Photo Syrians at a funeral for three Y.P.G. fighters killed in Rojava in 2015. Credit Lynsey Addario/Getty Images “The Kurds have no friends but the mountains” — that’s what Mehmet Aksoy used to say. But Mehmet, who was killed Sept. 26 during an attack by the Islamic State in northern Syria, was my friend, and a tireless advocate of the Kurdish freedom movement.He was working on an essay that began with those words when he died. He often used that adage to explain the plight of his people, who have long been used or mistreated by the very powers that claim to spread democracy and freedom through the world.I first met Mehmet at a Kurdish demonstration in London, where he lived. I had come because of my interest in direct democratic movements like the one the Syrian Kurds were building, but ended up feeling as if I … [Read more...] about Democracy Is Possible in Syria. My Friend Knew How.
Photo Cyrus Vance Jr. leaving court in 2015. Credit Brian Harkin for The New York Times This month, it was reported that the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus Vance Jr., chose not to prosecute Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr. for fraud when he had the chance in 2012. Similarly, Mr. Vance declined to bring sexual abuse charges against the now-disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein in 2015, even though he had an audiotape of Mr. Weinstein admitting to groping the victim.Mr. Vance’s willingness to ignore wrongdoing by powerful people is a serious issue. But his biggest failures have not been the cases he won’t prosecute, but rather the ones he does.Mr. Vance is considered one of America’s most progressive prosecutors and has the accolades to prove it. In 2015, he helped create the prestigious Institute for … [Read more...] about The Myth of the Progressive Prosecutor
Photo Credit Jim Wilson/The New York Times As an openly bisexual woman who did not have a single female professor throughout my college and postgraduate education in any subject, and who faced harassment and abuse, as well as downright sabotage in graduate school, I am sympathetic to efforts on campuses to give voice and equal power to groups that have been historically excluded and silenced.Now, as a philosophy professor, I am part of perhaps the most male-dominated (and arguably least feminist-friendly) discipline in the humanities, and have dedicated much of my career to mentoring women and students of color. I understand that injustice and inequality remain firmly in place, and in order to eliminate it, much more work remains to be done.So it is with some trepidation that I admit that the current political climate in academia confuses me. The more I … [Read more...] about Education in the Age of Outrage
Photo Employees at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital wearing protective masks because of smoke from nearby wildfires. Credit Jim Wilson/The New York Times OAKLAND, Calif. — My neighbors are picking lemons from their tree in gas masks. My husband is overnighting us particulate masks to breathe through because Home Depot and all the Ace Hardware stores nearby are sold out, just like they sold out of every single fan in August, during the heat wave. It’s the latest version of California’s new normal: Add masks to your emergency kit, don’t breathe deeply and try to stay inside.When I woke up one morning last week with a nose bleed and a wracking cough, I decided to give in and order that particulate mask, but first I consulted with friends. “Is N95 the same as P95?” Liat asked, as we huddled over my laptop. My … [Read more...] about Trying to Breathe in the Bay Area
At the house on the corner, past the cigarette kiosk and the laundry place and the twisted metal barricade assembled to shield passers-by from gunfire, I pitched in with a group of kids carrying rocks.It was early February 2011. Egypt, where I had been working as a reporter for several years, was engulfed in revolution, and rubble was being ferried to the rooftop by protesters in an effort to defend Tahrir Square from a counterrevolutionary assault. Journalists are often told to stand separate from the events they are reporting on, to ensure their notebooks are tidy organs of record, carefully sealed off from the turmoil around them. The pages of mine were smeared with grime and dust, and some were splotched with tears.The historian Howard Zinn once noted that “you can’t be neutral on a moving train,” and no train moves faster or tilts more fiercely than a nation consumed by popular rebellion. Exactly where and how reporters should plant their feet at such a moment is … [Read more...] about The Journalist and the Revolution
Photo Pro-independence supporters holding the European Union flag during a rally in Barcelona, Spain, on Oct. 10. Credit Francisco Seco/Associated Press LONDON — Amid the crisis in Spain this month — as Catalonia voted in an illegal referendum and threatened to declare independence, and Madrid has struggled to keep control of the situation — many people wondered: Where is the European Union?The truth is, there is plenty of blame to go around for the Catalonia crisis, and the European Union certainly shares some of it. European Union officials did hold closed-door meetings to try to calm tensions, but they could have done much more earlier to encourage dialogue between Barcelona and Madrid before it was too late. They also should have been clearer in their condemnation of police violence against Catalan voters on Oct. … [Read more...] about Where’s the E.U. in the Catalonia Crisis?
Photo Donald Trump and Barack Obama after Mr. Trump’s inauguration on January 20. Credit Ruth Fremson/The New York Times It must be cold and miserable standing in the shadow of someone greater and smarter, more loved and more admired. It must be infuriating to have risen on the wings of your derision of that person’s every decision, and even his very existence, and yet not be able to measure up — in either stratagem or efficacy — when you sit where that person once sat.This is the existence of Donald Trump in the wake of President Barack Obama. Trump can’t hold a candle to Obama, so he’s taking a tiki torch to Obama’s legacy. Trump can’t get his bad ideas though Congress, but he can use the power of the presidency to sabotage or even sink Obama’s signature deeds.In fact, if there is a … [Read more...] about Trump, Chieftain of Spite
Since Donald Trump’s election, a loose coalition of citizens, doctors, nurses, activists and others have rallied together to prevent their fellow Americans from losing health insurance. They won a big victory last month when Congress set aside its efforts to pass a destructive bill. But now the coalition has a new fight.Trumpcare has begun, not through legislation but through executive action.Last week, the administration took several steps to deprive people of health insurance. In doing so, it has both a short-term goal (have the federal government do less to help vulnerable citizens) and a long-term goal (sabotage Obamacare, so that Congress can more easily repeal the law).Trump will probably accomplish at least part of the short-term goal and take insurance away from some people. But it is possible to minimize the damage, through an effective political response. Whether you’re a Democrat, Republican or independent — whether you have already been part of the citizen … [Read more...] about How to Fight the New Trumpcare
Canada, Mexico and the United States belong to a North American neighborhood, and all three countries benefit from being strong and prosperous.North America is at a crossroads, with skepticism about the virtues of the North American Free Trade Agreement and the United States’ relationship with its neighbors. That skepticism disregards the considerable competitive advantage the agreement has given the United States and, in turn, transformed North America into a global powerhouse.Nafta was signed in 1993, when the economy was much simpler. We have a unique chance to take advantage of three countries meeting at the negotiation table in order to modernize the accord and to make it, once again, the world’s state-of-the-art trade agreement. To maintain North America’s competitive edge, we have three ideas to update and improve Nafta, rather than simply discarding it. Photo Representatives of … [Read more...] about Nafta Needs an Update, Not Repeal
Photo President Trump when asked what he meant when he said, “We’ll see” in response to a question about potentially attacking North Korea over its nuclear tests. Credit Pete Marovich for The New York Times To the Editor:Re “One Finger on the Button Is Too Few” (editorial, Oct. 12):Questions have been raised about a psychiatric diagnosis for President Trump, and about whether one can even be made in the absence of direct examination. But these are the wrong questions. The only question that must be asked now is whether Mr. Trump, with his apparent inability to control his hair-trigger rage and his absolute and unstoppable authority to order the killing of millions of people, presents an existential threat to our country and the world.Given the abundant evidence that the answer to this question may be yes, the … [Read more...] about The President’s Power to Start a Nuclear War