The 13th amendment

When the 13th amendment was ratified in 1865, its drafters left themselves a large and very exploitable loophole in the guise of an easily missed clause in its definition. That clause, which converts slavery from a legal business model to an equally legal method of punishment for punishment for criminals is the subject of the very thought-provoking Netflix documentary “13th”. Not only has this documentary learned me that how colored people are treated by authorities, but also that corporations earn money on inmates and therefor want as many as they can to be locked up at all times.

As some of the statistics states in the documentary, 1/3 black men are likely to receive life sentence when 1/17 white men receive the same punishment. As a black, you could get arrested on the basis that you were a suspect, or seemed suspicious.

The documentary shares the story of the 17-year-old boy, Trayvon Martin. He was walking from the store and on his way back home after purchasing a bag of skittles and an Arizona iced tea, when a man saw Martin with his hands in his pockets and thought he looked suspicious. This man then ended up calling the police and was told not to confront Martin, but he did anyways. Moments later, an altercation between the two individuals took place and the man fatally shot Martin in the chest. By Florida’s stand your ground law, the man was not charged with anything and could walk free because he claimed it was self-defense.

In conclusion, the documentary had a bigger impact on me then I would have thought. The film was very powerful and inspiring. It is a black insight to the American prison industry, and explores the impact of mass incarceration. It really made me understand both the history of slavery and how it still happens today in a very secretly way. After watching I had a lot of questions. I wonder if the stand your ground law is going to be done something with as it is very easily to get away with murder, and if it is only the blacks that get beaten up in jail or whites too. I also wonder if the prison conditions have changed or if they are planning on to change them.

I would recommend all adults of all ages to watch the film.

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My opinion of “Of Mice and Men”

In “Of Mice and Men”, Steinbeck shows how hard it is for a working man to own his own little plot of land and live in peace, but he kind of seems to defeat his own purpose. He makes one of the characters mentally challenged and potentially dangerous, which is very atypical. If he would have written the story as them being completely normal with a dream of owning their own little ranch, they could easily have fulfilled their dream, especially with Candy being willing to contribute a large part of the price. The novel is very short, roughly 100 pages. Most of the action takes place in the bunkhouses and the barn, even though they everyday do long, hard outdoor labor, this does not get mentioned a lot in the book. Steinbeck could have devoted a bit more space to describing the actual work they did.

I do believe there are several major themes in this book. First of all, the book is filled with unfulfilled hopes and the harsh reality of the American Dream. The more developed characters have dreams and aspirations that they reveal at some point during the novel. Lennie and George’s dream was owning a ranch with rabbits for Lennie. This would be enabling them to be self-reliant and offering them some security during the Great Depression.

Loneliness is also a very important theme in the novel. The novel is heavily based on loneliness and isolation, this is seen through the setting and characterization in the book. Another theme is friendship, which is clearly demonstrated though the whole book through Lennie and George’s relationship. Lennie relies on their friendship for guidance and protection while George relies on it for companionship. However, as the novel progresses, the friendship between them develops and Steinbeck reveals that George genuinely loves Lennie who in return trusts and is completely devoted to George. Lastly, the one theme I find the most important, loyalty. George is a very intelligent man who could easily obtain a steady job which would allow him to save enough money to buy his own ranch one day. However, he sacrifices this to look after Lennie.

The novel is set during the Great Depression, which was a severe worldwide economic depression which caused unemployment in America to reach 25%. The lack of employment increased the number of itinerant workers, who found it nearly impossible to establish a constant home. Consequently, they were also unable to form permanent relationships.

To conclude I would have to say that I really liked this book, it was not like anything I had read before, both the writing style and the well written story was very interesting and I found it hard to put the book away. I fell in love with George and Lennie, and their dream of one day owning their own ranch. Even though the book was very short and the ending came very quick, I have to applaud Steinbeck for such a shocking and heartbreaking ending.

Of Mice and Men

Of Mice and Men is a novel written by author John Steinbeck, published in 1937, and tells a story of Lennie Small and George Milton. They are two ranch workers moving from place to place in California in hope to find new job opportunities during the Great Depression in the US. By now I have read 50 pages and so far I am really enjoying it.

George and Lennie are both really good guys, they’re only mission is to earn money and buy a ranch for themselves one day. Lennie is like a child and loves soft things, while George is more serious and does not trust other easily.

Lennie is described as dumb and does things without giving it a thought. He never means any harm, but people don’t understand that he does not know that what he does is wrong so they often mistreat him. But as long as he is instructed of what he is supposed to do, he does it.

George is always looking after Lennie, he is always careful when meeting new people. He also takes care of all the talking, just so others would not realize that Lennie is not so bright.

The is set in the 1930s. At this time, the Great Depression hit America and the times were rough. Companies had to let go of a lot of their workers, and by 1933 15 million Americans were unemployed. For people to earn money their only hope was ranch hopping.

Trump “lacks common decency”

The public probably already knows about the relationship between the United States and France, that it is indeed a special relationship looking back at their pasts together. Both countries have leaders that are well known by the public, but their recent meeting at the anniversary of the Paris terror attacks was what brought us back to memory lane on why their relationships is as bad as it is. It all started with some tweets President Trump wrote regarding France’s unfair trade policy and mocked him on twitter on tuesday, 12th november, the day before the anniversary.

When on the anniversary of the 2015 Paris terror attacks U.S President Donald Trump should have shown some “common decency”. Instead Trump tweeted a series of tweets criticizing Emmanuel Macron on tuesday, only a day before the anniversary of the assassination of the 130 compatriots that happened three years ago in Paris and Saint Denis. Trump did not attend the moment of silence at the Aisne-MArne American cemetery and memorial at Belleau this wednesday due to “poor weather”, which he got criticized for the lack of common decency by Benjamin Griveaux.

https://edition.cnn.com/2018/11/14/politics/france-trump-macron-tweets-intl/index.html

 

The Northern Ireland conflict

My status as a member of Europe and as a Scandinavian citizen means that it should be taken for granted that I know about various major conflicts in my continent as well as the fact that it was taught during middle school. I hope that the following blog will help you understand and learn about the conflict and how it is controversial within the Brexit Negotiations.

Basically, the conflict in Northern Ireland more commonly known as ‘The Troubles’ was essentially a conflict between the Irish and the English, the Republicans and the Unionists and also Catholics and Protestants over the ownership of the six counties Antrim, Armagh, Down, Fermanagh, Derry (Londonderry as it is known by unionists) and Tyrone. A running republican joke that tends to cause some offence to the British people is “Whats the only county in Ireland with 6 silent letters in its name, Derry!”

During August 1966 riots took place all over Northern Ireland which prompted England to deploy British Troops as a security force. At first they were welcomed with open arms as it was thought that there would finally be peace but sadly this temporary peace was not to last. The British Army began to favour unionists and their paramilitaries such as the Ulster Volunteer Force and the Loyalist Volunteer Force. This sparked outrage in catholic community and subsequently ignited the fires of urban guerrilla warfare. The Irish Republican Army took to the streets of Belfast and various other towns engaging in brutal door to door, house to house firefights. These bouts of combat continued until 1998 when the Good Friday Agreement was signed causing the drawdown and disposal of weapons used by the IRA. This agreement was abolished in 2007 and the North currently has its own government. One of the most prominent events of the troubles for me has to be Bloody Sunday where British Soldiers opened fire on 13 Irish peaceful protesters without warning.

It makes me sad to know that even as I speak of these events there are still small scale bouts of combat ongoing, causing the deaths of civilians and paramilitary volunteers alike, in the North between splinter groups of the IRA and various paramilitary forces that are loyal to the crown.

When England exited the EU, northern Ireland was forced to go with them. The difference between the two island are even greater than they were before. There is the possibility of a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic meaning that many jobs could be lost due to border crossings being difficult if not impossible. How these events will affect the people of both countries in the future is soon to be revealed.

Thank you for taking the time to read this, I hope Ive helped you to understand more about the ongoing conflict in the North of Ireland and what Brexit means for both countries, and as the Republicans say “Tiocfaid ár lá!” (Our day will come)

Pride (2014) – an extraordinary story

Last week we watched the movie Pride (2014) directed by Matthew Warchus. It is a historical comedy/drama based on true events. UK gay activists work to help the miners during the lengthy strike of the National Union of Mineworkers in the summer of 1984.

“If anybody knows what this treatment feels like, it’s us”. During the UK miners’ strike of 1984-85, there was a surprisingly low amount of people who showed their support for the miners. The group Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners (LGSM) started to collect money to help the union workers. They would stand outside the “Gay is the Word” bookstore with buckets and chant out the name of their organization. Some would donate, others would spit at them.

The movie is set in the 1980’s, the UK society at this time was a lot different from how it is today. The brits were very narrow-minded when it came to sexualities. Being gay was wrong. If you were gay, your opinion was worthless and you didn’t mean anything. At the time aids was a big thing. It was new, and nobody knew where it came from. So who got the blame? The gays. There was nothing good about being gay in the 1980’s.

The main character, Joe, was a quiet young man who is taken under the collective wing of the group at his first Gay Pride march. He had not come out as gay to anybody but himself yet. Joe had recently been accepted to a cooking school, and whenever LGSM would go on a trip, he would tell his parents that it was a school trip so they would not become suspicious. This later became a problem when he got a letter from the school about his attendance.

Joe would also become the photographer for the group so he could stay hidden. He would also cut articles and pictures from newspapers and keep them hidden in his room as memories. His mother later found them while he was on one of his trips and he came home to a crying mother and a furious father. His father would yell at him and his mother tried to talk some sense in to him, saying it was only a phase.

As for the society being so narrow-minded, it was “normal” to not interact with the gays, which meant nobody wanted to have anything to do with them. As for Dai, the representative of the community of Dulais, he did not really know that they were gays and lesbians, as he asks “so, LGSM, what does that stand for?”. It is clear that Dai was surprised when he found out what it stood for when he states: “I thought the L was for London. London something. I never dreamed for a moment it was L for…” Even though he was surprised, he showed no sign of being homophobic, and he was in no way negatively affected by this new information.

The two groups were very skeptical to each other at the beginning, having the mindset of how the society in the UK was at that time, being skeptical was understandable. The lifestyle of someone from London and someone from a small town was very different. If being gay in London was not hard enough, being gay and coming to a small town where everybody knows each other and already has a lot of prejudices against you would be a hundred times worse. The people of Dulais had never met a gay person before, or at least they did not know they had. Have in mind, being gay was wrong in this time. When first meeting, it was a clear border between the gays and the non-gays, but after being forced to interact with each other, they soon realized that they really enjoyed each other’s company.

“Standing together can be the strongest union of all” is a very powerful message, and the movie proves this statement very well. Both the gays and the miners were viewed upon as almost worthless. The miners were struggling and very few would help them, and being gay was just not acceptable. As individuals they would not stand a chance, but together they gained respect and honor. They also participated in the Pride parade, and maybe for the first time it was not only gays. Together, they managed to change the views on different sexualities in both the UK and the rest of the world.

My Expectations For This School Year

This year I am very excited for the english classes, even though I m sure that there will be a lot of reading and studying. The curriculum this year seems very interesting and I am excited to learn a lot of the history and politics in the UK and US.

I do hope that we have a bit more group presentations this year, something we had a bit too little of last year.