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op-ed

The Emory Wheel

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Get to Know Your Neighbor John Wells IV

K atherine McClure/Contributing

Thanksgiving: Family, Food and the Big Screen Annie Cohen Thanksgiving is one of the most confusing holidays of the year. To the unassuming eye, Thanksgiving is all about America’s humble beginning as a bunch of clueless pilgrims and the kind Native Americans who saved them with a big feast. Because of this, we tell each other what we’re thankful for and eat obscene amounts of turkey, pie and other carbs, as well as watch a lot of football and movies. The holiday, however, has another connotation for those who frequently attend a family Thanksgiving table. Thanksgiving to us modern-day Americans is full of awkward encounters with drunk family members and loaded questions about our futures and why we haven’t been more successful. Then we sit quietly and ignore each other while movies play and pretend we didn’t just fight about Trump and Hillary again. While this may sound like an American stereotype generated by the internet and Hollywood movies (and not to mention sitcoms), it is actually quite accurate. Every year, families convene and proceed to harass each other while pretending that everything is O.K. I, for one, was hounded by family friends for not picking a major, despite my

vehement retaliations reminding them that I am, in fact, a first-semester freshman. Many perfectly loving and functional families also fall into the Thanksgiving day curse and use television, movies and sports games to be together as a family with the blissful excuse of not actually having to talk to each other. My family does it! Often we will go to the movie theater after the big meal and rejoice in bonding without talking, a safeguard against accidentally offending each other further (this phenomenon can also be found during Christmas, as well). While my family uses the big screen, one of the biggest Thanksgiving Day traditions is watching football after the big Thanksgiving meal. Football, as long as everybody is rooting for the same team, of course, is a perfectly easy sport to bond over because it provides plenty of common enemies and topics that don’t involve future professions, potential grandchildren (or lack thereof) and whichever other topics have been tabooed. TV shows offer the same effect. It seems to be that families take joy in watching fictional families hash it out and have their lives go wrong instead of dwelling on one’s own reality, which in most cases is pretty tame compared to the fictional world of movies and TV. While it can be fun to watch

people annoy each other on TV, if it were a real-life scenario, nobody would think it was funny; that level of annoyance is only fun when it isn’t happening to you, which is why we watch TV instead of talking to annoying family members. The film and TV industries know this all too well. Thanksgiving movie releases and Christmas movie releases exploit the need to escape to a theater — where silence is golden and grandma can’t yell at you anymore. TV also takes advantage of those Thanksgiving episodes that highlight the dysfunctionality of every character in a harsher light than in the rest of the episodes. The only difference is that a TV or movie Thanksgiving, as opposed to a football Thanksgiving, will often end in a big reconciliation with everybody involved, while your drunk uncle will most likely not explain why he is so mean, apologize for hurting your feelings and promise to make it up to you. Even though family issues are accurately portrayed through TV, it is idealized so people will actually choose to watch that instead of experiencing it firsthand. Hey, at least Hollywood and TV have our backs and produce stuff for us to watch while we hide from our families. Annie Cohen is a College freshman from New Orleans, Louisiana.

Every time I read an op-ed in The New York Times by an outspoken liberal, or a piece in The Wall Street Journal by an equally indignant right-winger, I’m struck by the mercilessness with which they treat their rivals. The same is true when I watch an MSNBC personality and then flip the channel to Fox News. Across the political spectrum, media personalities vilify members of the opposite party, and this type of rhetoric infiltrates the hearts and minds of its everyday consumers. Regular Americans like my brother and sister, who had told my parents that they would not come home for the holidays if my parents voted for Donald Trump, are being emotionally geared to hate their families and fellow citizens. The same is true for Fox News diehards like my grandparents, who frequently remind me that liberals will ruin our country. But when I stop and think about the people in my own life, from liberally minded medical school classmates to conservatives like my closest friends from high school, I don’t see anything despicable. In fact, even strangers I meet while working at Grady and Emory University Hospitals are pleasant people, and I am confident I have come across the full spectrum of political viewpoints in these motherships of humanity. The point is that many of us have stopped basing our judgments of one another on our own experiences and have swapped the judgments of a profit-driven media for our own. In the aftermath of this election, I am struck by the vitriol that Americans who voted for Hillary Clinton have for Americans who voted for Trump, and not just those sad individuals committing hateful acts in Trump’s name. I didn’t vote for either candidate, but when I look at the people of this country, I see a lot of passionate people who mostly want this nation to thrive — they just can’t agree about the best way to get us there. The people who voted for Trump are largely not racist, sexist, bigoted, white supremacists. They are people like my cousins and aunts

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and uncles, who feel like the progressive movement poses an existential threat to the values they cherish. Many of these values are rooted in their Baptist faith, and they include promoting the sanctity of life, defending Christian views of marriage and maintaining strong families. These values aren’t hateful. A similar story can be said for Bernie Sanders supporters and the Clinton faithful. They aren’t communist, atheist, secular jerks who want to see religion wiped from the face of the Earth. At least in my circles, they are mostly people with big hearts who have compassion for suffering people and want our government to protect the suffering more than the powerful. In the wake of a turbulent election season, I challenge us to reserve words like bigot and racist for those who launch verbal or physical attacks against members of minority groups, not all Americans who voted for Trump. I also ask that we hear and acknowledge the pain of people who feel legitimate fear at the prospect of the coming Trump presidency, and that if any citizens’ rights are compromised, we work together to combat the type of persecution this country must leave in history books. I’m cautious about Trump as president, as we all should be, but I’m hopeful because I know the character of my neighbors, both those who voted for and those who voted against the president-elect. We have put our faith in a process and a political class that delivered us the two least popular presidential candidates in the history of our country. Given the outcome of the election, let’s remember this fact and trust that the will of the people is quite different from the distorted political reality that we are currently facing. The framers of the Constitution instituted checks and balances so that a renegade executive would not ruin this great nation. I just hope we stop yelling, screaming and shouting at one another in the streets and on Facebook before we ruin it ourselves. John Wells IV is a School of Medicine student from Columbia, South Carolina.

Wild Goose Chase: Jill Stein’s Recount Crusade Cameron Hall Last Thursday, as Americans sat down for the sacrosanct day of gluttony that is Thanksgiving, many election-related wounds were undoubtedly re-opened. While your post-election blues may have been limited to engaging in a heated shouting fest with your grandfather over turkey and mashed potatoes, Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein has been venting her election frustrations in a much more consequential way: by launching a fundraising campaign to order a recount in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. This fundraising campaign is a futile effort that will only further distract from more important decisions, tarnish the reputation of America’s liberals and unnecessarily divide the country. First of all, anyone who feels dismayed by the result of the election certainly has the right to feel that way. After all, as CNN reported, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, as well as a sizeable portion of the country’s electoral votes.

However, Clinton is not the one calling for a recount. Even though she recently made the mistake of lending her nominal support to the effort, according to CNN her campaign does not believe any election anomalies occurred. For her part, Clinton has thus far handled the outcome of the election with grace and poise, stating in her concession speech, “Donald Trump is going to be our president. We owe him an open mind and the chance to lead,” according to CNN. She even went on to remind her audience of the sanctity of the electoral process. Jill Stein, on the other hand, received just one percent of the popular vote and won zero states in the electoral college, according to RealClearPolitics. Her attempt at ordering a recount in three states seems more like an attempt to make sure she and her party remain relevant. Stein’s recount crusade is distracting from more important issues being discussed and more important decisions being made. Liberals should be focusing their attention and money on achievable and practical goals. In regard to all of the people who have al-

ready donated money to Stein’s initiative, The Washington Post noted that both less attention and less money have been given to Democratic candidate Foster Campbell to help him win his Senate runoff election in Louisiana. As of Nov. 24, Campbell’s campaign had raised just half of what Stein’s recount campaign made in one day. Instead of pouring all of their efforts into a futile recount attempt, Liberals should be focusing on initiatives such as getting Campbell elected to the Senate. In the coming months and years, liberals will certainly need to fight hard for what they believe in, and this means working for real policy change, rather than just being bitter and demanding a recount of a resolved election. These misguided efforts also hint at another consequence of Stein’s plan and the degree of support it has gathered. At a point in time when many Americans already view Democrats and American liberals as thin-skinned and unable to accept defeat, Stein’s initiative only further soils liberals’ reputation. The protests against Trump that erupted in cit-

ies nationwide following his election certainly gave many people this impression about liberals before Stein even announced her plan. While people’s choice to protest Trump’s election is certainly their prerogative, to many it was evidence of Clinton supporters’ inability to accept defeat. People’s paranoia regarding Trump is extremely valid, but rather than choosing to be productive and vowing to fight for the policies they desire, many liberals chose to simply head out to the streets and complain that they lost. Supporting Stein’s initiative for a recount only fuels this impression that American liberals have become intransigent, for rather than trying to fight for a certain outcome in unresolved or future proceedings, many liberals have chosen to empty their pockets to order a recount of an election which they definitively lost. Lastly, Stein’s recount initiative further divides a country that has been torn asunder. While many people, including myself, were extremely disappointed in Clinton’s defeat, our electoral process has spoken. It is now time that we re-

spect the decision that was reached and begin the process of healing a bitterly divided nation. Calling for a recount only maintains existing divisions and keeps the country from moving on as one. Trump’s supporters certainly view the effort as an attempt to undermine their legitimate victory, while many of Clinton’s supporters will certainly cling to the misguided hope that a recount will somehow change the result. As for Stein, if she truly cares about America and its people, she should relinquish this recount campaign. Whatever her motives may be for this highly unusual action, she has a fundamental misunderstanding of what the country needs going forward. It is time we start attempting to understand each other and discuss the issues that made this election so polarizing, rather than clinging to our past grudges and hoping causing a ruckus will change something. After all, we are the United States of America, and Stein’s recount crusade only further divides us. Cameron Hall is a College freshman from Columbus, Ohio.

11.30.16  
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