Letter from Birmingham to Ferguson

After Missouri police officer, Darren Wilson, shot and killed Michael Brown on August 9th, Ferguson experienced protesting continuously throughout the following weeks. The controversial issues of police brutality and racism turned many protestors violent. The grand jury ruled Darren Wilson not guilty on November 24th and that night, angry citizens surrounded the Ferguson Police Department.

What began as an angry, but nonviolent, protest intensified throughout the night until buildings were burned and businesses were looted. To fend off the violent protestors, police launched tear gas and plastic bullets into the crowd. While protests in Ferguson have not all taken such dramatic turns, this was not the first violent protest. While citizens of Ferguson maintain their right to speak out about what they perceive, or what might actually be, injustice, do they have the right to break the law while doing so? Continue reading Letter from Birmingham to Ferguson

Sporting Event Power Up: Disability not Inability

IMG_4719As both Michigan and Syracuse basketball players moved with ease up and down the court, I was reminded of how naturally coordination and athleticism come to most individuals. For these players, shooting, dribbling and defending seemed breathing, habitual and fluid. Their fluidity and naturalness stands in stark contrast to what I have always known of my little brother, Matthew. Diagnosed with dyspraxia at age 4, Matthew has no ounce of athletic ability, and very little desire to develop any. Dyspraxia “isn’t a sign of muscle weakness or of low intelligence. It’s a brain-based condition that makes it hard to plan and coordinate physical movement. Children with dyspraxia tend to struggle with balance and posture. They may appear clumsy or “out of sync” with their environment.” Along with struggling with gross motor skills, Matthew’s weak fine motor skills cause everyday tasks such as tying his shoes and writing legibly to come difficulty. Continue reading Sporting Event Power Up: Disability not Inability

Millennials Must Mind Locke

After talking to friends and peers following last Tuesday’s midterm elections, I reached a general consensus that very few of them had voted. Before knowing the statistics on my age demographics and voting expectancy rates, I was surprised at the lack of enthusiasm expressed. Since this midterm election was the first legally I had been allowed to vote in, I was informed and excited to vote.

However, my participation in the midterm election puts me in the minority of my age group. In the last midterm election, less than 25% of 18-29 year olds voted.  Continue reading Millennials Must Mind Locke

Hobbes and Throne Theory

As I await April and the return of HBO’s Game of Thrones, a TV adaption of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, I can’t help but find parallels between the series and our PoliSci class. Game of Thrones, for those of you who don’t watch the show, examines power, justice and identity in the context of Martin’s fictional world. Of the main characters that vie for power, each embodies a different theory as to what makes an effective ruler. Only to name a few, Ned Stark allows honor alone to guide his rule, while Geoffrey takes a ruthless, semi-Machiavellian approach.

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As many main characters differ in political philosophy, they all fight for their supposed legitimate claim to the throne. According to Hobbes’ Leviathan, the sovereign can attain his power one of two ways; “by natural force; as when a man maketh his children, to submit themselves, and their children to his government, as being able to destroy them if they refuse; or by war subdueth his enemies to his will, giving them their lives on that condition” or, by subjects collectively agreeing “to submit to some man, or assembly of men, voluntarily, on confidence to be protected by him against all others.” Continue reading Hobbes and Throne Theory

Reflections on “The Fog of War”

As Intro to Political Theory moves forward with course material, I continually am reminded of the qqqqclip we watched from The Fog of War. This documentary about the life and lessons of Robert McNamara   , Secretary of Defense during the presidencies of JFK and LBJ, depicts a modern day manifestation of Machiavelli’s “dirty hands theory.” As Machiavelli anticipated in The Prince, politicians like McNamara must often resort to questionable means in order to achieve a greater good. However, while his employment of this theory isn’t necessarily unjust, his disregard for empathy causes McNamara to eventually condemn his own actions as immoral. In this post, I would like to examine the institution of war in the context of McNamara’s decisions and ideas of morality presented in class thus far. Continue reading Reflections on “The Fog of War”

The Game of Spectating

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As I watch Michigan fans file out of the Big House (most of the time this year, with their tails between their legs) it looks as if they are reentering a less-joyous reality: as if they are leaving “The Magic Circle.” Struck by this similarity, I started to consider the parallels between Michigan spectatorship and Huizinga’s definition of “games.” Not only are we, as Michigan fans, observing a game, we are participating in our own.

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