A Spark of Resistance Under the Fascist Rule of Adolf Hitler

A group of Jews from Hungary arrive in Auschwitz during the summer of 1944.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. details his definition of civil disobedience in his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”. Dr. King clarifies that in order to participate in civil disobedience, breaking laws is necessary. This may only occur if the law is unjust. An unjust law is one that does not apply to everyone and is not applied consistently to all, like the segregation laws that Dr. King and others like Rosa Parks fought during the American Civil Rights Movement. Although Dr. King’s non-violent forms of protest greatly influenced the Civil Rights Movement, he was not the first American to resist unjust laws on American soil. The Boston Tea Party is a well-known form of civil disobedience that helped spark the fire that led to the start of the American Revolutionary War. Also, women’s rights advocate Susan B. Anthony was arrested for voting in the 1872 U.S. House of Representatives election, considering the 19th Amendment enabling women to vote wasn’t passed until 1920. During the Vietnam War, activists took action against the draft and all the young Americans who were fighting/being killed overseas.

As Americans, we are able to enjoy our constitutional rights that protect our ability to protest and criticize our government. In many countries, however, this is simply not the case. More oppressive regimes in countries like Communist China and the former Soviet Union, freedom of speech and the right to organize was not something those in power allowed to happen. Although those regimes both used violent means to suppress acts they considered treasonous, by far the most extreme when it comes to the consequences of speaking out against those in power, would have to be Fascist Germany.

Adolf Hitler became the Chancellor of Germany in January 1933.

Adolf Hitler became the Chancellor of Germany in January 1933.

Facing periods of unemployment and hyperinflation, many people suffered tremendously after World War I. With Germany’s Weimar Republic beginning to waver, those power made no effort to hide that it was holding on by a string, unable to cope. In a time when liberalism seemed to have failed in Europe, hope for a brighter future had all but been lost in the eyes of many Germans. It wasn’t until Italy’s Benito Mussolini crafted the definition of fascism, in which the admiring Adolf Hitler used in crafting his vision of a new Germany. Hitler was able to convince the Germans that fascism was the long awaited cure to the period of economic and cultural decline they were experiencing, as it was different from other political traditions.  Continue reading

Is “By All Means Necessary” Really Necessary?

BAMN Flyer that was distributed to one of my classes in which two BAMN members spoke.

BAMN Flyer that was distributed to one of my classes in which two BAMN members spoke.

The United States of America takes pride in the protection of the freedom and inalienable rights of its citizens. Although we often tie equality to our definition of what it means to be an American, our application of providing such equality to certain groups of Americans has not always been sufficient. We have an embarrassing past when it comes to our nation’s implementation and perpetuation of many different forms of discrimination. It has taken a great deal of time, not only to change our unjust laws by way of legislation, but to change the minds of many Americans who disagreed that such change should even happen.

I believe it when I say the U.S. has come a long way. I have seen evidence of this throughout my life, but most recently when I began attending the University of Michigan. I see students from all walks of life strutting around campus. Not only is the student body diverse in age and gender, but more importantly, in race/ethnicity. U-M is the most diverse school I have attended and I think it makes the University unique and my educational experience special. Yet, the reality is, it took many years of hard work and dedication from people who believed in the true meaning of equality to create a campus environment like the one I am so lucky to enjoy.

Dr. Martin Luther King Junior

Dr. Martin Luther King Junior

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was one of these hardworking, dedicated leaders who fought for something he believed in. In his “Letter From a Birmingham Jail”, Dr. King addressed the clergymen of the South with whom he found unsupportive of his cause. In this letter, Dr. King outlines why he has chosen to fight for the rights he and other African Americans deserve. Dr. King spells out his definition of civil disobedience and his non-violent teachings, wondering why his opponents find his actions radical. Yes, Dr. King certainly challenged the status quo, but I wouldn’t consider his actions dangerous by any means. With the recent protests that have ended in riots, looting, and violence in Ferguson, Missouri, a recent incident on our University’s campus sparked my attention.  Continue reading

Tradition Edition

United States Constitution

United States Constitution

Earlier this week, we discussed the excerpts of Edmund Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France. In class, tradition was one of the most common words used to describe modern conservatism. As a conservative, I would have to agree that this is true, especially in our strict interpretation of the United States Constitution. With that being said, Burke’s emphasis on using tradition to aid decision making, throughout history has not always produced positive results. Burke’s argument surrounding prejudice is the perfect example of how people in power have used tradition as a mask to implement or continue to enforce discriminatory policies.

The Judicial Branch was originally supposed to be the weakest of the three branches, as discussed in Alexander Hamilton’s Federalist Paper No. 78. The Supreme Court is unable to raise/spend money, build up our nation’s defense or use the military to enforce their rulings. The Justices were left with the job of only making judgements. Furthermore, the Justices who are nominated by the President and appointed by the Senate, do not have term limits, to ensure that their only commitment is to the Constitution of the United States and that their focus is not that of Congress, who’s main concern is to be reelected. Continue reading

Water as a Human Right?

A photograph taken from the edge of the Detroit River.

A photograph taken from the edge of the Detroit River.

As many Americans know, the city of Detroit has had its fair share of struggles. One of the most recent issues plaguing the city of Detroit has to do with water. A recent increase in water shutoffs by the city has sparked controversy amongst many Detroiters. On June 26, 2014 protesters circled in front of the Detroit Water Board building, declaring that the city had violated their human rights by shutting off their access to water.

Deputy Director for Detroit’s Water and Sewage, Darryl Latimer explained that those who are considered “delinquent customers” are getting their water shut off because the city can no longer afford to offer free water to customers who are not paying their bills. Those customers that fall under a delinquent status means that their bill is at least sixty days past due and they owe over $150. Furthermore, Latimer explained that a visit to the Detroit Water Board office could help customers who are having difficulty paying their bills. He says that the city is willing to work with customers who are facing issues of affordability. A week before the June protest, the Detroit City Council voted and approved an 8.7% rate increase on water because of their accumulating debt.

With help from protesters and the media, the issue of water shutoffs in Detroit has become bigger than life, receiving way more attention than it should have. Yes, I believe that water is a necessity, considering we as humans need it to live. However, water is most certainly not a human right. Like Detroit, towns and cities across the country participate in a similar process when it comes to collecting, purifying and delivering water to millions of homes and businesses daily. This process is called a service. A service is not a right and therefore this process that is completed for us, must be paid for. Why should Detroiters receive free water while millions of other Americans continue to pay their bills? Continue reading

The Looming Terror Threat

World Trade Center: 9/11 Tribute (2012)

World Trade Center: 9/11 Tribute (2012)

Philosopher and Holocaust survivor Anges Heller, who was the recipient of the Raoul Wallenberg Medal and a speaker at the 23rd Annual Wallenberg Lecture on September 30th, spoke about how the things we experience in our lives influence our philosophies. My experience of September 11, 2001 was one of extreme confusion because at the age of eight, I was old enough to be told what had happened, yet too young to be exposed to the grim realities of terrorism. Living in New Jersey at the time of the attacks, my Mom sat in our living room watching news coverage on a plane that had hit the North Tower just after 8:45 that morning. When the cameras caught the second plane smash into the South Tower, everyone began to realize that this was not an accident. She found herself home alone, with my Dad on a business trip in California, explaining what had happened to my sister and I after picking us up from school later that day. Unable to wrap my head around the gravity of the situation, our car rounded the corner and we began to see the the smoke from the towers, as it crept through the streets of our neighborhood.

The thick smoke from the World Trade Center is carried by the wind prior to the collapse of the both towers (9/11/2001).

The thick smoke from the World Trade Center is carried by the wind prior to the collapse of the both towers (9/11/2001).

Reflecting upon 9/11 and the anger and hurt it caused millions of Americans, I cannot help but feel anxious when thinking of the current conflict in the Middle East involving the terrorist group ISIS. With the beheading of two American journalists and one British journalist, the group has now used its English-language magazine to brag about the enslavement of both women and children. Continue reading

Siblings: The Only Enemies We Can’t Live Without

Most everyone knows what it’s like to fight with a sibling and can easily recall a time in your relationship when fighting seemed to be all the two of you ever did. For my sister and I, it was about middle school/high school age when our immaturity had reached its high, resulting in unending battles over clothes, bathroom time in the morning, and who got to use the car we shared. We seemed to fight over just about everything. Maybe it was the hormones, but considering our little over two-year age difference, it seemed like every phase I was coming out of, she was entering.

My sister and I have similar taste in both clothing and shoes, which is convenient since we’re about the same size. For all of you who have a sister know this is both a blessing and a curse. Yes, I now have twice as many options, but it goes both ways. She now has unlimited access to my closet too, which my sister certainly isn’t shy about. A typical fight of ours might sound something like this:

Me: “Hey, can I wear that blue dress to Amanda’s graduation party Saturday? It would go really well with my new shoes.”

My sister: “Oh my god. Why do you need to wear one of my dresses? Don’t you have any of your own to wear?”

Me: “Well, the two dresses I do own are at the bottom of someone’s hamper from last weekend.”

My sister: *Silence*

Me: “Well remember you said you wanted frozen yogurt the other night… If you let me borrow your blue dress, I’ll take you after work tomorrow!”

My sister: “Well that dress is new and I’ve only worn it once so far! Don’t need you ruining it.”

Me: “God! You always do this. The next time you want to borrow any of my things, it’ll be a no.”

My sister: *Rolls her eyes*

Me: “I don’t want to have to do this… but I know about last Friday…”

My sister: “You wouldn’t… You better not say anything to Mom and Dad.”

Now, I wouldn’t have actually said anything, but finally using one of her signature moves against her came in handy that day, as I walked away with a new blue dress to wear to our neighbor Amanda’s graduation party! However immature and petty one may think this fight is, I do have a method to my madness. Although a much more violent story, some themes in the Melian Dialogue reminded me of my sister and I.

In the Melian Dialogue, the Athenians give the Melians the option to surrender immediately and spend the rest of their lives as slaves or they would suffer greatly. The Melians go through a process of negotiations with the Athenians before reaching their final verdict: brute force. In doing so, the Melians demonstrate an extremely popular tactic that is used in world politics everyday: the steps to actualized power. What’s the point of holding such a great amount of power if you can’t use it to get what you want?

The steps to actualize power look like this:

     a) Persuasion

     b) Bribes

     c) Sanctions

     d) Coercion (Deter/Compel)

     e) Physical/Brute Force (example 1.2)

In approaching my younger sister with the hopes of wearing her dress that weekend, as discussed in the example above, I unconsciously followed similar steps. I began with asking to borrow the dress and used some persuasion by telling her how good it would look with my new shoes. After establishing that I was in such a predicament to ask because she doesn’t do her laundry, I took it upon myself to persevere, “Well remember you said you wanted frozen yogurt the other night… If you let me borrow your blue dress, I’ll take you after work tomorrow!” My bribe lingers in the air while I wait for her to make up her mind. Not denying the opportunity for froyo, she responds with the fact that her dress is new and she’s only worn it once so far.

Being shot down twice, I let my frustration get the best of me, responding quickly with, “Well, the next time you want to borrow my things, it’ll be a no.” She shrugged the sanction off like it didn’t bother her. Regaining my composure, I decided to get my hands a little dirty, “I don’t want to have to do this, but I know about last Friday…” watching the quick wave of shock make its way across her face was priceless. As quickly as it came, it was gone and my coercion worked as she went on the defense, “You wouldn’t… You better not say anything to Mom and Dad.” Luckily, my sister and I don’t physically fight each other. So for this reason, I would consider our fifth step to actualize power to be a form of emotional harm. We’ve lived together for eighteen years, so we know what to say and how to make it hurt.

Now that our relationship has survived the test of high school (even though it was questionable for some time), we are both attending the University of Michigan and getting along better than we have in years. Although our sisterly love is at an all time high, our scuffles are recent enough that I still remember the strategies and methods we used when approaching, carrying out, and winning the fights we did have. As one can see, the strategies we use in everyday life are used by politicians and leaders alike. The rationality in our decision-making leads us to acquire what we want, but to do so in such a way as to start with things that will result in the least amount of damage to ourselves and others.