With support from the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting, I produced a package of stories on the long-lasting effects of U.S. Cold War intervention on politics in Guyana, a former British colony on the northeastern shoulder of South America.
“Should My People Need Me”
Nativists Get A Tea-Party Makeover
A Far Right Party Makes a Mainstream Bid
The whites-only BNP, founded in 1982 as a breakaway from the neo-Nazi National Front, has been trying to shed its nutter image as part of a bid for respectability in mainstream politics. Read my pieces about the far-right for GlobalPost. Part One: A Far-Right Party Makes a Bid for the Mainstream and Part Two: How Britain’s All-White Party Gained Its Following.
Sajida can’t talk openly about what war and displacement have forced her to do. She banters with male customers at the cafe where she works in Damascus, Syria. But the men want more from this 43-year old divorced mother of two, a refugee from Iraq. And she can’t refuse; her boss has seized her passport. “I am a slave in his hands,” Sajida says.
Continue reading my piece about Sajida and other Iraqi refugees forced into prostitution in Syria in Ms. Magazine’s Summer 2008 issue.
You can also listen to an interview about the article at 9 minutes past the hour on Doug Clifford’s Hour of Hope.
The Keys to the Keystone State
When Barack Obama went bowling in Altoona, Pennsylvania, on March 29, his opponent was Senator Bob Casey Jr., the son and namesake of a popular former governor whose coal-mining pedigree had made him a hero of the white working class. Casey Junior had just endorsed Obama, and the presidential candidate, wearing blue-and-white Velcro shoes and a tie, bowled gutter ball after gutter ball and lost the game. But Obama wasn’t at Pleasant Valley Lanes to knock down pins; he was there to win over white blue-collar voters and thus prove to Democrats that he is “electable” in November.
In the iconography of the campaign, bowling might have been a bid for some cred with the white working class, but it also signifies community ties of the kind eulogized by Harvard sociologist Robert Putnam in his book Bowling Alone. Putnam mourned the fact that while more Americans are bowling, fewer are doing so in leagues, a sign of a breakdown in civic bonding and engagement. Recently, Putnam put forward evidence that diversity hurts social capital: that residents of mixed-race communities trust one another less, volunteer less, vote less and hunker down more in front of their televisions. Whether or not Putnam’s dystopian theory holds true will be crucial to Obama’s chances in Pennsylvania and perhaps in a general election contest against John McCain. Do people in checkerboard communities turn inward and away from one another, and does that make them more susceptible to campaigning that plays on racial and ethnic divisions?
Bowling for Pennsylvania, my piece for The Nation, explores this question.