A recent NYTimes Op-Ed entitled “Anne Frank is Today’s Syrian Refugee” draws a comparison between American treatment of Jews seeking asylum during the Holocaust, and today’s Syrian refugees seeking resettlement in the U.S. At first glance, the average person would argue with this claim, but during the 1930’s and 40’s “although 94% disapproved of Nazi treatment of Jews, 72% objected to admitting large number of Jews.” Today, we see this play out with the U.S. embarrassingly low goal to admit 10,000 Syrian refugees which accounts for one-fifth of 1% of the total number of refugees. We reached this goal earlier in September, and the 10,000th refugee was publicly celebrated! What is there really to celebrate? In comparison to the U.S., “Canada, with a population barely a tenth the size of the United States’, has resettled three times more Syrian refugees since last fall” The United States needs a more proactive refugee policy and efforts of current democrats deserve little praise.
It’s an all too similar scenario of Americans fearing this repeated story of the immigrants who are dangerous and different and will take our jobs – The U.S. cannot afford these extra people and we should look after ourselves…etc. Decades have passed and this xenophobic narrative still holds powerful weight, and unfortunately consequences for refugees.
How can we treat America’s long history of Xenophobia? How is it that a country composed of generations of immigrants refuses to offer the same sanctuary to today’s immigrants?
Yesterday, a letter to the public from 375 of the world’s top scientists was released urging people to understand the serious environmental dangers of Trump Presidency. The letter can be accessed here. I encourage you all the read it! The main argument of this brief letter is to fully acknowledge the reality of Global Warming, and undermine claims (such as Trump’s) that Climate Change is a hoax and not caused by humans. The letter states, “the basic science of how greenhouse gases trap heat is clear and has been for over a century,” which makes us wonder why Climate Change is still a debate – or who has a vested interest in making it still debatable? The letter is also an inspirational unity of the scientific community as evident from the amount and diversity of the signers.
Also, Stephen Hawking was one of the signers and who wouldn’t trust something Stephen Hawking stands by?
With the election around the corner, presidential nominees are fighting for the all too important women’s vote. Trump is attempting to appeal to female voters, who he has long alienated throughout much of his campaign. As both presidents propose family leave policies, Trump’s appears to fall short in its promises. Aside from the obvious political advantages that seem to motivate Trump’s maternity leave policy, I will give him some credit for making such a surprising proposal for being the GOP candidate. However, his proposal will likely fall short as, his policy offers deductions for the wealthy income brackets of 250k-500k, while only providing a $1,200 annual rebate for families on the lower end of the income scale. Additionally, Trump’s policy only covers mothers, unlike Clinton who would extend leave to both parents. Given the average cost of childcare is $10,000-$20,000, Trump’s policy fails to help those who will need it most. Trump’s policy is being described as a quick attempt to court female voters, while not offering anything significantly to their benefit. Nice try Mr. Trump, but a bare minimum family leave plan will not win over the women’s vote.
As the presidential election fast approaches, the Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, pushed fast forward on the 2015 Paris Climate Accord, a legally binding climate deal. Ki-moon is in a panic over the impact Trump could potentially have on the success of this international treaty. Trump has publicly commented on global warming stating,”It’s a hoax. I mean, it’s a money-making industry, okay? It’s a hoax, a lot of it.” Ki-moon worries if Trump becomes president he will withdraw the U.S. from the agreement. American presence is of great significance given that we are the world’s largest economy and second-largest greenhouse gas polluter. Ki-moon has begun a campaign to ensure the treaty will enter full force before the next American Presidential inauguration, which requires the ratification of at least 55 countries. He has since planned a ceremony at the United Nations for September 21, 2016 to announce completing this goal – he already has 40 countries. The pace at which Ki-moon is pushing this treaty (putting it into force in less than a year) is highly unusual for international agreements. This proves the urgency and fear of the United Nations regarding Trump.
Climate change should be a growing concern of every country, and an American absence from the efforts to fight the dangers of climate change would be detrimental. Mr. Trump’s insistence that global warming is a hoax reminds me of a comment a previous professor of mine made. He said, “98% of the scientific community acknowledges global warming and state human beings are to blame for its alarming rate. If 98 out of 100 doctors suggested you remove a kidney in order to survive, would you listen to the other 2 insisting you were fine? And these two scientists are being paid off by companies who have a vested interest in you thinking you were okay.” Why do citizens listen to politicians instead of scientists when it comes to climate change? I can only hope the next president will be aware of the tremendous burden the U.S. has in this global issue.
National outrage erupted in the wake of the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, and in turn sparked a serious debate in policy regarding water safety in the United States. This crisis grabbed the attention of the nation as it became clear state employees neglected their responsibility to provide safe, drinkable water to Flint residents causing serious health hazards. Flint is a largely African American, low-income residential area, which also raises issues of racial and economic justice. The situation in Flint has had a profound impact on policy regarding water safety, as an important question entered political debate: Is this crisis isolated to Flint, Michigan?
It turns out, the crisis extends beyond just Flint. Flint’s crisis occurred due to flawed testing methods to make lead levels appear far lower than reality. This sparked a debate on whether states are properly testing and regulating water safety standards. This policy issue is of the utmost importance in light of government figures that show at least 18 million Americans drink tap water from systems that have violated federal rules for lead safety. These figures reflect states across the country, and government officials are being forced to respond. For example, as New York City schools begin the new year, experts investigated how its schools are testing its lead levels. They found that current testing methods run the risk of reporting lead levels lower than what they really are. New York City schools have responded by adjusting water testing procedures moving forward. Currently this week, the Senate is weighing in on a $9 billion dollar bill to authorize spending on the nation’s water infrastructure. Nation wide measures are needed to both address communities already afflicted with highly poisoned water, and prevent this water crisis from expanding its reach even more so across the country. This bill is receiving a great deal of bipartisan support in the Senate, with cries for a more modest bill from the House.
Moving Forward… I came across an interest worthy op-ed piece on how inadequately we seem to address breaches in environmental safety, which is a violation of human rights as citizens’ health and lives can be put at risk due to negligence. As seen in Flint when several state employees were charged and arrested, we resort to criminal law; however, this remains ineffective as, “Prosecutorial responses fill the void left when health and safety regulations succumb to corporate and political pressure.” We blame the “little people” who carry out the injustices, but we fail to point the fingers at the industry and finance leaders pulling the strings. An easy fix for these situation is to divert blame away from a corrupt system that encourages greed and negligence, and instead holds a few individuals responsible. Environmental issues like water safety are a systematic issue that demand systematic change and punishment.