Monday, January 17, 2011

Blog Five Zeitoun: Police Response

            When later asked to explain the causes behind their actions, the police’s gave no settling answers as to why they acted the way they did. Though Kathy and Zeitoun did not plan on suing anyone, they wanted justice. FEMA, the organization that had arrested Zeitoun, provided the family with a trailer to live in. However, they forgot the key, leaving the Zeitoun’s unable to use the trailer. Weeks later, when the key came an inspector came and said the trailer was unstable, and unusable. The response to this was nothing more than a simple “oops.”
            Another disturbing thing that was reveled were the actions of the National Guardsmen. Zeitoun was arrested, and thrown into jail because the National Guard though that he was looting things, even though he was in his own property. “In exchange for gasoline, Lima (the guardsman who helped arrest Zeitoun) and other New Orleans Police broke into convenience stores and took cigarettes.” This really disturbed me. How could the police so brutally punish people, most innocent, for the same exact type of actions that they were taking?
            Then the police explain why they truly arrested Zeitoun. They were asked to “speculate on possible terrorist exploitation of high category hurricane.” However, it just leads again to the same point, the police were acting on assumptions. Yes, they were in a high-risk situation, and yes, they were following orders, but does that truly make the terrible acts they committed just? I would have to say no.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Blog Four Zeitoun: Like Guantanamo Bay

            One of the most shocking and horrific parts of the book was the police response, and their brutality. Towards the beginning of the storm, Zeitoun was going around helping everyone he could. There were a few seniors who were too high up to rescue, so Zeitoun went looking for help. When he saw police and tried to ask for his help, the simply ignored him, and sped past him on their fan boat. If the police were not there to help people, then what were they there for? Clearly, the police had other intentions for why they were un New Orleans.
            However, Zeitoun soon found out why more police and task forces had been sent to New Orleans. A boat pulled up to a house that Zeitoun, and his friends Nasser, and Todd were in. Out of nowhere, they ordered the men onto their fan boat and arrested them. When they asked why they were being arrested, the police did not give them an answer. But this was only the first violation of their civil right, and if anything this was going to be the least brutal part.
            The jail scenes of this book were almost too hard to read. At one point in the book, Zeitoun compares jail to Guantanamo Bay. They were taken to an outdoor prison that was put together at the very beginning of the storm. However, Zeitoun, Nasser, and Todd were put in a separate cage from everyone else. They were the only cage with a guard specifically dedicated to them. It was not because of what they had done, but what they were accused of being, terrorists. I was in awe, and could not find any reasonable answer as to how they connected terrorism to Hurricane Katrina. First of all, Zeitoun considered America his homeland. He was doing the exact opposite of terrorism. He was helping people, and helping America. However, the police refused to accept that.
            Zeitoun, Nasser, and Todd constantly asked for a phone call. They did not receive one, and the requests were not acknowledged. There was no justice system in place. It was a dictatorship, and the rulers were the police, who believed they were free to do whatever they want. Because Zeitoun and Nasser followed Islamic belief, there were certain things they could not eat, including pork. However, for the first few meals, pork was the main course. When they said they could not eat it, the police responded, “then don’t eat.” They were forced to sleep on the cement, with not blankets, and thin clothing. If someone touched the bars, or said something the police didn’t like, they were sprayed with salt and fire extinguishers, and extremely painful and torturous punishment. There were no rules. There were no set court dates. There were no acts of justice. There were no rights. There was the greyhound bus station with a little jail inside, with tons of innocent people picked off the street, accused of crimes they did not commit.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Blog Three Zeitoun: Who Knows What?

            One of the greatest struggles for those citizens who stayed in the city, and those who left the city was the lack of information. There were three different sources of information. The news, those who had information from the inside, and those who had outside information. However, even before the storm real information was blurred together with incorrect information. For example, the mayor evacuated a optional, but suggested evacuation of the city. However, no one truly knew how bad the storm would be. Once the storm hit, the next issue was the cause of the flooding. The hurricane was clearly bad, but many had no idea how it had created as much damage as it did. Many were unaware that the cause of all the flooding was largely do to the fact that the levees broke, especially those who remained within the city. However, those who were outside of the city, and those within the city had two completely different perspectives of the storm. Kathy, who had left before the storm was informed by the news. The Zeitouns had a lot of family in Syria, and the news had informed them “There had bee looting, rapes, murders. It was chaos, anarchy.” However, that was only in the main parts of the city. Zeitoun spent much of his time helping people outside of the city. Though those things were happening in the city, Zeitoun had not run into any of it. It was not until his wife, Kathy, told him about the news that he was informed of the chaos. Other news stations reported that New Orleans was like a third world country. Damage and destruction was everywhere.
            However, though the news can often inflate the truth, in this case, there was not much difference between what was being reported, and what was the truth. I cannot imagine the helpless feeling that those families who had left New Orleans, and those families, like the Zeitouns, who still had loved ones within the city. Zeitoun’s cell phone didn’t work, and there were few working phones around the city. There was one phone in a house on Claiborne, who belonged to a friend of Zeitoun, where his and Kathy could communicate. Kathy and Zeitoun had a set time, twelve o’clock noon, when they would talk every day. The days when Zeitoun didn’t pick up he phone, or called an hour late, where by far the most heart wrenching things to read. There was nothing Kathy could do but wait for him to call. With all of the information being shown within the media, the things that Kathy could happen imagining to Zeitoun were torturous. When Zeitoun was arrested, Kathy had no idea. It took weeks, letters, and serious digging for Kathy and Zeitoun to communicate. In Kathy’s mind, and the mind of every New Orleaner, every unheard hour was another hour that a loved one could be lost, and there was little anyone could do to help. It seems like there was a completely helpless feeling to coming from those on the outside no one had heard from him in days

Blog Two Zeitoun: Those that Left, And Those that Were Left Behind

The citizens of New Orleans had no idea what they were in for when news of a hurricane first came in. It was not unusual to have hurricane storm warnings, so few left. As the mayor ordered for an evacuation of the city, it was pure chaos. Everyone packed up his or her belonging for a few days, expecting a swift return. However, as we all know this is not what happened.  Zeitoun was one of the few people to actually stay in the city. At first he stayed because he was concerned with his businesses, and watching over his homes. However, Zeitoun soon had a newfound reason to stay within the city. “In New Orleans was invigorated. He had never felt such urgency and purpose. In his first day in his flooded city. He had already assisted in the rescue of five elderly residence. There was a reason, he now knew, that he had remained in the city. He felt compelled to stay by a power beyond his own reckoning. He was needed” (107). Though Zeitoun was only one person, he made a large impact on many people, and animals, who were stranded in the city. Beyond demonstrating the kind of person Zeitoun was, his actions also took us deeper into what was actually happening in the city. He was especially concerned with the dogs. People had left their animals alone to fend for themselves. However, Zeitoun took it upon himself to share his food, and feed them every day. It seems as if he was a gift from God. The book tells another story about how he rescued an extremely overweight, elderly woman in her seventies who was stranded in her flooded apartment. Yes, many stayed because they had to opportunity to rob, and take advantage of possessions left behind. However, Zeitoun felt a purpose. He felt an obligation to help those who could not help themselves. This selfless, and risky act truly illustrates who Zeitoun was. However, something that struck me most was some of the possessions that people left behind. Zeitoun went through his house and rescued pictures from his childhood to present day. He saved important papers, and memoirs. When I think about everything that people lost, is goes beyond just physical objects. Imagine losing the photos of your childhood, memories that you have built and captured over the years. I can’t imagine leaving my dog behind, or leaving behind a birth certificate. In the madness of everything going on, I think people lost track of the possessions that were most important. It makes me question how seriously people took this warning at the beginning. I don’t know what I would have done, but I highly doubt that there are many who would have stayed in the city, and have committed as admirable and selfless acts to help others like Zeitoun did. 

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Blog One Zeitoun: Discrimination and Beliefs

The Zeitoun family practices the religion of Islam. Because the story takes place after 9/11 their religion often brings them discrimination. However, often, their religion turned people away from hiring them. However, one of the first things I noticed about Abdulrahman  Zeitoun, (referred to throughout the book as Zeitoun) and the Zeitoun family was how proud they were of their religion and beliefs. Never once were they ashamed of their religion. Abdulrahman’s  wife, Kathy, wore a hijab out in public. In fact, Kathy was a Muslim by choice. Kathy had an odd experience with her conversion from Christianity to Islam. She was an America born Indian, raised Catholic. However, there were many things about Christianity that Kathy did not agree with. For example, she did not like the forceful preaching of the church. After a questionable speech by the preacher, Kathy began to look further into Islam. She decided to talk with the preacher about her struggle with faith. That next weekend at church, the preacher confronted Kathy in front of the entire congregation, and made her explain what she had been questioning. With that, Kathy converted to Islam, as she liked the sense of personal responsibility which leaned toward social justice. This act was extremely courageous, and risky. Her parents did not agree with what she had done, yet she was so strong with her beliefs, that she was willing to act in a way that she believed was right. Even with the discrimination from complete strangers that both Kathy, and Abdulrahman  had to face, they stayed true to themselves, and their beliefs.
Besides religion, this was also demonstrated through Abdulrahman’s work. When he and Kathy moved to New Orleans, and set up a painting and construction business that became very well-known across New Orleans. One of the main reasons was for its logo. The logo consists of a paintbrush, and behind the paintbrush is a painted rainbow.  At first, Abdulrahman  received a lot of grief for his logo. Many were turned away because they believed that he supported gays. However, Zeitoun refused to change the logo. He claimed that those people who would discriminate against his logo were people that they would not want to work with anyways. In addition, he was able to attract many gay couples to begin his business.
In the face of a discriminating and judgment, the Zeitoun family remained faithful to their beliefs. They are a family that acts on what they believe is right, and look at each person as equal and valuable. Later in the book, Zeitoun demonstrates this as he helps rescue countless strangers. However, the thing that is most admirable is how they react. They do not hate America because it has people who discriminate. They look at America as their home just as any other American would. If anything, this discrimination has not made them more cynical, but has helped in the ways that they are willing to help, and treat others.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Response to Town Meeting Renovation Ideas

If only money grew on trees. But even then, we might still have problems. One of the greatest issues within both our school district, and our nation, is funding. No one ever seems to have enough money to do what they feel is necessary. However, as one of the best ranked high schools in the nation, there are definitely things that I see necessary to create a better learning environment within Deerfield High School. Not to sound what some would call “North Shore” but it is extremely distracting when I am trying to focus on a topic we are learning about in class, but all I can focus on is that it is way too hot, or freezing cold within a class room. Take our issues class. At the beginning of winter, there was a day when I walked into Issues first period, but instead I felt as though I was walking into an igloo. Though I tried to focus on the topics we were discussing in class, all I could really focus on was how freezing cold I was, and how I felt like my goose bumps were never going to go away. Now, I may be exaggerating a bit, but I am not exaggerating when I say that there were multiple times when our class stopped, and just discussed how cold it was in that room. However, that is not the only issue. As a top ranked school within the nation, in a neighborhood as wealthy as Deerfield, you would not expect our school to look the way it does. IT IS NOT A BAD SCHOOL by any means, but for our neighborhood, you’d think that they would be able to fix the windows. There are certain things that I would support that were suggested within the renovation meeting. Fixing the roofing, windows, masonry walls, mechanical, electrical, plumbing, technology, etc. are all things that I would strongly support. In addition, I think it would be helpful to have small group study rooms. The library is great, but it is hard to discuss topics with four people to a table and a whisper. The blocks and the union are also great places, but they are more social places, which is distracting to anyone trying to have a group study. As a participant in Deerfield soccer, I also support some of the ideas they have about a field house, and turf fielding. As a spring sport, we not only deal with rain, but with bad fielding. By spring the fields are torn up, muddy, and soggy. During our spring season, there were games when the greatest struggle was our home field. There were holes everywhere, patches of grass missing, or piles of mud. It made it so much harder to even play a smooth game. The back fields, and the back forty, are constantly flooded when it rains which also makes it extremely challenging to get the things done that we want to in practice. Having a turf field would be extremely beneficial to our season. Furthermore, I believe that having a new field house can be extremely beneficial. During our off season, we have work outs three days a week. Every spring sport is preparing for their season. In essence, we are all trying to use the same small hallways and spaces throughout the school. During our running, our greatest task is trying to find a place to run because there is baseball upstairs and volleyball in E hall, and track on the other side of X hall. A field house would allow for a much smoother, and less conflicted practice space for all of these sports. Though these things do not necessarily seem like important issues, they really are constant challenges. We can continue to put these improvements off, or we can choose to raise our taxes, and make these changes happen. Either way, one side will struggle, because there is no such thing as money that grows on trees.

Thursday, December 16, 2010


There are many who oppose abortion because they believe that human life begins at conception. However, there are also many who are against abortion because of religious beliefs. However, if you take a look at the United States, there is no one religion or belief that defines America. Therefore, I find it hard to comprehend how the United States could consider making a law the unjustly forces many women to comply with something they don’t believe in. If you take a look at the number of people getting abortions, many of them are under the age of 25. I am not arguing that abortion should be an easy way out for someone who is not being responsible with their sex life. However, each person is in a different situation. Should women who are raped be forced to have a baby? Should teens that cannot even support themselves be forced to conceive and raise a child? I do not believe that they should. Many could argue that women who do not want to raise a child could give their children up for adoption. However, many do not realize the health risks that even having a baby and giving it up for adoption can have. Say, for example, that a woman is raped and abortion is illegal. The woman can give the baby up, but for nine months she is constantly reminded of a scaring event. Even after mothers give the baby up for adoption, they will never be able to forget the fact that they brought a new person into this world. If we are arguing about protecting the health of a mother, forcing a woman to have a baby is one of the most destructive things that can happen. Furthermore, many of these women who would normally get abortions do so because they cannot mentally or financially support their child. Teens and young adults are trying to go to school, get a college degree, and build a strong foundation for the rest of their lives. However, there are a minimal number of teens who have a child and continue onto college. Their life is completely altered. Plus, if a mother resents their child yet was forced to have it, it not only is destructive to the mother, but the child feels neglected. Furthermore, adoption is not always a logical solution for a problem. Yes, a mother may not have to support the child any longer. But every day they must live with the idea that they brought a child into this world. Who knows if one day that child comes looking for them, or them for that child. Adoption does not always make the problem go away. It often can create an even worse situation. However, I absolutely realize that theses situation are do not represent every case, nor am I saying that every woman should have an abortion by any means. What I am trying to illustrate is that every woman is in a different situation. Each woman lives different lives, under different circumstances. But to make a law saying that abortions should be illegal completely takes away a woman’s right to freedom of choice, and takes away her freedom to control her own life and body. It would be unjust to make a law that promotes one moral and idea in a country with as many diverse ideas and people as America.