Winter is coming

AISHWARYA SINGH
STAFF WRITER

As the Northern Hemisphere of our planet tilts further away from the sun, cold and freezing winds have already started to take over our days. The windbreakers are out, the socks are never off and a warm bowl of soup has become a Saga staple. But as the season to be jolly rolls around this year, there is a unique worry on our minds- COVID-19 cases all around us are getting worse.

Alma College saw its highest spike in cases ever since the semester began (28 positive cases) and the state’s trends reflect the same. The number of new coronavirus cases in Michigan has increased 39% in the past week, with many cities seeing their highest spike ever.

With this sudden and sharp rise in cases, scientists from all around the country are speaking up about the the impacts of the winter on the coronavirus. “This virus is going to have a heyday,” says David Relman, a microbiologist at Stanford University in California. “We are looking at some pretty sobering and difficult months ahead.”

In the past, a number of the most dangerous viral infections we’ve experienced have shown seasonal trends and while it may be too early to determine seasonal trends for COVID-19, its predicted the winter will only make things worse. For example, laboratory experiments revealed that SARS-CoV-2 favors cold, dry conditions, particularly out of direct sunlight; the 1918 influenza outbreak, the only pandemic that killed more Americans than COVID-19, was five times higher during the winter than other seasons. Even the flu gets significantly worse during the winter with 40 times more cases during fall and winter than in spring and summer.

While this virus may just like the winter better, that isn’t the only reason why COVID-19 cases might rise in the upcoming season. As winter comes along, indoor activities increase and more people gather together in confined spaces, many times with poor ventilation, to meet with each other. In times like these, the importance of social distancing and mask wearing has become more prominent than ever.

If these predictions come to fruition, the United States is likely to see another 400,000 deaths on top of the current death toll of 230,000. Just the current number of COVID-19 cases in the US (nine million as of October 29) have made it home to 25% of all positive cases in the world while it is home to only 4% of the world’s population.

States like Michigan which experience cold and long winters, a subsequent rise in indoor activities and an already existing high number of cases (the seventh highest out of all 50 states) have a task ahead of them, a task the college must undertake for its students too. The state must incentivize mask-wearing not just in public spaces but also in private spaces. The college, too, must continue with its Phase-I policy of minimal contact among students and regulated events around campus.

While Alma College only has only three weeks of classes remaining, our collective fight against the virus is far from over. Winter is coming and it’s time to prepare!

College tours in the age of COVID

Chelsea Faber
STAFF WRITER

Everyone remembers their first tour of Alma, hearing about our Scottish heritage, perhaps talking to coaches or faculty, even having your first meal in SAGA, however in a world dealing with COVID-19, what should this experience look like? Balancing the two pillars of keeping our campus safe and free from extra outside exposure, while providing this pivotal and critical experience to incoming students has been a recent topic of debate among campus.

Per campus policy, outside guests are prohibited, not only from residential halls, but some academic centers as well. Additionally, current students are highly discouraged to return home and are encouraged to only leave campus when necessary. Yet, despite these measures taken by the college, new ‘pods’ of individuals enter campus every day.

The Admissions website outlines heightened safety procedures including sanitizing of any check in materials, outdoor meetings, as well as a screening the day before. It is important to note the policy specifies that face coverings are required inside buildings, however there is no clarification as to whether this is also required when outdoors.

Students are not required to wear masks outdoors when in a situation that would allow for social distancing; however, campus culture has shown that many individuals continue to wear masks at all times when outside their own residence.

It would make sense that the policy would be universal across both sectors, but we need to remember that prospective students and their families are coming from all across the state, if not the country. They could reside in areas with a high rate of positive cases, therefore bringing a threat to campus.

Once again, this brings a complex issue to the forefront, how do we provide this experience in a meaningful but safe way?

Our admissions staff worked over the summer to provide a 360 view of campus as well as an improved walking tour –both with the hope to bring the experience of walking through campus to the screens of prospective students across the globe. Is this enough to convey the Alma College feel?

Let’s also consider it from the opposite end: anxiety about fully understanding potential college options in the age of the coronavirus is likely at the forefront of many high school seniors. Many campuses have not had as successful of a return to campus as Alma has. In fact, campuses across the nation have seen high rates of positive cases, with outbreaks continuing among students.

Keeping this in mind, potential students have to balance the nerves of experiencing a place that could become their temporary home for the very first time with the fear of contracting COVID-19.

Michigan has recently seen spikes in positive cases, specifically in areas that have fared well thus far in the pandemic. Many experts worry this is the beginning of the ‘fall surge,’ meaning the second wave of high rates of cases across the country.

With this being said, it is not the time to let down our guard, not even a small amount. There is absolutely no way to know if a ‘pod’ of prospective students would be the ones to bring and transmit the virus on campus, but with as fragile of an ecosystem as we have here, is this a risk we are willing to take?

Regardless of how a potential shut down would impact the college on the administrative and operational end, we have to consider the health and wellbeing of students, faculty and staff first. We cannot place ourselves in a position to shut down abruptly again. Therefore, as we move forward into what is poised to be a second wave of coronavirus, we must be extremely cautious and calculated in our actions as a community.

Are we creating terrorists?

ATULYA DORA-LASKEY
STAFF WRITER

On June 20th, Adam Fox invited some friends he had met on Facebook to hang out. They met in a vacuum shop, where Fox pulled a rug up to reveal a secret trap door to a basement. Then Fox collected everyone’s phone before they went down to make sure they were not recorded. Fox and the other men vented their anger at the recent policies set in place by the state to (successfully) curb the pandemic. The conversation then took a sharp turn to an another subject: kidnapping Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

These would-be Michigan kidnappers also used an encrypted group chat to communicate, where the rhetoric began to get more misogynist and violent. Fox clarified his intentions by saying that the group should just “Grab the f**kin Governor. Just grab the bitch. Because at that point, we do that, dude – it’s over.” These men discussed various strategies to target the Governor, and at one point Daniel Harris messaged “Have one person go to her house. Knock on the door and when she answers it just cap her…at this point. F**k it.”

How do we know this conversation happened? There was an undercover FBI agent who managed to record the conversation with a secret wire as well as log the encrypted group chat. As the plan progressed, more undercover law enforcement began to participate. Their involvement and testimony was integral to the arrest of these men on October 7th and stopping what could have been a deadly act.

As you might expect, the defense lawyers see it differently. The defense team for the Michigan men say that it remains to see what exactly the FBI agents contributed towards the “cause,” and whether or not these agents pushed the men into going forward with this plan. Unfortunately, the FBI has sketchy history when it comes to their undercover officers. And they can sometimes act less like informants and more like driving forces in creating a potentially deadly crime.

In 2012, Sami Osmakac filmed what the FBI would later call a “martyrdom video.” To the camera, Osmakac stated his intentions to avenge the deaths of Muslims being killed around the world while wearing something that looks remarkably close to a suicide vest, while an AK-47 sits propped up in the background. Osmakac was 25 years old, and had schizoaffective disorder according to the psychiatrists who examined him before trial. In this case, the FBI provided Osmakac with all of the weapons seen in the video, the car bomb that he planned to use, and even money for a taxi to he could get to his target. In files leaked to the Intercept, it is clear that Osmakac needed repeated prodding and persuasion by FBI agents in order to go through with the plan. The FBI agent who helped Osmakac make the video said that Osmakac “acted like he was nervous” and “kept backing away.” The FBI squad supervisor described Osmakac as a “retarded fool.”

The FBI radicalizing young Muslim Americans into terrorism and then arresting them for it was a staple of the post-9/11 era. It will have to be seen in the trial whether or not the FBI was a driving force with the would-be Michigan kidnappers the same way they were with Sami Osmakac. The Michigan men were obviously wrong for plotting what they did, they are the product of a society where the President has continued to call for Governor Whitmer to be “arrested” even after this story broke, despite the fact that it was this rhetoric that placed her in

danger in the first place. However, the core question is whether or not these Michigan men would have gone through with a kidnapping even without undercover law enforcement. Due to the FBI’s track record, Michiganders deserve proper transparency on how the Bureau operated in this case.

American Nightmare

ATULYA DORA-LASKEY
STAFF WRITER

Last Tuesday, the first debate of the 2020 Election got underway, and it went just as poorly as most Americans expected. Interruptions, yelling, and personal attacks dominated the stage. Yet, one moment seemed particularly horrific. The President refused to directly condemn white supremacist, and called for a group called the Proud Boys to “Stand back and stand by.”

The group granted this Presidential endorsement are a far-right, neo-fascist organization. The Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center designate the Proud Boys as a hate group, citing their numerous ties to white supremacy. The organization has made a name for themselves by assaulting leftists. Yet, the Proud Boys are not alone in their beliefs about violence. Recently, the amount of Americans open to committing political violence has increased drastically. In 2017, only 8% of Democrats and 8% of Republicans were open to using political violence to achieve their goals. In a Politico poll published this October, they found that the number had risen to 33% of Democrats and 36% of Republicans. These are symptoms of a sick and poorly functioning democracy, and it appears as though the fabric of American society is quickly unraveling.

No one can capture this moment in history better than filmmaker (and Michigan-native) Paul Schrader. Writing films such as Raging Bull (1980) and The Last Temptation of Christ (1988), Schrader has a well-deserved reputation as “one of the crucial creators of the modern cinema.” If you want to viscerally grasp why this country is teetering so closely to the edge, both Schrader’s Taxi Driver (1976) and First Reformed (2017) are required viewing.

At first, the protagonists at the heart of both these films appear starkly different. In Taxi Driver, Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) is a cabbie in New York City taking night shifts to cope with his insomnia. In First Reformed, Ernst Toller (Ethan Hawke) is a pastor who is struggling with his faith, preaching at the 250-year old First Reformed church that has now turned into a glorified tourist attraction.

As both films progress, you find that the two characters are united in their belief in an American dream that ultimately betrays them. Travis Bickle is a Vietnam veteran, who believes that working hard at an honest job will lead him to some kind of satisfaction. Ernst Toller is a veteran as well, and because his family considered military enlistment to be patriotic tradition he encouraged his son to sign-up. Bickle gets no fulfillment from his life as a taxi driver, and his isolation from others only grows in the process as Bickle finds that his job is “…like you’re not even there…like a taxi driver doesn’t even exist.” Toller’s life falls apart after his son is killed in Iraq during a war that Toller believes “…had no moral justification.”

The two men have their betrayals compounded as they are submerged repeatedly into a societal sickness, and they turn to uniquely American outlets in order to cope. Bickle, surrounded by poverty, violent misogyny, and child trafficking, decides to buy an assortment of guns and frequent a shooting range. Toller, surrounded by environmental destruction, the undeniable proof of climate change, and the refusal of world leaders to do anything about it, incorporates environmental activism into his preaching. Again these two are betrayed by their understandings of America. Even after shooting a man robbing a local store, Bickle can not satisfy his

increasingly violent urges. Toller is forced to stop his environmental activism as the megachurch that owns First Reformed is financed heavily by a wealthy polluter. Toller’s helpless torment watching the world light itself on fire is deeply relatable. During an argument with the director of the megachurch, he screams “Well, somebody has to do something!”

In the third acts of both their films, both men decide to fully embrace political violence. Bickle plans to assassinate a progressive senator running for President while Toller prepares to blow himself up in an act of eco-terrorism. Bickle’s plan is the result of untreated paranoia and isolation, while Toller’s believes his plan to be the only logical conclusion for a world that refuses to properly face an existential crisis.

These men are obviously not blameless for their actions, but it is undeniable that these men would not emerge in a society that was functioning properly. Throughout this country we have isolated Americans with no sense of support or community, stuck in jobs that do nothing for them and a political system that does even less. There are hundreds of Bickles and Tollers being created across the nation. If we don’t fix these issues, we can expect America’s third act to be just as violent.

Anti-racism vs. ICE Detention Centers

TAYLOR PEPITONE
STAFF WRITER

The following contributions are solely of the writer’s own views and are not affiliated with the Almanian and Alma College.

Robert J. Patterson, professor of African American Studies at Georgetown University, defines anti-racism as, “…an active and conscious effort to work against multidimensional aspects of racism.” President Donald J. Trump has taken down efforts to expand on the ideas of anti-racism and white privilege in schools and even the White House. The New York Times said that the White house called these trainings ‘divisive, anti-American propaganda’.

In some aspect these views may seem understandable, but I cannot consciously agree with that. We have reached a point in society where it is racists VS anti-racists. It is not enough to just be against racism; you must advocate and fight for those who are being affected by these foul ideas.

“I do think that the language around anti-racism in this moment and in our climate has become a way of division, even if it has not intended to be,” said director of Diversity and Inclusion, Donnesha A. Blake.

Mr. Trump has stated that he does not believe that there is a systemic racial bias in the United States, and that those who believe they are more targeted by the police, etc. are viewing things in the wrong way. This is simply not the case. Business Insider provided 26 charts of statistics stating how systemic racism exists in the United States.

This is no longer a case of just how racist some people are, or even how racist people believe Mr. Trump to be. This has become a matter of what we can do to rid our society of these biases. Reach out to your local politicians, read up on the different laws and policies, do whatever you can to help be a part of that change.

Critical race theory looks at how society and culture play a role in race, law and power. It closely examines how white supremacy and racial power have been protected possibly unconsciously by the law.

Mr. Trump has criticized critical race theory and said that he will not allow it to be a main priority in schools across America. The New York Times said that he advocates for a more patriotic education for students.

While it is important for students to learn about American history, it is also very important for them to understand the mistakes that past politicians and even society have made. If we prevent our students from learning about racism and what they can do to help make a change, we will never grow and develop.

There is a certain stigma that stands with the idea of Mr. Trump being against anti-racist education and him constantly advocating for stronger immigration laws and the ICE detention centers. The intention of the detention centers was to hold immigrants who have traveled to the United States illegally. These detention centers are supposed to just a holding place; they are no longer that. Conditions [of the centers] are horrid and vile.

While it is important to do things rightfully by the law, the immigration laws in America have reached a point to where it is nearly impossible to even apply for a visa, let alone citizenship. They have made it so difficult for immigrants to become citizens. It seems that this was intentional, with the way Mr. Trump speaks about people of certain ethnicities and backgrounds.

Whether you stand with or against President Trump, it is evident that there must be more done for anti-racism in America. Imagine if this was something that you had to deal with on a daily basis; racial slurs being said to you for your skin tone, people throwing things because of what you are wearing or even just being afraid to leave your house because of encounters you may have heard of. Do not let racism be the thing that America stands for. This is a conscious act that we must all be a part of.

Problems with Mass Testing

WILL BROWN
STAFF WRITER

This is an opinion piece. Every thought displayed and source chosen is to reinforce my own arguments.

As we begin our fourth week of “COVID classes,” it’s important to look back on the first three and reflect on the college’s response to the ongoing pandemic. By this point in time, every student has become acclimated to the new policies and procedures that surround us—with most agreeing with the importance of these policies and procedures, and few blindly disagreeing and disobeying them.

Another method that Alma College has utilized in the fight against COVID-19 is the mass testing of all students, faculty and staff on campus. It is important to note that initially the college was not interested in mass testing due to the point-in-time nature of the results: a student may walk away from the nasopharyngeal swab negative but then immediately come into contact with an individual who is positive, thus nullifying the test.

Clearly, the college has changed its mind on mass testing, but this by no means renders this scenario obsolete. Furthermore, as we continue with mass testing on Alma College’s campus, it’s important to note that this point-in-time nature characteristic of tests is not the only downside of mass testing.

A major problem with almost any test is its accuracy. When it comes to the accuracy of COVID-19 tests, it is often broken up into two parts: sensitivity and specificity. Sensitivity is the ability for a test to correctly identify an individual that has the illness. Meanwhile, specificity is the ability for a test to correctly identify an individual that does not have the illness.

A test with good specificity is oftentimes described as having a low false positive rate. Similarly, a test with good sensitivity is oftentimes described as having a low false negative rate. Both of these rates are typically low for a given test, with ARUP Laboratories reporting the COVID-19 test having a false positive rate of 0.01%. This should hardly concern a single individual who is taking the test; however, as the number of individuals being tested rises, so does the prevalence of false negatives.

If we take COVID-19’s false positive rate and apply it to the population of the U.S., we very quickly see that this seemingly small rate results in 33,000 false positives out of 330,000,000 total residents. Clearly, this is a substantial amount of people. This also pushes the idea that while false positive rates might seem small for the individual, they mean much more when thrown into the context of mass testing.

According to data provided by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, Gratiot County has rate of 1.33% when it comes to its inhabitants testing positive for COVID-19. If we take this and apply it to Alma College’s mass testing program, we see that around 23 individuals, out of the 1696 tested, would test positive. Using the aforementioned false positive rate, we can also find that only 1 student would falsely test positive.

In this scenario, the false positive rate is not problematic. However, as one might be able to deduce, if the false positive rate is ever larger than the overall positive rate for a given area, then more false positives will be identified than true positives.

ARUP Laboratories also reports that false positive rates are problematic for two reasons. The first is that it can result in an individual being subject to treatment that they do not need, which can lead to unnecessary financial and health consequences.

The second is that it can give the individual a false sense of security against the virus. They might assume, since they tested positive with no symptoms, that they are somehow ”stronger” than the virus. This false sense of security against the virus could potentially lead to the individual later contracting or transmitting the virus due to a lack of precautionary measures taken by that individual.

While false positive rates in the Alma College community are not a major concern, it is important to keep them in mind when evaluating our response to the pandemic. Mass testing may be beneficial now, but, like most COVID-19 policies and procedures, they will eventually become obsolete as society adapts to the virus. Naturally, the next question with all of this is when will Alma College become safe enough to where mass testing, social distancing, and guest/mask policies are no longer required?

(A) Historic summer

ATULYA DORA-LASKEY
STAFF WRITER

Whenever the academic year reaches its final months, students across the country pick up their school’s yearbook. These books attempt to showcase the best of student life on their glossy pages, sometimes with embarrassing little errors that managed to slip past editing. No matter how much you would roll your eyes at the cheesy production, you and your friends would still crowd around a desk to see who got featured and how many times. You might ask yourself the following: Did they use my prom pictures? Who got voted best such-and-such? What does everyone look like in their senior photos?

Whenever the academic year reaches its final week, another book might get passed around. Like the yearbook, this too was a showcase of student life, but significantly shorter in length. It is paperback instead of hardcover, the pages are not as glossy, there are significantly more embarrassing little errors. You might ask, what is this? To which the yearbook club students would respond with either excited pride or complete indifference: Stuff that happened after the yearbook published.

Oh cool, you might think. So it is part of the yearbook…but not really. It is an extra segment, a bonus part. If later on in the summer you found out that you had lost the normal yearbook but retained the yearbook addendum you would be disappointed. If the book only includes what happened after the original yearbook was published, there is no way you can get a sense of what the entire year was like.

This summer, Black Lives Matter protests against police brutality began popping up across the nation. It did not take long for an attempt by the US government to revert everyone back to an blood-stained status quo. Democratic mayors quickly decided to sic the police on the protestors. Soon afterwards, a Republican Presidential administration resorted to even more authoritarian measures by using the Department of Homeland Security to abduct protestors into unmarked vans.

There is deserved outrage against Trump and his administration for this. However, most of the outrage refuses to discuss any history before Trump’s inauguration date. On August 10th, The Nation published an article titled “How Stephen Miller Turned the Department of Homeland Security Into a Political Weapon” in which DHS is described as having morphed into “..a tool for pushing Trump’s political agenda.”  On August 17th, The Washington Post published an op-ed titled “At Homeland Security, I saw firsthand how dangerous Trump is for America” in which former DHS official Miles Taylor writes that “The president has tried to turn DHS, the nation’s largest law enforcement agency, into a tool used for his political benefit.” The implication is clear: The DHS was a completely upstanding and non-partisan department before Trump got his hands on it.

There’s a larger history behind the young department. The DHS came into existence in 2003 as a result of the Homeland Security Act which was passed in response to the fear created from 9/11. President Bush wrote that “…the threats facing America require a new government structure to protect against invisible enemies that can strike with a wide variety of weapons.” This was part of a larger project by the Bush administration to convince Americans that scary outsiders were coming to hurt them and their families, and that they could be stopped if we all continued to give away our civil liberties. The DHS was created to be the President’s private police force. It has not been turned into a political weapon, it was designed as one.

From August 17th – 20th, the Democratic party held its national convention and allowed several disgruntled Republicans to take the stage. The Democrats wanted to push a message of “country over party,” in order to depict Trump as an anomaly. On the first night, the Democrats had former Republican Ohio Governor John Kasich appear to tell us that Trump is “…unlike all of our best leaders before him.” Kasich clearly considers his endorsement to be historic, telling the camera that “In normal times, something like this would probably never happen.” On the second night, Democrats had former Republican Secretary of State Colin Powell speak about how we must vote against Trump because we’re still the same America “…that inspires freedom all over the world.” The implication is clear: The Republican party was honorable before Trump got his hands on it, and these men are still principled enough to speak out against Trump. 

There’s a larger history behind these two men and the horrible things they’ve done with their former positions. In 2011, Ohio Governor John Kasich signed a union-busting bill that limited collective bargaining rights and banned strikes for 360,000 public workers. By 2016, Kasich had closed down nearly half of the abortion clinics in Ohio by using some of the most restrictive legislation in the country. In 2003, Secretary of State Colin Powell helped lead America into the war in Iraq by lying to the United Nations Security Council about Iraq facilitating a nuclear weapons program. Claiming to be a country that (as Colin Powell put it) “inspires freedom over the world,” America named the invasion Operation Iraqi Freedom. Operation Iraqi Freedom went on to kill 600,000 Iraqis.

These are some of the men who helped enable Trump’s rise to power. They did it by exacerbating wealth inequality, fear-mongering abortion access, and by normalizing the act of misleading the public with deadly lies while never facing consequences for any of their actions. Some might argue that the Democratic Party only platformed these men to get Trump out of office. If the Democratic Party’s sole intention was voting out Trump, they could be doing it more successfully by adopting incredibly popular proposals such as legalizing marijuana (67% of Americans support) and Medicare for All (69% of Americans support). Instead, the Democratic Party expects you to believe that they will win the election by chasing down disgruntled Republican voters even though 90% of the Republican party approves of Trump.

It’s not about doing whatever it takes to get Trump out of office. It’s about creating opportunity through the portrayal of Trump as an ahistorical aberration instead of the horrific end result of past political decisions. Opportunity for the Democratic Party to promise to remove Trump but never have to promise to solving the problems that created him. Opportunity for men like Kasich, Powell, and even Bush to clean their hands of the responsibility they share for getting us here in the first place. Opportunity to continue some of America’s most dangerous institutions and practices by placing the blame for their inevitable consequences on Trump alone.

Let me be clear, Trump represents a unique threat to democracy, but so did Bush. If the American public can be convinced to let the Bush administration and Republicans like Kasich off scot-free for the lasting damage they’ve done to this country, then there’s no doubt they’ll be convinced to do the same with members of the Trump administration once an even worse person comes to power off the political decisions Trump has made.

We’re trapped in a cheap yearbook addendum that covers no history at all before January 20th, 2017. We need to properly analyze our entire history to find the decisions that brought us to this awful point, so we can stop them at the source. If we keep treating Trump like an ahistorical incident, we can expect our future to be filled with a never-ending cycle of even worse yearbook addendums.

TikTok under political fire

MADDISON LUEBKE
COPY EDITOR

PHOTO BY MORGAN GUST

Disclaimer: The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the view of The Almanian or Alma College.

Over the course of this summer, we saw a new wave of social media influence take over the lives of young people. With nothing else to do, our phones became the only form of social interaction most young people had. TikTok, an already popular video creation app, lead the pack as it gained popularity over the past few months.

Whenever an app becomes so integrated into how we communicate, it has the capability to be weaponized as a political force. TikTok uses interest groups and watch times to evaluate what kind of content people like, so it was easy for political activists and popular figures to find the community that resonated with their message.

With this kind of algorithm, TikTok has created a platform of hyper-personalized media consumption. This personalization for the user shows that they have the information accessible to be able to figure out information about focus groups across the globe.

TikTok poses an interesting threat to the government, and more specifically this presidential regime. Trump’s campaign was blatantly anti-China, and TikTok was created by the Chinese media company Bytedance.

Some claim that TikTok is stealing U.S. Citizen information and selling it to foreign governments. As a college student with minimal knowledge of politics and no knowledge of data analytics, I can’t claim to know how all of this works; however, it is important to know that TikTok isn’t the only part of our lives that can be tracked.

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube: all of these apps for your phone have capabilities of tracking what you interact with. All of our devices we depend on—especially in an environment of all online classes—are manufactured and programmed in Asian countries.

Even at home in the United States, as soon as a child is born, they are given a birth certificate and a social security number— two things that are used by people for the rest of their lives.

In a recent interview with Gray Television’s Greta Van Susteren, Donald Trump said that banning TikTok in the United States was one of many options the country could take to “punish” China for the coronavirus. Banning an app in order to blame an entire country for a global pandemic that is almost under control in all countries besides the United States seems to be a reelection move if I had ever heard one.

In the age of new media, we plaster our faces, our birthday’s and our private information on the internet on a daily basis. It is an active decision on our part to participate in these online mediums; however, banning the internet as a political move goes against the United States past policy on internet censorship.

The United States has always been a country that pushes for freedom of information. We don’t want the government to be able to censor what news were seeing. We are a democracy that believes all of the people here have a right to know.

If Trump bans TikTok, it sets us down a path of governmental restriction of media consumption. They could make listening to non-American musicians’ illegal. They could ban foreign films. We would be stuck in a media bubble made up of exactly what our government wants us to see—blind to the outside world.

I make TikToks, not to be famous, but to have a creative outlet when all of my other forms of creativity have been cancelled. With coronavirus, we are living in a world where social media interaction may be the only interaction.

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