More than half the refugees UNHCR serves now live in urban areas
An A-Z of refugee achievers around the world.
More than half the refugees UNHCR serves now live in urban areas
An A-Z of refugee achievers around the world.
The concept of separating church and state is often credited to the writings of English John Locke. philosopher According to his principle of the social contract, Locke argued that the government lacked authority in the realm of individual conscience, as this was something rational people could not cede to the government for it or others to control. For Locke, this created a natural right in the liberty of conscience, which he argued must therefore remain protected from any government authority. These views on religious tolerance and the importance of individual conscience, along with his social contract, became particularly influential in the American colonies and the drafting of the United States Constitution.Thomas Jefferson stated: “Bacon, Locke and Newton..I consider them as the three greatest men that have ever lived, without any exception, and as having laid the foundation of those superstructures which have been raised in the physical and moral sciences” Indeed such was Locke’s influence,
Reflecting a concept often credited in its original form to the English political philosopher John Locke, the phrase separation of church and state is generally traced to the letter written by Thomas Jefferson in 1802 to the Danbury Baptists, in which he referred to the First Amendment to the United States Constitution as creating a “wall of separation” between church and state.United States Supreme Court first in 1878, and then in a series of cases starting in 1947. This led to increased popular and political discussion of the concept. The phrase was quoted by the
The concept has since been adopted in a number of countries, to varying degrees depending on the applicable legal structures and prevalent views toward the proper role of religion in society. A similar principle of laïcité has been applied in France and Turkey, while some socially secularized countries such as Norway have maintained constitutional recognition of an official state religion. The concept parallels various other international social and political ideas, including secularism, disestablishment, religious liberty, and religious pluralism.
A law that makes people suspects on the basis of their looks should outrage African Americans, even if they are worried about illegal immigration.
The immigration law passed in Arizona last week is the kind of reckless act that keeps us minorities paranoid in America. The new law compels local law enforcers to verify immigration status based on “reasonable suspicion”–whatever that is–and has created the potential for cops to stop brown people in the streets and demand to see their papers. Even the sheriff of Pima County, Ariz., (which borders Mexico) says the law is “stupid,” “racist,” and would force his officers to racially profile people. The scope of the law was narrowed after its passage in order to assure Hispanics, who make up 30 percent of the state’s population, that they would not be the victims of racial profiling.
But those assurances that people won’t be suspects because of the way they look have little credibility when the experience of black and brown people in America has been so contrary to those promises. Being stopped for Driving While Black (or Brown) is such a common phenomenon that comedians make jokes about it. And a city like New York, which operates a massive stop-and-frisk policy that probably violates a dozen constitutional principles, keeps trying to explain why black and brown citizens make up 80 to 90 percent of those questioned by police. The latest rationale: They fit the description of suspected perps when 98 percent of those stopped and questioned are innocent of any crime.
The reason people of color get worked up about such policies is America’s nasty habit of making everything racial in a panic. We have a long history of lynchings and runaway convictions that were triggered by fears that black people were getting out of hand in some fashion, whether it was interracial sex or talking back to massa. The roundup of Japanese Americans during World War II will forever stain this country’s history.
After 9/11, looking Arab or simply wearing a turban, whether you are Muslim or not, turned out to be a grave danger in some parts of the country and a constant annoyance in others. No Muslim American believes that the frequent “random” checks they endured at airports in the months after the tragedy were really a matter of chance. And last week, the front page of the Boston Herald illustrated a cover story about the crackdown on benefits for illegal immigrants with a photo of black, Hispanic and Asian models, their foreheads stamped with the following: “No Tuition, No Welfare, No Medicaid.” Ironically, the headline at above the newspaper’s logo announced a “workplace diversity job fair.”
Of course, the concept of white or blonde illegal aliens is apparently beyond the capacity of the people passing the laws or the editors at the Herald. But nearly 600,000 of those in the United States illegally were estimated to come from Europe or Canada in 2005; and while I knew many Irish, English and other Europeans who had overstayed their visas when I was growing up in New York, I never heard of a raid of an Irish bar, except when ATF or the FBI were trying to trap Irish Republican Army gun runners during the “troubles.”
Now Arizona, better known for resorts, retirees in golf carts, and college basketball teams whose players never graduate, is suddenly at the center of a debate that could shape U.S. politics for the next 10 years. The only surprise is that it took so long. All the great economies have been struggling with the immigration issue for years. Just last week, France was in tizzy about the burqa, the full-length outfit with only an eye-slit that conservative Muslim women wear. Nicolas Sarkozy’s government has considered banning the burqa on security grounds (you can’t identify the person), but the real reason behind this initiative, Arizona’s or any of the dozen being considered in other states or countries is fear of change.
No doubt, the Great Recession of the last three years has heightened American insecurity. Although the downturn has hit blue-collar workers the hardest, many people who thought they were solidly in the middle class have seen their savings, their safety net, even their homes evaporate in the financial collapse. The next step for many of them would be to step “down” into the blue-collar workforce. Suddenly, the Mexican, Salvadorian and African immigrants they hardly noticed during boom times are now potential competitors.
African Americans, who lost more than their fair share of blue-collar jobs in the downturn, have long been ambiguous about illegal immigration. As Cord Jefferson noted here a few months ago, a growing number of experts believe that blacks and Hispanic immigrants battle for unskilled jobs at the bottom of the labor pool. Black Americans have not turned out in large numbers at immigration rallies, despite the fact that many African-American politicians talk of the need for coalitions with Hispanics.
But a law that puts you in jeopardy for being has special resonance with black Americans. We already know the peril of living in a state where you are presumed guilty by the color of your skin. A law that makes a suspect of anyone who might look illegal should make us vigorously resist this encroachment.
Joel Dreyfuss is managing editor of The Root. Follow him on Twitter
first posted in 5/2010 …
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Here is the text of the email: Here’s something you probably don’t know about Albert Einstein.
In 1946, the Nobel Prize-winning physicist traveled to Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, the alma mater of Langston Hughes and Thurgood Marshall and the first school in America to grant college degrees to blacks.
At Lincoln, Einstein gave a speech in which he called racism “a disease of white people,” and added, “I do not intend to be quiet about it.” He also received an honorary degree and gave a lecture on relativity to Lincoln students.
In fact, many significant details are missing from the numerous studies of Einstein’s life and work, most of them having to do with Einstein’s opposition to racism and his relationships with African Americans.
Einstein continued to support progressive causes through the 1950s, when the pressure of anti-Communist witch hunts made it dangerous to do so. Another example of Einstein using his prestige to help a prominent African American occurred in 1951, when the 83-year-old W.E.B. Du Bois, a founder of the NAACP, was indicted by the federal government for failing to register as a “foreign agent” as a consequence of circulating the pro-Soviet Stockholm Peace Petition. Einstein offered to appear as a character witness for Du Bois, which convinced the judge to drop the case.
In the wake of the monumental effort to digitize Einstein’s life and genius for the masses, let’s hope that more of us will acknowledge Einstein’s greatness as a champion of human and civil rights for African-Americans as one of his greatest contributions to the world.
Origins: The e-mail reproduced above is an excerpt from a 2007 Harvard University Gazette article about a talk given by Fred Jerome and Rodger Taylor, authors of the 2006 book Einstein on Race and Racism. As related in that article, Jerome and Taylor undertook their effort in order to “recognize and correct many significant details missing from the numerous studies of Einstein’s life and work, most of them having to do with Einstein’s opposition to racism and his relationships with African Americans:
Nearly fifty years after his death, Albert Einstein remains one of America’s foremost cultural icons. A thicket of materials, ranging from scholarly to popular, have been written, compiled, produced, and published about his life and his teachings. Among the ocean of Einsteinia — scientific monographs, biographies, anthologies, bibliographies, calendars, postcards, posters, and Hollywood films — however, there is a peculiar void when it comes to the connection that the brilliant scientist had with the African American community. Virtually nowhere is there any mention of his relationship with Paul Robeson, despite Einstein’s close friendship with him, or W.E.B. Du Bois, despite Einstein’s support for him.
This unique book is the first to bring together a wealth of writings by Einstein on the topic of race. Although his activism in this area is less well known than his efforts on behalf of international peace and scientific cooperation, he spoke out vigorously against racism both in the United States and around the world.
In May 1946, Einstein made a rare public appearance outside of Princeton, New Jersey (where he lived and worked in the latter part of his life), when he traveled to the campus of Pennsylvania’s Lincoln University, the United States’ first degree-granting black university, to take part in a ceremony conferring upon him the honorary degree of doctor of laws. Prior to accepting that degree, he delivered a ten-minute speech to the assembled audience in which he called upon the United States to take a leading role in preventing another world war and denounced the practice of segregation. Because mainstream U.S. newspapers reported little or nothing about the event, a full transcript of Einstein’s speech that day does not exist — the only existing record of his words is a few excerpts pieced together from quotes reproduced in coverage by the black press:
The only possibility of preventing war is to prevent the possibility of war. International peace can be achieved only if every individual uses all of his power to exert pressure on the United States to see that it takes the leading part in world government.
The United Nations has no power to prevent war, but it can try to avoid another war. The U.N. will be effective only if no one neglects his duty in his private environment. If he does, he is responsible for the death of our children in a future war.
My trip to this institution was in behalf of a worthwhile cause.
There is a separation of colored people from white people in the United States. That separation is not a disease of colored people. It is a disease of white people. I do not intend to be quiet about it.
The situation of mankind today is like that of a little child who has a sharp knife and plays with it. There is no effective defense against the atomic bomb … It can not only destroy a city but it can destroy the very earth on which that city stood.
As the authors of “Einstein on Race and Racism” noted, Einstein’s comments about segregation at Lincoln University reflected his own experiences in both his native Germany and his adopted home in the United States and were part of a pattern of his attempting to ameliorate the effects of discrimination:
According to Jerome and Taylor, Einstein’s statements at Lincoln were by no means an isolated case. Einstein, who was Jewish, was sensitized to racism by the years of Nazi-inspired threats and harassment he suffered during his tenure at the University of Berlin. Einstein was in the United States when the Nazis came to power in 1933, and, fearful that a return to Germany would place him in mortal danger, he decided to stay, accepting a position at the recently founded Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, N.J. He became an American citizen in 1940.
But while Einstein may have been grateful to have found a safe haven, his gratitude did not prevent him from criticizing the ethical shortcomings of his new home.
“Einstein realized that African Americans in Princeton were treated like Jews in Germany,” said Taylor. “The town was strictly segregated. There was no high school that blacks could go to until the 1940s.”
Einstein’s response to the racism and segregation he found in Princeton (Paul Robeson, who was born in Princeton, called it “the northernmost town in the South”) was to cultivate relationships in the town’s African-American community. Jerome and Taylor interviewed members of that community who still remember the white-haired, disheveled figure of Einstein strolling through their streets, stopping to chat with the inhabitants, and handing out candy to local children.
One woman remembered that Einstein paid the college tuition of a young man from the community. Another said that he invited Marian Anderson to stay at his home when the singer was refused a room at the Nassau Inn.