Maryam Mohseni '24
We’ve all seen it happen, and maybe we’ve even been a part of it. A person, usually a celebrity or other public figure, does or says something offensive, racist, or tone deaf. A public backlash, often fueled by politically progressive social media, ensues. Then come the calls to cancel the person, or in other words, to effectively end their career or revoke their cultural cachet, whether through boycotting their work or disciplinary action from an employer.
The form of ostracism in which someone is removed from social or professional circles—whether it be online, on social media, or in person—is referred to as cancel culture. Those who are subject to this ostracism are effectively "canceled". While cancel culture has gained mainstream popularity in the past few years, its roots can be found in the civil rights movements. Cancel culture arose within Black culture and channels Black empowerment movements dating as far back as the civil rights boycotts of the 1950s and ’60s. Publicly calling people out, demanding accountability, and boycotting has become an important instrument of social justice. It’s a way of combating, through collective action of the masses, the power imbalances that often exist between public figures with far-reaching platforms and audiences, and the people their words and actions may harm. In that sense, cancel culture can serve as a way to overcome the sense of powerlessness that many people feel, especially those in marginalized communities. However, as it has gained mainstream attention, cancel culture has also seemed to gain a more dangerous power, at least in the eyes of the many people who’d like to, well, cancel it.
It’s important to acknowledge that ending someone’s career through the power of public backlash is difficult. Few celebrities or other public figures have been truly canceled, and while many have faced considerable negative criticism and calls to be held accountable for their offensive actions, very few of them have actually faced career-ending repercussions.
Today, the debate around cancel culture is surrounded by dramatic rhetoric that shows how incendiary cancel culture has become. In America’s current social and political landscape, it seems more and more difficult to overcome ideological divides, and the line between the personal and the political seems to be vanishing. Although, cancel culture rarely results in lasting consequences for celebrities or public figures and their careers, some people are deeply disturbed by what they view as part of a larger trend: the inability to forgive and move on.
For opponents of cancel culture, rejecting cancel culture doesn’t necessarily mean rejecting the principles of social justice or to stop pushing for equality. Aaron Rose, a corporate diversity and inclusion consultant explains that rejecting cancel culture “does not mean repressing our reactions or giving up on accountability, On the contrary, it means giving ourselves the space to truly honor our feelings of sadness and anger, while also not reacting in a way that implies that others are ... incapable of compassion and change.”
But proponents of canceling believe that any and all losses the canceled person experiences are outweighed by the greater cultural need to change the behavior they’re embodying. And it’s important to note, for those who are calling out or canceling, they’re still the ones without the social, political, or professional power to compel someone into meaningful atonement, to do much more than organize a collective boycott.
Nonetheless, that divide seems to be widening and growing more visible. And it isn’t just an ideological divide, but also a divide between how to navigate ideological differences and dealing with wrongdoing. The idea that a traditional approach, like an apology, atonement, and forgiveness, is no longer acceptable is startling for many. But to those who think of cancel culture as an extension of civil rights activists’ push for meaningful change, it’s an important tool. And it’s clear that, controversial as cancel culture is, it is here to stay.
Jack Marino '23
You are wrong about the American Revolution. Not just you specifically, but ninety-nine percent of the people reading this article are wrong about the American Revolution. The Revolutionary War was not some lofty struggle to overthrow the tyrannical King George III and bring freedom and democracy to the colonies. Instead, elitists attempting to preserve their position of power stirred up the masses against an imagined enemy.
Hostility between Britain and her colonies traces itself back to the end of the French and Indian War, when George Washington led a surprise attack against French forces in the Ohio River Valley, and ultimately was forced to surrender his entire army. Due to the weak colonial army, Britain was forced to send tens of thousands of soldiers to win a war that they had no part in starting. Afterwards, Britain asked herself: should the colonists, who recklessly attacked French forces, amassed substantial war profits, and gained massive tracts of land upon Britain’s victory, pay for the war? Or, should the British, who suffered economic recessions to protect their American brethren, cover the cost? I think everyone would agree that Britain chose the right option.
The primary argument of American Revolution fans is that the colonies had no representation in the British parliament, so they therefore were not responsible for the expenses. However, there are many cases in which colonial representation in Parliament would have been to the colonists’ detriment. For instance, most colonists supported expansion into native American lands west of the Appalachian mountains, but Parliament’s proclamation of 1763 prevented this—for good reason. If colonists had flooded into the western territories, a war with Native Americans would inevitably have started, necessitating the mobilization of even more British troops.
So, as taxes piled on, Bostonians—led by the Adams brothers, John Hancock, and Paul Revere—fought for freedom against their British “oppressors” by tar-and-feathering British sympathizers, burning government buildings, and assaulting Redcoats; it turns, these were not the best negotiating tactics. (It is important to note that in the pursuit of democracy, America’s second president John Adams signed the Sedition Act of 1798, which effectively banned political opponents from criticizing his administration.)
Anyway, taxation without representation was not what the colonists were worried about. Colonial governments twice rejected plans to integrate American seats into the British Parliament (the first plan was Benjamin Franklin’s Albany Plan of Union; the second was the British Parliament’s offer to all seats for the colonies after the Battle of Saratoga) and most of their tax complaints related to the enforcement of decades old unpoliced taxes (like the Sugar tax for example).
Knowing that the colonists neither cared for representation nor a stable democracy, the American Revolution’s primary goals were selfish. The colonists rebelled to escape from the taxes that financed their war; the colonists rebelled for the right to freely expand west into Native American land; the colonists rebelled because they were fed propaganda targeting their benevolent government in England.
So therefore, it is time to right the wrongs of our past. It is time to Make America Great Britain Again!
Philip Sosnik '23
On February 24, 2022, the Russian armed forces invaded Ukraine—beginning the largest conflict on European soil since WWII. The West vowed that this time, unlike after the 2014 Russian invasion of Crimea, they would retaliate by uniting to equip Ukraine with arms and cripple all sectors of the Russian economy.
Yes, the Russian economy has gone into freefall, and yes, Ukraine has received arms from Western nations. However, much of Europe remains far too divided and selfish to fully punish Russia, and truly give Ukraine the support it needs.
Take Germany as the best example of this inaction. The nation of 82 million sports the fourth-largest economy in the world, easily doubling the size of the Russian economy. Despite their economic strength, they are dependent on Russia for most of their energy. Germany was not blessed with rich natural gas reserves or vast oil fields. Yet their continued interest in pursuing short-term fixes instead of long-term solutions to their energy dependency problem has only worsened their situation.
Instead of significantly increasing the amount of green energy produced from nuclear power plants, the German government announced earlier this year that they would shut down half of their remaining power plants by the start of 2023. Furthermore, the government has only now yielded to the pleas of German energy experts to build vital ship terminal facilities that would allow them to import natural gas from the United States. These terminals won’t be completed for years, and in the meantime, Germany will continue to buy billions of dollars worth of Russian natural gas and oil every day.
By now, you probably understand why Germany is enabling Russia and the ramifications. Russia has faced countless sanctions in nearly every sector. Yet due to the dependence of Germany and other European countries in similar positions, the Russian energy market (by far the most powerful sector of its economy) remains relatively in place.
Germany’s shameful reliance on Russian energy also extends to other parts of the Ukrainian war effort. Germany knows that if they aid the Ukrainian government by giving arms, Russia can at any point turn off their energy grid. As a result, whenever Ukraine asks the central European power for anything, it usually comes up disappointed. Ukraine asked for 100,000 helmets. Germany provided 5,000. Ukraine asked for 100 decommissioned German Marder infantry fighting vehicles. Germany gave them nothing. Ukraine asked for any amount of decommissioned Leopard combat tanks. Germany again gave them nothing.
Unfortunately, the German government’s hesitancy to punish Russia and aid Ukraine is not unique in Europe. Hungary has declined to change its energy policy with Russia and up to date has refused to give Ukraine any weapons, ammo, or protective equipment. Several other European nations, while chastising Russia in public, continue to import massive amounts of energy from them in private to not face public scrutiny from the press.
Nearly two months after Russian tanks stormed into Ukraine, a few things have become clear. While the Western response to Russian aggression is better now than it was in 2014, there is still much left to be done. Primarily, the West has failed to not just limit but cut off Russian oil and natural gas from being imported. Failure to move away from Russian fossil fuels will make it harder and harder for all of Europe to become independent from Russia and produce their own clean energy. More importantly though, by continuing to buy Russian oil and natural gas, Putin and his generals have all the power they need to continue to keep the Russian war machine going.
The death penalty debate transcends predisposed political boundaries and becomes a debate over morality. The debate usually starts by establishing that most Americans agree that if a person commits a heinous act, like murder, society demands they be punished either by execution or by spending the rest of their life in prison. The tension arises over the morality of the death penalty for three reasons. First, how does our justice system make sure the death penalty is only given to people who are guilty? Second, is the death penalty cost effective? And lastly, is the death penalty morally permissible for even the worst criminals?
The first question about the effectiveness of the American justice system has strong arguments both for and against the death penalty. Many anti-death penalty advocates highlight the large number of wrongful convictions that result in a death sentence. Since 1973, of the 1,542 convicted people who were sentenced to death, 186 have been exonerated and released from death row (EJI). Another study revealed that for every 9 people executed, 1 person was exonerated (EJI). One particular case that highlights the wrongful conviction of a death row convict is that of Walter McMillian, a man who was falsely convicted after a false and coerced confession from another convict due to prejudice over his race and economic status (EJI). To retort these statistics, death penalty advocates rely on 2014 data published by the National Academy of Sciences that estimates that only 4.1% of convicts are exonerated, meaning that 95.9% of death row convicts are guilty (Witness to Innocence).
Though the wrongful execution of convicts is a major concern for Americans, many also fear the systemic racism that results in a disproportionate number of black people being sentenced to death row. A national study done from 1995-2000 found that 72% of the cases approved for the death penalty by the attorney general were minorities (ACLU).
The second debated argument over the death penalty is whether it is truly cost effective. Though the cost is not a determining factor in the morality of the death penalty, it is undoubtably an important factor for many Americans. Studies have shown that it is 10 times more expensive to execute someone than to keep them in prison for their entire life (EJUSA). Sterling Goodspeed, a former district attorney in Warren County, New York once said “I think I could prove to you that I could put someone in the Waldorf Hotel for 60 to 70 years and feed them three meals a day cheaper than we can litigate a single death penalty case” (EJUSA). Those who support the death penalty often argue that there is a deterrent effect for crime rates as a direct result of executions, but recent data has proven this theory to be untrue, with death penalty states actually having higher crime rates (Amnesty International).
The final most debated aspect of the death penalty is the morality question, which is more difficult to argue than one might think. A common phrase used by pro-death penalty advocates is “an eye for an eye”, referring to the book of Exodus that says that the punishment should fit the crime, which, ironically, is condemned in later doctrines. Beyond the eye for an eye mentality is the belief that society has a moral obligation to protect its citizens, and that the only way to truly protect citizens is to execute the convicted murderer. The anti-death penalty argument is more complicated, with some believing that not even the worst criminal should receive the death penalty and others believing the judicial system only needs reform to minimize the wrongful or discriminatory executions. Advocates who oppose the death penalty often argue that it strips the person of their fundamental right to life, which is inhumane. Though many supporters of the death penalty believe the person forfeited that right when they committed murder, those who oppose the death penalty believe life is a fundamental human right.
Though most of the country may still support the death penalty, the argument for ending capital punishment is extremely compelling after examining the flaws in the American justice system, inefficient costs to the taxpayer, and cruelty of the moral argument. The death penalty threatens the moral code of humankind by eroding the criminal justice system and seizing the fundamental right to life, all while taxing the American people for an inhumane cause.
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). “Race and the Death Penalty”.
Amnesty International. “The Death Penalty and Deterrence”.
Equal Justice Initiative (EJI). “The Death Penalty”. https://eji.org/issues/death-penalty/
Equal Justice USA (EJ USA). https://ejusa.org/resource/wasteful-inefficient/
Witness to Innocence. “About Innocence”. https://www.witnesstoinnocence.org/innocence
On March 28th, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed the “Parental Rights in Education Act” into law. Informally dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” Bill, it bans any teaching related to sexual orientation or gender identity from kindergarten to third grade. The bill reads, “Classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity may not occur in kindergarten through grade 3 or in a manner that is not age appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards.” Some believe it to be a well-intentioned attempt to protect children from inappropriate subject material. This is incorrect.
The bill’s phrasing is purposely subjective in order for it to be manipulated to the greatest possible extent against LGBTQ+ identities. If the bill were taken in its actuality, teachers could choose not to use pronouns such as “she” and “he.” They could boycott material that depicts heterosexual relationships or references the gender binary. They could prohibit any mention of male and female, not allow children to say “mother” or “father,” refuse to acknowledge the difference between “boy” and “girl.”
But they won’t.
That would be blasphemy. It would give children an inaccurate view of the world. It would spark widespread outrage. Cisgender and heterosexual (cishet) identities are our cultural norm, and they are untouchable. We’ve deemed them worthy of respect, while queerness is scorned, erased, and condemned. In theory, this bill could omit any mention of heterosexuality, but it won’t. Instead, it’s weaponized against discussions of LGBTQ+ identities. The precedent that it sets will only ever be used against queer education. DeSantis stated during a press conference that teaching children “they can be whatever they want to be” is “inappropriate.” Anyone who claims that this bill is not an act of structural trans- and homophobia is in deep denial.
Christina Pushaw, DeSantis’ press secretary, tweeted that opponents of “the Anti-Grooming Bill” are “probably groomer[s]” or “at least don’t denounce grooming of 4-8 year old children.” This insinuates that the mere concept of queerness is inherently pedophilic, an argument that is absurd, tired, and overused. Florida lawmakers are using antiquated, untrue reasoning—homosexuality is not any more perverted or corruptive than heterosexuality is, and the double standard is stunningly illogical.
This bill does not protect children; it endangers them. Ignorance breeds hate, and anti-queer hate crimes are already at record highs. A 2018 FBI report revealed that 1 in 5 hate crimes stem from anti-LGBTQ+ bias. In 2019, the out LGBTQ community was estimated to be about 5% of the population, and yet we comprised 19% of hate crime victims. 2021 was the deadliest year for transgender people on record, with violence against them increasing by 34% to an all-time high. 57 transgender or nonbinary people were murdered for their gender identity in 2021, and yet these deaths are usually underreported—the actual fatality number is almost certainly higher. Even in death, these victims are still disrespected. 24 people listed in the Human Rights Campaign’s initial report were misgendered by the media or police.
The ignorance that the “Don’t Say Gay” Bill breeds will lead to even higher rates of suicide. According to a report from the CDC, 33% of LGBTQ+ youth are bullied in school, compared to 17% of cishet students. Queer youth are three times more likely to attempt suicide, according to the Trevor Project, with 42% of us seriously considering suicide in 2021 and 23% attempting, compared to 5% of cishet peers. All LGBTQ+ youth are at higher risk for suicidal ideation. The amount of queer people I know who have either attempted or seriously contemplated suicide is in the double digits. I’ve gone so far as planning it out myself.
The “Don’t Say Gay” Bill sets a dangerous example. Alabama, Ohio, Louisiana, and Texas have all now suggested similar legislation. State lawmakers have proposed 238 bills that limit the rights of LGBTQ+ people in 2022, and 670 anti-LGBTQ bills have been filed since 2018. They condone restricting LGBTQ+ issues in educational curriculums, allowing discrimination against queer people on religious bases, and restricting transgender people’s right to healthcare. Queerness is not wrong, no matter how hard DeSantis may try to convince us it is. When LGBTQ+ children in Florida can’t explain how they feel because they’ve been deliberately restricted from learning any terminology other than “straight” or “male” and “female,” they will hate themselves. This law is a deliberate erasure of LGBTQ identity, and it fosters nothing but ignorance and violence.
Last week, the STA-NCS Government Cub chose to debate the “Don’t Say Gay” Bill. When I got the email that announced their topic, I was horrified, as were my queer friends on the Close. We understand that Gov Club tries to choose relevant and controversial topics, but there is no nuance to this law. The Close’s choice to treat this issue as if DeSantis’ proposal is anything less than an attack on queer youth is appalling. The assembly voted 22-8 against the bill, but even the fact that it was deemed a multifaceted, debatable issue is unacceptable. It marks yet another assault on LGBTQ+ students here, joining a thousand other micro- and macro-aggressions: the STA dress code, gay jokes, misgendering and deadnaming, exclusion of queer students from dances and gossip, meals from Chick-fil-A, “hate the sin, love the sinner” mentality, NCS students throwing around “twink” and “fruity,” STA students using “fag” as a punchline, and, worst of all, being unable to correct my peers’ homophobic beliefs because the concept of sinfulness is just a fact to them.
Even as a child, I was queer; no aspect of my identity is unpalatable for children. The “Don’t Say Gay” Bill is a completely unacceptable topic of debate, and it must be treated as such. It needs to be condemned by every student on the Close.
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What does climate activism look like to you? Do you imagine a tree-hugging hippie or a millennial with a year's worth of trash in one jar? Do you think of the blockades on the main roads of DC that happen at least once a month? These acts are the front of the climate movement, and for good reason. The vast majority of youth agree with the urgency to act on the climate crisis, and they agree with these methods. But though the environmental organizing sphere has a fair share of symbolic protests, you’ll find that the core of the climate movement isn’t at all as peaceful and nonviolent as portrayed.
By now, every young person in America likely knows of the climate crisis, if not in-depth, at least the bare minimum of the globe getting warmer and that it’s generally considered a problem. The recent 2022 IPCC report warned that if we keep going at our current pace, we will exceed 3°C of global warming by 2030, a state of irreversible climate disaster. You’ve likely heard of the School Strikes for Climate or the mass protests put on at the White House, which the media says are protesting climate change, but there are dozens of other organizations in the DMV alone organizing to end climate change. I work for one of those organizations–Sunrise Movement’s DC chapter. For nearly a year, I’ve planned, attended, and led these protests and actions, along with the rest of the climate organizing community. However, climate organizing goes far beyond symbolic protests with vague demands. We know that these methods won’t magically somehow “end” climate change, and we definitely know that personal consumption is not going to bring about the end of the climate crisis, as, truly, corporations and oil companies are the root of the problem.
No, the core of the climate movement is harsh disruption: disruption of what allows the destruction of our planet to continue, disruption of the operations of a system built to slowly degrade our natural resources and environment. And the reason disruption is not the face of our community right now is because it’s not respectable.
The methods that Indigenous people and other people of color have been using for years are defined as direct action. Instead of just asking nicely for the climate emergency to end, direct action goes directly to the core of what’s causing the climate crisis and lack of inaction–acts such as chaining yourself to pipeline construction materials to prevent them from being built, blockading a coal plant to stop operations, and preventing lobbyists and oil execs from leaving their homes to go to work and continue their destruction of the climate. These actions are often seen as extreme or “too far,” but with the current state of our world, what other choice do we have? Asking nicely and negotiating kindly hasn’t gotten us further in the past few years. And direct action works. The operations of one pipeline being slowed, even just for one day, can stop 5,000 metric tons of emissions. To achieve that level of emission prevention in that same time frame, you’d have to completely eliminate the carbon footprint of 114,000 people in America, an almost impossible feat in a society that relies on its people relying on fossil fuels.
So why are symbolic protests and quiet sit-ins currently the face of the climate movement, as opposed to our direct and effective efforts? At the end of the day, these pacifist actions are more socially acceptable because they don’t affect anything, unless under the rare circumstance that politicians agree with our demands. Direct action is considered violent, harsh, and unnecessary, because it actually steps in to put a stop to the climate crisis, and the system that enables and profits off of climate catastrophe is threatened by it. This isn’t to say that peaceful, indirect protests are useless and should be retired entirely–they have helped garner mass attention and support for the climate movement. But we need to do something further with that momentum, and truly step into the cause and stop the source of the problem. To do that, we’ll need to shake the need of being seen as respectable and truly dive into effective and, yes, sometimes violent tactics. If you truly are moved by climate change, drop the cardboard signs and join your local organizing group on the frontlines.
For further information on environmental direct action and priority destruction, I encourage you to read “How To Blow Up A Pipeline” (although probably better titled “Why To Blow Up A Pipeline,” as there are no actual instructions) by Andreas Malm.
For those looking to get involved, ShutDown DC, Sunrise Movement DC, The Palm Collective, and many, many more organizations are based in DC and fight the climate crisis through direct action. As you do more research into the climate organizing world, you will learn of more ways to take action :)
Shreyan Mitra '23
Before I give my opinion on the West’s reaction to the Ukraine situation, I think it would be best to draw from history to find a cause, and then analyze the response to the cause.
You know when two children are arguing over a toy? And then you take it away? And then one kid says, “I had it first?” And then the other says, “but I took it from you?” And then they resume their all-out warfare for re-acquisition of their claimed property?
Well, I’m inclined to say some governments sometimes act like children too.
There are quite a few countries that, in the past, were much larger than they are today. This distension could have occurred for a variety of reasons, but back in the day, it was mainly victory in war. Empires are a classic example, and the Russian Empire is no exception. Some countries today, like China, continue to dispute ownership of territories that they once owned but were given up to or taken by someone else. There’s even a term for it: irredentism–credit to some Italians in the 19th century who used it to express Italy’s desire to retake the Trieste region.
So can we justify Russia’s invasion of Ukraine using irredentism? Well, maybe. Separatist presence and high concentration of Russian speakers in the Luhansk and Donetsk regions are sometimes used to justify the Russian takeover of those areas. But some politicians argue that irredentism is an outdated concept. We aren’t in the age of empire anymore. Territorial gains and losses aren’t determined by blood and tears. We live in a global society.
Let’s move forward a decent amount of time to the early 1990s. If you’ve paid attention in history class, you know why I brought you here. Former U.S. President George H.W. Bush struck an informal agreement with Boris Yeltsin, the first President of the Russian Federation: the Western Bloc’s North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO, would not take any former Eastern Bloc countries under its wing. And NATO listened for a while. On the science diplomacy front, Russia even became the chief partner for NATO’s Science for Peace and Security (SPS) program during that time. In 1994, however, former Warsaw Pact countries began to join NATO, and tensions escalated until Russia invaded Crimea in 2014, prompting NATO to remove Russia from SPS. It was a good decision, right? Well, guess who’s the chief NATO SPS partner now.
That’s correct. It’s Ukraine.
Putin was partially justified in saying that he didn’t want more NATO on his doorstep. Estonia has been part of the alliance for a while, and, although Belarus will not join due to its membership of the supranational Union State, Ukraine joining NATO would spell out a major threat to Russian national security. From this perspective, even though Russia’s actions in Ukraine today are nothing short of atrocities, it really was NATO who “started” this conflict. Russia just made the first active move.
My opinion on the West’s reaction? They could probably do a little more to help. American officials have expressed worry that sending equipment to Ukraine would draw the US into direct conflict with Russian forces, but that may verge on excessive paranoia. It isn’t Ukraine’s responsibility alone to defend against Russia.
Lack of NATO interference, however, may also have some benefits. There is an interesting parallel I’d like to draw between this war and the Russo-Georgian War of 2008. There were two separatist regions that fought alongside Russia (Abkhazia and South Ossetia), and, although Georgia lost those regions after the war, Georgia itself remained a sovereign nation and, in fact, formally appealed to join NATO. The First Chechen War of 1994 was not so similar, but it shows that even a small region like Chechnya can hold its ground against Russia with enough dedication.
I think that even without excessive NATO involvement, the strong-willed Ukrainians will continue to stand bravely and successfully for their motherland, even when facing off against a global superpower. They will clean up the mess after the dust has settled and continue to prosper for decades to come.
Слава Україні! Героям слава!
Emma Fullerton '22
Under the FDR administration, Congress passed Title 42, a provision within the 1944 Public Health Service Act that allows the federal government to ban people or goods from entering the U.S. during a pandemic (CBS). Seventy-six years later, President Trump enacted this provision as COVID-19 swept through the nation in March 2020.
Title 42 supersedes asylum law and allows U.S. border agents to immediately expel migrants, even if they make an asylum claim that would normally allow them to remain on American soil. Thus, Title 42’s invocation enabled U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials to deport nearly every undocumented immigrant. Since March 2020, the Trump and Biden administrations have expelled 1.7 million migrants under Title 42, with Biden being responsible for 1.2 million of them (CBS).
In April, Biden announced he would end Title 42 on May 23rd, a decision that the GOP and a handful of democrats emphatically denounced. As Biden faces pressure from the left to uphold his various immigration reform promises and protect undocumented migrants, will his repeal of Title 42 achieve these goals, or will it exasperate the ongoing crisis at the southern border?
Those in favor of Biden’s rollback claim Title 42’s purpose—to protect public health—is irrelevant today as the pandemic seems to be waning. As mask mandates and social distancing guidelines are lifted across the country, the anti-Title 42 movement asserts that it would be hypocritical of the government to not also lift similar measures for migrants. Further, some of those against Title 42 question the provision’s effectiveness in preventing the spread of coronavirus. Dr. Fauci argues that Title 42 is not the solution to stopping COVID outbreaks and instead helps spread the virus as expulsions in large groups lead to outbreaks during deportation transport (American Progress).
Conversely, supporters of Title 42 affirm that the order is still necessary for protecting public health. While COVID cases may be currently decreasing in America, it still poses a significant global threat. The Chinese government just recently enforced strict lockdown measures in Shanghai due to a significant outbreak within the city (The Hill). Foreign outbreaks like this explain why there are still numerous travel-related COVID rules in the U.S., such as mask mandates on planes and mandatory tests for international travelers (Washington Post). Title 42 advocates pose the question, why should undocumented migrants be allowed to enter the U.S. without a negative COVID test while legal international travels are barred from entering without the same result? Their answer is simple: they shouldn’t be.
Another issue some take with Title 42 is its undermining of asylum law. Under asylum law, undocumented immigrants can petition to temporarily stay on U.S. soil should they make a credible claim that they are facing persecution or significant danger in their country of origin (Cornell). However, migrants lost this opportunity when Title 42 went into effect, and many were deported to their home countries within days of arriving in the U.S. The most notable example of this was the mass expulsion Haitian migrants during the summer of 2021. Following the assassination of the Haitian president in July and a major earthquake in August, a large wave of Haitian migrants fled to the southern border. Biden expelled 20,000 Hattians under Title 42, subjecting them to the political chaos that would normally grant them a path to asylum in America (American Progress).
However, Title 42 supporters make the case that ending Title 42 would harm migrants more than denying them asylum currently does. Since Biden took office, he has dismantled many Trump-era border policies that have helped manage and deter surges of migrants at the border. These policies include the “Remain in Mexico” program that allowed migrants to wait in Mexico while their asylum claims were processed in the U.S. and the “safe third country agreements” which allowed migrants to negotiate asylum in the first country they crossed into rather than in America. Both of these policies, along with Title 42, deterred hundreds of thousands of migrants from making the extremely dangerous journey into the U.S. After Biden repealed these policies, there was a significant spike in undocumented immigrants. In June 2021, the number of migrants at the southern border “hit a record high” and was more than double the previous year’s total (BBC). 2021 also saw the highest number of migrant casualties, 650, since 2014, which is undoubtedly linked to the migrant surge Biden incentivized with his policy repeals (CNN).
Further, this flood of undocumented immigrants has had unintended yet negative consequences on American citizens. Unfortunately, the flood of fentanyl is coupled with the floods of migrants, as drug cartels take advantage of migrant surges to overwhelm U.S. border officials (The Hill). Fentanyl seizures at the southern border increased 1,066 percent in 2021, according to the CBP. Further, fentanyl-related overdose deaths have increased by thirty percent and have killed more Americans than guns and homicides during the last year (Washington Post).
The Title 42 debate will be a hot-button issue going into the November mid-terms. According to a recent Politico poll, fifty-six percent of voters oppose ending the provision. This contentious decision, which has received bipartisan opposition, could prove to be a fatal blow to Biden’s already sinking approval rating. And, worse than any political implication for the Biden administration, Title 42’s repeal could have dangerous consequences for migrants and American citizens.
“8 U.S. Code § 1158 - Asylum.” LII / Legal Information Institute, https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/8/1158. Accessed 16 Apr. 2022.
Alvarez, Priscilla. “At Least 650 Migrants Died Crossing the US-Mexico Border, the Most since 2014, International Agency Says | CNN Politics.” CNN, 9 Dec. 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/12/09/politics/migrants-dying-crossing-us-mexico-border/index.html.
“Biden Administration Announces Official End to Title 42, the Trump-Era Pandemic Restrictions at the US Border | CNN Politics.” CNN, 1 Apr. 2022, https://www.cnn.com/2022/04/01/politics/immigration-title-42-repeal-cdc/index.html.
“Analysis | Everything You Need to Know about Title 42.” Washington Post. www.washingtonpost.com, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/everything-you-need-to-know-about-title-42/2022/04/06/253e5940-b5af-11ec-8358-20aa16355fb4_story.html. Accessed 16 Apr. 2022.
Barragán, James. “Beto O’Rourke Knocks Biden for Ending Title 42 without a Plan to Deal with Influx of Migrants.” The Texas Tribune, 12 Apr. 2022, https://www.texastribune.org/2022/04/12/beto-orourke-joe-biden-border-migrants/.
Bolter, Muzaffar Chishti, Jessica Bolter Muzaffar Chishti and Jessica. “Controversial U.S. Title 42 Expulsions Policy Is Coming to an End, Bringing New Border Challenges.” Migrationpolicy.Org, 30 Mar. 2022, https://www.migrationpolicy.org/article/title-42-expulsions-policy.
“CBP Officers at South Texas Ports of Entry Post Significant Increases in Fentanyl, Cocaine Seized in FY 2021.” U.S. Customs and Border Protection, https://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/local-media-release/cbp-officers-south-texas-ports-entry-post-significant-increases-0. Accessed 16 Apr. 2022.
“Ending the Title 42 Expulsion Policy Is the Right Thing To Do.” Center for American Progress, https://www.americanprogress.org/article/ending-the-title-42-expulsion-policy-is-the-right-thing-to-do/. Accessed 16 Apr. 2022.
“Fentanyl Seizures at U.S. Southern Border Rise Dramatically.” NBC News, https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/immigration/fentanyl-seizures-u-s-southern-border-rise-dramatically-n1272676. Accessed 16 Apr. 2022.
Ira Mehlman, Opinion Contributor. “We Still Need Title 42 at Our Border to Protect Public Health.” The Hill, 11 Apr. 2022, https://thehill.com/opinion/immigration/3262048-we-still-need-title-42-at-our-border-to-protect-public-health/.
“Opinion | Biden Is Turning a Border Crisis into an Outright Catastrophe.” Washington Post. www.washingtonpost.com, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/04/12/biden-title-42-border-crisis/. Accessed 16 Apr. 2022.
“Record Fentanyl Seizures at Border Contributed to Soaring Overdose Deaths in US.” Washington Examiner, 2 Nov. 2021,
“Behind closed doors, they are the puppeteers”—Student Council
This past week, in the midst of controversial prefect elections, an anonymous whistleblower messaged editors of the Exchanged with a threat to release the unabridged proceedings of the 2021-22 Student Council. While the Exchanged does not endorse the motives, whatever they may be, of this anonymous whistleblower, we see it as a necessity for all student voices to be heard. Below is a manifesto written by the anonymous whistleblower which includes excerpts from two of the proceedings. Read on at your discretion.
THE MH-214 MANIFESTO
The door to MH-214 is more than just the entrance to a classroom. It’s a wall between freedom and despotism. It’s a curtain of secrecy. Behind that door, on Wednesday afternoons, our Student Council reveals the true nature of our school. Behind that door, they exercise control over every aspect of our school.
But the people, they haven’t seen the truth. They don’t know what goes on inside of MH-214. I have served on the Student Council withholding information from my brothers for long enough. I will now end the era of SECRECY AND SILENCE! With the proceedings of the secret Council meetings, I hold the key. Follow me and UNLOCK THE DOOR TO MH-214.
--WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 8TH--
Meeting no. 10
Councilman [A]: I’ve just been too thirsty recently.
Councilman [B]: I think it is time.
Councilman [A]: Facilitator [censored], can you get in touch with the water fountain people?
Facilitator: As you wish. I’ll email [censored] tomorrow and we’ll install them soon. Anything else?
Councilman [C]: Another matter. Quests. These “quiz-tests.” I feel like it’s unfair because most of the time a quest is just a teacher’s way of giving a major assignment that you can’t cancel because of conflicts with other tests. We must put an end to it.
Facilitator: Hm, yeah… Let’s say that if a “quest” is longer than 30 minutes it becomes a major assessment. I will bring that up at the faculty meeting next week.
Above was a meeting I attended earlier this year, when the Student Council, in secrecy, asked the Administration for the return of water fountains. On the surface, this seems like an innocent exchange of words, but it’s so much more.
It’s representative of the LIES and TRICKS that the Student Council perpetuates. They have too much power. No student or member of the faculty can hold them accountable. Any decision they want to make will be made. Don’t believe me, read on.
--WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 12TH--
Meeting no. 13
Councilman [A]: Is there any way we could maybe not have to require people to sit outside for an announcement at lunch.
Councilman [B]: Yeah it’s really cold.
Facilitator: Maybe we could have the announcements in Trapier before and just do them once or twice a week.
Councilman [B]: Yes! People don’t have as many announcements to make right now, so we could do it one Tuesday and Thursday and let people do whatever they want the other days. Muhahaha.
Councilman [A]: That way we wouldn’t have to take attendance every day. Upperclassmen should be able to go off campus for lunch after announcements.
Facilitator: Great! I’ll tell the student body tomorrow.
The TRUTH is EXPOSED!!!
The Student Council has meetings every wednesday so they can discuss the student body’s issues when the rest of the people are going to sports. THIS IS THE WORLD WE LIVE IN.
Behind closed doors, they are the puppeteers. They make all of the decisions. The elections are a thin veil to conceal the corruption. This isn’t democracy. This is TYRANNY!
I could paste thousands of hours of discussions between our “leaders,” discussing mask policies, flavored yogurt, the Sam’s Bar Menu, but you already see the point, don’t you?
I call for the Student Council to fully reveal what goes on in their meetings OR I WILL DO IT FOR THEM. If the Council does not release the truth within 36 hours of the publication of my manifesto, I will release the full proceedings of the Student Council—this time with nothing censored.
Whether or not the truth is discovered on their terms, it will come out. The deceit is over. Before this week is over, the door to MH-214 WILL BE OPENED!
Ronald Reagan sucked. He just did. I’m going to tell you a couple of reasons why he sucked because way too many people like him or don’t realize how horrible of a president he was. For some reason, a bunch of people that lived under his presidency think he’s a God or something, and Republicans see him as their Jesus, but I’m here to tell you that all of that is wrong. Here’s why:
I’m gonna start off with something that he did as governor of California, because even though his presidency was pretty bad, he also sucked as a governor. When Black Panthers were protesting police brutality by keeping their own arms to defend themselves from violence, Ronald Reagan passed the Mulford Act, which prohibited the open carry of firearms without a permit. The same man who would later preach about the importance of the Second Amendment infringed on the rights of those who needed it most.
That’s just the beginning though; his presidency was even worse:
To start, he vetoed an anti-apartheid bill (with sanctions, etc.) passed by Congress because he was friends with South African leaders and wanted to maintain “friendly relations” with a government institutionalizing racism openly and publicly. Congress passed the bill anyway because even they knew it wasn’t cool to do nothing. Pretty clearly Reagan cared more about his buddies in power than those who were struggling and being oppressed by them.
Also, don’t get me started on the Iran-Contra affair. Literally, the one time that the U.S. has been convicted of terrorism by the World Court was caused by Reagan. So to start off, Reagan initially made a deal with Hezbollah, a paramilitary group that was holding seven Americans hostage. He agreed, behind our government and peoples’ backs, to give them arms and money for the release of these men. That sure sounds like negotiating with terrorists to me. It gets worse, though, because instead of just selling arms and money to the terrorists, he decided to divert some of the funds to death squads in Nicaragua. For context, Nicaragua was run at the time by the socialist Sandinistas. So, you know, Ronald Reagan decided to spread freedom by giving some of the money that was supposed to go to violent paramilitary groups in Iran, to even more violent paramilitary groups in Nicaragua. By the way, these Contras also ran drug cartels that flooded the US with cocaine in the 1980s. This story just keeps getting better! This is all not even mentioning other death squads Reagan funded in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Argentina. He really liked screwing with South American countries.
Reagan also caused 9/11. When the Soviets invaded Afghanistan, Reagan sent funding, arms, and training to Islamic fundamentalist groups in the mountains of Afghanistan. After the Soviets left, he allowed the same fundamentalists to occupy the Afghani parliament, giving the Taliban the power and control that they would eventually use to help Al-Qaeda attack America. We all know what happened after 9/11: the wars, occupations, failed exits, etc. Well, you can blame Reagan for all that too.
So yeah, I think you can now see that Ronald Reagan sucks. There are a million other things I could bring up, but I feel like these points are the most important and I don’t really feel like explaining more. I mentioned mainly foreign events, but he also kind of killed our middle class, which still has lasting effects today. Anyways, if someone starts talking to you about why Ronald Reagan is good, just send them this
A Note from the Editors in Chief:
The opinions expressed in this article, as with any article, are of the author and author alone. The Exchanged is simply a means through which students can express their ideas without direct oversight from St. Albans or NCS, and its editors neither endorse nor condone the contents of any article. Our Mission Statement and Comment Policy are accessible via the 'About Us' tab.