Hard Questions about the Response to Terrorism: Looking Back on September 11th

Andrew Young, the civil rights activist, politician, and diplomat, was present in Selma, Alabama, during the “Bloody Sunday” violence of March 7, 1965. When hundreds of Black Americans and others tried to march for voting rights only to be beaten and tear-gassed by Alabama state troopers, Young helped the wounded and others retreating from the … Continue reading Hard Questions about the Response to Terrorism: Looking Back on September 11th

People Standing against Tanks: The Civil Resistance of August 1991 and Its Ambiguous Legacy

Nonviolent civil resistance helped change history 30 years ago this August. When a group of hardline Communists within the Soviet Union attempted a coup in August 1991, they were met with significant resistance from other Soviet citizens, including both ordinary people and elites. The civil resisters ultimately prevailed over the coup plotters. The failed coup … Continue reading People Standing against Tanks: The Civil Resistance of August 1991 and Its Ambiguous Legacy

No Combat Experience, No Opinion: Parallels in Pro-bombing and Pro-choice Rhetoric

Paul Fussell, a literary critic and World War II veteran, wrote an essay in the 1980s with the arresting title “Thank God for the Atom Bomb.”[1] A passionate defense of the US atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Fussell’s essay is still sometimes invoked today by bombing supporters.[2] However, Fussell’s argument is seriously flawed—and notably … Continue reading No Combat Experience, No Opinion: Parallels in Pro-bombing and Pro-choice Rhetoric

Making a Nonviolent Revolution: Review of Civil Resistance: What Everyone Needs to Know

Certain historical episodes of nonviolent resistance to injustice are famous: the Indian struggle for independence; the American civil rights movement; and the Arab Spring uprisings come to mind. However, many people who are aware of such episodes are not familiar either with the larger history of nonviolent resistance or with how such resistance can be … Continue reading Making a Nonviolent Revolution: Review of Civil Resistance: What Everyone Needs to Know

Lethal from the Start: Uranium Mining’s Danger to the Most Vulnerable

Nuclear weapons kill directly when they are exploded in wartime or in tests.[1] They also kill indirectly: obtaining uranium, the metal used to produce both nuclear power and nuclear weapons, can expose people to radiation or other hazards. The results are often harmful, even lethal. As with nuclear testing, the people exposed to these hazards … Continue reading Lethal from the Start: Uranium Mining’s Danger to the Most Vulnerable

“The Affairs of a Handful of Natives”: Nuclear Testing and Racism

While nuclear weapons haven’t been used in war for over 75 years, they have still killed and hurt people since 1945. Testing of nuclear weapons has exposed many people to radiation, with its terrible health consequences. Further, the people harmed by nuclear testing have frequently been from different, far less powerful, ethnic groups than the … Continue reading “The Affairs of a Handful of Natives”: Nuclear Testing and Racism

The Danger That Faces Us All: Hiroshima and Nagasaki after 75 Years

The nuclear age turns 75 years old this summer. Over seven decades have now passed since the first test of a nuclear weapon in Alamogordo, New Mexico, on July 16, 1945, and since the first use of nuclear weapons in wartime, against the Japanese cities of Hiroshima (on August 6) and Nagasaki (on August 9). … Continue reading The Danger That Faces Us All: Hiroshima and Nagasaki after 75 Years

“Remember Pearl Harbor—Keep ‘Em Dying”: War and Racism in the Pacific

American planes dropped firebombs on Tokyo 75 years ago, on the night of March 9-10, 1945, killing an estimated 80,000-100,000 people.[1] The firebombing began a six-month-long American bombing campaign against 66 Japanese cities that culminated in the two atomic bombings and killed roughly 400,000 people in total.[2] This killing campaign was the climax of a … Continue reading “Remember Pearl Harbor—Keep ‘Em Dying”: War and Racism in the Pacific

An American Devil Figure: The Complex Legacy of Joseph McCarthy

One of the most infamous figures of 20th-century American history gave one of the most infamous speeches of 20th-century American history 70 years ago this winter. Speaking before a Republican women’s group in Wheeling, West Virginia, on February 9, 1950, Senator Joseph R. McCarthy (R-WI), declared that a certain number of US State Department employees … Continue reading An American Devil Figure: The Complex Legacy of Joseph McCarthy

East Germany’s Peaceful Revolution: Remembering the Berlin Wall’s Fall

The Berlin Wall fell 30 years ago this year, on November 9, 1989. This massive barrier that since the 1960s had effectively imprisoned the residents of Communist-ruled East Berlin was also a symbol of the larger Cold War division between Eastern and Western Europe and the Soviet Union and the United States. When Berliners broke … Continue reading East Germany’s Peaceful Revolution: Remembering the Berlin Wall’s Fall