Chinese government. The success of Warm Home community reinforced the effectiveness of the strategy to put pressure on local government officials and associate the air pollution condition closely with their personal interests in order to force them into action.

    Although having a group of people to perform organized acts of dissent could be more efficient than individual acts of dissent, it is unpractical to adopt the first method in big cities like Beijing because of several factors. Despite the fact that Beijing has the second most air pollution in China, there are no power plants or factories insight for citizens living in Beijing. It is not because the heavy smog would cover the factories up, but because all of them are either in the less populated suburban or rural area outside of Beijing. As a result, it is difficult for the majority of people who are harmed by the air pollution to locate the source of the pollution and directly report their findings to the local government or the Ministry of Environmental Protection, though it is probably one of the most effective strategies of dissent as shown in the Warm Home community case. Besides, Beijing residents do not have the access to a low-key online forum with minimum government surveillance that everyone uses. For an ordinary Beijing citizen, organizing tens of thousands of people to protest against air pollution on popular social media would most certainly result in immediate censorship and a high possibility of getting arrested. Even if someone is able to organize a protest and protestors march down the streets of Beijing, it would be extremely hard for them to stay organized and rational, reach an agreement on what they are dissenting against, and communicate with their intended targets clearly. The residents in suburban and rural areas of Beijing would not have the same united and organized community as the residents of Warm Home because they are usually more spread out. Also, those who live near factories and power plants usually work there and definitely would not shut down their sources of income even if that means they are constantly exposed to severe air pollution. Because of these factors, Beijing residents are more likely to dissent effectively if they act more or less individually rather than trying to group up.

    When an individual Chinese citizen confronts an issue like air pollution in China, he/she would usually complain but do nothing about it, similar to most government officials who are able to set long-term goals but feel no incentive to take a more active role to improve the air quality in China that affects so many people's lives. However, if more people learn from the residents in the Warm Home community who were able to target and identify the key figure they had to get in touch with and dissented in an organized way, more factories and power plants would be shut down by government officials who feel impelled to take a more active role. For individuals in big cities like Beijing, they can also put pressure on officials with simple and peaceful actions of dissent that attract media coverage like what Zou Yi did. Eventually, the smog that is covering the cities in China like a grey veil, and the veil that the Chinese government uses to cover up the truth would be removed by more and more rational, educated dissenters.
  • Individual Autonomy: The Right of Choice - Catherine Luchars '15

    With the development of medicinal care in the past century, the balance between prolonging life and relieving suffering has become increasingly more controversial for doctors. Instead of death happening naturally or accidentally on people’s own terms, it has moved to public hospitals. Physicians now control the outcomes of people’s lives, raising the question of whether the doctor’s authority serves a patient’s best interest.  The responsibility of making decisions on how to treat a patient must naturally shift from doctors and governmental authorities to patients and family members. Assuming an individual is competent and of a rational mind, being free from unwanted interference in order to uphold bodily integrity is a fundamental principle ingrained in our democratic society. The right of individuals to choose their own medical care and the time, place, and manner of their death is implicit in the basic notion of personal autonomy and self-determination and ultimately must take precedence over the governmental interest of protecting citizens by safeguarding their health.

    This contemporary issue over who should be making medical decisions is being disputed in a current court case in Connecticut. It involves Cassandra C., a 17-year-old girl, who was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in September. In the face of grueling future medical treatments to combat this disease, Cassandra made the personal decision to forego chemotherapy altogether, despite its 80% chance survival rate, and cope with the fact that without treatment her chance of death is almost certain. This decision, supported by her mother, has entangled the two in a legal battle against the Connecticut State courts. It began after the surgical removal of Cassandra’s lymph node performed by local doctors. Following this, Cassandra and her mother planned on consulting with doctors in another state to seek another opinion, but the local doctors called the Department of Children and Families, raising the issue of parental medical neglect. As a result, the Court ordered the removal of Cassandra from her mother’s custody until her mother “provided and cooperated with the medical care under DCF supervision and as recommended by her doctors”.  Cassandra and her mother subsequently complied with the court’s orders, but after Cassandra received her first two chemotherapy treatments, she ran away from home to avoid further treatment.  When she returned, the court “ordered that she be immediately removed from her home and that she remain in DCF’s care and custody”. They also authorized the DCF to “make all necessary medical decisions on Cassandra’s behalf.” She is now in a hospital receiving treatment under this court order.
    The court declared that not only Cassandra, a 17-year-old girl, is incompetent to make her own medical decisions, but her mother lacks the responsibility as well, bringing up issues regarding personal and family integrity. Cassandra’s mother has acknowledged the fact that her daughter will die without treatment.  Her mother declared that regardless of this outcome, “it’s her constitutional right—she doesn’t want poison and toxins in her body. It’s her choice, and I support her decision.” Cassandra “put up a fight” against the Connecticut state doctors to avoid chemotherapy, and ultimately had to be strapped down to the hospital bed. She reflects on her experience in a personal essay after being hospitalized in December, “ I was strapped to a bed by my wrists and ankles and sedated. I woke up in the recovery room with a port surgically placed in my chest. I was outraged and felt completely violated.” Cassandra, currently confined to the hospital with limited communications and visits, specifically by her mother, writes that she feels suffocated by the court’s intervention and that nobody has let her breath. She ends her personal essay with the fundamental constitutional issue, “How long is a person actually supposed to live and who decides that?”

    The basic right for a person to choose not be touched or treated without consent, despite a potentially fatal outcome, has been consistently established in prior court decisions and should provide ample protection for Cassandra. Based on Cruzan v. Director, Missouri Dept. of Health, a case involving a woman who was permanently unconscious after a serious car accident, the Supreme Court recognized the right of any person deemed competent to refuse any medical treatment. The court limited this right by saying that states also have an interest in this matter, whether preserving life, preventing suicide, or upholding the ethical integrity of the medical profession.  Therefore, the court decided that a state has the ability to insist on clear and convincing evidence as to the patient’s wishes. This case, along with several others such as Quinlan vs. New Jersey and Bouvia v. Superior, ushered the legal acceptance of what is now classified as passively hastening death. In Quinlan vs. New Jersey (1976), Karen Ann Quinlan stopped breathing and fell into a persistent vegetative state, with full recovery unlikely. Her family fought the courts to remove the respirator, figuring that’s what Karen would have wanted. The New Jersey Supreme Court acknowledged both the right for Quinlan to refuse further treatment and her family’s right to make that decision for her by allowing her respirator to be removed. In Bouvia vs. Superior Court, the court recognized that a 30-year-old woman, who was a victim of cerebral palsy, had the right not be force-fed through medical procedures, even if refusal led to her death. In these cases, the patients, whose prospects for a somewhat meaningful existence were almost certain, were still allowed to end their life by foregoing treatment. Courts hold that an individual’s right to privacy and to be free from unwanted bodily interferences affords an individual the ability to make this decision. 

    The courts distinguish the countervailing state interests of the preservation of life, the prevention of suicide, the protection of third parties, and upholding the ethical integrity of the medical profession from the ability to limit a patient to forgo medical treatment.  However, if a patient is terminally ill, permanently unconscious, or deemed competent by the courts to make rational medical decisions for themselves, these limitations have little effect. Ultimately, the court's view, as stated in Quinlan is that “the state’xs interests weaken and the individual’s right to privacy grows as the degree of bodily invasion increases and the prognosis dims”. They deem that allowing a patient to merely refuse medicine, even when it is life-sustaining, is letting the disease or nature take its course, therefore not constituting suicide, which is generally condemned in most state and federal courts. In addition, they said that the government’s concern over the effect of the medical decision on a third party, such as a child, friend, or other close family member, denies the patient of the choice of which risks to take. A person is obligated to evaluate their circumstances and judge what is best whether for themselves or those who might be affected. Ultimately, the right of individuals to make their own medical choice prevails over the interest of a third party. 

    They also recognize that this strong right does not sacrifice the ethical integrity of the medical profession because finding a cure to any and all disease is not the end goal anymore. Rather than treatment, the dying person is often in need of comfort.  This theme of compassion in doctors is highlighted in the decision of Superintendent of Belchertown State School v. Saikewicz, stating, “if the doctrines of informed consent and right of privacy have as their foundations the right to bodily integrity…and control of one’s own fate, then those rights are superior to the institutional considerations.”   These exceptions to the limitations on the right to refuse treatment directly apply to Cassandra’s situation. They uphold the basic human principles that not only is an individual obligated to make decisions for themselves, but also the doctors are obligated to respect those decisions, as the sole goal of treatment is not recovery for those suffering from severe, incapacitating illnesses. With modern technology affording a patient multiple medicinal routes to take, the patient must make the decision based on what they feel most comfortable with, eliciting the crucial right of privacy and self-determination. 

    Despite not being explicitly guaranteed as a fundamental right in the constitution, the right to privacy has become accepted in landmark Supreme Court cases in the past.  Dating back to 1891 in Union Pacific R. Co. v. Botsford, the court recognized that the right of personal privacy or a “guarantee of certain areas or zones of privacy” exists in the constitution.  Justice Blackmun in Roe v. Wade ruled that “in varying contexts, the Court or individual Justices have found at least the roots of that right in the First Amendment; in the Fourth and Fifth amendments; in the penumbras of the Bill of Rights; in the Ninth Amendment or in the concept of liberty guaranteed by the first section of the Fourteenth Amendment.” From here he says that only personal rights that “can be deemed fundamental or implicit in the concept of ordered liberty” are included in this guarantee of personal privacy. 

    Based on this conclusion, Blackmun argues that a statute criminalizing a woman’s right to an abortion is unconstitutional. He points out the detriment that the state would impose upon the pregnant women by denying her choice to terminate her pregnancy.  He not only cites physical harms but the psychological distress that would arise from an unwanted child who is unable to be cared for. This detriment has little distinction from the state refusing Cassandra and her mother’s, or, more generally, other seriously incapacitated patients’, choice as to how they will die. The series of harsh treatments that as Cassandra’s mother says “kills the cancer, but also kills everything else in your body” and the loss of autonomy, bodily functions, and the decreasing ability to participate in activities that make life enjoyable should be reason enough for a person to be able to make this private decision.

    In Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the court acknowledges that matters i
    nvolving the most intimate and personal choices a person may make in a lifetime, choices central to personal dignity and autonomy, are central to the liberty protected by the Fourteenth Amendment. At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life. Beliefs about these matters could not define the attributes of personhood were they formed under compulsion of the state.
    The state of Connecticut cannot punish Cassandra for having her own beliefs and concept of existence. If enduring the emotionally and physically painful process of chemotherapy does not feel worth it to Cassandra, the state must respect that and let her be. Connecticut claims that this recognized right does not apply to Cassandra on the sole basis that she is an incompetent patient since she is a minor (17 years old) and lacks the responsibility to make the decision for herself. However, previous courts have attempted to maintain the principles of autonomy by allowing a surrogate to make decisions regarding medical treatments for an incompetent patient. A surrogate, typically a close family member who best knows the patient and is most likely to act for the patient’s welfare, must apply the “substituted judgment standard,” by reflecting the patient’s probable wishes. In this case, Cassandra’s mom, acting as her surrogate, has decided to uphold Cassandra’s wishes. Despite being her legal guardian and authorized to make decisions for her daughter, Cassandra’s mother’s voice was discredited by Connecticut as well based on the conclusion that she did not have her daughter’s best interest in mind, accusing her of parental medical neglect. Yet, her mother was simply supporting her daughter’s decision. In fact, she even specifically remembers Cassandra remarking several years earlier that if she ever were to get cancer, she wouldn’t want chemotherapy. Her mother respected Cassandra’s long-standing views on this matter and sought second opinions on what Cassandra’s other options were besides chemotherapy. These actions cannot rationally be taken as “neglect” and, as Cassandra’s surrogate, it is within her right to make these decisions anyway.  

    The state rejects the argument that Cassandra should be given the authority to choose whether or not to undergo chemotherapy based on her maturity.  However, their evidence to determine her maturity is founded solely on her behavior in response to the state’s actions.  Following the initial trial court decision that allowed Cassandra to move back home in her mother’s custody if she submitted to the unwanted treatment, Cassandra decided to run away from home for several days and skipped several court-mandated chemotherapy appointments. An article in the Harvard Crimson notes Connecticut’s inconsistency saying, “a state should not have the right to base the legitimacy of its authority over her on the fact that she challenged the court’s legitimacy in the first place.” Essentially, Connecticut’s conviction that neither Cassandra nor her mother is rational in their decision to refuse treatment extinguishes the legitimacy of any right personal autonomy in the first place, as the medical decisions are only deemed rational if they consent to the authority of the state’s decision.

    Regardless of her maturity level and competency to make a decision, if Cassandra was born only several months earlier, the state would have no interest in this matter at all since she would be 18, and therefore considered old enough to make rational decisions.  This fact is impossible to ignore as it highlights the legitimacy of the state’s interest.  While protecting a minor from making a fatal decision is valid, they cannot justify the difference that only a few months would make on an individual’s capability to make a decision.  Cassandra’s lawyer points out this key point, asking “Can a smart and knowledgeable 17-year-old make the same choice, for better or for worse, than she would be able to make without state interference nine months from now when she turns 18?” Once a person turns 18, their decision-making skills do not automatically improve.

    Many states have made efforts to counteract this fact by adopting a Mature Minors Doctrine, which holds that some minors possess the maturity to make their own medical decisions, even if they are younger than the age of legal adulthood. As of 2013, seventeen states have recognized some form of this doctrine. This law generally gives minors the ability to consent to medical treatment against the wishes of their parents, often relating to giving teenagers the right to get an abortion. Connecticut is one of the states that has not implemented any aspect of this legislation and instead continually refuses to acknowledge that there is no rigid, defining age of maturity. Their complete denial of this inconsistency undermines their claims of governmental interest by not truly evaluating a person’s maturity beyond their age. Courts have ruled that minors can refuse treatment before. In 2007, 14-year-old Dennis Lindberg died of leukemia after refusing to undergo life-saving blood transfusions. The state of Washington allowed him to make the decision for himself because he was a Jehovah’s Witness and blood transfusions are banned in his faith. This is no different from Cassandra.  While her decision might not be influenced by her religion, it is still based on her own beliefs on human existence.  

    Admittedly, a 17-year-old girl deciding to succumb to a disease that will most likely end her life is an agonizing thought. Yet, it must be recognized that no matter what, death is one of the most mystifying aspects of human life. Ultimately, it has to be up to the individual to rationalize their concept of it for themselves. Permitting Cassandra to “form and live in accordance with her own conception of a good life, at least within the bounds of justice and consistent with others doing so as well” is a right that the state simply cannot repeal. If Cassandra would rather succumb to her death than endure the “poison”  that would be put into her body to counteract her dying and the emotional toll it would take on her, then she should be able to. The state’s interest in her maturity to handle this based on her age is essentially arbitrary and their failure to yield to her wishes as well as her legal guardian’s sacrifices both of their liberty altogether. It reveals that regardless of whether someone is capable of making a rational decision or not, if it is not in accordance with the ideas of the authority, then the authority may disregard it. Connecticut’s actions, despite its good intentions of safeguarding health and protecting a minor, cross personal boundaries that destroy Cassandra’s individual autonomy and lack any compelling justification. This case, along with others cited throughout this paper, clearly illustrates that a governmental interference with a noble cause, if left unchecked and pushed too far, can cause more damage than good and ultimately threaten an individual’s inherent right to free will and independence—two core values fundamental to a democratic society.
    Read More
  • Reading The Master and the Margarita in Saint Petersburg - Lucy Papachristou '14

    On March 5, 1953, the citizens of the Soviet Union breathed a sigh of relief. Joseph Stalin was dead. In the years following his death up until the demise of the Soviet Union, the intellectual classes engaged in an elaborate system of underground publishing called samizdat, which involved not only the various literary and political factions of the Soviet Union but also intellectual circles in the West. The primary paradigm of the Soviet Union during this time was that the Soviet government had a monopoly on the possession and circulation of ideas and thought. While there certainly existed in great numbers samizdat works of political and social significance, the true threat to the Soviet regime samizdat posed was not in its content, but in its very existence, in what it stood for. Samizdat was a kind of “gateway dissent,” deriving its power from its ability to build foundations—connections between people of different backgrounds living on opposite ends of the globe—upon which future change could occur. Thus the content of the works was not of great importance; rather, it was the effect experienced by each person or social group as the clandestine material was passed from hand to hand that generated the most powerful dissent. By creating this channel of communication to encourage the exchange of thought, samizdat served to subvert the paradigm of the Soviet regime.

    One of the most important effects of samizdat stemmed from the quintessential characteristics of the text itself. Samizdat was produced by individually typing-out the works on privately-owned typewriters due to a lack of copy machines, the few of which were operated exclusively by the government. Once finished, the typescripts were then shared among a circle of trustworthy friends and acquaintances. Often retyped by dozens of typists during their lifetime, the typescripts were riddled with typos and grammatical errors. Ann Komaromi calls samizdat an “object-sign,” meaning that the physical product has value in and of itself. A western reviewer describes this idealization from the Russian perspective: “‘the memory of the first encounter with Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago is as much a physical memory—the blurry mimeographed text, the dog-eared paper, the dim glow of the lamp switched on late at night—as it is one of reading the revelatory text itself.’”

    The visceral feelings experienced from the examination of the text had great implications for the ideological connections the work eventually served to form. The name “samizdat” is a parody of the word Gosizdat, the acronym for the state publishing house, and the underground publishing houses milked the idea that samizdat was a clandestine parody of the powerful state institution to their advantage. Komaromi describes how samizdat was an “opportunity for carnivalesque consumption, something on which to get high.”  There was a primitive sense of thrill derived from circulating, possessing, and reading such illicit material. However, the real danger samizdat posed to the Soviet regime was not due to the content which so enthralled the reader, but what it represented. In an article written for Canadian Slavonic Papers entitled “From Gosizdat to Samizdat and Tamizdat,” D. Pospielovsky calls samizdat a “historically unprecedented phenomena” because it is “a product of a system which rejects and bans independent thought as a matter of principle…” not because it was “considered to be a direct threat to the public order.” From the perspective of the Kremlin, neither the subject nor the content of work mattered as much as what it represented. Samizdat was an act of restoration—returning power back into the hands of the people. This posed a great threat to the Gosizdat, who had previously had control over the circulation of ideas and was now unable to ease the flow. On this most basic level, samizdat formed a connection between author and reader—not because of any political agenda espoused or cultural phenomenon elucidated, but merely due to its physical presence and tangibility.

    The circulation of samizdat caused immediate and widespread government crackdowns, proving that the material did, in fact, have an effect on the ability of the Soviet government to operate in the way in which it wanted to. The empowerment people experienced as a result of distributing and reading samizdat breached the concrete walls of Soviet control. The first government action occurred in September of 1965 when two writers, Andrei Sinyavksy and Yuli Daniel, were arrested and charged under article 70, which prohibited “agitation or propaganda carried on for the purpose of subverting or weakening the Soviet Regime.”  After a number of resulting protests and three petitions signed by Sakharov and Solzhenitsyn, the XXIII Congress passed 190-1 and 190-3 into the Criminal Code. The articles condemned public protest and the dissemination, production, or printing of “anti-Soviet slander.”  The head of the KGB in 1970, Yuri Andropov, went so far as to say, “the Committee for State Security is taking the requisite measures to terminate the efforts of individuals to use ‘samizdat’ to disseminate slander against the Soviet state…they are under criminal prosecution…”  The “prosecution” of Alexander Solzhenitsyn ended in his expulsion from the Soviet Union in 1974, and Natalya Gorbanevskaya, a human rights activist, was sent to a psychiatric facility in 1969 for two years.  While the preceding examples prove that samizdat was capable of disturbing the foundations of the Soviet government, as the following examples will demonstrate, the subversiveness of samizdat lay not in its content, but in its power to bring otherwise disparate groups of people together and lay the seeds for future dissent.

    In an example of a second class of connection formed by samizdat, the actions of two disparate political groups resulted in the revolutionizing of the very structure of the underground publishing houses. Their specific discussions, however, were irrelevant to the outcome of their relationship: the subversion of the Soviet political paradigm. The two groups involved were the socialists and the democrats, the former of which revered Leninism and the old Soviet ways and the latter of which turned their heads wistfully towards Western liberal democracy.  When Brezhnev visited Washington in June of 1973, socialists and democrats were thrown into a widespread debate over the possible source of reforms in the Soviet Union, for which both sides lay in hopeful expectation as a result of the détente.  Eventually, Medvedev was worn down and conceded that pressure from the West and from the lower Russian classes could, in fact, generate change. This democrat “victory,” which crowned Sakharov as the “conscience of the Soviet dissent movement,”  had profound implications for the future of samizdat.

    While Sakharov’s deification may appear to be the outcome of the debate, the more profound result actually involved the democratization of the samizdat system, a process which served to undermine the paradigm of the Soviet Union. After the democrats obtained control over samizdat and gained credibility in the eyes of the other dissident factions, some party members expressed a desire to reorganize and rejuvenate the democratic movement. Plans were made to unite democrats using kolizdat—collective samizdat produced using a “‘home-made printing apparatus’” —so that information and ideas could flow more efficiently. However, another group of democrats, among them P. A. Abovin-Egides and P. Podrabinek, believed that it was in the best interests of the democrats to reach over to other dissident groups, such as the socialists and the Slavophiles.  A third internal faction believed that democrats should work towards going “‘back to the people’” by making an effort to write a “‘common language’” with “‘men on the street.’”  All three of these ideas were extremely important for the future of samizdat. The first two proposals were all about facilitating connections, both within the faction and among other dissident groups. Stronger connections meant a more reliable flow of information and therefore a better-armored militia of dissent to wage peaceful war on the Soviet government. The third proposal, in which the democrats strove to relate to the common man, was in fact borrowed from their own political ideologies. It was only when these ideas were implemented, however, that the democrats began to challenge the authority of the Soviet government.

    The concept of the role of the individual in society, closely tied to the philosophical concept of democracy, was another important aspect of samizdat that aided dissidents in their quest to subvert the Soviet system. The Russian dissident Andrei Amalrik believes that in contrast to most dissident movements, samizdat was unique in that it did not require the individual to “sacrifice [his or her] ‘I’ for the sake of the general public.”  The “I” was in fact elevated to previously unforeseen status in the dissident movement. However, instead of living just for oneself—for the sake of the “I”—the individual became part of a larger collection of “I”s, living “with all and for all.”  Everything about samizdat, from its production to consumption, therefore became an act of searching for and expressing the self within a network of similarly-seeking souls. This confluence of otherwise isolated people was essentially the creation of a make-shift democracy. Democracy—from the Greek demos meaning people—is fundamentally concerned with establishing a chain of communication between the government and its citizens. The government knows what its citizens think, and the citizens are able to criticize the government. In Soviet Russia, the democrats were essentially building a miniature model of a democracy within the confines of an extremely rigid communist system. Not only did this democracy aid the flow of ideas, but its very existence was poisonous to the Soviet regime, whose survival depended upon universal acceptance of communist ideals. This concept of going back to the people, of involving everyone—not just the intellectual circles—in the dissident movement, directly subverted the contemporary paradigm: the Soviet government has a complete monopoly on the flow of thought.

    Although the process by which the samizdat system was democratized was facilitated by the existence of samizdat (all of the socialist-democrat and democrat-democrat discussions were conducted via samizdat), the subversion of the paradigm of the Soviet Union was not a result of the content of the debate. The substance of the debate was not, after all, about ways to bring samizdat back to the people or create a network of “I” spheres. Samizdat itself accomplished that organically; its very existence and facilitation of the connection between the two dissident groups caused that outcome—not anything that was actually verbally communicated. In the next and final example of the effects of samizdat, a similar phenomenon occurred when two countries banded together to, albeit unwittingly, sow the seeds of future revolutions.

    The final case of a samizdat relationship most aptly demonstrates the concept of “gateway dissent” because the connection formed between the two parties served to lay the foundation for more potent acts of dissent in the future. This connection is singular in nature because it involves two vastly different groups of people: émigré Poles residing in Sweden and the opposition forces back in Poland. During the period of détente in the 1970s, Poland looked toward neutral Sweden as a possible “channel” between them and the West, a bridge across the mighty Iron Curtain.  In the early 1970s, Poland and Sweden began to take advantage of the two countries’ shared Baltic Sea ports to circulate samizdat material—a method far safer and convenient than transporting the works by land, as was previously done.  In 1976, however, the articles being smuggled changed. After a series of anti-government protests in Poland that spurred the founding of a number of human rights and social change organizations, an increasing number of underground publishing houses began to crop up in Poland, notably Niezależna Oficyna Wydawnicza (Independent Printing House, NOWa).  Almost all of these new publishing houses, including NOWa, received their supplies (mimeograph machines, typewriter ribbons, pressure rollers, etc.) from Sweden.  In addition, their relationship with Sweden allowed the dissidents to quickly develop strong relationships to a larger émigré complex in important Western cities, most notably Paris, London, and New York.  (Kultura, perhaps the most influential of all Polish samizdat journals, was published by a Pole living in Paris. ) For the first time since the birth of the Soviet Union—or at least since the end of Khrushchev’s Thaw—the Iron Curtain had been successfully breached. And samizdat itself was the vehicle which carried these relationships over the Curtain.

    But what is the significance of this growing alliance between Poles and Swedes? The important question to ask here is how this relationship was perceived back at the Kremlin. The answer requires a leap forward to 31 August 1980, when the Polish Solidarity movement (Solidarność)—began at the Gdańsk Shipyard,  the first non-communist labor union in the Soviet Union.  Samizdat, as it turned out, played a pivotal role in the development of this movement. Pamphlets were often handed out at the shipyard and activists frequently published organizational announcements to inform the public about what was going on.  The development of Solidarność was a crucial step towards the destruction of the Iron Curtain and the dissolution of the Soviet bloc. In June 1989, members of Solidarność were elected to seats in Parliament, electing in August of that year Tadeusz Mazowiecki, the first noncommunist premier since the 1940s.

    But what does this have to do with Sweden? The answer is that without the relationship Polish dissidents formed with Sweden (which led to, of course, the founding of numerous samizdat publishers, many of which aided in the circulation of samizdat during the Solidarność years), Solidarność would not have been near as organized, efficient, or efficacious as it was. The samizdat produced in the early 1970s with the help of Sweden can, therefore, be classified as “gateway dissent,” for it lay the foundations for future acts of far more extensive and profound dissent. However, the samizdat of the early 1970s did not cause the events of 1980 in its content, but rather in its existence; the relationships it formed during that time led directly to Poland’s ability to start a large-scale revolution. In this way, Swedish-Polish samizdat did indeed subvert the existing political paradigm of the Soviet Union—although it did take nearly a decade to lay out the groundwork. Solidarność proved that the people did have a voice of their own separate from the dictations of the Kremlin—and they proved this by their usage of samizdat.

    The existence of samizdat in the Soviet Union was one of the most remarkable acts of dissent in the history of oppressed populations. It had a strong presence in many countries in the Soviet bloc and involved thousands of people from a variety of ethnic and cultural backgrounds who would have otherwise remained socially isolated. However, despite the positive outcomes samizdat produced, what was written down on the page was not of great importance in the grander scheme of events. The discussions between the socialists and the democrats did not reach the ears of the Kremlin; what did was due more to what samizdat stood for than what it was actually trying to express. The connection formed between the Sweden and Poland in the 1970’s—not the content of the samizdat which they produced together—helped to set to the stage a few years later when the Polish Solidarity movement was born. In short, their presence was of more significance than substance. The effects of samizdat in the twentieth century pose interesting questions in the twenty-first. The path of Russian dissent is yet unknown. Who will step up to the plate and challenge Putin’s totalitarian monstrosity? Will it be Pussy Riot? Alexei Navalny? In the years ahead, who or what will replace samizdat?
  • An Underestimated Burden: the Contraceptive Coverage Mandate - Caroline Whalen '14

    According to recent Supreme Court decisions, a corporation, while innately different from an individual, has the right to freedom of expression. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act undermines these rights through its contraceptive coverage mandate, which requires companies to supply healthcare with affordable access to contraceptives. This mandate causes strife for religious company owners by questioning the right to freedom of expression. Although the government says its purpose “furthers a compelling governmental interest,” the contraceptive coverage mandate of the Affordable Care Act violates those rights. The essential question, therefore, is rooted in the balance between the protection of companies’ rights against furthering “a compelling governmental interest” claimed by the government, which is providing access to contraceptives. The rights of companies must be protected for three fundamental reasons: the literal and implicit meanings of the First Amendment and Religious Freedom Restoration Act; the legitimacy of the “substantial burden” companies feel; and the lack of seriousness of the burden placed on women. These organizations, both for-profit and nonprofit alike, should have the means to express their religious views in an unrestricted way, including the opposition to contraceptives.
    The constitutional issue can be answered in several parts, the first being whether companies have religious rights under the First Amendment. The issue with the application of the First Amendment to companies lies first in the controversial application of these rights to companies, as generally they are considered to apply solely to individuals. However, a close reading of the words of the First Amendment and RFRA can be used to explain how they apply to for-profit companies. As emphasized in the brief presented to the Court in the 10th Circuit hearing of Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. v. Sebelius, “The First Amendment's text makes no distinctions about who may exercise religion; it simply forbids Congress from "prohibiting the free exercise [of religion]."’  This can be understood to mean that the First Amendment is not written in such a manner that it applies to a specific group or individual. Moreover, as stated in Citizens United v. FEC (2010), “Political speech is “indispensable to decision making in a democracy, and this is no less true because the speech comes from a corporation rather than an individual.’”  When the Supreme Court gave First Amendment rights to a for-profit company and decided that regulation of such rights was not allowed, it promoted the idea that regardless of the entity, expression cannot be regulated. Although speech is different from religion, both are protected through First Amendment rights.
    The literal translation of the Constitution is not the only reason that the companies have standing; it is also in the spirit of the law. The question is whether the birth control mandate violates anything that the First Amendment is meant to protect. For example, as mentioned in the appellant’s brief in Hobby Lobby 10th Circuit Court case, the Supreme Court wrote in the First National Bank of Boston v. Bellotti decision, "[t]he proper question ... is not whether corporations 'have' First Amendment rights and, if so, whether they are coextensive with those of natural persons. Instead, the question must be whether [the challenged law] abridges expression that the First Amendment was meant to protect."  This highlights the importance of evaluating the depth of protection offered by the First Amendment, rather than solely supporting an argument based on the question of protection in regards to specific groups. The goal of the First Amendment seems simple: protect expression from being regulated. This proposition, though, when considered in the case of religion, is not so straightforward. The freedom of religion extends beyond the right to practice any faith, but rather includes the ability to express religious beliefs and ideas in any manner.
    This idea is counter to what some supporters of the contraceptive coverage mandate believe. In their view, “’[Corporations] have no soul, and they certainly don't have a relationship with God.’”  This observation, although true, does not deny for-profit corporations the right to freedom of expression as their owners and shareholders see fit. As highlighted by the Bellotti decision, the actual practice of religion by the specific entity is not the essential question. Rather, it is whether the First Amendment, if it applies to for-profit companies, aims to protect those organizations from such a thing as a healthcare mandate. It does. The Freedom of Expression clause aims to protect any exercise of religion, which is not limited to the physical practicing of a faith. Freedom of religion extends far beyond the explicit meaning; it includes the right to express religious views and ideas, along with the right to abstain from acts that violate said religious beliefs. This implicit right is what the contraceptive coverage mandate infringes upon. The First Amendment specifies no individual or group to which it applies. Rather, it simply states that the government has no ability to create laws, which would prohibit such expression. The moral issue of the contraceptive coverage mandate adds to the controversial atmosphere regarding the topic. The government is essentially asking that storeowners abandon their religious views when entering the workplace. In an attempt to “further a compelling governmental interest,” the government is imposing its views on the importance of one group over another.
    The government has made some concessions in this mandate, in which they have exempted religiously affiliated nonprofit organizations to escape the requirements. Such exemptions highlight a main component of the argument against the mandate. For example, the Little Sisters of the Poor, which is a nonprofit religious group, is temporarily exempt from the mandate.  Highlighted in this example is the difference between for-profit and nonprofit organizations in the eyes of the government, a distinction that plays a role currently in Congress’s enforcement of the mandate. This concession by the government to allow religious organizations to be exempt shows that these requirements have a significant religious impact. This concession alone contradicts the government’s argument that this mandate has no substantial religious burden. If the government can recognize this for certain religious organizations, it is not plausible that no burden is placed on for-profit companies.
    The facts of the mandate reflect the substantial burden placed upon companies. Established in August 2012, the contraceptive coverage mandate of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act requires employee group health plans and health insurance issuers to include coverage for “’[a]ll Food and Drug Administration approved contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures and patient education and counseling for all women with reproductive capacity.’”  These contraceptive methods, as defined by the FDA, include barrier and hormonal methods, implants, and emergency contraceptives.  In addition to the access to such methods, preventative health care, including mammograms, and prenatal care, must be available to women without cost sharing.  These requirements, as part of the Affordable Care Act currently apply to all companies with fifty employees or more, except for churches and other religious organizations, which have been exempted from these requirements.

    The contraceptive coverage mandate has become the subject of over forty cases, including Korte v. United States Department of Health and Human Services and Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. v. Sebelius. These cases are dependent on the idea that these for-profit company owners feel a substantial burden placed upon their religious beliefs by the mandate. Korte, a Catholic appellant, claimed that the mandate violated his religious beliefs by supplying contraceptives, which included methods he considered abortion.  Similarly, the Greens, the owners of Hobby Lobby Inc., reject four types of contraceptives that they consider abortion, as “those four methods cause abortions by blocking a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus.”  This concept highlights the main issue for these for-profit companies and their owners; the issue is moral, as well as constitutional.
    The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, in a decision written by Judge Richard Posner, considered this question but failed to recognize the problem that the contraceptive coverage mandate causes for religious company owners. This issue is just what the Religious Freedom Restoration Act was meant to prevent. The RFRA, established to protect the free exercise of religion, states that the “Government shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability, except as provided in subsection (b) of this section.”  Thus, an argument for the mandate is that the company must present how the government has “substantially burden[ed]” it. For example, the University of Notre Dame, a Catholic institution, appealed the requirement placed upon them to abide by the mandate. However, the Court stated, in a 2-1 decision that, “Notre Dame "has not yet shown that there is a substantial burden" in complying with the birth control mandate.”  Judge Posner wrote, “If the government is entitled to require that female contraceptives be provided to women free of charge, we have trouble understanding how signing the form that declares Notre Dame's authorized refusal to pay for contraceptives for its students or staff, and mailing the authorization document to those (insurance) companies, which under federal law are obligated to pick up the tab, could be thought to 'trigger' the provision of female contraceptives.”  This is highlighted as the Court’s issue with the claim of a substantial burden, as they fail to see a company’s abiding by the contraceptive coverage mandate as the organization’s active support of contraceptives. This decision came after the exemption on religious nonprofits, but Notre Dame still felt that “this is inadequate because they would still be complicit in providing contraception coverage,” even if the health insurance provider is technically responsible. This, alone, is a “substantial burden” on organizations, as the compliance with the mandate still is an act against specific religious views.
    Judge Posner, in his decision to prevent Notre Dame from escaping any connection to contraception coverage, underestimates the burden that this mandate places upon individuals and organizations, for-profit and nonprofit alike. For-profit companies should not be considered any different than nonprofits claiming a religious affiliation. Although superficially secular, for-profit company owners and supporters should have access to freedom of expression in a similar way. The United States Conference of Catholic bishops described the substantial burden placed upon organizations, specifically for-profit companies. They stated, “The notion that for-profit entities cannot exercise religion rests on an unduly narrow view of religious liberty… Such an approach would jeopardize the religious exercise of millions of Catholics who sincerely believe they are called to live out their faith in all aspects of their lives, including in the workplace.”   Thus, the burden placed upon the owners of the corporations is this: to condone and supply group health care under the contraceptive coverage mandate would require those individuals to indefinitely suspend their religious beliefs in the workplace. This is not something that can be asked of an individual, regardless of his or her role in the workplace. Thus, the owners of the corporation should be entitled to their protected right of expressing their religious views by objecting to the mandate.
    When considering the possible burden placed upon the various entities, the contraceptive coverage mandate’s consequences must also be considered. The consequence of avoiding the mandate is a monetary fine per employee. For example, if Hobby Lobby, Inc. decided to pay the fine rather than offer health care with contraceptive coverage, their fine would be $1.3 million a day.  This fine, annually, would cost Hobby Lobby, which has 13,000 employees, $475 million.  This burden would, in fact, be less if the company dropped the coverage of healthcare entirely, as that fine would be $26 million annually.  Both of these burdens, though, are forms of an alternative “substantial burden” to the one that the mandate itself places on companies. Arguably, this could cause more companies to drop health care coverage altogether if the contraceptive coverage mandate is something with which they don’t agree. Not only that, but through the coercive nature of the fines, the government is causing further turmoil for the company owners. To abide by the birth control mandate would violate their religious beliefs, but to opt out of that requirement would cause a huge financial problem. When combined, these two options ultimately disempower the company, giving them no option that does not add weight to their situation. 
    Another use of the term “burden” is used by the supporters of the mandate, but in regards to the “burden” placed upon women by society. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted that about half of the pregnancies in the United States are not planned.  This fact, when noted with the idea that approximately 10.7 million women currently use oral contraceptives,  highlights the government’s interest in offering more widespread and more economically suitable access to contraceptives. The issue that the government is trying to erase, which can be claimed as “compelling governmental interest,”  is one in which women end up spending more money on health care than men, which creates a “type of sex bias.”  Thus, supporters of the mandate say, “That makes effective and affordable birth control an essential benefit.”  However, this statement belies the issue with the argument for relieving the women of this “sex bias”. Birth control is an “essential benefit”, but not a necessity. Thus, to place a “substantial burden” on companies and individuals in an attempt to erase a burden on women caused by choice rather than by health requirements does not meet constitutional requirements. 
    The First Amendment and Religious Freedom Restoration Act both contain implicit rights to freedom of religion, which extend to for-profit and nonprofit companies. The contraceptive coverage mandate burdens the individuals and companies alike, in that it infringes upon the enumerated rights already established. Moreover, it burdens the ability for company owners to freely express their religious ideas in the workplace, all for an acclaimed interest of the government’s to protect women from a “sex bias”. Taking away the rights of some to protect another group is not acceptable, and not something that this nation should want to accept. 
  • The World of Digital Natives - Kalli Havens '09

    The world wide web is a communication tool, as it successfully involves itself in the “imparting or exchanging of information or news” as well as “the successful conveying or sharing of ideas and feelings.” Since the internet was introduced as a way for military units to communicate with one another, it has revolutionized the way we all communicate, learn, play and even think. The echo of the baby boom created a generation of Digital Natives, a generation unlike any other because they were the first to grow up completely immersed in a digital world.  We now spend more time using web services than we do running traditional software applications from the computer's hard drive. Author of the book Grown Up Digital, Don Tapscott wrote, “For the first time in history, children are more comfortable, knowledgeable, and literate than their parents with an innovation central to society. And it is through the use of the digital media that the [Digital Natives] will develop and superimpose its culture on the rest of society.”   In a time where social networking sites, chat rooms, IMing, video-sharing, online games, cell phones, and iPods are rudiments of Digital Native culture, it is hard to imagine life without them.  These adolescents are not only developing and maturing in their offline world, but they are doing so surrounded by new mediums for communication, self-expression and forming connections. 

    Digital Natives have become dependent upon technology, and thus there are plenty of concerns and criticisms of this generation of young people. Don Tapscott suggests that among the top ten issues surrounding the Digital Native's use of the internet are “they are dumber than we (baby boomers) were at their age,”  “they steal and have become masters of plagiarism,” “they're bullying friends online,” “they're violent,” “they have no work ethic,” “current technology fuels an increase in narcissism,” “their only interests are in popular culture, celebrities, and their friends,” and that they are “net-addicted, losing their social skills, and they have no time for sports or healthy activities.”  With all of the concerns and challenges that are concomitant with digital immersion, it is hard to imagine that the immersion has not hurt Digital Natives overall. Though it will be acknowledged that in some cases the introduction of the internet and electronic multitasking may happen at the expense of some face-to-face family interaction, there is no doubt that the Digital Natives are a social and community-oriented generation who thrive in the digital world and that the introduction of the internet has increased the Digital Natives' web of connections, as the digital media has provided Digital Natives with a vehicle to both form connections with strangers that they might be able to better identify with as well as to enhance their relationships with their family and peers.

    In a study done on “The Anthropology of Online Communities,” Samuel M. Wilson and Leighton C. Peterson begin by explaining that “through most of the 1980s and 1990s, the conviction was widespread that the growing and evolving communications medium comprising inter-networked computers would enable the rapid and fundamental transformation of social and political orders.”  Throughout the 1990s there were a series of hypothesizes published, all suggesting different futures of the internet and what significance it might have. However, it was soon seen that these predictions could quickly become irrelevant, especially as the number of those connected through the internet increased.

    Digital Natives have a vast array of electronic tools at their fingertips for communication purposes.  Most often, Digital Natives are communicating through instant messaging, cell phones and social networking sites.  However, popular communication forms also include e-mail, text messaging, chat rooms, bulletin boards, blogs, video sharing, photo sharing, and multiplayer online computer games.  “Communications or interactions mediated by these applications are best referred to as media, which, is best defined by what it is not: face-to-face communication.”  With the introduction and influence of such tools in an adolescent's life, researchers and parents alike wonder how these communication forms have changed traditional patterns of interaction amongst teens, and whether all the time spent online communicating is happening at the expense of face to face communication.  As Patricia Greenfield and Kaveri Subrahmanyam address in their essay on “Online Communication and Adolescent Relationships,” to accurately assess how the internet revolution has altered relationships amongst certain groups of people, the researchers must be able to compare the relationship before and after the technology is introduced. Unfortunately, it is too late for such research to occur on the Digital Natives in the United States.  Other issues with this research include the fact that “the multitasking nature of most online communication makes it hard for subjects to provide a realistic estimate of time they spend on different activities,” and frequent shifts in popularity of online sites means that data on time usage can quickly become outdated. In spite of these challenges, the studies have displayed that electronic media has increased a Digital Native's connections by means of increased communication tools and an increased number of online communities.  Focusing particularly on the Digital Natives' relationships with strangers, their family and their already existing friends,  the introduction of the new digital media and the internet has not certainly increased the Digital Natives' web of connections.

    Wilson and Peterson wrote, “the growth of the global computer network known as the Internet has facilitated the rapid emergence of online interactions of dispersed groups of people with shared interests.” There is a common misconception that Digital Natives are losing the intimacy of their connections with close friends and family because they are spending so much time on the internet making connections with strangers.  Due to the fact that online communications lack important features of face-to-face communication, “they are believed to be less rich than offline ones,” and these relationships are “believed to represent weak ties, which have been characterized as relationships that have superficial and easily broken bonds, infrequent contact, and narrow focus.” In 2002, a survey revealed that 25 percent of Digital Natives had formed casual online friendships.  Though one may not initially see the value of an online relationship with a stranger, online communication with strangers offers benefits for some Digital Natives as they further increase their web of connections. 

    Digital Natives who cannot find connections with other teens elsewhere and those teens who have extreme passions often turn to the internet-based communities in the hopes of connecting with someone similar to them. The internet is filled with discussion groups devoted to the interests of many Digital Natives such as music groups and bands, TV shows, sports, health, sexuality, fashion, and college admission. Within these groups of people with shared interests, the adolescents do not always know each other.  In the case of interest-driven connections, “youth turn to networked publics to connect with like-minded peers who share knowledge and expertise that may not be available to them locally.”  In these discussion groups, teens seem to find satisfaction in the anonymity of such communication, feeling more comfortable asking strangers questions.  Troubled adolescents are more likely to have formed close online relationships through different online communities. “Girls who had high levels of conflict with their parents and boys who had low levels of communication were more likely to have formed close relationships.”  Similarly, troubled Digital Natives will turn to strangers in a chat room, looking to divulge more information that they might choose to give up with a friend or family member.  In a study conducted looking to find characteristics of those who are more likely to interact with strangers, and for what reasons adolescents turn to strangers, “extroverts formed online friendships so that they could self-disclose more and engage in more frequent online communication.  Introverts formed online friendships to compensate for their poorer social skills.”   One study showed that “online interactions with unknown peers help adolescents recover from the sting of social rejection.”

    Because teens might often turn to a stranger, one might think that this has caused a decrease in connections amongst Digital Natives, but rather, teens are increasing their connections, and benefiting by contacting strangers. “The interpersonal connections with strangers made possible by electronic media may be particularly valuable for youth suffering from illnesses such as AIDS, eating disorders, and self-injurious behavior, about which they may not feel comfortable talking with their friends in person.  Online bulletin boards and chat rooms allow youth to form such connections.” For American Digital Natives, “the availability of networked public culture appears to be particularly important for marginalized youth, such as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered teens, as well as for teens who are otherwise marked as different and cannot easily find similar individuals in their local schools and communities.”  On these sites, they can meet different people. The internet has allowed those who do not always feel connected to the people surrounding them to feel connected to people who have shared experiences. “Contact with unknown peers in forums such as chat rooms and social networking sites might help adolescents cope with threats to “belonging” in their offline lives.”

    Another common misconception is that the Digital Natives' parents feel that the internet is taking away from face-to-face communication and family interactions.  A “concern is growing that adolescents' extensive use of electronic communication to interact with their peers may impair their relations with their parents, siblings and other family members.”  Further, “electronic multitasking has become pervasive, sometimes at the expense of face-to-face family interaction.”  Because the digital media was introduced to the parents of Digital Natives, while the Digital Natives were born into a world of technology, parents are apprehensive to acknowledge the benefits of the electronic communication tools.  Both Digital Natives and their parents agree that the children know more about the internet than their parents do.  “In the 2001 Pew Report, 64 percent of teens believed they knew more than their parents about communicating online and 66 percent of their parents agreed.”  A 2008 survey asked Digital Natives to answer the question, “Which would you rather do: spend time with your friends or with your family?”  Digital Natives growing up in the United States responded saying 60 percent would rather spend time with their family, while 40 percent would prefer to spend time with their friends, proving that electronic communication has not made adolescents less interested in face to face communication with their families.  While the influence of the internet on the life of a Digital Native causes many parent-child conflicts, it has also provided them with many benefits. 

    Adults do not place priority on hanging out, and thus children find that they no longer have to burden their parents with their plans, as they have found other outlets for socializing.  In response to the “limited availability of unrestricted computer and internet access, competing responsibilities such as household chores and extracurricular activities, and lack of mobility (transportation),” Digital Natives have developed ways to subvert barriers to hanging out through the internet.  More and more parents are turning to digital media for text messaging and instant messaging to communicate with their adolescents.  The introduction of digital media has also benefited families in that “parents often mobilized around their kids by trying to learn about and buy new things.”  Developmentally it has been shown that children can benefit from teaching their parents.  As Digital Natives have an understood expertise in the area of digital media, technology is one area in which children, who typically feel inferior to adults, can play an important role as the family's technology expert.  In a study called 'The Digital Youth Project,' done to help determine how digital media is changing the way young people learn, play, socialize and participate in civic life, the primary researchers for the 'project' found that, “in contrast to the generational tensions that are so often emphasized in the popular media, families to come together around new media to share media and knowledge, play together, and stay involved in each other's lives.”
    The different communication forms that Digital Natives have access to also allow them to better communicate with existing friends and family.  As supported by my own ethnography on Facebook culture and use amongst teenagers, with the exception of those Digital Natives who choose to interact with strangers online, “adolescents use these communication tools primarily to reinforce existing relationships, both friendships and romantic relationships, and to check out the potential of new entrants to their offline world.”  In recent years there has been a more significant turn to technology led by the Digital Natives who are more likely to use these communication tools to find their friends and family online or with their cell phones.  To maintain connections, and to connect with pre-existing friends, text messaging, instant messaging an social networking sites are most often used.

    When asked to describe describing why they liked AIM (AOL Instant Messaging) so much, adolescents' answers included, “Once you get used to it, you can have five or ten conversations at once!,” “I keep in touch with all my friends that way,” and “I talk to everyone all the time and I know what's going on in their lives.”  Teens use instant messaging mainly to connect with offline friends.  While AIM has many of the features of face-to-face communication such as turn-taking, greetings and joking, “IM usage adds one or more dimensions to the written medium— doing so it transcends the written medium,” contributing to its popularity.  As many Digital Natives use the same vocabulary in an IM conversation as they would in a face-to-face conversation, most of a Digital Native's connections are of the same value as a face-to-face conversation, and by talking to more people they can further extend their web of connections.  At a place like Millbrook, students said they used Instant Messaging more than social networking sites not only because it was faster, but because it could serve as an effective substitute for face to face communication and phone calls to transfer information with a lot of people at the same time.  Students were using IM chiefly to communicate with friends from outside of school, but one student explained that IM was more popular than Facebook because she “could ask questions to people that were on campus without having to actually go find them.  It makes things a lot easier and is really convenient.” Adolescents have found IMing helpful and more convenient in staying connected, as they “negotiate a complex social world in which relationships are managed and maintained for hours at a time.”  In Susan D. Blum's survey, which was a part of her study on Instant Messaging, she found that 97 percent of the students use IM.  Still, 35 percent of those users said that they use face-to-face communication most, while 33 percent used IM the most.  The value of IM is that in a short period of time, and while doing other things (multitasking), people can have a large number of interactions.  Blum and her students also found that “By allowing users to instantly share information with a large number of people in a small amount of time, IM is helping users to better 'stay in touch' with one another.” 

    Another form of instant communication that has recently become popular with American Digital Natives is text messaging with their peers.  A study conducted reveals that there were three primary conversation threads throughout text messages, “chatting (discussing activities and events, gossip and homework help), planning (coordinating meeting arrangements) and coordinating communication (having conversations about having conversations).”  Thus, teens are better connected through this digital media they remain in constant communication with one another.  The BlackBerry is a prime example of a digital media tool providing someone with a sustained connection to friends, co-workers, a workplace or a school, as the cell-phone has incorporated web services so that people can use Facebook, e-mail and other methods of instant communication. Even still, the concern arises as some might suggest that Digital Natives will use IM and text messaging as a substitute for a face-to-face talk, and thus might feel less close to their IM partners.  Nevertheless, Digital Natives “have so wholly embraced instant messaging (both on cell phones and on computers) despite its perceived limitations because it satisfies two important developmental needs of adolescence—connecting with peers and enhancing their group identity by enabling them to join offline cliques or crowds without their more formal rules.”

    With the intentions of broadening their social group, and extending their web and intensity of connections, “Youth use MySpace, Facebook and IM to post status updates—how they are fairing in their relationships, their social lives, and in other everyday activities—that can be viewed by the broader networked public of their peers.  In turn, they can browse other people's updates to get a sense of the status of others without having to engage in direct communication.”  Another common misconception about Digital Natives' use of the internet is that due to the informality of the communication methods, the lack of face-to-face contact and the public sharing of information on networking sites, their friendships may be negatively affected, and in turn their well-being.  On the contrary, according to a 2001 Pew survey, “48 percent of online teens believe that the internet has improved their relationships with friends; the more frequently they use the internet, the more strongly they voice this belief.  Interestingly, 61 percent feel that time online does not take away from time spent with friends.” In agreement with my own ethnographic research, participants who communicated and used the internet more actually felt closer to their existing friends because they were able to communicate regularly and keep tabs on them even without direct and instant communication by means of social networking sites.  Through my own observations it was clear that a teen could be actively engaged in a conversation with their peers, in a face-to-face situation, while chatting online and using the internet, presumably “facebooking.”  It seemed as though the 'facebookers' were not more distant from one another, but they had developed a way of merging their online world, with the 'real' world, so that they could actively participate in both adequately. Because doing things such as sharing discovered videos with one another, and using Facebook or MySpace have become such a large part of sociability in youth culture, it can be understood that the use of the internet is not taking away from, or diminishing relationships, but rather, adolescents have made adaptations and are constructing new social norms that reflect the heightened role of digital media in their lives.

    Returning to Wilson and Peterson's observation that the internet's development has led to “online interactions of dispersed groups of people with shared interests,” there is no doubt that all Digital Natives using a social networking site have a common interest.  After studying online communities, doing ethnographic fieldwork on social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace, danah boyd (her spelling) has suggested that the “teen years are marked by an interest in building new connections and socializing broadly.”   With many teens sharing an interest in socializing and building connections, searching for ways to make and maintain connections with their friends, it is no surprise that Digital Natives turn to online communities such as social networking sites.  A social networking site, like Facebook or MySpace, is a site that “connects communities of people in order to enable the flow of information among users after creating profiles and adding “friends” or other users.  Friending users “lays the groundwork for building a friendship.  the practice of Friending not only acknowledges a connection but does so in a public manner,” and in turn once making a wider range of connections, a teen has more opportunities to observe and learn about social norms from their peers.  My informants use Facebook for enhanced communication with their peers (to keep in touch and to strengthen or publicize existing friendships), and for social comparison. According to a Pew report in early 2007, 55% of youth aged twelve to seventeen use these sites, mostly to reinforce existing relationships.” danah would agree that children spend so much time on sites such as Facebook or MySpace in order to reinforce existing relationships, but add that they do so “partly because they are marginalized in their society by adults.”  Social networking is an acceptable alternative because “teens do not have as much access to physical space as they once did because they are over-scheduled or are dependent on adults to drive them places, or their parents are afraid for their safety, or their friends can't go out. Online is more easy and accessible, even when they're stuck at home.”  The appeal to these sites is not the technology itself, but rather the presence of the Digital Native's peers.  Because of these constraints on time and transportation, social networking sites are providing Digital Natives with an opportunity to casually connect with their friends and acquaintances by browsing the profiles and status updates, gathering information to “keep tabs” on their peers without direct communication.  As supported by my own ethnographic research on the Facebook community, as teenagers learn to use these social networking sites, and online communication tools, they also develop a sense of etiquette as well as strategies for managing complexities and socially awkward situations which aid in their adolescent and social development.  In my research on Facebook culture I found that contrary to the popular opinion that digital media is facilitating a Digital Native's interactions with strangers, the vast majority of the people I talked to use this media to communicate with existing friends that they met in school, their jobs, sports teams, churches and summer camps.  Also supported by my ethnographic research on Facebook, Greenfield and Subrahmanyam also found that when Digital Natives are using social networking sites to keep in contact with their peers from their offline lives, they are using it both to make plans with friends whom they see often and to keep in touch with friends whom they rarely see.

    Through blogs, social networking sites, online discussion groups and instant messaging, teens are spending a lot of time on the computer using social media.  Still, 53 percent of Digital Natives (aged 13-18) still say that the number one way they like to spend time with their friends is in person. It is because they are so social and so committed to staying connected that they spend the rest of their time using digital media to let their friends know what has been going on.  Sure, many of them still prefer to communicate with these modern communication tools for certain kinds of interactions, but that doesn't mean that they are losing either their interest in face-to-face communication or their social skills.  Sure, under many circumstances, Digital Natives will use the internet to communicate, but that doesn't mean they are losing social skills, “after all, expressing one's feelings in writing was a standard practice of the nineteenth century.”  The Digital Natives have a sense of logic for everything they do, and before the adults in our society attempt to criticize the Digital Native culture, they must strive to understand the native's rationale.  Digital Natives are aware of the perceived limitations and detrimental effects of the internet, but they also know that they are an extremely social and connected generation and will, therefore, continue to strive to maintain constant communication and to constantly continue to extend and strengthen their web of connections.

    Since the inception of the internet into daily life, there has been constant questioning as to whether there has been some sort of change in our inability or ability to act personally.  While research methods seem limited due to the fact that for accurate conclusions, multi-tasking would need to be dealt with and a study on the relationships between family and friends needed to have been done before the internet was such an evident part of Digital Native culture, the research that has been done suggests that overall there is a higher level of connectedness amongst Digital Natives.  Adults, especially parents, find their children's' Digital Native culture bewildering and threatening to existing social and family norms.  The internet is not only providing teens with increased access to information, but has introduced a new way for Digital Natives to extend and intensify their web of connections with friends, family and, in certain cases, strangers, as the use of the internet by means of participation in online communities, instant messaging and social networking sites, has become key to the broadening of their social relations.  In certain instances, the transformation into the digital age as well as these improved connections and interactions may happen at the expense of face-to-face communication, but ultimately the enhancement of peer group relations for Digital Natives as a result of digital media cannot be discredited as it is very clear that Digital Natives have a much larger web of connections.
  • Targeted Killings: A Contradictory Approach to the 'War on Terror' - Sarah Whalen '06

    In 2006, one of the most prominent issues facing the many nations of the world is terrorism.  Although this is no new concept, the threat to the national security of the United States has increased over the past few years and has become more immediate, as the effects have now reached close to home for the American people.  After the tragic events of September 11, 2001, in which terrorists hijacked planes and killed approximately 3,000 innocent Americans in New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania, the President of the United States, George W. Bush, set out to retaliate for the devastating actions.  The question that ensues, therefore, is how to respond to this violence.  One tactic used by Israel to deal with neighboring Palestinian terrorist groups is targeted killings.  As a close ally, “Americans…look to Israel for lessons in counterterrorism,” as Israel has had quite the experience with terrorism, specifically with airline hijackings and suicide bombings.  Since this event, the government of the United States has changed its mind about the practice of targeted killings and has quietly begun to employ them in its “war on terror”.  Targeted killings are “used by governments to eliminate individuals they view as a threat;” the intelligence and military officials of a country work together to plot an assassination.  Information on these killings is extremely confidential, and the Bush Administration has offered limited knowledge to the public, withholding numbers and names of most attempts, allowing little public debate.   However, from the information available, it is clear that the United States’ use of targeted killing is an unwise decision in terms of its own foreign and domestic policy.  It not only is contradictory of American values but violates international law and has been frowned upon by the worldwide community.   
    However, thus far this has not stopped its use or changed its legality within American domestic law.  Although previously banned, assassination can be ordered by the executive branch from the powers delegated to the President by Congress. Even though permitted under U.S. law, the negative effects hinder the progression in the fight against hatred and violence that the world is currently facing in the twenty-first century. 
    The use of targeted killing of major members of terrorist groups by the United States government is an immoral policy.  The main problem with these attacks is that they are not always precise; in the past, they have caused the death of many innocent people.  The attacks must be carried out in a rapid manner with only limited intelligence citing the whereabouts of the target, which is difficult to obtain and can be unreliable.  The location of the United States in relation to the targets is the major cause of this inaccuracy.  Therefore, it is hard to maintain one-hundred percent accuracy in killing only the intended terrorist and the collateral damage of the attacks usually affects innocent people.  For example, in January of 2006, the United States tried to kill Al-Qaeda’s second in command, Ayman al-Zawahiri, in Pakistan, at a meeting with fellow extremists.  An unmanned Predator aircraft was sent to execute him when things went awry.  Apparently, he was not present at the location.  Instead, eighteen civilians, including many women and children were killed, sparking many protests throughout Pakistan.  The process of targeted killings is not guaranteed, and although ultimate precision is the goal, it is not always possible.
    Even if collateral damage does not occur, targeted killings still violate international human rights laws.  In the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted in 1948 by the General Assembly of the United Nations, in Article 3, it states, “Everyone has the right to life, liberty, and security of person.”  This document has the specific goal, as stated in the preamble, to promote good relations between nations.  While it is true that during a declared armed conflict, this guarantee of life for soldiers is no longer valid, the current “war on terrorism” is not an actual time of war.  Firstly, it is not possible to declare war against a terrorist organization.  Furthermore, even during armed conflict “willful killings” are not legal; therefore, lethal force is not a valid action.   President Bush’s statements then, that Bin Laden is “wanted, dead or alive”, are prohibited as it is considered an extrajudicial killing.  The Fourth Geneva Convention states that “extrajudicial killings constitute ‘grave breaches’ and are subject to international jurisdiction.”  When a government suspects criminal behavior by an individual, “that government is obligated to capture and try the person” and “the government must present its evidence under a transparent process of inquiry.”   

    There is a clear contradiction in the logic of using this method to halt terrorism; it is simply, “If terrorism is condemned because it kills the innocent, how can one justify counterterrorism tactics that kill them too?”  The U.S. simply can not justify a policy in which they commit the same wrongful act that they wish to stop.  If the same act was committed on U.S. soil, killing eighteen of its own citizens, Americans, including the government, would be outraged.  Committing these assassinations opens up this policy to rest of the world, putting the citizens and leaders of the U.S. at risk.  Hypothetically, it is then possible for Cuba to define exiles living in Miami as terrorists, and arrange for assassinations to take place on U.S. soil.  Hence, the U.S. should be wary of committing these acts, as it will be nearly impossible to condemn them in the future if other countries decide to act similarly.  As exemplified by this situation, the United States often takes advantage of its position as the world’s foremost superpower to act in a manner most convenient. 
    Terrorism is often a response in hatred for the United States, the big “bully” imposing its own un-Islamic institutions and ideas on other countries, particularly in the Middle East.  Osama bin Laden, the head of the terrorist group Al-Qaeda, who claims responsibility for September 11, has warned the U.S. that further attacks will occur.  He proclaimed in a speech that “every state that doesn’t play with our security has automatically guaranteed its own security.”  Specifically attacking members of Al-Qaeda will then clearly be an attack on bin Laden’s security and subject the safety of Americans to future devastating attacks.  Terrorist groups will most likely retaliate for a death of one of its leaders.   

    As Israel has had a history with this action, it is helpful to look at their assassinations as well.  In a targeted killing by Israel of a senior leader of Hamas, Salah Shehada, in 2002, in which he was killed, along with 14 innocent people, Hamas promised revenge.  Agitated, Hamas claimed that the Jews will “see their own body parts in every restaurant, every park, and every street.”   During similar events in Palestine by Israelis in the 1980s, a Palestinian security official boldly stated, “whoever sign[s] off on killing a leader among Hamas…should turn the page and sign off on killing sixteen Israelis.”  Not only will the top members of these organizations grow more furious at the United States and plan more attacks, but more people will join forces with the terrorists.  Killing a top member of a terrorist group often may “create martyrs that help a group sell itself to its own community.”   People living in rural, underdeveloped countries may only see this destruction and death the United States is causing and wish to join the opposition.  Although supporters of targeted killings argue that getting rid of a top leader will disrupt the plans and organization of the terrorist group, even with the current masterminds gone, new supporters will inevitably join, and not only that, but their locations will be unknown, and therefore possibly even a more dangerous threat.  Creating more terrorists in the world will not fix the underlying issue the government is looking to solve in the “war on terror”.  Retaliating with use of more violence will “escalate the costs of the conflict, cause greater and more lasting embitterment, and preclude nonmilitary solutions.”    By creating more support to the cause, the main objective of the “war on terror” will be far from solved, and the war between the United States and the terrorists will continue.  In addition, any peace talks will be halted if continuous responses of violence are sought.  In the same manner, the U.S. will not have success in the future if they seek to reach out to Middle Eastern countries with their valued ideas; “by undermining international humanitarian law, it squanders moral authority and the capacity to persuade and influence others.”  
    Targeted killings face major legal scrutiny on the international level.  International law is an “informal, unwritten body of rules” that binds the conduct of the nations universally.  When an issue is at hand, all the countries have a choice to either support the law or to actively express dissent.  International law, although unofficial, has value and clear power in the world today and it is in the best interest of all that it continues to be followed.  As it is the one set of guidelines that crosses all borders in the attempt to achieve the common values of the entire population, the United States, as a superpower, should lead the way in stressing its importance.  While there is a Security Council of the United Nations and an International Court of Justice, the only real enforcement of these rules comes from the pressure of different countries on one another.  If the United States does not follow the rules itself, it loses the power to apply this pressure to others.  This means then, that not only will the United States lose its power to have an influence on others and negotiate on worldwide issues, but breaking the law will bring unwanted pressure from the other powerful nations.  If any of these rules are violated, consequences are primarily from breaches in diplomacy and scars on a country’s reputation and can have major economic effects, all not favorable positions for any country.     

    The world has clearly shown its dislike for the use of targeted killings, claiming they are “extrajudicial killings” illegal under this law.   The worldwide community finds that human rights are not upheld, and in practice, targeted killings can be compared to the death penalty without proper due process, in which the global standards require that “suspected criminals be apprehended, prosecuted, and convicted before being punished.”   This is not to say that death is not an allowable punishment for heinous crimes, but rather a fair and constitutional court must find the suspect guilty first.  Therefore, if the United States participates in targeted killings, it will be acting in opposition to its valued allies and the majority of the international community.  In the Declaration of Independence, which contains the basic principles on which the country was founded, it is stated that the United States will act with “due regard for the opinions of other nations.”   This means that the country should act with respect to the universal law, however, “the international rules and institutions detested by neo-conservatives such as George W. Bush are more consistent with the founding principles…than the imperialist principles to which they now subscribe.”   In the past several years, following the September 11 attacks, the United States has “consciously [sought] to modify international law in accordance with its interests.”    Acting as such, however, does not only violate the true spirit of the country but also proves to be imprudent foreign policy.  The United States relies heavily on the support of its allies.  Various terrorists have been stopped thanks to the help of foreign police forces and governments.  This cooperation and support, not only in the present but in the future, is more valuable than the life of one suspected terrorist.  As the most powerful country, the United States has the capability to change the world for the benefit not only itself but for everyone.  However, first and foremost it is necessary that when carrying out these actions, the US should obey the requirements of war law.  In Harry Truman’s speech at the conference setting up the UN in 1945, he said, “We all have to recognize- that we must deny ourselves the license to do always as we please.”
    Within the U.S., the government does not face a legal challenge when committing the targeted killings.  The United States policy on the use of this technique has changed throughout the past few decades.  In 1976, Gerald Ford issued a presidential order in which the executive branch barred itself from participating in assassination.   In 1981, Executive Order 12333 was issued, and it stated, “No person employed by or acting on behalf of the United States Government shall engage in, or conspire to engage in, assassination.”   However, the recent terrorist attacks sparked a new law that changed the legality of this practice.  After the September 11, 2001 attacks, Congress passed a bill which gave a broad power to the executive branch in the “Authorization for Use of Military Force”.  This law states that the “President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States.”  The President must receive his powers from either the Constitution or from Congress.  In this case, the Constitution gives Congress the right to “make all laws necessary and proper for carrying into Execution…powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States.”  In other words, Congress can pass laws that are necessary to ensure the government can do its job.  One of the jobs of the federal government is to protect the country and the citizens.  As commander-in-chief of the military, the executive branch seems most fit to fulfill this duty.  In this joint resolution that was passed in response to the terrorist attacks, Congress noted that “such acts render it…necessary…that the United States exercise its rights to self-defense and to protect.”  Under these conditions, the legality of the use of targeted killings within domestic law seems quite simple.  The executive branch has been given a fairly broad power to use force against terrorists, which includes killing them.  Since the government clearly finds this tactic to be useful and appropriate, although, against the opinion of the majority of the world, it is able to justify the action in a legal sense through this law.   
    The use of targeted killings, while legal under the new law passed through Congress, is in opposition to the most basic values of the United States.  Americans have traditionally valued the concepts of life and liberty for all and they have often attempted to hinder the government from acting too hastily against any suspected criminals.  There is a clear emphasis on due process in the Constitution, in which suspects are “innocent until proven guilty.”  Traditionally, within the domestic realm, the government has been required to give the benefit of the doubt until proper procedure has been followed, including a fair trial.  It seems reasonable then, to assume that the United States values should extend not to just include its own people, but also foreigners.  When the Oklahoma City bombings, the largest domestic terrorist attack in the United States, occurred, the man behind the destruction, Timothy McVeigh, was given a fair trial.  Even though Osama bin Laden and his fellow terrorists are not citizens of the United States, the value of due process should apply to them as well.  Therefore, the use of this practice undermines the U.S.’s clear goal of “promoting democracy and civil societies.”  This policy makes the government the “prosecutor, judge, and executioner.”  Democracy is an attempt to limit the power of the leaders, not give unlimited and unchecked power to one body. 
    In conclusion, the recent use of targeted killings as a fight against terrorism is causing controversy in the present world.  This tactic is used more frequently by Israel, but recently the United States has initiated employing it within its own terror war.  Although legal by U.S. standards, following in the footsteps of its ally is not a wise decision.  This use of violence, which often kills innocent people, is indeed committing the same crime in which the country is attempting to fight.  This contradictory statement will not only create more terrorism and prolong the struggle but will also cause international condemnation and loss of universal respect.  Even though the horrific events of September 11, 2001, do call for the government to become more active in domestic security, and deter any future attacks on innocent Americans, killing leaders of terrorist groups is not a reasonable answer.  Instead, the United States needs to work as hard as possible stop these attacks in other ways, for example, by peacefully arranging the arrests of the most dangerous people.  Following international law and acting morally, by fairly and justly trying these suspects, the U.S. will maintain its strong image as a superpower while cracking down on violence.    The U.S. should remember that maintaining the friendship of its allies is the most valuable tool at its disposal, and wrecking these relationships is clearly a wrong decision.  Instead, the U.S. should spend more time working on changing its international image from a bully with numerous contradictions within its policies.
  • The Right of Marriage and the Constitution - Stafford Mckay '01

    The current legal classification of marriage in this country is recognized only between a man and a woman, not between two members of the same sex. Advocates of gay and lesbian rights have been lobbying to have this fact changed for years. It is the belief of these groups and others that the United States not only has an obligation to recognize same-sex unions, but that lawmakers have not obeyed the fundamentals of the constitution and Supreme Court precedent by passing what is known as “The Defense of Marriage Act” in 1996. The damage that has already been done in Washington to the gay community is irreparable. The United States Supreme Court would have the ability to permit same-sex unions if a related case ever reached the high court. The court could base its opinion favoring recognized union in the following arguments: A) Discrimination against same-sex marriage is similar to certain state governments’ past restrictions on biracial marriage, which the United States Supreme Court found in violation of Equal Protection granted by the Fourteenth Amendment. B) The opinions of two State Supreme Court cases, Baehr v. Lewin (Hawaii), and Baker v. Vermont, clearly define the legal rights to gay marriage in each state. C) The relation of the Equal Protection Clause in each of the aforementioned states is akin to that of the United States Constitution. D) The Full Faith and Credit Clause of Article IV of the United States Constitution was clearly intended to protect the rights of a citizen granted by one state in every other.  In light of these arguments, the Court easily could find that the ‘Defense of Marriage Act’, an attempt by Congress to stop legal recognition of same-sex unions is unconstitutional.

    Prior to 1996, the legal definition of ‘marriage’ was held exclusively at the state level. The gay community first called for same-sex marriages by applying for marriage licenses from individual local governments. Such requests for marriage licenses began in 1970 in the State of California and resulted in a stricter definition of marriage in that state. In 1971, the State of Minnesota encountered its first case dealing with same-sex unions. State courts denied the plaintiff’s application for marriage recognition, arguing that “the institution of marriage as a union of man and woman, uniquely involving the procreation and rearing of children within a family is as old as the book of Genesis,” hardly a constitutional argument. The court answered the plaintiff’s argument that denying same-sex marriage rights is equal to the racial restrictions to marriage once held to this country, thus a violation of the 14th Amendment, by declaring that same-sex marriage is “abstract symmetry not demanded by the Fourteenth Amendment”. The cases that followed all ruled similarly at the state level, and all  involved citations of the 9th and 14th Amendments of the Constitution. Not until 1993 did a case rule in favor of plaintiffs seeking marriage rights.

    Two significant state hearings have laid the foundation for legal proof that the possibility for same-sex marriage is possible. The case of Baehr v. Lewin first proved in 1993 that it is possible for a state to recognize gay marriage. In the class-action suit brought before the State of Hawaii, a group of same-sex couples applied for marriage licenses in December of 1990 through the Department of Health in the State of Hawaii. The couples complied with the Hawaii State Code completely in their request, except for the fact that the marriage recognition they were seeking was of same-sex nature. The Department of Health denied the applicants of their requested licenses for a singular violation: the couples were all of the same sex. The Department of Health was acting under the rules prescribed by the state by denying the licenses, but the plaintiffs believed that the regulations held by the state violated the Hawaii constitution. The plaintiffs filed a complaint to the Department of Health illustrating the suffering they were facing and demanded declaratory and injunctive relief. The Department of Health (director Lewin) responded to the complaint, stating that the department’s actions were in complete accordance to Hawaii law. Lewin sought judicial support to reinforce his statement. The circuit court concurred with Lewin and the plaintiff appealed to the State Supreme Court. The State Supreme Court did not agree with the plaintiffs’ argument that the right to privacy as granted in that state’s constitution includes a “fundamental right to same-sex marriage”. However, more importantly, the court agreed with the “applicant couples claim that the express terms of HRS s 572-1, which discriminates against same-sex marriages, violate their rights under the equal protection clause of the Hawaii Constitution.” The court stated that the lower court had: 
    Erred when it concluded, as a matter of law, that: (1) homosexuals do not constitute a ‘suspect class’ for purposes of equal protection analysis…(2) the classification created by HRS s 572-1 is not subject to ‘strict scrutiny,’ but must satisfy only the ‘rational relationship’ test; and (3) HRS s 572-1 satisfies the rational relation test because the legislature ‘obviously designed [it] to promote the general welfare interests of the community by sanctioning traditional man-woman family units and procreation’.

    The opinion continued by stating that “marriage is a state-conferred legal status, the existence of which gives rise to rights and benefits reserved exclusively to that particular relationship.” The court held that the couples should not be excluded from marriage benefits such as taxation advantages and inheritance rights. The state vacated the lower court’s affirmation of the Lewin decision and placed the burden to determine marital status (free from sex discrimination) in the hands of Lewin. Hawaii’s Supreme Court decision is sound because the state’s constitution has an equal protection clause that permitted the court to demonstrate how the applicants were being denied equal protection rights on the bases of sexual discrimination. The wording of that particular section of the document states “[n] o person shall…be denied the equal protection of the laws, nor be denied the enjoyment of the person’s civil rights or be discriminated against in the exercise thereof because of race, religion, sex, or ancestry.” The court brings to light the unfortunate fact that the Federal Constitution does not extend as broad a definition of equal protection. The United States Constitution states only that a state may not “deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” The fact that the United States Constitution provides such a narrow meaning of equal protection can be both an advantage and an obstacle for same-sex advocates wishing to scrutinize the established system of marriage before the Supreme Court on the federal level. An optimistic interpretation of the wording allows for the clause to be inclusive of homosexuals if determined so by a more liberal Supreme Court, a decision that would overrule past cases.
    One significant case to follow Baehr v. Lewin took place in 1999 in the State of Vermont. Similar to the facts of the Hawaii case, Baker v. Vermont involved a group of applicants wishing to apply for a marriage license in their respective local governments. The townships in which the couples applied denied them their right to marriage. The couples appealed to the State Court of Appeals, arguing that the rejection of their marriage applications violated the ‘common benefits’ clause of the state’s constitution. The case resulted in an affirmation of the township’s ruling with the following argument (as surmised by the Human Rights Campaign):
    …Homosexuals are not a protected class because homosexuality is not readily discernible like race,… homosexuals are not politically powerless, as evidenced by Vermont's anti-discrimination laws protecting sexual orientation in other areas of the law, [and] Vermont's marriage laws do not discriminate on the basis of gender, either, because other laws affect men and women equally.

    The applicant couples appealed to the Vermont Supreme Court and received a favorable decision declaring that the Vermont Constitution provided for the recognition of gay unions. The ruling did not specifically answer the equal protection question at the federal or state level, leaving the question of whether homosexuals are considered a ‘suspect class’ in terms of marriage a moot point. This neglect was an issue raised Justice John A. Dooley in his concurrence to the majority opinion.
    Under the Common Benefits Clause of the Vermont Constitution, which, in pertinent part, reads, That government is, or ought to be, instituted for the common benefit, protection, and security of the people, nation, or community, and not for the particular emolument or advantage of any single person, family, or set of persons, who are a part only of that community, (Vt. Const., ch. I, art 7) whether this ultimately takes the form of inclusion within the marriage laws themselves or a parallel ‘domestic partnership’ system or some equivalent statutory alternative rests with the Legislature. Whatever system is chosen, however, must conform with the constitutional imperative to afford all Vermonters the common benefit, protection, and security of the law. Same-sex advocates must use the Hawaii and Vermont decisions and apply them to the entire country by turning to the ‘Full Faith and Credit Clause’. Article IV of The United States Constitution calls for ‘full faith and credit’ in every state towards the ‘public Acts, records, and judicial proceedings of every other State’. This statement alone demonstrates that the freedom for two members of the same sex to marry in Hawaii and Vermont must be applicable and recognized by every other state in the country. The full faith and credit clause intended to ensure that every state recognizes the decisions made by other state courts and legislatures. Supreme Court Justice Stephen G. Breyer made the following statement regarding a pending limitation of the Full Faith and Credit Clause: “it would be a ‘terrible practical mess’ if state courts were free to ignore the judgments of other state courts and issue their own counter judgments.” The ‘Full Faith and Credit Clause should be applicable if the Supreme Court were to ever hear a case involving a gay marriage license request because the recognition of same-sex unions in Vermont and Hawaii provide for State benefits, a right that should be valid in all states based on Article IV.
    Despite the aforementioned legal precedent and constitutional arguments, the United States Congress passed “The Defense of Marriage Act” in 1996. The law is a clear violation of the constitution of the United States. The bill was designed with the intent to dismantle gay marriage rights on a federal level. The language of the bill is as follows:
    No State, territory, or possession of the United States, or Indian tribe, shall be required to give effect to any public act, record, or judicial proceeding of any other State, territory, possession, or tribe respecting a relationship between persons of the same sex that is treated as a marriage under the laws of such other State, territory, possession, or tribe, or a right or claim arising from such relationship… In determining the meaning of any Act of Congress, or of any ruling, regulation, or interpretation of the various administrative bureaus and agencies of the United States, the word `marriage' means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word `spouse' refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.
    Lawmakers are deliberately ignoring Article IV of the Constitution by stating that one state does not have an obligation to uphold the married legal status granted to a couple by another state. As part of a congressional hearing that was intended for consideration of the bill, Elizabeth Birch., director of the Human Rights Campaign testified. She made the following key arguments against the bill:
    1. “At no time has marriage been defined by federal law. ‘Without exception, domestic relations has been a matter of state, not federal, concern and control since the founding of the Republic.’ Aukenbrandt v Richards…(1992)…”
    2. “There is no plain meaning of the first sentence of the Full Faith and Credit clause that would allow Congress to conclude it has the authority to limit full faith and credit or provide definitional, substantive guidance to the states…There is no support for the proposed legislation in the second clause.”
    3. “The Tenth Amendment of the Constitution states that powers not enumerated to the Federal Government are reserved to the states.”
    The arguments made by Birch clearly demonstrate how the 104th Congress committed an  oversight of United States law. An educated guess as to why opposition to the bill has been minimal may be related to the fact that congress has maintained a conservative majority since the implication of the bill. The existent opposition groups such as the Human Rights Campaign and The Lambda Legal Group are possibly waiting for a congress with a more liberal outlook. Despite a lack of strong opposition, the bill is yet to be declared constitutional by the Supreme Court.

    The Supreme Court has the ability to recognize same-sex unions with the abovementioned arguments and legal facts. Throughout the history of the United States, the right for two people to marry has been extended to allow every citizen such right in a system where at one time it was illegal for members of opposite races to marry. The government’s declaration that marriage between two persons of the same sex cannot be legally recognized is highly reminiscent of the time when interracial marriage was illegal in this country. The groundbreaking advancements reached when the Supreme Court reversed a Virginia ruling that an African American and a Caucasian were forbidden to marry in 1967 (Loving v. Virginia) only attest that the future may be optimistic for the marriage seeking members of the gay community.
Recent adjudicators at Millbrook's Annual Blaine Essay Dinner:
2023: Addrain Conyers, Associate Professor and Chair of Criminal Justice Department at Marist College
 Myra Young Armstead, Vice President for Academic Inclusive Excellence and the Lyford Paterson Edwards and Helen Gray Edwards Professor of Historical Studies, Bard College
2021: Leonard Nevarez, Professor and Chair of Sociology, Vassar College
Eric Morser, Professor of History, Skidmore College
2018: Robyn Creswell, Professor of Comparative Literature, Yale University
2017: Michael Busch, Professor of Internationa Studies, CCNY
2016: Karl Lindolm, Professor of American Studies, Middlebury College
2014: Rebecca Edwards, Professor of History, Vassar College
2013: Dan Chambliss, Professor of Sociology, Hamilton College
2012: Rick Stuckey, Millbrook Board of Trustees, former head of Citigroup's Special Assets 
2011: Burch Ford, Head of School, Miss Porter's School
2010: John Finn, Professor of Political Science and Culinary History, Wesleyan University
2009: Neil Hertz, Professor of Urban Studies, Johns Hopkins University
2008: Elizabeth Schmidt, Professor of English, Barnard College