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This Week: The GOP's Retro-Culture Wars. PLUS: The Latino Vote in 2012 | The Nation

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Katrina vanden Heuvel

Katrina vanden Heuvel

Politics, current affairs and riffs and reflections on the news.

This Week: The GOP's Retro-Culture Wars. PLUS: The Latino Vote in 2012

THE GOP’S RETRO-CULTURE WARS. This week’s defeat of a Virginia law mandating an intrusive ultrasound procedure for women undergoing abortions was another welcome win against the GOP’s war on women’s health. But week after week, these incremental victories are superseded by a vocal chorus of irresponsible and ill-informed pundits and politicians who, as Ben Adler explains in “The Conservative War on Women’s Sexuality,” “are living in a different century.” Asked about support of contraception at Wednesday’s GOP debate in Arizona, the candidates effectively indicated that even a woman who is raped will be forced to carry her rapist’s fetus. I told MSNBC’s The ED Show this week, the GOP’s determination to wage these retro-culture wars reflects a lack of answers to the economic problems of this country. Feministing.com founder Jessica Valenti is also right to remind us in “The GOP’s Long War Against Women and Sex,” that this disdain for women’s reproductive rights and focus on birth control is nothing new. We’ve seen it for years. What’s new is “the influx of young women and feminists into self-directed and social media activism [that] has changed the course of national debate.” As I’ve argued, the time is ripe to elect more pro-choice women candidates.

LATINOS AND 2012. Nation guest-blogger Dr. Victoria DeFrancesco Soto, fellow at the Center for Politics and Governance at the University of Texas and communications director for Latino Decisions, begins writing for us today at TheNation.com. In her first post, she argues that opposition to immigration is neither rooted in economic concerns nor in state’s rights. Anti-immigrant sentiment, on display in stump speeches by GOP presidential hopefuls, has to do with the pervasive “racial animus” toward Latinos in particular, which in turn hinders sensible immigration policy. With all eyes on the upcoming Arizona primary and the pivotal Latino vote heading into the November elections, Dr. DeFrancesco Soto will offer a look at the Latino agenda in this election year. Stay tuned for her ongoing coverage of the 2012 primary campaigns and the Latino vote, as well as her analysis of a responsible path to immigration reform.

NATION CONVERSATIONS: WEBZINE ‘+972’ CHALLENGES THE STATUS QUO. In this week’s installment of NationConversations, managing editor Roane Carey speaks with Sarah Wildman about her compelling profile of “+972,” the Israeli web magazine and home to a dozen or more journalists and bloggers who are writing about “the protests and tragedies, cultural battles and political conversations taking place in both Israel and the occupied territories.” Blending a unique mix of on-the-ground reporting with incisive commentary and analysis, Wildman explains how the webzine goes beyond mainstream journalism of the region, offering new insight on the Israeli occupation and reaching a global audience.

VOICES OF CONSCIENCE. Nation contributing writer Eyal Press’s new book, Beautiful Souls: Saying No, Breaking Ranks, and Heeding the Voice of Conscience in Dark Times, takes us on an extraordinary journey into the minds of whistle-blowers and “refuseniks,” non-conformists who do “something risky and transgressive when thrust into a morally compromising situation…[who] stop, say no, and resist.” Press weaves powerful narrative with deeply reported interviews to glimpse inside the mind of what impels unlikely individuals to stand up and resist. Of the book, Mark Oppenheimer writes in Friday’s New York Times, “[W]hat makes you eager to push this book into the hands of the next person you meet are the small, still moments, epics captured in miniature…. [The] book is a hymn to the mystery of disobedience.” Catch Press on MSNBC’s Up with Chris Hayes this Sunday for more on the book, and you can order a copy here.

CHALLENGE TO WARRANTLESS WIRETAPPING LAW. In 2008, President Bush signed into law the FISA Amendments Act (FAA), which gives the government unprecedented authority to monitor citizens’ international e-mails and phone calls without a warrant, a clear violation of our First and Fourth Amendment rights, and clear infringement of our privacy as journalists. In response, The Nation joined the ACLU, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and other organizations and journalists in a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the act. A March 2011 appeals court ruling allowed our lawsuit to proceed, but just last week, the Obama administration asked the Supreme Court to intervene and overturn that ruling. We’re disappointed in the steps taken by the Obama Administration. ACLU deputy legal director Jameel Jaffer stated in a press release, “It’s crucial that the government’s surveillance activities be subject to constitutional limits, but the administration’s argument would effectively insulate the most intrusive surveillance programs from judicial review. The Supreme Court should leave the appeals court’s ruling in place and allow our constitutional challenge to proceed.” More on these developments, including ways to get involved, are available here.

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