After the unfortunate bombings in Boston, the media accounts often highlight increasing religiosity of the terrorists before their attacks. Here is a quote from NY Times, investigating Tamerlan’s path to radicalization:
He flew in to the airport here in Makhachkala, where the plate-glass windows of the arrival hall frame a mosque with twin minarets stretching skyward. He had already given up drinking alcohol, grown a close beard and become more devout, praying five times a day. (full story)
Similar descriptions could be found in many other outlets in these days. Does personal piety correlate with radical views? Continue reading
Several of the commentators on this blog have already raised the issue of how to get beyond the classic framing of “pro-choice” vs “pro-life,” even as others use these characterizations in their contributions as if they were neutral descriptions of the movements mobilized to fight over the legal status of abortion in the US. Joffe alone points out explicitly how misleading these labels are to characterize the movements, and uses the more accurate terms “abortion rights” and “anti-abortion” for the two sides.
But neutral and accurate are not the principles on which one would strategically decide what a movement should be called. Continue reading
As other contributors to this series have observed, “pro life” and “pro choice” do not adequately capture the dimensions and diversity of opinions and experiences that people have with regard to abortion and, as we will make clear, a whole lot more. Drawing upon our own observations formed during decades of gender scholarship and legal advocacy, we join others in their critique of the pro-life/pro-choice dichotomy. As part of that conversation, we offer “pro-lives” as a term that more accurately reflects the values of people on all sides of the abortion debate. Continue reading
News headlines frequently convey what is alleged to be a major shift in public opinion on abortion. At the beginning of February this year, for example, NBC online news had the headline: “NBC/WSJ poll: Majority for the first time, want abortion to be legal” (February 7, 2013; italics mine). Other headlines convey a polarization on the issue, with one from Gallup in 2011 stating, “Americans still split among ‘pro-choice,’ ‘pro-life’ lines” (Saad 2011; italics mine). The sociological reality, however, is less sensational and indeed less newsworthy if criteria for newsworthiness include the expectation of change and/or conflict. Continue reading
The abortion debate has mobilized millions of people and hundreds of millions of dollars in the United States over the last 40 years. What is perhaps most surprising about the battle over abortion, then, is that public opinion toward abortion has remained remarkably and stubbornly stable over this time. According to Gallup polls, approximately 52 percent of Americans today believe abortion should be legal under some, but not all, circumstances—not very different from the 51 percent in 2002, 53 percent in 1992, 52 percent in 1981, or 54 percent in 1975. The ideological debate over abortion during this period has remained stable too: the pro-life movement has focused on the humanity of the fetus, and sees abortion as the killing of a human being; the pro-choice movement has focused on the rights of women, and sees abortion as a woman’s choice necessary for her to retain control over her own body. Continue reading
The relationship between courts and social movements is a complex one and a rich academic and activist literature has evolved around it. Simplifying somewhat, the academic literature can be divided into two broad camps. First, there is the predominantly U.S. work in the law and society tradition, which has explored the utility of using the courts as vehicles for social change, with classic “anti”s like Rosenberg and his Hollow Hope (1991) and “pro”s like McCann (1994). This work itself arises out of earlier classics on legal mobilization such as Marc Galanter’s “Why the ‘Haves’ Come Out Ahead” (1974). A significant proportion of it is focused on movement outcomes and debates about the success of litigation as a strategy. Continue reading
On Wednesday, Dec. 5th, I defended my dissertation which asked the following question: “Why is the U.S. an innovator in disability rights?” Although I could not help but rethink my answer to this question in light of the Senate voting against ratifying the U.N. disability treaty the day before, I still posit that the U.S. was an innovator on disability rights compared to other western industrialized countries.
Without getting into the history of disability and disability rights in America, it is important to note that political entrepreneurs played a critical role in the late 1960s and early 1970s in reframing disability as a minority group entitled to rights. Continue reading
“Why don’t Muslims condemn terrorism more often?” I asked this question to the leader of one of the largest Islamic organizations in the United States. “I condemn terrorism one hundred times a day,” he told me, “… I condemn terrorism in my sleep.” A few weeks later, I turned on Fox News to watch coverage of the unfolding controversy about the construction of an Islamic Center near Ground Zero. Pamela Geller—the telegenic leader of the Stop the Islamization of America Movement— is fuming. The proposal, she says, is part of a worldwide conspiracy to launch a violent Islamic empire under the guise of political correctness. Continue reading
Courtesy of the Occupy movement, journalists and social critics in the past year have been talking a great deal more than before about a stark divide between the super-rich and the ninety-nine percent. For religious or religiously literate people it is hardly a new topic. We might suppose that in the U.S., today’s mainline Protestant inheritors of the late-nineteenth century social gospel have powerful theological resources for thinking about the growing economic divide and its effects on the social fabric. Mainline Protestant denominations are the ones more likely than their theologically conservative Protestant counterparts to affirm efforts to change the social world rather than see social change as a distraction from personal piety focused on the next world. Theologically liberal Protestantism, strong in Presbyterian, Lutheran, Episcopalian, Methodist and Congregationalist traditions in the U.S., do not lack for text on economic justice or the primacy of people, and God, over profits.[i] Yet it is not clear that the politically progressive voices of mainline Protestants are prominent in America’s vexed, current conversation about money and power. Continue reading
The creationist movement scored another victory this month but it did not happen in Tennessee, Kansas, or Texas. No, this victory occurred in South Korea.
The country’s Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology adopted new textbook standards which require the removal of examples of evolution from the nation’s science books. This policy was the result of a creationist campaign waged by the Society for Textbook Revision, a group affiliated with the Korea Association for Creation Science. While not formally removing evolution from the curriculum, deleting it from the nation’s textbooks goes a long way in diminishing and marginalizing the importance of evolution as a foundation of modern biology. It also becomes that much easier for teachers to ignore and avoid the controversial topic altogether. Continue reading