In light of the most recent World Zionist Congress meeting and the on-going Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the Middle East, we have curated a special collection focusing on the significance of Muslim-Jewish relations as they pertain to Holocaust Distortion and Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.
By freeing the content now through November 30, we hope to facilitate an impactful conversation on religion, culture, ethics, and history to better relations and build effective policy.
Abstract: This essay reconsiders the category of “Holocaust denial” as the marked indicator of ethical transgression in Holocaust historiography within American civil religion. It maintains that the present category excludes and thereby enables other violations of responsible Holocaust historiography. To demonstrate the nature and gravity of such violations, the essay engages the widespread claim that Hajj Muhammad Amin al-Husayni, the former mufti of Jerusalem, was an instigator, promoter, or “driving spirit” of the Nazi genocide against Jews, and the associated suggestions of wider Arab and Muslim complicity. The essay uncovers the history of the Husayni narrative in question, the dramatic circumstances in which it emerged, its role in the 1961 trial of Adolf Eichmann, and its rediscovery and misuse within American popular and political circles over the past two decades. Such misuse, it concludes, corrodes Holocaust recognition within American civil religion and demonstrates the need for a revision of the socially accepted ethical boundary for responsible Holocaust historiography.
Abstract: In an era when lies and misrepresentations about historical events easily become firmly rooted, Michael Sells’s discussion illustrates the importance of careful historical research as a moral enterprise. In addition to the skills of the historian, however, there is also room in this enterprise for those of the ethicist. In particular, I warn against confusing the truth or falsity of claims about one narrow historical period with larger questions about the moral meaning and significance of those claims. Illustrating this, I argue one cannot assess the legitimacy of competing nationhood claims solely on the basis of the deeds of specific actors. Nor should the actions of a single individual like the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem be converted into a totalizing claim about the rights of the Palestinian people.
CrossCurrents Special Issue on Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia: Probing the History and Dynamics of Hate
Last Friday, I was thrilled to have Dr. Serena Parekh, Dr. Immanuel Ness, and Dr. Reenee Singh join me for an hour long webinar discussion on the Syrian refugee crisis and the wider implications of global migration.
The three panelists discussed the refugee crisis in terms of children’s welfare, globalization, media coverage and bias, government aid, and the impact of these types of crises on families. Parekh, Ness, and Singh all made insightful points. Dr. Parekh discussed the relationship between concepts of statehood and boundaries, and how borders become permeable in our digital age and are a form of exclusion – harmful to human rights. Dr. Ness pointed out that government aid from neighboring countries and the countries of the UN is great, but there should also be a burden of aid on the countries that are forcing refugees to leave in the first place. And Dr. Ness shared her experiences as a family therapist in helping families address new the culture in which they are now living, and how to manage the stress of new multicultural lifestyles.
I want to thank our panelist for an impactful discussion. During the roundtable, we answered a few questions from our listeners, but we didn’t manage to answer them all. Below are two more questions from our listeners, answered by our panelists.
How are the receiving local authorities handling the pressure of such influx and are they readily equipped? -Marjory, Student, South Africa
IN: Destination countries have a range of policies on migration, depending on labor skill, population shortage, and causes of population shifts. In the European context today, the passage of migrants is creating political pressures on the governments in the Balkans and in Eastern and Central Europe, due to growing xenophobia against foreigners of Muslim dissent. We are even seeing growing nationalism in Germany, with the growth of the right-wing social movement, Pergida. In response, tensions are rising and government leaders are scrambling to arrive at coherent policies through imposing border control or persuading sending countries to create safe havens for refugees.
Can you speak to the cultural shock and differences that arise between refugees and the nationals of the hosting country? – Mary, PhD Candidate, Canada
IN: Those refugees who have traveled as far as Europe are likely to have higher levels of education and skills and often the same religious traditions. Eastern European leaders have permitted the migration of Catholic and Eastern Right emigres from Syria but are reticent to allow Muslims to enter and settle in their countries. However, Germany was a recipient of tens of thousands of Turks in the post-war years who filled job shortages, and many stayed permanently and have been absorbed into the national fabric of the country. The new wave of migrants are refugees, and may also contribute to the economic expansion of Central and Eastern European economies. However, it is also possible that they could tighten labor markets and work for lower wages, expanding unemployment and the reserve army of labor.
RS: Refugees suffer from what Renos Papadopoulos would describe as ‘nostalgic disorientation’ which is about missing the sights, sounds and smells of home. Everything in the host country can seem strange and confusing. Many refugees do not come from welfare states and do not know how such complex systems in the Western world work. This is compounded with language difficulties. Sometimes, one family member (often the man) can remain loyal to their country of origin while women, especially women with children, tend to adapt more quickly to the host county. Children will often take on the roles of translators and cultural guides for the families, creating inversions of gendered and generational roles. Further, the notions of how ‘the family’ is constructed and what constitutes mental health, problems and their treatment varies greatly from one culture to another. Refugees may experience the lack of fit between their belief systems and those of the host country.
Keep checking back on the Philosopher’s Eye next week, where we will be posting two more blogs from A.M Findlay, editor of Population, Space and Place, and Antipode.
Samantha Green, Marketing Manager, Wiley MA candidate in Children’s Literature, Simmons College Graduate School of Library and Information Science
At the end of 2014, there were an estimated 19.5 million refugees worldwide. This crisis was drawn once again into sharp light as Syrian refugees flooded Europe in recent months. Many of these people are families with children, forced to flee their homes or risk their safety.
Dr. Immanuel Ness is a professor of political science at Brooklyn College of the City University of New York. Editor-in-Chief of The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration, Ness’ research focuses on labor, urban political economy, migration, imperialism, and social mobilizations, worker insurrections, strikes, solidarity in Global North and Global South.
He is a labor activist who founded the New York Unemployed Committee, Lower East Side Community-Labor Coalition and labor organizer for several unions.
Dr. Serena Parekh is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at Northeastern University, where she also holds the position as Director of the Politics, Philosophy, and Economics Program. Her primary research interests are in social and political philosophy, feminist theory, continental philosophy, and the philosophy of human rights.
Dr. Parekh has contributed to noted journals such as Hypatia, Philosophy Compass, and The Southern Journal of Philosophy. She is also the Editor of the APA Newsletter on Feminism and Philosophy.
Dr. Reenee Singh is a family therapist based in London at the House Partnership. She is also Co-Director at the Tavistock and UEL Family Therapy and Systemic Research Centre as well as Editor of the Journal of Family Therapy.
Singh holds a particular interest in the intersection of therapy, race and culture. She attributes her personal history and cultural context, growing up in India and having lived and worked in Singapore, as an influence her approach to therapy, research, supervision and training.
Our condolences go out to the surviving family and colleagues of noted Dr. Claudia Falconer Card, who passed away September 12, 2015.
Card was the Emma Goldman Professor of Philosophy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and her research interests included ethics and social philosophy, including normative ethical theory; feminist ethics; environmental ethics; theories of justice, of punishment, and of evil; and the ethics of Kant, Schopenhauer, and Nietzsche. Her work also deeply involved Women’s Studies, Jewish Studies, Environmental Studies, and LGBT Studies.
Additionally, philosopher Kate Norlock, a former student of the professor, beautifully reflects on the life and work of Dr. Card here.
Instead of mourning her death per her own request, the University of Wisconsin-Madison will honor Dr. Card with A Celebration of Life, which will take place Sunday, Oct. 11 from 1:00pm-4:00pm at the Pyle Center Alumni Lounge.
We have joined in celebrating the life and career of Claudia Card by making free a special collection on her articles.
Welcome to the second Bioethics Digest, brought to you in association with the editors of the Bioethics Forum. This digest aims to bring you commentary on today’s most topical bioethics issues. The opinions expressed are those of the authors and not The Hastings Center.
Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Oklahoma’s substitution of midazolam for sodium thiopental as a sedative in lethal injections does not violate the Eighth Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. Now, an important question is whether states will even be able to obtain drugs used in capital punishment. Increasing numbers of professional associations that are essential for providing and compounding lethal injection drugs are urging their members not to do so.
The American Pharmacists Association (APhA) recently issued a statement discouraging pharmacists from participating in capital punishment. The APhA joins the American Medical Association, American Nurses Association, and American Board of Anesthesiology in defining capital punishment as inimical to ethical practice for health care professionals. Following on the heels of the APhA resolution, the International Academy of Compounding Pharmacists (IACP) has also declared that active participation of their members in the administration of the death penalty is unethical.
These changes could not come at a better moment, write Lillian Ringel, the Associate Director of the Columbia University Bioethics program, and Stephanie Holmquist is a course facilitator in the Columbia University Bioethics program, in Bioethics Forum, the blog of the Hastings Center Report. The capital punishment landscape in the U.S. is increasingly baroque. Utah recently reinstated the firing squad for execution when lethal injection compounds are unavailable. Oklahoma has approved capital punishment by nitrogen gas asphyxiation as its second line method of execution, after lethal injection, and before electrocution and the firing squad.
Capital punishment in the U.S. is also mired in concerns about states’ data collection. States that have adopted the Common Rule and collect data on the effects of execution drugs on death row inmates (prisoners are members of a categorically vulnerable population and require additional protections when they are subjects of research) must arguably receive oversight from an IRB and comply with other stipulations of the Common Rule. Otherwise, states’ data collection about lethal injection may constitute illegal human subjects research.
Decades of experiments have shown that rats are smart individuals that feel pain and pleasure, care about one another, can read others’ emotions, and will help unfamiliar rats even at a cost to themselves. It’s time to apply what we’ve learned from these animals and stop conducting experiments on them in laboratories.
The experimenters placed one rat in a water-filled tank, a situation that terrifies rats and from which they try desperately to escape to avoid drowning. A second rat on a platform had to figure out how to push open a door to help the drowning rat reach a dry area. The experimenters observed that rats quickly learned to open the door to rescue their cagemates. When given the choice between opening one door to save a drowning rat and opening another door to secure a chocolate treat, the platform rats helped the distressed rat first – and then shared the treat with the rescued rat. Rats who had themselves previously been thrown into the water tank were faster at opening the door to help their panicked cohorts.
This study is only the latest in a string of experiments that demonstrate that rats show sympathy for pain and distress experienced by other rats and take action to help them.
Unfortunately, many experimenters miss the forest for the trees, writes Alka Chandna, a senior laboratory oversight specialist for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) in Bioethics Forum. Instead of following this evidence to its logical conclusion that millions of rats shouldn’t be confined, burned, shocked, infected, and crippled in laboratories – or should at least receive some basic protections under the law – many use it as the basis for even more experiments. At least one such experimenter recently acknowledged the inherent conflict: “The more we do experiments like this, the more we wonder if we should do experiments like this.”
I was only there to learn how to place IV lines. But as my anesthesia attending and I gathered our needles, tourniquet, and gauze, I noticed that our patient, whom I’ll call Jamie, didn’t appear to fit into a narrowly defined version of gender, writes Colleen Farrell, a fourth year medical student at Harvard, in Bioethics Forum. I wasn’t sure whether to refer to Jamie as she, he, or some other alternative, but imagined it could be quite hurtful if I used the wrong pronoun. I wanted to eliminate that potential for harm.
When it comes to caring for patients like Jamie, in my experience, avenues for improving medical students’ communication skills seem to be lacking. While many communication skills are transferable from one scenario to another, there are also unique issues that arise in caring for transgender patients. My medical school had in fact attempted to teach me how to handle situations like my encounter with Jamie in a lecture on asking patients questions about sexual orientation and gender identity. But real life medical encounters are almost always more complex than the versions presented in a lecture hall.
To address the needs of transgender and gender nonconforming patients, we need physician-mentors experienced in transgender patient care who can help us work through our uncertainty. We need opportunities to gain experience and comfort, through elective rotations in specific LGBT health centers or through simulated encounters with patient-actors. And we need an institutional culture that says loudly and clearly: it’s important to do this well.
Was there ever a time in which a person could have argued for the moral acceptability of slavery without doing something gravely wrong in the very arguing? Maybe not, but it ever there were, it is now long, long, past; some questions are simply closed.
Questions about the validity of transpeople’s identities—of whether, e.g., transwomen are “really” women, eligible to apply to Smith College and to use women’s restroom, have been considered fair game since we emerged into public view. Whether expressed in academic prose, in political posturing, or in outright sneers, such questions are heard by many transpeople as profoundly disparaging, and sometimes menacing.
Yet if the tide of social attitudes and practices easing passages between genders keeps swelling, such debates might become as out of place as, say, a serious discussion about whether homosexuality is a mental illness. The sound you hear may be the closing of yet another question about how human beings may live together.
What I wonder about is this: in the time remaining before trans becomes just another way of having a gender, as, say, adoption is just another way of becoming a parent, is there anything that need not be disparaging, that might actually be helpful, to be said? Might it be good for transpeople to take a moment to think about whether their own understandings and practices might sometimes be politically retrograde, or to have some insight into the challenge their lives pose to how cisgender people now have to reimagine themselves?
With the removal of homosexuality as a mental illness in the 1970’s came a change in how therapists treated gay, lesbian, and bisexual patients. Instead of attempting to change a patient’s sexual orientation, experts were told to help them understand it and learn to cope in what was still a very homophobic society.
When mental health professionals changed, however, religious organizations picked up the mantle and started ministries dedicated to “reparative” therapy. Their members—who were sometimes referred to as ex-gays—went through programs that varied from independent bible study to aversion therapy, which involved administering electric shocks every time a patient became aroused by gay pornography.
These groups were very vocal for a few decades and lent their support to efforts to discriminate against LGBTQ individuals; they argued against teaching about sexual orientation in schools, fought the formation of gay-straight alliances, opposed marriage equality, and worked to prevent LGBTQ individuals from adopting children.
Their arguments were all grounded in the idea that sexual orientation could change, that people didn’t have to be gay. Ex-gays were paraded around as success stories—such as in a 1998 ad that insisted men could “pray away the gay.”
And then the truth began to come out. Some leaders of this movement were caught having homosexual affairs, visiting gay bars, or meeting men online. Others stepped forward to admit they were wrong, that they are still gay, and that sexual orientation does not change. In 2013, Exodus International—one of the largest and at one point most powerful, ex-gay ministries—shut its doors.
Now, in the United States at least, it looks like the time of reparative therapy has passed. The courts have held up laws in two states banning the practice for minors. The White House came out against it. And two Democratic Senators recently introduced a resolution condemning it.
But probably the best sign that its days are numbered come in the apologies from those who once sang its praises. Like these words from Exodus’ last president Alan Chambers: “I am sorry that some of you spent years working through the shame and guilt you felt when your attractions didn’t change…. I am sorry that there were times I didn’t stand up to people publicly “on my side” who called you names like sodomite—or worse.”
Martha Kempner, 2015.
Martha Kempner is co-author with Pepper Schwartz of 50 Great Myths of Human Sexuality published 2015 by Wiley