Author: Lake Toba

Morning Feature – The Confederate Flag and Our History of Political Violence

In 1861, at Fort Sumter, Americans took up arms against their countrymen in order to settle a dispute. This was not the first time. (More) Prior to that there were several armed insurrections, including the Whiskey Rebellion. And prior to that there was the American Revolution, another instance where taking up arms against one’s countrymen was considered acceptable. Indeed, America has a long sordid history with violence and threats as a means to a political end, including dueling, assassinations, and rebellions. Fast forward to today, and we see contemporary examples, such as the assassination attempt on Rep. Gabby Giffords, the man who crashed his airplane into the IRS office in Austin, Texas, the rancher Cliven Bundy and his armed insurrection over public land grazing fees, a Wisconsin man who said he had a constitutional duty to kill President Obama , and U.S. Senate candidate Sharron Angle promoting “Second Amendment remedies.” So what motivates this tendency among many in our country to seek a “Second Amendment remedy” whenever they dislike a political situation? Contemporary Extremism It is instructive to look at a category of contemporary extremists for clues as to the causes of these motivations. Many of the ideas espoused by these extremists are the same, or derived from earlier arguments, that can likely be traced in one form or another to before the Revolutionary War. These extremists, according to...

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Morning Feature – Justine Sacco: Lessons for the Rest of Us

By now, readers of BPI Campus have heard of the infamous tweet sent by Justine Sacco. The responses offer lessons for the rest of us. (More) Justine Sacco: A Lesson for the Rest of Us With this tweet began an international firestorm of ridicule that quickly escalated to the websites of the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the International Business Times, the New York Daily News and the Huffington Post. While she was en route from London to Cape Town South Africa, her plane tracked by thousands on Twitter, who created the hashtag #HasJustineLandedYet and tweeted updates on which airline, what flight and when she would arrive in Cape Town. She was an easy target for ridicule, given that she was the director of corporate communication for IAC, a large firm with many well-known public brands. She was an expert on public relations. She ought to have known better. And yet, apparently didn’t. The internet’s response was fierce, and should have been predictable. The internet has, from its earliest days, demonstrated a tendency for virulent ridicule directed at outrageous behavior and stupidity. Furthermore, this tweet comes the very same week as when Phil Robertson of the A&E television show Duck Dynasty was quoted in GQ magazine saying similarly insensitive comments about LGBTs and African Americans. So Justine Sacco should have known better. And quite frankly, she deserved...

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Morning Feature – Joe Biden Comes to Town

“Five hundred billion dollars (of the Bush tax cuts) went to a little over a thousand families,” Joe Biden told us last night. (More) Vice President Joe Biden, Senator Al Franken, and Congressman Tim Walz came to my hometown Tuesday. Because I had managed to get VIP tickets, I got to stand at the front of the room behind the barricade. I was only ten feet from the podium. Here is a photo of the hall before the event: Senator Franken and Rep. Walz spoke first. Each man spoke about the challenge of our time, not that of winning elections, but about transforming our country in positive ways. They spoke about the positive benefits of the Affordable Care Act, equal rights for gays and women, fair wages and fair taxes, and how much had been done to help students afford college, and how much money would be saved for Medicare to keep it solvent. Each man spoke from personal experience and with the passion one hopes every elected official feels. But most telling were Biden’s remarks. He spoke about the dignity of a job, about how his father had to make the “long walk” to tell his family that he had lost his job, and would have to look for work more than a hundred miles away, and how they’d maybe see him on weekends. He talked about how...

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Evening Focus: Stories of American Heartache (Quick Take)

In recent weeks, I’ve become engaged with the Occupation here in Bunkerstan. I thought I’d share some of the stories I’ve heard from other Occupiers. (More) On our first organized protest in October, we had a lot of people who stopped by and shared stories about where they had come from, and why they were here. Many were frustrated with the banks, or with other issues we’ve all discussed here previously at BPI. It was a beautiful day, though very windy. We weren’t sure what to expect. Many of us had never been to a protest. Some had longed to attend one for a long time. The venue was chosen because as a public park we were sure we could be there without violating any ordinances. We chatted amongst ourselves for a long while. The woman I had worked with the day before making signs had brought many more than the few we had made while I was at her art studio. She explained that she had been up all night making them. I noticed this gentleman standing by himself near where we had congregated, carrying his own sign. I walked over to speak with him and asked him about his experiences. He introduced me to his young adult children and then explained that he was a truck driver, and had worked 12-14 hour days for many years until the company...

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