- Nicholas Kristof on Religious Leaders Denouncing Islamophobia The New York Times columnist is horrified by Martin Peretz's recent post wondering
whether Muslims really deserved First Amendment rights, as he is by a
Newsweek poll finding 52 percent of Republicans believe Barack Obama
probably sympathizes with the Islamic fundamentalists who want to
impose sharia law worldwide. "That kind of extremism undermines our
democracy, risks violence and empowers jihadis." The combination of
ignorance and bigotry, he says,
is not all that different from the anti-Semitism which he "hear[s] in
Muslim countries from people who have never met a Jew." Says Kristof:
"bravo to those Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders who jointly
denounced what they called 'the anti-Muslim frenzy.'" He points,
specifically, to the statement coming out of the ISNA Emergency Interfaith Summit.
- Tariq Ramadan on What Muslims Can Do The Oxford professor of Islamic studies observes
in The Washington Post that much recent Islamophobia is not a matter of
"hatred, but ignorance." He also points out that "negative perceptions
of Islam are hardly new in the West--they date back to the medieval
age, not to Sept. 11, 2001." He encourages Muslims to "understand the
sources of this fear and ... behave accordingly," recognizing that the
combined forces of foreign wars, Islamic fundamentalism, and economic
downturn are difficult to combat. "It is time for Muslims not to be on
the defensive, to stop apologizing for being Muslims and to be more
assertive about their values, duties, rights and contributions to the
society in which they live," he declares. He also thinks that Cordoba
House should be built somewhere farther away from Ground Zero.
- Sudhir Venkatesh on 'Five Myths about Prostitution' In the wake of Craigslist's decision to remove its "adult services" section, the Columbia sociology professor takes
to The Washington Post to make five statements contradicting common
perceptions. First, she says, prostitution is no longer "an alleyway
business. ... the transition from the streets to the Internet seems to
have been very rapid." Second, prostitution is not just about men
paying for sex--often they wind up talking and not getting around to
what they paid for: "Approximately 40 percent of high-end sex worker
transactions end up being sex-free." Third, it is no longer the case
that "most prostitutes are addicted to drugs or were abused as
children." High-end prostitutes who view sex work as "a part-time job"
are increasingly common. Fourth and fifth, police and prostitutes are
not enemies, and "closing Craigslist's 'adult services' section" will
not "significantly affect the sex trade."
- John Grisham on the Woman on Death Row in Texas The thriller-writer tells
the real-life tale of Teresa Lewis, a woman in Texas on death row while her two collaborators, who actually pulled the triggers, are not. "Lewis is not innocent,"
admits Grisham--she did conspire to kill her husband and
stepson. But she also "confessed to the police, pled guilty to the
judge and for almost eight years has expressed profound remorse for her
argues that the judge's rationale for giving Lewis the death sentence--that "the killings were [Lewis's]
idea"--doesn't hold water, as Lewis's markedly low IQ and dependent
personality disorder make it far more likely she was a follower, not a
leader. Nor does Lewis, Grisham points out, have any history, aside
from this, of violent behavior.
- Andrew Hacker and Claudia
Dreifus on How Increasingly High Tuition Fees Actually Get Spent
Students aren't "getting a lot of extra value for all that extra
Hacker and Dreifus in the Los Angeles Times. Most of the money is going
to sports teams, administrators, and tenured faculty. "Currently, 629
schools have football teams--132 more than in 1980. And all but 14 of
them lose money." Furthermore, "the cost of sports continues to rise,"
with ballooning football squads and an increasing number of varsity
teams, both for women's sports and new sports such as golf, few of
which produce any revenue. Meanwhile, "since 1980, the number of
administrators per student at colleges has about doubled; on most
campuses their numbers now match the number of faculty." Nor is the
amount being spent on faculty unquestionably worthwhile, they contend:
"In theory, all this extra tuition money should permit the hiring of
more junior faculty, which might mean smaller introductory courses."
That's not happening.
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