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This Week: Guns, Race & Politics. Plus: 'Roe' at 40 | The Nation

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Katrina vanden Heuvel

Katrina vanden Heuvel

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

This Week: Guns, Race & Politics. Plus: 'Roe' at 40

GUNS, RACE & POLITICS. President Obama announced some of the most sweeping gun control proposals in over two decades this week—George Zornick breaks down the president’s proposals, and what might happen next. But are our media and politics fostering an honest debate on what comprehensive reform will do? As Bryce Covert writes, as we push for gun control legislation, we must remember how reforms might impact those most affected by gun violence—and how the criminalization of certain guns could disproportionately affect people of color. “What may look like a colorblind law on the books can be interpreted and implemented in incredibly racist ways,” writes Covert. And as Mychal Denzel Smith argues, the conversation about guns has focused too much on keeping the weapons out of the hands of certain people—and not on real ways to reduce gun violence. But who are the “bad guys”? Read Smith’s piece, “It’s Not the Bad Guys—It’s the Guns,” here.

REMEMBERING AARON SWARTZ. We were saddened at the loss of Aaron Swartz last weekend, a tireless activist committed to making information free and accessible to all. “I remember always thinking that he always seemed too sensitive for this world we happen to live in, and I remember him working so mightily, so heroically, to try to bend the world into a place more hospitable to people like him, which also means hospitable to people like us,” writes The Nation’s Rick Perlstein. The New York Times cited Perlstein’s moving tribute in an article on Swartz’s extraordinary work as a data crusader. And on the prosecution of Swartz, Michelle Dean writes how the case was about more than hacking; rather, “it reflected a completely bizarre set of priorities in law enforcement, one which fetishizes the technicalities of the issues over the real justice of them.” Read more from Dean about the larger attack on those who want to “challenge the public to think more deeply and carefully about what justice demands.”

A NEW COLD WAR. “With the full support of a feckless policy elite and an uncritical media establishment, Washington is slipping, if not plunging, into a new cold war with Moscow,” writes Stephen F. Cohen in this week’s issue. “Relations, already deeply chilled by fundamental disputes over missile defense, the Middle East and Russia’s internal politics, have now been further poisoned by two conflicts reminiscent of tit-for-tat policy-making during the previous Cold War.” Russia’s adoption ban, or “Dima’s Law” comes on the tails of the US’s Magnitsky Act, which would essentially put Russian officials on a blacklist without due process. Find out more from Cohen on how this one-dimensional approach from President Obama, Congress and the media could prove disastrous for US-Russian relations.

ROE AT 40. Forty years after Roe v. Wade, we’re still fighting for reproductive justice—in 2011 alone, states passed ninety-two restrictions on abortion rights. “The piecemeal strategy of the anti-choice movement has paid off, and the Republicans’ ascendance at the state level has been a disaster for choice,” we write in this week’s editorial. After taking some hits, though, the movement for abortion rights is pushing back. And, as columnist Katha Pollitt writes, while Americans might be wary of identifying as “pro-choice,” they still believe that abortion is a decision best left to a pregnant woman and her doctor. Is “pro-choice” passe? Read more from Pollitt here. Also, take a look at Peter Rothberg’s blog which highlights the many groups, including Planned Parenthood and NARAL, working to defend Roe forty years later. And visit our Take Action blog to learn about the Hyde Amendment and how it’s the main obstacle to abortion access for low-income women. Find out what you can do to repeal the Hyde Amendment.

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