Category Archives: Critical thinking

Reconsidering Columbus Day

Tomorrow is Columbus Day, and today is a Federal holiday celebrating Christopher Columbus‘ famous voyage to “discover” America.

Like most people, I’ve never given much thought to the holiday other than remembering talking about it in elementary school and knowing that banks are closed today.

That was until I saw this thought-provoking PSA asking viewers to reconsider America’s celebration of the holiday.

This PSA got me thinking, and I have to agree with the point made by it. Celebrating Christopher Columbus is effectively a slap in the face to descendants of the indigenous peoples whose lives were ruined by colonization. Is keeping with tradition a legitimate reason to continue celebrating a man who caused harm to so many? That does not seem right to me.

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Helen Thomas pushed into retirement for having an unpopular opinion

Before today, Helen Thomas was unarguably the most famous member of the White House Press Corps. With her push into retirement today over comments regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, she has made the move to most infamous.

Thomas, 89, has been a correspondent for fifty-seven years and has covered every president since    Eisenhower. A legend in the White House Press Room, she was the only journalist to have a seat reserved for her, and one on the front row at that. She broke numerous glass ceilings for women in journalism, including being the first female officer in the National Press Club, the first female officer in the White House Correspondents Association, and its first female president in 1975-6. Thomas’s numerous other achievements and awards can be found in the biography section of her website (http://www.helenthomas.org/helenthomasbiography.html). Thomas has published five books and was still an active White House correspondent, most recently representing Hearst Newspapers. All these feats are impressive, and her level of activity at an age when most are forced to resign themselves to lives of relaxation and relegation by society was something to be admired.

All of this ended today, however, when Thomas announced that she was retiring in light of comments she made regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The video has become a YouTube sensation, and at the time that I wrote this it had 1,216,339 views. Here’s the video. Please note that the comments at the end are not my own, but rather the creator of the video’s.

Thomas apologizes for the comments on her website, http://www.helenthomas.org/home.html :

Helen Thomas issued the following statement today: “I deeply regret my comments I made last week regarding the Israelis and the Palestinians. They do not reflect my heart-felt belief that peace will come to the Middle East only when all parties recognize the need for mutual respect and tolerance. May that day come soon.” (June 4, 2010)

While many applaud Thomas’s retirement over these controversial statements, others blame the lack of filter on her age. I think blaming or excusing the comments on the basis of her age is ridiculous: obviously this woman is still sharp-minded or she wouldn’t still be publishing books and working as a journalist. Many groups found her comments to be offensive and are glad that a journalist who holds such opinions will no longer be reporting.

My view is a little different, however. I do not agree with Thomas’s comments and do find them offensive to Israel and its citizens. But is Thomas not allowed to have a different opinion about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and still be allowed to work? I understand and respect that Israel is an ally to the United States and that is recognized as an autonomous nation, whereas Palestine does not have such international recognition. But is Thomas not entitled to her own opinion? In my opinion, nothing about her comments was hateful. She just stated her opinion that she favors Palestine in the conflict. Again, I do not agree with Thomas, but I find it odd that she no longer has a career because of making opinionated comments, something countless other journalists, writers, and political commentators do every day.

“Practicing the craft”: a mission statement

Hello blogosphere! I feel like I’m writing to no one right now, but hopefully that will change soon. The purpose of this blog is to keep me active in practicing the aspects of English that I am most passionate about. I received my Bachelor of Arts in English with a Literature Concentration a little under a month ago and am now two class days into pursuing my Master of Arts in Teaching with a Secondary Education Concentration. My degrees have long names, but it boils down to me trying to become a middle or high school English teacher.

Today in class, my professor challenged us to reflect on what we are most passionate about in the field of English and develop a plan for how we intend to practice our craft, or maintain activity in the field, now that we are no longer full-time students of English.

In this blog, I plan to share with the world how my love of English/Language Arts has manifested itself in my life now that I’m no longer a full-time English student. I plan to discuss an array of topics and want to keep things interesting.

To me, a deep-seeded love and understanding of English/Language Arts leads to two overarching principles: critical thinking and passion for communication. Of course, there are countless other aspects to the study and practice of English, but these two “big ideas” are what reign supreme to me as a lifelong student of English.

As for my strange title, it is a pun on electric eels, the sea creatures, and MGMT’s “Electric Feel.” On a deeper level, I hope that the things I write will be interesting enough to electrify my readers in some way, to either agree or disagree (hopefully via comment) or discover something new to love.