August marks the one year anniversary of the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Last summer’s events saw demonstrators gathering under symbols- Confederate flags, swastikas, and the Iron Cross, to name a few- that connote hatred, exclusion, and are associated with the persecution of African Americans, Jews, Muslims, and many more marginalized communities. Marchers chanted slogans: “Jews will not replace us,” “White lives matter,” and “Blood and soil.” While the event was steeped in symbolic violence, it concluded in physical violence and the death of an anti-racism activist. To many onlookers across the country and the world, this episode was shocking, frightening, but all too familiar.
On Tuesday, June 26, the US Supreme Court announced its decision to uphold President Trump's travel ban. His 2017 executive order banned travel from eight countries, six with majority-Muslim populations and is often referred to as the “Muslim Travel Ban.” This contemporary moment illustrates the importance of court systems in fostering climates of inclusion or exclusion within a country.
On August 1, a Danish law will ban full-face veils such as niqabs and burqas worn by some Muslim women. This restriction raises questions about national identity and the tensions that arise as migration alters demographics and cultural expressions. At the center of this law are assumptions about what it means to be Danish, concerns raised by religious pluralism, and decisions regarding the treatment of minorities.
Topics: current events
The violence and bigotry displayed in Charlottesville last weekend reminds us of the challenges that racial hatred poses to democracy. In August 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson addressed one aspect of this by signing the Voting Rights Act to safeguard the voting rights of African Americans. Yet, decades of efforts to deny the vote highlight the tensions between just and unjust laws. Looking to this history is a reminder that challenges to voting rights are a perennial feature of political life in the United States, past and present. This is becoming evident today as controversial accusations of voter fraud are brought to the forefront under the Trump Administration.