Category Archives: Human Rights

Taking in Syrian Immigrants Immoral?

Recently, I was trying to find non-xenophobic arguments against the US taking in Syrian immigrants. I found a potential case in National Review (assuming the numbers truly are reliable). Two writers from the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) argue that it costs an estimated $12,874 per year (for the first 5 years) to resettle Middle-Eastern Refugees in the US while it may cost around $1,057 per year to move them to relative — if temporary — safety in neighboring Turkey, Jordan, and Lebanon. Again, if this is true, we could assist roughly twelve times the humans by helping resettle Syrians into neighboring countries with the same resource investment.

But, should we be concerned about this study’s impartiality? Maybe. The same authors published a study last year for CIS warning that immigration in general is a problem, partly because Muslims (who, incidentally, make up less than 1% of the US population) pose a significant security threat. These immigrants will, undoubtedly, “board an airliner and blow it up” according to one co-author*.

The person who said that, Steven Camarota, has remarked on another even more serious immigrant threat very concisely in the past: “[E]ach 10 percent increase in the immigrant share of the county’s population reduced the Republican vote by about six percentage points [over the last 30 years]”*.

Of course, we can’t discount this study/argument simply because the writers may be generally biased against immigration. Hopefully, PolitiFact will have a look at their figures.

Agree or not, there are still solid ways to try to help out the thousands of Syrian civilians in need. Both Charity Navigator and Charity Watch highly rate American Refugee Committee International as an effective charity. GiveWell recommends Doctors Without Borders.

The Interview

Friendly reminder that responding with racism isn’t suddenly justified if the person is a bad person (even if they’re, say, a genocidal dictator). The Interview is probably racist as hell. Team America was racist as hell.
Get over it, nerds.

Even if it was, it wouldn’t justify or excuse the bully or threats of violence to prevent it from being shown. The decision of pulling it makes sense but people have a problem with the use of threats from an outside group to try to force others in deciding what should or shouldn’t be released or seen. Even if it is a stupid movie.

There’s been other movies affected by the fear these threats have caused that you probably wouldn’t label as racist, so I don’t see how this movie being “probably” racist has anything to do with this.

Continue reading The Interview

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Thought

Clifton  A fact you might find it worthwhile to ponder today: had all early Americans adopted a vegan lifestyle, human slavery would never have existed in this country.
Erika  Yeah, slaves are too gamy for me. Last I checked, cotton is still considered vegan safe.
Lori  Wait … we ate slaves?
Clifton  Well, these days, cotton is harvested by machines. No serious vegan or vegetarian would purchase cotton products where the cotton was harvested by slaves. (Incidentally, I highly recommend the Planet Money series on the origin of t-shirts for anyone really interested in exploring the human labor involved in modern clothing production.)

Veganism and vegetarianism aren’t just about what you eat, but more about not causing living things to suffer or die unnecessarily.

When might it be necessary for a living thing to suffer or die? Perhaps when we’re trying to find cures to devastating illnesses as were Banting/Best and Pasteur to name a few.

Clifton I’d like to add that I would support any variety of eating less meat, including this
Jon  Is the vegan included in the lifestyle of not causing living things to suffer? ๐Ÿ˜‰
Clifton  Yeah, Jon, I imagine a lot of people find any talk of changing their behavior insufferable. Any direct mention of the possible merits of not eating meat could ultimately be a terrible PR move. I hope not, of course.

In my defense, I think it’s been quite a while since I posted some pro-vegan/vegetarian propaganda.

Also, as usual, I was hoping that someone would uncover the fault(s) in my reasoning. I do freely admit that I might have it all wrong. I believe my agnosticism is quite pathological at this point.

Rachel  Haha my agnosticism as well there are so many times where I say I believe this but maybe I’m wrong. Maybe we’re all right, maybe we’re all wrong?
Clifton  Agnosticism: withholding certainty to grant that knowing all facts is probably impossible in some circumstances. I still do this with anthropogenic climate change. Ultimately, I feel I must acknowledge that I probably won’t live long enough to learn everything (regarding climate change or anything else) and must therefore rely on experts to some extent. The best survey of experts I know of found a 97-98% consensus among preeminent scientists actively publishing on climate science. So, that’s what I go with and act on.

Similarly, all large studies I know of conclude that eating little or no meat is healthier than eating greater quantities of meat: the Loma Linda studies, the Seven Countries Study, the Framingham Heart Study, the Cornell-Oxford-China Health Project, and the Lifestyle Heart Trial. I don’t think I’m cherry-picking here. These are the only major studies of human nutrition I know of and they all have similar things to say about meat: less (or none) is better.

And, this seems to me to nicely sum up the environmental impact of meat consumption:

Against the Personal Preference Diet

If our going-in belief is, “Meat-eating is morally acceptable as it is a personal decision,” this belief equates acceptable morality with personal preference: “I like to eat beef; therefore, it is acceptable to kill and eat cows.” This easily permits the equivalent expression, “I like to eat Soylent Green; therefore, it is acceptable to kill and eat people.”

However, if we use unnecessary suffering as our benchmark, we can easily defeat both arguments. We first grant that unnecessary suffering is bad. We then grant that the more unnecessary suffering our actions cause, the worse those actions are.

We know that eating animals causes suffering in at least one direct way and one indirect way.

Factory farming is a direct way in which animals suffer. Conditions in many large-scale meat production operations cause animals to suffer cramped quarters, little or no outdoor grazing ability, and inhumane slaughter. Continue reading Against the Personal Preference Diet

Report: Number of Animals Killed In US Increases in 2010: “~10 billion land animals were raised and killed for food in the United States in 2010.”
Farm Animal Rights Movement
Do Chickens Suffer in Wire Cages?: “Dawkins explains that if hens kept all their lives on wire floors are suddenly given access to a floor of wood-shavings or peat, they have ‘an immediate and strong preference for these more natural floors over the wire ones, which is all they have known until then.’ “
United Poultry Concerns
The Human Cost of Animal Suffering: “The sheer volume, scale and rate of killing, the way the animals form a continuous stream rather than individual creatures, makes it clear the animals are seen as raw material.”
Timothy Pachirat

Napalm Sticks to Kids

Below is a poem/military chant that is a composite of one that appears in an issue of a comic book called Slow Death (#4, 1972) and one I found at the Digital Tradition Folk Music Database.

The poem/chant is preceded in Slow Death by the following:

Thanks very much for all the letters, no room for a do loop letter page or a Slow Death Quiz this time. The cartoon was sent to us by Eric Kimball. The poem was the work of a group of AF and Army GIs assigned to the First Air Cav who sat down one night in a hootch in Nam and wrote a poem. It expressed their bitterness about the things they had done and toward the military that had made them murderers. The poem was first published in the June 71 issue of helping hand; POB 729, Mountain Home, Idaho 83647. Each verse depicts an actual event that at least one of the men participated in. Continue reading Napalm Sticks to Kids

E-mail Sent to American Eagle Outfitters

My message:

Hi, American Eagle Outfitters!

I’m interested in your pants!

Where are they made?

I like corduroy specifically (for comfort and sanitary reasons), but I’d like to know where all of your clothes are made.  Are they made in America?  If not, where?  How well compensated are workers who make American Eagle Outfitter clothing?


Continue reading E-mail Sent to American Eagle Outfitters