Why Do We Still Like Andrew Jackson Here In South Carolina?

Why Do We Still Like Andrew Jackson Here In South Carolina?

Old Hickory sure made his mark.
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Okay, I’ve lived down south for most of my life, so I know the deal. I get it, we are proud and supportive of history, even a bloody/racist/oppressive one because it’s history.

Blah blah blah.

I have no issue with people exercising their right to freedom of speech. In fact, I’m a firm proponent as a supporter of the rights of human beings. Obviously.

So if you want to be a little hypocritical and exercise your freedoms to endorse the history that suppressed others' go ahead. Really.

But the level of exhibitionism in this state admittedly gets to me sometimes, especially as I start my new year driving behind a car with a Confederate flag stuck onto the bumper.

There is a float for the “Sons and Daughters of the Confederacy” that is allowed in our yearly parade in Mt. Pleasant. A gigantic statue of John C. Calhoun stands posed over the city in Marion Square in downtown Charleston. Confederate flags are so common down here, I really don’t take the time to get even a little bit worked up when I see one anymore.

But one of the real questions I ask myself every year when I pass by a school titled with him as a namesake is this:

Why in the world do we still like Andrew Jackson?

While his birthplace is disputed as being from either North or South Carolina, I do understand a documentation and acknowledgment of a historical figure’s origins. But if I’m being quite honest, the veneration for him as a person is not at all uncommon down here.

Until I took a real U.S. history class for the first time and did my own research into his presidency, I thought him to be a decent bloke as I passed by signs and schools with his name plastered on in big letters. And I guess I can’t speak to his character outside of his actions, documented words and entire presidency from what I’ve seen, but due to those slight imperfections, I really do not see him as a good role model for children.

I mean, for goodness sake, there are at least five elementary, middle and high schools as well as a state park in his name just in the county/area where he is supposedly from.

When kids attend a school that is named after someone, more often than not, they would reasonably suppose that this is because this is a figure that is worthy to become a namesake. And in the future, the installations of racist or dated beliefs and ideals are so much more easily born when there is a figurehead to the cause that has been there since childhood.

So when I ask why we still like Andrew Jackson here in South Carolina, it isn’t questioning his place as a historical figure. After all, the mistakes of human history aren’t learned to be not repeated by remembering only the good.

Hurrah, he was a war hero! That got him a presidency. We don’t need to contribute any more celebration or honor on that end.

“Old Hickory” for some, “King Andrew I” for others, spent his presidency advocating the spread of slavery into newly developing areas and states in the U.S., coining the Indian Removal Act and ignoring states bullying Natives into leaving their lands on what became known as the Trail of Tears. These acts alone null and void him for being a good character to be honored.

Nonetheless, he left office a popular president, leaving his successor, a member of his own party, to deal with the fallout.

So no, I do not support this public display of Andrew Jackson as a worthy, venerable figure. And I really do wonder why it is that some still do.

Cover Image Credit: PresidentsUSA.net

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An Open Letter to the Person Who Still Uses the "R Word"

Your negative associations are slowly poisoning the true meaning of an incredibly beautiful, exclusive word.
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What do you mean you didn't “mean it like that?" You said it.

People don't say things just for the hell of it. It has one definition. Merriam-Webster defines it as, "To be less advanced in mental, physical or social development than is usual for one's age."

So, when you were “retarded drunk" this past weekend, as you claim, were you diagnosed with a physical or mental disability?

When you called your friend “retarded," did you realize that you were actually falsely labeling them as handicapped?

Don't correct yourself with words like “stupid," “dumb," or “ignorant." when I call you out. Sharpen your vocabulary a little more and broaden your horizons, because I promise you that if people with disabilities could banish that word forever, they would.

Especially when people associate it with drunks, bad decisions, idiotic statements, their enemies and other meaningless issues. Oh trust me, they are way more than that.

I'm not quite sure if you have had your eyes opened as to what a disabled person is capable of, but let me go ahead and lay it out there for you. My best friend has Down Syndrome, and when I tell people that their initial reaction is, “Oh that is so nice of you! You are so selfless to hang out with her."

Well, thanks for the compliment, but she is a person. A living, breathing, normal girl who has feelings, friends, thousands of abilities, knowledge, and compassion out the wazoo.

She listens better than anyone I know, she gets more excited to see me than anyone I know, and she works harder at her hobbies, school, work, and sports than anyone I know. She attends a private school, is a member of the swim team, has won multiple events in the Special Olympics, is in the school choir, and could quite possibly be the most popular girl at her school!

So yes, I would love to take your compliment, but please realize that most people who are labeled as “disabled" are actually more “able" than normal people. I hang out with her because she is one of the people who has so effortlessly taught me simplicity, gratitude, strength, faith, passion, love, genuine happiness and so much more.

Speaking for the people who cannot defend themselves: choose a new word.

The trend has gone out of style, just like smoking cigarettes or not wearing your seat belt. It is poisonous, it is ignorant, and it is low class.

As I explained above, most people with disabilities are actually more capable than a normal human because of their advantageous ways of making peoples' days and unknowingly changing lives. Hang out with a handicapped person, even if it is just for a day. I can one hundred percent guarantee you will bite your tongue next time you go to use the term out of context.

Hopefully you at least think of my friend, who in my book is a hero, a champion and an overcomer. Don't use the “R Word". You are way too good for that. Stand up and correct someone today.

Cover Image Credit: Kaitlin Murray

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My First Political Debate Experience Only Revealed The Messed-Up Reality Of American Partisan Pandering

More sinister than fake news, more timeless than Trump and Kavanaugh, the deceit and radicalization of modern politics is poisoning America.

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Given my age (almost 16 and a half!) and my nonpartisan perspective on most issues, it's rare that I attend any politically motivated function (much less in person). Unfortunately, my first taste of official political discourse only encapsulated everything I dislike about American politics.

Upon learning that my high school was hosting a debate between two candidates for the district's representative position, I was immediately intrigued. Admittedly, I had my expectations set high. I had jotted down "House Rep. Debate" on my calendar a week in advance and marked off the days the event neared. I would finally get to learn firsthand about the issues affecting my community and about the people with plans to fix them.

To a certain extent I got what I had hoped for, but certainly not in the environment I had anticipated.

When the student moderators introduced the candidates, Democrat Angelika Kausche and Republican Kelly Stewart, to the stage, it was already abundantly clear how ideologically distinct the two opponents would be.

The first question, which asked each candidate to describe how their views aligned with their party's platform, revealed just how cut-and-dry the candidates were at representing their respective factions. On the left, an unwavering conservative with a keen avoidance of overspending and socialist policies. On the right, an equally grounded liberal with a passion for tackling humanitarian injustices and enforcing moral correctness.

This circumstance certainly isn't unprecedented, but the rest of the night only proved how their narrow-minded partisan loyalty served as barriers to productive discourse.

Right off the bat, Kausche avoided the clearly stated question by taking the time to thank the John's Creek Community Association for hosting the event.

Stewart, however, dove right into her response, which turned out to be a fine-tuned diatribe about Georgia's budgetary deficit and Kausche's supposed lack of budgetary experience and the budgetary concerns and the budget. Finally, Stewart concluded that perhaps the most important thing to consider is, you guessed it, the budget. She even printed out budget sheets for attendees, which I found extraordinarily useful as a handy notepad.

My head perked up when I heard a question regarding Georgia's healthcare policies. Admittedly, I know less than I should about the subject and was curious to know what each candidate thought.

Shockingly, Republican Kelly Stewart opposed the expansion of Medicaid while Democrat Angelika Kausche vehemently supported it. I start to wonder what the point of having candidates' names on the ballot is when their political stances just as much could be conveyed with the letters "D" and "R" to the tee.

Neither candidate veered from their party platform for the rest of the night, with only a few moments of forced agreement (always around the fact that an issue exists, never about how to solve it). On a few occasions, a candidate would utter an especially radical idea (i.e. Obamacare is at blame for the opioid crisis. Medicaid should be for all people. Teachers should be armed.) and was almost always met with either overwhelming applause or a sea of groans.

The room's reaction was so powerful in either candidate's favor that I was genuinely confused who was the more favored of the two.

To be abundantly clear, I wholeheartedly support voter efficacy and staying informed, and I understand that debates inform voters of their representative's ideals. I also don't mean to criticize Kausche or Stewart or even the policies they endorse. I only question the point of debate when it's anchored in stiff, unrelenting party platforms. This is symptomatic of the larger trend at work in American politics: the exploitation of party differences by politicians to entice a demographic of their constituents.

If you're wondering what that means or demand evidence, just take President Trump. Back in 2016, his presidential campaign threatened to run as independent when he felt he wasn't getting enough support from the GOP. Now, he champions radicalized views of the right and has emboldened members of the far-right (along with alt-right neo-Nazis and racists) with his entirely anti-PC attitude.

Similarly, it's rare to find a democratic politician that deviates from the extensive list of liberal ideas that are expected of them. Consider Trump's opponent Hilary Clinton, who originally made it clear in 2014 that she was against nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage. Isn't it suspicious that in 2015, without explaining why her stance changed, her presidential campaign later advocated for this right, thus garnering support from the LGBT community?

There's so much more wrong with the state of American politics than your opposed party controlling political office.

The effect of the American people allowing this pandering and doublespeak is political inaction among policymakers, who can preach a set of ideals independent of their actual intentions.

The other result is voter apathy among constituents, who therefore feel their vote holds little weight.

With such deceitful rhetorical tactics dominating the political sphere, it's easy to believe that we've all been given a voice. But when that voice only ever tells us what we want to hear, it's important that we stop to question whether we're really being heard.

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