The Women’s and Gender Studies Department Talks Politics

Paige Welch, Staff Writer |

On April 4, the Women’s and Gender Studies Department began holding a series of conversations relating to today’s political climate, which will continue until April 27.

Dr. Melinda Brennan’s Queer Migration and Feminist Research Methods classes had to research and set up panels as part of their class projects. The series is titled “Critical Conversations in Women’s and Gender Studies,” which is a part of a peer education strategy that hopes to use “peer-to-peer education as activism.”

Students come together to educate one another in an open minded, critical, and safe atmosphere, which makes it easier for a wide audience to engage in important, and sometimes painful, conversations. Through student-run panels, the department hopes that those in attendance will be receptive to the messages and spread what they learned to other peers. Having an educated campus is just one small step towards a more educated society as a whole.

On April 14, seven students of the Queer Migrations class discussed the “Muslim ban,” the U.S./Mexico wall, and immigration. Through their presentation, they attempted to dismantle ingrained myths about Islam and to ease some of the Xenophobic fears that permeate American society. One student wanted to “put a human face to immigration” by chronicling the experiences of both her and her parents as they traveled to the U.S. from Indonesia. While asking her mother about her memories of immigration, she mentioned having to take off her hijab at the airport. Though she is not ashamed of her religion, a part of her knew that she would otherwise receive “suspicion” from airport security due to the recent 9/11 terrorist attack.

The group made a point in saying that “humans cannot be illegal” for they are not commodities. Immigrants are humans just like U.S. citizens, and they should be treated with the same dignity. The rest of the conversation was framed around President Trump’s travel ban and his promise to build a wall on the Mexico border while supposedly preventing the U.S from paying a single cent.

Trump’s executive order, signed on January 27, banned refugees from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S for four months; these countries included Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen, none of which housed the terrorists responsible for 9/11. The presentation touched on the contradictions that can be found in an analytical examination of Trump’s speeches about his ban. For one, he claims that it is not a “Muslim ban,” even though Christian members of these nations are granted special pardons. Excluded from the ban are countries in which he has business allies, such as Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan, though they are Muslim-majority countries as well.

Since it is a ban that aims to protect the country from outside acts of terror, and the attack on the Twin Towers is used as a justification for such an order, the countries chosen show inconsistent logic. This is especially confusing since only six percent of of terrorist attacks from 1980 to 2005 were carried out by Islamic extremists, according to the Centre for Global Research. This is compared to 42 percent of terrorist attacks committed by Latino people, and understandably, the whole is not being punished for the acts of a few.

If anyone is interested in attending a panel in this series, there is one more on “Allyship” on Thursday, April 27 at 5:30 p.m. in the Red Dragon Theater.

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