Category Archives: Politics

Who Shot First?


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Who Shot First?

The conflict between Israel and Palestinians occupying Gaza isn’t new news– their war has spanned more than 20 years, with the off and on firing of missiles claiming a multitude of civilian lives and spurring on the continuation and escalation of the bombings. Social networking sites are being used by current citizens to publicize how exactly the warring is occuring, using tweets to note the elevation of the combat and the course the Isareli armies are taking through the streets and bodies of water surrounding Gaza. What isn’t being talked about enough is the political implications that have driven this war to be active for so long.

In the video linked, Hillary Clinton speaks of her previous negotiation of a ceasefire in 2012 between the two warring parties & the separation of power between Mahmoud Abbas followers and Hamas members and how exactly that’s split the Palestinian people and further instigated the Israeli drive to war. In the video, Clinton explains that during the ceasefire she helped to negotiate between Palestine & Israel, Abbas was working with the Isreali government to orchestrate a peaceful juncture in which the two could meet and discuss a course of action. Now that Abbas is gone, the Israeli people are met with Hamas, a presumably ‘for the people’ public organization working for the freedom of the Palestinian people. Yet what Isreal sees themselves up against is a militaristic, violently resistant front that continues to resist any cooperation and compromising.

What’s seen in play here is a definitive shift in power where political issues are being held in a public arena, using warfare to force the strength of one side over the other instead of being able to come together and discuss with one another a less violent course of action. Ceasefires have currently been proposed by Isreal and agreed upon by Egypt, only to come to vehement disagreement by Hamas because the cease will not address all of their stipulations. Stewart seems to believe Hamas is disagreeing because those stipulations are important and, as the voice of the people, they will not back down until all are agreed upon.

One thing both Clinton and Stewart can agree on is that the entrapment occurring & being inflicted upon the Palestinian people is disgraceful and unwarranted. The amount of hatred both sides have for their opposition that’s been instilled in their current culture has only come to create destruction, dysfunction, and a driven desire for eradication of their ‘enemies’ that will only continue to grow if the war isn’t properly handled very soon.

Submitted by Promise Hartung

The Allure of Oil


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The Allure of Oil

America has a massive economy to keep running at full power. But how far do we go to keep make our economy flourish? This picture is an example of a major moral dilemma. Saudi Arabia has the second largest oil reserves in the world behind Venezuela. Only problem is, how do we get to that oil? Well, we have to be friends with Saudi Arabia. Good friends. Why is this a moral dilemma? Saudi Arabia is the exact opposite of the U.S. in a lot of ways. Sociologically, Saudi Arabia has extreme status inequalities as well as power inequalities (far more than in the U.S.). Religion defines what is deviant or not in their society. They are an absolute monarchy (the king is the guy in the picture), women’s rights are severely limited (they can’t drive cars), and homosexuals can be severely punished for their sexuality. Does that sounds like a country that should be our ally? Now that’s a dilemma.

Submitted by Joseph DiTrapani

Culture, Power, and Social Structure in Medicine


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Culture, Power, and Social Structure in Medicine

I found this news article fascinating as it expresses a range of sociological themes through one single news article. As an aspiring physician, I am routinely intrigued by news in the medical community, and also hope to travel abroad to provide care internationally.
From looking at the image alone, there are clear differences or examples of inequality that also present themselves as differences in culture, power, and structure. Culturally there is a difference between the healthcare providers who traveled from the USA and other established countries, and then there are the patients, who have been suffering from disease and do not normally have access to healthcare. Additionally, social structures identify between patient and physician, introducing more than cultural norms to the mix in providing treatment. This also goes hand in hand with the role of power, as physicians are given a responsibility to do no harm through their creed as well as provide for the care of the diseased.
This article discusses the Ebola outbreak in Guinea which is a hot topic to discuss, as many lives are being affected through the epidemic and organizations such as Medecins San Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) are taking on the responsibility to aid the communities affected. Whether focusing on the macro level of healthcare or the micro level of patient-doctor interactions, the bottom line comes down to helping humanity and aiding life, whether in America in a practice, or flying out to across the Atlantic to save a life.
The discussion of the mob involvement struck me as interesting as it introduced a new party into the mix. The traditional power structure was changed, and the status quo was changed in a sense. Additionally, the inclusion o politics changed the scope of the situation and escalated it to a broader problem.
Moreover, by the mob accusing the physicians of bringing the Ebola virus, it was a clearer example of the varying levels of power and social structure. With a lack of scientific education, the mob members did not have the power to challenge the doctors’ science and creed, and the culture of the mob challenged the acceptance of good Samaritans into their community, thus lacking faith in their harmless intentions.
In conclusion, this article and image packs a sociological punch, whether from the political or scientific perspective. On my end, I am happy that I can see these varying connections, and to be able to see how things all appear differently on different levels from a sociological lens.

Submitted by Dhruv Sethi

Virginia’s First Greek Tragedy


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Virginia’s First Greek Tragedy

I have been following the story of former Governor McDonnell’s and his wife Maureen’s unexpected and infamous plunge into the spotlight for their corrupt actions during Mr. McDonnell’s governorship. I remember being shocked learning about how Maureen traded fancy designer clothes acquired through an all expense paid trip to New York City for a Governor’s mansion luncheon to help promote Jonnie Williams’ Anatabloc supplement to state health officials and other important individuals. Jonnie Williams was the CEO of Star Scientific, a maker of supplements and able to use his wealth to buy connections to prominent government officials through the McDonnell’s.
After reading through Chapter 9 on class and inequality in our textbook and reading this article in the Richmond Times Dispatch on the McDonnell’s, I have a better understanding of why they may have acted as they did through his rise to power. Though their actions might be understood, they are not at all justified. Class is defined as “a group of people who share a similar economic position and lifestyle (Croteau and Hoynes 221).” Mr. McDonnell had a modest middle class background, served time in the army, was a Republican delegate in the Virginia General Assembly, then attorney general, and finally governor. He had a good salary but was not in the comparable economic position of other former Virginia governors. Jim Nolan states, “The McDonnells arguably arrived at the stately Executive Mansion without the wealth of a number of its previous occupants.” Their lack of wealth caused them to be uneasy and uncomfortable and resort to measures to try to overcome their class status. This falls in line with Thorestein Veblen’s term conspicuous consumption “lavish spending, done to compete for status (Croteau and Hoynes 232).” Since the McDonnell’s did not have the money for the lifestyles of other politicians, they borrowed or took money from Mr. Williams in exchange for political favors. Mrs. McDonnell bought her husband a Rolex watch for Christmas with Mr. Williams’ money. Mr. McDonnell and his sons went golfing on Mr. Williams’ tab. Their lavish spending fits with their attempts to jump to a higher class and their nouveau riche status. On the other hand, wealthy individuals with inherited money tend to not show their money ostentatiously. The McDonnell’s wanted to be accepted by the wealthy upper class but instead displayed greed and entitlement. Nolan writes, “‘Entitled’ was the word used by one state worker who had dealt with the family on a daily basis.” Moreover I think the McDonnell’s story demonstrates their unease with their class status and how disillusioned they became trying to move up classes. We all come in to the world with different life chances (social class, race, gender, sexual orientation) and movement between classes is not as fluid as we would like. The entitlement demonstrated by the McDonnell’s echo’s the entitlement of the billionaires from the Park Avenue documentary. These top 1 percenters operated under different sets of rules from the rest of the population through acts such as violating environmental laws and paying lower taxes. The article about former Governor McDonnell finishes examining his tarnished image and realizing that if not for his greed he could have been very comfortable financially with teaching gigs and speaking opportunities following his term as governor. The lifestyle they wanted and they could not afford destroyed their image.

Submitted by Alicia Grove

Labeling an issue to dictate the outcome


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Labeling an issue to dictate the outcome

I found this video to be interesting because it not only brought up how the republicans are far from willing to allow the child refugees to stay in the country but it showed how these beliefs can influence and bully others into not taking a stance against them. This video by The Young Turks brings to light just how much power and influence politics can play on a topic as humane as this one. While a great deal of Americans can see why not allowing child refuges to stay in our country due only to them being “illegal immigrants” as being silly the beliefs of a few take precedence over the majority due to their power and political means.

Maryland is currently facing the dilemma of whether it should house these refuges and this has placed its Governor Martin O’Malley in a rather challenging position. The image above shows the response that some republicans in the state have to this topic and this is influencing O’Malley’s stance; in order for O’Malley to get what he wants politically he can’t come off as too “leftist” or he would be under scorn of the republicans. This demonstrates just how much power, the ability to bring about an intended outcome, even when opposed by others, politics can play on such topics. This power that the republicans are holding over O’Malley is a form of coercion as he can’t come off as differing their views too much or he will lose the republican votes that he is reliant on as a more conservative Democrat.

Ironically O’Malley finds himself caught between trying to be seen as both liberal and conservative. The video talked about how he has come out as being for allowing the kids to stay in the country due to him wanting to be more to the left of Hilary Clinton. However, he doesn’t want them in his state because it would piss off the right and it would draw a line in the sand as to where he stands on the topic. Not only has O’Malley’s quest for power put him in this situation but the influence of the individuals that he hopes to win over has as well. Of course all of this is holding influence on the fate of the child refugees who are unable to find a place to stay in the country due to this very conflict; there are barely any politicians brave enough to take such a strong stance.

Submitted by Cameron Walker