Individual BLOG: Genocide

rwanda

I recently read a BBC article discussing the overall main points of genocide that took place in Rwanda and quite frankly I was astonished to find that the Genocide in Rwanda not so different from what learned while studying the Holocaust, yugoslav region, and Iran.  As a matter of fact it’s kind of scary to see how closely the preceding and following events are similar.  It’s almost so definitive across the boards you could almost make a checklist of things required for genocide and once the checklist is filled you could predict what happens.

Just a quick overview of what I mean:
-There are two ethnic groups in Rwanda that are very similar and share the same language, traditions, and inhabit the same areas.  The Hutus are the majority and Tutsis are the minority.  Tutsis are on the taller and thinner side and are said to have Ethiopian roots.  During the early 1900s Belgian colonists who colonized Rwanda favored the Tutsis and for over 20 years they enjoyed better job and education opportunities than Hutus.  As tension grew a series of riots grew increasingly violent and over 20,000 Tutsis were killed.  In 1962 when the Belgians granted Rwanda independence, the Hutus took their rightful place in power.  Tutsis were scapegoated during every crisis and soon Tutsi refugees along with some Hutu moderators who fled Rwanda established the RPK.  The RPK was dedicated to overthrowing the president in power regain their right to be in their country.  In 1994, the president’s plane was shot down and this started a chain reaction leading up to mass genocide.

There are too many similarities to be a coincidence..

Independent BLOG: Historical Truth

page0_blog_entry182_1

In this class throughout my time learning historical foundations I found myself constantly thinking about how powerful knowledge and information.  It can so easily be spoon fed to youth and students and the vast majority will take it all in without second thinking.  This is an incredibly powerful phenomenon because information and knowledge effectively becomes objective truth when it really is more subjective.  The most noteworthy area of studies we focused on that has alot of this going is in Bosnia.  History classes and schools to this day are divided based on what group you are from and different curriculums are taught based on how they each perceive what actually happened. For this reason, underlying problems are continually perpetuated in this region of the world.  If you teach something in a way that takes away accountability and responsibility from your own group and places it entirely on someone else, what effects will that have?  NOT GOOD of course especially if any peace or resolution is to ever occur.  How can you reconcile anything without first acknowledging your own wrong doings?  In addition, the youth are obviously the future and by teaching those who can possibly make a difference some amped up biased nonsense you are literally ruining all hope.  Knowledge is power and it has the ability to generate ideas, good and bad, that can spread like wild fire.  So why not teach something based less on bitterness and hatred and teach more of the truth.

All this uncertainty makes me question the truths that I have been taught regarding my own country’s history.  I think it’s important to always be critical of new information and the way in which it is presented.  More likely then not their may be a purpose that doesn’t go hand in hand with objective reality.  By understanding the purpose of manipulating the truth and getting people to believe something untrue you can look into what actually might be the truth.  Human nature plays a big role in this and it demonstrates how easily we are manipulated and persuaded, which is a theme that lies at the core of many past conflicts.

Individual BLOG: Propaganda used in Afghanistan

Your_future_al-Zarqawi

Throughout U.S. efforts to defeat the Taliban insurgency in response to acts of terror and violence committed on american soil and elsewhere in the world various forms of propaganda have been used in order to gain public support.  The Taliban have a strong grip on many of the dealings that go on in Afghanistan and the people are repressed by not having no other choice but to obey and follow their biddings.  U.S. military operations relied heavily on public support.  EC-130s were used to transmit powerful radio waves that jammed local radio stations to block out Taliban generated propaganda and replace it with anti-Taliban propaganda.  Pamphlets were dropped in various key areas with pictures like the one above.  All were aimed at getting maximum public support as well as offering rewards for information leading to the capture of figure heads within the regime.

I personally find it amazing how extensively propaganda is used even today.  What i wonder the most is how much of the history of using propaganda and it’s incredible effectiveness influences its use today.

Individual BLOG: Soviet Propaganda

RUSU550

So I decided to google some propaganda that I haven’t seen in class and I came across this anti U.S. propaganda and low and behold it has the basic fundamentals of aimed at getting the Russian public to recognize the Western Powers as their enemy in order more support.  I imagine this was made during the Cold War when Western powers were competing with Russia for economic power along with having opposing political views.  The Cold War is characterized by proxy wars, espionage, conventional and nuclear arms race, intense olympic rivalry, and technological races.

In the picture a generalized image of a stereotypical western man is depicted with the black suit and top hat, which represents wealth and possibly capitalism.  Man has two faces one that is pleasant and put together and another that is ferocious, ugly and inhuman like.  The catch is the ugly evil monster face is his real face while the other one is a mask that he uses to hide behind and cover up his true self.  I wish i knew how to read some of the russian, especially the writing on the forehead of his mask.

Overall the image represents how Western powers have a pretty put together exterior that is honest, trustworthy, and mellow.  THe visual use of the mask hiding the hidden monster suggests that they are two faced barbarians who have evil intent.

Individual BLOG: Censorship of Symbols

UnknownUnknown-1

In class a while back we discussed the banning of symbols like the “hammer and sickle” and the NAzi swastika.  We were lucky enough to have to have two members from the SU debate come to our class and have a semi formal debate about the issue with one side being pro-censorship and the other side being anti-censorship.  The arguments they produced in and off the top of their heads without a prepared speech was very impressive and honestly they both had the best possible arguments on both sides.  The pro-censorship side’s strongest argument was that censoring these symbols actually will maintain and perpetuate their evil meaning just because of the fact that it is being banned.  By banning something that in itself gives it meaning.  People are the ones who give symbols meaning and therefore can be the ones who ultimately remove the previous power and evil it once had.  I completely agree with this argument because like anything else that’s censored it carries something negative to society.  However, describing something as negative is an attitude and attitudes are only created by people and perpetuated by people.  Censoring only mask and puts a cap on things that we can’t face.  It will always be there no matter what because the censoring of the thing in itself gives it more power.

Individual BLOG: Safe Area Gorazde (UN “intervention)

safe_area_gorazde_l

In the book I thought it was interesting how Joe Sacco kind of portrays the UN an important antagonist.  For me that was interesting, being that I’m American and am technically a part of the UN’s “side”.  I guess I never stopped to think about how whenever something terrible happens in some region of the world that is particularly a place of interest to powerful western nations the UN is always in their trying to “intervene” and “restore peace”.  In the book they are comically portrayed as a group of assholes (please excuse my language) who are only exacerbating the situation further.  UN intervention is suppose to remain neutral, but how is it possible for them to be neutral…this is kind of my personal realization that I had as result of reading Safe Area and I look back to all the other instances of UN “intervention” that took place in places like Isreal and other regions of the middle east.  A proposed agenda to be completely neutral is just a bunch of B.S. because clearly the UN doesn’t respond to every tragedy of similar natures, which in itself negates neutrality in so many ways.  How can we possibly remain, quote unquote, neutral if clearly the UN doesn’t support a side and is merely there to maintain peace?  Also, in the case of Gorazde the Serbian military took over the “safe area” after the UN officially called it a safe area just to spite them.  From a purely rational point of view how can you be neutral and actually maintain peace at the same time.  The answer is you can’t.  The UN ended up pulling out as Serb armed forces rolled in order to avoid casualties and maintain “neutrality”.  The concept is reminiscent to something Picasso may have been saying through his art.  Sometimes war and fighting is necessary if it means restoring peace.

Individual BLOG: Maus

As I reflect on when I read Maus I can’t help but be shocked that a comic book formatted reading material was able to make me feel some of the things I felt while reading.  It’s difficult to explain and describe how looking a cartoon like illustrated story with mice, cats, dogs, frogs and various other animals is able to have the impact it had on me.  For the most part, it doesn’t make sense and I’m hoping I’m not the only person who feels this way.  Despite the use of cartoon drawings I remembered to keep in mind the purpose and the context in which it was written from the authors intention and point of view.  For this matter, as I pressed on in reading I made certain that my perception of the story line was that of something not fictional.  The holocaust was a horrendous occurrence that mankind will never be able to completely make up for and what’s most striking about the story line is how we get an intimate perspective into the how the effects ripple through time and the generations.  Art experiences a significant amount of distress as a result of the holocaust without even have been in it.  I found this interesting because we don’t really study or explicitly think about how something like the holocaust would affect future generation, especially in specific way it’s affecting Art.  He suffers from neurosis because of a few heart wrenching things.  Interestingly he feels an incredible amount of guilt for having “escaped” the horrors of the holocaust that his family went through.  There’s also a complicated thing going on between Art and his father that has  a lot to do with one of Art’s brothers who was lost during the holocaust.  Art feels like his whole life he’s been living in the shadow of his dead brother because his father treats him as if he wishes in a way that he would have died instead.  Or maybe it’s more of a mixture of emotions that consists of anger, resentment, remorse, sadness, and the fact that he misses his son dearly.  I think this all together makes his father treat Art the way he does and it is understandable in for both Art and his father to feel the ways in which they do.  In terms of our history class and learning I feel that this story being told is something most don’t learn about or grow to be completely aware of.  Just thinking about even a quarter of the story and images throughout the book somehow being directly translated in to reality really is disheartening.

Individual BLOG: Mila Skype Call

First off I want to say that I’ve never done in an in class skype before and most definitely never with a person from a far off international country talking about what we are currently learning in class.  It was a great experience and I think that more teacher should incorporate it in there methodology of teaching.  Personally, it gave me a whole new appreciation for what I was learning in regards to the history of the Yugoslav area.  Something about being to see that person who was talking to you live in real-time was really neat and I felt a greater connection to the material just because there in front of me on the projector was a woman who lives in the results of events that occurred a few decades ago and also was studying the history as we are.  Of course she knows a great more than we do, but this is understandable because it is her passion.  It amazed me too how wonderful her english was.  In addition, i was also incredibly taken a back by how fluent she was in history and how she could continue her discussion about the questions we presented like it was natural knowledge she had from birth.  She was literally our live international expert on the area of history we were covering and more.  The attitude she seems to have towards the conflicts within her country are that of a person who is above all the B.S. She sees things for what they are with an incredible intellect and wants nothing more than to move forward.

Film Reflection: FUSE

I believe the film is most likely accurate in it’s method of showing the overall sentiments and feelings between the opposing groups and within the groups themselves.  However, movies tend to create overly dramatic representations so the viewer is sure not to miss what is going on.  In regard to accuracy I’d say it comes close to reality, but not exactly true reality.  For the most part, I enjoyed this film very much and found it to be quite funny at times with a good mix of a deep and more serious story line.  I’m not sure as to whether this film was made for a U.S. or Bosnian audience.

Throughout the film we are shown multiple representations of the disorganization and conflict still residing in post-war Bosnia.  A few examples include: father’s distress over loss of his son, the widow who returns to Tesanj and is ostracized, fireman from both sides coexisting with each other, the visual division of land in the fireman scenes, not knowing what the national flag looks like, underground crime, prostitutes and there passports, and I’m sure there’s more, but I can’t remember.

In the interaction between the mayor and the police officer (Mugdim) the mayor says, “…the war is over.”  The police man is confused by this statement because technically the war ended 2 years ago, but for the mayor their are many ways in which it is not over.  He responds, “The hell it did! The war’s over for you when people are hungry, jobless, when children explode on landmines? The war is over?”  The mayor’s interjection conveys the underlying war that is still being fought, the conflict and tension that remains, even after the supposed resolution.  In actuality there was no resolution because it is like they are still at war.

Analysis of Historical Sources: Japanese Internment Camps

Both sources are worthy of being able to tell something important.  The first hand account of a Japanese internment camp written by a Japanese american sheds light on personal experience as well as many of the attitudes and point of views from within himself and the community that surrounded him.  On the other hand, the video created and filmed by the U.S. government is extremely biased in the language they use, the portrayal of flash bulb moments within “relocation center” life, and the seemingly staged scenes.  The film intends to shed light on the unknown and make it “known”, so that the American public during the time could feel okay about what was going on.  Although the film obviously lacks the whole truth about Japanese internment camps, it shows an interesting effort on the government’s part to withhold the truth and maybe even to help perpetuate the existing attitudes of non-Japanese americans.  The film and the personal account, in terms of historical validity, must be handled in different manners.

The personal account mainly talks about the horrors of being Japanese American after the attack on Pearl Harbor.  The author reflects on how the government became so fixated on the Japanese living in the U.S. in way that practically made them out to be the enemy.  Discrimination and feelings of helplessness plagued multiple aspects of life despite the fact that virtually all Japanese Americans did not favor or agree at all with what Japan was doing.  For personal accounts it’s important to note that it is written from a single person’s point of view and only reflects the attitudes of others and the occurrence of events through that person’s perception only.  What we can get from personal accounts that no other source can provide is a relatable human experience because it is expressed from one person who was actually there.

A government established film may seem more credible than a personal account, but in this case it is not, in terms of describing the truths behind the internment camps.  The use of language was very passive and non-threatening.  Terms like: relocation center, evacuation, war time communities, dislocated, unwounded casualties of war, civil, public safety, economical, self sustaining etc. were used extensively.  Even the narrator had a calm and soothing, but authoritative voice.  In my opinion, the film was one of those things that the government did to relieve the public tension on the matter so that whatever was going on could continue with little resistance.  It is human nature to fear the unknown and the purpose of the film, which was probably aired nationwide said, “Nothing to worry about here folk, so go on and continue with your normal lives.”  The target audience was mainly white america and the rest of whom who were not Japanese american.  As stated before, although this film does not accurately portray the reality of Japanese Internment camps it represents the attitudes and motives of the government during this time of great change and turmoil.

In this comparison, I would have to favor the personal account because the film had a specific purpose, which was to help silence and soothe any social disapproval.  The first hand account is merely a personal recollection of the time.  However, in order to be more certain about the history of the summer of 1942 I would want to read more than one recollection, view informal/candid visual footage, interview or acquire first hand accounts from officials (guards, upper management, etc.) who worked in the camps.

I am a 4th generation Japanese American from Honolulu, HI and my grandparents have told me stories about the time period after Pearl Harbor.  Mainly their fathers were subjected to the skepticism that was shown toward Japanese American citizens of the time, but even as children they could feel the anger and hatred towards them even though they did nothing wrong.  According to my grandparent’s memory and the first hand account by Mr. Okuda, the reality of what the U.S. government did during this time is nothing like what the video attempts to portray.