Monthly Archives: April 2017

US Strikes on Syria

Last week, the United States issued a tomahawk strike on Syria, on the order of Donald Trump. These strikes were in response to the Syrian government chemically attacking its own people. Even under President Obama it was understood that President Bashir al-Assad, should be removed from power, as he is a danger to his own people. However, United States involvement in Syria is a delicate geo-political game, because Assad is being supported by the Russian government.

Putting aside the recent and undoubtedly troubling controversy about Donald Trump and his cabinet’s involvement with Russia and Russian officials, the United States refused the Syrian refugees fleeing Assad, on the grounds of potential threats to national security. That means that the people Donald Trump is claiming to protect are the same ones that he refused to give sanctuary to.

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With consideration to Donald Trump’s involvement with Russia and Vladimir Putin, this strike on Syria is conveniently timed. As his administrators are investigated for their involvement with the Russian government, he ordered a strike on the site of the chemical attacks. Some journalists and citizens (myself included) believe this is an attempt to distract the public and the media from questions about his administrations loyalties. Especially because of Trump’s own accusations against President Obama for this very tactic

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As of his fourth month in office, two of his cabinet members have had to resign because of their ties to Russia. The president’s own monetary ties are documented, his political connection is highly suspect–especially after he asked Russian hackers to interfere with the election, and his personal ties to Vladimir Putin are often speculated about. This is important, because with all of these connections to Russia, one wonders if there is a hidden agenda behind the attacks.

But it is even more important because it is indicative of the president’s attitude toward foreign relations. It is already well-known that Donald Trump is not well-spoken, well-versed in affairs of government and diplomacy, or well-received by either the American public or by foreign nations. Rather than a strategic, inclusive approach to delicate geopolitical problems, his solution is to seal America’s borders to those who need help, and bomb the country, with both the threat and the refugees contained.

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A lot of the concerning issues we see in the media are connected to this precedent of violence that is being set. For instance, the proposed budget that would cut nearly every government program from PBS to the National Parks Service to Meals on Wheels to increase military spending is greatly disquieting.

TRUMP BUDGET_0The American people would be deprived of things like NPR, and of arts and culture and different perspective, all the things that help make our country great, so that we could afford to go to war against anyone who opposed Donald Trump. His attempts to lessen media coverage of  White House affairs and presidential policies are frightening, because we would be left with only one-sided  far-right coverage and his own, incoherent tweets for information.

These are difficult times for informed Americans, but they are even more difficult for the refugees of Syria, who’s people just want to survive this proxy war.

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IAC Eve of Nations: 4th International Event

On Friday, April 7, was the 47th annual Eve of Nations event put on by the International Advisory Committee, with the help of all the International Student Organizations on campus. I was especially excited to go because my friend, Omar Shendi, is the president this year.

The event is always spectacular. Lot of different clubs and cultures come together and showcase their heritage through a wide range of creative expression. There were groups that preferred to introduce the audience to traditional songs and dances; there were some that chose to excite the audience with contemporary music from their homelands; and some promoted cultural acceptance and inclusion by performing using songs with a mixture of cultural  inspiration.

There were also guest performances by groups that were not necessarily student organizations but who’s culture and traditions were undoubtedly deserving of acknowledgement and applause. My favorite of these guest performances was the Native American dances. It was strictly traditional, with a man to one side of the stage beating a drum and singing into a microphone. Three dancers in three different examples of traditional attire each had their turn to dance. Each dance was progressively more energetic and each costume more elaborate, until the third dancer, dressed in very brightly colored feathers and a beautiful, elaborate headdress was whirling around the stage with such fervor and precision that I was amazed at his skill.

Guest Native American Dancers
Guest Native American Dancers

The crowd favorite was an Indian dance crew that included more contemporary Bollywood music that drew on other artists influence as well, including Beyonce.

Indian Guest Dance Group
Indian Guest Dance Group

After the guest performances, the competition portion of the event began. Every group had a different energy and different flavor, and this diversity of performance kept me, and I suspect the rest of the audience, excited about what to expect next. There was a traditional ribbon dance from the Chinese student group, a skit and energized dance from the Angolan student association, and a stunning multi-group, moving-part performance from the Indian student group. I loved the grace and beauty of the Chinese student association’s dance. It was beautiful, and though I’d heard of traditional Chinese ribbon dancing, I’d never actually seen a performance.

Chinese Ribbon Dancing
Chinese Ribbon Dancing

The Angolan Student Association was amusing and it looked inviting. The students were jumping and dancing and their energy was contagious, and made me want to join them on stage.

Angolan Student Association
Angolan Student Association

The Indian students ended up winning the evening, and it was well-deserved. They had several sets of dancers and music selections, a great costumes that wowed the audience. But every group looked like they were having fun.

Eve of Nations 2017 Performers
Eve of Nations 2017 Performers

 

I think that it is noteworthy to talk about the audience of the Eve of Nations. It’s usually a little small for the venue, but that doesn’t matter because the people who are in the audience are what’s important. It’s usually made up of family members of the international students performing and OU students. Both family and friends cheered equally for the performers, and it really is an inclusive event.

At the end of the event, Omar got up to give his speech. I could tell he was nervous, but he did a great job of summarizing the feel of the event and the OU students who participated in it. In many ways, these international student groups are the only contact some students will have other cultures and traditions. And it is important to note that though it is a little intimidating to be in a new country, the students who participated fearlessly put themselves out there and brought a little cultural diversity to Norman.