Sunday, May 15, 2011

Get to know your community

One of the great things about social media is that we now have access to the world by the click of a button. Be it a remote control, a smartphone, or a computer, nothing is left secret these days. That being said, the Census Bureau, after gathering information from around the country between 2005-2009, organized their findings and released them to the public. Since there are so many statistics and it's often difficult to sift through all the data, the New York Times put together a really simple interactive program where you can see the demographics in your own community.

Here, you can see the racial breakdowns in your neighborhood, view the average income in yours and surrounding communities, view the average amount of education received, and much more! I looked at my community, and my findings were shocking. Coming from Baltimore, I knew that there is a large Black population in surrounding neighborhoods. What I didn't realize what how segregated my community is from them. This interactive map, which pixalates (not a real word, sorry) the results really opened my eyes to my community, and hopefully it'll do the same to you.
Check it out!

See what your neighborhood is really like!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Osama bin WHO??

A recent article in The Atlantic states that many teens are unaware of who Osama bin Laden is, and what his role was in the September 11th attacks in 2001. The article goes on to suggest the initial reactions: how can that be? The education system has failed the students! But it then offers a different angle. It argues that perhaps these teens, who were young children at the time of the 9/11 attacks, have been spared a looming fear that the rest of us have had to live with since that terrible day.

On the one hand, I understand why technically the youth today don't feel as strongly about the threat of terrorism in our midst and don't really know who bin Laden was and what he represented. They were, after all, children. It's impossible for them to feel the way a witness to the attacks felt or even just an individual who's old enough to understand and appreciate what happened. However, it's our job, as the survivors and witnesses, to educate our youth on the threats we face in the world. We must strengthen our foundation and our beliefs in order to become proud patriots, so we can announce to the world that no one messes with our country. We must instill in them a sense of reality - we have enemies, and it is our duty to live our lives with our heads up, showing that we will not weaken.

To read the complete article, check out:

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Patriotic or Militant?

Here's a Tea Party commercial a high school boy from Alabama made:

It's about four minutes long, and it consists of still images of leaders, battles, and otherwise famous moments from the founding of our nation until today. The music in the background is similar to what you'd hear in a movie in the days leading up to war. It can signify the preparation of battle and the somberness of the time. This movie stirs a combination of patriotism and fear in the viewer; on the one hand, you're proud to be an American, to be part of the legacy. On the other, you fear the current Congress and Administration, since they both appear, according to the video, to be staunch opponents to what the so-called majority of the nation wants.

The Tea Party, or the 'Taxed Enough Already' Party has come out strongly against the Obama administration's domestic policy, but specifically, its economic policy. It doesn't seem to clearly state what changes need to take place in order to make our country better and stronger, except that we are taxed too much. Instead of this riling up and fear mongering, I'd rather see concrete suggestions for how we can change, how policies can be shifted to make the country a better place. I'm tired of all the complaining.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Itamar Massacre, according to the Times

In general, you can sense the tone of a New York Times article just by reading the title. However, in a recent article about the Itamar massacre, "2 Palestinian Teens Held in Killing of Israeli Family," it's hard to know exactly what angle the article takes. On the one hand, it calls the murderers "teens," connoting a naivete that would deem them innocent. However, at the same time, it refers to the Fogel family as "Israeli[s]," somehow legitimizing their existence, especially based on where they lived!

Fortunately or unfortunately, the reader has to venture into the body of the article in order to fully appreciate the intent of the article.

What do you think the author is trying to convey, and do you think pressure for fair and honest reporting after the initial response from the press impacted her word choice in the title and in the article?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Who would you side with??

Back in 2006, there was a case in London where a Muslim officer requested that he should not be assigned to protect the Israeli Embassy. This was at the height of the Israel-Lebanon War in the summer of 2006, and the officer claimed that he had Lebanese and Syrian family members who not only were at risk based on their geographic locations, but may also threaten him if he protected the embassy of an enemy. He as well as the London commissioner, claimed that this was not a request based on any belief system. Rather, it came as a result of an awkward situation, to say the least. Many people criticized the London police for permitting such exemption, with the arguments like, "What happens if a Greek officer doesn't want to guard the Turkish embassy, or an anti-hunting officer refuses to protect pro-hunt demonstrators?" The Israeli government didn't respond as strongly as some may have hoped. Fox News came out and claimed that based on this logic, a Muslim could be exempt from protecting Jews. Obviously the argument is a strong one, but is it rooted in anything concrete? 

What do you think?

Check out the article from Haaretz:

Monday, March 28, 2011

Second Guessing

Confession: I'm getting tired of the news.

Between the disaster in Japan and the upheaval in the Middle East, it seems as though there's nothing else in the world to talk about. Don't get me wrong, these are major and historic times in which we live and experience, however I still feel disconnected from most of what's going on. 

...Except for the Itamar massacre. I'm still horrified by the events that took place in the small community of Itamar, located in the Samaria region of Israel, less than three weeks ago. For those who don't recall, Palestinian terrorists entered the Fogel family's home, and murdered both parents and three children. 
Obviously this news spread the instant we became aware of what took place. It literally took over my newsfeed on Facebook; everyone was talking about it. Among the various articles, statuses, and comments about the horrific event, there was one post (that was reposted several times) that stood out for me. Graphic photos of the butchered family were released for the public to see. When I was confronted with this footage, I initially didn't know what to think. An attack of this nature was never presented to me in such raw form. I suddenly had the chance to get 'up close, and personal' with the victims. 

OK, so you're presented with this opportunity. What do you do? Well I didn't know exactly what I'd encounter, but I took a deep breath and clicked on the link. I was drawn to. I had to. But now that I have, I wonder if I made the right decision. I believe strongly in being exposed to the horrors of war and conflict in order to understand and know it better, yet this was different. I felt like this exposure took it one step too far. Don't get me wrong, photos or no photos, there's no way to fully comprehend what actually took place. Yet in my eyes there is still a need to keep certain scenes shielded from our eyes, if for no other reason than to have respect for the dead. 

I'm tempted to post a link to the pictures, but I just can't bring myself to even search for one. They're too horrific and too personal. This time the media took it too far. 

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Framing the Framers

"Suspecting Palestinians, Israeli Forces Search for Killers of 5 West Bank Settlers." This was the title the New York Times chose to summarize what took place in the Israeli community of Itamar last night. By looking only at the headline, what immediate conclusions would you come to? 

Here's what I think the NY Times wants us to think:

1. "Suspecting Palestinians" - It's still uncertain as to who is the culprit of this attack. Since Palestinians are often connected to terror-like attacks in the region, let's assume it's them again.
2. "Israeli Forces" - Oh, those violent Israeli soldiers are at it again. We don't even know who's responsible, yet they've sent out the big guys to investigate the scene.
3. "Killers" - Obviously not terrorists. 
4. "5 West Bank Settlers" - Nameless individuals, antagonists for all we know. Maybe they got what they deserved. They are, after all, "settlers." 

At this point, what more do you need to know? The title gives plenty of insight into the columnist's attitude on the issue. 
This is the problem with framing. Rhetoric is used way too liberally in order to sway the opinions of readers. Here we are, being introduced to global issues in an article, completely unaware of the facts on the ground, and before we're even given the details, we're told how to think and feel about them. How are we expected to be well-informed citizens? How are we supposed to know what to advocate for or against to our representatives? This is a prime example of how the media is trying to control the way we think in order to support its own interests and goals!