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If Emma Lazarus could have words with Donald Trump

Author:
elport4

By Sofia Heller

Emma Lazarus was a 19th century Jewish American writer whose poem “The New Colossus,” engraved on Lady Liberty’s platform, embraces immigrants as they enter the United States. Though she was from an upper class family, Lazarus defied societal restrictions and norms and dared others to do the same. She confronted sexism, anti-Semitism, and class struggles in her pursuit of a career in writing and activism.

Despite the fact that writing was an uncommon profession for women at the time, Lazarus rose in popularity and success. She took control of her own career, unencumbered by conventional societal ideals. She published her first book of poetry before she turned 18, and then sought out Ralph Waldo Emerson as a mentor.

Lazarus often wrote about issues pertaining to Jewish people: the treatment of Jews in America and the struggle of Jews worldwide. With the vicious onslaught of pogroms throughout Russia, Lazarus saw the influx of Jews immigrating to America.

Since Lazarus’ family had immigrated to America before the Revolutionary War, they were considered to be the refined elite. Typically, upper class American Jews did not regard Jewish immigrants sympathetically. These wealthier Jews were focused on maintaining their high status in society and didn’t want lower class immigrants to weigh them down. However, as in many aspects of her life, Lazarus took an independent approach.

Lazarus volunteered with the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society and called attention to the immigrants’ struggles. After being asked to write a poem for the plaque on the Statue of Liberty’s platform, Lazarus chose to cement a message of warm welcome to immigrants in “The New Colossus.” Lazarus’ poem resonates today, relaying a crucial message of inclusivity in a time of uncertainty–especially regarding the future of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

DACA was ushered in by an executive order signed by President Obama in June 2012. It’s a vital protection for people who immigrated to America as children but never gained legal status. The program allows these people –called Dreamers – to stay in the country with a two year renewable visa, and therefore emerge from under the radar without threat of deportation.

Five years later, President Trump has put DACA, an act of basic human compassion, in peril. In September of this year, Trump rescinded the DACA executive order. The deadline for eligible DACA recipients to apply for or renew a visa expired October 5. Now, Congress has six months–until March 5, 2018–to figure out a solution for the policy.

According to CNN, nearly 800,000 people will be forced to uproot their lives if the DACA program is taken away. These Dreamers have grown up only knowing America and its culture. They have gone to school here. They have planted their roots here. DACA gives Dreamers the ability to continue to participate in and positively contribute to American society.

When considering this new threat to DACA, we must remember Lazarus’ relevant lessons.

Lazarus asks us to take responsibility for the wellbeing of all people. She asks us not to turn our backs on immigrants and to remember that, except for indigenous people, all Americans are immigrants. She asks Jews, specifically, to remember their hardships as immigrants. Lazarus asks us to see America as a country that, by nature, embraces immigrants with open arms.

Now more than ever, we must heed Lazarus’ iconic words: “Give me your tired, your poor,/Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,/The wretched refuse of your teeming shore./Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,/I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

This content has been provided by the Jewish Women’s Archive

There’s a reason I don’t have 100k for a housing deposit, and it’s not an £832 lottery ticket habit

Author:
fourrowhouses

By Pip Williams

I’m a Millennial, and your out of touch saving plans don’t reflect my lifestyle

Millennials – defined as the generation born between about 1980 and 2000 – are pretty much all adults now. When this September rolls around, the cohort of students hitting British universities will include students born in this millennium. Why is it, then, that adults from the generations before us still feel the need to patronise us with instructions on how to live our lives.

Earlier this week, London newspaper Evening Standard ran a video summarising how an estate agent named Strutt and Parker thinks millennials should change their lifestyle in order to save for a housing deposit. The “luxuries” we should all apparently be eschewing include:

  • A night out once a week, valued at £6000 per annum
  • Takeaways, valued at £2640 per annum
  • Phone upgrades, valued at £154 per annum
  • Lottery tickets, valued at £832 per annum
  • Ready-made salads and sandwiches, valued at £2576 per annum
  • Foreign city breaks, valued at £700 per annum

Vice did a pretty good breakdown of how ridiculous these costs are, but as a 23-year-old student living just outside London, I’d like to give you a rundown of how they compare to my life.

I’m a middle class student who does receive regular financial help from my parents alongside my maintenance loan, so in theory I should be one of the most comfortably off in my bracket. Let me tell you, my life doesn’t come anywhere close to Strutt and Parker’s figures. (For clarity, I’m excluding rent and regular utility payments from my budget calculations.)

Let’s start with that night once a week, apparently valued at £115.38 each time. First up, that alone costs more than my weekly budget. Secondly, I’ll add that I probably go on big nights out in London once a term, because of the cost of drinks. Thirdly, I’ll add that a big night out probably comes in at around a third of that cost for me – say £10 on travel and £30 maximum on club entries and drinks. If I got home and found myself over £100 out of pocket, I’d be furious and distraught. Anyone imagining that I’m doing that once a month, let alone once a week, must be sorely mistaken!

Now onto those pesky takeaways. £50.77 a week, is it? Coming in at over half my weekly budget, this figure feels similarly out of touch. My local takeaway’s minimum delivery is £16, and I usually struggle to make it up to that even ordering for myself and a housemate. Assuming that we split that cost between two of us, that’s £8 each. How often do we do that? Maybe once a month. We’re spending in a year what Strutt and Parker reckons we spend in 2 weeks.

I don’t have much to say about phone upgrades. I upgrade every 2 years and I’m on a fixed tariff contract so the price doesn’t change. Cutting out the upgrades would make my contract a little cheaper, sure, but it would also mean my phone would be pretty obsolete within a couple of years. Considering I’m in a long-distance relationship and don’t live near many of my friends, I’m labeling that one a necessary expense (for myself, at any rate).

To me, the estimated lottery ticket spending is the most absurd figure. I’m apparently meant to be spending 2 months-worth of my yearly budget on lottery tickets!? I don’t know anyone under the age of 60 who buys lottery tickets, let alone spends SIXTEEN BRITISH POUNDS A WEEK ON THEM.

Hang in there, we’re almost done. Just two more ridiculous claims to debunk. Apparently millenials are spending £49.36 a WEEK on ready-made sandwiches and salads. In my uni café, sandwiches cost about £2.50. Assuming I was buying lunch there every weekday, I’d be spending £12.50 a week. Even if I decided to splash out and go elsewhere for a bougie lil Pret flatbread every day, that would still only cost about £25 a week. As Joel Golby points out in the Vice piece, “the ingredients for sandwiches are not, despite your calculations, free, and once you’ve actually spent money on, say, bread and ham and cheese, you’re not actually vastly up on money you would have spent on just buying one at a shop anyway.

He makes a fair point. I usually do make my sandwiches at home, and I spend about £5 a week on the ingredients I need to do so. Subtract that cost from the £12.50 I could be spending on sandwiches in uni, and I’m saving a princely £7.50 a week. That does add up, I suppose, to £390 a year, but it’s still a far cry from Strutt and Parker’s calculation of £2576.

Onto the final point: foreign city breaks. This is something I do do when I have the time and money (so once a year, if I’m lucky). In the past two years, I have been to Budapest for four days and Berlin for six days. All expenses included – flights, accommodation, food, and spending money – Budapest cost me under £200. Berlin was more expensive, and I had a lot of financially-associated regrets as a result, but it was still under £400 in total. In two years, I still spent less than half of what Strutt and Parker would have expected me to. Holidays may be a luxury, but they’re something we all need from time to time, and cutting them out can have an extremely detrimental effect on our mental health. As Golby says, “I might have a house by the end of it, but I’ll also have a death wish.”

So, there we go. In overview, Strutt and Parker reckon their tips will save you £12902 a year. To put that in context, that’s almost double the disposable cash I have in that period. This is cash I need to feed myself, to buy clothes, to travel to see my girlfriend and my family, to buy cat litter.

The people telling millennials how to save are so devastatingly out of touch with the realities of our lives that their tips are utterly obsolete. There’s a reason we don’t have £100k for a housing deposit, and let me tell you, it’s not an £832 lottery ticket habit.

Jeremy Corbyn and the fightback against capitalism

Author:
corbyn 2

By Kaylen Forsyth

Content note: Reference to abortion

Even some weeks later, Britain is still reeling from the tidal wave of shock that was the General Election, which saw the Tories fail to secure a majority and subsequently scrapple for a deal with the DUP. Everything about this dreaded minority government screams danger. With both party’s ideals terrifyingly prehistoric, this is a massive step back for social progression in the United Kingdom.

The anonymity of the DUP in isles other than Northern Ireland means that a vast amount of their policies and principles remain unknown. So, to be clear, this is a party that rejects a woman’s freedom of choice. In fact, they go out of their way to actively oppose a woman’s right to an abortion. A former minister for the DUP once attempted to increase the sentence length for women who have abortions in private clinics to at least ten years. And that only scratches the surface of the DUP’s problems…

This is not a party I’m sure any of us want to see wield even the slightest trace of power. But alas, they now hold more seats in total than the Liberal Democrats, and now the initials DUP are going to move from arbitrary letters most people have never heard of, to letters uttered so often we switch over the television channel when we hear them.

A country led by Theresa May, with the DUP holding substantial influence also, seems a very dark country indeed… but hope streams through, and the face of hope is in every sense Jeremy Corbyn.

In the political climate of 2017 Britain, this is the fact: anything that is a knock for a Jeremy Corbyn led Labour, is a knock for equality. The same can be said, more positively perhaps, vice versa: anything that’s a win for Corbyn’s Labour, is more than likely going to be a win for equality too. And here’s why…

Capitalist thinking has infected every vein of thought. It has done so cunningly, so people do not taste the poison while they’re being fed it. Some even vote for this poison, believing it to be the antidote. Even progressive attitudes are at risk from this “pull the ladder up Jack and sod the rest” viewpoint.

Here’s an example: the rise of consumerism has seen a complete transmutation of popular feminism. Or perhaps, mainstream feminism. In some respect, the principles behind it have been diluted into something easy to swallow and marketable. Yes. That’s scary, when the power of capitalist and consumerist thought is so prevalent in society that women’s rights can be treated like a commodity. Owning a house so big that you have an entire room devoted to diamonds, and then maybe making a documentary on it, in the name of feminism, demonstrating your kick-ass independence and choice is actually not a good thing. It does not analyse societal hierarchies, it does not seek to reveal forms of injustice or power mechanisms- it does nothing. It’s empty and the only thing it reflects is ignorance and subservience to corporate power. Essentially it is feeding the system that is trying to bring us down, giving them the power to do so faster.

If the idea is being perpetuated that the perks of capitalism- which are only perks for an elite- can be called feminism, then we are perpetuating the idea that injustice can continue so long as a few people can own their room full of diamonds. What I’m saying is, this mainstream feminism is surely contradictory to the values it claims to cherish.

The ultimate result of this perpetuation is self-centeredness. Working together to eradicate other people’s injustices is buried beneath the belief that our own situation is the only one that matters. Everywhere, I see this notion of a Strong Independent Woman ™. That’s true. The generic idea of an independent, accomplished, feminist woman is underlined by capitalism. Louboutin heels, an executive job, Kylie Jenner’s lip kit on her mouth. Any other form of independent woman in the lens of mainstream feminism is viewed as a loser. It’s just not right. We have been manipulated into thinking the only option is to consume everything on the conveyor belt, lest fall behind the times. Isolation is the only consequence of this exploitation and it’s something to be fought against.

Where does the face of politics fit into all of this? We need a government that completely rejects this movement of individualism at the expense of humanity. For the past seven years, we’ve had a Tory government. People in power telling us valuing ourselves over community is exercising our freedom. Thus, when notions like this are being both realised and actualised, capitalist feminism flourishes, human rights become a commodity used by corporations, and we ignore the fact that society is unequal, that so many people aren’t eating tonight or tomorrow morning.

A Corbyn-led Britain would help to reaffirm the importance of community spirit, establish the significance of the equality of everyone, and hopefully wipe out the idea that it’s fine to thrive on a system that promotes using the destitution of others as a ladder rung to owning their very own room full of diamonds.

Young voters proved everyone wrong this election, and we’re not about to stop campaigning

Author:
corbsisadorbs

By Amy Callaghan

In the UK’s general election on the 8th of June, the exit polls predicted a shock result which was irreconcilable with the state of British politics when Theresa May called the election on the 18th of April. At that time, the Tories were expected to at the very least hold on to, and indeed likely substantially increase, their parliamentary majority, giving Theresa May a greater mandate and aiding her legitimacy in Brexit negotiations. The Labour Party awaited decimation. However, the exit polls predicted a hung Parliament, and as the night went on, it became increasingly clear that the Conservative party could not expect to form a majority government this time around. At the time of writing, the Conservatives hold 318 seats, losing 12, and Labour hold 261 seats, gaining 29. The reason for this transformation in the political landscape bringing about an unexpected victory for the political left? Young voter turnout.

72% is the estimated turnout figure for voters aged 18-24 (although the veracity of this figure and other turnout figures is unlikely to be confirmed for around a week), a massive increase on the estimated 43% turnout in the last general election, and higher even than their turnout at the EU referendum, which was around 64%. This huge upswing in engagement among young voters marks a significant shift in establishment politics, which relies more heavily than they will admit on apathetic young voters – in fact, the Sun ran a feature online on the day of the election this year on how to actively prevent young people from voting. While the piece is obviously writing in a joking tone, the message is nothing short of repellent – claiming that young people will ‘do the wrong thing’ at the polls as though their views on their future matter less than the accepted and established Conservative perspective more favoured by older voters.

The Conservative party themselves did not do much to engage young voters, particularly in comparison with the Labour party. While the Labour party encouraged young people to register to vote and then get out and vote consistently throughout their campaign, the Tories did not use social media to encourage voter registration at all during theirs. This is evidently a deliberate lack of engagement with young voters, as the Conservatives are aware that young voters tend to lean much more towards progressive parties and politics. Their high turnout marks an important shift in British politics which will hopefully persist in the future.

Another vital benefit of increasing young voter engagement and turnout is the balancing effect it has on the bias present in traditional media such as television and newspapers. Young people are significantly more likely to engage in politics on social media rather than in newspapers, allowing a counteraction of the bias present in overwhelmingly right-wing media sources, which often blatantly lie and misrepresent Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour party. Even in viewing television debates, young voters are more likely to read reactions and responses to the debates on social media rather than in newspapers. This helps to account for the success of Corbyn and the Labour party, surprising to many – the negative portrayal and scaremongering within traditional media led many (including more liberal publications such as the Guardian) to believe success was utterly unlikely, yet online engagement of young voters was evidently hugely effective in changing the result.

Hopefully this result will show young people the power they have to effect change in British politics. Many disillusioned by the Brexit result (which did not reflect their views or interests) channelled this frustration and fury into thoroughly knocking the wind out of the Tories’ sails, as demonstrated by the election results. This sends a message to the British establishment – do not underestimate or ignore young people – but it also sends a message to young people themselves. We can affect change – we can massively alter the results expected and established. The Tories are in a significantly weakened state rather than a position of enormous power – thanks to us. Maintaining this engagement and energy means opposition in months and years to follow can be effective and empowering. Young people have proven that we can change the face of British politics, and we certainly intend to continue.

The rape clause: thoughts on Tory women in politics

Author:
32793567693_81abae82d7_b

By Isla Whateley

Content note: discussion of rape and the law around rape

As a woman in politics, you are a minority. In both Westminster (UK) and Holyrood (Scotland) parliaments, about a third of elected politicians are women. Both the UK Prime Minister and the Scottish First Minister are women, however, and some may say this is an ‘achievement’ for women and feminism. But this is not necessarily the case.

The Conservative government, led by Theresa May (the second ever woman Prime Minister), has just put forward changes to child tax credits. Child tax credits are part of the welfare system in the UK; a benefit that low-income working parents get. As a child in a low-income, lone parent family, I benefitted hugely from the tax credits that we received. They were introduced by the Labour government that were in power for 13 years, 1997 to 2010, for almost all of my childhood. Although I was an only child, there was no cap for the amount of tax credits you received based on the number of children you had. My mum and I have a lot to thank Labour for and we wouldn’t have been able to get by without it.

Fast forward to now. Theresa May and the Conservatives have put a cap on child tax credits to two children – the ‘family cap’. Sounds unfair, right? It gets worse. If you have more than two children, sorry, no welfare for you. Unless one of these children is a result of a rape. You are forced to disclose this if you want to receive this welfare.

First of all, this completely undermines and ignores the extreme trauma rape causes. Rape is a violent crime, and many survivors suffer from mental illnesses such PTSD, depression and anxiety as a result. The legal system is rigged against women and survivors – hence, rape is ridiculously under-reported and under-convicted. Imagine undergoing all of that, and then being forced to disclose this highly sensitive, traumatic information in order to put food on the table for your children. It is clear that no survivors, sexual assault charities or women’s organisations were consulted in the formulation of this clause. At best, it is anti-feminist and undermines survivor’s autonomy . At worst, it will result in death.

On April 25th, in the Scottish Parliament, there was a debate on this issue. Kezia Dugdale, leader of the Scottish Labour Party, read out a letter from a rape victim and attacked Ruth Davidson, leader of the Scottish Conservatives, for being the only Scottish party leader to not have condemned the clause. Davidson, like May, is a prominent Tory and a woman. Neither of them seem to care about this.

So how did a government led by a woman let this go through? Sadly, being a woman does not equal being a feminist. This goes for politicians too. The Tories have actively pursued an austerity agenda since being in government, in order to combat the deficit, and there is extensive evidence that austerity disproportionately affects marginalised groups. This most definitely includes women – who are most likely to be affected by the rape clause.

For me, feminism is intersectional and must represent all women – especially if they are single parents, rape survivors, or low-income. It is one thing having Conservative men promote the rape clause, but a completely different issue when Ruth Davidson refuses to comment. Her silence and inaction says so much more than words could – that she doesn’t care. She doesn’t care enough to fight against this horrific injustice. In Scotland, we can’t do anything to stop it apart from lobby the Westminster government. Ruth Davidson is my local MSP, and I can say for sure that she represents survivors of sexual assault in this constituency. Her silence is abhorrent and very telling of the nature of many women Conservatives in the public eye.

Thankfully, many other Scottish politicians and activists are taking a stand. Two protests have taken place already – one in Glasgow, on Thursday 13th April, and one in Edinburgh on Thursday 20th April. At both, prominent campaigners and politicians spoke against the clauses, and hundreds of people turned up to show their support. There is a petition that can be signed here to bring further awareness to the issue, if you are a UK citizen. It is also important to vote against the Tories in the upcoming snap General Election – they are actively damaging to women and our rights. Register to vote here by 22nd May 2017!

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