Category Archives: Harris Yun

New Apple Emoji Signals Nationwide Acceptance

by Harris Yun – Staff Writer

Apple recently released the list of new emojis to be added in their next iOS update, iOS 11.1. Included on the list is the return of the vomit emoji, which was removed early last year (to much dismay), and the introduction of what people are already calling the ‘Colbert emoji’, a face with one eyebrow raised in classic Stephen Colbert fashion. Other emoji added include a T. rex, the orange heart, and ‘I love you’ in sign language. Most important, however is the inclusion of three gender-neutral emoji and a woman wearing a hijab.

As America becomes increasingly divided, this is extremely important. Islamophobia is at an all time high, and the transgender question is slowly becoming more and more relevant on the country’s social agenda. With the recent ban on transgender individuals serving in the military, it’s more important than ever that we as a country show our support for those who struggle with their gender identity. Similarly, while attitudes towards muslims are gradually becoming more and more extreme, in some cases even inciting hate crimes, the inclusion of a hijab-wearing woman is an encouraging signal that muslims are slowly becoming more integrated into American society and are being seen as part of America, instead of temporarily-sheltered strangers.

Some people might scoff, asking “what’s the big deal? They are just pictures…” but in reality, this is extremely important. Sure, they might be small symbols that people probably will not ever use, but the fact that they have even been included is a strong signal that America is finally ready to accept these often marginalized groups. They are pushing the idea that muslim and transgender individuals are part of mainstream society, and that they should be included in everything, even something as small as a choice of what emoji you use in a small text message. It is not a big step, but it is a step in the right direction – an America where everybody is treated equally, not just in theory, but in reality.

Respecting the Flag: Pro vs. Con

by Joshua Manning and Harris Yun – Staff Writers

Con

Respecting the flag is something that in my opinion is very poorly defined. What exactly does it mean to disrespect the flag? Why does the flag deserve our undying respect? Why is it looked down on to not respect a piece of cloth? Well, most would argue that the flag represents something more than just a cloth, it represents the nation and everyone who has fought for it. In that case, the question of “should we respect the flag?” turns into the question “should we respect the nation?”. Well that depends on what you mean by respect, if by respect you mean having sympathy for all the causes of the nation no matter what, then you can count me out and here is why.

There is no set of beliefs, ideas, or organizations that are granted special privilege and are exempt from criticism. The nation itself doesn’t have the right to not be questioned and it most certainly shouldn’t expect that from citizens who are granted the right to freedom of thought and expression through its government. The nation’s ideals can and should be brought into question by the public, that is how we start new conversations about how our legislature should and shouldn’t change. How are we supposed to know if people are unhappy with current laws and regulations if all we see is everyone showing unquestioned loyalty towards the nation and what it stands for.

The recent case of athletes kneeling during the national anthem is a prime example of people using symbolic speech (something that is protected by the first amendment) to raise awareness of issues they have with the nation in which they are affected by. Kneeling during the anthem is a perfectly safe and valid way of protesting a set of ideas which they feel haven’t properly represented their best interests. Collin Kaepernick for instance kneeled because he feels as though police brutality is currently a huge issue which the government has not done much about and he wanted to bring attention to that through symbolic speech of kneeling during the anthem.

It should not be considered taboo to criticize your own country, in fact it should be the norm. Criticizing something means you have legitimate concerns about it and, most importantly, shows that you care about it. Too often I see the conflation of ideas and beliefs with people, and they are not the same thing. Nations and the things they stand for (their ideas) are not people, they don’t have the right to not be harshly criticized, quite the opposite in fact. We should criticize the nation and what it stands for if we feel we have legitimate concerns. If we do not raise our voice then our problems with the nation in which we are a part and therefore directly affects us will fall on deaf ears and blind eyes and our right to freedom of speech will have been utterly wasted.

Pro

There has been some recent controversy over football players kneeling during the national anthem. Some people feel like disrespecting the flag and what it stands for is the best way to speak out against the issues that people in America face today. This, however, both misrepresents the stance of the people who do not respect the flag and overall further fractures the country.

The flag represents more than the current country – it represents the ideals the country was founded upon. You might not agree with the current president’s policies, or the laws in this country, or who enforces those laws, but the flag is something above; it is the ideal image of equality and just treatment. By not showing proper respect for it, someone gives off the impression that they do not agree with those ideals, not merely the way the government chooses to interpret those ideals; the ideals that all men (and women) are created equal, that everybody has the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Furthermore, this is unnecessarily fracturing the country when unity is needed most. In order to fight the injustices that people are facing, we need to unify, not divide. The 60s civil rights movement would not have been possible without unity on the side of the protesters. The only way they were able to right the injustices they saw in the system was to unify behind a cohesive message, with clearly defined goals. Not respecting the flag is both highly divisive and does not send a clear message. There are those who are on the fence, and this only hurts the cause by creating more confusion and driving them away.

I respect people’s right to free speech, and by no means am I telling them that they should be punished for this, or that this should be illegal; merely saying that those who wish to unify the country against these issues would be better served by making a public statement instead of spitting in the symbol of the very ideals they wish was a reality.

Culminating Project a Hassle For Seniors

stressed student

by Harris Yun – Staff Writer

As seniors enter their (hopefully) final year of highschool, there is plenty enough hanging over them. However, one thing stands out in particular – the culminating project. It is supposed to represent the final ‘culmination’ of our high school experience and learning, and prepare us for life after government-mandated education. While well-intentioned, however, this is an outdated and frankly, ridiculous requirement for graduation.

Ask any senior in the halls, and they will tell you that the culminating project sucks. It constantly hovers over us, and it is incredibly stressful. It is a project that we have to complete in order to graduate, and most of us do not really see the point. Sure, the whole thing takes only about a week to do (minus the community service), but in the end, it is a week of wasted time; time that could be used to actually prepare seniors for the ‘real world’.

In reality, the culminating project is kind of outdated. Every year, more and more seniors by the time they graduate either already have a job or are not planning to get one anytime soon, in which case the culminating project loses its purpose. In addition, the project pushes us towards college, even if we do not really want to go. In fact, in recent years, the amount of students who go to college without really knowing what they wanted to do, only going because they were told it was the right choice, has risen dramatically. This, obviously, is problematic.

Past that, there are better ways to prepare students for life after high school than a mandatory project. The resources spent on presenting and evaluating the project could instead be put towards a class on budgeting, or changing the project altogether into something that would actually prepare us for the world of bills and taxes in life after we move out of our parents’ houses. In fact, instead of using countless hours of homeroom time (something that has also been shortened) for this outdated project, you could use that time to teach students real life skills.

Sure, the community service is nice for getting students to connect with their community, but the fact of the matter is that either people will do the bare minimum required to graduate, or get over 50 hours a year – there is basically no in-between.

In the end, though, the culminating project is a ridiculous requirement for graduation and does not help students for life after high school at all – and we need to either change it, or get rid of it altogether.

Islamophobia still Present in America Today

by Harris Yun – Staff Writer

America is no stranger to prejudice. Ever since the conception of our country there has always been a group of people that gets oppressed and hated, for no reason other than the idea that they challenge the status quo. As a Muslim myself, you can believe me when I say that these days, that group is Muslims, and it is just as damaging to the country as when that group was African-Americans.

Post-9/11, Muslim discrimination was at an all time high, but over the past decade, it has slowly been ebbing away. However, in the past year, a huge resurgence can be seen. Thanks to things like the recent travel ban, which aimed to prevent people from mostly Muslim countries from traveling into America, or President Trump’s actively hostile stance towards Islam, America is slowly working itself back into a frenzy of Islamophobia and all the horrible things that happen as a result.

No matter where you look, there is rampant prejudice against Muslims. Online, you just have to look at any news article that even mentions them, and you’ll see hundreds of comments raving about Muslims and how they need to be ‘dealt with’ – for example, on articles about the recent bombing of a mosque in Minnesota you can find comments in the vein of “I hope it was full of Muslim trash” and “Burn em ALL!!!!!!”

This hate is not just confined to the internet. All over the US, Islamophobia has led to thousands of people protesting the spread of Islam, even in places as liberal as Seattle; several demonstrations at mosques in the past three months turned violent, forcing police officers to use pepper spray to break up the crowds. They cite the reason that they “don’t want America to be taken over by Sharia law”, but that is not what most American Muslims want, either. Most are refugees from the turmoil in the Middle East, escaping the so-called ‘Sharia law’ implemented by ISIL and other similar groups – the last thing they want is for it to come to America, the land where anyone can do anything. The real reason they protest is because they want somebody to blame, some group they can point their fingers at and say ‘Look at them – they’re the problem.’ Even here, in the Kentlake area, when my family members go out with their hijab on they get strange looks filled with suspicion and fear, and once we even got outright told that we do not belong here, that ‘our people’ are the reason America is facing all the problems it is today.

However, wherever there is hatred, there are people fighting against it. The vocal minority, however vocal they may be, will always be a minority. A few outspoken critics should not, can not, be taken as representative of America as a whole. If you are truly an American, you will understand that Americans come from many diverse backgrounds, and trying to exclude a group of people just because they have differing religious beliefs is not just rude, it’s downright unpatriotic. Represent our country, stand in the face of prejudice, and support your Muslim countrymen and women.