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Unruh hosts political discussion at ‘Un-Civil War’ conference

first_imgPolitical correctness, Congressional stalemates and fake news are concepts that have permeated political discourse in the last two years, seemingly changing the landscape of American politics. (From left) Politico reporter Carla Marinucci, Norman Lear Center Director Martin Kaplan and Annenberg professor Karen North spoke at a panel moderated by Annenberg professor Laura Davis. Emily Smith | Daily TrojanOn Wednesday, more than 50 students, faculty and community members gathered to discuss these changes in American politics in “The Un-Civil War,” an all-day conference hosted by the USC Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics. Billed as an opportunity to “advance a bipartisan conversation about civil discourse in modern American politics,” the event consisted of four 90-minute panel discussions featuring three to four experts at a time in fields of politics, sociology, technology and journalism. By bringing together points of view from multiple fields and perspectives on the political spectrum, the event aimed to start a conversation about American civil discourse and offer examples of how to move forward while agreeing to disagree. “I hope that today we can shed some light on the un-civil war that too often stains our politics today,” Unruh Institute Director Robert Shrum said in his opening remarks.He noted that the conference fell on the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination, and lauded King’s actions as a remarkable example of the power of civility in the political sphere. The four panels tackled the history of political civility, the modern rise of “alternative facts” and the impact of technology and the impact of media on the American political landscape. Though panelists approached these issues from different angles, many agreed that the era of President Donald Trump is unlike any other. “We shouldn’t get too overly hysterical about what’s happening today, however, in our lifetime … I don’t think we’ve ever seen anything like we’re seeing today,” said Mickey Kantor, former U.S. Secretary of Commerce and campaign chair of the 1992 Clinton-Gore presidential ticket. “I think it follows eight years of grace and dignity in the White House … and now it’s almost like they threw cold water in your face at about three in the morning, when you’re faced with what we’re seeing in today’s rhetoric.” Many panelists touched on the impact of technology and the internet on political discourse. “The thing that has struck me the most … in what’s taking place in politics today, has been how detached we have become from fact,” USC professor Margaret Gatz said. She then presented data on the cognitive distortions and filter bubbles that can lead people to believe falsehoods. USC professor Peter Mancall said that the modern political discord could be a step toward progress. According to Mancall, there has been a “vast expansion of people in the political discussion” in the past centuries.“That has led to all sorts of uncomfortable moments, but in some ways … I sort of celebrate the fact that there are more people involved in the discussion than there ever were before,” Mancall said.At the end of the panel, audience members eagerly questioned the panelists, preparing themselves to take the lessons learned at the conference into the larger world. “It’s great that Unruh Institute puts together these events where you can talk about real time issues outside of the classroom with professionals of the field,” said Melanie Franceschini, a senior majoring in political science.last_img read more

Return to class, mayor advises

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORE‘Mame,’ ‘Hello, Dolly!’ composer Jerry Herman dies at 88 Recalling his own days as a student leading walkouts during civil-rights demonstrations in 1968, Villaraigosa added: “Yes, I was involved in protests and I paid a price. It was one of the reasons I was forced to leave school.” Sheriff Lee Baca said deputies will pursue charges against adults who are involved in future demonstrations. “We believe that it was some adults who organized these (student protests) and encouraged the kids to go on freeways,” Baca said. “In California, there is a law that makes them accountable for these actions.” Superintendent Roy Romer said a letter is being sent to parents warning them they could be prosecuted if their children are chronically truant. And Police Chief William Bratton said the Los Angeles Police Department also has a separate program that could result in $200 in fines and 20 days of community service for students who are cited for truancy. After a second day of walkouts by protesting students, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa joined with school and law enforcement officials Tuesday in urging a return to classes and threatening a crackdown on truants. Officials estimated that 8,000 Los Angeles Unified School District students and 3,600 from neighboring districts participated in rain-soaked marches and rallies demanding rights for illegal immigrants. LAUSD officials estimated that Tuesday’s walkout, along with one Monday in which almost 25,000 students participated, cost the district nearly $950,000 in state funding. The weekday demonstrations followed massive protests Saturday and Sunday, where as many as 500,000 people rallied against proposed federal legislation that would make it a felony to be in the United States illegally. “On Saturday, when we had a half-million people out here, that was the proper use of a demonstration and protest,” Villaraigosa said in an afternoon news conference at City Hall. “Now, our students belong back in school, … in their classrooms, where they can have further discussions about this issue.” “Some of these kids might end up cleaning up the freeways they were demonstrating on,” Bratton said. Dampened by the rain, Tuesday’s demonstrations were less festive than those Monday. Students chanted but did not engage the public, as they did the previous day. Few drivers honked horns in support, and business owners and residents did not stand outside and cheer. “We’re doing this for our people,” said Vanessa Morataya, a sophomore from Birmingham High School. “If we don’t fight this, who else is going to fight it? “A lot of people are saying (the legislation) is going to be approved. We want to show them that we are a lot of people, and we’ll stand up for what we believe.” Some student protesters had gathered at the Marvin Braude San Fernando Valley Constituent Service Center in Van Nuys by midday. “We want everyone to know that you can’t mess with us, you can’t stop us,” said Jon Garcia, a 12th-grader from Birmingham High. “Even though we’re kids, even though it’s raining, we’re letting everyone know that we deserve to be heard. “We will not stop until this bill is not passed. We will not drop this.” In classrooms throughout the Valley, immigration remained a hot topic. At least two high schools – Birmingham and Verdugo Hills – held forums for students to air their views without cutting class. “By leaving campus, their voices aren’t heard,” said Birmingham Principal Marsha Coates of her school’s two student-run forums. “They’re just walking around, costing taxpayers a lot of money. It’s just a ditch day – and they will be marked as truant.” Student Body President Briana Weatherspoon hosted a lunchtime forum attended by 40 students, some of whom stressed the importance of attending class. Outside the school, two students marched in the rain with a Mexican flag, their faces shrouded by bandannas. “Write a letter to your congressman instead of walking out,” said Katherine Campos, 17, of Reseda. “If you walk out, do it after school or on the weekend. Otherwise, you leave yourself open to criticism.” At Verdugo Hills High in Tujunga, students on lunch break filed into the auditorium to talk about immigration. Armando Cuadros, 17, of Sunland was one of those who spoke, and said afterward that he feels compelled to defend illegal immigrants. “People complain about abortion – you know, about a baby – and what if that baby would (find) the cure for AIDS?” Armando said. “It’s the same thing for immigrants. What if that immigrant could find the cure for cancer?” At Los Angeles City Hall, where thousands of the students had gathered in protest over the weekend and Monday, about 75 students huddled beneath trees seeking shelter from the sporadic rain. They waved flags and shouted to motorists driving past on First Street as extra police officers were brought in to provide security. Officials said there were no problems reported as a result of the small demonstration. Eduardo “Piolin” Sotelo, a popular Spanish-language disc jockey who helped attract 500,000 people to march in downtown Los Angeles on Sunday, during his Tuesday show urged protesting teenagers to return to the classroom. “Please, parents, support your children, but the right way,” he said. Staff Writers Troy Anderson, Dana Bartholomew, Alex Dobuzinskis and Rachel Uranga contributed to this report. Josh Kleinbaum, (818) 713-3669 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

Inslee visits Ridgefield glimpses its future

first_imgRIDGEFIELD — The blaring train horn wasn’t a planned part of the presentation for Gov. Jay Inslee, but Ridgefield City Manager Steve Stuart welcomed the distraction.“You can see why we need the overpass now,” he said to Inslee at the Ridgefield boat launch Tuesday afternoon as an Amtrak sped by.Inslee was in Ridgefield to tour the city. His visit started at the boat launch next to the Port of Ridgefield, and while Stuart and Port of Ridgefield CEO Brent Grening told him about the upcoming overpass project, they got an all-too-good example of why the overpass is such an anticipated project. Stuart said it wasn’t planned, but it also wasn’t unexpected.“The great thing about the city is you don’t have to try,” Stuart said. “We get 60 to 70 trains going through here each day. You know you only have to wait about 15 minutes and a train is going to go by. It was a great illustration as to why we need the overpass.”The overpass, which is expected to go out to bid in the coming weeks, will travel over the railroad tracks connecting Pioneer Street to the port’s property, making it easier to get from downtown to the waterfront area. It will also close off waterfront access that forces drivers to cross the railroad tracks. The $14 million project received $7.8 million in state funds.last_img read more