Walled Off from Reality

“Wal-mart… do they like make walls there?” — Paris Hilton

By now, it is evident that Donald Trump thinks of the border primarily as a threat. Over it flow criminals, drugs, and fictitious “unknown Middle Easterners.” Trump seeks to seal the border as tightly as possible with a “big, beautiful wall” while also cracking down on legal routes of entry into the United States. The wall, according to Trump, can defend the nation’s vulnerable underbelly and restore American sovereignty and, of course, greatness.

Even if the impenetrable barrier were to funnel all cross-border traffic to legitimate ports of entry, real challenges at the border can hardly be addressed. In recent years, hundreds of thousands of Central American refugees have arrived, traveling as family units who voluntarily surrendered themselves to US authorities to apply for asylum. A wall could probably stop them crossing the border, but they are still legally entitled to claim asylum at a port of entry.

At the present moment, the immigration court system has a backlog of over 800,000 refugee cases and desperately needs more staff and resources to give asylum seekers fair and effective hearings. The wall won’t help. Meanwhile, due to the president’s manufactured crisis and government shutdown over the funding of the wall funding, these immigration court systems have been closed, exacerbating that backlog.

Compared to that of the early 2000s, the number of undocumented residents in the US has been dropping significantly. On top of that, those who remain are most likely to overstay their visas. Trump’s wall is unlikely to have much impact on the population of undocumented immigrants. The president also insists that the wall will hinder illegal entries and especially block any terrorists trying to sneak in from Mexico. However, he fails to produce any evidence of terrorists passing over the United States’ southern border. It would be safer to say that the main threat facing the US today comes from homegrown extremists.

Moreover, according to the Drug Enforcement Agency, the border wall cannot stop the flow of illegal drugs since most of these drugs enter the United States through legal ports of entry, hidden among legitimate goods. The only way to reduce this influx of drugs is to shut or slow down trade with Mexico instead of building a border wall.

The partial shutdown of the U.S. government, the longest ever now in its 26th day (as of this article’s drafting), hit another milestone on Wednesday. Ironically, the government shutdown has now surpassed the cost of the desired thousand-mile border wall: an analysis of average federal wages by The New York Times suggests that the present shutdown is costing $200 million a day in delayed wages, or over $6 billion as of January 19th compared to the $5.7 billion that Trump wanted.

On a more humorous note, many people have already shown that a border wall is unparalleled in uselessness; a Mexican politician, in a protest against Trump’s claims that Mexico would pay for his wall, climbed to the top of a seaside segment of the current border “wall”, highlighting the impotence of the wall.

Related image
On the bright side, the wall’s a great place for taking cool profile pictures.

Furthermore, photographers have documented the smuggling of a whole car over the sacred border wall designed to protect the United States by use of ramps, some patience, and impressive driving skills.

Image result for car crossing border wall
Nice wall—but I have a Jeep.

In summary, this border wall has been proven to be a fruitless enterprise. While the idea of an impenetrable barrier that defends the country from any possible threats might appeal to some people, its economic, political, and practical attributes are more than doubtful.

– William Cho (’21)

Images: CBS Miami, NY Daily News, US Customs and Border Protection (respectively)

Donald al Majd

Let’s say North Korea suddenly launches a nuclear attack on Hawaii. Can the President be a leading icon behind which 300 million Americans can unite to collectively join the fight in defending the United States?

A Tempered Harpoon is a column on American Politics written by the ’18-’19 Editor in Chief, Chris Park (’19). – Ed.

I had an opportunity to go on a trip to Doha, Qatar to attend the THIMUN Qatar conference as a student officer. Perhaps more than the conference, the geopolitical strife in that region which had a profound influence on the milieu of Doha particularly piqued my intrigue. Much of Doha remained the same as two years ago when I first visited to attend an honor orchestra festival, it’s towering skyscrapers, busy traffic, dhow boats around the Corniche. But there was one obvious change since then: a black and white painting plastered everywhere I went, on car bumpers, on newspapers, on sides of buildings, on t-shirts, on phone cases, on the Qatari flag.

A delegate approached me on the second day of the conference. She had lost her phone. An iPhone with a Tamim sticker. Is that it? I asked, pointing at the phone on my desk. There it was again, the face. To my co-chair Annie, Why is this face everywhere?

Source: Al Jazeera/Cajsa Wikstrom

She kindly explained: the black and white painting is of the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Than, called “Tamim al Majd” (or Tamim the glorious). After neighboring states of Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Bahrain, along with several other Arab and African states, cut diplomatic ties, Qatari citizens decided to unite behind the Emir and, to show their support for his defiance against the other GCC states, circulated the “Tamim the glorious”—might I note, depicted far more youthfully— across the country. In time of crisis that rattles a country to its core, when it’s so easy to point fingers at the government, the Qatari citizens united to firmly support their monarch. Images flashed before me. The post-911 mass donning of the American flag lapel pins, streets of Paris deluged with “Je suis Charlie” signs after the 2015 shootings, or, in a slightly different sense, the millions of candle sticks in the movement to impeach President Park. Call it slacktivism if you will, but man if these images don’t carry profound messages. But in Qatar, this wave was something different. It was a person—mind you, a non-elected monarch—behind whom 200 thousand people rallied behind. Willful political unity behind a monarch. That, to me, was simply fascinating.

Thinking about this on the eight hour plane ride back home, it also got me thinking about the state of our union. Say that United States suddenly gets embroiled in a conflict with another country. Anything. Canada and Mexico plotting to cut all diplomatic ties with the United States; Kremlin shooting down American satellites; North Korean nuclear attack on Hawaii. In these cases, can the President be a leading icon behind which 300 million Americans can unite to collectively join the fight in defending the United States, as did the Emir?

American presidents historically have turned to foreign policy to bring about massive public support behind their administration. For JFK, the Cuban Missile Crisis helped his dropping approval ratings bounce up, saving the Democrats in the 1962 mid-term elections; Bush 41’s approval rating skyrocketed after the successful American intervention in the Gulf War; Bush 43 once enjoyed over 90 percent approval rating following the 911 attacks.

The other side of the picture, however, is that those presidents all successfully led the country in these crises, at seen by the outcomes of each event. Khruschev was removed from power soon after, many judging that Kennedy outwitted him; the Gulf War continues to remain as Bush 41’s key legacies; the Republicans gained seats in the 2002 elections, making it only the third time the party of the incumbent president gained Congressional seats in a mid-term election.

But would Trump be able to navigate through and negotiate with the intricate diplomatic world with his dysfunctional and dwindling Department of State, while being constantly pressured to be in line with whatever being said on Sean Hannity or Fox and Friends, alongside—to a lesser extent—White House staff and Congressional Republican influences? Or would Trump again be, as Chuck Schumer put it, “like negotiating with Jell-O”? Think back to the 2016 Russian meddling in the election. Instead of working to unite the country against Russia, he instead was a leading force in further dividing the already politically polarized nation, spewing off several conspiracy theories that even members of his party denounced. I’m reminded of President Carter handling the Iranian Hostage Crisis who, mired in political pressures from politicians and Henry Kissinger, botched the entire operation with myopic policy decisions.

Cognizant of his repeated public taunts on Kim Jong Un, reports of offensive mimicking of Narendra Modi, dismantling of the Iran Deal (which even Rand Paul begrudgingly supports), or constant push in his “America First” rhetoric against NAFTA or KORUS FTA, it seems almost inevitable that international conflict will occur sometime during his first term. For Trump, I doubt foreign policy is going to be a legacy-saver. Surrounded by a myriad of often conflicting views, President Trump would not serve as a leader that the country—both Republicans and Democrats—can coalesce to present a united front against the foreign enemies while the 70% or so Americans who disapprove Trump simply abandon him. This would indeed, perhaps humorously said during the election, make Trump the last President of the United States. Maybe not literally. But nevertheless, the dignity of the Office of the POTUS—and the United States of America—would be immensely diminished on the international stage.

The good news is that there isn’t a conflict yet. But President Trump needs to act if he doesn’t want the United States in a diplomatic crisis, starting by restructuring and rebuilding the State Department. The State Department’s third-ranking diplomat retired earlier this week in a mass exodus of hundreds of diplomats since the President’s inauguration. Also, more than a year into his term, more than half of the ambassadorships have yet to be filled. There hasn’t even been an appointment for the position of ambassador of Republic of Korea—perhaps a top-priority position if Trump was serious about fostering closer relationship with the country—Mexico—the United States’ third largest trading partner—and dozens of other countries. What made American international presence so strong are not only the principles that the stars and stripes represented, but also the diplomats who carried out those tenets into action.

At least until January 20, 2021, Donald Trump will be the POTUS and it is his responsibility to maintain American international prominence, as he promised during the election. Good foreign policy could, at the same time, be this administration’s only way of boosting Trump’s dismal approval rating. So, Mr. President, the time is now to restore the might of the State Department whose halls once graced diplomatic luminaries.

– Chris Hyunsoo Park (’19)

Featured image: Associated Press/Evan Vucci

The Conscience of a Conserbyetive

Trumpublicanism has become an overwhelmingly popular political principle of the conservative America. The Republican Party is moving to where Trump, along with Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller, awaits hand in hand with candidates like Judge Roy Moore. We bid adieu to the bygone era of Goldwater conservatism that galvanized the nation in the late 20th century.

A Tempered Harpoon is a column on American Politics written by the ’18-’19 Editor in Chief, Chris Park (’19). – Ed.

Former senator from Arizona and failed 1964 Presidential election Republican nominee, Barry Goldwater noted in his 1960 book, The Conscience of a Conservative, that “conservatism looks upon the enhancement of man’s spiritual nature as the primary concern of political philosophy [while] liberals regard the satisfaction of economic wants as the dominant mission of society.” This was the winning principle of the man who set the stage for the rise of Ronald Reagan—and conservatism—in the United States.

Goldwater promoted free trade, envisioning “a day when all the Americas, North and South, will be linked….in a rising tide of prosperity and interdependence” in his 1964 acceptance speech. His political successor, Ronald Reagan alluded America as “a city on a hill,” with an adamant conviction that the American value of individual freedom should be a model of the world.

The Republican party of present-day looks vastly different. President Trump touts economic protectionism with his “America first” agenda, severing the United States from various trade agreements. During the campaign, he called for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,” eventually delivering on that promise with Executive Order 13769, letting the sacrosanct American principle of religious freedom to wither. The Grand Old Party was never like this—not under Bush, not under McCain, not under Romney, and certainly not under Goldwater or Reagan.

Picture a politician.

He yearns for power, fights to get it, and–for better or worse–never loosens his tight grip on it. Thus it is peculiar when he does relinquish the seat for which he so arduously labored. Especially if he is a Senator from a state where a presidential candidate of his party won bigly just over a year ago.

But with the Trump takeover, many Congressional Republicans are faced with a predicament: get on the Trump Train or go home. A recent CNN-SSRS poll showing Republican support for Trump at 86% further perpetuates this reality.

Two Republican Senators, Senators Bob Corker (R-TN) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ), decided to take the latter route, announcing their retirement from the Senate at the end of their terms in 2019. Trumpublicanism has become an overwhelmingly popular political principle of the conservative America.

True, there are vast differences between the politics of Corker and that of Flake. Corker was an ardent supporter of Candidate Trump throughout his 2016 campaign and was on a short-list to becoming his Secretary of State, while Flake wrote a 160-page book decrying Candidate Trump. DW-NOMINATE, a comprehensive system of measuring political ideologies based on voting records, ranks Flake as the third most conservative member of the Senate while Corker is somewhat of a moderate.

Voting records aside, however, they do have one thing in common: fundamental disagreements with the policy direction of President Trump. Corker, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, condemned the President’s approach to handling conflict with North Korea, suggesting that he is leading the United States into a World War III. Flake bemoaned the moral decay of the Republican Party in its silence while “norms and values that keep America strong are [being] undermined” and maintained his stance on free trade and immigration, both of which greatly parts from the Trumpublican agenda.

What does the future hold for the GOP? Only time can tell. The Republican Party is moving to where Trump, along with Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller, awaits hand in hand with candidates like Judge Roy Moore—is he the future of the party? Perhaps. But one thing is clear: the Senators’ decisions act as a clear testament to the transformation of the GOP today. We bid adieu to the bygone era of Goldwater conservatism that galvanized the nation in the late 20th century.

–  Chris Hyunsoo Park (’19)

Featured image: Associated Press/J. Scott Applewhite

Protest in KIS

How can KIS be so quiet around this pandemonium?

You might have been a third-person all along, an observer, but now it’s impossible to not feel a part of this nightmarish reality.

The reality goes beyond just the immigration ban — which has already caused chaos in the airports, universities, businesses that employ immigrants, the White House, and the relevant countries around the world, including Iran and Australia, whose relationships with the United States have become tangled and knotted. The reality lies in the future, when Donald Trump will continue to violate the Constitution, basic human rights, and repeat his lies that his immigration ban is nothing worse than Barack Obama’s 2011 policy — which may become a truth after a long enough time.

As Trevor Noah of The Daily Show put it, we will all have to live in “Donald Trump’s reality” and his own truth.

According to Michelle Mark at Business Insider (1), Obama’s 2011 policy of temporary immigration ban on Iraqi refugees was a response to a particular event; two men were “suspected of making bombs to target American troops in Iraq.” On the other hand, Trump’s immigration ban is much broader and ambiguous. In an extreme sense, it’s fascism at work. Federal judge James Robart at Seattle has responded by temporarily blocking Donald Trump’s executive order on an immigration ban (2) (the block which Donald Trump condemned). Yet the decision has yet to calm the reality; people around the world, from New York to London, are still protesting and screaming at the deaf leaders of America, and at the silent “majority” of those who voted Donald Trump.

It’s a manifestation of an unbelievable pattern — the silent majority drowned South Korea in corruption and opened the gate for Brexit. With the silent majority, the ones with power are unstoppable; Trump effortlessly fired the acting attorney general, and here in South Korea, the Blue House has refused the special prosecutors’ search. Journalists have ceased being impartial in addressing those silent majorities. Perhaps upon an incredible injustice, journalists rise above their role as watchdogs and adopt the duty of social justice fighters.

And perhaps KIS can adopt this duty as well. Among a variety of academics and extracurriculars here at KIS, real social activism seems nonexistent. This holds true regarding the immigration ban, Brexit, and the corruption scandal in this very country. KIS students can read the news and hear the stories; they can even write. But they don’t speak up. See, we are a very rich high school — in finance and in knowledge. We can use both of them to make a legitimate impact around the world by protesting against injustices. A united KIS would be quite a force.

That may sound funny to people who have yet to realize the privilege that they are born with, and the misfortune that others have to live with — misfortune that chokes them and prevents them from crying out for help.

Trevor Noah humorously remarked that the immigration ban helped unite Muslims and other Americans, especially at the airport, where Muslims prayed as a group and were applauded. Taking inspiration from this ray of light in midst of darkness, perhaps KIS can be a guiding light and a voice for the unfortunate people around the world.

– Roger Han (’17)

Banner: Celine Yoon (’19)


  1. http://www.businessinsider.com/big-differences-between-trumps-immigration-ban-obamas-2011-policy-2017-2
  2. http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/02/federal-judge-blocks-donald-trump-immigration-ban-170204032306765.html

Rise of the Far Right: The Alt-Right & Neo-Nazis

“Put us first!” “We want our country back.” “Make America great again.” — Will the rise of the far right last?

With Trump’s surprise victory and Brexit, 2016 was marked with a definitive swing to the far right. Such “right-wing victories” have emboldened members of the far-right who were previously considered too radical. The migrant crisis revealed how many in the West still remained hostile to outsiders, and far-right parties are now gaining traction on political platforms in Europe as disillusionment with the European Union continues to grow.

If you’ve been keeping up with the news these past few months, you’ve probably come across the terms “alt-right” and “neo-Nazi” quite often. Both words, especially “neo-Nazi,” were not used commonly in mainstream media until 2016, when the far-right movements finally started to catch the attention of the public.

So what does “alt-right” and “neo-Nazi” mean? Alt-right stands for alternative right, and it was coined by Richard Spencer, the leader of the movement. George Hawley, a political scientist at the University of Alabama, described the alt-right as “a loose movement, predominantly online, and largely anonymous.” They distance themselves from traditional conservatism (hence their name) because they believe that mainstream conservatives are too weak to actively support racism and anti-Semitism or prioritize the interests of white people. Their beliefs have been described as racist, homophobic, and misogynistic.

As Donald Trump started to gain support during his campaign, members of the alt-right recognized him as a hero of their cause. They had previously been considered a fringe movement in politics, which meant that their ideas were considered to be outside the spectrum of acceptable opinion. Having a man who spoke of the same ideas as them elected for the highest office in the country electrified the alt-right movement, leading them to believe that they were no longer to be marginalized in Western politics.

The alt-right uses memes to spread their ideologies on the Internet, hoping to attract young educated white people by claiming that their “white identity” is under attack because of multiculturalism and political correctness in the status quo. The ADL, or Anti-Defamation League, announced that Pepe the Frog has become a hate symbol after white-supremacists and other groups re-drew the frog so that he was dressed up in Nazi and Ku Klux Klan clothes. The frog is now generally recognized as the mascot of the alt-right movement, much to the dismay of his creator, Matt Furie.

Neo-Nazis, unlike the alt-right, have some history; they have existed since 1945, the end of Nazi Germany. Neo-Nazism is very similar to the original Nazi doctrine, containing elements such as racism, xenophobia, homophobia, ableism (discrimination against people with disabilities), anti-Semitism, and ultranationalism. Neo-Nazis seek to establish the Fourth Reich, a revival of Nazi Germany. Significant effort has been taken in European countries, particularly Germany, to prevent such movements; many countries have banned Nazi-related symbols such as the swastika.

hate groups; Nazis; skinheads; homophobia; racism
PC: huffingtonpost.com

So what is the difference between the two? Although not all of those who identify with the alt-right movement are neo-Nazis, a good number of people in the alt-right are represented in the neo-Nazi movement. Since “alt-right” is such a broad term, it can include neo-Nazis; in fact, neo-Nazis are often considered to be a minority in the alt-right. The line between the two movements, however, has become so unclear that the two terms are often associated with each other. During a speech to his supporters in Washington after Trump’s victory, Richard Spencer, the leader of the alt-right, shouted, “Hail Trump, hail our people, hail victory!” His supporters responded with enthusiastic cheers, applause, and Nazi salutes.

The rise of the far-right didn’t end just with Brexit and Trump’s election; right-wing parties in the Netherlands and France have called for Brexit-like referendums on EU membership. Even in Germany, where shame over the Holocaust prevented any nationalistic movement from gaining serious support, the far-right Alternative for Germany party (AfD) has become one of the mainstream political parties; in a local election last September, the AfD won more votes than Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union in her own electoral district. Recent efforts to ban the National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD), a party usually described as a neo-Nazi organization, have failed once more. This has only emboldened the members of the party, who say that their victory once again proves that their beliefs are not a threat to the safety of their country.

However, there is no need to fret too much over the alarmingly swift swing to the far-right in Western politics. Over a period of 150 years, studies suggest that every major financial or social crisis was followed by a 10-year surge in support for far-right parties that claimed to be populist, so this far-right movement is not likely to last any longer than far-right movements in the past. Just examining recent reactionary politics is not looking at the big picture; in history, we have seen that even with all the political ups and downs, society has always taken steps towards progression.

– Kristin Kim (’20)

Featured Image: dailystormer.com



Lounge with Leona: Fidel Castro’s Death & Trump’s Reaction

Sit down, take a chill pill, and relax for this week’s edition of Lounge with Leona; Fidel Castro’s death and Trump’s reaction.

On November 25th, 2016, the Cuban politician and revolutionary Fidel Castro passed away. He governed the Republic of Cuba for nearly 50 years as a Prime Minister from 1959 to 1976 and as President from 1976 to 2008.

In the year of 1959, Castro overthrew the Cuban President Batista, took full control of Cuba, and installed a communist Marxist government. Following the Marxist philosophy, under Castro’s rule, the government took over much of businesses, farms, and industries. Moreover, freedom of speech and of the press was restricted. However, after he fell ill in 2008, Castro resigned as president, and his brother Raúl has been running the country ever since.

In the year of 2014, as Cuba slowly began to disengage from Fidel Castro’s oppressive system, U.S. President Barack Obama loosened the economic embargo between the United States and Cuba, together with Raúl Castro. Such alleviation of a blockage excited the populace of both nations, as this meant not only an increase in travel between the two countries, but also a broadened scope of trade and business. Not to mention the Cubans who had defected to the United States during Fidel Castro’s regime, for now they could fly back to Cuba without encountering hardships.

As the catalyst for Cuban dictatorship was now gone, many believed the system of absolute rule, too, would disintegrate into thin air – everybody but Donald J. Trump. After a mere two days of Castro’s death, Trump had already begun threatening Cubans without even allowing enough time to let the reality of Castro’s death sink in.

It’s as if we have been pulled back to 1962 – that’s almost six decades ago –. It’s as if Obama’s attempts at normalizing the status-quo was for nothing. Trump is looking to potentially put the embargo which once existed back in place, thus nullifying the steps the United States as well as the Republic of Cuba had been taking towards truce.

Perhaps this isn’t surprising, as during his presidency campaign, Trump promised the nation to overturn any probable openings of U.S. relations with Cuba, “unless the Castro regime meets our demands – not my demands, our demands.” He is only restating what he mentioned before getting elected as President.

However, does Trump even know what he’s talking about? Honestly, I doubt that. His position on supporting U.S. hostility only unnerves the entire Republic of Cuba. In the meantime, he is allowing Raúl Castro to gain even more strength, therefore only emphasizing the authoritarian rule which Cuba is under. It is not outdated Cold War policies Cuba needs. It is the continuation of Obama’s efforts towards establishing a positive relationship with Cuba. What is the point in giving the dictator more power? Or in discouraging the reopening of embassies and limiting trade? Now is exactly the time in which the nation of America must influence the Republic of Cuba with American values and ideas of freedom, thus putting an end to Cuban dictatorship.

– Leona Maruyama (‘17)

Featured Image: http://wtax-am.sagacom.com/

Lounge with Leona: Time for a Change

Sit down, take a chill pill, and relax for this week’s edition of Lounge with Leona; Time for a Change.

Time for a Change.

On the other side of the hemisphere, hundreds of thousands of people are protesting the new president-elect of the United States of America – Donald J. Trump. As he is expected to take office as the 45th President of the nation on January 20th, 2017, perhaps they see this as a count down. A clock, slowly ticking away, for time waits for no one.

Time for a Change.

I assume most of you who are currently reading this article had no say in who to vote for either because you’re too young, you’re not a citizen of America, or both. If you are a part of the minority who actually voted during this election, I have no right to, by any means, judge you by who you support. In fact, that’s not what the world needs right now. This is exactly not the time to play the blame-game, sabotaging those who support a party different from the one you do, or a candidate who you do not.

Rather, this moment which will be recorded in future history textbooks is one in which we must stand with one another, hand in hand. Ever since the first day Trump got elected as president, defeating Clinton, countless hate crimes have taken place.

Immigrants are terrified of deportation.

Muslim women are afraid of wearing certain articles of clothing, because they’re scared of the assault that may follow.

Women face the terror of Planned Parenthood perhaps being defunded.

Time for a Change.

We all say we need change, especially at a time like this. But what is change anyway? Change doesn’t happen by starting fights with those who disagree with you on a political level (or any other level, really). Nor does it happen by shouting profanity at protests. You’re only taking advantage of potential outlets for hate and to vent. And the world can only take so much hate, as it’s already flooded with it as of now.

Do not judge others by their sexual orientation, race, gender, or opinions.

Do not attempt to spew hate.

Do send love.

Do change from within, and be an accepting individual.

Time for a Change.

It doesn’t just go for those who are American. We’re all in this together. We, as humanity, can be the best Change.


– Leona Maruyama (’17)

Featured Image: https://static1.squarespace.com