Natural disasters and other catastrophes like Hurricane Harvey, as well as the much ignored flooding in South Asia, either bring out the best in people or the worst. It is, after all, times of hardship and duress that reveal the true characters of men and women. Because natural disasters happen to draw the attention of massive audiences around the globe, the heroes and villains of these crises quickly become the focal points of the news coverage surrounding these events. Under such extreme conditions, the court of public opinion is quick to rush to judgment. Rich and famous Pastor Joel Osteen, for example, faced public condemnation after his Megachurch failed to open its door to the displaced due to potential flooding.
CNN’s Rosa Flores discovered just how easy it is to become a target of public scorn when she approached a Hurricane Harvey victim who thoroughly blasted the reporter for her lack of sensitivity and sensibility. The Harvey victim was, obviously, distraught due to the life-threatening, devastating conditions her and her children had endured for almost a week. After such an ordeal, the last thing anyone would want is to be used as entertainment by a company seeking to profit off a natural disaster. In an age defined by the presence of cameras everywhere and YouTube, it is bad enough that irresponsible individuals seek attention from the suffering of others. The last thing anyone needs is a profession fostering that kind of behavior. This incident, therefore, necessitates a discussion on the changing role of journalism and ethics.
Venezuela’s government has run afoul of the Trump Administration as it did the Obama Administration and the George. W. Bush Administration. President Donald Trump has adopted sanctions that limit the ability of Venezuela to sell bonds and raise capital. It is his response to President Nicolás Maduro’s push to rewrite the Venezuelan Constitution amid widespread political upheaval, a state of economic emergency, and a power grab, which includes the dismissal of the National Assembly. Recognizing global investors already deem a Venezuela a risky proposition and Venezuela can continue to participate in the global oil market, the actions taken by the Trump Administration will likely not have much of a practical impact.
Proponents of the Maduro government and critics of the US, however, still denounce the moves as unfair, undemocratic, and an abuse of American imperial power. The Trump Administration’s efforts to curtail the support the Venezuelan governments receives from the US financial system is proper. The US is a democratic society and the Maduro government is dismantling democratic rule in order to suppress dissent that threatens the power of his party. The US government is not supposed to support governments that crush dissent, dismiss the representatives of it People, and corrupt civil institutions for their own benefit. Unfortunately, The US continues to hypocritically support other governments and nations more favorable to the US.
Nationalist movements, or at least self-proclaimed nationalist movements, have been gaining notary as they attract growing support. So-called “white nationalists,” for example, orchestrated the “Unite the Right” protests, which degenerated into lethal violence and dragged US President Donald Trump into a racially divisive controversy. Donald Trump has himself used nationalist and “anti-globalist” language during his 2016 campaign while his “America First” foreign policy framework is nationalistic in nature. Figures like Mr. Trump have framed the nationalist cause as anti-globalist; whereas, white nationalists, as well as globalist critics, seek to frame the nationalist cause as a return to greatness through white privilege and racial purity. The US is not, however, the only country with growing nationalist movements.
The 2011 Norway Attacks, which resulted in the murder of 77 people including dozens of children, serves as a bold example of a terrorist attack carried out by a radical nationalist seeking to safeguard Europe from leftists and Muslims. Since then, nationalist movements across Europe have sought an end to a globalization, the admittance of Middle Eastern refugees, and helped achieve Great Britain’s exit from the EU, i.e. Brexit. Russian President Vladimir Putin has used nationalist sentiments to garner Russian support in the face of the Ukraine Crisis and international sanctions. China used cultural and nationalist sentiments in the face of the South China Crisis to do the same. Other leaders have followed suit. The question is, therefore, whether nationalist movements are radical threats or moderate political movements.
Extreme and radical views must be moderated before they can receive widespread acceptance then support. Extreme and radical views must be normalized. To do this, advocates must either impose their will and views on a significant portion of society via violent and/or coercive means or they must assimilate their views into more moderate factions, which is a long and difficult process. Whether hailing from the Left or the Right, those with fringe ideologies seek to normalize their views in order to defend against hostile critics and social backlash by spreading their ideologies and engineering society to think and act in line with their interests.
It is easy to think of social progress in chronological terms, but social evolution and cultural shifts are far more dynamic. The US, for example, has made significant progress in purging the American culture of overt racism, yet radical hate groups seek to renormalize racial segregation then overt racial discrimination. To do this, they hope to moderate racism by hijacking Right-wing causes. The so-called “Unite the Right” protest in Charlotte, SC demonstrates the ultimate objective to unite all Right-wing causes under the umbrella of white supremacy. Saving “history” and honoring Confederate dissent is a seemingly innocent means to disarm critics and attract the support of those who would never support a hate group.
Solar eclipses are rare, especially the eclipse of the century. Whether short-lived or prolonged, full or partial, solar eclipses tend to capture the attention of observes around the world. They are so noticeable that they force people to look to the sky. Throughout history, solar eclipses have fallen into the same category as magic and mysticism. Often eliciting great fear among populations, they were often received as omens of terrible things to come. Today, science tells us solar eclipses are largely insignificant and meaningless celestial events that easily predicted. Solar eclipses are analogous to someone stepping in front of a child’s night light.
Outside of the opportunity scientists have to better observe the Sun, eclipses have no intrinsic value. People do, however, tend to notice when a vanilla sky appears and the Sun goes dark. Although eclipses are harmless, the sky is filled with astronomical events that could decimate all aspects of human life. These are things the human race should probably try to understand. Long ago, the nigh sky was the family television and iPad, so people paid a great deal more attention to the sky. Today, even the value of family and friends is eclipsed by the prettiest of everyday problems. Recognizing the sky is also filled with endless beauty, the primary reason people do not care is that they are consumed by the trivial details of modern life.
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