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Toxic Masculinity, 1920s-Style

February 2, 2018 in Economics

By Ryan McMaken


By: Ryan McMaken

“Don’t Blame Mental Illness for Mass Shootings” a recent headline at Politico begins, “Blame Men.” To be fair to the author, Laura Kiesel, she probably didn’t choose that title. And to be doubly fair, she doesn’t blame men in general for mass shooting. She does — correctly — point out that the overwhelming majority of people who shoot other people are men. 

These nuances, however, have done little to shield Kiesel from what was probably the expected response. “Politico Blames Masculinity for Mass Shootings. Here’s Why That’s Ridiculous,” an article in The Federalist fires back. Many other responses were less polite. When it comes to mass shootings, it seems that “toxic masculinity” rears its head yet again. 

Many readers, even those not prone to thinking up defenses of men, might think that blaming “men” for mass shootings takes things a bit far. Some might even think that such a claim takes anti-man rhetoric to a new level. 

Such thinking would probably be wrong. There have been other times in American history when men have been blamed for most of society’s ills. And some of those campaigns were even more aggressive than what we might think of as anti-male campaigns today. 

Prohibition, after all, and the entire political milieu surrounding it, was often premised on attacking men. Indeed, for Victorian and Progressive reformers around the turn of the twentieth century, the only thing worse than an American male was an immigrant male. A working-class, immigrant Catholic male was perhaps the worst of all. These people were — to use a word recently given new meaning — the “deplorables” of American society 100 years ago. 

The Progressive Attack on Men  

Among Victorians in the late nineteenth century, and among the later Progressives in the twentieth century, men were singled out as the primary cause of a multitude of social ills ranging from child abuse to poverty. A chief factor  in of all these threats to civilization was alcoholism. The fact that only some men caused such misfortune for their families was not necessarily emphasized. 

This overall attitude grew out of a social environment in which women were slowly gaining in influence in cultural institutions, that set the standard for correct moral behavior. In their book Replacing Misandry, researchers Paul Nathanson and Katherine K Young note:

Though seldom ordained as religious leaders, moreover, women set the agenda also at church. They took their morality into public space with various reform …read more


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Meet Kenny Washington, the First Black NFL Player of the Modern Era

February 2, 2018 in History

By Dan Jones and Marina Amaral


The Past in Color features the work of colorist Marina Amaral, bringing to life black and white photos with color she applies digitally.

LAPD officer. Bit-part Hollywood star. Nixon supporter. Trailblazer for racial integration. Kenny Washington had an eventful–and in some ways contradictory–life ahead of him. But in 1939 he was a star, plain and simple.

“The Kingfish” was an athletic phenomenon. The UCLA Bruins left halfback set a college record of 3,206 yards for total offense over his career, won the Douglas Fairbanks trophy for the best college player in the U.S. and was named to an American college all-star team in August 1940. (He also played baseball for UCLA alongside Jackie Robinson—averaging .454 in 1937 and .350 in 1938.)

Today his pathway would be clear: from college legend to NFL draft to stardom, endorsement deals and riches. But in 1939 that wasn’t an option. The NFL had banned black players six years earlier. So Washington graduated from UCLA, coached a little and joined the LA police department, where his uncle Rocky was the highest-ranking black officer. He bided his time during the Second World War playing part-time minor league football—trashing the cartilage in his knees in the process.

University of California at Los Angeles Bruins football player Kenny Washington leaps high into the air with a football. (Photo by Library of Congress/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images)

The photograph
This image of Washington was taken at the height of his college career, when he wore 13 on his chest and played 580 minutes out of 600. The colors of the uniform have been recreated in consultation with UCLA. “In the 1930’s the UCLA jersey was a navy blue with gold lettering accents, and pants were gold as well,” says Emily Knox, Senior Art Director at UCLA Athletic Hall of Fame. “The shoes were black. The helmet is made from leather with a lighter brown shade.”

Other images from the same period show Washington photographed with his fellow black teammates, Robinson and Woodrow Strode. In all of them, Washington and his comrades exude the athleticism and confidence of preternaturally talented young athletes. Yet each regularly faced racial taunts and discrimination on and off the pitch: they could not play in Texas, for example, because hotels and restaurants would not serve them.

Breaking down barriers
After the Second World War ended the NFL was compelled to abandon its discriminatory policies: the LA Rams, the 1945 …read more


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Religious Intolerance Circles the Globe

February 2, 2018 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

Religious intolerance is a global constant. The defeat of the
Islamic State is good news, but persecutors were active before ISIS
arose and persecutors will remain active despite the group’s
collapse. In many nations freedom of conscience is seen as an
existential threat.

Although common, even pervasive, religious persecution is
complex. The most obvious form is government punishment of those
who hold disfavored beliefs. Equally destructive, however, can be
social intolerance, often backed by private violence and government
indifference. In many nations both are present.

All faiths endure persecution, but Christians suffer the most.
In its latest annual report, the group Open Doors figures that 215
million Christians were subject to high levels of persecution. More
than 3,000 were killed for their faith. Thousands more were raped
or abducted. Roughly 800 churches were attacked.

Rising persecution in part reflects the spread of radical Islam,
particularly through the Islamic State. But the Middle East is not
the only source. Violent extremism is evident in Africa, most
notably Egypt, Nigeria, and Somalia, and Asia, particularly
Bangladesh and Philippines. Religious nationalism is a separate
problem most often occurring in majority Buddhist (Burma/Myanmar
and Sri Lanka) and Hindu (India and Nepal) states. In Central Asia
a combination of authoritarianism, Islam, and nationalism has
created a toxic mix in such nations as Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and

Although it is easy to list the worst persecutors, it
isn’t so easy to rank them. Open Doors gives it a shot with
its World Watch List 2018, which highlights
the 50 worst states. It is a Who’s Who of intolerance,
brutality, and fear.

Freedom of conscience is
the foundation of other liberties.

North Korea continues to top the list, for the sixteenth time.
The totalitarian state is in the news for its nuclear program, but
also is inhospitable to religious belief of any kind, especially
Christianity. The political system is essentially a religion, so
any spiritual faith is seen as a threaten to the regime.
Overwhelming pressure is evident in virtually every aspect of
personal and community life. Violence takes the form of arrest,
prison, and execution.

Barely trailing the North was Afghanistan, supposed U.S.
military ally. Believers there are under extraordinary social
pressure and sometimes are violently targeted. Believers, and
converts in particular, “are unable to express their faith,
even in private,” noted Open Doors.

Afghanistan leads a parade of Islamic states, which dominate the
list. Next in line are Somalia, Sudan, and Pakistan. In Somalia the
state has disintegrated, and “there are no safe places for
Christians to practice their faith.” In Sudan persecution
“is systematic and reminiscent of ethnic cleansing.” In
Pakistan private violence is rising sharply.

Eritrea, known …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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The NFL and the Problem with Government Safety Mandates

February 2, 2018 in Economics

By Curtis Williams


By: Curtis Williams

This Sunday the New England Patriots will look to defend their title against the Philadelphia Eagles in one of the world’s largest sporting events: the Superbowl. A large part of what fuels football’s incredible popularity is the excitement and brutality of the on-field contact. Yet this contact is not without cost. Widespread concern regarding player health has plagued the NFL for many years. The recurring head-on collisions between players have been linked to brain injuries, degenerative diseases such as CTE, and in some cases even suicide. Parents are becoming reluctant to allow their children to play football, and the multi-billion dollar professional football industry is in danger of suffering significant losses if things continue to deteriorate.

Not surprisingly, there have been many attempts to improve player safety. One of the most promising of these has been to imitate some of the techniques of football’s estranged older brother, rugby. Popular throughout much of the rest of the world, and growing fast in America, the game of rugby has much in common with football. For fans accustomed to football though, there is one striking difference — rugby players don’t wear helmets. With the level of contact just as high in rugby, and the players wearing no protective gear, you would expect the concussion problem to be much worse. Yet the prevalence of brain injuries in rugby is much lower. Many experts believe this is because with no helmets for protection rugby players use tackling techniques designed to protect their heads. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll even detailed the rugby approach to tackling in an instructional video in an attempt to promote player safety. This approach has caught on, especially with younger players; many high school coaches now teach the safer rugby tackle.

The above example of helmets causing players to act in a way that may actually reduce their safety is a great example of what is known as the Peltzman Effect, named for University of Chicago professor Sam Peltzman, and his research into auto safety regulation. He found that the moderate gains in saving auto-occupant lives through safety requirements were more than offset by increased pedestrian deaths and a higher overall accident rate. The theory behind his findings was that safety devices tended to make drivers feel safer and actually drive more dangerously, therefore making them mandatory may actually reduce not improve safety. Seatbelts were a …read more


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Is It Time to Lower the Legal Drinking Age?

February 2, 2018 in Blogs

By Phillip Smith, AlterNet

The U.S. is out of step with the rest of the world.

New Hampshire lawmakers are once again considering lowering the drinking age in the state. The proposal this year, from Rep. Dan Hynes (R-Merrimack), would allow 20-year-olds to drink alcohol in private settings, but not buy it or consume it in public.

It's just the latest effort to lower the drinking age in the Granite State. Earlier efforts to lower the age to 19 for active-duty service members or allow those 18 and over to drink when accompanied by adults failed. This year's effort is likely to fail, too—but maybe it shouldn't.

When it comes to the legal drinking age, the United States is out of step with the rest of the world. In more than 100 countries, the legal drinking age is 18 or 19, while only the U.S. and 11 other countries (Côte d'Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Iraq, Kiribati, Micronesia, Mongolia, Nauru, Oman, Palau, Samoa, and Sri Lanka) set it at 21.

Our northern neighbor, Canada, has a drinking age of 18 or 19, depending on the province, and our southern neighbor, Mexico, sets the age at 18. Most European countries go with 18, and the others go even lower.

In fact, more countries have a legal drinking age lower than 18 than set it at 21. Those include a dozen European countries, such as Portugal, which allows drinking anything at age 16; Germany, which allows beer drinking at 16; and Switzerland, where 16-year-olds can drink beer and wine.

Setting the legal drinking age is the domain of the states, but that has not really been the case in the U.S. Although in the 1970s, more than half the states lowered the drinking age from 21 to 20, 19, or 18 as they shrugged off the hangovers of Prohibition, Congress in 1984 made the states an offer they couldn't refuse: With the enactment of the National Minimum Drinking Age Act, the states could choose between raising the age to 21 or losing their federal highway funds. They went with keeping their federal dollars.

By 1988, every state in the …read more


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9 Dishes Chefs Eat When They're Sick

February 2, 2018 in Blogs

By Melissa Kravitz, AlterNet

You might be better off enjoying a bowl of brothy soup than taking flu medications.

When your nose won’t stop leaking, you can barely hear Netflix over your incessant coughing, and a trip outside the house seems like a death sentence, there’s only one way to cure the plague: Food. A plethora of ingredients are proven to help you feel better—perhaps better than any over-the-counter cold reliever—and soup is indeed medically proven to make you feel better when winter sickness makes everything feel bleak.

Having certain ingredients on hand for when illness hits can also help during cold and flu season.

Elizabeth Trattner is a certified gourmet chef from the Natural Gourmet Institute and a doctor of Chinese and integrative medicine. She recommends stocking up on ginger, an antioxidant that’s also an antimicrobial, which kills bacteria and can also combat chills and fever; fresh garlic, an antioxidant that increases antibody production and stimulates white blood cell multiplication; and marrow-based soups, which can be purchased by the box and contain alkylglycerols, a type of fat found in our organs that boosts the body’s production of white blood cells, which “protect the body against infections and immune cells that digest bacteria.”

And while home cook cures may come from a box, leave it to the professionals to whip up something curative and delicious when they’re too contagious to go to work in a restaurant kitchen. Here’s what chefs eat when they’re sick (spoiler: lots of broth).

1. Noodle soup

Brian Shin, chef at San Francisco's bar The Snug, is “a big soup guy in general,” but his love for warm savory liquids grows stronger when he’s feeling sick. Pho and ramen are both sick-day go-tos, and when he can get it, a big, hearty bowl of Korean oxtail soup, called seolleongtang, is the ideal cure.

2. Pho or matzo ball soup

“Whenever I am sick, like most people, I want soup,” says Nini Nguyen, culinary director of Cook Space in Brooklyn. “Pho is always my go-to when I am not feeling 100%. It is my comfort food because I am …read more