Thursday, May 11, 2017

Mora DTD

The Geneva Conventions forbid not only torture, but also “cruel treatment” and “humiliating and degrading treatment” for prisoners of war. Mora agrees, holding that there should be no difference between the way we treat U.S. citizens and noncitizens, since our nation’s values uphold the dignity of the individual. Do you agree? If not, how do we draw the line between cruel or punishing treatment and torture, as some in the government have tried to do? How would you make distinctions about treatment of citizens versus non-citizens? Who should be responsible for making these decisions?

I agree Mora’s point that U.S. government should treat both citizens and non-citizens equally. After 9/11, U.S. declared war against Afghanistan and then Iraq. Even though most of the world supported the war as a response to the terrorist attacks, many countries overseas feared that U.S. was using this chance to claim the right to act as a world policeman in violation of international law. If U.S. continues to do so, it will rise tension among many other developed countries because they will worry what if U.S. cross the line and intervene in their own political fairs. The prisoner abuse in Guantanamo bay reveals the fact that U.S. has been acting as the world policeman who can penalize detainees and “enemy combatants” without going through legal process; and U.S. has violated the international law for humanitarian treatment in war that was established in Geneva Convention. I don’t support the point that states U.S. has the right to punish enemy combatants just because they have engaged in armed conflicts against U.S.. For enemy combatants who are U.S. citizens, in Hamdi v. Rumsfeld case, the supreme court guaranteed their constitutional rights, especially their rights of due process and rights to contest in court. I believe that everyone should have right to contest in court before they get punished, therefore, I agree supreme court decision on that enemy combatants who are non U.S. citizens have basic constitutional rights; thus they should not be tortured in any form in the detention camp. Furthermore, I believe the humanitarian treatment for detainees will build U.S. a better reputation on world stage, and gain the moral ground in war.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Karematsu Discussion Question

In times of war, governments often must balance the needs of national security with the civil rights of its citizens. In your opinion, did the Japanese internment order find the right balance between these competing values? Explain your reasons.

I understand that in the war time, due to the concern of Japanese spies and intention of national security, U.S. government wants to isolate Japanese descendants in the internment camp. However, I believe this executive order of evacuating Japanese into the internment camp in the inner land violates American Japanese citizens’ constitutional rights, as well as their human rights. It is because that all Americans are indeed the descendants of immigrants from European countries, Asian countries, African countries and counties outside of U.S. The core idea of America is the melting pot of all diverse people, and it is one of the most important reasons that America can become a great nation. The Japanese internment order can decrease U.S. citizens’ sense of belonging for America and implant fear or worry for other ethnicities that U.S government will turn against them if U.S. is in a tense relationship with their original homeland. Therefore, I believe the charge against Japanese descendants that is simply based on their origins can’t justify Japanese internment order. Even in the wartime and due to the consideration of national security, U.S. government can definitely do a better job in balancing the needs of national security with the civil rights of its citizens. For example, U.S. military can monitor and control the Japanese town instead of exiling them. Therefore, U.S. military can not only prevent spies from leaking important information, but also take into account of human rights and constitutional rights of American citizens, especially the one human right that can’t convict the person unless there is sufficient evidence. Overall, I believe a milder action should have been taken by U.S. government, which can better balance national security with the civil rights of its citizens.

Do you agree that the racial prejudice does not play a role in the government’s treatment of Japanese Americans during World War II? Give reasons to support your answer.

I believe that the racial prejudice indeed plays a role in the government’s treatment of Japanese Americans during World War II. Given the information that is provided from the reading, I believe that the Japanese internment camp deprives Japanese Americans’ rights of equal protection that are guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment. It also deprives their constitutional rights of living and working in their own wills. Most importantly, Mr. Justice Murphy indicates that U.S. government didn’t prove “a reasonable relation between the group characteristics of Japanese Americans and the dangers of invasion, sabotage and espionage.” It is an abuse of power to me, therefore, the court decision is biased in terms of potential racial prejudices while U.S. government did not provide sufficient and convincing evidence against Japanese Americans in the court. Lastly, for anyone who argues that there is no absolute racial prejudice, I would question that, what do you think weather U.S. government will evacuating “British Americans” if U.S. declares war against Britain? 

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Mass Incarceration perpetuates racial caste system

Alexander defines “racial caste” as a racial group locked into an inferior position by law and custom. She asserts that Jim Crow and slavery were caste systems, and that our current system of mass incarceration is also a caste system. She gives us many reasons to persuade us that mass incarceration perpetuates the racial caste system nowadays after civil rights movement even though it achieved abolishing Jim Crow.

First, Alexander believes that mass incarceration was created due to the same reason that Jim Crow was invented, which is the “desire among white elites to exploit the resentments, vulnerabilities, and racial biases of poor and working-class whites for political or economic gain.” (Lesson 9, 1) Second, Alexander states that both Jim Crow and mass incarceration legalize discrimination against black people. Specifically, through the mass incarceration, white elites are able to build up a connection between black people with criminals. Through the legal system, black people trapped into relatively more serious punishment in terms of their crimes. Through this system, it makes people legally discriminate black people in terms of their “potential criminal figures.” And this is exactly how our current racial caste work to lock black people into an inferior position by law. Furthermore, white elites make the law to eliminate black people’s voting opportunities and even deny their voting rights in many ways, such as felon disenfranchisement laws, banning criminals’ voting rights for a long time period. The failure of our legal system to eradicate all of the tactics adopted during the Jim Crow era to suppress the black vote has major implications today. Therefore, it perpetuates the racial caste system. More claims and evidences given by Alexander, she states that the exclusion of black people from juries resulted in an enforcement of mass incarceration, and there are “30 percent” of black men who are automatically excluded from jury. Overall, mass incarceration perpetuates racial caste system after civil rights movement and it is a disguised “Jim Crow” that serves to suppress black people and lock them into a more disadvantaged position by law and custom.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017


The Age of Colorblindness refers to the time period began from the end of civil rights movement till now, especially War on Drugs period, which is no longer “socially permissible to use race, explicitly, as a justification for discrimination, exclusion and social contempt.” (Alexander, 1) And this practice of racial control may last till now. In her book, The New Jim Crow, Alexander indicates that the U.S. criminal justice system is functioning as a system of racial control through the War on Drugs and mass incarceration. In contemporary era, it’s not justified to use race explicitly for discrimination and exclusion, yet it is totally reasonable to “discriminate against criminals in nearly all the ways that it was once legal to discriminate against African Americans.” (1)

Alexander concludes that the War on Drugs plays a crucial role in forming the racial caste system because “convictions for drug offenses are the single most important cause of the explosion in incarceration rates in the U.S.” (Chapter 2, 1) She clarifies two myths of the War on Drugs, one is that the war is “aimed at ridding the nation of drug ‘kingpins’ or big-time dealers, the other one is that the drug war isn’t principally concerned with dangerous drugs.” (Chapter 2, 1)  The absence of significant constraints on the exercise of police discretion is a key feature of the drug war’s design. The “stop-and-frisk rule” is constitutionally permissible to stop, question, and frisk him or her - even in the absence of probable cause. Therefore, the police officers can stop and arrest people on the street without any reasonable suspicion. Because police officers had this implicit bias towards African American, under their discretion, a huge amount of African American were arrested and convicted for small crime, such as possession of drugs, not even selling drugs. In a long run, Drug War successfully built up a connection between black people with drug users and criminals. Therefore, black people were oppressed by this invisible color blindness, and resulted in an enforcement of White Privilege. Especially, implicit racial bias can’t be proven as a factor affected the unequal convictions of black people, it therefore acts as a protection of white supremacy, and facilities White people to further suppress black people on a moral ground.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Law and Order Rhetoric


         Law and order referred to the demands for a strict criminal justice system. In the rebirth of Mass Incarceration period, despite many other influential factors, such as rising unemployment rate, more complicated economic and demographic factors, Conservatives simply utilized the fact of increasing criminals as an evidence of the “breakdown in lawfulness, morality and social stability in the wake of the Civil Rights Movement.” (Alexander, 1) Moreover, the racial imagery associated with the riots gave “fuel to the argument that civil rights for blacks led to rampant crime.” (1) Thus, Conservatives utilized this chance to “ turn back the clock ” on racial progress in the United States. The way they did this is that they disguised the racial motivations behind the law and order rhetoric and the harsh criminal justice legislation. By using the rhetoric of “cracking down on crime”, Conservative politicians purposefully confused people in distinguishing between the “direct action tactics of civil rights activists, violent rebellions in inner cities, and traditional crimes of an economic or violent nature …” (2) In practice, law and order was effectively appealing to poor and working-class whites. The racial association between black people and criminals effectively created low and low-middle class white people a sense of “bribe”, which white people, even poor white people are superior of criminals, which turned out to be black people. This new racial bribe that distinguished white people and criminals effectively segregated working class whites and blacks.

         In fact, law and order rhetoric - first employed by segregationists - “would eventually contribute to a major realignment of political parties in the United States.” (2)The success of law and order rhetoric and new racial bribe for working class white people led Conservative Republican believe that they could create a “new majority”, which included “ the traditional Republican base, the White South, and half the catholic, blue - collar vote of the big cities.” (2) As white Democrats had become angered by the Democratic Party’s support for civil rights reforms, such as desegregation and busing, those voters were easily persuaded to switch parties. Many working class white voters were threatened by the sudden progress of African American that was promoted by Democratic Party. Therefore, race became the national issue that “broke up the Democratic New Deal “bottom - up” coalition, which was dependent on substantial support from all voters.” Black and white, at or below the median income. (3) The subsequent presidents inherited this idea and continued to strengthen the implicit racial discrimination and racial bribe for poor whites. The war on drugs announced by Reagan was a series of actions to criminalize black people in terms of illegal use of drugs, it was one of the most oppressing and influential movement against black people. However, Democratic politicians and policy makers were not “attempting to wrest control of the crime and drug issues from the crime and drug issues from Republicans by advocating stricter anti crime and anti drug laws - all in an effort to win back the so-called “swing voters” who were defecting to the Republican Party.” (6) Moreover, as a Democratic President, Bill Clinton even escalated the drug war beyond what conservatives Republicans had imagined, in order to win the votes from working - class white swing voters. Overall, law and order rhetoric intensified racial issue and resulted in breaking down working class black and white people’s alienation, moreover it made both Parties to continue on escalating mass incarceration in order to win votes from working class white people.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Feb. 3 Lesson 4

The Reconstruction era is typically argued as stretching from 1863 when the North freed the slaves by 13th Amendment to 1877, when North abandoned and withdrew the federal troops from the South. At the end of Reconstruction era, Jim Crow, which enforced racial segregation in the south, began. It lasted until the beginning of civil rights movement, which is around 1950s. The death of Jim Crow began with Brown v. Board of Education case, a landmark United States Supreme Court case in which the Court declared state laws establishing separate public schools for black and white students to be unconstitutional. The Civil Rights movement was “brewing, emboldened by the Supreme Court’s decisions and. Shifting domestic and international political environment” (4). The dramatic high point of the Civil Rights movement occurred in 1963, as “ civil rights leaders made it clear that they viewed the eradication of economic inequality as the next front in the “human rights movement.” The Civil Rights Movement began to evolve into a “Poor People's Campaign,” It ends at 1968.

Alexander reveals the idea that racial caste has not completely eliminated or even diminished yet. In the long history of black people fighting for equality and freedom, white supremacy that prevented black people and poor white people's alliance and oppression towards black people have always been existed, just the matter of demeaning black people in what form. As Jim Crow eventually replaced slavery, Alexander believes that mass incarceration is a stunningly comprehensive and well-disguised system of racial social control that functions in a manner strikingly similar to Jim Crow. Therefore, she evokes us to realize it is crucial to recognize the ultimate purpose of Criminal Justice System, as well as other “disguised” system that serves for White elites in social control in terms of race, and treat race - associated issues more comprehensively and rationally.

Racial Bribe && Raciall Caste System

Lesson 3 --- Racial Bribe & Racial Caste System

In the early colonial period, landowners were alarmed at the fact slaves, white and black bond workers were forming alliances and protesting against landowners themselves. So they decided to give special privileges, which is the “bribe” to middle & poor whites to drive out their multicultural alliance. In practice, poor whites were allowed “greater access to Native American lands” after their indentures were done; what’s more, “white servants were allowed to police slaves through slave patrols and militias” (Alexander, 2). By emphasizing white supremacy and giving privilege of discriminating and being hierarchy of black slaves to poor whites, planters successfully stereotyped black people as an underclass, a slave class, which was that black slaves were “ an uncivilized lesser race, perhaps even more lacking in intelligence and laudable human qualities” (Alexander, 2). Therefore, slavery creates race.

The idea of “Racial Bribe” effectively eliminated the risk of future alliances between black slaves and poor whites. While poor whites stood by planters’ side and both groups started to demean black slaves, the system of bond labor had been transformed into a racial caste system, included chattel slavery, Jim Crow, mass incarceration, etc. The emphasis of white supremacy rationalized the enslavement of Africans, even as whites endeavored to form a new nation based on the ideals of equality, liberty, and justice for all. In the founding documents, black people were defined as “three fifths of a human, not a real whole human being.” Therefore, white elites argued “we the people” in constitution can’t apply to black people. Therefore, this racist fiction rests the entire structure of American democracy.