Unit 4 Post 2 Safi El-Gamal

Unit 4 Post 2

Page 135 was centered around the Birmingham’s Children Crusade that took place on May 2, 1963.  The series of pages before 135 contextualized the event, as kids from the city and surrounding areas took part in protesting for equal rights.  As the panels and superimposed images suggest, the protest was highly chaotic with the opposition between the protestors and police; however, there was a sense of highly formulated planning by the protestors as “coded announcements” through black radio stations helped coordinate the event. 

The image on 135 was especially moving for me, as I have often thought about children’s role in revolutions.  Should kids be protected from the harshness of the real world and remain as innocent as possible for as long as they can, or, should they be exposed to violence and injustices at a young age to learn and understand their environment?  From this panel, I finally understand the latter argument, as kids will be exposed to these acts of injustice and therefore should take part in protesting.  The police asks the child what she wants, and the simplicity in her response reveals the fact that children can grasp the reality of the situation from such a young age.  On her sign, the child holds the message “Can a man love God and hate his brother?” a message that haunts the air of protest and remains unanswered.  The bolded word “embarrassment” reminds the reader that children are and should be a part of this, as it is their right to stand up for equality when their opposers have sunken to a level of disrespect.

Safi El-Gamal: Unit 4 Assignment 1

As the first president, (and later honorary president for life), of the National Association of Colored Women, Mary Church Terrell heavily advocated for the right of African American Women in the South.  She sought equal rights for blacks, repealed Jim Crow legislation, and improved working standards for black women.  Her activism was sparked in 1892 when one of her friends, Thomas Moss, was lynched with white business competitors.  She began to advocate for racial equality through a “lifting as we climb” approach, as she believed that blacks could obtain equality through advancing in business.  She saw that blacks could not sink down to the level of violence the surrounding white population perpetrated on them, and instead would have to raise in the ranks of power to be able to create a substantial amount of change.  Blacks would have to earn the respect of whites in order to stop anti-black surges of violence.  Ida B. Wells, however, had a very different approach in her response to anti-black violence.  Similar to Terrell, her advocacy sparked when three of her friends were lynched in Tennessee, but she began her crusade against violence fearlessly to expose the violence against the blacks.  She began her journalism career writing for several black newspapers using investigative information in her exposes.  Her rather direct approach triggered much attention from the white audience, but she stood firm in her belief for women’s suffrage and racial equality.  Both Terrell and Wells began their advocacy with a close friend’s lynching; however, their approaches were quite different to reaching racial equality different in the extent of how direct they were.  Neither approach was incorrect, but I thought it was interesting how different their approaches were coming from such a similar experience that sparked their advocacy.   



Safi El-Gamal Unit 3 Post 3

Throughout “Regarding the Pain of Others,” Sontag clearly states how photographs, both staged and real, bring attention to viewers.  Images capture the reader’s minds and bring awareness to an issue.  Now, these images can vary in purposes, but at a time of war, they are most likely used in ways to promote a dominant confirmation bias.  In other words, photographs are used to provide evidence to a point, and lead the readers to adopt a similar perspective.  In Gourevitch, this need for remembrance is present, as the narrator includes a list of dogs as he wanders the ruins of the Rwandan genocide.  When he wonders why the dogs are also being killed, he is answered with the response that they are eating the dead, and it’s evidence is provided with film.  The narrator also stumbles upon a newspaper, and he claims that he cannot get passed the front page image as there are “bodies swirling in water, dead bodies, bloated and colorless, bodies so numerous that they jammed against each other and clogged the stream” (152).  This exemplifies the fact that death sells, and humans need for the documentation of annihilation.

Safi El-Gamal Unit 3 Post 2

Chapter 1:  How do photographs portray war to those who have little to no interaction with violence?  Sontag writes that photographs can be used to simplify violent events.  However, the way these photographs are interpreted can be based on one’s personal experience with those events, changing the context in which they were created.  In other words, photographs often validate people’s beliefs because they less relay the truth about an event rather than serve as confirmation bias.  When seeing a photograph, viewers often apply their own knowledge of the event and make assumptions involving the work, dismissing any value or purpose the photograph might have been trying to present.  It is also important to note that what is included in the photograph is just as important as what’s left out from it, which can reveal implications of the photographer’s bias.  Sontag hinted that war is inevitable, and that although works such as War Against War have been created to emphasize the atrocities of violence, such works will not and cannot be embraced by all groups when thinking about the implications it may have towards the question of patriotism.

Photographs can be seen as an introduction to war, yet they carry less value when their purpose is diminished by viewer’s assumptions from their own prior knowledge.

Chapter 6:  The desire to view the gruesome: Plato concluded that people can often become angry with nature which may fuel their appetite to see violence.  Yet, their appetite only extends to the unknown, as they do not have any emotional ties to the event.  It goes against human nature to want to explore pain in a familiar setting, in one’s country or to one’s loved ones, but when the image is of the unfamiliar it makes it tolerable as its deemed something in the far-off distance.  Recently, with the increasing violence that is present in the media, people have become desensitized to graphic images as the quantity of them are so abundant.  Mayhem has shock value and can be used to entertain rather than provide a lesson.  With this abundance of violent images, people are inclined to not think about the implications of the violence and instead just blindly accept them in a mundane fashion.

Human nature allows people to view unfamiliar acts of violence, and the abundance of these images create desensitization, thus diminishing the purpose of works of war.

Chapter 8:  Photographs serve as reminders of human capability.  Remembering events from the past serve as a connection with the dead and create sympathy for those affected by the violence.  However, there is a fine line with remembering too much and reminiscing too little.  If one always remembers events from the past, it makes them bitter, but if they don’t give them any attention then they can make past mistakes and allow history to repeat itself. 

Photographs repair ignorance as it allows people reflect on the event rather than take action and repeat past mistakes.

Safi El-Gamal: Unit 3 Assignment 1

“The Banality of Evil” – Hannah Arendt

Can you do evil without being evil yourself?

Where does evil come from?

Why do people commit evil acts?

Holocaust case study: Is evil a sickness?

1961 Trial of Adolf Eichmann

Had ordered extermination of Jews

However, deemed “completely normal” by psychiatrist


Good intentions with harmful consequences?

Eichmann was enforced to carry out orders

“I was not a responsible leader, and as such do not feel myself guilty”

Into the life of Eichmann:

Did not grow up a rabid anti-Semite

Wanted to rid Europe of Jews, with the goal of making space for pure-bred Germans rather than exterminating the Jews

  • 1937: Give arms to Zionist fighters for their fight in Palestine

Open to other options than extermination

Basic belief: Pure bred Germans


Can good intentions/beliefs excuse evil wrongdoings?

“Good intentions will not suffice to avoid the road to hell”

  1. Be consciously aware of your actions

Aristotle: If one is purposefully ignorant, they are culpable

Understand ignorance, brings to light wrongdoings

2. Deliberation

Frankfurt: Having restrictions one one’s choices is crucial to one’s identity

Disorientation occurs with extreme amounts of freedom

Boundaries render certain actions “unthinkable”

3. Self-governance, morality and rationality

Bratman: Govern our own lives with rational norms on intention

Intention-stability allows for self-governance

With these actions, intentions should theoretically be checked, and evil consequences should be lessened. (Serves as a theoretical solution)


            Banal: So lacking in originality as to be obvious and boring

            (Oxford Dictionary)

What is the relationship between culture and evil?

1951 “The Origins of Totalitarianism”

Monopoly of mass propaganda

“If you cry ‘wolf’ enough, some people will cease to listen and resort to cynicism. If you scream ‘fake news’ enough about the truth, many will become cynical, and rather than investigate, will cease to even care.”

Living with Trump: “Clever rehash…of mass psychology and totalitarianism”

Mass propaganda = “savvy mass social media”

What’s going on today should have been expected

“Arendt’s book was criticized by the Jewish community. She disapproved of how the trail was conducted. Even her friends accused her of lack of empathy, or even sympathy for the victims.”

How does perspective change one’s stance on the concept of evil?

Arendt ostracized by the Jewish community for lacking empathy

Israeli/Palestinian conflict

Acts of atrocity have been committed against the Palestinian people, but for the intentions of taking back their homeland

Are Zionists lacking empathy, or do their good intentions outweigh Palestinian concentration camps?

Unit 2 Post 3

Option 2:

I believe the best way to expel the notion of bullshit from our society today is to normalize the fact that sometimes, we simply “don’t know.”  Frankfurt discusses that the reason for bullshitting happens because society forces the concept that we should have an opinion about most events that occur throughout our life, and that if we don’t we may be deemed lesser in society.  People of knowledge are always looked up to, and the answer of not knowing or not being able to elaborate on current events, or constantly forced to have an opinion, may trigger the desire to bullshit rather than to say nothing at all.  If listening were validated, that we could just stop for a minute and not hear but listen to those around us and figure out for ourselves what our stance on certain issues are, we may be able to have more fruitful conversations when we all have fully truthful beliefs.

Option 3:

The Allegory of the Cave was a particularly interesting concept that sparked a lot of questions.  The idea that the prisoners would rather kill the returning prisoner than listen to his ideas of the real world is quite intriguing, which allowed my main question to surface: How do we become so attached to our own specific truths? How can we look at the world more objectively?

I believe that in order to detach from our specific truths, we have to understand those around us and their experiences.  We have to have conversations, even if they are hard for us to confront, and understand that the way we live our lives can be vastly different than others.  This can then allow us to identify with our own specific truth, but live in a more accepting environment where our truths can be easily altered, which in my opinion is a healthier way of living as we are not tied to a single fact.

Unit 2 Post 2 Safi El-Gamal

Option 2

In Mr. Denham’s lecture, he discussed the importance of “conceptual existence” and that it may be more important to convey the tone and general meaning of written work than the literal translation.  This may be true in various types of poetry, but when I started thinking about the translated work that I have read in the past, I varied on my opinion.  For example, the Quran is a text written in Arabic and translated into English, however, many of the translations are word for word.  I believe this makes the most sense because even if the translation captures the general tone of the passage, it could dismiss some important factors that would have existed in literal translation.  Because Arabic is known for compacting a lot of meaning into every word, and the text is taken in a religious context, I think that “conceptual existence” heavily relies on the language it is being translated from and the type of text it is, or the importance that word dismissal could have on vast groups of people. 

Option 3

After reading Kuhn’s biography, I was able to identify how his life played into his scientific inspirations.  He was a student at Harvard during World War II, and although he was a trained pacifist he transitioned into an interventionalist like most students at Harvard during the war.  He believed that you should not sit idly by and watch things happen, rather you should put yourself fully into the situation and take a more assertive approach in which you deem better for those around you.  These views were then reflected into his work as he believed in paradigm shifts and revolutionary ideas.  His stance that science is not cumulative also follows suit, as he claims that a new paradigm completely takes over the old one based on new knowledge, and not a natural accumulative growth in a specific area of study.  These bold approaches regarding the full substitution of paradigms without the field being cumulative may have been the result of the influence of assertiveness he found in his life outside of science.

Unit 2 Assignment 1 Safi El-Gamal

The Connected World

Chapter 2 of “The Scientific Revolution” discusses the “connected world” and how everything on Earth falls into a natural hierarchy.  This promotes the scala naturale which claims that every creature is linked to what’s above and below the other on the hierarchy.  Putting this concept into my own words, I understand the connected world to be an emphasis on interaction, regardless of intention.  Creatures of Earth are all connected whether it is by our need for survival or the emotional relationships we make with others in the world.  Now that modern science has advanced with all the technological innovations we’ve seen through computer science, our world is as connected as ever.  The early modern view suggested that the “connected world” was based on the interaction of creatures with others below and above them on the natural hierarchy, and increased globalization facilitates that, whether its exporting and importing goods from around the globe or being able to travel to unknown corners of the world, the “connected world” has now transitioned into an intentional interaction between all creatures of the Earth.

Question: How does modern technology influence the early modern’s view of the “connected world?”

Safi El-Gamal Unit 1 Assignment 3

Morrison’s Black Matter

In Morrison’s Black Matter, she writes of the “African presence” and its influence in early America.  The consequences of racism have often been discussed in regard to African Americans, which led me to become especially captivated by her investigation into how racism affected the minds of “the master.”  She argues that racism is inevitable in any social landscape, and that in the case of America, white literature required black savagery or “Africanistic personas” to construct a very real “whiteness.”  This racism also allowed many to suffocate surrounding identities and reach a kind of unity that erased any sort of class, wealth or other division by only recognizing race.  Morrison concludes that this whiteness has implicitly turned into the façade of “Americanness” which has allowed certain linguistic formation to evade giving African Americans a voice.  I thought this was especially relevant to the writings of John Locke and Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak as they examined the roles of authority figures in society and the ultimate control they perpetrate on those deemed “subordinate” in comparison. 

Questions for Morrison, Locke and Spivak:

  1. How does complete authority over another influence one’s mind and actions?
  2. Is racism inevitable in any social landscape? Or just discrimination?
  3. How are we supposed to address issues of racism if its discussion is evaded so much in society?

Safi El-Gamal: Liberalism as a Higher Purpose

Chapter VII

82. But the husband and wife, though they have but one common concern, yet having different understandings, will unavoidably have different wills too.  It therefore being necessary that the last determination should be placed somewhere, it naturally falls to the man’s share as the abler and the stronger.  But this, reaching but to things of their common interest and property, leaves the wife in the full and true possession of what by contract is her peculiar right, and at least gives the husband no more power over her than she has over his life…

I chose the beginning of paragraph 82 because I found Locke’s hesitant reasoning behind why women should have equal rights difficult to understand.  I had originally thought this essay’s purpose was to solely encompass Locke’s views on how an ideal society should be structured, which provoked my question: If Locke did not believe in equal rights for women, why was he hesitantly discussing them in his essay? 

I referred back to the previous paragraphs, which reaffirmed my thoughts that he did not express feminist values in his writing.  In paragraph 80, he discusses women and men to have two vastly different roles in society, followed by his claim in paragraph 82 that the man is deemed “the abler and the stronger.”  Even in Professor Quillen’s notes, she wrote “He [Locke] really does not imagine, or cannot imagine, that women would have political rights.” 

As I looked back at my notes from the past few readings to try and make sense of Locke’s writing, I realized that I was missing a vital concept that had been expressed as entirely significant: the idea of contextualization.  Locke had been writing for a higher purpose as he laid out the idea of a liberal society, and therefore set aside his personal beliefs in the name of liberalism.  His audience might have also been expecting equal rights for men and women, therefore influencing his essay.  This work epitomizes the need for the exclusion of personal preference when writing for a broader idea.

Unit 1 Assignment 1 by Safi El-Gamal

Question: How does the accessibility of a culture limit its authenticity from a dominant perspective?

Agree on: Accessibility leads to unity and normalcy, and with minimal access generalizations are easy to arise because of less accounts. In other words, it is important to contextualize stories, because a singular account can lead to one-sided views of a culture, therefore losing its authenticity.

Disagree on: The acknowledgement of the surrounding political climate to progress through generalizations. Whether one can speak as a representative from more than one underrepresented group.