Category Archives: Ethics and Morality

The Precedents We Set We Are Responsible For

The continued refusal to acknowledge and respect indigenous sovereignty and right to self-determination, many such rights guaranteed through treaties is establishing, for this generation and this society, the precedent that an individual or a people is only entitled to sovereignty and self-determination if they can be taken and/or protected by force; i.e., having an army who can, will, and has killed and murdered to protect those rights. The precedent being set for this generation and society boils down to asserting that murder or the threat of murder is the only way to assert sovereignty and self-determination as the United States and other Western Civilization countries or so apt and efficient at doing. If this precedent is disagreeable and is not a precedent that we seek to establish as a generation and as a society, then why do we continue to deny these rights to those without the physical and violent might to oppose the United States’ and other countries impositions of control over indigenous peoples?


In many cases and for many peoples these precedents have a long and treacherous, and often painful history, but it is also the case that these very same rights are being denied today to people both in the United States and to other people globally.  There are sovereign nations within the borders of the United States, Mexico, and Canada today whose sovereign rights are being violated. That means that we as people today are responsible for those rights being violated and the precedent that we are setting as a generation and as a society is that treaty and sovereignty rights, which entails the right to self-determination are only valid if a people has an army to defend those rights.


You either, believe in self-determination or, you do not; there is no middle of the road position for this belief. It is a 100% deal. It is a contradiction of definition to propose 90%, or 75%, or 15%, or 0% self-determination. From the belief in Liberty, this entails self-determination, with the qualification that this determination does not harm others, springs forth the understanding that all people are owed this right and that they possess it from birth.


However, our actions, as a generation and a society today, do not match our system of values in the United States because our behaviors and our laws and our toleration of the U.S. Congress to ignore the Treaties the U.S. Government has signed reveal otherwise. We have a duty and a responsibility to protect the rights of human beings, and we are obliged to set new precedents when the ones in existence are precedents we disagree with.

“Letter to the Men” by Renaissance the Poet: New HipHop Song & Explanatory Essay

How the hell is a man going to jump up and scream for Liberation and Justice, Equality and to be treated fairly, to have greater bargaining power, and to be treated like a human being; then turn around to promote Misogyny and Patriarchy which are mechanisms of Colonization and the Exploitation of the bodies and minds of women?

There is a manifest contradiction when these two opposite ends of the spectrum—justice vs. injustice—coalesce into one individual, wherein the latter completely disqualifies the former to the point that the man promotes a system of injustice instead of justice. Any ideology or societal organization principle that systematically relegates a particular group of people to a position of inferiority in a hierarchical structure, simply because of their affiliation or identity with the group is discriminatory, bigoted, and unjust to its core. Patriarchy is one of those unjust ideologies because it systematically seeks to relegate all women to positions of inferiority simply for being women. Ideologies that generalize and discriminate based on qualities beyond the will and volition of the individual is ignorant, short-sighted, and unjust.

Capability, merit, previous accomplishment, and potential future contributions are by far a more efficient and just means of distributing power and respect among and between people. Some men are promoted to positions of prestige and power, but lack the integrity, the intelligence, the character, and the communication skills necessary to perform the role they are selected for because they were selected solely on the basis of gender. This is a detrimental and foolhardy practice. Likewise, denying a position of prestige and power to a woman because the very same vital qualities that are necessary to fulfill the role are ignored for men and discounted in women, that is, they have not been considered in the cases of many women, qualities that they in fact possess. This is also a detrimental and foolhardy practice. If people were evaluated, both male and female, in terms of their capability; their merit, their previous accomplishments and their potential future contributions instead of their genders, sexes, ages, or ethnicity then the roles they are selected for would actually be fulfilled and the outcomes would be much more productive and achieved more efficiently.

A person should be judged by the contents of their character; not by their gender, sex, color, creed, or religion.

Adding Sexism to this discussion of the unjust hierarchical social structure of patriarchy, wherein the bodies of women are objectified and commodified, denying their humanity and instead attributing value to women only in sexual or monetary terms; the dehumanization of women is a glaring and unacceptable problem. It is also a dangerous and harmful combination.

Patriarchy is insidious because it has been the norm for thousands of years, and as a result the many ways it crops up could seem to many of the cisgendered men to be benign. For instance, the oldest reference to women as bitches I have found was in Homer’sThe Odyssey” from Ancient Greece. The term and the hatred of women, misogyny itself, is old, very old. Furthermore, contemporary women may be subjected to continuous unwanted sexual advances from men; men who feel entitled to do this because they are men and feel we must be macho and promiscuous to fulfill our roles as men. Patriarchy also denies women the same sexual freedoms granted to men and instead they are condemned and shamed by men and other women—who have been indoctrinated with patriarchy—for expressing themselves sexually, or dressing in a revealing manner. For thousands of years women have been thought of as being naturally ‘incompetent’ in some fields or activities, and their opinions in leadership roles have often been viewed as less credible. Women have rarely been given the same space to express their thoughts as men, regardless of how correct and astute they are and have been. Of course this denies the very real truth that women have been present and have been powerful decision makers in many of the biggest decisions that have shaped our world; the Julio-Claudian blood-line of the 12 Caesars of Rome in the era of Jesus was controlled by women; the shaping of the United States was heavily influenced by Abigail Adams, the wife of John Adams, one of the revolutionaries; Sojourner Truth the African American abolitionists; Harriet Tubman, an African American abolitionist and freedom fighter; Elizabeth Cady Stanton, the suffragist; Eleanor Roosevelt, the first chairperson of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights; Madam C.J. Walker, the first Black Woman millionaire who created a line of black hair products; the list can go on. Patriarchy also shows up when a woman justly and intelligently asserts herself and her autonomy and she is referred to as a bitch, which is an attempt to discredit her and her assertions. Patriarchy is ugly and ubiquitous and the list can go on, but the point is that patriarchy seeks to deny women their humanity and relegate them to positions of inferiority wherein they are only perceived as minor partners, partial contributors, sexual objects, and needing a man’s guidance and protection (paternalism); none of which is true.

Here are three interrelated points:

1. In a sense, culture is a living entity. It does and must evolve. To claim that subordination of women must be “be natural and correct” because “that is how it has always been” is wrong. It is a cop-out, it is recklessly conservative, it is unjust, and it is childish.

2. That a man may feel ‘entitled’ to a woman’s body is a continuation of exploitation and slavery; slavery simply being the ownership of another’s body. It is the refusal to recognize the autonomy of another. Entitlement can only emerge when one ‘feels’ they have the right to ownership over something or someone.

3. For a man to clamor for his rights and equity, and deny women similar rights and equity is a manifest contradiction to the concept of justice, equality, and world free from oppression.

Furthermore, that men are afraid of women and their inherent potential to shape our world; much the same as racism is about managing the fear of Black people coming to social, political and economic power because white people fear that the same harms they have visited on Black People will be visited upon them. This fear is driven by greed, the most fundamental components of colonialism and exploitation. It is about power, which is expressed in terms of control of the external world and, most often control of resources or other people. This fear is a plague that has led men to attempt to silence women and to hold them in bondage because of a fear of a loss of control, but this behavior is stifling our ability to develop as a people into a more mature society and culture. Since all living things must grow, this pestilent nostalgia is actually choking our culture and killing us: Reverse Racism.

I am calling on the men to be more; to do less; and to acknowledge, accept and respect the leadership of women. I am calling on the men to end our subordination of women; to end our abuse of women; and to stand up to those who continue to hate and abuse women. I am calling on the men to see and acknowledge the true value inherent in each and every woman; to treasure that value; and to disregard the antiquated valuation of women that has been instilled in us by the oppressive and colonizing culture of conquest and sexual exploitation. I am calling on the men to recognize the harm we are doing to us all by holding half of our population hostage, in bondage, attempting to silence the best within us. I am calling on the men to be Men, and in particular Black Men, to do away with this ideology of dualism and competition so that we can move forward as a people and achieve the liberation we so desperately desire.

i.Written by Renaissance the Poet

ii. Edited by Sharon Welensky & Tim Sage


Backing Track & Mix by Scott Paul Johnson

Written & Recorded by Renaissance the Poet



Verse 1

There’s a very real problem that needs to be addressed

And I hope my words offend, cause you to question your intents

As a man, a male, privileged, to live without regrets

This letter is for you, from a man who finally gets

That Oppression of women is the sickest form there is

there is nothing that epitomizes hatred more than this

Weakness, feeling the need to express dominance

Prominently, by suppressing a woman’s right to live

& to live un-assailed by male hostility

In the streets, on the job and in our families

Sexual harassment an infectious demon,

Spreading because men feel entitled to bodies bein

Perceived as property, a fallacy Contradicting we

The liberty we scream for we constantly recede

Cuz our greed makes us think we can take all that we see

We’d never tolerate being another man’s property


Sisters, Mothers, Daughters, Aunties, Girlfriends, Wives, Friends

The Women of the World combine to be the best there is

I just can’t take the hate no more, I’m calling out the men

You have a duty to us all to be the best you can

Verse 2

Walking down the street women have to risk the cat calling

Being asked for numbers, getting groped, raped and can’t stop it

& when they Stand Their Ground, flipping around the situation

Denying a man has the Right to incur this inflammation

She is insulted, threatened and in the worst cases

Women have been killed for denying men to their faces

& if that is not entitlement then I don’t know what is

Because who has a claim to another’s life

Let alone to a smile or even her mind

If she graces you the privilege, it is a gift, not a right

And she has the Right, like us, to be left alone

On her way home, to school, work or talking on the phone

& She has the Right to associate with you or not

Without fear of reprisal or the way being blocked

It’s not for you to decide, this is her choice

Infringement is Wrong, man, so cease all the noise


Sisters, Mothers, Daughters, Aunties, Girlfriends, Wives, Friends

The Women of the World combine to be the best there is

I just can’t take the hate no more, I’m calling out the men

You have a duty to us all to be the best you can

Verse 3

Women should be valued and cherished not disrespected

They’re Amazing, Intelligent, Partners, and they’re Finished

They do not need anything added or taken from them

There is nothing a man has that a woman needs from him

Not even semen, if that’s what you’re thinking

You can Check a sperm bank if you think that I am beefin

Paternalism a joke, they’re as capable as men

Neither need concealing nor protection, because they’re Women

They’re Human and were born with all they will ever need

Save respect and to be loved, just like you and me

And humans deserve to be treated with dignity

That means treated with equity, honor and esteem

Fail in any of these and you’ll see that she up and leaves

And finds one who can provide all the things that she needs

But I see that so many out get this wrong

& that’s why I wrote you a letter in the form of a song


Sisters, Mothers, Daughters, Aunties, Girlfriends, Wives, Friends

The Women of the World combine to be the best there is

I just can’t take the hate no more, I’m calling out the men

You have a duty to us all to be the best you can

Guilty: Regardless of Whether You Knew It Was Wrong

At the heart of morality lies the responsibility a person has to commit or omit a particular action, which is usually defined as either right or wrong, respectively. If the person elects the right action then the action tends to be morally praiseworthy. Conversely, if the person elects the wrong action then the action tends to be morally blameworthy, and the person responsible could be subject to some form of punishment. But is it possible for an individual to both commit a wrongful act and not also be responsible for the commission of the act, and if so, under what circumstances is this possible?  For example, if all actions are determined by causes and essentially denies the existence of free-will, is the person still morally culpable for her actions? Or if the moral parameters of a particular culture are such that an immoral act is not conceived as such, does that excuse a person of his moral responsibility? Michele M. Moody-Adams considers the complications of moral responsibility across both space and time and draws the conclusion that neither absolves moral culpability[1] I believe that in regard to particular events there can be extenuating circumstances, which may potentially absolve a person of moral responsibility. However, in the absence of these extenuating circumstances, there are some things that a person can and should be held morally responsible for, regardless of whether they knew it was right or wrong at the time.

There can be no responsibility, if there is no power of choice to choose an alternative action. In other words, if a person cannot choose to do otherwise, then they cannot be held responsible for the only thing that they could have done. Moral responsibility presupposes free-will, and free-will presupposes the capability of choice. Yet, free-will is more complicated than the actual act of choice, because although a woman may will something to be, that does not mean she is capable of making it come to be. For example, she may will that she not get into a car-accident, and may even make the active choice to drive cautiously so as not to get into an accident, but beyond her will and her choice she is still involved in a collision. This however, does not absolve her free-will, because she definitely willed there not to be a collision. What is important and at the heart of the existential question, is does she have the capability of choice or is her action constrained by causes? If the former is true, then she may be morally responsible the collision, but if the latter is true, then she cannot be morally responsible for the collision.

In the discussion of determinism and free-will, as P.F Strawson[2] accurately notes in the article Freedom and Resentment, lies a metaphysical problem, i.e., whether free-will does in fact exist. On the one hand, he conceives of “optimists” as being those who believe determinism is at least not false. On the other hand, he conceives of “skeptics” as being those who believe that if determinism is true, then people cannot be held morally responsible. Strawson suggests that an optimist will promote the “efficacy of the practices of punishment,” while a skeptic will argue; “just punishment and moral condemnation imply moral guilt and guilt implies moral responsibility and moral responsibility implies freedom and freedom implies the falsity of determinism.”[3] However, what we have here are a series of implications, and arguments, but nothing definitive about the existence of free-will. The distinction that Strawson will draw is that we as people feel differently depending both upon the relationship we share with other human beings and the intentions behind the actions that affect us; or what he calls “reactive attitudes”.[4] In other words, what Strawson argues is that people hold others morally responsible for their intentions, given that they are capable of forming intentions, not their actions specifically.

Thus far the discussion has been focused on the capability of choice, but it cannot go without note that there may be constraints upon that capability which supersede the metaphysical argument. As was just shown, there are definitely differences of opinion about the existence of determinism, and it is obvious that in a line of stacked dominoes that one domino does not have a choice to push the next after the process has begun, but it is not altogether clear whether people are bound by the same constraints because of the emotional capacities we possess. Thus, without a definitive resolution to the metaphysical problem, and for the sake of argument, it will be supposed that both determinism and free-will coexist. Furthermore, it is clear that if a person is pushed by a sufficiently strong force that the person will be physically moved, but it is not clear that the person’s response to being moved is determined. For example, if the force that moves a man is another man, it is fully reasonable to suppose that the man who is the object of the push may respond with either, contempt or approval depending upon the situation and the circumstances. A major component of how that situation and those circumstances are interpreted has much to do with the socialization that the man who is the object of the push receives, and this is heavily dependent upon the culture in which the man is part of.

Moral responsibility is not an easy question to answer because it either, may presuppose that there are moral facts that universally apply across both space and time, or it may presuppose some form of moral relativism. Regarding the former assertion, not only does this present a conflict within one culture between the different moral theories of right and wrong, but it also encounters the further complication of potentially praising or blaming people for what they may not been capable of distinguishing the moral value of. In regard to the latter assertion, the issue with moral relativism is that it then becomes nearly impossible to hold any person accountable for their actions because morality becomes relative to the individual and either, all actions can be conceived of as wrong, or no actions can be conceived of as wrong. It all depends upon the individual and their own personal conception of right and wrong, which all but drains morality of its objective and non-personal components. Now it could be the case that the reason people believe there is entailed with morality and objective reality is because of the shared moral relativistic values, but that is not the general intuition regarding morality. There are some things, like murder, which is the unjustified killing of another person, that people intuitively feel to be wrong regardless of whether it happens to their person, someone their share a special relationship with, or a stranger with whom no special bonds exists. Therefore, for the sake of this argument, moral relativism can be rejected, which leaves us with moral facts.

This however, does not absolve us of problems, because we now have to determine whether moral facts can be applied across both space and time, and for this we will return to Moody-Adams’ argument in Culture, Responsibility, and Affected Ignorance. In the beginning of her argument, it is suggested that there is “a crucial connection between culture and agency,”[5] which means that the capability of choice is dependent on culture. The argument tracks what Moody-Adams calls “moral ignorance” and she argues that cultural limitations can be the cause of this ignorance.[6] This moral ignorance may either take place within one’s own culture, which may have an inability to critically analyze its own practices, or between cultures there may be a bar to understanding each other’s practices. Moody-Adams rejects that either of these conditions absolves a person of responsibility, regardless of space and time.

The first major point that Moody-Adams makes to support the claim that moral responsibility applies across both space and time is the rejection of what she termed the “inability thesis”.[7] The thesis suggests that a person’s culture can potentially render them “unable to know that certain actions are wrong” because it inhibits the ability of the person to critically analyze their culture and practices.[8] In rejecting the inability thesis, Moody-Adams asserts that it is not so much that their culture has imposed upon them a “blindness” of sorts, but rather, that the actor is unwilling to consider the wrongfulness of their practices.[9] In other words, regardless of the person’s culture, they are capable of the choice to consider the rightness or wrongness of an action. Now, this would seem to be a leap in logic, or at least a presumption, except that the assertion is based on the concept of the transmission of culture. The relevant characteristics of culture to this argument are the “normative expectations about emotion, thought, and action,” that become social and legal rules, and are supported by the “nonlegal sources” of the group or society.[10] This support tends to come from those who desire to “protect the life of the group” and who internalize these rules, but also who accept the demands of the culture and are capable of criticizing their own conformity with the rules. So therefore, they are not unable, but rather, choose “not to know what one can and should know,” which is what Moody-Adams calls “affected ignorance.”[11]

The second major point Moody-Adams makes concerns “affected ignorance and the banality of wrongdoing,” i.e., the common occurrence of actively choosing not to know what one could and should know and continuing to do wrong. Moody-Adams argues that affected ignorance takes several forms, but highlights four forms that are particularly relevant: (1) “linguistic deceptions,” or codes used to conceal the truth of the wrongfulness of an action from even ourselves; (2) “the wish to ‘know nothing,'” of how wrong the means were to achieve a particular end so as to avoid responsibility; (3) “ask no questions,”  to avoid the responsibility of either stopping or preventing a wrong from occurring; and (4) “to avoid knowledge of our human fallibility,” the failure to acknowledge that our “deeply held convictions may be wrong.”[12] These four forms of affected ignorance are methods in which people use to express and display an unwillingness to take responsibility for their actions, or to consider alternatives. Moody-Adams further argues that these four forms are outgrowths of the “banality of wrongdoing,” that is denied for two principle reasons, an unwillingness to conceive of our “cultural predecessors” as having “perpetuated a practice embodying culpable moral ignorance,” and the common and philosophical perception that there are “only two responses to behavior we may want to condemn.”[13] The first perception is what she calls “a rigorously moralistic model” that blames without forgiveness and the second perception, is the “therapeutic model” that forgives without attributing blame.[14] Moody-Adams is not satisfied with these two perceptions though, and offers a third, the “forgiving moralist’s model,” that connects the banality of wrongdoing with affected ignorance (in its many forms), that acknowledges; “the serious effort required to adopt an appropriately critical stance toward potentially problematic cultural assumptions,” the first perception lacks.[15] This third model permits us to hold people morally responsible across space and time because while it acknowledges the cultural constraints upon an individual, it also acknowledges the agency or capability of an individual to analyze critically the practices of their culture for his or herself.

So far, the argument has been mostly about asserting the capability of a person to choose to analyze critically their cultural practices, thus attributing moral responsibility to people across both space and time, none of which I believe Strawson would disagree with. However, Moody-Adams’ next point focuses on insanity and how it relates to moral responsibility, which I think Strawson might find contentious. The reason that insanity becomes a point of contention in these arguments about moral responsibility is because it directly conflicts with the assertion that all people have the capability to know what they can and should know, and to think critically about their cultural practices. As mentioned above, Strawson asserts that “reactive attitudes,” or the responses that people have to the actions of others are dependent upon the intentions of the initiators of the action. If for instance, the person is either, insane, or incapable of critical analysis or being aware of the normative cultural expectations of emotion, thought, and action then they cannot, or should not, be held morally responsible. Furthermore, that most people would generally not hold them responsible. An example that should flesh this concept out is that a child who is not traditionally considered to be morally culpable yet, say under four years of age, hits their parent in the eye irreversibly damaging it. The reactive attitude, and thus the attribution of moral responsibility would be much different if the child of the parent was twenty years of age when this happened, given that they were not insane at the time of the incident. Whereas the four year old would most likely not have his intentions scrutinized, the twenty year old most likely would. This is the distinction that Strawson draws in his argument about insanity and attributes to those who are considered insane the same level of excusableness as a young child.

Moody-Adams on the other hand, while admitting that it is possible for a person to be insane, this attribution should not be applied to a person simply because they are a member of a subculture that appears to posses different normative expectations. In fact, she argues that to do this either, to a subculture, or to another culture all-together, whether across space or time, or both, is to deny that the person has their humanity and their agency; and is a “misguided cultural relativism,” of sorts.[16] Furthermore, it is to deny that all persons are capable of critical analysis, which has already been shown to be inaccurate. Thus, to bring the argument full circle, it is possible for an individual to both commit a wrongful act and to also not be responsible for the commission of the act, if an only if, the individual is either insane or incapable of critical analysis; and his is true regardless of space or time. However, this principle holds only insofar as the supposition that determinism and free-will coexist together holds, because this entire argument is founded on the individual being capable to choose, given that some things that exist are determined.

[1] Moody-Adams, Michaele M. “Culture, Responsibility, and Affected Ignorance.” Ethics, Vol. 104. No. 2 (January 1994) pp. 291-309.

[2] Strawson, P.F. Freedom and Resentment (1962)

[3] Strawson, p. 72

[4] Strawson, p. 80

[5] Moody-Adams, p. 291

[6] Moody-Adams, p. 292

[7] Moody-Adams, p. 293

[8] Moody-Adams, p. 293-294

[9] Moody-Adams, p. 294

[10] Moody-Adams, p. 295

[11] Moody-Adams, p. 296

[12] Moody-Adams, p. 301

[13] Moody-Adams, p. 302

[14] Moody-Adams, p. 303

[15] Moody-Adams, p. 303

[16] Moody-Adams, p. 308

Apathy and Responsibility: The American Response to the Holocaust

There were millions of people dying unjustly at the hands of the Nazi regime in the end of the 1930s and the beginning of the 1940s and the American population and government, for all intents and purposes, were permitting this atrocity, or at least allowing it to happen. The pseudo history that is presented in the United States today about Americans being the “heroes” of World War II is only part of the story. What is usually not entailed in these Hollywood retellings is how many Americans denied the truth and urgency of what later became known as the Holocaust, which in its general form means total destruction. Furthermore, the utter lack of acknowledging that there were pro-Nazi and anti-Semitic organizations active on American soil during the 1930s that were engaging in propaganda campaigns, protest, and violence is slanted to paint the U.S. as more responsive, at best. History tells a different story. The moral burden of the people in the 30s and 40s was paramount because the unprecedented liquidation of an entire ethnic group was occurring and responsibility was both unclaimed and undetermined. There were arguments on all sides, but while the American government officials were engaging in arguments about what to do, if anything, the Jewish population was being exterminated in Europe. On the one hand, people were screaming for justice and for help, screaming for anything other than America’s complicity in Hitler’s plight. On the other hand, there were the skeptics, non-believers, and or non-confrontationists who indicted the screamers as being war mongers, as liars, as being unprepared for the true tasks ahead, and “quietly and gently” calling for America and the people to wait.[i]  And at the heart of the argument was the question of responsibility, because it is on that conception that acceptance or denial to act hinged.

It is perhaps not difficult to understand and conceive that many people in the 30s and 40s felt a sense of urgency to help and alleviate the suffering of the millions of Jewish people, Jewish-sympathizers and dissenters from Nazi rule in Europe. It is probably more difficult to conceive of people lacking a sense of urgency, who either, believed the reports coming out of Europe were fabrications, or were devoid of any sense of responsibility to their fellow humans. Fred Eastman was of the latter sort and in 1944 having sufficient knowledge of the situation in Nazi occupied Europe, he wrote a cold and calculated critique of the people with a sense of urgency, titled, “A Reply to Screamers.”[ii]

The document written by Eastman is a response to an author named Arthur Koestler, who was a novelist that wove into his narratives some of the tragic tales he had experienced in Europe. Eastman admitted in his response that the “reports of the mass murders of Jews and countless others are too well authenticated to be denied,” but yet lacks any motivation to join the screamers because he believes it is after the war that that real effort will begin; “the long-term task of building peace.”[iii] He thinks the screamers are responding emotively in eruptions or fits, but does not provide any reason not to have an emotional response to what he termed “no blacker crime,” and that is why he comes across as cold. For example, Eastman draws upon the Biblical parable of the Good Samaritan, which is a story that is supposed to express one’s duty to help those in need, and he could have chosen any example or explanation to follow it, but he chooses to quote a girl so young she cannot form the ‘th’ sound and whom has, as he calls it, an “emotional regurgitation,” instead of the correct moral response, which would have been a desire to help.[iv] The implicit analogy Eastman is making with this young girl is that the screamers are uneducated and immature children who do not understand morality or duty to others, and are in need of guidance. It is this unfeeling and unsympathetic, matter-of-fact, disregard for human connection and the bonds that actually motivate duty to others, that makes Eastman’s response to Koestler so cold. In addition, Eastman believed himself to be a typical representative of the American population who was in opposition of the war and the efforts to help the Jewish people in Europe.[v]

In stark contrast to Eastman, Freda Kirchwey, wrote an article in 1943 titled, “While the Jews Die,”[vi] blaming the United States and the United Nations for their complicity and failure to do their duty to help those in need.  After opening the article with an enumeration of the Nazis’ program of extermination, Kirchwey, straightforwardly identifies the blameworthy by stating; “In this country, you and I and the President and the Congress and the State Department are accessories to the crime and share Hitler’s guilt.”[vii] The “you” is a general you and given the context of the sentence it is found in, it seems most appropriate to assume the audience and recipient of the condemnation is the American people as a whole. Thus, Kirchwey lays blame flatly on both the citizens and government of the United States for their skepticism, apathy, complicity and “share” in the oppression and extermination of the Jews in Europe. Whereas Eastman believes the correct moral response is to wait, Kirchwey believes the Americans have already waited too long and the correct moral response is to act now to help the Jewish people. Kirchwey’s article was written a nearly a year prior to Eastman’s response, when more proof had been compiled, but the evidence was not enough to motivate many Americans to accept the burden of duty, with a sense of urgency to help those in need.

It is too easy of an analysis to suppose that it was anti-Semitic sentiment and prejudice that motivated the apathy of the American people although, this was certainly a factor for many people’s judgment, the reality of the reasons for the lack of urgency are more nuanced than that. There was a lack of faith in the credibility of the reports, but also questions about the motivations of the people making the reports or screaming for action, and a belief that a conflict of this magnitude was inevitable. Eastman argues that the conflict with Hitler and the Nazi regime was a “mighty conflict…over [different] philosophies of life,” that was destined to occur.[viii] Behind Eastman’s belief in this conflict rested a nest of religious and political conflicts about the origination and fruition of rights; God-given rights that lead to democracy and state-granted rights that lead to tyranny by a “master race.”[ix] This fatalistic perspective of the war with the Nazis and the extermination of the Jewish people in Europe omits autonomy, free-will, and choice from the reckoning and thus, attempts to absolve responsibility. Notwithstanding the success of this line of reasoning, the objective was to assert that if there was no responsibility, then there was no duty to help those in need and thus, no need for any moral urgency to help the Jewish people in Europe.

The fatalistic reasoning Eastman employs probably did not have as much resonance with the American people as did his critiques of the screamers wherein he claims that they “do not tell us specifically what they want us to do.”[x] This was the claim that founded his assertion that the screamers are calling for an “emotional regurgitation” instead of educated correct moral responses. Eastman ends this particular critique by appealing to the fact that his sons were in the war fighting the Nazis and that the screamers were non-combatants armchair moralizing, but not assuming any of the risks. What is revealed through these connections, in correlation with what has already been mentioned is that Eastman blames the Jews and the screamers for an imposed duty to risk life and limb for a people and a cause that it was not their responsibility to do so for. In the broader context, even given the anit-Semitic sentiments that existed within the United States in the 30s and 40s, the lack of moral urgency was more an outgrowth of the lack of moral responsibility than prejudice alone.

At the heart of the issue of the American apathy concerning the oppression and extermination of the Jewish people in Europe were conflicts with trust. At first it was the unbelievable characteristic of the reports coming out of Germany and Europe, but many of those reports were verified and still people continued to remain skeptic about the severity of the problem and their responsibility in the situation. Noted above, Eastman made two claims; that the screamers made no specific demands and that they were also non-combatants, and while that may have been the case for many, it was not always the case. Varian Fry was an American journalist who volunteered with the Emergency Rescue Committee in France in 1940 and also created an underground network to help Jews escape Nazi extermination; was what Eastman would consider a screamer.[xi] Thus, it is not the case that the screamers were not taking risks and responsibility, but were in fact acting on their convictions while simultaneously calling on others to act as well.

In 1942, Fry wrote “The Massacre of the Jews,” which moves from being accommodating and understanding of why skepticism exists, and transitions to condemning with focused anger the apathetic and skeptical American population and government. Important to note in this account is the list of specific actions being requested that Eastman claims does not exist. Fry calls on President Roosevelt and Churchill to make public statements and to “speak out again against these monstrous events.” Fry also screamed for the development of Tribunals to “amass facts,” for Diplomatic warnings to be issued to the countries in the Balkans region, for the Allies to form a blockade, to provide asylum for refugees, and to feed the Jews in the occupied territories. He also called on the Christian churches, the Protestant Leaders and the Pope, to excommunicate and condemn anyone who assisted the Nazis. Lastly, Fry suggested that any efforts that are made should be broadcasted and made public because the Nazi actions required secrecy and hoped to “create resistance” and foster “rebellion” among the people. This is a very specific list of things that can be done to assist the Jewish people and hardly any of them hint at combat, and this also shatters the conception that the “screamers do not tell us specifically what they want us to do.” What is revealed is that the America population was not listening to the screamers and chose to label them as war mongers as a justification for not assuming responsibility and displaying the moral urgency necessary to prevent or end the mass extermination of the Jewish people in Europe.[xii]

This account should not be taken to mean that Americans did not play a pivotal role in WWII and the liberation of the Jewish people from the Nazi concentration camps and occupation, because that is not true. This account was meant to convey a portion of the complex and disparate moral and ethical views of Americans in the 1930s and 1940s by analyzing their own words and setting them into context with one another. By doing so, I hope this exposition has challenged the pseudo history that presents the decision to go to war as a simple and contradicted it. There is great sacrifice in going to war for any reason, especially when it is for another country and people. Not only was Nazi campaign unprecedented in history, but so was the Allied response to Hitler’s Nazi regime, and it had to be justified both to the United States Congress and the American citizenry. For some, the mere numbers, methods, and length of time of the oppression and extermination of the Jews were enough justification to warrant the moral urgency. However, others were either, reluctant to believe, felt the need to wait, or were not willing to sacrifice the resources and lives necessary for a people they did not feel obligatory duties towards. The volume of people killed and the scope of the Nazis’ plans brought the ethical dilemma; “to kill or let die,” to the surface, wherein America’s apathy was indicted for being; “accessories to the crime” as Kirchwey says and thus, responsible to act with moral urgency.

[i] Eastman, Fred, “A Reply to Screamers,” Christian Century, February 6, 1944.  American Views the Holocaust 1933-1945: A Brief Documentary History, Edit. Robert H. Abzug (Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 1999), 171.

[ii] Eastman, 170-174.

[iii] Eastman, 173.

[iv] Eastman, 172.

[v] Eastman, 171.

[vi] Kirchwey, Freda “While the Jews Die,” Nation, March 13, 1943. American Views the Holocaust 1933-1945: A Brief Documentary History, Edit. Robert H. Abzug (Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 1999), 152-155.

[vii]Kirchwey, 153.

[viii] Eastman, 172.

[ix] Eastman, 172.

[x] Eastman, 172.

[xi] Fry, Varian, “The Massacre of the Jews,” New Republic, December. 21, 1942.  American Views the Holocaust 1933-1945: A Brief Documentary History, Edit. Robert H. Abzug (Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 1999), 126-127.

[xii] Fry, 132-133.

Consequentialism: No Longer An Alienating Morality

People tend to believe that their special ties and projects are morally relevant considerations, but traditional consequentialism does not justify partial consideration as morally relevant. The problem with this as Peter Railton has pointed out is that this can have an alienating effect on and individual, and as Julia Driver has pointed out, has the potential to obligate benevolent “angels of the world.” However, when consequentialism is conceived of with a contemporary lens, taking into account of the value of the bonds all humans have to other humans, neither of these problems are intractable.

Consequentialism is a moral theory that is concerned with the consequences or outcomes or results of an agent’s actions, which are often times measured with some valuation of The Good that is produced by the action. Different moral theories, even within the consequentialist perspective measure the good by different standards, but it tends to be the case that Right Actions, or actions that an agent should perform in a given situation with a given set of circumstances is determined by the amount of the good that will result, i.e., the amount of the good that will be the consequence of the action. In other words, the action that maximizes the good is the right action for an agent to perform, impartially and without consideration of any special relations or projects. This tends to be the case with most consequentialist theories, regardless of whether it concerns act consequentialism wherein a calculus is to be performed to determine the good each action will produce, or it concerns rule consequentialism wherein a given type of action is prescribed because the result tends to produce the most good, e.g., not lying or telling the truth. An agent’s motivations tend not to be a relevant consideration in consequentialist theories because the reason for performing an act, whether good or bad does not change the results of the action, and the consequences are what are important when determining the rightness of an agent’s action.

Consequentialism, as it has traditionally been conceived and as a result of the maximizing principle can be perceived as being too demanding, i.e., it requires too much of those whom are morally responsible. The reason for this conception is that without qualification the maximizing principle does not place a limit to the obligations of the morally responsible agent to promote the good. Instead of a limit, when either the calculus is performed or the rule is observed, the right action or the moral act is to produce the greatest net good impartially considered. This means that the morally responsible agent is not entitled to value their special relations, such as their friends or families or selves, or their personal projects, such as life plans; more or prior to anyone else’s. The morally responsive agent, according to the traditional conception of consequentialism is not justified in favoring their special relations and ties above or more than those they do not share those ties with, regardless of how much their actions have promoted the net good. For example, in one moment the impartially right action that maximizes the net good is to donate to a charity, and the next moment the impartially right action is to volunteer at a soup kitchen, then to save a drowning child and so on; all the while there is a child at home who is well fed that could use attention, but is otherwise better off than those his parent is obligated to act for. Thus, a morally responsible agent may be required by traditional consequentialism to sacrifice their special ties and projects when selecting or deliberating the right action, i.e., the partiality to choose to act for one’s child is not justified according to the traditional conception of consequentialism, if the net good is not promoted by doing such. For these reasons and others like them consequentialism has been conceived of as being too demanding; it requires more of the morally responsible agent than is suggested by intuition. Notwithstanding intuition, it may very well be the case that to be a morally responsible agent much is required.

Conversely, if and when an agent does honor and respect all of their consequentialist obligations to promote the net good of humanity, there is the potential for an agent to become what Julia Driver calls, “the angel of the world” in the article Consequentialism and Feminist Ethics (2005).[1] The angel is derived from an excerpt out of Virginia Wolf’s Hampton and Driver develops the character in the passage into “the angel of the house” who she says “is not presented as a real person, but rather as a danger that someone caught in a benevolent ideal needs to be weary of.”[2]  The obligations placed upon the morally responsible agent by traditional consequentialism requires benevolence because that is of what promoting the net good is a description—which seems to be a contradiction given that benevolence is generally understood as a choice and not an obligation. Giving to charity is thought to be a benevolent act, and yet, it may not be thought to be benevolent if an agent’s only reason for donating was to avoid incarceration, then it may not seem as much like benevolence as self-interests. However, for the sake of argument, I will assume that benevolence can be justifiably obligated. As the argument continues, entailed in this benevolence is the almost complete disregard for agent, their special ties, and their special projects. In the home when this plays out, as Wolf identifies, the angel sacrifices nearly everything of herself to ensure others are cared for.  The “angel of the world” follows by corollary and is an agent “who gives her all to others,” throughout the world, “impartially considered.”[3] This means that she promotes the net good, as the right action, without any particular concern for her own welfare or those whom depend on her, such as her children or romantic partner because this is what morality requires. (The same example can be applied to males because consequentialism requires the same obligations of men as for women and the same results may obtain. So, this description and example is not to suggest that there is anything particularly different because I have used a woman in the example.) Two problems with the concept of the angel which stand out are that it seems very unlikely that most humans could live up to this standard, which seems obvious in that the angel does not represent a real person; and the angel does not seem to have any care for herself and is happy about this state of affairs.

The issue with the “angel of the world” is that the completely objective and impersonal decision making process that disregards the agent, their special ties and projects that is required is what Peter Railton terms “alienation” in the article Alienation, Consequentialism, and the Demands of Morality (1984).[4] Railton said that this alienation was from “one’s personal commitments, from one’s feelings or sentiments, from other people, or even from morality itself,”[5] which is precisely what has been being described as one of the major objections to traditional consequentialism. Railton argues that objective or general reasoning can cause an agent to forego considerations of the particular things and agent is bond to, which give the agent’s life point, value and purpose, i.e., meaning and instead to opt for a dissociated and impartial rational when determining or justifying their actions. Railton further argues that being concerned only with the consequences of one’s actions insofar as they promote the maximum net good may dislocate an individual from their social and historical connections to the people around them.[6] However, it is impossible to dislocate the individual from their historical and social contexts without thereby also destroying what it means to be moral, and as Railton asserts, it is the social and historical context which provides the right decisions with their meaning and value.[7] The “angel of the world” is a case of objective decision making procedures that overtly stresses this dislocation of social and historical context, and alienation from personal commitments, sentiments and other people, which echoes what Driver says, it’s “a danger that someone caught in a benevolent ideal needs to be weary of.”[8]

The foregoing should however, not be taken to mean that consequences are not an important moral consideration and that it is only the motivations for an action which should be relevant; it is the case that both are important. Driver argues that when evaluating the rightness of an action, especially when one is considering only the consequences, that the results that obtain are founded on moral luck.[9] However, I disagree with the statement that follows which argues that the only thing that can be evaluated are the intentions that the agent had in the selection of an action because it has been shown that people who intend to help those in need in foreign countries have sent money to oppressive and tyrannical regimes that cause a tremendous amount of harm.[10] In contrast, the body of Michael Brown was left in the street for four and a half hours, arguably with the symbolic intention to send a message to the African American population of St. Louis to stay in their place, and the outcome was a unified African American population nationwide stepping out of their consigned role fighting for systemic change. It must be noted, that while I believe there is probably much forethought and deliberation that goes into donating to a charity or foundation to help those in foreign countries, it is probably not the case that much forethought went into the police’s actions with Michael Brown’s body, in terms of the consequences of their actions. Nonetheless, both the intentions and the outcomes are important and by implication, so are the social and historical contexts from which the rightness of action derives. From the preceding it is clear that alienation of an objective and impersonal consequentialist perspective is inadequate.

To remedy the problems of alienation and the “angel of the world,” both Railton and Driver have proposed new formulations of the traditional consequentialism. Railton has proposed a theory called sophisticated consequentialism, and Driver has proposed that the bonds, which are the basis of partiality is perfectly consistent with consequentialism, so long as there are also impartial qualities incorporated into the determination of right actions. Railton argues that subjective consequentialism is primarily about the deliberation process for determining the right action; that objective consequentialism is primarily about the outcome of the right action; and that sophisticated consequentialism is about leading an objectively consequentialist life without being consigned to any one decision making procedure.[11] Furthermore, the sophisticated consequentialist may not do the right action and not be blameworthy because the disposition to act, given that the type of act promotes the good. This will still be the case even though sometimes the agent acts worse than if a calculation would have taken place. This type of consequentialism overcomes alienation as Railton’s example of Juan reveals, he does know and respect objective moral principles that guide his actions, but is more responsive to commitments, sentiments and special bonds when determining the right action.[12] Driver’s formulation of consequentialism, which incorporates some partiality in a moral theory mostly composed of impartial norms suggests that the relationships and agent has in their life is part of happiness; it does not contribute to happiness. Thus, it follows that because the relationships are a component of happiness that they must be respected and incorporated into deliberations of the right action. Furthermore, that an agent is completely justified, like Juan in Railton’s example in favoring and acting partially toward one he has a special tie with. As a result, the “angel of the world” is not an obligated identity of a morally responsible agent who has to disregard special ties and personal projects.

The impartiality of a moral theory such as traditional consequentialism, wherein partial sentiments tend not to be justified because partiality may lead to favoritism instead of the promotion of the maximum net good, and would thus form a contradiction of the objectives of consequentialism. To protect against this seeming contradiction of objectives, traditional consequentialism seeks to equate the good of everyone so that there is no hierarchy of value concerning particular agents. This seems to be counterintuitive however because proximity tends to heighten awareness and connection between particular agents. Furthermore, society and individuals tend to attribute varying levels of responsibility to different types of relationships because of the bonds characteristic of those relationships. A mother or father or both have a particular type of bond with their child that somebody, another agent who also happens to share with the parent(s) and child the bond of nationality, nonetheless does not share in the bond being a parent to the child with the requisite responsibilities and obligations inherent in those bonds. Thus, it is clear that intuitively, the bonds and by corollary partiality are important characteristics in moral or ethical decision making procedures. This is why the “angel of the world” seems to be unsettling and jarring. Now while it could or may be praiseworthy for an agent to sacrifice everything, i.e., their special ties and personal projects to maximize the good impartially throughout the world; there is still a sense that the agent may also either, be blameworthy for not being morally responsive to the needs of those the agents shares special bonds with; or that the agent though not blameworthy has been obligated by morality to sacrifice too much, i.e., the moral obligations were too demanding on the agent. It is also the case that the obligations and the decision procedure of traditional consequentialism alienate the agent from their personal commitments, sentiments, and other people which neither seems to promote the maximum good, nor account for human nature to behave partially. However, as it has been shown, consequentialism is not contradictory to some partial sentiment on a general level. This addresses some of the demandingness and some of the alienation of traditional consequentialism.

[1] Driver, Julia. Consequentialism and Feminist Ethics (2005), p. 187

[2] Driver, p. 187

[3] Driver, p. 187

[4] Railton, Peter. Alienation, Consequentialism, and the Demands of Morality (Princeton University Press, 1984)

[5] Railton, p. 134.

[6] Railton, p. 167.

[7] Railton, p. 167.

[8] Driver, p. 187

[9] Driver, p.  188

[10] Wenar, Leif. Poverty Is No Pond (   ), p.   .

[11] Railton, p. 152-153.

[12] Railton, p. 150.

Skilled Labor


Throwback selfie, to the days when I worked in construction. This picture was from when we built an 80′ concrete wall with a steel-plated face at the South Park Transfer station for the City of Seattle.

Not only did doing construction work for RJ Richards throughout my 20’s build my character and strengthen my integrity, but it also provided me with an intimate knowledge of City Planning/Urban Planning and the Skilled Work/Skilled Crafts class of citizens that maintain the function of our cities. They are intelligent, hardworking, dreamers, but they are also not fully respected, and live lives full of anxiety because of all the uncertainty surrounding whether there will be enough work to feed their families. The point is that, these people serve and fulfill an important role in our #society and as such, both they and their concerns should be highly important to us all.

All of this serves as a framework to fill in the information I am garnering from my education at the University of Washington, they are not just empty theories that lack import to me. So, it seems that the life-experiences I gained during my 20’s were neither a waste, nor without purpose, but those years were actually some of the most informative years of my life.

Research Project in Greece this Summer



This summer, I will be living in Athens doing research on immigration by performing interviews of people, observing their behavior and interacting with them in stores, parks, buses, schools, restaurants, cafes, hotels, etc., which are many of the principal places where culture or conflict emerges.

So, for the most part this will be qualitative research. However, to place this research into the proper context I will also be analyzing the historical and economic impacts that immigration has had on the people in Greece, so it will have a qualitative aspect to it as well.

But the overall project will be qualitative in nature.

The interviews will entail asking difficult, politically sensitive and emotional charged questions that get to the heart of the immigration issues people are confronting.

My studies into the ethics of aid, assistance, and social contracts have revealed that in order to be of any assistance to people who are suffering in other countries, or in this country for that matter, it is imperative for me to understand the factors that have helped to shape and continue to influence the development of their identities and circumstances.

My background with human rights and international justice issues will be highly useful because the forced migrations and forced segregation that people are subject to are complex moral and ethical issues that are fused with politics and conceptions of justice.

By ignoring such factors, there is a potential to do more harm than good.

The ethnographic research of the project will help us to discover what the people, which includes both the migrants to and the citizens of Greece themselves believe shape their identities, the composition of the circumstances they face, what they consider just, permissible and impermissible, and what obligations they believe humans they have to one another.

Given that all of these factors contribute to the outcomes of any complex situation, especially one as sensitive as immigration during economically challenging times, it then becomes necessary to consolidate political, economic, and historical data, as well as, the qualitative data collected from individuals to correctly ascertain the development and constraints of that situation.

This is what I hope to accomplish, or at least begin while studying abroad in Greece this summer.



For more information on Immigration, Diaspora and Apartheid you can follow the link below:

Do I Doom My Kids To Poverty?

Verse #1


I have to find a way to make these ends meet

I’ve got myself, my wife and three kids to feed

Now this wouldn’t be a problem, if there was work to be done

But the Dictator, confiscated, at the point of a gun

The resources, that we need, to keep, our families fed

And we’re lacking Agriculture because the Markets are dead

Not because we can’t farm, but rather, because these Subsidized

U.S. Industries, have straight up neutralized us

But Irrigation, will only suffice, if and when there is Rain

But now, we’re dealing Droughts, as one of the effects, of Climate Change

And we can’t rely on aid because that mess is a curse

And The Coups and Civil Wars for power make matters worse

My baby’s crying, screaming cuz she needs something to eat

And I feel like half-a-man because I am living in defeat

I’ve got nothing to give because there is nothing to get

But, do I Doom my kids to Poverty, or risk Escaping it?



Verse #2


Immigrating, is easier said than done

Cuz it seems that everything is set to keep us where we’re from

Passports, Visas, Customs, and on and on

And everything costs the type of Money we ain’t got

Our options for a better life are limited and dangerous

Trudging Deserts, crammed in Ships, jumping barbed and guarded Fences

Risking life and Health, to get at better Chances

Suffering, is nothing new, but here ain’t got the answers

My daughter wants to go to School so she can learn to Read

Cuz she wants to be a Scientist to make sure all can eat

But, that will only happen, if we make it to the West

And as her father all I want is to give the best

But protected, their Feudal Privilege, keeping us at odds

Walls to Separate us, Segregated by the Laws

So, yes it’s Illegal, and it’s Dangerous

But, Doom my kids to Poverty, or risk Escaping it.



Verse #3


So say we make it, beat the odds, this is what we’re facin’

Alien status, like we’re not humans from this race and

We don’t bleed the same when beaten for tying

To take advantage of Opportunities you squander, while lying

Claiming that you care, but don’t want us sharing

Land, Food, Work, or Health Caring

And instead make departments like the I.C.E.

And Detention Camps to stop us from being free

Where we’re tortured, starved, deprived of Human Rights

Forced Free Labor and Deported at night

Shipped back from whence we came, like, that is more humane

As if to say, we deserve the cards laid

And my daughter deserves to not be educated

My son deserves to starve, and I to live depraved

But there is a small hope that we just might make it

So, do I Doom my kids to Poverty, or risk Escaping it?




To Help Me Fund My #Diaspora and #Apartheid Research, Please Follow the Link Below:



For More Information on Diaspora and Apartheid, Please Follow the Links Below:

Diaspora and Apartheid: Study Abroad Research

“If we can prevent something bad from happening, without thereby sacrificing something of comparable moral importance, then we ought, morally to do it.”

-Peter Singer[1]



This summer I will be participating in the JSIS/Hellenic Studies program hosted by the University of Washington in partnership with Harvard University in Greece, which is a research project that will analyze how apartheid and diaspora have and continue to impact the people in the Baltic region.


Any system or practice that separates people according to race, caste, etc.


Any group that has been dispersed outside its traditional homeland, especially involuntarily, as Africans during the trans-Atlantic slave trade.

People may choose to migrate of their own accord for many reasons, such as, migrating for survival or to improve their life chances, and in other situations people may be forced to migrate by an individual, group, institution or regime that has more coercive power than their victims. Regardless of our feelings about the morality of legal and illegal migration, and whether migrants should be allowed access into other states, the fact remains that our planet is stratified in a hierarchical system of inequalities wherein certain citizens of different countries (and even between citizens within a given country, such as those with caste systems) have different levels of access to opportunities and life-chances. And if it is the case that we have the “right” to seek the improvement of our lives, then their choice to migrate is justified by that right. How much more so is there a need to uphold this right when people mass-migrate to avoid a national catastrophe, such as famine or genocide because without such a right, then these people would be doomed to tragic deaths? In regard to the latter situation of forced migration of many people, which is most often associated with diaspora, violates the “right to improve one’s life” because the imposed migration supersedes the individual’s choice not to migrate and to improve their lives in the way they see fit.

However, in either case, one of individual choice (whether legal or not), or one of forced migration, the citizens and/or the governments of the host nations may or not welcome the migrants. In such cases where migrants are not welcomed, the potential for forced segregation, or apartheid, becomes much more likely and with the prevalence of language barriers it is even more difficult for the migrants to seek protection and reparation for the harms done to them. Harm in this context is being defined as making something or someone worse off than before the act was carried out. Recently, the New York Times published an article titled, “Africans, Battered and Broke, Surge to Europe’s Door,” about the migration of Africans into Spain, many of who were fired upon by the border control while attempting cross the border, the remainder were living in shelters for immigrants or in immigration centers waiting to learn of their fates.[2] This report reveals two phenomena; first, that there is a difference between countries and some are more desirable than others to live in; second, that states attempt to control who migrates and when with borders are protected by military forces against foreigners; third, that if and when people do make it across the borders of protected countries that they are segregated and mal-treated; and fourth, that this is still a prevalent and troubling issue for many people.

The issues that migration, especially, when it involves diaspora and apartheid, reveal violations of human rights, listed in the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights (UNDHR). Within the UNDHR, are such rights as the “right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state” (Article 13), the “right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution” (Article 14), the “right to life, liberty and security of person” (Article 3), and the “right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services” (Article 25).[3] The importance of the legal status of a migrant is undermined by the violations of their rights, which assume precedence. We have a moral obligation “not to harm” others, and I am sure that you will agree with me that being forced to leave your home by one power and then being forcefully segregated by another power in terms of nationality, country of origin, religion or race is a worse harm than their being in the county of another illegally.

Even if it can be shown that illegal immigration is somehow a harm to the citizens of the host-nation, say by appealing to an over-taxation of a nation’s resources, or even a violation of a citizen’s right to the “freedom of association,” two wrongs do not make a right, and that would not justify the harmful treatment that migrants are receiving. Responding to the former claim, Charles Beitz, in the article, Justice and International Relations, argues that the possession of resources is “morally arbitrarily,” and as such no one individual has a moral claim to any particular resource that is morally justifiable.[4] This only becomes important because of the concepts of scarcity and resource distribution, wherein there is a limited amount of resources and those resources are spread around the planet in an unequal distribution between the nations. What this means for people is that in the dependent on the places that they live, they have different levels of access to resources and thus, access to different resources that are positively correlated with life-chances. Responding to the second claim, Joseph Carens in, Aliens and Citizens: The Case for Open Borders, suggests that:

Citizenship in Western liberal democracies is the modern equivalent of feudal privilege – an inherited status that greatly enhances one’s life chances. Like feudal birthright privileges, restrictive citizenship is hard to justify when one thinks about it closely.[5]

In other words, this “right to freedom of association” is used as a means to sustain the hierarchical status quo of inequalities based on the morally arbitrary possession of resources. Both objections fail to establish the fact that illegal immigrants cause more harm and also fail a justification to project harm onto migrants, regardless of their legal status.

The concept that more harm is being done to migrants than to the citizens becomes exceedingly more apparent when we realize what Carens says about the average migrant, that they are seeking “an ordinary life,”[6] which includes working for a living, paying taxes, caring for their families, living in homes and peacefully interacting with their neighbors. In other words, being functional and contributing members to society and becoming part of the communities in which they live. Furthermore, when these migrants are discovered, if they have been able to achieve a measure of social stability like Carens suggests, they are then ripped from the homes they have made and extradited to their countries of origin, which is arguably more disruptive and harmful than granting them citizenship. There may be moral grounds to limit the migration of people, but once they have migrated, the obligation to treat migrants with dignity and integrity takes precedence to any previous claim to the right of freedom of association.

The situation that migrants face is plagued with injustice from beginning to end, from their reasons to migrate to their treatment after they migrate. However, in order to make the types of changes in policy and social behavior that will actually make a difference in regard to diaspora and apartheid we have to have accurate data about what the issues and concerns are from all the parties concerned. This is necessary if we are to make any arguments about the harms being done and further, to suggest plans of action to mitigate those harms. That is why we are traveling to Athens, we are on a social fact finding mission to ascertain the truth about the situation and are going to make recommendations based on the evidence we gather about how to address the problems our nations face. The results of the research will be evaluated and summarized in research papers and there will be a formal presentation of that material prior to leaving Greece before the parties that can make a difference in these people’s lives.


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[1] Singer, Peter. Famine, Affluence ,and Morality, p. 231

[2] New York Times, Africans, Battered and Broke, Surge to Europe’s Door, February 28, 2014.

[3] United Nations Declaration of Human Rights.

[4] Beitz, Charles. Justice and International Relations, p. 367-370.

[5] Carens, Joseph. Aliens and Citizens: The Case for Open Borders, p. 252

[6] Carens, Joseph. The Case for Amnesty (Boston Review, May/June 2009)