The Future of Journalism: An Open Letter to CNN

Dear CNN,

I’m writing to share my concerns about the anti-journalism rhetoric that Trump and his Republican peers have been spreading in recent months. As a journalism student, I’ve been gritting my teeth at the very sight of Trump, who I refuse to call my president, writing every news media outlet off as “fake news” and an “enemy of the American people” and turning journalists away every chance they get at asking him questions about whether or not the Russians helped him cheat his way to the White House; the police arresting West Virginia reporter Dan Heyman for “willful disruption of state government processes” after asking Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price about the GOP healthcare bill;  and more recently, then Republican candidate for Congress Greg Gianforte body-slamming Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs for inquiring about the aforementioned bill the night before Montana’s congressional election.

Journalists work very hard to write and report the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth about the events they have witnessed to the public, and make sure that everything they report is accurate and fair. “Fake news” is considered “fabrication” in the eyes of every news organization in the country, including the New York Times and the Washington Post, who had to punish their fair share of fabricators and plagiarists (Jayson Blair played both roles during his tenure at the former company). Trump, on the other hand, considers “fake news” to be your reports about alleged communications between him and our communist neighbor overseas during his campaign, and he’s gone to great lengths to criminalize every reporter for their attempts at getting to the bottom of the greatest political scandal since Watergate, therefore unraveling the very tenet of our democracy as we know it.

Freedom of speech and the press is not only a constitutional right, but also a basic, inalienable, universal human right. It’s already a travesty that journalists in countries that limit or restrict the press are facing prison time or even death for reporting the atrocities of their governments to the public. It’s even more tragic that the very government that guaranteed our rights to free speech, expression, and press over 240 years ago is threatening to silence us for reporting his fraudulent practices inside the Oval Office and beyond simply because they believe that everything you’re reporting is a lie when, in reality, you’re reporting the truth.

I always told my family that I would never travel to a communist country since such countries are notorious for restricting freedom of speech and the press. Now I fear that the United States is turning into one in light of these attacks against journalists. It breaks my heart to hear that once I graduate from college and enter the news media industry, instead of receiving high praise from people for reporting on issues that matter most to them and myself, I will be met with bodily injury and/or even death by fear-mongering politicians and their supporters.

I commend your courage for continuing to hold Trump accountable for his gross misconduct during his six months in office. Your bravery in the face of political adversity gives me hope that someday I’ll be able to perform my job without the risk of cruel and unusual punishment from any government official. I can’t imagine myself living in a country where journalism is no longer a job opportunity for people who want to enter that field, so thank you for all you’re doing to keep that dream and freedom alive. I didn’t want to study journalism before I set foot in college, but now I don’t want to change that path for anything or anyone, especially the man who doesn’t deserve to stay in the White House. I refuse to let Trump make me feel as if everything I’m working for is at risk.
Sincerely,

Cristina Alexander

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The Hypocrisy of Autism Speaks; A Searing Message to Donald Trump

Just as the Catholic Church is hypocritical about sex (particularly premarital sex), Autism Speaks seems to have turned into a hypocrite earlier this week during their annual Light It Up Blue campaign. I saw a couple of my relatives on Facebook plaster their profile pictures with a Autism Speaks filter that read, “Light It Up Blue for Love and Acceptance.” I was very skeptical about the organization’s change to their mission statement months ago, and the fact that members of my extended family chose to paint their Facebook profile pictures blue for the sake of autism awareness compounded my skepticism even further. “Autism Speaks seems to have changed their tone about autistic people, yet they’re still calling Code Blue on us. I don’t understand it,” I tweeted the morning of World Autism Awareness Day, which I call World Autism ACCEPTANCE Day. @LetsStimTonight, one of my followers, concurred with me as she replied, “I can’t trust their change of tone. If they took a moment to acknowledge the harm that they did, that they *were* in the wrong, and that those views no longer reflect their message, then maybe. Until then, I see them as the same ableist people with a more appealing mask.” This begs the question: What’s the point of a so-called “charity” like Autism Speaks vowing to do right by the group of people they claim to support only to turn back around and continue to demonize us for profit? It’s like a borderline obese man promising his wife to change his diet and hit the gym, slim down, and then two months later decides to eat a donut, a bag of Cheetos, and a hot dog, thereby reverting back to his unhealthy habits and pissing off his wife to the point where she files for divorce.

To compound matters further, Donald Trump (I REFUSE to call him President) published a proclamation on the White House website two days before World Autism Awareness Day that celebrates the contributions autistics have made to society and calls for a greater understanding of us, yet encourages further research into treatments and a cure for autism. This statement coming from the guy who has spread countless falsehoods about autism and its causes on Twitter. He even went so far as to say that a child can develop symptoms of autism after undergoing multiple rounds of vaccinations, therefore the government should put the kibosh on the vaccination program, or at the very least, require doctors to administer smaller doses of vaccines to their infant patients. And for the first time ever, Trump lit the White House blue per the suggestion of Autism Speaks co-founders Bob and Suzanne Wright, the latter of whom is deceased.

And now, a heartfelt letter to America’s most controversial president.

Dear Mr. Trump,

My name is Cristina, and I’m a 23-year-old autistic woman currently in her junior year of college. There are multifarious reasons why I refuse to call you President. Your stance on autism tops that laundry list. Before you were elected into office, I was extremely anxious about the laws you would write and pass that would strip every autistic person’s right to live their lives freely and independently without discrimination for their neurology. Judging by the damning tweets you wrote about autism and your Autism Awareness proclamation published on the White House webpage, I was right. You’ve tweeted countless times before your election that rigorous vaccinations have increased autism rates. As the daughter of a pharmacist, I’d like to tell you that is not the case. First off, autism is caused by a genetic mutation, NOT vaccines, especially the MMR vaccine. Anti-vaxxers like yourself believe vaccines cause autism due to the mercury-based preservative thimerosal, even though the compound has been banned from usage since 2001. Second, autism rates have increased not because there are more autistic people than ever before, it is due to advances in diagnostic methods. Whether autism has been diagnosed in early childhood, adolescence, or even adulthood–some people don’t even know they’re autistic until they hit their 40’s–autistic people may be eligible for benefits from Social Security and health insurance. For some autistic people, attaining Social Security benefits can be difficult, even with comorbid disabilities seen or unseen, such as anxiety and depression. Meanwhile, you made a proposal for Congress to slash $15.1 billion from the Department of Health and Human Services, which would make it even more difficult for us to get the funding we need to cover our health expenses. I have three more years under my mother’s health insurance plan, and once I turn 26, I’m going to have a hard time shopping for an affordable insurance plan or even apply for Social Security benefits simply because you think autistic people, with or without comorbid disabilities, aren’t good for it.

It’s one thing for autistic people to experience bullying by their neurotypical peers in public school, but for you, the most powerful man in the country, if not the world, to bully us? By proposing such laws that discriminate against us–dismantling the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), and the Affordable Care Act (ACA)–you’re turning the clock back 20 years, taking away all the rights and benefits we have fought so hard to attain. Rolling back protections guaranteed to us by the aforementioned acts can be detrimental to our overall well-being, even fatal. We’ve taken a lot of prejudice in school and at home (in some cases), but we’re not gonna take it from you. If you do anything that threatens our very livelihood, we will fight to have you impeached. That is a promise.

 

Sincerely,

Cristina Alexander

 

Donald Trump: The BIGGEST Idiot in U.S. Politics

Donald Trump: The BIGGEST Idiot in U.S. Politics

We’re still in the middle of 2015, and the hype for the 2016 Presidential Election has just begun. With every campaign comes some form of major stupidity from at least one presidential candidate–specifically, media business mogul Donald Trump.

For the past month, Republican candidate Donald Trump’s gargantuan acts of stupidity have been making headlines all across the country. In his presidential campaign announcement speech, Trump made derogatory remarks at Mexican immigrants, saying that they are, “in many cases, criminals, drug dealers, rapists, etc.” even though that is never the case. As a result of his racial slurs towards Mexicans, NBC and Spanish-language network Univision severed their business relationship to Trump and decided not to air the Miss USA or Miss Universe pageants–both of which he’s owned since 1996–on their networks. Looks like no one’s gonna watch the world’s most beautiful models vie for the crown this year–or for many years to come–thanks to that asshole.

At the first GOP debate two nights ago, Trump slammed Fox News reporter Megyn Kelly for asking questions regarding the misogynistic, sexist comments that he made in the past–he’s called them “fat pigs, dogs, slobs, and disgusting animals”–deeming them “ridiculous” and “off-base.” To further escalate the situation, Trump offended Kelly by telling CNN’s Don Lemon she had “blood coming out of her wherever.” I thought he was referring to her menstrual cycle, but he said that blood was coming out of her eyes and her nose.

I may be a Democrat, but I think Donald Trump is an embarrassment to the Republican Party. He thinks that he can eschew punishment simply because he’s got millions and billions of dollars to his name. But guess what? As long as Trump runs his vulgar mouth about Mexican immigrants, women, and other minorities–he already claims to believe that autism is caused by vaccines, which incensed me because there is no scientific evidence to support it–everyone and every business he’s associated with will completely disown him for good, and he’ll be forced to drop out of the 2016 presidential race. (Then again, how the hell did Trump get ahead of Jeb Bush and other notable GOP candidates in the national polls?) Trump’s being booted by NBC, Univision, Macy’s, who dropped his clothing line, and NASCAR, who ended their sponsorship with Trump by declaring they will not host its post season awards banquet at his golf resort in Doral, Florida, has proved that much.

Although I have no ill will against others, I sincerely hope that Donald Trump gets dropped from the presidential race because if he ever gets elected President, I’m afraid he’ll bastardize America much further than it’s already been.

I always say that politics is dirty business. Politics has gotten even messier now that Donald Trump is involved.

And I thought George W. Bush was the worst.

Charleston Shooting, Dylann Roof, and the Confederate Flag Debate

Last Wednesday night, June 17, I was surfing CNN on my phone when I came across this headline: “9 Killed in Charleston Church Shooting.” I shrugged and mumbled, “Ridiculous. Who would go into the House of God and kill everybody?” and went straight to sleep. The next morning, new details of the church shooting emerged, revealing that it was a hate crime against a group of faithful African-Americans.

The gunman, Dylann Roof, who is exactly my age, went to the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church–nicknamed Mother Emanuel my many people in the community–and sat with the prayer group for one hour before he opened fire at everyone, killing nine people, including the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, who was notable for preaching about love and forgiveness to his congregation. In 1997, Pinckney was elected to the South Carolina State House of Representatives at the age of 23, making him the youngest African-American legislator in the state’s history. His friends and family were–and still are–shocked to hear about his tragic death.

What shocked me and my family the most was what went through the mind of Dylann Roof. It turned out that he had written a manifesto describing his racist views against African-Americans, claiming that coverage of Trayvon Martin’s death “awakened” him to “black on White violence.” He sided with George Zimmerman’s decision to shoot him and was prompted to Google “black on White crime.” Roof came across the website for the Council of Conservative Citizens, which had an entire library of black on White murder cases, and was shocked to see that news stations reported more of Trayvon Martin’s life and death but lacked reports of black on White crimes. The group shut down their website in the midst of negative publicity, but its president, Earl Holt, said the organization was “hardly responsible” for Roof’s heinous actions.

What disgusted me and my mother the most about Dylann Roof was his Facebook photos. Every single picture CNN showed to the public was proof that Roof clearly stood by his racist views against African-Americans, intending to “start a race war,” as he said to one of his friends. Also, Roof didn’t look mentally ill–not that they said he was. Rather, he looked like the son of Satan, like a villain straight out of an old Cartoon Network show (I suppose you know which one it is). And in some of the pictures, his jacket had patches of the flags of apartheid-era South Africa and Rhodesia. One photo even showed Roof waving the Confederate flag.

So began the debate of whether the Confederate flag should still fly, especially over the state capitol of South Carolina. The Confederate flag was used as a battle flag by the Army of Northern Virginia under General Robert E. Lee during the Civil War, and it has been deemed a racist symbol by many Americans–especially African-Americans–ever since. Today, the governor of South Carolina called for the Confederate flag to stop flying over the state capitol. The governors of Virginia and North Carolina declared to remove the symbol from their license plates. Several of the country’s retailers, including Walmart, eBay, and Amazon, decided to ban the sale of the Confederate flag and other products that flash the emblem. I applaud those states and businesses for taking action to stamp out the flag that has been the symbol of racial intolerance for centuries. White supremacy is no longer acceptable in this day and age, and it’s high time that we treat the African-American people with the love and respect that they deserve.

One more thing: Dylann Roof, may you burn in Hell for your display of hatred towards the people whose blood you’ve spilled in the House of God. You’re gonna get the death penalty, anyway.