Saturday, July 7, 2012

A Night Atop the City

The Empire State Building at twilight.
Our first class today was similar to what it usually is, with today's topic of discussion being the role of racism in previous Supreme Court decisions. We reviewed and discussed the Supreme Court cases of Dred Scott v. Sanford, Plessy v. Ferguson, and Brown v. Board of Education (I and II). I knew that, during these times, America was very racist (Sorry to be so blunt); however, I had never expected to see Supreme Court justices so blatantly violate the laws they are supposed to enforce, or twist the interpretation of these laws into actually supporting segregation. It was truly stunning. In fact, that was sort of the theme of the day; in our second class, we watched a video about the treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay after the 9-11 attacks. I'm not going to give a synopsis of the movie, but I will say that while I am very proud of what America is in comparison to its past and most nations, America is VERY far from a perfect nation, and there is much work to do. After watching this movie detailing what America was doing to these prisoners, I felt much less proud to be an American. Of course, I had no control over what was occurring, nor did most other Americans, but the American government, I believe, should be charged for war crimes in the case of this treatment. I also find it very ironic that George Bush had said that he would "return integrity to the White House."
After the video, we had a big class discussion about when torture of prisoners could be justified. For example, if you have a room full of 30 people to interrogate, and 15 of the men have information on how to stop a bomb that will go off in Manhattan and kill thousands of people, is torture justified? I said, though, that this was not completely relevant to the torture actions of the United States because, as George Bush said himself, we were trying to "bring justice to our enemy," not just save lives. The bomb situation is purely to save lives. I'm just kind of spewing out random things that were interesting, right now; I'm not sure if this is making complete sense.
After my second class, I went with my roommate to the gym to play some 1-on-1 basketball. We have a best-of-5 series going, and although he beat me 11-5 last time, I beat him 11-2 today. After finishing our game, we were able to join another game (it became a 3-on-3 game with us), which we played in for close to an hour before I had to leave to go shower and get ready for going out tonight.
After showering, I met with Tomi, Morvarid, and a girl we met here at Columbia named Brittany. We walked to the subway, and after a transfer, we got off at 53rd Street and 5th Avenue. We walked down to 51st Street, where we visited Saint Patrick's Cathedral, the largest Catholic church in the United States. The church was very impressive, inside and out, although we could not get a picture from the outside due to construction. It was also very important for me to have the chance to pray once again, especially being so far away from my family.

After visiting the cathedral, we walked a few blocks over to the Rockefeller Center, where we would take the elevator up 70 floors to the sight of arguably the best view of New York City! We paid the $25 dollars, which was pricey to me, but then again, anything with a price is pricey to me. We also found it interesting how John D. Rockefeller is STILL getting rich from his grave, charging $25 dollars for an elevator ride and a view! It ended up being well worth the money, though, as you can probably tell from the pictures below. Definitely the best view of a city I have ever had, you could see across both the Hudson and East Rivers and much farther into the distance, although the amount of smog was very disturbing (there is currently an Air Quality Advisory in effect). The views from the Top of the Rock, though, were breathtaking nevertheless. We spent more than an hour up there, and we came at the perfect time of day, as we were able to see the city at sunset, at twilight and at night. I will let the photos explain the rest.

View to the South (Lower Manhattan). That is the Empire State Building.

Southeast. That is the East River, and on the center-right, the tallest building is the Chrysler Building.

To the North, with Central Park


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