August 30, 2002
Ipsos Custodes? Over the summer, politics professor Christopher
Pyle published a series of opinion pieces in newspapers from Rhode
Island to California, asserting that various Bush administration
policies and proposals relating to the war on terrorism would
violate the constitutional rights of Americans, while failing
to identify and stop terrorists effectively. Among Pyle's
numerous publications was a June 9 piece in the Los Angeles Times
titled "Domestic Spying Catches No One: All this Snooping
Never Uncovered any Plot," in which he wrote, "It all
seems so innocent. Attorney General John Ashcroft wants to unleash
the FBI to surf the Web for possible terrorists. And it could
be, except for the insidious fact that each time politicians have
'unleashed' an investigative agency, even for the best
of reasons, bad things have happened without improving security."
On July 28, the Hartford Courant ran a piece by Pyle questioning
a Bush administration proposal to relax limitations on military
surveillance on United States soil. A piece that same week in
the Providence Journal raised concerns about a proposed domestic
spying program through which the Bush administration hoped to
enlist "a million informants from the ranks of mailmen, repairmen,
meter readers, and others privileged to visit private homes."
The administration has since scaled back the scope of that proposed
program, called the Terrorism Information and Prevention System.
Pyle's pieces have also been picked up by various syndication
services and have appeared in numerous other papers.
Islam and Suicide
Bombers Pyle was not the only faculty member to score significant
op-ed ink this summer. A piece titled "Not What the Prophet
Would Want: How Can Islamic Scholars Sanction Suicidal Tactics?"
by Sohail Hashmi, Associate Professor of International Relations
on the Alumnae Foundation, was published in the June 9 Washington
Post and was later picked up by a number of other publications.
According to Hashmi, "It is simplistic to lump the Palestinian
terrorists with al Qaeda in terms of their motivations or how
to deal with them. Only the most morally obtuse would deny the
genuine suffering of the Palestinian people during the past sixty
years or the legitimacy of their demand for a state. But it isn't
simplistic to argue that their methods and the destruction they
cause are morally equivalent to al Qaeda's terrorism, and,
no matter how different the circumstances or justifications, that
they amount to murder. This conclusion is supported by the long
and rich tradition of Islamic moral reasoning on martyrdom and
war. It is time for the Muslim scholars who hold this view to
tap Islamic resources to develop and sustain a clear moral position
that unambiguously renounces the deliberate targeting of civilians."
Correctness' The New York Times, the Associated Press, and
CBS Radio were among the national media reporting on the politically
charged decision that will keep a popular American history textbook,
coauthored by MHC history professor Daniel Czitrom, out of the
classrooms of Texas high schools. When the Texas Board of Education
objected to two paragraphs dealing with prostitution in the Old
West in Out of Many: A History of the American People, the publisher
withdrew the nearly 1,000-page textbook from consideration. The
case is one of "right-wing political correctness," says
Czitrom. "What you have (in Texas) are these well-organized
and well-funded groups ideologically driven to keep out things
they don't like," Czitrom told the Daily Hampshire Gazette.
"I seriously doubt whether the people on the board actually
read the book." This year, 250 volunteers with conservative
organizations pored over the textbooks, making their recommendations
to the Board of Education. As the buyer of 10 percent of the nation's
high school textbooks, the Lone Star State wields considerable
influence over the textbook industry. Czitrom plans to discuss
the case in a seminar this fall. The CBS Radio report was aired
by stations in New York, Houston, Chicago, Hartford, and Dallas/Fort
Worth. Also reporting the story were the Union-News, WFCR, WGGB-TV
40, and WWLP-TV 22.
He's May, She's
September Thomas Wartenberg, MHC professor of philosophy and
chair of film studies, was among a number of sources interviewed
by writer Andre Chautard for a July 6 Los Angeles Times article
about the surge of movies in which an older woman becomes involved
with a much younger man. Wartenberg notes that with boundary-pushing
shows like Ally McBeal and Sex and the City in the popular media,
"women are allowed to express their sexual desire more straightforwardly,"
opening the door to films such as this summer's Tadpole, Lovely
& Amazing, The Good Girl, and Crush, all involving older women
and younger men. Can such relationships last? Says Wartenberg,
"It seems to me that one of the things that the films are
asking us to do is really see how much of our reaction to relationships
is conditioned by social assumptions, and as you actually look
at two individuals, who knows what could make things work?"