In Beyond Ramps, Marta Russell gives an excellent critique of disability policy & cultural attitudes in the American political & economic systIn Beyond Ramps, Marta Russell gives an excellent critique of disability policy & cultural attitudes in the American political & economic system. She shows how inadequate the Americans with Disabilities Act is in broadening opportunities and inclusion of people with disabilities in mainstream society. There is not enough of a push for businesses to hire people with disabilities, and there was too much compromise on not putting an "undue burden" on businesses to make their buildings accessible.
She also covers issues of bio-ethics, the history and current practices of eugenics & euthanasia. She gives some terrible examples of people who were put to death against their will, by people who thought they knew best. Though I do have to disagree with her on the Terry Schiavo case- doctors were almost all agreed that she was beyond help, not conscious at all, and really just artificially being kept alive. Really, it's a big example of why we all need to write living wills. There is a lot more awareness & encouragement of writing living wills by health care professionals now. Russell also challenges us- what is the "perfect baby" anyway? Where do we draw the line as far as parents choosing what traits their unborn children have? Are we loosing important parts of the human condition or playing God by aborting these embryos or screening out "bad" genes? How much is the pro-choice movement quietly supporting selective abortion as a parent's choice? (Though she does overall support a women's right to choose) Lots of disturbing things to consider, both on an individual and societal level.
Keep in mind, however that this book is now 14 years old- Clinton was president at the time, and so the statistics and policies are now quite different. I don't have all the information as to *how* they differ, but one thing I can say is that the tides have turned a lot regarding nursing homes vs. Personal Care Attendants. During the 2000's it became realized that PCAs were cheaper, and better for the people involved, and so there has been a strong shift in that direction, though funding for them is often not enough. I also thought she was too harshly critical of nonprofits. I think non-profits and charities can be a good *supplement* to government aid, but they definitely cannot replace them, and I agree we can't just depend on people to donate to them.
I learned a lot from this book, and it often challenged my views, and deepened my understanding of disability rights issues. I hope it will for you too! I will re-post this review on my blog- http://www.mariahmuse.blogspot.com and you can read more of my thoughts & opinions on disability issues there. ...more
In all the controversy surrounding abortion in American culture- one voice we never get to hear is that of the doctors who perform them. Here is a uniIn all the controversy surrounding abortion in American culture- one voice we never get to hear is that of the doctors who perform them. Here is a unique chance to hear such a voice. Susan Wickland's journey toward becoming an abortion provider began when she herself had an abortion. It was an unpleasant experience for her- the doctor & nurses were cold, did not counsel her or explain the procedure. After that, she decided that women ought to have better treatment as they deal with a terrible decision.
The women that come to her come from a variety of situations and consider abortion for a variety of reasons- poverty, rape/sexual abuse, the stigma of being an unwed mother, medical reasons. She makes extra sure that this is what they really want- asking them several times, carefully explaining the procedure and comforting them before and after.
Ms. Wickland faces many trials as the result of her chosen profession. Protestors crowd around her home, harass her daughter at school, and threaten her over the phone. Often she has to have police escort her into the clinic. The book ends up reading like a spy/adventure novel, as Susan develops various strategies to protect her family. I am amazed by her bravery and dedication. Even if you disagree with abortion, I would hope you can appreciate all the sacrifices and suffering she goes through for something she believes in. Would you do that?...more
While race is a frequent topic of discussion and activism among UU's, socio-economic class is all too often ignored. Personally I have encountered claWhile race is a frequent topic of discussion and activism among UU's, socio-economic class is all too often ignored. Personally I have encountered classist attitudes among UU's, so this was of great interest to me. Beginning with Unitarians in Britain, Harris shows that they had more humble origins as skilled workers and small merchants, who rose in status through their own efforts. After coming to America, Unitarians became a more elite group particularly in Boston. Their churches often excluded people of other classes and races. Universalists, while stereotyped as rural and working-class, actually were more economically mixed.
I was shocked by some of what I read in this book, including many Unitarian's advocacy for eugenics. At the time it was seen as progressive! All in all, I believe this is essential reading for anyone interested in Unitarian Universalism, liberal religion or the intersection of religion and class....more
In the year 2075, the moon has been turned into a penal colony, and its inhabitants are exploited to produce resources to import to an overpopulated EIn the year 2075, the moon has been turned into a penal colony, and its inhabitants are exploited to produce resources to import to an overpopulated Earth. Fed up, a group of them decides to organize a revolution, with the help of an intelligent computer, "Mike".
Heinlein explores many interesting ideas, both political, economic and social. I'm having some trouble getting into it, as it's a little dense. I'm going to keep reading though, as I've been told it's one of Heinlein's best works, and among the best of science fiction in general....more
Foreign policy expert Fareed Zakaria addresses the global power shift from the U.S. as sole superpower to a world order where there are multiple powerForeign policy expert Fareed Zakaria addresses the global power shift from the U.S. as sole superpower to a world order where there are multiple powers. Despite the panic over America's decline, he reassures Americans that we will continue to be a world leader, and strong economically and politically. He also points out how we still have a great deal of cultural influence all over the world. There are two chapters on major rising powers- China and India, the latter being his native land.
Overall it was an excellent analysis and I learned a lot. A few problems I did see were that at times he seemed overly optimistic, and also downplayed or ignored the loss of indigenous cultures and languages due to colonialism and spread of American culture. He was more "yay capitalism" than I tend to be, more politically moderate. It is also a few years out of date, so it's still talking about the Bush administration. Foreign policy has changed a lot since Obama came to the White House. ...more
I hadn't heard of this fellow, a peace and civil rights activist until he and Carol Masters came to my church to speak and sign books. Ironically theI hadn't heard of this fellow, a peace and civil rights activist until he and Carol Masters came to my church to speak and sign books. Ironically the beginnings of his stance on nonviolent resistance were in the army (He was drafted right after the Korean war)...more
In Republican Like Me, Harmon Leon, journalist and flaming liberal goes undercover into a a variety of conservative/right-wing groups. He starts tryinIn Republican Like Me, Harmon Leon, journalist and flaming liberal goes undercover into a a variety of conservative/right-wing groups. He starts trying to shock us by attending a Neo-Nazi meeting at an Applebee's. The participants are at least semi-normal people with very creepy opinions- they mention that they are very family-oriented. The family that hates together stays together? Often at the various events he goes to, he makes provocative statements (not lefty but more righty)
One of the things we can take from this book is the diversity of conservative thought. All too often liberals think of conservatives as a monolithic group (they seem to do the same of us, however) I think if a conservative tried to infiltrate liberal groups, they would find just as many absurdities though of different kinds. Goofy hippie behavior, illogical socialist statements, etc.
While entertaining, I was hoping to get more insight and understanding of conservatives and their subcultures- more of a anthropological viewpoint. Coming from a political science background- maybe I am just too serious for this book?
Interestingly, I bought it at a thrift store in a very small town- the proprietress commented that being a liberal living in a small town is rather like being undercover like Leon....more
While I'd heard news stories about cultural tensions with Muslims in Europe esp. France I did not realize the full extent of these problems. Bawer detWhile I'd heard news stories about cultural tensions with Muslims in Europe esp. France I did not realize the full extent of these problems. Bawer details many outrageous human rights abuses especially of women, children, gay and Jewish people by Muslim immigrants. He blames European countries' policies of multiculturalism & cultural relativism for being so "tolerant" of Islam that they turn a blind eye towards extremism. He claims that any criticism of Islam is suppressed as being racist. He points out that the U.S. is used to immigration and encourages new citizens to see themselves as Americans, and embrace common values of democracy and equality, but Europe was not prepared to integrate large numbers of immigrants from drastically different cultures, and native Europeans have a lack of confidence in their cultural values stemming from the World Wars and guilt over colonialism.
One big caveat I have with "While Europe Slept" is that Bawer does not cite his sources- no footnotes. It seems odd, especially when he mentions specific incidents and quotes. That said, it has sparked my interest to further research Islam in Europe. I think he raised some valid criticisms of European policies, though I do think he has a bias against the E.U. that didn't seem especially relevant to this book. His dismissal of any real racism or discrimination towards African & Asian immigrants in Europe seems unfair and dishonest. ...more