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10 Things to Ask About the News- Mar. 14th

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Important Dates: Monday was Pi Day, 3/14.  Thursday was also St. Patrick’s Day. 

Women’s History Month Fact: The first novel in the world was written in c. 1000 CE by Murasaki Shikibu, a Japanese woman. Written in the early 11th century, The Tale of Genji is now a classic of Japanese literature. 

Current Discourse On Navigating the Hyper-Partisan

Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch has taken a bit of the spotlight with her upcoming book, Lessons from the Edge: A Memoir. Her book has not only been praised for her insights into post-Soviet Union politics in Russia and Ukraine but, more particularly, also for her perspectives on navigating non-partisanship as a Foreign Service Officer and government public servant, serving both Republican and Democratic administrations. 

Similarly, other books on hyper-partisan politics have come out in similar light, including I Never Thought of It That Way by Braver Angel’s own Monica Guzman on battling polarization with connections and conversations and Gal Beckerman’s The Quiet Before: On the Unexpected Origins of Radical Ideas, dealing with radicalization and social movements.

Engagement Questions

  • As an organization that seeks to dispel polarization through human connections, where do we stand in the discourse of civil conflict? 
    • Do most people believe in our beliefs of unity through communication? Why or why not? 
  • What can we learn from understanding the struggles of maintaining non-partisanship? Perhaps professionally, personally, or academically?
  • How might literature and academia play a role in exploring polarization and behavior? 

Recent Shootings and Remembrance

This Wednesday also marks the one-year anniversary of the Atlanta spa shooting. Last year, on March 16th, eight people were shot and killed, six of which were women and all which were of Asian descent. The shooting had prompted large-scale protests for innocents and for visibility of rising hate crimes reported within the AAPI community. 

Two years from yesterday was the day Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman, was shot and killed in her home in a police raid. Her death sparked massive racial injustice protests across the country in 2020. Her family and demonstrators have gathered in honor of her memory and have voiced frustration as no officers have yet been charged with her death, as they were convicted to have acted in self-defense after shots were fired. 

Yesterday, a gunman in New York City and Washington, D.C. shot at least 5 homeless people on the streets. The first three shootings were in Washington before he was found again, shooting in Manhattan and targeting the homeless in their sleep. Two were fatally killed and three were wounded.

Engagement Questions

  • What about days of remembrance that might increase tension in communities looking for change? What happens if their movements see progress or if they don’t?
  • What is the importance of remembrance, specifically for tragic or violent events? What does remembrance do for movements and organizations? What effect does it have for those impacted?
  • What is America’s conflict over gun rights grounded in? How can we compromise with one another over issues such as these?
    • Why is the issue of gun rights important to you?

LGBTQ+ Leglisation in Texas and Florida

A few weeks ago, the Florida Senate passed a bill that would prohibit discussions of sexual orientation and gender identity in primary school classrooms. It now only requires Governor Ron DeSantis’s signature before it gets enacted. Opponents of the bill have called it the “Don’t Say Gay” bill and say that it unjustly targets the LGBTQ+ community while supporters say the matter is about allowing parents to have control over their children’s education.

Also, last Friday, a Texas judge interjected and issued an injunction on the Texas governor’s directive to investigate a number of “sex-change” or gender-affirming procedures as child abuse.  

Engagement Questions

  • Here we have two examples of legislation both for and against various LGBTQ+ rights currently being debated. Why might there be such a big divide on LGBTQ+ rights in American legislation? 
    • What are the motivations and reasoning behind both parties?
  • Is this topic something that can be easily or more difficult to tackle and communicate? 
  • In light of the Don’t Say Gay Bill, who should be responsible for teaching children about sexual and gender identities? Why? What do you think about the bill?

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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