I Wrote A Letter To Our President

I Wrote A Letter To Our President

From a concerned student sitting in Starbucks

Sitting in the middle of Starbucks, the only thing that was louder than the music on the loudspeaker were the voices of college students, urging their peers to voice their opinions on the recent election results. While I've said my peace to those who are close to me, aka my thousands of friends on Facebook and my parents, I felt as if the one person who could actually make a difference in the matter should hear. So, that's when I pulled out my favorite pen and a piece of scrap paper, and wrote a letter to soon-to-be Mr. Obama.

"Dear Soon-To-Be Mr. Obama,

My name is Cassidy and I am a 19-year-old student studying journalism and communications at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. You must get thousands of letters every day from constituents, but I am here to just say one thing--thank you.

In 2008, when you came to the XL Center in Hartford, Connecticut, I had the pleasure of high-fifing you. I watched as I nearly wrecked my Nintendo DS by standing in the pouring rain with my mother. I watched as I could see tears of hope streaming down her face as you spoke, each tear a glimmer of hope. I was 11 years old at the time, and you probably don't remember that day, but I do.

Now, as you begin to leave the White House, I need you to promise me one thing. Just one thing. I need you to keep advocating for us college kids, us millennials, us children of immigrants, us women. I cannot believe I say this, that I'm terrified in living in a country that I grew up worshipping. I would pay millions of dollars to go back to 2008, as I looked at my home as a safe haven, not a zone for prejudice and racism. On a liberal campus, I've never questioned my safety, up until now. So, what I'm asking you to follow through on; be that glimmer of hope again, just like you were for my mother back in 2008.

You will always be one of the most prominent figures in my life, and I cannot thank you enough for that. It's too bad I was the runner-up for the American Legion Laurel Girl's Nation back in high school, it would have been a great opportunity to thank you in person.

Cassidy Kotyla

P.S. I voted for Hillary. Also say hi to your family from UMass Amherst!"

I've never felt like growing up in the United States should allow myself to be associated with fear, similar to countries that the government terrorizes their own citizens. However, as I sit in this cramped Starbucks, I hear just that. Mr. Donald Trump, I plead with you to be level-headed. I refuse to live in a country that promotes violence. I cannot justify throwing people into prison for a minimum of two years if they try to cross into a country in hopes of escaping the nightmare they currently live in. I cannot fathom a life where the environment is considered second to our material needs. Do not allow your own citizens to suffer because of your desires and actions. Most of all, I implore you to treat your peers with respect. When I came to college, it was my first taste of what diversity really was like. With taking the time to learn about people's differences, backgrounds, concerns, and worries about their own futures, it allowed me to see the world in a different light. Because I'm not the one who just won the presidency, I'm practically begging you, Donald. Make the right choices.

We just spend the last eight years with a president who not everybody liked, but was seen as a compassionate and devout human being. I can only hope that the next four years we can see the same amount of compassion in your actions, Mr. Trump. I want to be able to have my peers see the glimmer of hope in your eyes one day.

Cover Image Credit: Cassidy Kotyla

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Islam Is Not A Religion Of Peace, But Neither Is Christianity

Let's have in honest converation about the relgious doctrine of Islam


Islam is not a religion of peace.

Christianity is also not a religion of peace.

But, most people in both religions are generally peaceful.

More specifically, bringing up the doctrine of Christianity is a terrible rebuttal to justify the doctrine of Islam.

That is like saying, "Fascism is not a good political ideology. Well, Communism isn't any good either. So, Fascism is not that bad after all."

One evil does not justify another evil. Christianity's sins do not justify Islam's.

The reason why this article is focused on Islam and not Christianity is the modern prevalence of religious violence in the Islamic world. Christianity is not without its evil but there is far less international terrorist attacks and mass killing perpetrated by Christians today than by those of Islam.

First, let's define "religious killings," which is much more specific than a practicer of a religion committing a murder.

A religious killings are directly correlated with the doctrines of the faith. That is different a human acting on some type of natural impulse killing someone.

For example, an Islamic father honor killing his daughter who was raped is a religious killing. But an Islamic man who catches his wife cheating and kills her on the spot is a murder, not a religious killing. The second man may be Islamic but the doctrine of Islam cannot be rationally held at fault for that killing. Many men with many different religions or experience would make the same heinous mistake of taking a life.

Second, criticizing a doctrine or a religion is not a criticism of everyone that practices the religion.

It is not even a criticism of everyone who make mistake while inspired by the religions. Human are willing to do heinous things when governed by a bad cause. Not every World War 2 Nazis was a homicidal maniac but human nature tells them to act this way in order to survive in their environment. It is hard to fault a person from traits that comes from evolutionary biology and natural selection.

However, commenting on a philosophy, ideology or a religion is not off limits. Every doctrine that inspires human action should be open for review. The religion may be part of a person's identity and it holds a special place in its heart but that does not mean it should be immune to criticism.

Finally, before going into a deconstruction of the myth that Islam is a religion of peace, there needs to be a note about the silencing of talking about Islam.

There is a notion in Western Society that if a person criticizes Islam, then that person hates all Muslims and the person suffers from Islamophobia. That is not the case, a person to criticize religion without becoming Donald Trump. In Western Society criticizing fundamental Christians is never seen as an attack on all Christians because there is a lot of bad ideas in the Bible that Christians act on. Therefore, criticizing Islam should have the same benefit of the doubt because the Quran has many bad ideas in it.

The Quran advocates for war on unbelievers a multitude of times. No these verses are not a misreading or bad interpretation the text. Here are two explicit verses from the Quran that directly tell Followers to engage in violence:

Quran 2: 191-193:

"And kill them wherever you find them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out. And Al-Fitnah (disbelief or unrest) is worse than killing... but if they desist, then lo! Allah is forgiving and merciful. And fight them until there is no more Fitnah (disbelief and worshipping of others along with Allah) and worship is for Allah alone. But if they cease, let there be no transgression except against Az-Zalimun (the polytheists and wrong-doers)"

Quran 2: 216:

"Fighting is prescribed for you, and ye dislike it. But it is possible that ye dislike a thing which is good for you, and that ye love a thing which is bad for you. But Allah knoweth, and ye know not."

There is no rational way to interrupt these passages in a peaceful way. The whole premise of both passages is to inspire followers that war against the unbeliever is justified.

The first verse advocates for genocide against non-believers for the mere transgression that a society worships a different god or worships another god along with Allah.

The second passage is arguable more dangerous because the first passage just advocate that fighting may be a necessity, while the second passage encourages it. The second passage claims that war on the unbeliever is a good thing under the eyes of Allah.

The reason why these passages are dangerous is because they directly incite religious violence. For most followers of Allah, these passages are ignored or they convince themselves the passages means something they do not. However, for a large numbers of followers that view the text of the Quran as the unedited words of Allah, these texts become extremely dangerous. These passages become all the rational they need to wage war on non-believers.

This is dangerous because there are millions of followers of Islam worldwide that believe every statement in the Quran is true.

Therefore, the Quran becomes a direct motivation and cause for its followers to attack non-followers. Rationally one can understand where the Islam follower comes from, if a person truly believes that Allah or God himself wrote these words then why would you not comply.

Especially when there is verses in the Quran that says the Follower who does not fight the infidel is not as worthy of a Follower that does wage war against the non-believer (Quran 4:95). Finally, when male Followers are told that their martyrdom fighting for the faith will be rewarded with an eternity in paradise with 72 virgins for personal pleasure. If a Follower truly believes all of this is the spoken word of Allah then there is more rational why a person would commit these atrocities then why they would not.

Men and women are radicalized by these passages on a daily basis.

No, it is not just the poor kid in Iraq that lost his family to an American bombing run that indiscriminately kills civilians but also the middle classed Saudi Arabian child or some Western white kid that finds the Quran appealing. If radicalization were just poor people, then society would not have much to be worried about. However, Heads of States, college educated people and wealthy Islamic Followers are all being radicalized and the common dominator is the doctrine of Islam.

Osama Bin Laden, one of the most infamous terrorist in history, was not a poor lad that was screwed by the United States military industrial complex. Bin Laden was the son of a billionaire, that received an education through college from great schools. There is no other just cause for Bin Laden to orchestrate such grievous attacks on humanity besides religious inspirations. A person can rationally tie Islam Followers gravitation towards terrorism to a specific verse. Quran 3: 51 tells readers,

"Soon shall we cast terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers."

Any rational person can tie Islamic passages like this directly to terrorism. It is not a complicated correlation to like Nazism and Jewish persecution to Christianity. The Holy Book of Islam directly encourages the Followers of Islam to inflict terrorism unto the non-believer.

So why do some many people deny these obvious truths about Islam and violence?

Political Correctness and the want to not be viewed as a bigot. The correlations here are as direct as the terrors of the Spanish Inquisitions and Catholicism and no one is afraid to retrospect and say, "Yes Christianity caused the direct murder of thousands of people". A person would not even be controversial if one stated that both World Wars has significant religious undertones. However if anyone states that terrorism and violence has a direct link with Islam then there is an outcry.

Even President Obama refused to use the terms Islam and Muslim when publicly talking about the War on Terrorism. I am a hypocrite also because I used the term Islamic Follower instead of Muslim in an attempt to sound more political correct.

That is a problem when society refuse to use terms that are correct in an attempt to not offend anyone. Imagine if scientist could not report their findings because the underlying politics. Society needs to be able to have open dialogue about this problem or else it will never heal. Society needs to throw away the worrisome about being politically correct and focus on identifying the problems and solving them.

The world of Islam needs to open themselves up to this criticism.

There can no longer be a closing of dialogue where the West cannot speak on the doctrines of Islam because they are not partakers (That applies to all organized religion too, especially the Catholic Church). People who draw Muhammed must no longer be threatened with attacks on their life.

When Islamic women and men speak up about the sins of Islam, they must stop being silenced. If humanity is going to take steps into the future with better technology and more dangerous weaponry, then we need to solve this problem with Islam and gradually to organized religion at all.

If not it will doom us way before we get there…

Thank you for reading and if you enjoyed this article follow my podcast on Twitter @MccrayMassMedia for more likewise discussions.

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It's Time To Stop Following The Same American Ideals That Have Been In Place Since Forever

We live in a time where anything pretty much goes so, why do we still live our lives striving towards the same thing?


We now live in a world where anyone can be who they want to be.

Gay, straight, transgender, pansexual, you name it and you can be it.

Bigger lips, bluer eyes, blonder hair, flatter stomach you can have it (of course, if you can afford it).

There is clearly still slander towards to the different communities of people but for the most part, we can be who we want to be and be with who we want to be with freely, proudly, and legally.

Ask yourself for a moment what your ideal life would be like in 10-15 years.

I'd bet it included something along the lines of a spouse, a kid or two, and the house you've always dreamt of decorating since you were a young teen.

Why is it that our ideals are still the same as the 1920s yet our society has changed immensely to accept the ever-evolving people that inhabit our country?

Why does it have to be so "normal" to get married, have kids, and work for the rest of your life to support the family you created?

There is so much more to life than just finding the "love of your life" and recreating with them.

There are many more things you can do with the money you've worked hard to earn than to spend every dime on the children you gave life to.

And I'm not saying don't get married and have kids I'm just saying stop following the same American ideals that have been in place since forever.

Don't put pressure on yourself to find "the one" and have children just because all of your colleagues around you are doing it or your parents are nagging you that it's about time for a grandbaby.

Go see the world.

Get out of your comfort zone.

Do something you've never done before.

Take up a new hobby.

Join some type of organization.

Do something for the community.

But most importantly, get to know yourself.

Spend so much time with yourself that no one nor anything can break the love you have for yourself.

Then, if what you truly want is to get married and have kids let it come naturally.

Be patient and understanding.

Life is too short to rush it just to get married and have kids.

Everything will work out in the end but don't neglect the in-betweens to get there.

Cover Image Credit:

Brooke Stiles

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