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Max Outcalt

Grade: 12

University High School

Instructor: Matthew Foulds

The Luckless Irish: A History of Hibernophobia in the United States

Critical Essay

The Luckless Irish: A History of Hibernophobia in the United States

It is hardly an exaggeration to say that, without immigration, the United States of America as we know it would not exist. America has always been a destination for immigrants, whether they be English Protestants seeking religious freedom, poverty-stricken Eastern Europeans seeking greater economic opportunity, or Middle Eastern refugees seeking sanctuary. With immigration being such a core facet of the United States, it is inevitable that nativism and xenophobia have also been recurring themes in American history. This prejudice had its start with the flood of Irish immigrants into America throughout the 1800s. The influx was a result of the mass poverty spreading across Ireland, which was accentuated by the Great Potato Famine, a blight from 1845-1852 which devastated the main food source of Ireland and killed or expelled over half of the Irish population[1]. Well over three million Irish immigrants fled to the United States between 1831 and 1900[2], and they faced tremendous backlash and discrimination upon their arrival in the United States. That hibernophobia, or the oppression, discrimination, or hatred of Irish people, was a key factor in laying a foundation of xenophobia and nativism which continues to the modern day. The refugees were brutally mistreated by groups like the Know-Nothing movement, from being forced into slums to being assailed by mobs and riots. The persecution was due to the dominance of Catholicism among the Irish, the lack of skilled Irish laborers, and the Irish's perceived "non-whiteness" by Anglo-American Protestants. And while Irish immigrants fought back through the ballot box, they also maltreated other minority groups to lift themselves up. While anti-Irish sentiments in America eventually faded, the nativist rhetoric that sprung from those sentiments continued to exist and has often flourished as new cultural or religious groups have attempted to make their home in the United States. The hibernophobia of this time period was one of the first examples of violently oppressive nativism, and it served as the bedrock on which America has constructed modern-day xenophobia.

Perhaps the best way to understand antebellum hibernophobia is to examine why such anti-Irish sentiments existed in the first place, and how this nativism seized the American populace with such fervor. To do so, one must understand the Irish immigrants. What exactly made them so intolerable to so many Americans? One answer was the dominance of Catholicism among the Irish. As a result of the famine, a religious awakening occurred, during which formal devotion was encouraged. Indeed, the ratio of priests to the general Irish population dropped from one to three thousand to one to nine hundred as trauma from the famine was alleviated through a newfound sense of religious duty. This zeal also spread to America — by 1900, over ninety percent of Irish immigrants living in New York identified as Catholic.[3] Catholicism and Irishness went hand-in-hand, but this was unacceptable in America, where Protestantism was standard. Since the Reformation, which tore an irreparable schism into the Church, Catholics and Protestants had always clashed, and each denomination's hostility towards the other branch grew in America as more and more Catholics flooded in. Anti-Irish activist Lewis Charles Levin exemplifies the anti-Catholic views of many Americans, declaring that "Papal Tyranny has made [the Irish] all that enthralls, degrades and dispirits them […] Plant the Irishman on any soil not poisoned by the temporal or spiritual power of the Pope, and behold how he flourishes."[4] Levin's anti-Irish sentiments were not so inspired by hatred for the Irish people themselves, but rather their religion, but since the two were so interwoven, the anti-Catholicism gave rise to hibernophobia. Levi Boone, a New York mayoral candidate, accentuated this religion-to-xenophobic pipeline, asking, "'Who does not know […] that the most depraved, debased, worthless and irredeemable drunkards and sots which curse the community are Irish Catholics?'"[5] Boone's condemnation of solely Irish-Catholics stresses how the Catholic prevalence led to anti-Irish sentiments. But not all hibernophobia was rooted in religious intolerance. It also had roots in racism and classism. Irish people were not considered white during this time period. As one historian points out, "Irish were frequently referred to as 'niggers turned inside out'; the Negroes, for their part, were sometimes called 'smoked Irish.'"[6] In general, the Irish were not seen as Caucasian, and thus they were denied the immediate privilege of being a racial majority. This exclusion can also be seen in the political cartoons of this time. Thomas Nast, in his 1871 cartoon entitled "The Usual Irish Way of Doing Things,"[7] depicts an animalistic, drunken caricature of an Irishman sitting upon a barrel of gunpowder and calling for violence. Nast portrays the Irishman as subhuman, perpetuating the idea of the Irish being non-white. Such caricatures and ideas also pushed the stereotype of the Irish being drunken, violent thugs, further spreading hibernophobia. Classism also played a role, for while the "American Dream" was possible for some Irish immigrants, the vast majority still faced destitution, debt, and difficulties in homeownership.[8] The overall lack of skill and education among the Irish further fueled classist hibernophobia. In that vein, one historian remarks that, since the immigrants were often impoverished, the Irish had "in the eyes of white Americans, [a] social degradation to the level of the free Negroes."[9] The Irish faced challenges for being Catholic, for being Irish, and for being destitute and unskilled, and those challenges would only become more pronounced as discrimination developed throughout the nineteenth century. The reasoning of anti-Irish Americans, however, is only one part of the puzzle.

The second piece comes with how this nativism materialized in American society, and exactly what forms of discrimination the Irish faced. And while the previously discussed stereotypes were certainly harmful, there was another, more impactful form of hibernophoba: the separation of Irish families into slums and Irish workers into dangerous, low-paying jobs. During the 1820s and 1830s, many Irish immigrants in New York City were forced to reside in the "Five Points," a derelict shantytown infamous for its crime, poverty, and large Irish population.[10] This was a scenario seen throughout America. By the 1900s, more Irish people were in poverty than any other white ethnic group, and the Irish death rate was significantly higher as well, in no small part due to the dangerous industrial work the immigrants were forced to partake in.[11] Especially in the Eastern United States, Irish immigrants faced disease,[12] abysmal housing in "Paddy Town" slums, low wages, and backbreaking and hazardous jobs… if they were able to be employed at all.[13] Oftentimes, Irish laborers were not allowed to even apply for jobs. This took the form of "No Irish Need Apply" (NINA) signs, which advertised a job listing but warned that Irish people would not be accepted if they applied, effectively barring them from getting that job. One such advertisement read, "Wanted — An American or English girl to do waiting and assist in housework. […] No Irish need apply."[14] Indeed, in many places in the United States, NINA signs and advertisements were quite common throughout the nineteenth century.[15] As one historian explains, "no other immigrant nationality was proscribed as the Catholic Irish were."[16] This discrimination was not limited to unskilled workers, although its effect on them was the most severe. Even skilled workers, if hired, found that their employers treated them in an "'insulting manir [manner].'"[17]

Employment discrimination was widespread throughout the nineteenth century, but it paled in comparison to the violence which the Irish-Catholic population faced throughout the 1800s. Philadelphian Irishman Robert Smith details such violence in an 1844 letter to his parents, lamenting that "our city has been nothing but the scene of bloodshed. The origin of this awful scene was respecting a party of native American[18] citizens forming themselves into a body to deprive all foreigners of their rights and privileges guaranteed to them by the Constitution."[19] This violence, known later as the Philadelphia Nativist Riots of 1844, was a vicious clash between nativists and Catholics, resulting in multiple deaths, various arson attacks, and the destruction of several Irish and Catholic churches, stores, and homes.[20] This attack was only one instance of the discrimination and hatred that the Irish faced, and the bigotry was in part headed by the Know-Nothing movement (also known as the Native American Party). A response to the increased number of immigrants flooding into the United States,[21] the Know-Nothing movement was full of people like the aforementioned Lewis Charles Levin and Levi Boone — i.e., anti-immigration, anti-Irish, and anti-Catholic activists who preached hostility and nativism.[22] They did more than preaching, however, as seen in 1855 in Louisville, Kentucky, when a series of Protestant, nativist riots against Catholics, Irish, and German immigrants left twenty-two dead in a massacre known as "Bloody Monday."[23] The Know-Nothing movement also infiltrated politics, as seen when Robert T. Conrad was elected the mayor of Philadelphia in 1854, to the glee of his nativist, Know-Nothing supporters. Conrad was praised for bringing the city back to "holy" American Protestantism[24], revealing how deeply anti-Catholicism, and therefore hibernophobia, was embedded in politics, especially at a local level. Nor did the Know-Nothing movement stop at Conrad's election. After the 1854 congressional election, during the first meeting of said congress, it was reported by newspaper editor Horace Greeley that most of the northern "Republican" congressmen were actually Know-Nothing members, with "'half of the Massachusetts delegation, two-thirds that of Ohio, and nearly all that of Pennsylvania'"[25] being part of the party. In the 1854 Massachusetts gubernatorial election, Henry J. Gardner, the Know-Nothing candidate, was elected governor by a 50,000 vote majority, and reports abounded that the party would gather enough votes to sweep the 1856 presidential election.[26] Though these predictions turned out to be false, and the Know-Nothing movement fell apart shortly after, it held a firm grip on American politics for years, and with that influence, wrought anti-Irish sentiment upon the United States. While the Know-Nothing movement was not the sole purveyor of hibernophobia, it was the cause of much of the discrimination and violence the Irish-Catholic community faced, and much of America's historic and modern nativism can be traced back to Know-Nothing rhetoric.

This is not to say, however, that the Irish gave up and accepted the blows. Just like the boxing matches in which the Irish so dominated,[27] so too did the immigrants fight back against the oppression and hibernophobia they faced. Their most powerful weapons were political machines, groups of voters directed by an authoritative leader. From the 1830s on, as political machines began to emerge, the Irish dominated urban politics. Through sheer numbers, along with political bosses looking to Irish street gangs for recruits, the immigrants carved their way into politics. Indeed, as one historian points out, "By 1890, machines dominated half of the nation's twenty largest cities, and the Irish were in control of most of them."[28] Another historian describes the force of the Irish as "the most solid voting bloc in the country, except for the free Negroes."[29] This political dominance resulted in victories for the Irish, such as in 1856, when the Democrat and Irish-sympathizer Richard Vaux won the Philadelphian mayoral election. This victory hinged on the support of the Irish, who used "big-city politics" (including intimidation and ballot box stuffing) to great success. In turn, Vaux formed a police force that was "free, for the first time, of nativist bias."[30] The urban political landscape allowed to Irish to gain a foothold, helping them move upwards in the social hierarchy.

But the Irish were not content with simply lifting themselves up. They instead began to knock other ethnic and racial groups down in their fight against hibernophobia, shifting from the victims to the persecutors. This antagonism is potentially most evident in the speeches of the Californian Irish labor leader Denis[31] Kearney, who denounced Chinese immigrants flooding into the Western United States, even as Irish immigrants did the same in the East. In a speech to Bostonian laborers, for instance, he warned, "Let me caution workingmen not to employ Chinese laundry men. They are filthy; they spit on clothes, and if they have any disease it is transmitted to men and women through such washed clothing when the body perspires. Do you want leprosy here? […] By not employing them you can drive them from the country."[32] Kearney, a self-proclaimed "Irish workingman," had grown frustrated at the wealthy Californians' tendency to hire poor Chinese workers instead of poor white workers, seeing the immigrants as "a knife to cut the throats of honest laboring men."[33] This xenophobia was not limited to the Chinese either. As the Irish populations grew in America, they launched hostilities against other ethnic groups, such as the Jews, the Italians and the Poles. As the Italian New Yorker Marie Cutaia remembered, "'[The Irish] used to call us guineas… or wops or meatballs… to say they were better Americans than us."[34] As the Irish became more entrenched in the United States, they began to act more like the "native Americans" which they had been so persecuted by previously.

Racism against black people was also very prevalent among the Irish, as seen in the 1834 Philadelphia riot, in which Irish immigrants tore through black people's homes and destroyed multitudes black-owned buildings because of fears that employers were hiring black rather than white laborers.[35] This racism also led to the 1863 Draft Riots in New York City. Perpetuated predominantly by Irishmen due to "racial antagonism and class consciousness, fanned by the Emancipation Proclamation and the Conscription Act," the multi-day riots included the assault and murder of black Americans, the burning of the Colored Orphan Asylum, and the ransacking of abolitionists' homes.[36] The empowerment the Irish people earned through politics was used to defend themselves from nativism, but it was also used to attack racial minorities, which one historian details in his declaration that "the Protestant Ascendancy had given way to the White Republic."[37] In their efforts to ascend higher in America and become truly "white," the Irish utilized politics to great success, but they also dragged other minority groups down during their climb. While this did help the Irish eventually shed the hibernophobia they faced throughout the 1800s, it also encouraged xenophobia, racism, and nativism against other groups of immigrants, thus ensuring that the social ladder of America would not be devoid of a bottom rung.

The experience of the Irish was not a unique phenomenon. Hibernophobia may have been one of the first forms of nativism in the United States, but it was by no means the last, and much of the bigotry of today hold the same ideas as anti-Irish sentiments. Take, for instance, modern islamophobia, which mirrors the anti-Catholic behavior of hibernophobic activists. Where in the 1800s, a person may condemn Catholicism and Irishness, in the modern day, fears about terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda or ISIS may sprout apprehension about all Muslims. If one were to judge in a similar fashion to the anti-Catholic advocates, this biased judgment could — and does — spread to all Middle Eastern people. The core principle is the same for both: a deviant religion should be abhorred, and therefore so should any group in which that religion is prominent. Furthermore, the discriminatory rhetoric and actions used by the Irish in response to hibernophobia similarly echo modern sentiments. The fears of Kearney and the 1834 Philadelphian rioters that foreigners were coming to steal their jobs are still very present in the United States, with anti-immigration advocates accusing immigrants, particularly those of Latin American descent, of stealing American jobs. Antebellum hibernophobia signals the start of a pattern of identical assertions being made against different minority groups. This rhetoric has been repeated throughout history, and one only needs to look back to the 1800s to see its start.

The hibernophobia of the 1800s United States was, in a word, brutal. The discrimination, violence, mockery, poverty, and hostility Irish immigrants faced at this time were devastating, and the challenges that so many Irish Americans faced are not to be taken lightly. Indeed, their fight for equality and respect is the same fight that Americans are witnessing from refugees today. Therefore, it is vital to recognize how so much of the xenophobia and racism in America began: hibernophobia. And although the Irish were both the victims and the perpetrators of bigotry, the repercussions remain the same. Modern-day debates about immigration are not new. They have been recurring for centuries, starting with anti-Irish sentiments. While NINA signs may be a thing of the past, the ripple effects of hibernophobia are still very present now, and to fully understand the complexities behind immigration, xenophobia, and nativism, it is necessary to remember the Irish experience in America.


The Monster in the Closet

Personal Essay/Memoir

The Monster in the Closet

Fear. It is one of, if not the, most primal instincts a human can have. A fear of heights. A fear of spiders. A fear of failure. A fear of dying. It's instinctual. We've all felt it. We all know what it feels like. I know what it feels like. I have jumped off bridges and experienced plane turbulence and felt the sheer dread of not studying enough for a test. I know the dark fire of terror. But I also know another kind of fear, one that most people, I hope, won't have to feel. I know the kind of fear that burrows into your skin and sucks you dry.

This essay is about my fear of an identity. This essay is about how I managed to overcome that fear. This essay is about how you can help other people who are struggling with their fears, their identities, their journeys. And above all, this essay is about spreading hope. Spreading a message that I wished I had heard long ago.

In sixth grade, during a school trip to Chicago, I stayed in a hotel room with three other boys. We were up late playing Truth or Dare one night, and when it was my turn, I said, "Truth." After a moment of silence, one of my classmates asked, partially as a joke, "What is your darkest secret?"

I froze. I couldn't speak. I couldn't think because I knew exactly what my darkest secret was. The name of my largest, cruelest demon. I'm gay.

Gay. Gay. Gay.

But I couldn't say it.

In eighth grade, I asked my social studies teacher about when gay marriage had been legalized. I didn't know that it had only become allowed, at that point, three years ago. And I was terrified to even ask that simple question because the whole thing seemed taboo. No one talked about homosexuality, aside from jokes and insults from other students, so I thought it was something that I should never talk about. I didn't think that I could. I was alone.

The first person I came out to was someone who I consider one of my closest friends. But that bond didn't stop me from being absolutely terrified. I still remember what I said to her. I said, "I think that I'm gay." "I think." I didn't think. I knew. I had known for months. But I said, "I think," because I was so scared that I needed a way to back out. I said, "I think," because then I could always say, "I'm mistaken, I'm straight."

Those moments are three drops in a bucket, a vessel full of anxiety that had been built when I was twelve.

The first time I heard the word "gay," it was as an insult. Chalk that up to naivety. "That's so gay." It was used to mock something, to insult it. And throughout middle school and even high school, when I would hear kids using my identity in this way… It made homosexuality seem distasteful. So, I just let it all gather inside me and fester, boiling in my gut like a witch's brew, because what else could I do? I didn't know who to turn to. So, I didn't turn to anyone.

Fear is draining. I'm sure that almost everyone can agree to that. Fear is an exhausting emotion, and it can leave you a husk when it's finished with you. Fear of your identity, though… it's different. You get used to it. It's not a whirlpool, it's a parasite, slowly drinking your blood without you even realizing it. It's mentally taxing, like a constant headache. It's a new set of problems that you have to focus on and worry about and stress over.

In a way, there is straight privilege. It's not worrying whether you walk too gay or if your voice is too high or if your hobbies aren't "straight" enough. It's not hearing people use your sexuality as an insult. It's not seeing people being imprisoned, tortured, and killed, while you commit the same crime. It's not being forced to go onto the Internet and look up everything that you never learned about in Health, all by yourself. It exists. I've seen it firsthand. And this goes beyond being gay. I know that the people who are a certain sexuality, a certain gender, a certain race, a certain religion, a certain socioeconomic background, and they're trying to hide that aspect from everyone around them, they know that feeling, or at least part of it. They know the fear.

But all this begs the question: why? Why was I so scared? It's because, in my mind, there existed a dichotomy between an ideal version of myself and the "real" version. I'm sure that that is not a unique experience. Most people have, at some point, faced the issue of being who you are versus who you think you should be. The issue of achieving an unachievable ideal.

The ideal is a lie. It was created by the mind, and reality isn't a lesser version of that. It's just different. I struggled with that idea for a long time. For three years, I felt like there was a way that I should be. I felt like being straight was expected, and that if I deviated from that course, I should never talk about it. And that's not true. The ideal is not true. There is not a way that anyone should be, because is not an ideal, there is simply who you are, and that person is more than enough.

So, how do you break the ideal? How do you beat the fear? Perhaps the simplest thing you can do is to do research, as odd as that may sound. Research helped me realize that I wasn't by myself. It made me realize that there is a world of people who know exactly what I'm going through. I wasn't alone anymore.

Another thing you can do is talk to others about your struggles. That can be utterly terrifying, I know, but by letting your friends, family, the people who you're closest to know… it does help. When I told my brother I was gay, he looked up, shrugged, said it was cool, and kept scrolling on Instagram. It didn't matter to him.

And it was at that moment that so much of my fear dissipated. It was the realization that, while it felt like the weight of the world was on me, most people won't see me any differently for living my true self. So, talk to others. Don't do what I did. Don't bottle yourself up.

And finally, and possibly the biggest thing, is to accept yourself. And that sounds so cliché and sappy, I know, but you need to accept yourself before you can confront your demons. There's not a magic trick to doing that. Truly, I wish there was, but there's not. You just need to realize that you are the ideal. You are what you should be.

But for some people, that isn't very applicable. Most people won't be struggling with their sexuality. Some won't be struggling with their identity very much at all. So, how can those people make others' journeys easier? The simplest way is to watch your words. Before someone can help, they have to make sure that they aren't doing harm. So, saying and ignoring phrases like "that's so gay," "no homo," all of that casual homophobia… people who do so cannot help others. And the longer such language lingers in our collective lexicon, the more devastating its effects are. The more the false ideal creeps into our communal mind. It has to end.

And reach out to others. People spot weightlifters all the time. They make sure that they aren't crushed by their barbells. Apply that concept to life beyond the gym. If you see someone struggling with a weight, try to help them. Be spotters. Don't let them get crushed under their barbells.

At the beginning of this essay, I wrote that fear was one of the most primal, instinctual emotions a human can have. And that's true. But just because it's primal, doesn't mean it has to rule our minds. I beat my fear. This essay is about my sexuality and my struggles when a few years ago, I could hardly ask an innocent question about marriage equality. We all deserve to be free from fear. To be free from the ideal. And it won't be easy, but we can all beat our demons with time and patience and kindness, and once we do that, we can — and will — fly.


Brave, Not-So-New World - Aldous Huxley in Modern America

Critical Essay

Brave, Not-So-New World - Aldous Huxley in Modern America

The contemporary United States is a nation divided, one rife with fear, anger, ignorance, and extreme partisanship. This has always been true to an extent, for partisan politics can very easily make way to division and strife, but it is felt especially in the modern day. It makes sense, therefore, that some fear the rise of a dystopian government, one bent on dominating the country for the purpose of stability. Some fear a government akin to George Orwell's 1984, a totalitarian regime devoted to choking out all forms of opposition and humanity. But there exists another option, one that is far more possible than Orwell's. Neil Postman asserts it well in his book Amusing Ourselves to Death: Aldous Huxley's Brave New World reflects the United States far better than 1984. Huxley's book centers around an established hierarchy which no one can escape, and a government determined to keep everyone perfectly content and ignorant. This rings far truer than 1984's warning about totalitarianism and extreme government interference which, while exceedingly reflective of society at the time of publication, is less so in modern America, in which Brave New World's society has already taken root.

The issue with 1984's modern feasibility is that its message is outdated. The book is a warning against the totalitarian regimes that littered the 1940s, condemning governments like Hitler's Germany and Stalin's Russia. And while at publication, such a future seemed dangerously imminent, it is less to in contemporary America. The foundation of the United States is centered around avoiding a dictatorial leader. To create a world like 1984, in which the government has the unrestricted freedom to watch over and control every aspect of everyone's life, one would need to completely raze the current institution, and with many Americans already wary of tyrannical rulers like Kim Jong-un in North Korea, it seems a stretch to assume that an Orwellian future is looming over the United States. But beyond the unlikeliness of such a domineering government in America, the Party itself is laden with flaws. As O'Brien explains to Winston during his torture, "The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power. Not wealth of luxury or a long life or happiness; only power, pure power" (Orwell 234). The Party seeks power but avoids the trappings of power, and this makes such a coalition almost impossible to create. For many people, power is not itself alluring. A White House is needed, or wealth, or respect and reverence from their subjects, or just some form of recognition and payout. To have a government lacking any interest in the above would be monumentally difficult, especially in the modern American capitalist society, in which making money is seen by many to be the ultimate pursuit. Additionally, the Party's methods of control are simply unsustainable and, quite frankly, insane. The entire process of doublethink and suppressing thoughts before one can think them is a wildly unfeasible concept, but it is especially impossible in the United States. Americans are devoted to the First Amendment and Freedom of Speech. If an organization wanted to police thoughts, they would find no footholds in the contemporary United States. Furthermore, such extreme policing does not work, even in 1984. If Parsons, the most stupidly loyal person one could think, commits thoughtcrime, doublethink and the Party's endeavors cannot be sound. The fact that even the most devoted citizen can and does break the Party's rules is evidence that the rules and the society as a whole are ineffective, therefore making the underlying principles of Big Brother impossible to really achieve. While 1984 may warn about excessive and totalitarian government control, in the modern-day United States, it would be nearly impossible, both to create such an institution and to keep it running.

But if 1984's world is so separated from contemporary America, then the foundation of Brave New World is already impended into the country. The easiest example of this is Huxley's caste system, a hierarchy that births people into a class from which they can never leave. The Director of Hatcheries and Conditioning says it best: "All condition aims at […] making people like their unescapable social destiny" (Huxley 26). In the United States, the class system is known and accepted. The upper class, the middle class, and the working class are all deeply rooted in America, and while there are claims that one can move up the classes with hard work, for most people, such a dream is an impossibility. Many live and die in the same financial and social caste that they were born in, especially if they were born in the highest or lowest classes. The rich get richer, the poor get poorer, and, at least for now, that trend does not show many signs of slowing down. Additionally, there Lenina and Henry exemplify the two ways that many upper-class Americans think about lower-class workers. Lenina declares to Henry that "I'm glad I'm not an Epsilon," (Huxley 77) decrying the "hideous" clothing that the lower castes are forced to wear (Huxley 67). In contrast, Henry explains that "Even Epsilons perform indispensable service" (Huxley 76). These two characters embody how Americans think of the poor. Some, like Lenina, condemn them for their status, comfortable and extremely happy to be at the top of society. Others, like Henry, defend their existence, for the lowest worker is still of great importance, thereby justifying why society needs to have lower-class people doing menial work. Both viewpoints, each very common in the United States, are also core concepts in the hierarchical structure of Brave New World.

But the hierarchy is not the only concept that is echoed in modern America. The prevalence of soma is also eerily representative of the United States. It is indisputable that America has a massive drug problem, and the opioid epidemic is only worsening. Many people already use dangerously addictive substances to numb themselves from the world, and so the production of soma, with all the benefits of drugs and alcohol with very few of the deficits, would be embraced immediately. If a government wished to use a soma-like substance to make the United States' population docile and content, the groundwork is already set up. Finally, Mustapha Mond's opinions on the dangers of science and innovation mimic the fears of many contemporary Americans. Mond claims that "Every discovery in pure science is potentially subversive; even science must sometimes be treated as a possible enemy" (Huxley 202). This viewpoint of science being dangerous to stability can be very easily seen in the United States now, in which people riot due to new changes and information about masks, vaccines, and COVID-19. Science causes chaos, that much is evident. Many people do not trust science, and this distrust is a form of instability, so to create a Brave New World-like society, a world in which everything is entirely stable, one only needs to play into these preexisting fears. That is why Brave New World seems to be so similar to the US. No new ideas need to be added, only expanded upon.

1984 was written in 1949, and that is evident. As Postman claims, "Orwell warns that we will be overcome by an externally imposed oppression," but an outside regime is not the largest threat to 2021 America. The United States is a society in which a deeply ingrained hierarchy, anesthetics to life, and the chaotic instability due to science already thrive. America has the foundation of Huxley's world, and while Orwell's government would need to burn everything in the United States down to build it back up again, there is no need for Huxley's. The groundwork is set — all people need to do is start building.


Self Portrait of Someone Who Is Still Learning

Poetry

Self Portrait of Someone Who Is Still Learning

Apology to my Little Brother

I'm sorry I threw a dog bone at your forehead.
I was young and angry, and I thought that you would move.

Apology to the Middle School Latin Teacher

I loved your class. I promise you, I did.
I think you know that, but I'm sorry for acting like I didn't that one day when you asked for quiet, and I refused to listen.
You were stressed enough, and I wish I didn't contribute to it.

Apology to my Third Best Friend

I'm sorry I wasn't there more when you needed me. I didn't know how to help you when you told me about all the struggles that you asked me to keep secrets.
I wish I could've done more.
I wish I would've seen more.
I was scared and tired and ignorant and selfish. And I'm sorry that we don't talk that much anymore. I miss you.

Apology to the New Boy in First Grade

You came from China and didn't speak much English. In my limited Mandarin, I tried to reach out, but only for a day.
The rest of the kids didn't do more either.
Maybe if we had tried more, you wouldn't have left the school after only half a year.
Maybe if I had tried more, I could've helped make your experience better.
Maybe you wouldn't have had to sit alone during recess each day.

Apology to the Neighbor Two Doors to my Right

One of my neighbors broke my arm on a trampoline, and I thought that it was at your house.
It wasn't.
I'm sorry for making that car ride home awkward when I accused you of owning that trampoline.

Apology to my Second Best Friend

I'm sorry that I wasn't there for you when you got assaulted. I didn't know. I should have.
I should have realized that you weren't okay.
I should have been checking in on you more. I didn't. I hate that I didn't.
You're pressing charges, and please know that I'll be there for you through this second step. Love you, always.

Apology to my Local Librarians

I'm sorry I don't go to the library much. I like to own the books I read, so I go to Barnes and Noble.
I don't mean to hurt the library.

Apology to my Twin and my Mom

When I was angry at my twin brother, I knocked over all of his collectibles, ransacked his closet, and threw his shoes across the room. He blamed my mom.
I didn't confess. I'm sorry.

Apology to my Dad

I'm sorry I didn't have the balls to come out to you directly and instead asked my mom to tell you that I'm gay.
I knew that you would be okay with it. I have never doubted that.
I love you, and I trust you. I just didn't trust myself to break down while telling you.

Apology to my Second Best Friend, Part Two

I'm sorry I keep saying that the boys you date are good choices. I'm usually lying.
I'm sorry for lying.

Apology to that One Boy in Seventh Grade

I don't remember this, but apparently, before English class, you asked me for a pencil. I responded, "Sucks to suck" and didn't give you one.
I had a full pencil case.
I'm sorry. I don't really know why I did that.

Apology to My Best Friend

I'm sorry I don't text you enough. I'm sorry I kept so many secrets from you for so long. I'm sorry that I'm not as good a friend as you are to me. I'm sorry that I get dramatic when I get upset. I'm sorry that I rely on you too much. I'm sorry for all the fights we've had over the years. I'm sorry that I act arrogant. I'm sorry I'm too competitive. I'm sorry you have to be the one to lift me up when I have a dark day. I'm sorry. I love you. I'm sorry.