John Hayes: On Class, Religion, and Politics

Today we welcome a guest post from John Hayes, author of Hard, Hard Religion:  Interracial Faith in the Poor South, on the history behind the increasing importance of class and religion on today’s American political landscape. In his captivating study of faith and class, John Hayes examines the ways folk religion in the early twentieth… Continue Reading John Hayes: On Class, Religion, and Politics

Nicholas Grant: Apartheid South Africa and the 1957 Little Rock Crisis

Today we welcome a guest blog post from Nicholas Grant, author of Winning Our Freedoms Together: African Americans and Apartheid, 1945–1960, on the South African government’s reaction to the 1957 crisis over the integration of Little Rock Central High School. Winning Our Freedoms Together examines how African Americans engaged with, supported, and were inspired by the… Continue Reading Nicholas Grant: Apartheid South Africa and the 1957 Little Rock Crisis

Gregg A. Brazinsky: Is China’s New World Order Really New?

Potentially, One Belt One Road can also raise Beijing’s international profile at the expense of Washington’s. Especially with the Trump administration intent on putting “America First,” the PRC has an opportunity to promote itself as a champion of free trade and assert its global leadership. The PRC is challenging the United States more subtly than during the 1950s and 1960s but it nonetheless aims to create a new balance of economic power in which China and other non-Western countries will play a more important role. Continue Reading Gregg A. Brazinsky: Is China’s New World Order Really New?

Christopher A. Cooper and H. Gibbs Knotts: Reflections on John Shelton Reed

In our new book, The Resilience of Southern Identity: Why the South Still Matters in the Minds of Its People, we revisit and update a few of Reed’s key findings about the South. We focus particularly on the question of southern identity, exploring the powerful connection between southerners and their region. Continue Reading Christopher A. Cooper and H. Gibbs Knotts: Reflections on John Shelton Reed

Christopher A. Cooper and H. Gibbs Knotts: Thinking About Southern Identity on the Way to Work

While the reasons for identity may vary across people, we find that southern identity is heightened when individuals are forced to contrast the South with other regions, and people. In writing this book, we had many people tell us that they became most aware of their southern identity when they moved away from the South for the first time. They recalled stories where someone questioned their accent, criticized their home region, or asked them if they spent their free time watching reruns of The Dukes of Hazzard. Continue Reading Christopher A. Cooper and H. Gibbs Knotts: Thinking About Southern Identity on the Way to Work

Lon Kurashige: When Buddhism Was an Enemy Religion

A few months after the Pearl Harbor attack, the FBI took my grandfather away from his wife and seven children and confined him and hundreds of other Buddhist priests apart from their families and congregations. Their main “crime” was to be leaders of an enemy religion. There was no evidence produced to implicate my grandfather or any Buddhist priest of wrongdoing. Continue Reading Lon Kurashige: When Buddhism Was an Enemy Religion

Laura Visser-Maessen: How Exploring Bob Moses’s 1960s Civil Rights Activism in Mississippi Can Modify America’s Current Terrorism Debate

Paris is only a five hour drive from my home in the Netherlands. I have strolled its streets many times, undoubtedly also those covered in blood after the November 2015 attacks. I have also passed through San Bernardino, California, and have stood regularly at the former World Trade Center site. Yet as I commemorate those victims of religious terrorism, I cannot but remember my meetings with black civil rights activist Bob Moses and his colleagues of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Their haunting tales of life in Mississippi in the 1960s wryly challenge some politicians’ and media pundits’ current claim to exclusivity for the term “terrorism” only in relation to Islam, reminding us that the most bloody and consistent trajectory of terrorism in the United States occurred under the banner of white supremacy. Continue Reading Laura Visser-Maessen: How Exploring Bob Moses’s 1960s Civil Rights Activism in Mississippi Can Modify America’s Current Terrorism Debate

Excerpt: The Ashley Cooper Plan, by Thomas D. Wilson

The political scientist Daniel J. Elazar identified three traditions of political culture in America, generally consistent with Tocqueville’s characterizations. New England political culture of the Puritans evolved to become moralistic political culture. This component of American character emphasizes community and civic virtue over individualism. It promotes the idea of participatory democracy and the positive role of government in addressing common problems. The Mid-Atlantic region produced individualistic political culture, which views government as a utilitarian necessity and seeks to limit its intrusion into private activities. Private initiative is held to be of higher importance than the public sphere. The South produced traditionalistic political culture, which elevates social order and family structure to a prominent role. Continue Reading Excerpt: The Ashley Cooper Plan, by Thomas D. Wilson

Laura Visser-Maessen: Bob Moses’s Lessons on the Meaning of Citizenship We Need in Today’s Race Debates

After the 2015 riots in Baltimore and elsewhere, I was struck—though not surprised—by many of the media’s depictions of its black inhabitants, as if they were irrational, self-defeating hoodlums, rather than emphasizing stories like that of Wayne, one of several hundred students in Baltimore’s public schools who participate in the Algebra Project (AP). Wayne had been kicked out of several schools until his AP involvement made him realize “what I can do inside of school and how I can help other people.” Continue Reading Laura Visser-Maessen: Bob Moses’s Lessons on the Meaning of Citizenship We Need in Today’s Race Debates

Excerpt: The Ashley Cooper Plan, by Thomas D. Wilson

Ashley Cooper’s Grand Model was the ultimate product of English colonial policy, political philosophy, and city planning prior to the Enlightenment. The Fundamental Constitutions and “instructions,” products of both Ashley Cooper and Locke, formed a body of law and policy written by two of the most astute minds of the time, tempered to be sure by the diverse opinions of the remaining seven Carolina proprietors. Within those documents, city planning (in the broad sense of the term used throughout) held an essential place in the overall design of the colony’s social structure, economy, and government. Continue Reading Excerpt: The Ashley Cooper Plan, by Thomas D. Wilson

Video: Sulmaan Wasif Khan on China, Tibet, and the Complications of “One Country, Two Systems”

In the following video, Khan talks about China’s takeover of Tibet, the complications of the “one country, two systems” policy of governing, and the importance of the role of non-state actors in shaping the trajectory of empire. Continue Reading Video: Sulmaan Wasif Khan on China, Tibet, and the Complications of “One Country, Two Systems”

Michael H. Hunt: The Pentagon’s Durable Asian Fairy Tale

The Pentagon’s fairy tale history of U.S. involvement in eastern Asia appears alive and well. So at least statements made by Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter during his recent visits in Singapore and Vietnam suggest. Following the lines of the mythology that seems to exercise strong appeal in official U.S. circles, Carter claimed that the United States by playing a pivotal military role in the region over the past seven decades has “helped maintain peace and stability.” (See the transcript of his address in Singapore on 30 May and his interview in Vietnam with the BBC dated 1 June.) Continue Reading Michael H. Hunt: The Pentagon’s Durable Asian Fairy Tale

Michael Barkun: Reverse Transparency in Post-9/11 America

Unlike the covert electronic infringements by the NSA, some other infringements are open and obvious—for example, security check-points at airports and government buildings, or surveillance cameras covering public spaces. These are examples of what I term “reverse transparency.” Traditionally, transparency has been a standard applied to organizations, such as corporations or governments, by which we require that their decisions be clear and open in order to permit accountability. Increasingly, however, under the pressure of homeland security concerns, this traditional conception has been, as it were, stood on its head. Continue Reading Michael Barkun: Reverse Transparency in Post-9/11 America

Gregory F. Domber: What Putin Misunderstands about American Power

Putin is pushing a new nationalist conservatism with a strong strain of anti-Americanism, promoting a vision of the United States as the primary conspirator pulling strings to foster international chaos and regime change.

As former Ambassador to Russia Mike McFaul noted recently in the New Yorker, “Putin has a theory of American power that has some empirical basis.” The CIA overthrew governments in Iran and Guatemala, the United States bombed Belgrade to remove a dictator, and there is, of course, Iraq. However, a close examination of American policy toward Poland—the country the United States pushed hardest to break from the Soviet sphere in the 1980s—brings to the fore just how far the Russian president’s views are removed from reality. The United States is not nearly the revolutionary mastermind Putin seems to think it is. Continue Reading Gregory F. Domber: What Putin Misunderstands about American Power

Angie Maxwell: The Long Shadow of Scopes

When Bryan agreed to assist the prosecution in the 1925 Scopes trial that would test the Butler Act’s ban of the teaching of evolution in Tennessee, he was anything but new to the debate. Despite his progressive political record on issues such as women’s suffrage, Bryan’s swan song as an anti-evolution crusader was zealous and emphatic. He argued, wrote, and perhaps believed, that this single issue would erode American faith. For Bryan there was no middle, and his readers need only choose sides. His widespread essay on the subject was titled “The Bible and its Enemies,” and he considered the cause the greatest reform of his life. Science and even the experts who defense attorney Clarence Darrow had attempted to call at the trial, were adversaries in a zero-sum game that the world was watching. Continue Reading Angie Maxwell: The Long Shadow of Scopes

Shane J. Maddock: The Case for Nuclear Zero

U.S. military dominance in both the quantity and quality of its weapons has reached a point where it has stopped increasing the nation’s security and has begun to erode it instead. Unable to match the conventional might of the United States, nations who fear American coercion can either seek nuclear weapons to deter a U.S. attack or use the threat of retaliatory terrorist attacks to make Washington pause. U.S. fear that its enemies will resort to either of these two options, in turn, leads to pressure to increase military spending to even higher levels. Continue Reading Shane J. Maddock: The Case for Nuclear Zero

Jacqueline E. Whitt: Cooperation without Compromise: Military Chaplains’ Responses to the End of DADT

As the movement for the repeal of DADT gained political momentum, dozens of retired military chaplains and civilian religious organizations expressed grave concerns that a repeal of DADT would coerce military chaplains into performing services contrary to the dictates of their religious confession or would effectively silence their protected religious speech about the sinfulness of homosexuality. There were warnings of mass resignations or a mass exodus from the military chaplaincy by evangelical chaplains (who fill most chaplain billets). Ultimately, few chaplains have actually resigned their military commissions as a result of their opposition to the repeal of DADT or the ruling of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) as unconstitutional. Continue Reading Jacqueline E. Whitt: Cooperation without Compromise: Military Chaplains’ Responses to the End of DADT

Michael H. Hunt: Obama’s Cairo, Then and Now

The Cold War, far from an aberration, built on a pattern that had become well established earlier in the century. Elected governments, Washington feared, might be swayed by popular passions or betrayed by their own immaturity. Coups whether in Iran in 1953 or in Egypt in 2013 paved the way for strongmen promising stability and accommodating U.S. interests. Continue Reading Michael H. Hunt: Obama’s Cairo, Then and Now

Michael H. Hunt: Obama and Syria: Trapped in a Web of Words

Language is in its potency a trap—in this case an inducement to action even when careful consideration warns of potentially dire consequences. Put differently, the axioms handed down from earlier policy practice have demonstrated their capacity to overrule prudent calculation. That insight leaves us with a set of genuine questions. Continue Reading Michael H. Hunt: Obama and Syria: Trapped in a Web of Words

Interview: Lee A. Craig on Josephus Daniels

Josephus Daniels was a progressive, a warm-hearted family man, a man who genuinely cared about the country’s less-fortunate and down-trodden, at least as he defined them. Yet at the same time, he was a white supremacist, who used the coercive powers of the state to keep blacks in a socially and economically inferior state for generations. Continue Reading Interview: Lee A. Craig on Josephus Daniels