Friday, February 29, 2008


I was 13 years old when first experienced a feeling of exile. The summer of 2001 was an especially violent period in the conflict between the United Kingdom and the IRA. In August of that year, after several other smaller, but nevertheless deadly, IRA attacks in London, a bomb was detonated in West London at Ealing Station, which wounded hundreds and destroyed an entire city block. My family and I were in London at the time of these attacks. With no knowledge of or interest in this conflict, we found ourselves wrapped up in a violent political dispute in a foreign country. Though we were in no immediate danger, the experience was, nevertheless, frightening. We began to adopt the same attitudes toward the terrorist attacks as the Londoners. We began to regard these attacks as a way of life in London. As I experienced these events alongside the English, I felt very far from home. The feeling is difficult to express in words. I felt exiled from America. I felt a separation from my homeland. I felt a strong bond with the citizens of London because of our shared experience. Though several years have passed, I still feel a connection with the City of London.

Exile in Indiana

I've been trying to think about being an exile and so I read some other people's ideas on the subject. The best I can come up with happened my freshman year at Wabash as  moved from Texas to Indiana. I tried my best to appreciate Hoosier ideas (basketball, corn mazes, and that crazy white stuff that falls from the sky when it's cold) and I feel I have assimilated fairly nicely and even intend to stick around in the state following my imminent graduation. The time I notice most distinctly is my inability to play Euchre. Every natural born Hoosier I have meant knows how to do it and whenever it is played I sit on the outskirts of the table to hide my shame in not knowing how to play. Hopefully I will remedy that situation, but for now I am to content to play Spades with the rest of my Texan buds. 

Thursday, February 28, 2008

An Exile

This is sort of hard to explain, but basically i felt like a social exile during middle school and the first few years of high school. I was very mature for my age. I was able to relate to adults very well, yet most adults do not respect or trust kids very well obviously, which always hurt me. Then with other kids my age, I was a total exile. I did not play many games that they did (by the way, I have never played a group game of "truth or dare"). I did not relate to other kids about music, pop culture, sports, etc. From this example, exile is more than politics. It is something personal that separates you from the rest of the group, whether that be feelings, emotions, radical ideas, maturity, difference in opinions, etc.


It was a Saturday night when I was home for the weekend. I was meeting some friends to hang out for the night. The night started out innocently enough. We had decided to go to Danville, a small city near by as we had done thousands of times in the past. As we arrived in Danville, one of my friends called and asked to meet him in one of the "rougher" parts of town. After consulting the rest of the group, we decided to meet him. The next thing you know, we are in a bad part of the town where there is a lot of violence and drugs everywhere and at someone's house we didn't know. The feeling I had was strange...a feeling of misplacement and exclusion. Although I was with a group of friends, we ended up at a strange house filled with people we didn't know; people we had no idea of what they were going to do. I will never forget this feeling. I have at times felt like I "didn't fit in", but I had never felt anything like this. This was the feeling of exile...the feeling that you are so far removed from what you are used to, you become a complete outsider.

Freshmen Exile.

Many years ago, I was a freshman. I was a pledge. I was a freshman baseball player (in my day it was another pledgeship). It was second semester, and the two other baseball players in the house were either kicked out of the college or quit at this point. I was the only baseball player left. I was the only one getting up @ 4 AM for practice after being kept up until 3 AM every night doing "extracurriculars." I was all alone. It was easily the most difficult time in my life, mentally and physically. I questioned my stay in my fraternity, the baseball program, and the school. This was truly a time of exile from a community I wanted to be a part of so badly. I made it though. I stuck it out. Now I am here...a senior, baseball coach, and leader in my fraternity. The exile I experienced, I believe, made me stronger. I think everybody at some point needs to feel alone and broken down so that they can appreciate where they are now. If you have not felt exiled at Wabash, you haven't tried hard enough.

Exiled from the Rest

This seems silly now, but at the time of my childhood this was a very important event. I was in 5th grade and it was little league baseball tryouts. They had three systems, the "majors" the "minors" and "farm league based on skill. At tryouts I was awesome, better than almost any other person out there. I was sure to get into the majors. However when the time came to see who I was on the list I didn't make the team. However, every single one of the coach's son's friends made the team, some who definitely did not deserve to be on the team. It was one of the most disheartening times for me. I couldn't hold my emotions in and ran off the field. I ended up quitting that team because I didn't feel like playing for them. I was able to switch teams in the league and played for a different minor league team.

However, I proved (at least to myself if not to others) that I did deserve that spot on the majors. That year I won the MVP in my minor league, had a batting average .150 points higher than anyone else in the league, and surprisingly was asked to play in the majors by the same coach who cut me. I denied the offer however, telling him I would play for any other team but his.

A different type of exile

Believe it or not, the times when I felt most exiled were the times when I went away to baseball recruiting camps for college before I made the decision of coming here. I wanted so badly the chance to play at the divsion 1 level and wanted to do so well at the camp. I had dreams of being at the school even when I was at the camps. It never worked out though. When I arrived at the camps, the atmosphere is so competitive there. Hardly anyone wanted to talk, they were too busy trying to show their skills. It was really different from the world of baseball that I used to know...just go out and have fun. Baseball turned into a business trip at the camps. I really felt exiled at the colleges and felt as though every move was being criticized by the college coaches. It was really uncomfortable. I am glad I am playing baseball here where I can play and feel like myself, having fun.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

A Military Transition

First week at Recruit Training Command Great Lakes, Illinois was an experience I will never forget for the rest of my life. RTC is a place that transforms a civilian into a United States Sailor. The first experience I had was getting off the bus having Chiefs and First Class Petty Officers yelling at you to move faster when you are unloading yourself from the bus.
Upon arriving at RTC you do not sleep for two days. The sleep depression is to put you on “their” schedule. You move when you are told, you speak when spoken to, and you do not have an opinion in anything. After finishing my first year at Wabash one can imagine that this transition was not easy at first. They cut all your hair, deprive you of sleep, and give you the first taste of what it feels like to be property of the United States government. They treat you just as if you were an object. I have never felt so out of place in my life. Where all my rights left when I walked off that bus. I heard words for the first time such as a bulkhead, geedunk, scuttlebutt, port-side, and starboard. This new language I had to develop an understanding to and quickly. I was taken away from all I knew my whole life; since it consisted of being a civilian. Even my own self identity was transitioned from being know as Joe Matthew to Seaman Recruit Gonzalez. You were not identified by your name but as a member of a division. A ball cap was worn with the word RECRUIT across the front to symbolize your status on base. A Recruit is to do what they are told when they are told and how they are told at all times. You feel as if cattle herded in ranks to where you have to be. A recruit is not an individual but apart of a unit functioning as one. My first week at RTC from revelie to taps was an experience and a sense of being out of place. I have never felt so belittled in my life. The worst part if you believe it after a while. That is until the day you graduate.

Exile at Wabash College

It was a regular day coming back in from Christmas Break. It was the 26th of December and the basketball team had arrived back on campus for 2 days of practice before heading off to a 4 day tournament to San Antonio, Texas. On campus I live at College Hall, and at that time I was the only one in the entire building, besides the manager who had to come back as well. As approached my door just like any other time walking to my room, I seemed to have noticed inscribed on my door a very hurtful and volatile phrase that should not be repeated. At first reaction, my immediate action was to call my good friend Earl Rooks, who was also there for the basketball team practice we had later that night. Immediately he came over and also saw what was posted on our door, and was overwhelmed with disgust. Investigations would soon follow, but no real perpetrator would arise.
This is my example of exile here at my beloved school of Wabash College. I felt like I was being ran out by either the students at the school itself, or some of the people in the community. I had done nothing wrong, and my roommate had done nothing wrong either, especially do deserve this. For weeks we pondered about what we should do, and our final verdict was to stick it through and beat the odds that were stacked up against us. To me this was exile, but not exile from my country, or my house, or my own city, but this was exile from my school that I shall try and spend the next 3 years of my life.

Exile . . . at Wabash College

A time in my life in which I have experienced the feeling exile was actually this year. During the Christmas break I had to return back to school early because of a basketball tournament in Texas. When I had returned back to campus and was about to enter my dorm room, along with my roommate Wesley, we noticed something on the door. Wesley stepped back and saw that something had been scratched or carved into our door. The words "DIE NIGGERS" had been embedded into our door. My first reaction was anger and a passion to find out whoever did this. We immediately called the police and school officials. They offered to put us into a hotel for some time, but it felt weird having to leave school to escape this sort of discrimination. Being excluded, degraded, and threatened is not what you would expect to happen at a place where you would call home away from home. This act was ignorant and naive but it goes to show you that some people haven't grown and are still close-minded individuals. The situation was really worse because this not really anybody that feels what you feel. Only Wesley knows the anger and pain I felt during that time but I don't think he knows the exact extent to which my anger was headed. Having something like this happen made me feel as if I wasn't meant to be here.


A time in my life that I felt exiled came on my first day of high school. I attended a high school that was on the opposite side of town from where I lived, and I had almost no good friends from middle school attend my same high school. When I arrived on the first day, I felt very much alone. Even though I was from in-town, I felt like a complete foreigner. It seemed as though everyone else already had friends from middle school or knew a good base of people from already having summer practice for the upcoming fall sports, such as football, cross country, or volleyball. I felt very isolated and alone, and I definitely struggled to make connections with people from whom I lived very far away.


A time in life where I felt exiled was on an Alternative Spring Break trip to East St. Louis. For those who do not know, East St. Louis is a war zone in the shadow of a big city. Drugs, prostitution, and crime rule the streets, and nearly every building is either destroyed or falling down. To return to the topic, East St. Louis was, at times, a very uncomfortable place to be. I was in a group of about eight guys, so I wasn't by myself in total exile, but the feeling you get from the people of the city is eerie. The people of the city were not very welcoming. I would acknowledge them and say, "Hello," without response. On other occasions, my words would be met with blank stares. I could tell that we were not welcome, but I was unable to understand why. We were there to help. In the four days I was there we laid all of the flooring in one building and passed out food on a nightly basis. Nevertheless, the people of East St. Louis appeared skeptical of what we were doing. It was difficult to adjust to being in a place where I was not considered welcome. The feeling can be not only lonely, but frightening.

Thursday, February 14, 2008


Once I looked at this excerpt from the reading it immidiately connected me to what my grandmother, and great-grandmother (yes she still is alive), once said. She lived in the early 90's and to this day recollects on how she would love to return to her native land and possibly try and be a voice for those who don't have one. She would go back to her native land and simply be a shadow of her old self. For all the bad events that went on (the calamities), and those people who weren't able to stand up for themselves would be a dream come true to her.\
Aime Cesaire states that he would return back "sleek and young" for people would not even recognize him in my opinion. People who often break down due to the stress and despair, are those he would help out and bring them back up by using his voice as the bridge to freedom. And just as my great-grandma said, he too would be that voice of the past events that were major calamities.

notebook of a return to the native land

Between lines 261 and 275 of Aime Cesaire's Notebook of a Return to the Native Land, one can see the negative effects of colonization. From the opening paragraph Cesaire makes these effects clear as he describes his return to his native land as "[going] back to the deserted hideousness of your sores." Drawing from this example, one can see that Cesaire's homeland is experiencing hard times and that he feels that his return may be beneficial. Since he is a more seasoned man upon his return, he feels he can now help his people form a collective voice and fight back against colonization's negative effects.

By helping his people form a united voice, Cesaire displayed his hope to further advance the Negritude movement. It most likely took a lot of courage to act as the "mouth of those calamities that have no mouth", but it seems Cesaire took on this problem head on. He assumed a central role in the fight against colonization's effects and gave black people a chance to voice their feelings. In the final lines of this section, Cesaire makes it clear that his nation's problems should not be just another "spectacle". Positive action must be taken, because in his eyes, a "sea of miseries is not a proscenium."


Cesaire speaks of returning to the land from which he came and returning to all the "hideousness" of it. However, he is a new man this time around and he has come with thought of influence in mind. He is courageous and wants to stand for what he believes in. This courage is known as the Negritude movement. His call is to let black people know that they need a common voice.

African Americans need a voice, period. Cesaire says he is more than willing to be the "mouth of those who do not have mouths." The land he comes back to should "Embrace him without fear," because the African Americans should stand together as he is willing to stand for all African Americans. Those that break down in confinement should break down no more; they should stand up. I really admire the courage of Cesaire to stand up for a whole race of people. He really puts his virtue into action to make a profound influence.

Response to Notebook of a Return to the Native Land

In lines 261-275 of Cesaire's piece, we can see a reference to the horrible outcome that colonization had on Africa. Cesaire declares that he is "coming back to the deserted hideousness of your sores," as he refers to his home country that has been left in dispair. This is a prime example of the negritude movement which reflects the movement's style of appealing to Africans all over the world. The horrible situation of their homeland is something that all Africans can relate to no matter where they may be at the present time.

I think Cesaire is expressing a feeling of patriotism due to post-colonial sentiments, as he claims that he will return "to this land of [his] and would say to it: 'Embrace me without fear...And if all i can do is speak, it is for you I shall speak.'" I think he feels that he needs to now stand up for his weakened homeland, which is again a feeling that many Africans from all over may endure. The narrator says that "above all, [his] body as well as [his] soul, beware of assuming the sterile attidtude of a spectator," meaning that he does not want to simply watch what happens to his homeland but wishes to have an active role in its future.

His Return

Lines 261-275 in Aime Cesaire's poem are very powerful. By reading some of his backround information you can tell that he is unsure of what he is going to come back to. He has been away for long enough time that he is unsure what is going to be different or the same. In lines 264 and 265 he displays this by saying "I have wandered dor a long time and I am coming back to the deserted hideousness of your sores."
He knows he is going to stand up for his country and support it no matter the circumstances. He quotes, "...and if all i can do is speak, it is for you I shall speak." Even if he has been away for some time, he remembers where he came form and will stand up for it.
I like the way Cesaire set this poem up because he makes you feel as if you are there going through the things he is. As i was reading this passage I imagined myself going away from home for a long time then coming back. I would not know what to think or feel until I had came back.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Lines 261-275

Lines 261-275 seem to hold together and carry huge implications on its own. Cesaire speaks to both the colonizers and the ones colonized. First, he tries to unite the slaves and bring them closer to him by asking them to embrace him without fear. He recognizes the biggest weakness of the slaves is their lack of voice. He believes that it could become their strongest weapon against slavery.
Cesaire is speaking for those muted. He tries to wake up those colonized who have internalized the feeling of inferiority and warn the colonizers. By referring to ‘those calamities that have no mouth’ and ‘those who break down in the solitary confinement’, I think he is relating to miserable conditions of the ones colonized. By calling them ‘calamities,’ he is alluding to their capacity of causing havoc to the colonizers and breaking the shackles.
He warns the colonizers not to assume him as a helpless slave by saying ‘beware of assuming the sterile attitude of a spectator.’ At the same time, he clarifies that he is not scared of the colonizers through his explicit expression. He suggests that slaves are humans too, and their lives and miseries are something not to play with. ‘A man screaming is not a dancing bear’ in this context could mean that someone screaming in pain is no way a spectacle or watching some circus animal.

Resistance to change

In this passage, Aime Cesaire describes his worries of how colonization of his homeland has affected the people, language, and culture of the original inhabitants. Upon his future return, he anticipates seeing the "hideousness of your sores", which is in sharp contrast to the condition Cesaire is returning in ("sleek and young"). I believe that this is most likely a description of mental health, as Cesaire has been able to maintain a clear mental state by preserving the original culture and language of the island. The line, "Embrace me without fear..." shows how Cesaire is worried about the resistance of some of the original inhabitants to return to the study and use of their original language. After the initial resistance to colonization and change subsided, the inhabitants, who were quickly adjusting to the new imperial cutlture and language, would likely be unwilling to undergo another cultural change.

The last part of the passage is less clear. However, I believe that the part saying, "beware of assuming the sterile attitude of a spectator" is Cesaire saying that while the culture and language of the people appears to be dead, it does not mean that the people have no desire to revive their roots. It could simply be a result of a lack of any organizing figure or institution to lead them back to their language.
This excerpt from Cesaire is extremely powerful. He speaks of being away for a long time, but he has a deep longing to come back to his people and save them from the hardships they are enduring, but only hopes that they will still recognize him and accept him for one of their own. In lines 266-267, he expresses his only desire to help those from his homeland, but realizes the fact that they may be somewhat tentative to embrace him after his time away, and in order to convince them he states, "Embrace me without fear...And if all I can do is speak, it is for you I shall speak." In the following lines he explains that his only desire is to stand up for and help these people that have no means to help themselves, "My mouth shall be the mouth of those clalmities that have no mouth, my voice the freedom of those who break woen in the solitary confinement of depair."
Even though he has been away from these people for so long, he still feels compelled to help them no matter what. He expresses his concern for what they have been put through and tries to convince them that he is only there to help, that he will not stand idly by. Instead he will be the voice that guides them and leads them from this life of despair; he states, "And aboce all, my body as well as my sould, beware of assuming the sterile attitude of a spectator, for life is not a spectacle, a sea of miseries is not a prscenium, a man screaming is not a dancing bear.", and in these few lines he is able to convince the unweary of his commitment, and that he will not stand by and simply be a spectator for these injustices. Although he has been away for a long time and separated himself from these hardships, he refuses to let others be abused at the hands of other men, "I have wandered for a long time and I am coming back to the deserted hideousness of your sores." No injustice should ever be ignored, nor should we just separate ourselves from the problem, instead we should stand and fight for our rights and freedoms.


Aime Cesaire expresses his true and real feelings throughout the lines 261-275. In my opinion Cesaire expresses his love and distaste for his land through an interesting dichotomy. He utters his concern and how he would go about helping those in need of help. In the first line we get his sense of care and love for his home country: "My heart was poudning with emphatic generosities". From the very beginning we are told he has strong feelings towards his country. He feels like he needs to help his strife striken country. Cesaire feels like he can make a difference, but expresses his distaste in the direction his country has taken. He explains when he goes to his land how he would want the natives to "embrace [him] without fear...and if all [he] can do is speak, it is for [them] [he] shall speak". This is powerful in saying that he speaks for the entire country and he wants them to accept pretty much anything he has to say. By the end of the lines Cesaire really expresses his pessimistic view of the country. He hints at the slave trade that occured in his country, however in lines 269-71 he gives hope to those who have no voice. This is really interesting because even though he expresses his distaste for his country he really wants to change the way things are. This is a really admirable thing to do for a circumstance such as this.

Can't Forget Where You Come From

The excerpt assigned to me to read from Aime Cesaire’s Notebook of a Return to the Native Land is chiefly about his return to his Native Land, Africa, after a long absence. In line 263 Ceasaire states, “I have wandered for a long time.” The term wander entails that he has been moving from place to place, learning things where he could, taking in cultures of other places, but never staying in one place to long. Since he has been wandering he has not forgotten where he came from.
In lines 266-271 Cesaire is trying to convince the natives of his native land that he has not forgotten where he came from. Even though he has been away for a long time Cesaire states, “…if all I can do is speak, it is for you I speak.” Cesaire is expressing that his time spent away was for the good of his homeland. He has learned to speak the foreign tongue. He goes on to say that, “My mouth shall be the mouth of those calamities which have no mouth.” This statement strengthens his previous statement because without wandering, and learning how to speak the “calamities which have no mouth” would still “have no mouth.” Aime Cesaire is offering his services to his native land. Aime Cesaire learning how to speak is the best thing to happen for his homeland, because now his homeland can have a voice. Not just a voice of a subjective foreigner that only observes the hideous sores of it, but the voice of a objective native man who has not forgotten his roots.

"A Man Screaming is not a Dancing Bear..."

Cesaire was to be the voice of the indigenous colonized people known as calamities, but I see this as a warning to his fellow people. He says, "beware of assuming the sterile attitude of a spectator, for life is not a spectacle, a sea of miseries is not a proscenium, a man screaming is not a dancing bear..."(273-5). Cesaire understood that the colonization was wrong, and the treatment of his people was wrong; however, I believe it is his own people (the calamities) that he is upset at. He is essentially calling his people cowards for not standing up for themselves. The reason why they are referred to as calamities is because they are tragic in their own flaws. They are incapable of standing up and speaking out for their rights; thus, Cesaire is very dissappointed. Earlier, he referred his return to his native land as "coming back to the deserted hideousness of your sores" (264-5). Notice how they are not his sores. He refuses to claim he was ever a part of the is as if he does not want to be associated with the natives. Yet, as he points out in line 276, he is there to help those who apparently cannot help themselves.

Speaking for the mute

In this passage, Cesaire talks about going back to his homeland, which has been colonized, and speaking for those who are “mute”. He wishes to stand up for those who do not have a voice. Often times, the oppressed in a colony have no way of voicing their struggles. As we talked about in class, it can be very difficult to get your voice heard, especially if you are oppressed by political violence.
The line I found most striking was, “My mouth shall be the mouth of those calamities that have no mouth, my voice the freedom of those who break down in solitary confinement of despair,” (line 269). This line states the desire for Cesaire to speak up for those who have suffered from the colonizers. If he doesn’t speak for the “mute” then the “calamities” he speaks of will only continue. Everyone’s opinion deserves to be heard, especially those who have been oppressed and exiled.

Notebook of a Return to the Native Land

There are a few points that I find very interesting from lines 261-275 in Cesaire's Notebook of a Return to the Native Land. One of the most interesting aspects in these lines is relationship between Africa and France. For example, when he speaks of himself, who has presumably been living in France for some time, he describes himself as "sleek and young," but he describes Africa as having hideous sores. Here, he seems to be acknowledging that leaving Africa is the best way to improve one's quality of life. I suppose I just wonder if he would still consider himself "sleek" if he was raising his voice after living in Africa his entire life. Furthermore, he even admits that the natives may not trust him as much because of his time in France, urging them to embrace him "without fear." The fact that they would ever fear one of their fellow countrymen speaks volumes for the strained relationship between Africa and France.
I also found the last couple lines to be extremely interesting. He seems to be warning himself with them. Since he admits that all he can probably do is speak for his people, he is worried about losing his human compassion for the situation and becoming more of an observer who records what is occurring. Then, in the last line, he states for himself, and especially for others, that these atrocities are not merely trivialities or entertainments, but are actually real people suffering. Another way that I think that the last statement, at least the part about the dancing bear, can be interpreted that he is in fact the man screaming. However, due to the lack of respect of the black voice, he is worried that his writings will be taken for merely literary or face value, instead of as cries for help for his people.

Love and Pride

In Aime Cesaire's, Notebook Of A Return To The Native Land, more specifically lines 261-275, Cesaire talks about his return to his land. As the excert begins, he talks of going away and as he put it "I would arrive sleek and young", this gave me the idea that his homeland is a place of despair and dessolation. However, he doesn't forget his land, he refers to it as "the loam" that is part of his flesh. It reflects the saying, "Never forget where you come from", and him saying this shows his pride and love for his native land. "Embrace me without fear . . . And if all I can do is speak, it is for you I shall speak", this statement captured me because, he wants his people and his land to know that he is there for them and whatever his land needs he will do it no matter what.
After reading Cesaire's work I was reminded of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Cesaire wants to be the voice of his people, and he is willing to whatever it takes. "My mouth shall be the mouth of those calamities that have no mouth . . ." Cesaire's choice of words are vivid and powerful; just like Dr. King, he sparks change through his words and less through his actions (however, writing this poem is an action).

Lines 261-275 of Notebook of a Return to the Native Land

Found within the almost incoherent ramblings of the surrealistic poem, Notebook of a Return to the Native Land, within lines 261-275, one can see the poet’s anxieties in returning to his home country. He describes the land as both “deserted” as well as dotted with hideous sores. (264-265). This imagery is not at all flattering of the countryside and makes me wonder at all why he is at all keen to return to

Later the author does show some optimism abut returning to the island as he intends to become a voice for the injustices, “my mouth shall be the mouth for the calamities that have no mouth.” (269) This is a common role among political activism as a figurehead for injustices that have not yet begun to righted. He hopes to resist the popular standard and lead resistance for those who despair in their situation and have no hope. He does fear becoming a “dancing bear” (275), a dangerous animal that no one takes seriously.

Active Voice

In the “Notebook of a Return to the Native Land,” Aime Cesaire poignantly writes on the effects of political violence, colonization, exile, and resistance to colonial influences. Through vivid imagery, Cesaire paints a disturbing picture of life on his native island of Martinique. Lines 261 through 275 of “Notebook of a Return to the Native Land” epitomize Cesaire’s sparse and gritty style. Referring to the plight of the disenfranchised inhabitants of his homeland, Cesaire writes, “My mouth shall be the mouth of those calamities that have no mouth….” Here Cesaire attacks the dichotomy between the colonizer and the colonized, the oppressor and the oppressed. Brining a message of hope to these oppressed peoples, Cesaire writes, “… my voice [will be] the freedom of those who break down in the solitary confinement of despair.” At the close of this section, Cesaire encourages his readers to stand against the inequalities of colonial rule. He writes, “And above all, my body as well as my soul, beware of assuming the sterile attitude of a spectator, for life is not a spectacle….” In his characteristic style, Cesaire then goes on to compare life under colonial rule to a “sea of miseries” on a stage, and to further emphasize the importance of resisting the inequities of colonial rule.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Taking A Stand

Aime Cesarie speaks beautifully in this passage, writing deeply on how he will fight for his people, even if that is all he can do. He says "If all I can do is speak, it is for you I shall speak." This shows his devotion to his cause, how he will be an ambassador for his people, thos who are afraid or to weak to stand up for what they believe is right. He sees pain and calamities within his native land and he is finally speaking up.

The line that I beleive is the most forceful line in his statement, the one that is practically his mission statement is "My mouth shall be the mouth of those calamities that have no mouth, my voice the freedom of those who break down in the solitary confinement of dispair." This is a powerful line that he is there for his people, that he will not let them down, and that they will be free from opression and dispair.

the Voice for the Voiceless

I believe Aime Cesaire is talking about himself here. His journey of going away from his homeland to Paris, then coming back home "to this land whose loam is part of my flesh" (263). Maybe the concept that his 'going away and coming back' allows you to open your eyes and see your homeland in a different light, which makes it a surrealist idea. I imagine it as an eye-opener to go to France and see those different cultural point-of-views, then came back and see them in real life. It shows the importance of having a voice and having knowledge so that you can overcome ignorance.
Lines 261-275 show his feeling of speaking out for the people that have no voice. He believes that "my mouth shall be the mouth of those calamities that have no mouth" (269). Cesaire believes there is an obligation to speak and not to have the "sterile attitude of a spectator" ( 274). Life should be taken seriously. Every life is precious, "for life is not a spectacle" (274). I believe he is pointing out the idea that every life should be held dear and not just let the poor, the wretched, the blacks, and the minorities just sink into oblivion. Every life is important and should have a voice.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Power of Listening

Certainly the passage speaks of the author becoming an ambassador for his people, as well as becoming a voice for the voiceless. However, I would like to focus my attention on lines 273-275 where the author begins to speak of life not being a spectacle. I think Cesaire is trying to get us to realize the importance of listening. He says, "A man screaming is not a dancing bear." Through this quote we can begin to see the message that Cesaire is trying to convey. He wants us to realize that a voice for the voiceless will not change anything if others do not begin to listen. A man does not speak for the sake of entertainment, he speaks to be heard. Words falling on deaf ears are not at all powerful, and do not provoke thought or change. This points us back to the theme of the colonizer and the colonized. Most of those who were colonized were left voiceless. In order to try to gain a voice in their colonization a leader might rise up and become a representative for those who are struggling to be heard. Nevertheless, I do not think that a sound voice can change anything if it is unheard. Therefore, how does one gain a voice? One seems to be left waiting for someone to come along that is willing to listen. Though there is no arguing with Cesaire that voice has power, perhaps listening is all the more powerful. Change will not come about without a provoking voice, but in order for change to occur on must be willing to listen.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Corrected Letter

Scott Miller

World Lit.-Brewer

Letter Assignment

23 Wednesday 2008

Dear Senator Evan Bayh,

As you may know, there has recently been a great deal of political discrimination taking place in the country of Zimbabwe. Peaceful protestors of the MDC party (Movement for Democratic Change) have been the victims of horrible police brutality in a recent rally at the Glamis Stadium. While the rally was approved to take place that day by government officials, the protestors were treated inhumanely by the law enforcement while on their way from Harare city centre to the stadium. According to Amnesty International, police unnecessarily used tear gas and arrested or beat several citizens as they walked to the venue, despite the fact that the official Magistrate court declared that “police should not interfere with the gathering through prohibiting it, stopping it, blocking it or doing any act calculated to prevent the gathering from proceeding”.

This is not the first violation of basic human rights carried out by the Zimbabwe police. They are known for harassing and intimidating opposition to the ruling party (ZANU-PF party). Last March, the police arrested and savagely beat about 50 members of the MDC, some of whom had been tortured. This is a repeated occurrence in Zimbabwe, and members of the MDC in custody are often kept away from basic needs, such food and medicine.

This kind of treatment and obstruction of peaceful protest must be put to an end. While there are thousands of members of the MDC party, the law enforcement and current rulers of the government are obstructing the party’s ability to create any kind of reform in the country. Amnesty International has also compiled evidence of tortuous acts taking place against members of opposing political parties. As a country with a strong central government, a love and respect for Democracy, and a strong military, the United States needs to step in and put this inhumanity to an end.

There are several ways in which the United States may be of service to these peaceful protestors, such as the MDC, of Zimbabwe. First of all, we can project this grisliness for the entire world to see; report it all over the news in devastating connotation; entice the entire developed world to see the lack of diplomacy and democracy taking place in Zimbabwe. Once everyone sees this inhumanity, then the next step is to become physically involved in the protest. While this may sound unfeasible, I believe that, with the help of other nations, this can be done. The next time that protestors, such as the MDC, wish to have a peaceful rally that their own government has officially approved, bring some troops in to guard them in their rally, protect them from the savage police that arrest and torture them. I am confident that a small number of our troops is a significantly larger number than Zimbabwe’s police force, and I am also sure that we have the power to stop this political bullying (to put it lightly). As Simeon Mawanza (a researcher on Zimbabwe) said, “The government must allow any peaceful protests to go ahead, and ensure the safety of all peaceful demonstrators and all people taken into police custody." I hope you will take my ideas into consideration and bring Zimbabwe’s struggle for democracy to Washington’s eyes.


Scott Miller (Indiana res.)

Recently I have become very disturbed with the growing trend of violence in the Darfur region of Sudan. This is an obvious human rights violation. I am sure that you are aware of the staggering statistics of violence that have been reported in the last four years. I feel it is my duty to express my concern as a citizen of the United States. You are in a position of power, as I am not, and hopefully you can advocate a progressive policy towards the Darfur situation that will stabilize the region.
According to Amnesty International, the violence in Darfur is a direct result of actions by the Sudanese government. A rebellion in 2003 caused the government of Sudan to flood the region with weapons, igniting one of the most violent human rights violations in history. The number of armed opposition militias is approaching 50, which obviously increases tension and decreases the chance of a peaceful result. One of the biggest factors that hinders peace is the presence of the Janjawid. Although the militant group is not officially state-sponsored, the Janjawid receives weapons and other supplies from the Sudanese government. The Sudanese government continues to sit back and allow all of this violence to take place, something that we cannot afford to allow.
Recent reports, according to Amnesty International, illustrate how many people have been affected by the continuing violence in Darfur. Since 2003, around 2.3 million people have been internally displaced. This is the equivalent of moving the entire population of Houston, Texas from their homes to temporary refugee camps in rural Texas. Approximately 240,000 people have fled Sudan to neighboring Chad. Imagine the population of Lincoln, Nebraska being forced to flee to Mexico as a result of sustained violence. Over 200,000 people have died as a result of the conflict. To fully understand the enormity of that amount of people, it is easiest to understand in a United States setting. Can you fathom every single person living in Montgomery, Alabama suddenly dead because of violence which we can stop?
Senator Bayh, you and your colleagues are in a position of power. The United States must remain a symbol of democracy and freedom. We alone have the resources and foreign support to stop such an atrocity. I propose that the United States respond to this situation in three ways. First, the U.S. should stabilize the situation with a strong military force and protect the displaced persons as soon as possible. Second, the U.S. must raise awareness among foreign dignitaries of the dire situation and the responsibility the world holds to stop this violence. Third, the U.S. needs to implement a care and relief system that will peacefully and effectively bring aid to those people affected by the violence in Darfur. Through these three steps, the Sudanese government will have no choice but to comply and stop the violence.
On a personal level, I continue to do what is in my power. I continue to give money to groups that provide aid to Darfur and other regions of conflict. I stay up to date on the situation in Darfur and frequently share this news with those around me. I am writing you, Senator Bayh, in hopes that you can do your part in putting an end to this violence. It is astounding that violence of this nature is still present in our world today, but it is downright shameful that those in a situation of power continue to ignore it. I urge you, Senator, to do all that is within your power to be a voice for the refugees in Darfur. I would expect no less from someone I helped elect into Congress.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Civil Right

Civil rights in today's world are as big as an issue affecting aosicety more than anything else. Not only does the civil rights struggle still go on in the United States, but it's also prominent in most of our second and third world countries as well. We have many people in our world that fight for civil rights today as we speak, but one of my most influential leaders of the past for the United States was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. France also has a very important figure in their history involving civil rights, and his name is Voltarie. Voltaire, author of the famous novel Candide, is honored in France as a courageous polemicist who fought hard for civil rights ( The right to a fair trial and freemdom of religion were two things that he strongly believed in. Fair trial involved alot of unfair power between the three classes of people in the village: upper, middle, and lower, and he disapproved. Voltaire was a man of strong belief and was not worried about what people would say about his opinion, just as he portrayed in Candide.
There are many things that I believe Voltaire would fight for today, and one civil right issue that isn;t publisized is the treatment of jailed inmates in the state penitentiaries. It is noted that Voltaire was not in favor of the unfair balance between the upper class, middle, and lower class people. I look at the prisoners as lower class people, and most people don't know what goes on behind those brick walls of most penitentiaries. What guards and wardens don't tell you in the states such as Connecticut and Iowa is that the brutal use of trained attack dogs is used daily. Trained attack dogs are used in the legal system for man-hunts of fugitives, drug searches, and security. No one knows that dogs are used to extract prisoners out of their tight confinements. When prisoners do not voluntarily leave their cell when ordered to do so, guards bring a dog into sight in an attempt to coax the prisoner into coming out. If the prisoner still refuses to come out, the dog is released on the prisoner. One thing that I think Voltaire would have to say about this civil rights matter is that it's unfair treatment to normal people who have already taken their share of consequences. In order to get someone out after standing in their cell and refusing to come out, a different approach can be used in an attempt to drive them out of their living units.
My letter to my Senator would state the following:
Dear Senator Evan Bayh,
Through recent postings throughout the internet and newspaper, the treatment of prisoners behind the walls and bars of our penitentiaries has become brutal and cruel. Civil rights is the first thing that comes to my mind, and the aches and pains of being locked up behind bars is good enough. To have a 100-pound German Shepherd taking a bite out of your leg, while already incarcerated is crossing the line. Believe me, by no means am I promoting any better treatment as far as daily routine towards these prisoners, but I do believe justice has to prevail somewhere. After repeated attempts of trying to lure the prisoner out of his cell, why not just issue tase the prisoner? In my opinion dogs are to be used for protection, and if the prisoner was making an offensive move toward the guard. I think the addition of having a canine on the task force is way over-due, but I believe lighter more civilized mannerscan be thought of than to just send a dog on an already denfeseless prisoner. Jamie Fellner, Director, U.S. Program of Human Rights Watch, once stated, "The entire world has seen the photo of an Abu Ghraib detainee crouched in terror before a snarling dog, but the use of attack dogs against prisoners here in the U.S. has been a well-kept secret." This is a sad but true statement and I believe that it is time to bring what has been held in the dark for many years, to light.
My next question is what are you doing to get enough evidence out to the world that enables the right peolpe to make the right moves? Why not interview some of the victims about past incidents and obtain eye-witnesses on the acts that were being performed unjustly? I believe that we must ast now, Senetor Bayh, the sooner the better. If we put off this situation any longer, we'll loose the magnitude of the situation and fair treament, not matter the crime, will be jsut a figment of out imaginations. I will attempt to do my part, by informing the greater half of the country of the situations that are occuring, but I need your help too. Although some people might feel as if they get what they deserve for the crime they have committed, others would rather see right and justice prevail as well. We must stop this treatment and turn our prison systems into justified places of correction.
Wes Smith

Discrimination in Armenia

February 7, 2008
Dear Senator Bayh,

The country of Armenia is experiencing what many have thought as a thing that is well in the past; discrimination of religion. Jehovah’s Witnesses in Armenia have been facing discrimination and even imprisonment. Most of the people are being imprisoned because their beliefs don’t allow them to enter military services, while others are being attacked by members of more dominant religions. As Laurence Broers, Amnesty International's researcher on Armenia put it, “Young male Jehovah’s Witnesses continue to be imprisoned. Since there is no alternative civilian service in Armenia, Amnesty International considers them prisoners of conscience and calls for their immediate and unconditional release.” The country of Armenia has about 9,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses and they have been victims to an increasing number of attacks. The number of attacks began to rise due to the prominence of the religion in 2004 following the registration of Jehovah’s Wtinesses as a religious organization. Amnesty International is concerned about what is going on because this is a direct violation of human rights. Laurence Broers also had this to say "The Armenian authorities are ignoring the fact that Jehovah's Witnesses are specifically targeted for attacks, including allegedly by representatives of the Armenian Apostolic Church.” An alternative for military service is possible, but with the military in control of any civilian service, it will still be incompatible with the beliefs of Jehovah’s Witness. As of September 2007, there were 82 Jehovah’s Witnesses imprisoned.
After further analysis of the whole situation, I came upon a response from the Adviser to the RA Prime Minister on National Minorities and Religious Issues of Armenia, Hranoush Kharatian. Ms. Kharatian states that the “One Nation” party constantly post flyers that say “Beware of Jehovah’s Witnesses”. Ms. Kharatian says, “We cannot name it a religious discrimination as they neither instigate aggression nor take tough measures against Jehovah's Witnesses. Their step cannot be viewed as a call for intolerance.” This statement is completely naive and Mrs. Kharatian should be seriously reconsidered for her position if such statements are made without thorough knowledge of what’s going on. When the word, “Beware”, is used to refer to a human or animal, people will take defense as well as offense to make sure they remain safe. Mrs. Kharatian states that the "Law on Alternative Military Service" functions well in Armenia. Jehovah's Witnesses simply avoid service. The government of Armenia is supposed to be a democratic republic, but this republic excludes and/or ignores the beliefs of minority religions.
Senator Bayh, I believe that Indiana should be the first of many states to take a stand and not only assist the minority religions of Armenia but inform the entire country and their government of different outlets of military service and civilian service that can coincide with the beliefs of Jehovah’s Witnesses. I believe we should expose this discrimination to the entire world and unveil what the Armenian government and military are doing. We need to send numerous camera crews from not only the United States but from other democratic countries as well. This is obviously not a sign of democracy when someone can be attacked and imprisoned because of their beliefs.
This is not just an American government job, either; any U.S. citizen or better yet any person in the world can stand up for the minority religious groups of Armenia by just verbalizing their feelings about the situation towards their respective senators or whomever may have some power in a high government position. Senator Bayh, we need to act quickly before anymore citizens of Armenia are wrongfully imprisoned or discriminated against.
Dominique Thomas

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Israel (Again) Violates Human Rights

Dear Sen. Bayh:

While this letter has a more important purpose, let me first praise you for a lifetime of distinguished political service to the state of Indiana. Hoosiers would be well-served to have someone such as yourself back in the governor’s office. To be frank, Governor Mitch Daniels just is not getting things done. You have had a successful tenure in the senate by any standards, so I commend you for that as well.

I must also take notice of how early in the race you endorsed Sen. Hillary Clinton for president. I have to also admit that I back Sen. Barack Obama, but that is not the point of this letter. I only bring up this point because, as I’m sure you are aware, this early endorsement has many talking about thoughts of a vice-presidential run for office with Sen. Clinton. I must believe these rumors as well, especially given the presidential exploratory committee you launched, however brief it was. As beloved as you are in Indiana, however, you would do well to raise your profile on the national stage, and I have an issue that maybe you could use.

As an educated person, you are no doubt aware that Israel has had a troubled existence as a nation. Times of peace have been few and far between for the little nation since its founding in 1948, and much of this has been due to the aggressive actions of the Israelis, which merely aggravate an already tension-filled relationship with its mostly Muslim neighbors. While I don’t doubt that Israel needs a strong army to defend itself from a host of nations, or even the hostile factions within its own borders, that would like to see Israel erased from the map and the historical record, this does not excuse acts of aggression, such as the Six-Day War in 1967, or overreaction, such as the dismantling of Lebanon this past summer. The older example holds a little more weight in this letter, though, because it pertains to land grabbed during these aggressive wars. Israel has clung to these bits of land no matter what the cost to themselves, causing a whole host of issues. The crisis has only grown worse has of late. It is quite sad that these abuses by Israel go unreported because of another needless war in the region involving our own boys.

As, again, you are no doubt aware, the Gaza Strip has been somewhat of an Achilles’ heel for Israel. To give it up would make Israel look soft at home, but holding on to it has been an antagonistic source for neighboring nations, to speak nothing of the people who live there. The problem, though, has come with how Israel has treated the people of this region. In fears of terrorist bombing and the like, Israelis have been committing human rights violations for years. This trend has only continued with the latest story from Amnesty International. The report claims that Israel has shut off basic services to the already poverty-stricken region, including electricity and food shipments. “Amnesty International [and I] acknowledged Israel’s right to take measures to protect its population from rocket and other attacks by Palestinian armed groups in Gaza, but condemned the Israeli authorities’ decision to cut off essential supplies to Gaza’s 1.5 million inhabitants.”

The problem is, of course, that the region is already in a terrible economic state. To go along with these deaths from denying foreign medical aid, there will doubtless be more senseless deaths among the innocent, the elderly and children, from cutting off these services. Those who are carrying out the attacks on the Israeli populace are one of the least affected by such actions. Food, already a scarce resource, is now going to be even harder to find as even international aid is turned away. Food that is already in the country, a supply that already falls short of need, will now spoil and go wasted, as refrigeration will be impossible without electricity. The sick will no have access to what meager medical care exists because of the power outages. The ones that are always most affected by food and medical shortages are, of course, the very young, the very old, and the very sick. These groups, as you might imagine, are not the most likely to participate in any terrorist plots, and thus not likely to launch rockets at Israelis.

There are other problems with the strictly closed borders. Beyond that of the medical problems mentioned earlier, students that would otherwise be making a much-improved living to help conditions in the Gaza Strip are not allowed to leave to find these jobs to make the necessary money to help their families. The citizens are left to rot in their little strip, left with little to no hope and resources that fall far short of what is needed.

People in this country have been blindly supporting Israel out of mostly a religious affiliation. It is time to stop and make Israel accountable for these sorts of actions. They have gotten a pass for their overly aggressive military and foreign policy, and now are having their human rights violations overlooked simply because politicized fundamentalist Christians have some sort of apocalyptic vision involving Israel. This cannot continue. To stand up and show the backbone to make Israel accountable would not only help save many lives in the region, but assuredly make you look like a more attractive choice to the general populace of the United States.


Aaron L. Parrish
First off, let me apologize for this posting's lateness. I was busy with Bachelor stuff tonight and this slipped my mind until now. Secondly, for those of you who might know, this letter has not changed since getting it back today, despite its suggestions. I would just like a change to defend my choices in the possible (though probably futile) hope that I will get that last point. First off, there is the word order in the first paragraph concerning ". . .Daniels just is not getting things done." I suppose that Dr. Brewer would like to see "just" and "is" flipped, but I put them in this order to put the emphasis on "is not," which seems stronger than splitting it with "just." If anything, "just" should have been removed completely, but I'm willing to stick to my guns over a single point. Secondly, there is an appeal for more direct action. I suppose this is mostly out of a feeling of pessimism, but, to me, having an American senator merely to recognize and condemn actions by Israel is just fine by me. That would be more of a step than has been taken in the past. The international community, through the UN, mainly, has condemned Israel, but taking such a stance in this country is political suicide, based soley, on what I can tell, that Americans generally like Jews more than Muslims. Just having someone of some influence bucking that trend would make me happy enough. I also worry about the ability of a senator to come up with solutions to such problems, as they seem to have trouble enough doing what they are already charged with.

Human Rights Violation

Dear Senator Lugar

I would like to divert your attention to the Gaza Strip on the Mediterranean Coast. This strip of land covers roughly 350 square kilometers. Even though the Gaza Strip is small in size, it has been the target of many artillery bombardments by Israel since 2005. Amnesty International reported that the Israeli forces have carried out frequent air and artillery bombardments against the Gaza Strip. These bombardments were often into residential areas, home to innocent families. One of the artillery bombardments in 2007 lead to the deaths of seven members of the Ghalia family, five children and their parents. Another event reported by Amnesty International
In the early morning of 8 November (2007), 18 members of the Athamna family were killed and dozens of other civilians were injured when a volley of artillery shells struck a densely populated neighbourhood of Beit Hanoun, in the north of the Gaza Strip. The victims, eight of them children, were killed in their sleep or while fleeing the shelling, which lasted for around 30 minutes and during which some 12 shells landed in the area.

Events such as these have been allowed with no repercussions and the Israeli forces are becoming even crueler in their dealings with the inhabitants of the Gaza Strip. In 2007 alone Israeli forces accounted for the deaths of over 100 children and over 300 unarmed civilians in the Gaza Strip. The Israeli forces did not let the deaths of 100 children and 300 unarmed civilians stop them from their inhumane acts. Now in 2008, they still persecute the people who reside on the Gaza Strip. The Israeli forces have blockaded the Gaza Strip, cut off all fuel supplies, electricity supplies, and humanitarian assistance.
Now I would like move your attention to a smaller portion of the Gaza Strip known as Gaza City. According to the International Herald Tribune, about 500,000 people live in Gaza City. Of the 500,000 only a few citizens had anything to do with the Palestinian attacks on Israel. The majority of the citizens is below the poverty line and already has an extremely difficult life. Due to the blockade by the Israelis, a number of seriously ill patients of Gaza’s hospital have died because of the lack of supplies. Furthermore, because fuel and electricity supplies have been cut off, the innocent people of Gaza City do not have the supplies to pump clean water. Also, the lack of power available to Gaza citizens makes it difficult to refrigerate their food and medicines. Malcolm Smart stated, “The blockade, appears calculated to make an already dire humanitarian situation worse, one in which the most vulnerable -- the sick, the elderly, women and children -- will bear the brunt, not those responsible for the attacks against Israel."
Senator Lugar I propose we extend a helping hand to defend the Gaza Strip and Gaza City from artillery bombardments of Israel, reopen the borders of the Gaza Strip, invest in Gaza City’s economy so that the citizens will be able to support themselves if this situation re occurs in the future, and increase the media coverage of this violation of human rights so that other countries in the world can see what is occurring. Perhaps other countries can be moved to contribute to this uniting cause.
Yours Sincerely

Joshua Bolton
Concerned Citizen

A Loss Of Innocence

Dear Senator,
Only sixty years have passed and we as a universal community, striving for equality and inalienable rights, have somehow forgotten what the United Nations had adopted for the sake and benefits of humans of all race, sex, gender, and religion. On that Decemeber day in 1948, the Great Assembly of the United Nations adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; it states very clear on the United Nations web page:

"As a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping the Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction."
Everyone is entitled to freedom and the liberty to pursue a life of happinesss. A Universal code of conduct has attempted to put an end to avoidable human injustices in effect to bring out the best in someone and a society. Sometimes it seems invariably difficult to commit or even change the way a society conducts their way of life. For thousands of years countries have been led to the belief that their way of life has been the only way of life, and in consequence have begun to break the rules put forth by the Great Assembly of the United Nations sixty years ago. There was a reason why such a declaration of Human Rights was constructed. These countries, which for many centuries have not been told what to do, are now facing a coalition of Human Rights Activists who are trying to put an end to such inhumane practices like stoning and the death penalty. Though, a far greater problem is starting to make its way into the center of national debate.
In much of the Middle East and Nothern Africa young children, as young as eight years old, are fighting in their armies and militias. Even though the Declaration states very clear in bold print of the parameters of all humans, including children, these countries still seem to disobey; but why is this? Who is really to blame for these acts of injustices on these young and innocent children? What really strikes me about the whole situation is America's involvement in all of this. On the Human Rights Activist website, it is said that over 250,000 children in more than twenty countries are forced to fight. The shocking evidence is not the 250,000 children who are fighting, but the ten countries who the United States are supplying with guns and money to help build these armies and militias.
It is comforting to know that two of your U.S. Senators have already proposed an act to fight against this atrocity. These children are being influenced to fight for, in most cases, an injust cause that not even the wise and old can unravel. It does not seem plausible for the "Big Brother" country of the World to be even remotely associated to such a crime because that is exactly what it is, a foolish and senseless act which the United States is very much apart of. The situation deems further debate. In my opinion, the light needs to be shined a lot more on this very serious issue. Surely it would be a different story if this were to happen here on our soil. I am certain it would instantly be put to shame, and harsher penalties against those who took part would unequivocally be handed out.


David A. Culp


Patrick Maguire

603 West Wabash Avenue
Crawfordsville, IN 47933

Dear Senator Bayh,
    My name is Patrick Maguire and I am a senior economics major at Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Indiana.  I am writing this letter to 
express my concern about the human rights violations currently occurring in the country of Burma.  I am sure that you are aware of the events 
from the media, and you have seen the brutal actions the Burmese military dictatorship.  However, my primary concern is the inaction of the 
United States government to not only acknowledge these violations, but also to stop the violence of the perpetrators 
and prevent further violations from happening.  
    It is difficult as a young American to learn about and even watch the people of Burma being oppressed, especially as the American 
government chooses only to intervene in countries in which it could benefit financially.  If America is supposed to be a leader among nations in 
protecting human rights, then it must maintain consistency in its decision to intervene, either by force or with monetary support.  Choosing to 
ignore the atrocities in Burma is irresponsible and unacceptable. 
    Just as millions of African-Americans initiated non-violent demonstrations across the United States during the civil rights movement, 20,000 
monks in Burma chose to do the same, only to be received with hostile and violent reactions from the military.  While unarmed monks and 
civilians were shot at, thousands more monks disappeared.  Journalists, women, children, and elders of the community were shot and beaten.  
Unlike the decentralized terrorist cells we are battling around the world, the violators are clear in this case, and the victims have little in-country 
    There are a variety of actions that the U.S. could take to respond to such violations of human rights; however, there are non-violent measures 
that could be taken.  I believe that one effective and reasonable solution would be to impose sanctions on Western companies who contribute 
financially, either directly or indirectly, to the Burmese military dictatorship.  Just as U.S. military operations put a high priority on freezing 
funds that contribute to terrorist activity, the same can be done to stem the growing power of the Burmese military.  The U.S. must also be 
adamant in its stand against the violence, and it must ensure that its response be implemented, despite opposition from China, Burma’s northern 
    I am fully aware that the United States cannot police the world and directly intervene every time a human rights violation occurs.  However, 
when violations as severe and obvious as the violations in Burma take place, the American government needs to ensure swift and appropriate 
action in order to maintain its role as a leader and protector of freedoms throughout the world.  I hope that you will not take this situation lightly 
like most of your peers.  I consider you to be a leader for not only the state of Indiana, but also a leader for the entire country.  Your word is 
respected and trusted, so the simple act raising a discussion surrounding this issue will be effective.  Thank you for your time, and do not 
fluctuate in your views of ensuring all individuals across the world deserve the same freedoms we experience here in the U.S. 

Patrick Maguire  


Senator Evan Bayh
131 Russell Office Building
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator Bayh:

I write to you this afternoon as this great country marks the 35th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision of Roe vs. Wade, which legalized abortions in America, to urge you to consider becoming a stronger supporter of Life. Since abortion’s legalization, over 40 million Americans have lost their lives, the equivalent of over six holocausts. In this letter I hope to convince you to use your senatorial powers to defend the gift of life, beginning at the moment of conception to the point of natural death. I will begin by defining exactly what I mean by abortion; argue for a firm definition for the beginning of life, as well offer suggestions as to what you can do to assist in ending this horrible violence.

The word abortion flashes across the news sources daily and is used to such an extent that we to forget exactly what the “medical procedure” entails and the prevalence of this practice in America. Abortion is defined by the National Abortion Federation (NAF) to come in two different forms: the first involves medications to end a pregnancy and the other by way of surgery. The surgery “Ends a pregnancy by emptying the uterus (or womb) with special instruments.” This language disgusts me; the National Abortion Federation describes the murder of approximately 1.3 million unborn children per year in such mundane terms as if they are removing the garbage. The fact remains that they are not removing the garbage; they are murdering a human being in a very intrusive, painful and degrading manner to the women who receive this “treatment”.

In order to fully understand the complex issue that abortion represents in the modern world, I hope to convince you of the beginning of the life. Currently laws protect American infants from something called infanticide or the killing a newborn. United States Law does allow for such killing to take place into the third trimester of a woman’s pregnancy. This limitation is based upon research which has determined when a fetus has a viable chance of survival outside of a mother’s womb. Modern technology continues to limit abortions to earlier and earlier in pregnancy; therefore a definition of life cannot exist in conjunction with a date that changes with the amount of technology available. Therefore, perhaps life begins at the first sign of one of life’s most vital characteristics, that of the beating of the human heart which starts twenty days after conception. While this previous example makes sense, perhaps the moment when the child has its own complete and unique DNA would prove to a more fruitful limit to a latest possible abortion. A child has its entire DNA at the moment of conception.

If life is determined to begin at conception, which I believe it does, then America is participating in the greatest human rights violation in the world. Abortion is the greatest killer in America, easily surpassing heart disease which claims almost 1 million Americans per year.

I hope this letter has raised your awareness on an extremely controversial issue in American politics and with your political powers; you stand in a position to do something about it. You are able to vote against bills that favor abortion “rights” and begin debating and voting in favor of the culture of Life.


Eric M. Eder

Richard G. Lugar

United States Senator for Indiana (R)

Dear Senator Lugar,

I would like to briefly introduce myself and also inform you of the purpose for my writing. My name is Dante Rau and I am currently a junior at Wabash College. I am originally from the East Coast, but have traveled a goodly distance to complete my college experience here, in the Mid-West. As a student at a liberal-arts institution, I am required by the school to take a number of English classes; the ultimate purpose being a broader perspective of education. In my most recent scholastic endeavor, I completed the reading of Voltaire’s epic satire, Candide. Throughout the story, I was able to identify Voltaire’s sympathetic feelings toward the violation of one’s human rights; an issue I have also grown to feel strongly about. During my research on this topic, I found that there are numerous cases throughout the world where people’s basic human rights are being violated on a daily basis. The most appalling instance I found comes in the form of children soldiers. It is estimated that there are over 250,000 child soldiers fighting in the world today; yes, I know, quite a scary thought. These children are the future of this world and their military involvement needs to be stopped immediately. In this letter I will outline a number of strategies that our government could use in order to improve this horrible situation. As I am just a college student, my word is not as powerful as yours, but with your help I feel that together we might be able to put an end to child soldiers everywhere.

It is a known fact that the United States sends copious military support to ten countries that exploit children as soldiers. This statistic is rather frightening to me because in this country we continuously preach against child involvement in military conflict, as is obvious in our draft laws, but then turn around and support child soldiers elsewhere in the world. Should our principles not hold true in foreign affairs? Or should we throw them by the wayside in hopes of making marginal economic gains off these already impoverished countries? If we were able to stop or even slow the U.S. military support to these countries, I believe our cause would be headed in the right direction.

Another strategy that I believe would be beneficial to our cause is an increase in the media attention on child soldiers. If we were able to have a camera crew capture the atrocities that these children are put through, I believe we will be able to drum up increased support to end the children’s’ involvement in warfare. Today, males as young as eight years old are serving in militias in such countries as Colombia, Sudan, and Uganda; all countries that are currently experiencing violent interior conflicts. Boys are not alone in military service though, as young girls often serve as “sex slaves” to the corrupted military commanders of these countries. With an increase in media attention in these areas, we would be able to bring these horrifying realities to light and put them in the face of the general public.

I am hopeful that this issue touches you as deeply as it does me, because I cannot complete this task without your help. With our combined effort, I believe we can put an end to child soldiers everywhere and make the world a safer and better place for children to live. Please consider my request and reply as soon as you are able. Thank you for your time.


Dante Rau

Illegal Detention Centers

Dear Senator Bayh,
"No person shall … be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law." Being a Senator, you obviously realize this passage is from the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution. I am sure you are also aware that the Fifth Amendment explains that these rights can only be suspended through fair and legal procedures. Due process has very deep roots, as well. Aristotle once said that the rule of law formed the very best state, because that state was ruled by laws, not men. The problem is that Aristotle would not think that the United States of America was the best state. Every day, the law is throwing due process out the window. Instead of laws, men now govern our state, since they are illegally holding people as so-called “enemy combatants” at Guantanamo Bay. These people have the right to due process; yet, every day they are denied one of the rights that make this country so great. As a man who takes great pride in the country he lives in and is grateful to the opportunities presented to him, I am outraged that one of the foundations of our country is being avoided so that we can justify our paranoia. I understand the country’s outrage over 9/11, because I, like many people, lost a friend who worked in those towers. The image is engraved in my head, and it haunts me to this day. However, our paranoia and frustration should not make us illegally detain people at Guantanamo.
Since the facility’s opening in 2002, 775 detainees were deemed as “enemy combatants.” Some of these detainees are United States citizens. The idea of the camp was to hold people for questioning and send them home if they have been cleared; yet, twenty percent of the 355 people held there have been granted their release as many as three years ago but have not been released yet. This is simply not acceptable. This is an utter violation of human rights and the U.S. Constitution, but it gets worse. Some of the detainees are transported to foreign countries so they can be tortured. Also, the other eighty percent of the men are being held without charge under indefinite detention. Clearly, this is a violation of common law, human rights, and the United States Constitution. Something must be done.
Amnesty International has made a 13-point plan outlining necessary steps to be taken to shut down Guantanamo and many secret detention centers run by the United States Government. The first step, which I have completed already, involves signing an electronic petition. This shows your support in ending illegal detention centers. Once the pledge is signed, you receive additional information from Amnesty International on how you can contribute. Senator Bayh, I strongly encourage and hope you visit and sign the same pledge as me and many other people from around the world. This is the first step to ending the existence of illegal detention centers ran by the U.S. Government. Once Guantanamo is closed, the rest will fall. Finally, Aristotle could recognize us as the best state again.
Counter-terrorism is necessary, but it should not alienate common law, human rights, and the United States Constitution. The government was designed to be “ran by the people, for the people.” The laws that govern us give us the great freedom that has provided Americans with countless opportunities. I cannot believe that what has been happening at Guantanamo has yet to stop. It is an embarrassment to our country. Amnesty International and the detainees need your help. You, as a United States Senator, could single-handedly change the tide of this battle. Sign the petition. Speak out against this obvious violation of human rights. The detainees are without “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
Mike Schultz, proud and concerned American Citizen

Underage Soldiers

To Whom It May Concern:

I am writing to you as a concerned college student to ask you to address the concern of foreign governments recruiting soldiers under the age of eighteen. According to the Human Rights Watch, an estimated 250,000 children are forced to fight and die for their country, some as young as the age of eight. These young boys and girls are not recruited, but more or less forced into fighting in over twenty countries throughout the world.
These children are used in all sorts of dangerous situations including spies, cooks, guards and front-line combatants. The girls are sometimes even used as sex slaves or “wives” of commanding officer. These atrocities are real, however the United States has not done enough to combat what by our standards would be slavery.
Some might think that only unmonitored rebel and guerilla factions would commit such a heinous deed. However, there are governments that do the same thing to fight these factions as well as pursue their own interests. What is even more egregious is that the United States of America provides military assistance to ten of these countries ranging from small donations for military training to hundreds of millions of dollars for weapons and military financing. Some of these countries that the Human Rights Watch lists include: Chad, Colombia, Ivory Coast, Democratic Republic of Congo, Sri Lanka, Sudan and Uganda.
By using deductive reasoning, it is obvious that our tax dollars are going to these countries through the financing of the United States. Therefore, we are indirectly supporting these governments forcing young children to fight and die even before they reach puberty.
The blood is on our hands, Senator. I implore you to take action. A bill has been drafted by Senator Durbin of Illinois and Senator Brownback of Kansas to restrict military aid to those countries that commit such atrocities. Do what is right, and keep United States weapons out of the hands of children. Vote to allow this bill to pass so that those who are weak and do not have a say are allowed to grow old enough to be able to make the choice as to whether or not they want to fight and die for their country.


John X. Holmes

Burmese Gem Industry

Dear Senator,
At what cost is this world willing to buy gems? The Burmese gem industry has been an ongoing problem in the world market for some time now. Conditions in Burma are deplorable and unacceptable. The land, controlled by military force, is the home of forced labor, child labor, pollution, and deadly disease. Human rights are clearly being violated and to make the situation worse, the people who are violating people’s rights are benefiting. As money is flowing into Burma from exports, the Burmese military and military owned companies are gaining financially. “The official trade in Burma’s gems was valued at US$297 million in fiscal year 2006-2007, according to reports citing customs figures” ( Who knows what will come of this situation if these military-owned organizations continue to be excessively funded. Though many countries have reduced their purchasing of gems from Burma, there is still one country that accounts for a very large sum of funding to Burma; China. In my opinion, China is selfish to continue to fund such organizations, no matter what the gain may be. Senator, we must do something to help, warn, and stop China from buying from these gems.
Many Human Rights organizations have urged governments around the world to impose sanctions on the Burmese gem industry. The industry holds gem auctions in which Burma typically earns hundreds of millions of dollars. After governments around the world have imposed sanctions on the gem trade, the auctions’ earnings for this past year were less than half of what was expected ( The United States, many European countries, and Canada specifically, have helped to raise international pressure toward the gem industry. Industry sales are declining as a result. Some companies like Tiffany & Company and Leber Jewelers are boycotting purchasing from Burma altogether ( Countries are seemingly trying to crack down on this unjust way of business; business that forces work upon children in conditions that include environmental pollution and diseases like HIV/AIDS, and drug-resistant malaria ( The treating of humans beings like that in Burma is unethical. Are we willing to be unethical for monetary gain?
China has not imposed such strict sanctions perhaps because of the coming of Olympics. China continues to fund this industry in heavy amounts. The reason for China spending so much money is that Burma is the world’s top producer of jade. With the coming of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China is marketing many products made from jade. Just because the Olympics only happen once every four years, does not mean that China should support the unethical gem industry. Retail items and other souvenirs can be made from other materials. Instead of souvenirs, China should be worried about imposing sanctions for matter of life and death.
In my opinion, the Olympics are time for the whole world to come together and share culture; not to support the violation of human rights. The Olympics are great for world relations and bringing the world together, however, it is hypocrisy if we fund industries that violate the rights of our fellow humans which tear the world apart. Even though China is the only country not imposing sanctions, it does not mean the world should not take action. The whole world must speak out to stop this crisis. It is our job to persuade China to stop their purchasing from Burma if they will not act themselves. If one country gets away with not imposing sanctions, then it seems that is okay for another country to do so. The Burmese gem industry is not okay, it is not fair, and it is unethical. I strongly purpose that our government take a stand and reason with China; perhaps hold a conference. Personally, there is not much I can do but raise awareness of this issue. I will spread the word against the Burmese gem industry and as a country we must spread the word. The U.S. has already imposed sanctions and now China must follow suit. This problem is a world issue that needs to be handled by all nations, including China.


P. J. Tyson

Letter to Senator Lugar

Dear Senator Lugar,

Today I would like to bring to your attention a grievous human rights violation that is occurring today in Iran. More than 24 minors have been executed since 1990, and, according to Amnesty International, at least 71 minor offenders are currently on death row. Despite the fact that the Iranian government denies such allegations, there have already been two executions of minors recorded this year, and Amnesty International believes that many more executions may go unreported. According to Iranian law, capital offenses include adultery by married people, incest, rape, four convictions of an unmarried person for fornication, three convictions for drinking alcohol, or four convictions for homosexual acts among men. While some of these “crimes” that are considered deserving of the death penalty are highly questionable by standards of our freedom, the execution of minors is completely unacceptable and cannot be tolerated.

In one example taken from, Sina Paymard was arrested as a sixteen year old and sentenced to death for knifing a man over a marijuana-related dispute. Two years later, just two weeks after he turned 18, he was taken to the gallows to be hanged. His last dying wish, to play a tune on a reed flute that his father had given him, so moved his accusers that they decided to accept a payment of $160,000 instead of capital punishment. However, after Sina’s family finally raised the money, the victim’s relatives refused to accept it, and Paymard was placed back on death row. Although he was finally released on December 24, 2007 after three and a half years in prison, this may have been due to the great deal of media attention which the case received.

Another example of this inhumane punishment can be witnessed in the story of Atefeh Rajabi. She was hanged in 2004 after being arrested at the age of 16 for her fourth conviction of crimes against her chastity. These “crimes” included being in a car with a boy, visiting a cafĂ© without a chaperon, and being arrested at home because of a petition signed by local residents who accused her of having an affair with a 51-year-old man. Although she was reported to be 22 in court documents at the time of her execution, her true age was actually 16.

Although Iran claims to have legislation pending in Parliament that will end execution of juvenile defenders, this legislation would actually only offer a reduced sentence in a small number of cases. Furthermore, this legislation has been pending in the Iranian parliament since July 2006. It appears that Iran is in no hurry to curtail their unjust execution of children. In fact, according to, as recently as February 2006, a judge in Tehran’s appellate court stated that Iran would continue to issue death sentences to juvenile delinquents, “without considering other available options.”

In order to illustrate the United States’ intolerance of these hideous human rights violations, I would like to propose that the government place a full trade embargo on Iran similar to that which has been placed on Cuba. According to the US Census bureau, the United States imported 160.2 million dollars worth of goods from Iran, and exported around 114.3 million dollars of goods to Iran. I believe that a complete trade embargo would show Iran how seriously we oppose their human rights violations. In addition, this action would make a bold statement by not allowing our own companies to do business with a people who have so little regard for humane treatment of criminals and the lives of young people.

Although the UN has apparently already censured Iran for its inhumane killing of youth, I feel as though the harshest economic penalties from the US would be the best possible way for us to help end these atrocities. I feel that no other method we could use would work particularly well, since Iran seems to have little respect for us or our culture. However, since money is the universal language, I believe that it will have the greatest impact on Iran. Even if it fails to stop the violence, it can at the very least show the rest of the world that we refuse to interact with such an unfair and cruel government.


Greg Slisz