Cultural Competence: ISIS Edition

Cultural Competence: ISIS Edition

Discussing ISIS in a way that does not contribute to the problem is something we can all do, and should.


In no way am I blaming the U.S., France or the United Kingdom for the actions taken by ISIS. However, I am blaming us for the perpetuation that Muslims are evil, and Islam is causing these attacks.

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) started in the Middle East, and is spreading throughout the world. This extremist group does not have a single head of operation, much unlike previous terrorist groups such as the Taliban or Al-Qaeda, which makes it nearly impossible to kill swiftly, like we like to pretend.

(Sorry Trump, but putting "troops on the ground" does not solve the whole problem.)

Little did you know, the end goal of ISIS is not to kill every single Western person that comes into contact with them, although it does seem to be a symptom of the problem.

Unfortunately, the best way they recruit is by showing young, vulnerable Middle Eastern kids the propaganda that is being spewed against them, especially in the United States. (Looking at you, Tomi Lahren.)

When you see entire "news" networks defaming your religion, your culture, and your country, you tend to get angry, as Republicans can certainly admit to.

These kids that they recruit are alone and scared, and they create the same mentality as a gang or a cult. ISIS provides safety for them (from them) and revenge against the people causing them rejection and hurt.

Now, their main target was never America, or France, or England, but since the outlandish criticism of all things Middle East (or all things "not like us"), they have started attacking the people who talk the worst about them. People in the Middle East are attacked on a daily basis, and while the media does not focus on that as much, the sure do focus on attacks in London, Orlando, and Paris. For every attack in a Western nation, there are way more in the Middle East. While these attacks should be covered they need to covered in a different way.

ISIS is NOT the same as Islam.

Just like the KKK is NOT Christianity, they are not the same. Until you read the Qur'an and understand what Islam is really about, stop telling people it's a violent religion. Religions by nature are not violent, and Islam certainly is not. We need to ensure we are not portraying all Muslims as terrorists. Seeing a man wearing a turban on an airplane and fearing for the flight's welfare is institutionalized discrimination, and we need to stop painting it as okay. The claim that you can't help it is no longer an excuse. Train yourself to be tolerant, or keep quiet.

American airports are doing security wrong, in my opinion. Instead of searching every fifth person, what if we only targeted people who fit the description of someone who may be planning an attack on a plane? By this, I don't mean all Muslim-looking people. I mean men, age 20-50, as that makes up almost the entire demographic of ISIS members. Women and children have not been found to be a national security threat, and while profiling is a necessary evil, we are doing it wrong.

This idea is rough, and not perfect, as I am no expert, but I think it's safe to say we can be smarter about who we are spending our time on, and who we should be taking closer looks at. If you are a man age 20-50 who travels often, or is not planning on bringing explosives on your trip, there is a security bypass you can apply for, which puts you on a list that let's you skip the security check. This would cut down on sheer time needed for every single man age 20-50.

But all in all, it boils down to this: If you do not believe you are culturally competent enough to discuss Middle Eastern relations, then don't. The way we are handling our relationship with Muslim Americans, evem Muslims across the world, is wrong and insensitive.

We, as civilians, cannot stop ISIS. It will take a long time, and a complex plan. But we can help stop propaganda of Muslims' evilness.

Cover Image Credit: New York Times

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To The Boy Who Keeps My World Spinning

His leaving wasn’t about you, it was about him.

To the boy who keeps my world spinning,

When I first found out about you, I’ll be honest, I was terrified, I was upset, I was trying to be happy, I was just a whole platter of emotions. I was not in any place to have a baby; emotionally, physically or mentally. Someone told me to just go get an abortion, but, I couldn’t do it. No matter how scared I was, I couldn’t do that to you. You deserved to come into the world, and the world deserved to see you. I wasn’t about to be the one to take that away.

And boy, am I glad that I went through that terrifying 9 months. You are the most amazing little man. (Yes, I know I’m being biased). When you came into the world, almost 3 years ago now, everything changed. All my worry and fear went away the second the nurse put you in my arms. You looked like a wrinkled little old man, but the most precious baby in the world, all in one. I remember you calmed down almost instantaneously when I started talking to you, and my mom saying to me “He knows you’re his mommy, look how fast you calmed him down. You did great, baby." And I just started crying all over again. We have a bond like no other. You are my constant, you are my baby, you are my son.

But, notice what I kept saying. MY. Your biological father left the day I found out I was pregnant with you. And I think that’s what scared me even more than just being pregnant, it was being pregnant alone. A boy needs a father, and yours walked out on you. I blamed myself for it at first, but, it’s his loss. Down the road, when you ask about him, because I know it’s bound to happen, I’ll tell you the truth. And if you still want to find him, I won’t stop you, but I’ll also let you know not to expect too much.

When you were about two months old, a man came into our lives, and he picked up all the pieces. He helped put your mommy back together, he helped me raise you for a little over two years. He was there for your first Thanksgiving, your first Christmas, birthdays, your first steps, first words. All your big life moments, he was there. He was daddy.

And then one day, he left. He said he wasn’t happy, he said he didn’t think we were supposed to be married. He said he didn’t think he was supposed to be your father, just a father figure. And he left. He didn’t even say goodbye to you. And just like that, it was just me and you again. Two peas in a pod.

I will never stop trying and being my best for you, because I’m all you have. It’s just me and you, Bunky. And I am so, so sorry, that you have now had not one, but two fathers walk out on you. Granted, your biological one has never met you, but, that doesn’t make it any better. Of course, I was upset when my relationships with those two men ended, but I was more upset for you. Legally, you have no father. And I sincerely hope that one day, that will change.

But until then, just know that I love you forever, I like you for always, as long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be.

Cover Image Credit: Caitlyn Ruby

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11 American Crime Story Themes That Need To Be On The Small Screen

They were covered by the media and had everyone asking questions; time to adapt the stories onto the small screen.

"American Crime Story: The People vs. O.J. Simpson" took the world, and Emmys, by storm. It's been almost two years since the anthology aired and the wait is finally over. In honor of "American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace" premiering recently, here are some ideas that could make for equally as brilliant seasons. They are real, devastating and quite frankly, very interesting stories that left the nation asking many questions. We want nothing more than to gain insight and learn more about them. Producers of the show have already confirmed seasons based off of Hurricane Katrina and the Monica Lewinsky Scandal, but here are even more American Crime Story ideas that we all need to happen.

1. Charleston Church Shooting

This event may be too soon, but it’s one that needs to be talked about. It portrays every issue that tramples on modern society. There’s a lot of different angles and directions that the creator of the show, Ryan Murphy, can come from and then lace all together in the end. The series should be based primarily on hate crimes with a focus on racism. Other factors that should be connected include: gun control, obstruction of exercise of religion, and capital punishment. The season could take course over the trial with flashbacks of Dylann Roof’s planning and the actual event, and eventually leading to his death sentence. Another similar incident would be the Orlando Nightclub Shooting, instead of race, the writers may focus on homosexuality.

2. Columbine High School Massacre

Following the Oklahoma City bombing, the event in Columbine, Ohio would continue the on-going era of perpetrators intentionally bringing harm to innocent people. It triggered the commonality of mass shootings and sparked debate over gun control, bullying, and teen subcultures. The first episode could reenact the event itself, and then have the remainder of the season be completely about the aftermath and the impact on American school systems. It could also go into society’s rationality of bullying, mental illnesses, anti-depressants, violence in video games, social climate, and high school cliques.

3. Harvey Weinstein

Time’s Up, the silence is broken. The recent Hollywood scandal is taking the world by storm as women are finally speaking up about their sexual harassment. From movie producers, directors, actors, and even politicians, no man is safe. The movement has gained so much attention, it’ll be a shock if Murphy doesn’t use this as a season theme for the anthology. The season doesn’t necessarily have to be based around Weinstein himself, but could start with him and his degrading high-profile status. It could then go on to cover the long list of men who have been and continue to gain sexual assault allegations. Even a focus on the Larry Nassar scandal involving the USA Gymnastic Team could gain a lot of public attention.

4. JonBenét Ramsey

The infamous unsolved mystery. What happened? Who did it? No one knows. All we have are our assumptions. Most assume it was the parents, but no one can seem to accurately put every piece of evidence together to come up with a logical explanation for how and why. Murphy can play off his own theories and create a season that draws suspect to particular people, while also providing the inside scoop of the cold case investigation.

5. People V. Michael Jackson (2005)

This sounds like an episode of Law & Order: SUV. In 2005, MJ was tried based on accusations of a 13-year-old boy, Gavin Arizo. Jackson was indicted for multiple accounts of molesting a minor, intoxicating a minor, and conspiring to hold a child captive in his “Neverland Ranch.” There’d be a lot of curiosity lingering in regards to Murphy’s perspective of the event. Will he portray Jackson as innocent or guilty? Jackson was found not guilty, but many find the fact he paid the accusers large sums of money to keep quiet, very sketchy.

6. 9/11

The event that completely shook the world. Individually it torn us apart, but brought us together as a unified nation against terrorism. In the short-run. Following the events of 9/11, the season can follow the Bush Administration and their decision to invade Iraq in 2003. The invasion was highly criticized and considered a huge failure. There’s a lot Murphy can do with it, whether he wants to focus completely on 9/11 itself or dive into the Iraqi War and gradual unpopularity of Bush. The only critique of this season would be to remain as unbiased as possible and not have a rendition of Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11.

7. Casey Anthony Trial

The woman who was not found guilty, yet, wasn’t found innocent either. Pretty sure everyone knows Anthony did commit the murder of her daughter, but just like O.J., prosecution could not prove every element of evidence at hand. Due to the similarity of ACS: The People v. O.J. Simpson, this theme also has the potential to do very well but would likely wait a couple years to gain some distance and diversity.

8. Hollywood Blacklist

Your favorite food is sesame chicken? Well then, you must be a commi. In 1950s Hollywood, even the slightest sense of suspicion would end a career. The blacklist had everyone in Hollywood looking left and right, and running scared. The season could focus on Senator McCarthy’s witch hunt, the rise of HUAC, the Hollywood Ten, and the many protest that came as a response. So far, every American Crime Story have been from the later portion of the 20th century, so covering an event from the mid-century would add some diversity to the series’ themes.

9. 27 Club

Jimi Hendrix. Janis Joplin. Jim Morrison. Brian Jones. Four music icons who all coincidentally died at the age of 27 between the three-year span of 1969-1971. This technically isn’t a crime; however, Murphy can draw attention to the Vietnam protest that took place during these years, and the influence it had on young adults and musicians. This theme can also feature the rise of drugs, addiction, sex and rebellion. The latter portion of the season can jump forward and also give notable mention to artist like Kurt Cobain and Amy Winehouse, who also had addiction problems and died at the age of 27.

10. Rise of ‘70s Serial Killers

The conviction of Charles Manson & Company. The mysterious Zodiac Killer. John Wayne Gacy, who might as well have been called Penny Wise. Ted Bundy. The so-called ‘Son-of-Sam’ and ‘Hillside Strangler.’ Jim Jones’ special Kool-Aid. And just when you thought that was it, the later years were just the beginning of the Milwaukee Cannibal, Jeffery Dahmer. Safe to say, this was a decade to be remembered. Murphy could possibly make a montage of all the people and events that occurred during the ‘70s. However, this is unlikely to happen because Zodiac, Gacy, and Dahmer have already been featured in AHS: Hotel; and Manson and Jones’ are way too similar to AHS: Cult.

11. Sandcastle Day School

In California, two parents were caught abusing and torturing their 13 children. The parents were permitted to run a private school, Sandcastle Day, which enabled them to get away with their crime under no suspicion. Recently, one child was finally able to escape and managed to call the police. This is honestly just as much as an American horror story as it is crime story. Although it is very recent event, it could make for a very intense season.

Other notable crimes that could also work as possible seasons include: 2012 Benghazi Attack with a focus on Clinton and the Obama Administration; The Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre with a focus on the Al Capone’s mafia in the early 20th century; Oklahoma City Bombing and the rise of terrorism on American soil; the assassinations of JFK and MLK, and the impact on Civil Rights; the Madoff Investment Scandal and the effects on the American middle-class; the Watergate Scandal with a focus on “The Washington Post” and the Nixon Administration; or Ted Kaczynski’s transformation into the Unabomber.

As disturbing and tragic as these events are, they make for captivating stories. They manage to pull us in and leave us wondering how such things could’ve happened. We want to know every detail, and this is what American Crime Story gives us. It's a well-thought-out account of the who, what, when, where, why, and how. Not only that, but it also teaches a lesson on how to prevent similar crimes and be more cautious of suspicious activities in the future.

Cover Image Credit: Unsplash

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