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10 Things to Ask About the News- Feb. 28th

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Black History Month Fact: For this week’s Black History Month Fact and the last fact of the month, I’d like to spotlight the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment, the one of the first Black regiments to fight in the Civil War. Authorized by the Emancipation Proclamation, the regiment served in one of the most famous charges in the war, particularly at Fort Wagner, and has since been recognized to be a source of inspiration in future African-American military recruitment. 

10 Things to Ask About the News 

Global Reactions- Russian Invasion

As of last week, the Ukraine-Russian conflict has escalated to new heights. With Russian troops pressing into the Ukrainian capital, cities under bombardment, missile strikes, thousands fleeing the country, and many killed, the situation has taken a turn for the worse.

On another note, this new crisis has yet again brought up the debate of social media misinformation. Many are criticizing Russia for spreading false propaganda, with some demanding @Russia be removed from Twitter, and some close-up TikTok videos of life on the front lines have been proven to be unauthentic. 

Also, the U.S. has joined multiple countries around the world in imposing sanctions on Russia in support of Ukraine. The U.S. is also looking to work with the EU to disconnect certain Russian banks from SWIFT, essentially cutting the country off from the global banking system.

Engagement Questions

  • How has international global conflict evolved in the rise of digitized and globalized dependency?
  • Is military violence still necessary in wars? Or national military defense?
    • Should the U.S. and the EU disconnect Russian banks from SWIFT?
  • For the first time, we are seeing wars documented and livestreamed on social media platforms and attracting millions of views instantaneously, many of them seen specifically by young people. How might that change the way we view conflicts? Is it a beneficial or harmful aspect of modern society?
    • Would it affect existent polarization?
    • Should there be certain censorship to graphic content? Or would exposure to certain content be necessary even despite negative impact?
  • How should social media companies deal with supposed propaganda imposed by the government? In the midst of such a large-scale violent crisis, does anything change? 
  • What responsibilities, if any, do bystanders have towards a conflict, specifically to a violent or dangerous one?  
  • Do you believe working in alliances acts in favor of or against violence?

Ukraine Reaction – Russian Invasion

The Ukrainian President has also taken the spotlight as he proves himself to many to be a firm and strong-willed leader in the midst of the current crisis. In particular, he made a speech, spoken in Russian, addressed directly to the people of Russia, asking “if the Russian leaders don’t want to sit with us behind the table for the sake of peace, maybe they will sit behind the table with you. Do Russians want the war? I would like to know the answer. But the answer depends only on you, citizens of the Russian Federation.” (Trans. from NBC news)

Engagement Questions

  • The Ukrainian President spoke to directly address citizens of the country he is currently at war with in their native language, in an attempt to see if peace was possible through its people. What might we learn from this? 
    • Are we too often guilty of blaming a country as a whole rather than simply their leaders? Do the citizens of any country hold responsibility for the actions of their leaders in global conflicts?

Biden’s Nominee: Ketanji Brown Jackson

On other news, President Biden nominated Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court last Friday. If confirmed, she would be the first Black woman to sit on the Supreme Court.

Engagement Questions

  • What is the significance of representation? 
  • Is this an example of tokenism? Does it matter?
    • For reference, tokenism is the practice of only making a purely symbolic effort to include minority and disadvantaged groups only to give the appearance of equality and diversity.
  • What might be the qualifications of a good Supreme Court Justice? More generally, what might make someone a good judge?

Editor’s Note: Every week, BA Media intern Janus Kwong compiles a briefing document for our national media staff’s reference, a guide for thinking through the major news items we and our fellow Americans might have at top of mind. These documents don’t assert a party-line or standard; they lay out some themes and guide us through key questions, and like the best of our work, they bring us a little closer to understanding things with a spirit of goodwill, through a commitment to process. They shouldn’t be seen as fact-sheets or strategic assessments, but as reflective little guides to help us cultivate the Braver Angels Way as we approach any issue at all. We in the media team are reflecting on these questions ourselves, and we invite interested BA members to do so too, and share your thoughts with us at media@braverangels.org or in the comments. -LNP

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