Justification Behind Drone Strikes

I found the article on the high civilian death toll in Pakistan drone sights extremely unsettling and actually had to take time to reflect before responding to it because of my mixed feelings on the topic as a whole. Initially, hearing that innocent people are being killed for something out of their control is of course upsetting, and I immediately sympathized with the Pakistanis who live in these dangerous and highly turbulent situations. These individuals are in constant fear that they will be the next target of a drone strike and have had to witness and cope with the death of family members and friends in their community who have no connection to the terrorists the drones are really after. In addition, the strikes are increasing hostility in the area and possibly producing more terrorists. It is easy as a compassionate and emotional human being then to want to end the drone strikes all together, but after some thought and further reading I do not know if this is the best solution.

As stated in the article, drone strikes are possibly the most effective way to get rid of terrorist groups, and experts in the field believe that other options may actually kill more innocent civilians than the drones. Also, in my personal opinion, the drone strikes are not worse than what the Pakistani government is doing to its citizens by allowing terrorist organizations to function and train in their country. President Asif Ali Zardari admitted in 2010 that the Pakistani government had at some point in time established terrorist organizations to achieve short term goals and that the members of the groups were held in high regard in society. Additionally, it is thought that the intelligence agency and government are supporting the terrorist groups that the drones are targeting and allowing them to practice their fighting and terrorist tactics in Pakistan, despite the fact that they know their very own citizens are dying as a direct result. In my personal opinion the fact that the government values terrorism and violence over the lives of the innocent people living in the country makes it harder to want to stop drone strikes. The people making these decisions to continue building militant groups that use terrorist tactics need to be put out of power and this may actually be the most efficient way to get the job done and if America won’t do it, who will?

Faculty vs. Students at U of M

I thought the question posed in class as to whether we affiliate with the faculty at University of Michigan or the students in our classes was especially interesting because I had never reflected on the fact that these were two distinct groups and it is inevitable that every student, including myself, identifies with one or the other on some level whether we are aware of it or not. I would have to say that personally my affiliation with one or the other varies depending on the class and professor. Initially coming into a room filled with fellow students I have the attitude that I am a good, hard working student who really wants to learn, and I should be rewarded for this whether or not my peers are on the same page. In this sense I would say I identify with the staff, because I seem to want to put myself above the other students in the class, whether it is true or merely how I preserve myself. I think that this stems from being rewarded in middle school and high school for having this work ethic when other kids seemed to regard grades as meaningless or irrelevant. Therefore, when reflecting, I believe I was taught to side with the faculty out of habit and practice.

On the other hand, when a professor is a particularly hard grader, does not explain assignments well, or has ridiculous tests or teaching methods, I immediately gravitate towards the other side, the students. I am quick to become a part of the masses and submerge myself in conversations about how unfair it all is and how awful the class is as a whole. I no longer want to distinguish myself as one of the “hard workers” because it has no benefit if I am not being rewarded, and it is far easier at that point to change my attitude and level myself with my peers so I can vent and express anger. Misery loves company, and when I am miserable in a course it is usually because of the professor, which hinders my desire to learn the material. Although I am not proud of this fact, I become one of the students who whisper in the back of the lecture or go on Facebook instead of watching the slides and completely distance myself from the faculty.

Obviously, I think that the former scenario serves me better because I get more out of my classes when I affiliate with the professor and hold myself accountable for being a driven and distinguished student. Unfortunately, this is not always the case, and sometimes it just feels better to be a part of the group.

Response to Op-Vid ‘Scouted’

Before watching “Scouted” I had not given much thought to what occurred behind the scenes in the world of modeling. I like fashion, and participate in this industry in the sense that I go shopping, try my best to be trendy, read magazines and watch the Victoria Secret show once a year.  Truthfully though, I never really think about the girls I see in the pictures and on the runway. I imagine that they had to start somewhere, and in hindsight, I recognized the global and competitive nature of the modeling industry where the chance of actually making it big is slim. However, I had no idea that these girls start working at such a young age and that in many cases, the motivation for modeling is based on the notion of escape and not passion.  Like Masha, each girl featured in “Scouted” wants to leave her country in search of a better life. But there is clearly a price to pay, and I got the sense that these girls were trading youth and innocence for something much darker.

“Scouted” was conceived by Ashley Arbaugh, a model scout who openly admits her motivation is working and making money. I commend Ashley for making this video to shed light on the truth behind the models we see in print advertisements and on television, and also for admitting to her participation in the process. She is honest in all senses of the term.

Ashley’s approach caused me to consider the truth behind other industries and how we would be impacted if all people were this honest. For example, I watched a video last year in Anthropology regarding the production of mardi gras beads in China. The documentary depicted Chinese children and women working long hours in dangerous and unhealthy environments to produce beads we wear for a day and then toss in the garbage. The American who owns the company tried to justify his outsourcing and treatment of these workers. It was evident that he was lying to himself, as does anyone who looks at a label that says “Made in China” and pretends to be oblivious to the inhumane conditions that lower class Chinese people must endure to make a living.  We all know, but we buy these products anyway.  I do not exclude myself from this group of people. I admit that sometimes even when I know the truth, I lie to myself to make myself feel better or to manipulate a situation because it is an easier path.

If I must be candid, and following Ashley’s example I feel I do, I will likely watch the Victoria Secret show in December despite the fact that I now know the truth about the lives of the models I will see on stage.  But this is not to say that the Op-Doc did not make an impact on me. The video caused me to reflect and wonder if the world could even function if people did not hide the truth to some degree.  If we did not lie to others or ourselves sometimes would the economy change? Would politics exist? Will we ever know?

Response to Op-Vid ‘Scouted’

Before watching “Scouted” I had not given much thought to what occurred behind the scenes in the world of modeling. I like fashion, and participate in this industry in the sense that I go shopping, try my best to be trendy, read magazines and watch the Victoria Secret show once a year.  Truthfully though, I never really think about the girls I see in the pictures and on the runway. I imagine that they had to start somewhere, and in hindsight, I recognized the global and competitive nature of the modeling industry where the chance of actually making it big is slim. However, I had no idea that these girls start working at such a young age and that in many cases, the motivation for modeling is based on the notion of escape and not passion.  Like Masha, each girl featured in “Scouted” wants to leave her country in search of a better life. But there is clearly a price to pay, and I got the sense that these girls were trading youth and innocence for something much darker.

“Scouted” was conceived by Ashley Arbaugh, a model scout who openly admits her motivation is working and making money. I commend Ashley for making this video to shed light on the truth behind the models we see in print advertisements and on television, and also for admitting to her participation in the process. She is honest in all senses of the term.

Ashley’s approach caused me to consider the truth behind other industries and how we would be impacted if all people were this honest. For example, I watched a video last year in Anthropology regarding the production of mardi gras beads in China. The documentary depicted Chinese children and women working long hours in dangerous and unhealthy environments to produce beads we wear for a day and then toss in the garbage. The American who owns the company tried to justify his outsourcing and treatment of these workers. It was evident that he was lying to himself, as does anyone who looks at a label that says “Made in China” and pretends to be oblivious to the inhumane conditions that lower class Chinese people must endure to make a living.  We all know, but we buy these products anyway.  I do not exclude myself from this group of people. I admit that sometimes even when I know the truth, I lie to myself to make myself feel better or to manipulate a situation because it is an easier path.

If I must be candid, and following Ashley’s example I feel I do, I will likely watch the Victoria Secret show in December despite the fact that I now know the truth about the lives of the models I will see on stage.  But this is not to say that the Op-Doc did not make an impact on me. The video caused me to reflect and wonder if the world could even function if people did not hide the truth to some degree.  If we did not lie to others or ourselves sometimes would the economy change? Would politics exist? Will we ever know?