Bringing the country together

Bringing the country together

The United States seems as divided today as it has ever been. Racial, economic, religious, and intellectual divisions have spread us further and further apart. And while it’s in the country’s DNA to be divisive, things are seemingly at a breaking point. Politicians call for the country to come together. Is it even possible? Is it possible for there to be “one” America?  Or maybe a better question is, has there ever been one America? A country founded on dissent, based on bringing different cultures together. The term “melting pot” has been used over and over. When imagining the “great” America that Donald Trump seeks to return to, something painted by Norman Rockwell comes to mind. That is one part of the U.S., and it is the one that dominated politics and society for much of recent memory. This is where the problems arise. The idealistic/idyllic white families sitting around a dinner table and talking swap meets with a dog dreaming at their feet and a white picket fence around the front yard only worked for one portion of the country. That is no longer the predominant culture (whether symbolically or otherwise). The painting pictured right, aptly titled Freedom From Want, depicts the only piece of the country that could actually afford freedom from want. This is the demographic that had it all/everything, and they feel as though it is slipping away. As in the video posted by the Atlantic, the U.S. is no longer a white, Christian nation. But the notion that it is only the subjects of those paintings struggling with the social progress and equality embraced by modern society...
Real websites, fake news

Real websites, fake news

Fake news has existed from the earliest days of journalism, long before Bat Boy became Hillary Clinton’s alien baby. In 1835, Richard A. Locke published a series of six fake articles about the discovery of life on the moon, now known as the Great Moon Hoax, in The Sun newspaper. Sales of The Sun went through the roof. Writing false news stories and calling them real is generally protected by the first (and 14th) amendment (though libel can be prosecuted, and harassment). A groundbreaking 1931 case here in Minnesota defined journalistic freedom for the decades to come. The Near v. Minnesota case, dealing with a small newspaper that attempted to report corruption in the Twin Cities, went all the way to the Supreme Court. It set a precedent for recognizing freedom of the press by disallowing prior restraint on publication. (If you want to know the full story, read Minnesota Rag by Fred W. Friendly) This isn’t satire we’re talking about. We all know The Onion, or the New Yorker’s Borowitz Report, as reliable sources of satire. The number of humor-free sites attempting to convince an audience of authenticity without any real truth or foundation in them has been growing. As has their audience. At first these sites were easily identifiable. They were cheaply made and clearly unprofessional. But it was only a matter of time before duplicity got a makeover and began looking a lot more legitimate. The Big Hoax Facebook is perhaps the biggest offender. 66% of Facebook users get news from the site, and falsehoods have spread there like the plague. As outlined in the Select All article Can Facebook Solve Its Macedonian Fake-News Problem? the ability to generate income through ads...
We’re proud of you, Minnesota

We’re proud of you, Minnesota

Minnesota has long stood for progress, made clear most recently by Governor Dayton’s investments in education, protecting the environment, and his stance on refugees. And by putting president-elect Donald Trump in third place on Super Tuesday, and being one of the only Midwest states to vote for Hilary Clinton, Minnesotans soundly rejected the fear-mongering and isolationism that somehow became policy during this most recent presidential election. While the president-elect was running on that platform, a different campaign was being run in Minnesota’s Distict 60B. And while Hilary Clinton may not have made history, one woman in Minnesota certainly did. Ilhan Omar was elected to the Minnesota House of Representatives on the evening of November 8, 2016, and will represent one of Minneapolis’ most diverse neighborhoods. After escaping civil war in her home country of Somalia at age eight, she then spent four years in a Kenyan refugee camp before finally making it to Minneapolis. Omar also happens to be the first Somali-American legislator in the country. Omar, a strong force for women as progressive DFL activist, community educator, and Director of Policy Initiatives at Women Organizing Women, would have to be considered among the “problems” the president-elect called out during his brief visit to the state. Or his brief visit to a hangar at MSP airport, rather. “…you’ve seen firsthand the problems caused with faulty refugee vetting, with large numbers of Somali refugees coming into your state without your knowledge, without your support or approval, and with some of them then joining ISIS and spreading their extremist views all over our country and all over the world.” But we know better here. While the...
The philosopher and the party

The philosopher and the party

Tonight, the sun will sink below the horizon as it always does. Streetlights will blink on, one by one. Overstated neons will glow in the darkness. Bars, clubs, dance halls, music venues, and house parties all across the world will fill with people looking to leave the world behind. The nihilistic nature of partying Nihilism rejects the “higher powers” of religion and morality. It is often discussed in terms of extreme skepticism (i.e. a questioning or doubt toward knowledge) and relativism (i.e. there is no certain truth; only our perceptions exist). For most of the 20th century it has been associated with the belief that life is meaningless. So what is the point of living? While this is often seem as a negative thing, especially by those with religious faith, it doesn’t have to be. “Meaningless” doesn’t mean life without joy; nihilism doesn’t mean without activity. The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy (IEP), defines a “true nihilist” as one who “would believe in nothing, have no loyalties, and no purpose other than, perhaps, an impulse to destroy.” Staying up, partying all night, watching the sunrise through a haze from the floor of a hotel room or some random house or the street is a way to destroy; to break from normalcy, reject anything greater than ourselves, and affirm that nothing really matters. In this age of information, we grew up knowing that nothing is forever. Uncertainty can be  something of a security blanket, i.e. “ignorance is bliss,” and fuels a hope that because we don’t know for certain, there might still be meaning to all of this. There might be a greater purpose,...
A brief history of Black Lives Matter

A brief history of Black Lives Matter

The murder of Philando Castile has placed tragedy on St. Paul’s doorstep once again. Marcus Golden was shot and killed by police in January of 2015, and, in the seemingly short year and a half since, there have been a startling number of black men and women across the country killed by police. This is not a 2016 phenomenon; this clip from The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, for example, dates back to 1991: There are two ends of the spectrum. On one, those who offer unequivocal support. On the other, those quick to cast aspersions; those who don’t think the officers did anything wrong, believe that the black men and women who lost their lives perhaps “deserved it,” or simply don’t believe something like Black Lives Matter should exist. It has been called a “terrorist organization,” it’s been accused of inciting violence, and it’s been dismissed by anyone upset that protesters haven’t stayed out of the way when protesting. Okay, so maybe it isn’t that simple. There are plenty of people unsure of what the movement is and what it stands for. Few know the actual story, the philosophy and the goals of Black Lives Matter, and the reason why it is so necessary.   Black Lives Matter: More than a hashtag, more than a disruption of your daily commute, and certainly not a terrorist organization.   After the shooting death of Trayvon Martin in the summer of 2013, and the subsequent acquittal of George Zimmerman, the movement began with a simple hashtag: #BlackLivesMatter. Co-founded by Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi, community organizers and friends from San Francisco, it began as a...
Ageism in America: What’s the point of living if no one wants to f*ck you?

Ageism in America: What’s the point of living if no one wants to f*ck you?

There is a stigma about growing old(er) in America that translates, usually, into ageism. Growing old is not a death sentence. Let me rephrase. The way the young view growing old is that life is over after 30 (or 35 or 40 if you’re lucky), while those who have made it past 30 will tell you that you don’t truly start living until after that. Ageism is exactly what it sounds like: Discriminating against someone because of their age. It’s the only negative “-ism” that America not only doesn’t protest or march against, but seems to embrace. We celebrate youth in America like we’re worried “Children of Men” is going to become a reality. (Note: Of course America is not the only place where this happens. But for the purposes of this article, we’re keeping it here.) Growing old is something to be laughed at, poked at, ridiculed, and shamed. Even as we’re living longer, and hearing things like “30 is the new 20” and “50 is the new 30” it seems people are worried more than ever about growing old. But like your skin color or sexual preferences, it’s not something you can control. Here we take a look at some of the attitudes and mindsets the American culture has about aging; about growing old, and being old.   This world was made for robots We treat our elderly the way we treat our electronics. When someone gets too old, they get replaced by something newer, sleeker, sexier, younger. And it’s without shame. So be a robot. There is routine. Follow the routine. Wake up, go to work, come home. This routine has worked...