Yesterday was International Holocaust Remembrance Day. 70 years ago on January 27th, Auschwitz was liberated. I was thinking about this as I was walking home from work. I walk past Brown University’s Hillel on my walk. Yesterday, there was an armed police officer standing guard outside the entrance. I’ve never seen that before. I don’t know for sure if the cop was standing guard because Holocaust Remembrance Day is a day that anti-semites would target Jews with violence, but I’m guessing that’s the case. Probably the most effective memorial I saw was this twitter account which read out the names of Jewish refugees who were denied entry into the United States in 1939 and were forced to return to Europe, where they were killed.
My name is Regina Blumenstein. The US turned me away at the border in 1939. I was murdered in Auschwitz
Yesterday was also the day that President Trump signed an executive order banning refugees from entering the United States, including those who have been completely vetted. The order further bans entry or re-entry to 500,000 visa-holders and green card holders (legal, permanent residents!) from seven majority-Muslim nations on the flimsy pretext of “9/11!” (none of the 9/11 attackers were from those seven nations). Finally, as if that all wasn’t bad enough, the order establishes a religious tests for future refugees. Trump has explicitly stated this was aimed to help Christians. Vox has a useful breakdown of what the order does here. Duck of Minerva has a more pointed take here: “Trump to Omran: Die, Kid.” The order may well be illegal under the 1965 Immigration Act and CAIR is filing a suit challenging it on constitutional, religious freedom grounds. The International Refugee Assistance Project has filed suit specifically on behalf of two refugees who were en route when the order was signed and who were denied admission to the US.
To recap: on Holocaust Remembrance Day, the President ordered a ban on refugees based on religion. This is exactly as bad as it sounds. What can we do about it? Below are a few of my immediate thoughts. Please post your own ideas and plans in the comments.
President Trump’s announcement that he will launch an investigation of voter fraud is interesting for many reasons. Some of these have been well-documented, such as that he continues to believe massive voter fraud caused his popular-vote loss, and that the main “evidence” cited for such fraud has been thoroughly debunked.
In the context of other recent announcements, it’s also interesting because it may offer an opening for demonstrating the value of evidence-based, systematic inquiry: that is, of science as a basis for policy.
[It’s that time of year again! Submit to quite possibly the longest-running, yet still hippest, ASA pre-conference! – DH]
CALL FOR ABSTRACTS
2017 Junior Theorists Symposium
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
August 11, 2017
We invite submissions of extended abstracts for the 11th Junior Theorists Symposium (JTS), to be held in Montreal, Quebec, Canada on August 11th, 2017, the day before the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association (ASA). The JTS is a one-day conference featuring the work of up-and-coming sociologists, sponsored in part by the Theory Section of the ASA. Since 2005, the conference has brought together early career-stage sociologists who engage in theoretical work, broadly defined.
Two weeks ago, the LA Times ran an Op-Ed by Debra W. Soh on “The Futility of Gender-Neutral Parenting.” The central claim is old and fundamentally conservative: differences between men and women are biological truth, not to be meddled with by free will or society. Sex differences are facts to be accepted, not questioned or altered (two things feminists have always done). The op-ed circulated widely and was picked up by other outlets, including a New York Magazine piece titled “Yes, Biology Helps Explain Why Boys and Girls Play Differently.” Throw out your oatmeal baby room paint and desegregated toy isles.
The below is a guest post from Colin J. Beck, Associate Professor of Sociology at Pomona College.
Since 2012, I have been a member of the Political Instability Task Force. The PITF is a US government funded research project that brings academics together with intelligence analysts to provide advice on how to anticipate episodes of political conflict and violence of various forms. I am no longer able to continue this work, and am disappointed that I am the only scholar of the two dozen affiliated with the project that appears to feel this way. Below is my explanation as to why I resigned from the PITF on January 20, 2017. Continue reading “why i resigned from the political instability task force”
The seductive power of sensual charm survives only where the forces of denial are strongest. If asceticism once reacted against the sensuous aesthetic, asceticism has today become the sign of advanced art. All “light” and pleasant art has become illusory and false. What makes its appearance esthetically in the pleasure categories can no longer give pleasure. The musical consciousness of the masses today is “displeasure in pleasure” — the unconscious recognition of “false happiness.”
–Adorno, “On the Fetish-Character in Music and the Regression of Listening,” 1938
Jeff Guhin innocently posted to Facebook that “doing a lecture on Habermas is ridiculous.” He may well be right, for many different kinds of reasons. But in the (lengthy!) conversation that followed, two critiques were raised that I think deserve separate treatment. They are:
That much theory, including Habermas and, all the more so, his Frankfurt predecessors, is too difficult to read to make it worthwhile; and
Reading theorists like Habermas is really mostly about the history of social thought and has no payoff for empirical or analytical sociology.
Sociologists, political scientists, and the public at large have long been concerned with the political influence of large corporations. For the past few decades, most research on corporate political influence has focused on a narrow set of obviously political behaviors: lobbying and campaign donations.
Scholars have learned a great deal about why firms donate, the value of those donations, and how lobbying efforts shape the content of policy. And yet, focusing on these narrow aspects of overt political behavior seems to only scratch the surface of the policy influence of large corporations.
In a new paper, sociologist Russell Funk and I argue that scholars must attend to how firms use seemingly non-political, market actions to change the content and meaning of the law. These nonmarket effects of market actions are complements and substitutes to more direct political action.
When firms can’t get what they want through the policy process, sometimes they can get it by engaging in a form of economic “politics by other means.” Through innovation or creative implementations, firms can change the interpretation and consequences of the law without the passage of any new legislation.
How can social science help make sense of the current conjuncture? More precisely, what insights from sociology, political science, and economics are most important for understanding contemporary US politics and the rise of Trump? Last summer, Connolly and Blain posted the “Trump Syllabus 2.0” at Public Books, a wonderful resource for understanding the roots of Trump’s victory in the GOP. That list focused primarily, though not exclusively, on history and historical social science and covered essential topics from the white power movement to the links between violence, authoritarianism, and masculinity. My goal here is to offer a kind of sequel to that syllabus, one that focuses on works of recent social science that shed the most light on the cultural, economic, and political transformations that collectively constitute our present predicament. Any such list is necessarily partial and eclectic, especially when I venture far from my own areas of expertise, so I welcome suggestions for additional topics and specific readings in the comments.
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