home Must Reads Must reads: Refugees, psychology, Muslim-Americans, capital punishment

Must reads: Refugees, psychology, Muslim-Americans, capital punishment


Good morning! This week we’re exploring the lives of Muslim-Americans, the rippling effects of Trump’s travel ban, and the psychology of facts. Join us, and, as always, please use the comments to let use know what you’re reading and loving.

If you haven’t checked it out yet, catch the first episode of our new podcast — subscribe on iTunes and Soundcloud, and you’ll always be able to catch transcripts of episodes here at Global Comment. Last week’s episode featured an interview with Omar Saif Ghobash and it’s a fascinating listen. Please be sure to rate and review in addition to subscribing so other listeners can find us!

Why Facts Don’t Change Our Minds‘ (Elizabeth Kolbert for The New Yorker)

The fact that humans appear immovable when confronted with evidence that should change their minds has been a hot topic lately — and a source of frustration for many of us. What’s the biological reason behind our stubborn refusal to engage with reality?

Among the many, many issues our forebears didn’t worry about were the deterrent effects of capital punishment and the ideal attributes of a firefighter. Nor did they have to contend with fabricated studies, or fake news, or Twitter. It’s no wonder, then, that today reason often seems to fail us. As Mercier and Sperber write, ‘This is one of many cases in which the environment changed too quickly for natural selection to catch up.’

For One Separated Couple, Trump’s Updated Muslim Ban Offers No Fixes‘ (Julianne Hing for The Nation)

Not much has changed about Trump’s ‘travel ban’ that mysteriously focuses on targeting Muslims despite the administration’s claims to the contrary. Among the things that remain unchanged are petty injustices like this one.

The bones of the policy remain intact: In addition to the 90-day suspension of travel and immigration by people from the banned countries, refugee admissions will, as in the first version, be slashed from 110,000 to 50,000 in this fiscal year. The entire refugee program will also be suspended for 120 days.

Muslim Americans Are United by Trump—and Divided by Race‘ (Emma Green for The Atlantic)

While non-Muslim people in the US often perceive Muslims as a vague, uniform mass of Middle Easterners, that’s not actually what the Muslim community looks like. And even as Islam is under siege in America, racial divides are also confronting the Muslim community.

Some Muslims believe ‘we shouldn’t talk about anti-blackness within the community, because we’re under siege by Islamophobes. This is not the right time to air internal laundry,’ Rashad said. But ‘if I have to contend with anti-Muslim bigotry outside of the Muslim community, and within my own community, I’m having to push back on anti-black racism, I’m kind of fighting a war on two fronts.’

Arkansas Appears Set to Execute Eight Men Over Four Days‘ (Kate Wheeling for Pacific Standard)

Capital punishment is grotesque and barbaric, but Arkansas is about to go on a streak as it races to use up stocks of a medication that appears to be dangerous and inhumane. Prisoners would rather be executed via almost any other means imaginable, but the state doesn’t care.

The Arkansas prisoners suggested a number of alternatives that would reduce the risk of pain, including execution by firing squad, a massive overdose of an anesthetic gas, nitrogen hypoxia, a lethal injection of pentobarbital by itself, and a two-drug cocktail of midazolam followed by potassium chloride.

UK sending Syrians back to countries where they were beaten and abused‘ (Harriet Grant for The Guardian)

Britain’s anti-refugee sentiment is condemning people to suffering as the nation denies entry, forcing them back into dangerous, hostile, and abusive situations.

The Guardian has spoken to refugees who were subjected to assaults as they travelled through Europe. The men tell of being held in “cages” in Hungary, waterboarded and handcuffed to beds by detention centre guards in Romania and beaten in Bulgaria.

If you enjoy our work, please consider supporting us with a one time or recurring donation. We believe in paying writers, and we rely on our readers to help us continue serving up interesting, dynamic, and engaging commentary every weekday. To make sure you don’t miss any of that commentary, you can subscribe to our newsletter below — and if you’re interested in writing for us, check out our contributor guidelines.

Photo:  Fibonacci Blue/Creative Commons