By Lincoln Blades
September 14, 2016
Over the past several days, pundits and voters alike have been up in arms over “careless” comments made by the Democratic and Republican campaigns. Republicans have whipped themselves into a frenzy over Hillary Clinton daring to characterize half of Donald Trump’s supporters as a “basket of deplorables,” despite the fact that data supports her claim of Trump’s voters being racist xenophobes. (If anything, she underestimated the number.) On the other side of the aisle, Democrats have been hammering Trump’s VP pick, Mike Pence, for refusing to fully denounce former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke. Yet, despite Pence’s political cowardice and Clinton’s jarring honesty, the most troubling comment of late wasn’t made by any of the nominees. It was uttered by Republican Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin, who, in a speech at the Values Voter Summit Saturday, said conservatives might have to resort to bloodshed for the nation to “recover” from a Clinton presidency.
“I want us to be able to fight ideologically, mentally, spiritually, economically, so that we don’t have to do it physically. But that may, in fact, be the case,” he said.
“I do think it would be possible [for the nation to recover], but at what price?” he went on. “The roots of the tree of liberty are watered by what? The blood of who? The tyrants, to be sure, but who else? The patriots. Whose blood will be shed? It may be that of those in this room. It might be that of our children and grandchildren.”
Bevin’s comments amounted to the dangerous rantings of a treasonous political figure. To see them any other way is to willfully ignore America’s history of white, Christian, right-wing violence.
The governor wasn’t talking to soccer moms when he talked about shedding blood over a Clinton presidency. He was playing dog-whistle politics at a time when our nation’s citizenry includes a growing number of resentful, irrational, heavily armed pseudo-patriots – a basket of deplorables, you might say.
Despite how white conservatives profess to love “law and order,” history shows that to be selectively enforced rhetoric. America was established with rifles and gun powder, and then those same tools were used to maintain status-quo subjugation over minority groups for centuries. This violence is how America “negotiated” with Native peoples and created a massive, unpaid, brutalized workforce. It’s how America freed itself from British colonial rule, only to ensure said freedom wasn’t granted to black folks. It’s how America responded to black sharecroppers who attempted to unionize, economically self-sufficient and thriving black communities, black children who tried to integrate into schools, black students who sat at lunch counters with their white neighbors, and black people who simply wanted the right to vote.
But it’s how that history of white conservative violence connects with our modern-day society that makes Bevin’s comments so alarming. Since Barack Obama was elected president, the number of armed right-wing militias in the country has exploded, from 42 in 2008 to 276 in 2016 – a direct response to a president who doesn’t “look like them” or “share their views.” Bevin’s audience was people who train sniper rifles on federal agents over “government tyranny” and white supremacists who shoot cops – without any real interference from the GOP. In fact, the incitement of violence and violent rhetoric have become mainstream in the Republican Party. In this election, the GOP nominee has said he could kill a man in broad daylight and not lose a single vote, has alluded to the assassination of his rival, and has openly courted white supremacists.
By Isaac Chotiner
Aug. 16 2016
One of the hopes that grew out of the Arab Spring was that a relatively moderate strain of Islamist politics could thrive in the region. Given the widespread prevalence of dictators and military-led regimes, and the violent radicals who oppose them in mirrored gruesomeness, groups like Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood were seen as potential alternatives. Five years later, however, the Arab Spring has devolved into a collection of bloody failures everywhere from Egypt to Syria. Another proposed model of Islamism—Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Turkey—was already giving way to autocracy well before a quashed coup attempt further entrenched Erdogan’s demagoguery.
These failures have raised the fraught question of whether Islam itself is partially to blame. Shadi Hamid, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, is the author of a new book, Islamic Exceptionalism: How the Struggle Over Islam Is Reshaping the World. The title gives some hint of his provocative analysis. As he writes, “If Islam is, in fact, distinctive in how it relates to politics, then the foundational divides that have torn the Middle East apart will persist, and for a long time to come.”
I recently spoke by phone with Hamid. During the course of our conversation, which has been edited and condensed for clarity, we discussed why liberals have trouble taking religion seriously, the future of Islamist politics in Turkey and Egypt, and what the rise of Donald Trump has meant for American Muslims.
Shadi Hamid: I’m essentially arguing that Islam is fundamentally different from other religions in a very specific way: its relationship to law and politics and governance. I wanted to use “exceptionalism” because I felt, at least for me, that it was value-neutral: It can be either good or bad depending on the context. I also wanted to challenge the assumption—very common in the bastions of Northeastern liberal elitism—that religion playing a role in public life is always or necessarily a bad thing. That’s the idea of the title, and what that means in practice is that Islam has proven to be resistant to secularism, and I would argue will continue to be resistant to secularism and secularization really for the rest of our lives.
What do you think it is about Islam that makes it resistant to secularism in a way that, say, Christianity and Judaism are not?
I think you have to go back to the founding moment 14 centuries ago. Jesus was a dissident against a reigning state, so he was never in a position to govern. Naturally, the New Testament is not going to have much to say about public law. Prophet Muhammad wasn’t just a prophet. He was also a politician, and not just a politician, but a head of state and a state-builder. If Prophet Muhammad was in a position of holding territory and governing territory, then presumably the Quran would have to have something to say about governance. Otherwise, how would Prophet Muhammad be guided? That’s one thing intertwining the religion and politics that isn’t accidental, and was meant to be that way.
Travis N Rieder
Monday 12 September 2016
Earlier this summer, I found myself in the middle of a lively debate because of my work on climate change and the ethics of having children.
NPR correspondent Jennifer Ludden profiled some of my work in procreative ethics with an article entitled, “Should we be having kids in the age of climate change?,” which summarized my published views that we ought to consider adopting a “small family ethic” and even pursuing fertility reduction efforts in response to the threat from climate change. Although environmentalists for decades have worried about overpopulation for many good reasons, I suggest the fast-upcoming thresholds in climate change provide uniquely powerful reasons to consider taking real action to slow population growth.
Clearly, this idea struck a nerve: I was overwhelmed by the response in my personal email inbox as well as op-eds in other media outlets and over 70,000 shares on Facebook. I am gratified that so many people took the time to read and reflect on the piece.
Having read and digested that discussion, I want to continue it by responding to some of the most vocal criticisms of my own work, which includes research on “population engineering” – the intentional manipulation of human population size and structure – I’ve done with my colleagues, Jake Earl and Colin Hickey.
In short, the varied arguments against my views – that I’m overreacting, that the economy will tank and others – haven’t changed my conviction that we need to discuss the ethics of having children in this era of climate change.
Some comments – those claiming climate change is a hoax, devised by those who wish to control the world’s resources – are not worth responding to. Since 97% of all relevant experts cannot convince climate change skeptics of the basic scientific facts, then nothing I say will change their minds.
Other concerns, however, do require a response. Many people reacted to my work on procreation ethics by saying climate change will not be so bad, and so curbing individual desires, such as having children, in its name is unnecessary fear-mongering.
In my work, I suggest that 1.5-2 degrees Celsius warming over preindustrial levels will be “dangerous” and “very bad”, while 4 degrees C will be “catastrophic” and will leave large segments of the Earth “largely uninhabitable by humans”. Here is a very brief survey of the evidence for those claims based on what I consider reputable sources.
It is time…
September 7, 2016
These words were uttered to me in 2009 by an actor in full early 20th century suffrage costume at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC.
I was stunned. Americans didn’t have sex equality in their constitution? How did I miss that? I was educated, graduated Yale – in fact, I was at the Smithsonian to screen my film about the first US congresswoman Jeannette Rankin (A Single Woman).
Could it really be true, I wondered? I decided to take a closer look at the status of women in the United States and the myriad of issues that affected them. With the help of my mother and husband, as well as executive producer Patricia Arquette, co-writer Gini Sikes and participating experts such as journalist Gloria Steinem and congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, I crossed the nation and spoke to hundreds of women. Activists and housewives, survivors of domestic violence, sex trafficking or rape; victims of corporate discrimination from vice presidents to minimum wage workers.
My documentary Equal Means Equal, which was released on Tuesday, is the fruit of this work. The film is a comprehensive argument for finally giving American women what everybody thinks they already have, a basic principle that the United States exports all over the rest of the world: equal rights for women.
When our constitution was written in 1787, women had no rights whatsoever. We were chattel – owned first by our fathers and then our husbands. In fact, the legal model of wives was used as the basis for the legal model of slaves. In 1920, women achieved the right to vote.
Absolutely nothing has changed in our constitution since then to provide women with additional rights. This fact contradicts the ubiquitous rhetoric of American female “empowerment” and the general consensus that women today can be/do/have whatever they want. We can have it all! We can be president! We can swipe right on Tinder!
The reality is that women in the US are in perilous waters. Three women a day die at the hands of their intimate partners; only 3% of rapists will ever see a day in prison; in Los Angeles County last year, the pay for Latina women dropped to 44 cents on the white male dollar; 13-year-old victims of human trafficking are criminalized while their 47-year-old male johns get a ticket and a slap on the wrist; pregnant women are routinely fired for needing an extra bathroom break. The list goes on.
First time in 75 years that the Dallas Morning News has recommended a Democrat for President. Yes folks. Not only is Trump every bit as terrible as you think, he is even worse than that. Not even Republicans like the Bush family are supporting him.
September 7, 2016
There is only one serious candidate on the presidential ballot in November. We recommend Hillary Clinton.
We don’t come to this decision easily. This newspaper has not recommended a Democrat for the nation’s highest office since before World War II — if you’re counting, that’s more than 75 years and nearly 20 elections. The party’s over-reliance on government and regulation to remedy the country’s ills is at odds with our belief in private-sector ingenuity and innovation. Our values are more about individual liberty, free markets and a strong national defense.
We’ve been critical of Clinton’s handling of certain issues in the past. But unlike Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton has experience in actual governance, a record of service and a willingness to delve into real policy.
Resume vs. resume, judgment vs. judgment, this election is no contest.
In Clinton’s eight years in the U.S. Senate, she displayed reach and influence in foreign affairs. Though conservatives like to paint her as nakedly partisan, on Capitol Hill she gained respect from Republicans for working across the aisle: Two-thirds of her bills had GOP co-sponsors and included common ground with some of Congress’ most conservative lawmakers.
As President Barack Obama’s first secretary of state, she helped make tough calls on the Middle East and the complex struggle against radical Islamic terrorism. It’s no accident that hundreds of Republican foreign policy hands back Clinton. She also has the support of dozens of top advisers from previous Republican administrations, including Henry Paulson, John Negroponte, Richard Armitage and Brent Scowcroft. Also on this list is Jim Glassman, the founding executive director of the George W. Bush Institute in Dallas.