Category Archives: English

Everyone has a gender identity, but some aren’t male or female. And that’s okay

Last week, I was surprised when relics of my childhood were exploited by alt-right internet memes to insult transgender people. Given Monday’s passage of an anti-transgender law in Texas’ House of Representatives, it seems that the feelings behind these discriminatory memes represent more than just a few internet trolls. Continue reading

I live in South Korea. Panicking about North Korea is unwarranted

Shortly after I returned to South Korea in 2014, I was met with a litany of concerned friends and family members in the United States asking if I was okay, in light of a building collapse that injured 100 people and killed 10. The only problem was that the building collapsed in Gyeongju, which is nearly 400 kilometers away from where I was living in Seoul at the time. Even if the building had collapsed within the Seoul capital area, the chance that out of 25,500,000 people I would have been injured is statistically insignificant.

I have been reminded of this anecdote recently, as many of the same concerned friends and family have been checking in with me about the recent news surrounding North Korea. I genuinely am thankful that I know so many loving people, but they are mistaken: South Korea is an incredibly safe place to visit and to live, and war with North Korea is very unlikely. Continue reading

Undocumented facts undermine immigration debate

As I finish this article on St. Patrick’s Day–a tradition spurred by Irish immigrants in the United States that became so popular that Ireland itself had to catch up– the dust is still settling on news of anti-immigration right-wing presidential candidate Geert Wilders’ loss in the Netherlands. Many in the United States would have been unaware of who Wilders was, if not for a controversial endorsement tweet sent from Rep. Steve King in which he wrote, “We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.” Continue reading

Forrest Trump

When Donald Trump made repeated references to a terrorist attack in Sweden that never happened, The New York Times headline said it all: “‘Last Night in Sweden’? Trump’s Remark Baffles a Nation.” As baffled as Swedes may be, their confusion is shared by many, if not most, people in the United States. Whether it is word salads like the aforementioned example, Trump’s continued use of his Twitter account, or his confounding cabinet picks, people are struggling to come up with theories that explain Trump. The “Madman theory” of Trump argues that the asinine parts of his character are meticulously constructed to distract from the genius of his true agenda; my own counter theory, “Forrest Trump” argues the complete opposite. Continue reading

The Trump ‘Muslim ban’ is bad policy. Not good!

On December 7, 2015 presidential candidate Donald Trump issued a controversial campaign pledge: in his own words, he called for the “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” His initial statement (which can be read on his website here) did not make any reference to this proposed Muslim ban being “temporary”. The only cited source in the statement was the Center for Security Policy, a right-wing think tank classified as a “conspiracy-oriented mouthpiece for the growing anti-Muslim movement in the United States” by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

This position was still considered extreme despite prevalent Islamophobia in the Republican Party. During the campaign, Team Trump had a difficult time defending the initial policy, as this timeline demonstrates. By the time that Donald Trump won enough Electoral College votes to become president, his original policy had become so muddled with follow-up rhetoric that it is difficult to pin down what the proposal was.

On Friday, the world found out exactly what became of the proposal. Trump, executing an executive order, banned travel to the United States by any citizen of Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan or Yemen. That bans over 218 million people from these seven Muslim-majority countries. The order also has a provision granting the Department of Homeland Security the ability to suggest other countries that should be added to the list. Continue reading

If you support Obama, don’t forget his shortcomings

I like Barack Obama.

I voted for him, worked on both of his presidential campaigns, and supported him in the 2008 primary. My first monetary donation to a political cause was to his first presidential campaign. While the Obama-Biden memes are pretty funny, I am genuinely sad to see him leave–and not just because of who his replacement will be.

This is not to say that he was perfect. Regardless of how bad the Republicans might be, Barack Obama deserves criticism. Progressives owe it to themselves to look critically at the soon-to-be former president.

But before I begin, two caveats: first, I am aware that the Democrats only had control of Congress for a small portion of Obama’s two terms in office. The ensuing criticisms take this into account, as it would be unfair to blame him for any mess created by congressional Republicans.

Second, President Obama’s position as a black man meant that he was forced to navigate boundaries that a white president would not have been. He had to carry not only the reputation of the Oval Office, but also his role as the first black president on his shoulders. I find it difficult quantify this in any way; but to ignore this seemed inappropriate.

While the list that follows is not exhaustive, it summarizes some of what I found to be the most disappointing moments of the Obama presidency: Continue reading

Santa Claus wasn’t always white

December had barely started when the Mall of America sparked controversy by picking a black man to play Santa Claus for their pre-Christmas attractions. Some online commentators proposed boycotting the Mall of America, while other made racist jokes or used derogatory slurs. This reaction to non-white portrayals of Santa is not new: a few years ago, Megyn Kelly of right-wing television network Fox News had an on-air meltdown on the subject of a non-white Santa in a segment that went viral. While modern Santa may often be depicted as a white man, the history of the myth is a bit more complicated, as are the motivations for why this issue enrages so many people.
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The Secret Voting System

I’ll cut to the chase; Donald Trump posted this whopper on Twitter yesterday, and we need to talk about it:

First, there’s no evidence whatsoever that it is true. The claim originated from Infowars, a conspiracy theorist site run by Alex Jones, a site that has also claimed that the Sandy Hook shooting was staged and that 9/11 was planned by the U.S. government. Second, if Trump is trying to argue that there shouldn’t be a recount, then why is he claiming that millions of votes were fraudulently cast? Wouldn’t a recount vindicate his claims?

But there’s something more to these claims than sheer absurdity. Why does Trump’s claim have any traction whatsoever? Quick perusal through the Twitter responses shows that there’s something that many Americans find convincing–or, at the very least, worthy of consideration–about Trump’s evidence-free assertion. What is it?

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President-Elect Petty

On November 18, soon-to-be VP Mike Pence went to a showing of Hamilton in New York City. For those unaware, Hamilton is a box office-breaking hip-hop musical about the life of one of the United States’ Founders, Alexander Hamilton. At the show, Pence was criticized sharply by both the cast and audience, prompting a surprisingly brash response from Donald Trump. Some of the media coverage may have been overblown, but it speaks to wider questions many are asking in the current political climate.
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1,234 Words on Donald Trump

Here is the harsh reality: Donald John Trump has won the election. Barring the most unlikely of circumstances, he will become President on January 20. The Republican Party will control the House of Representatives, the Senate, the White House, and the Supreme Court. He has already began talking about the executive actions he will sign. Hundreds of thousands of people in the U.S. have taken to the street to protest the normalization of Trumpian politics. In spite of thoughtless criticism, these demonstrators deserve some respect as they fight the first battle against the incoming Trump administration.

The main argument against the anti-Trump demonstrations boils down to this: some rallies featured acts of violence, and that is not good. I am not here to enter the debate over whether violence should be deemed legitimate form of protest. Regardless, it would be dishonest not to acknowledge that the vast majority of anti-Trump demonstrations have been lawful and peaceful. Among the small minority of protests that were not, some of the violence was in fact started by pro-Trump counter-protesters.

But even if we accept that a small minority of the anti-Trump demonstrators did break the law at a small minority of the rallies, is this surprising? Mass movements often feature some violence, particularly when their participants skew toward being young adults. (The Civil Rights movement in the 1960s was no exception, despite its reputation for being entirely peaceful.) Sidelining an entire movement due to the actions of so few people is intellectually lazy at best.

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