Luca Zislin | Editor
Keeping with the tradition of remaking beloved animated classics, Disney released Guy Ritchie-directed Aladdin on May 24th. At a point in history when Americans, especially American youth, are actively invested in furthering social change, it was no surprise that some vein of progressive ideology would surface in the film.
In Aladdin, this takes shape through Jasmine’s insistence that she alone should be Sultan as opposed to being married to another royal and relegated to the role of queen. Disney’s fourth-wave feminism reshaping of Jasmine as a character is a deliberate and obvious commercial grab at politically charged youth. Perhaps there is nothing inherently wrong with this alone; if companies are willing to tell better stories, it doesn't matter if their intentions aren't pure. The issue is Aladdin does not tell a better story. The modern values entrenched in Aladdin are half-baked and arbitrary, and moreover, compared to the original, the new edition is restrictive and puritanical.
The first part of this argument has to do with how incredibly useless Jasmine’s feminist awakening is. At the end of the day, a movie’s objective is to entertain. This does not mean nuanced social movements should be excluded from children’s movies; rather, social movements can be integrated into classics to tell the story through a distinct, new lense. In Aladdin, Jasmine’s ambitions are just a prop. Jasmine’s aspiration to become Sultan in no way at all effect the core story line.
If you subtract Jasmine’s ambitions and even get rid of the original song wherein Jasmine demands her voice be heard (“Speechless”), the film is still entirely understandable and unchanged. Hence, Jasmine begs for her voice to be heard and she is heard, but at the same time, she is effectively silenced because what she says is virtually meaningless.
The only role Jasmine serves in the film is Aladdin’s motivation. That’s it. She doesn't defeat the villain, thereby excluding her from being the hero. She doesn't even aid the hero in his journey! She is just romantic motivation. This is why Jasmine’s feminist twist is purely a commercial ploy by Disney; they didn't try to tell a nuanced story where a female lead changes the fate of Agrabah (Aladdin's fictional setting)––they merely threw a couple progressive lines in and called it a day.
When Jasmine becomes Sultan at the end, the audience is expected to celebrate. The issue here is that Jasmine does absolutely nothing to suggest she is capable of being Sultan. In its defense, the movie tries to give Jasmine’s father justification for making her Sultan. In a scene towards the end, she sings a cathartic song and then says something defiant to Jafar, the antagonist. Great. But this does not mitigate the fact that Jasmine is a teenager who has spent most of her cushy life isolated from greater society in a palace. Jasmine is a rich girl who isn't a total idiot––this does not make her qualified to be the leader of an entire nation.
That being said, as a thought experiment, imagine if Jasmine were a male named Jake. Jake’s daddy decides Jake can be Sultan because Jake spoke out once against the antagonist who literally worked for Jake for years. No one would find this plot rich or fulfilling.
That is why Aladdin is a pretty shallow interpretation of feminism. Jasmine is a better case study on nepotism and elitism than a shining example of a female in a position of power. Jasmine demands a voice the entire film but not a single person is denying her voice. Her father listens to her and respects her judgement. Aladdin listens to her and respects her judgement. Thus, when she demands to be listened to, it comes off as more entitled than empowered.
This brings us to the biggest pitfall in Aladdin: the greatest social tension is not gender, but class. We see starving children begging for scraps. Then, we see ultra-wealthy Jasmine adorned in a decadent dress in an elaborate palace surrounded by guards, servants, royals, and gifts. An idiotic suitor comes expecting to court Jasmine, Jasmine’s father allows her to reject him, and we’re supposed to think, gee, Jasmine surely deserves more agency. It sucks to be her.
Everyone around Jasmine is less fortunate than her by a monstrous degree. Aladdin cheerfully sings “Gotta eat to live, gotta steal to eat.” But there is nothing cheerful about the fact that in Agrabah, an able-bodied adult male cannot find the legal means to support himself. In fact, we only see two types of people: the royals and their guards and the rest of the peasants.
The point here is that if Disney wanted to explore a mature problem in its film, then the glaring issue that goes unaddressed is the socioeconomic inequality in fictional Agrabah. Trying to paint Jasmine as society’s victim is not just unfounded, but simply bad storytelling.
At the end of the film, Jasmine becomes Sultan and immediately marries Aladdin. Yes, in her very first act in a position of power, she does something so incredibly important and reflective of her strong-willed nature. The audience can only wonder what is happening in the rest of Agrabah where hungry children wander the streets while angry guards patrol with weapons. Disney passed on the opportunity to make the 21st century Aladdin a critique on class, probably because that would be a much harder story to tell.
The second part of the argument will venture into more controversial territory. The original Jasmine is arguably one of the sexiest of Disney princesses. Her midriff and cleavage are exposed. In the new movie, Jasmine is noticeably fully covered and abandons any trace of her iconic teal outfit from the source material.
When questioned on the reasoning behind the stylistic change, producer Dan Lin said, “We wanted to modernize the movie, and some things are inappropriate these days for families.” Disney equates Jasmine’s exposed body to something that is inappropriate. This message itself is entirely dated and more destructive than any trope used in the 1992 movie. Females are being told that their own bodies are inappropriate.
Will Smith’s genie is shirtless for long portions of the film, but that is not inappropriate. A grown man can expose his entire chest casually like there is nothing to it, but the tables turn when a female is in question. Disney’s “enlightened” Aladdin enforces a double standard.
There was something empowering about the nature of Jasmine’s wardrobe in the first movie. Jasmine was basically dressed in a bra and pants, and yet, it did not affect the way the other characters interacted with her. Aladdin never treated her like a sex object, and her father still listened to her and respected her.
Through this angle, the 1992 Aladdin is more enlightened than the 2019 one. In the original, Jasmine wears what she wants, chooses to dress in an objectively sexy manner, and is treated with respect. In the new movie, Jasmine is covered up for the sake of the families watching.
It is time we stop telling females there is something lewd and indecent inherent to their own bodies. Why shouldn't young boys and girls see Jasmine’s belly button and breasts but should see Genie’s belly button and chest? There should be no problem unless there is something shameful about the female figure, which Disney apparently contends there is.
Jasmine had to cover up to become a character with political ambitions, but why? It would be more forward-thinking if Jasmine could simultaneously be sexy and powerful. Genie is explained to be the most powerful being in the entire universe, and he does not have to wear a shirt.
In the Disney universe, unsexy females can have power and sexy females can't. Compare the fates of skimpy Ariel, who simply becomes a bride, to androgynous Mulan, who is lauded by the emperor of China. Any exposure of a woman’s body is a sign of weakness, and any hint at sexuality is deemed unprofessional.
For men, it really doesn't matter. Sexy, shirtless Li Shang in Mulan can still be a high-ranking general. Disney’s Hercules delights women who swoon over his partially exposed muscular body, and he ends the movie by becoming a literal god. Sexuality simply exists as just one facet of the multidimensional male character.
Women are multidimensional creatures, too. Women can be sexy, promiscuous, ambitious, brave, humorous, and intelligent all at once. Disney thinks this is only true for men. They will only give us aggressive, awkward warrior Merida from Brave, or cutesy, naive Rapunzel from Tangled, or sexy, Jezebel Jasmine from the original Aladdin.
The actual way to write better female characters is to add more dimension to their character, giving them complex desires, inner conflicts, and personality traits. Merely giving a female a single aspiration is not a more nuanced portrayal of women.
Furthermore, female bodies are not sinful or evil or inappropriate. When little girls are taught from day one that they must cover up in order to prevent offending the eyes of men, they are actively being repressed. We continue to live in a society where women should act within the parameters of what men deem appropriate, while men forgo shirts and openly talk about their sexuality and still reach positions of power.
See, if Naomi Scott’s Jasmine waltzed in the iconic tiny, turquoise two-piece outfit and was still power hungry, maybe I would feel an inkling of hope. Instead, I found Disney’s Aladdin to be a boring, draconian cash cow filled with vaguely feminist sound bites.
By Luca Zislin
In the age of body positivity, wherein average bodies are more visible than ever one would think the snake oil ‘lose twenty pounds in two weeks’ potions would fade into obscurity. This couldn't be farther from the truth. Weight loss products are more pervasive than ever.
Years ago, wacky miracle pills may have starred in a Dr. Oz episode or late-night infomercial. Today, Flat Tummy Tea, as just one example, boasts millions of followers and endorsements by multiple A-list celebrities. At the bottom of their millennial pink website, “these statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration” is written in deceptively small font. Even more comical, the answer to the FAQ addressing side effects begins with “don’t worry babe.”
It is understandable as to why to the babes are not worrying. This is a company that has graced the pages of Vogue and even self described “positive community for women” Hello Giggles.
But the babes should be worrying. “Detox” tea is stimulant laxative tea. Flat Tummy Tea specifically runs the risk of harming contraceptive pill users. Dr. Karin Kratina, a nationally recognized nutrition therapist explains,“the weight loss [from detox teas] is primarily, and probably all, water weight.” In the long term, detox teas can cause serious harm to the bowels.
Flat Tummy Tea is the titan of the industry but it just the top of the dangerous weight loss product. Skinny Coffee Club uses Garcinia Cambogia, a substance the medical community has no verdict on. BoomBod boasts their products do not contain laxatives yet the products are Glucomannan based, a substance that can cause cause choking or blockage of the throat and esophagus. BooTea, advertised by Lindsey Lohan, shockingly writes in its disclaimer, “we are not responsible if information made available on this site is not accurate, complete or current.”
Most of the debate surrounding culpability boils down to the celebrities endorsing the products. There is a good conversation to be had about the ethics of advertising snake oil but at the crux of the problem is the existence of the snake oil itself.
How can a company make the claim they are not responsible for inaccurate information they use to sell products with? The answer lies within the FDA’s lack of regulation. Dietary supplements do not require FDA approval. The only regulation is that new ingredients must be notified to the FDA. Upon perusing the detox tea giants, there is a massive amount of crossover between the ingredients anyways. The side and long term effects are outright undocumented because no burden exists for them to be documented.
On January 15th, 2015 the FDA posted a warning on their website of too good to be true weight loss products. Who regularly browses FDA consumer updates? Especially in light of the tens of millions of people subscribed to sugar coated instagram pages plastered with beautiful, famous women clutching laxative powder in pretty packaging. The FDA effectively is doing nothing to at the very least monitor the sales of products with unknown implications.
The FDA should legally require the same due diligence from dietary supplement companies as they do from tobacco companies, food additive companies and biologic companies. Tobacco products must be branded with “Warning: This product contains nicotine. Nicotine is an addictive chemical.” Unapproved detox teas must be labeled with “Warning: This product contains untested chemicals with undocumented scientific effects.”
A simple “don’t worry babes” is not enough.
Eric Bazail | Guest Writer
I never thought I would find myself writing this kind of essay but I hate to admit it –– I’m a major fan of AOC. Don’t get me wrong, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is perhaps the most unabashed socialist in mainstream American politics and every foreign and domestic policy position she advocates for gives me major pause. But there’s something I dare say endearing about the youngest Congresswoman in our nation’s history, something that makes me stop and admire her. Too often, I find that the mainstream media can’t properly identify her strengths and ignores the real root of her power –– the power that managed to upset a top House Democrat in an otherwise-safe primary and has managed to sway public discourse towards her radical policy positions. Though AOC represents a radical departure from standard political norms, her style is modern, innovative, and the antidote for both her district’s and the nation’s woes, she can capture a message like no other relevant Democrat, and fundamentally in my opinion, will only be beneficial to the overall resilience of American democracy.
A combination of Margaret Thatcher, Dolores Huerta, and bell hooks (sic), effervescent with hints and notes of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, AOC is defiant, revolutionary, and fundamentally devoted to the cause she fights for on a moral level. This is what more than anything in my opinion endears AOC to the common American, who is exhausted of establishment politics, sickened by the entrenched Washington swamp, and hungry for someone unafraid of challenging the status quo. Sound familiar? Yes, this was the same diatribe used to rationalize the incumbent occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue when he pulled the upset over Hillary Clinton and the same diatribe used as rallying cries by Tea Party operatives. But the application of these comparisons largely ignores something else about AOC that sets her far above President Trump –– AOC isn’t vulgar, isn’t anchored in her views by despective and ignorant suppositions of American politics, and fundamentally owns her own narrative.
My biggest criticism of the Tea Party was the double-standard it operated under –– bankrolled by mega donors, yet claiming that Washington was dominated by special interests calling in favors and pork barrel spending. Yet, with AOC, it genuinely seems like she practices what she preached on the campaign trail. She has refused to kowtow to the leadership, unafraid to leverage her own political influence and capital. She refuses the niceties that often mire American politics and makes it clear that she keeps her laser focus on serving the people of her district. And beyond that, unlike the President, she refuses to take a personal, ad hominem approach to politics, refraining from attacking the person on the other side and focusing on their ideological flaws. This assertive and confident style, grounded in moral principle has allowed AOC to transcend the standard publicity pitfalls which chain freshmen legislators and force them to fall in line.
Admittedly, I see where this could be problematic. Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez has not garnered any favors with the top brass and this could hurt the ability of Congress to reach more bipartisan consensus in the midst of constant gridlock. And yet, I can’t help but feel that she’s the right woman for the times. Too often, Democrats have played nice and have allowed Republicans major concessions as they’ve taken systematic approaches since the Reagan administration to dismantle the social safety net and expand and entrench the powers of the upper class through a bastardization of economic policy disguised as “true capitalism”. Third way Democrats failed to keep an engaging narrative as Republicans went further right, galvanizing on the public’s worst fears and making the white man feel unfairly targeted by racial, sexual, and ethnic others. This ignores the basic pendulum rule of politics –– if they gravitate towards the center, move to the center; if they gravitate towards the extremes, move to the extremes.
Now that the Republicans play dirty as a basic modus operandi, Democrats need to fight in the trenches and need unabashed bruisers to carry the fight onwards. And Ocasio-Cortez can pack a major punch. Armed with a litany of loyal young followers, she can reinforce and rebuke the blatantly baseless attacks directed to her qualifications and personal life, highlighting the inherent snobbery of attacks on her humble origins and the out-of-touch attitudes of those who dismissed her real relatability with the working class and the downtrodden. And in laying down punches, Ocasio-Cortez articulates perhaps the most clear-cut vision of America any major Democrat not running for President really is.
Ocasio-Cortez wants an environmentally-conscious America driven forward by a Green New Deal that would make John Maynard Keynes drool. To create a fairer America, she wants to abolish ICE and radically restructure our criminal justice system. She wants to provide a wide social net, larger than what leading American socialists like Eugene Debs would have ever imagined possible, entrusting the national government to uphold a federal jobs guarantee, Medicare for All, free public college and trade school, and other entitlement programs. And defiantly, she wants major tax increases to foot the bill to their highest levels in four decades.
If you’re like me, the child of immigrants who fled Communism in Cuba, this is alarming behavior. As Socialist models collapse across Latin America, it gives me grave concern for what could come of our country as we move further and further from the America of our forefathers to the point of losing who we are. And yet, we can’t just dismiss these views. AOC is a powerful and effective communicator and largely because of her, we have these issues at the forefront of national debate. Millions support her in her cause and given these factors, I have a great respect and appreciation for the impact of Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on our system.
Foreign Policy Editor Darian McCrary and Editor-in-Chief Luca Zislin make Perpendicular Cases
Darian McCrary | Guest Writer
While we are days away from being witnesses of the longest shutdown in the history of the United States, it is easy to believe that this debacle is just about an immature leader of the free world being told no by the system that checks his power. Although at some level that is true, in the harshest level of reality, the government shutdown is truly reflective of how much aristocracy exists within the highest forms of the United States government.
In the Executive Branch, members of the President’s Cabinet continue to get paid. This is shockingly problematic there is not a single person in President Trump’s Top Cabinet positions who maintains a net worth below $800,000. Individuals who are already in the top 1% of the United States are still able to receive pay while the governments workers who are the most vulnerable cannot receive any funds to care for their families.
What makes this even worse is that the administration and it’s departments seem to either not care or simply not understand as to why this is morally bankrupt. The idea that President Trump does not really understand what it is like for the people whose pay he has taken away because he refuses to respect congressional checks is revealed within his aforementioned rhetoric. President Donald Trump, who has a networth of 3.1 billion dollars claims that he can actually “relate” to the struggles of those who are not receiving pay. Within that same statement, his response to people being economically destitute due to lack of pay was that “they will make adjustments” A billionaire telling people who live paycheck to paycheck that he understands their struggles, is the President of the United States. If that is not reflective of the blatant disregard for these people, I quite frankly am unsure what is.
But Donald Trump is unsurprisingly not the only one in the government who seems to not want to engage with the idea that people are not getting pay. This can be seen through the fact Office of Management and Budget in a conference call on Dec 31 were concerned about the public perceptions of the raises that the executive branch was set to receive. [Refer to this Time article concerning the accurate details of said raises] Saying nothing of the fact that on general principle we should not be even contemplating increasing the pay of government officials when other government workers aren’t making pay at all. The fact that the general concern was not that it was unjust, but rather not perceptually convenient is extremely telling of how much the government neglects to care about the most vulnerable.
This ignorance is not limited to the Executive Branch. Insensitivity is also prevalent in the Legislative branch as well. In both the House and the Senate, members of Congress are still able to receive pay. Disregarding the fact that the average income of members of the U.S Congress is around $511,000 (not adjusted for the 116th Congress). Now it is only fair to note that 248 members of Congress have rejected their pay for principled reasons. However some are not so morally upright. Sen. Kevin Cramer (R.- N.D) believes that there is no reason to deny his paycheck because he works hard for his money (saying nothing of the other 800,000 government employees who do the same). The North Dakota Senator’s opinion of him receiving his pay is reflective of the selfishness within the elite of the government.
The problem is even if some members of Congress have refused to receive their pay, the fact that the Congress, The Supreme Court Justices, and the Cabinet, those are people who need it the least, are able to still receive pay in times of shutdown speaks volumes of where the government’s priorities really are. Those priorities are not on the tired, they are not on the poor, they are not on the huddled masses, they are on the elite.
Tatum Menon | Guest Writer
Grand Junction: the place I call home, the area that is ranked highly in mountain biking, and the site NPR references as the suicide capital of Colorado. Other mental health concerns standing amongst suicide have filled the valley for the past few years. What differentiates Grand Junction from other towns in the U.S? Why is the suicide rate three times the national average? It is because of the stigma surrounding mental health? Is it because of the geographic location in rural America? Or is it due to the inadequate government funding for mental health research and treatment? While there is a multitude of complex reasoning behind the suicide rate in my hometown, one thing I am sure about is across the nation every county faces the lack of funding for mental health. Mental health is societally repressed and economically neglected.
While the stigma surrounding mental health is still a widespread issue today: it is slowly decreasing due to millennial attention. However, it is quite problematic when the projected government budget for 2019 proposed by President Trump decreases the funding by twenty-one percent from 2017 (Howard, 2018). While normalizing and conversing about mental health is reducing the stigma, it only fights half the battle that forty-four million American adults and two million American minors face every day (MIA Prevalence Data, 2018). At the end of the day, a teenager discussing their severe anxiety to a close friend is helpful, but when resources are unavailable- no tangible progress will be made to assist the persisting issues. By increasing funding towards mental illnesses, we will progress the research by managing better prevention, early diagnosis, treatment, and further assist people to discover numerous transparent resources.
Transparency of resources is another obstacle people struggle against when dealing with their mental health, but there remains a more significant problem at stake- how do we make funds more transparent when we barely have them in the first place? This is a large problem in rural America, which some might reference as the suicide belt. In my hometown, there is one small mental health hospital between the larger cities: Salt Lake City and Denver, a five thousand mile span (Rizzo, 2018). But look to the big picture: one out of five adults with mental illness reported they were not being able to receive the necessary treatment (MIA Accessibility Data, 2018).
If we want to continue on our path of increasing transparency of resources while decreasing the stigma, we need more government backing. If we're going to help our citizens that face mental illnesses: we need to act now. If we want to fight the other half the battle, we need more resources and research that the government should provide.
Suchritha Patlola | Guest Writer
When I landed my first job at the Cheesecake Factory, I thought resisting my cheesy nemesis would be my greatest dilemma. I soon realized The NRA would. Not that NRA, the other NRA: The National Restaurant Association. Because of them, the hourly wage for a New Jersey service worker and seven other states is $2.13. One incident show-cased the devastating impacts of an inadequate subminimum wage.
A woman sat down at a booth and spread out twenty one-dollar bills. Every time she was disappointed by the food quality or song playing she shot me icy glares and removed a bill from the table. By the end of the hour, she left me one dollar on a fifty-five dollar tab. What she failed to realize is that, as a server, my salary is tip-based.
If we try to cite the law or ask for fair compensation, we’re threatened with arduous legal battles—or worse, unemployment. Although we earned far less than eight dollars per hour, managers would report that we received the state wage. The inequities we faced go beyond the Cheesecake Factory to the 800,000 service workers in New Jersey, yet no laws even began to address them.
To better grasp the law-making process, I began interning at Senator Robert Menendez’s office. Constituent testimonies piqued my interest in a range of domestic issues, but my passion for fighting archaic minimum wage laws always stood at the forefront. Every constituent case I analyzed linked back to the sub-minimum wage, this injustice often prevented workers from accessing privileges as citizens—loan mortgages and education grants. I felt ineffable despair as I watched servers toil to get ahead, only to be met with "no's" and "this is all you get."
To fashion my proposals into something more concrete, I introduced legislation to the Democratic State office that raises the server wage and establishes a hotline to report abuse. As I sealed the manilla envelope, I looked at the address and couldn’t help but feel pride. Less than a month later, I was contacted by the Senate Labor Committee of New Jersey. They told me my bill would be debated at the next committee hearing in January. News of the bill caught fast: More wage workers began standing up to their employers and lobbying for a fair wage—many even contacted the New Jersey wage board.
When advocating for quality of life of others, we must ask ourselves how we can ensure change is not just created but sustained?
The Affirmative Action Debate Reframed; Students for Fair Admissions makes a Weak Case Against Harvard
James Hu | Guest Writer
When Netflix came out with “Nosedive”, an episode of their popular television series Black Mirror, the premise of personal ratings that affected your ability to access institutions like a quality job or housing seemed merely fictional—a dystopia. For Asian American students, this ‘fiction’ has always been a hidden reality.
Students for Fair Admissions, a group of largely Asian Americans who were denied admission from top colleges, first filed a lawsuit against Harvard for their unfair admissions policies in 2014. The most compelling evidence that has come to light is Harvard’s use of a ‘personal rating scale’, where applicants are given a score from 1-6 on subjective personal qualities. I find the most alarming to be number four on this scale: bland or somewhat negative or immature. Asian Americans were disproportionately given this rating along with comments that indicated they were ‘indistinguishable’ from one another.
People need to realize is that it is largely this that has incited anger from the Asian American community, not broad affirmative action policies. However, this is not the case that Students for Fair Admissions made in front of federal judge Allison Burroughs, the judge hearing the case in Boston. The plaintiffs used evidence of unfair admissions policies to support the claim that Asians were being under admitted and discriminated against despite being more accomplished. Thus, the case was made into a generic affirmative action battle between conservatives and liberals.
Students for Fair Admissions fails to take into account is that under affirmative action, African American students are still admitted at proportionally lower rates than whites and Asians. Furthermore, the majority of Asian Americans still support affirmative action because it corrects for racial injustices and income inequality. The case against Harvard has incited a race war between minorities that only heightens the anti-blackness that is already prevalent in Asian American communities. Claims that African American people are ‘lazy’ and ‘undeserving’ have drowned out productive conversation on the topic.
So what is the real plight of Asian Americans here? It’s simple. We are tired of institutions, like Harvard, boxing us into stereotypes like “booksmart but boring” or “intelligent but bland”. Harvard’s admissions process tells us that while the expectation from our Asian parents is to be academically exceptional, the rest of the country can only see us as the exact opposite—so indistinguishable that we become inadequate. To me, it is almost dehumanizing to essentially be labeled a ‘generic’. Harvard’s personal rating scale proves that this is not merely lip service or rhetoric. How can we tell our Asian American brothers and sisters to strive for Asian excellence when our excellence is seen as mediocrity by America’s most prestigious university. More importantly, how can we allow children to be attacked for their ‘lackluster identity’ when most applicants are still trying to discover theirs.
This in no way is an argument for why Asian Americans are the most ‘oppressed’, that simply isn’t true.
It is to explain what the case really should have been about. The plaintiffs should have argued against Harvard’s specific admission metrics rather than linking evidence to show why affirmative action is bad. The case should have argued for the dissolution of some of these metrics and stopped there. They should have shown how the words of past admission officers have gravely hurt Asian American youth instead of using Asian Americans as a tool in their very own race war.
In a year of Asian representation, with movies like Crazy Rich Asians, many high schoolers are finally learning what it is means to truly be heard. This is the age of representation, and students for Fair Admissions did not represent the genuine voices of Asians in their case.
by Luca Zislin | Editor
Nothing highlights the Kafkaesque failure of government bureaucracy and childishly stubborn federal government quite like the government shut down. Hundreds of Americans, some of which living paycheck to paycheck, remain unpaid while the national parks fall into ruin for the sake of a border that has already been fortified. After photos of migrants being brutally tear gassed at the border went viral, our executive still thought it is necessary to put the functions on the government on an indefinite hold to secure funding for a “see-through steel wall.”
President Trump proves that he will go to bat for the wall at all costs. That being said, we ought to explore the proposed wall, why conservatives are so adamantly defending it and the true nature of illegal immigration.
Trump asked for $18 billion over the next ten years to fortify and extend the current barrier. The actual proposal details 316 miles of additional barrier by September 2027 and 407 miles of replacement or secondary fencing. During his presidential campaign, Trump made the claim that the government of Mexico was going to fund the wall. However, Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto has adamantly refused to fund the wall.
With such a large spending package requested, Trump offered the compromise that he would grant legal status to roughly 800,000 young undocumented immigrants through the Deferred Action for Child Arrivals program, popularly known as DACA.
Two-thirds of the proposed wall exists in private or state-owned land, most of which in Texas. The Trump Administration will likely exercise imminent domain to encroach such land, making it likely legal challenges will serve as hurdles to construction.
Trump claims the border is necessary for “good boarder security.” The Department of Homeland Security published a press release in December titled “Walls Work.” The DHS claims the wall will be effective in preventing illegal entry and drug smuggling. Not everyone agrees.
The Cato institute theorizes the wall could become a maintenance liability. They further their case against the wall by claiming drug smuggling primarily occurs through tunneling and the wall, through making ground transport more risky, would only make tunneling more lucrative.
The debate over the wall’s ability to stop illicit activity can not be settled until its built. The debate regarding the justification is a bit more clear. Undocumented immigrants account for less than 4% of the total population. Undocumented immigrants are actually less likely to commit crime than native citizens. Northwestern University could not find a correlation between immigrants and violent crime.
The numbers concerning immigrants and the figures behind the wall are disconcerting juxtaposed. The statistics make it seem highly unlikely undocumented immigrants are a nearly twenty billion dollar problem.
Luca Zislin | Editor
Hasan Minhaj’s new Netflix show, Patriot Act, takes a comedic approach through seven episodes from topics spanning from streetwear brand Supreme to affirmative action. Well, except in Saudi Arabia where one episode about - you guessed it - Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was pulled in early January.
This occurred just a month after the Senate unanimously passed a resolution holding the crown prince responsible for the death of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. In a humorous monologue in the episode titled Saudi Arabia, Minhaj attacks Salman’s reputation as a reformer, joking “the only thing that he’s modernizing is the Saudi dictatorship.”
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia alerted Netflix that the company had violated Saudi cybercrime laws, which essentially prohibit political dissent. The specific law cited, Article 6 of Acts against the Confidentiality, Integrity and Availability of Computer, Data and Systems, states that “Production, preparation, transmission, or storage of material impinging on public order, religious values, public morals, and privacy, through the information network or computers” can result in up to five years of imprisonment or up to 3 million riyals fined (roughly $800,000).
The Saudi Crown has a long history of restricting American entertainment media. In 2005, two episodes of the animated show American Dad! were banned for their depiction of Saudi Arabia. After the ban on public cinemas was revoked after 39 years in 2018, a 40-second scene in Black Panther that showed characters kissing was banned.
In an official statement, Netflix stated, “We strongly support artistic freedom and removed this episode only in Saudi Arabia after we had received a valid legal demand from the government—and to comply with local law.” The episode is still available in the United States and on in the internet, on sites like YouTube.
Should Netflix have stood its ground? Let us know in the comments.
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