Language matters greatly.” Palestinian-American historian Rashid Khalidi opens his most recent book with these words, and in so doing he goes straight to the heart of why there is neither peace for Israelis nor justice for Palestinians.
Many years ago, the great historians of the French Annales school complained that scholars spend far too much time dealing with the elites and their wars and very little on the crucial matters of ordinary everyday life. Why, they asked, do we have no histories of death, of childhood, of old age? Today, of course, we have many such narratives.
When I'm home on a Sunday afternoon, I like to make sure some simple household task coincides with On the Media so I can listen to it.Inevitably the task takes more than an hour and I end up also hearing Marketplace Money. Nothing against the personal-finance show, but my low tolerance for hearing other people's awkward conversations makes me kind of hate call-in shows generally. (See also: why I can't handle a lot of what passes for comedy anymore.)
Anyway, this past week I was doing the dishes and half-listening when a caller suddenly brought me almost to tears.
The United States is deeply divided regionally when it comes to violence, gun possession and the death penalty. Dividing the country into 11 different “nations” based on the predominant origins of its inhabitants and the resulting culture, Colin Woodard says Yankeedom (his label for the Northeast) and the Left Coast are most open to gun control and abolition of the death penalty. The Deep South, Appalachia, Tidewater and Far West regions contain the most adamant supporters of the Second Amendment and capital punishment, and they also have the highest rate of murders. If the deadlock between these two extremes is ever to be broken, it will come about through swing voters in the middle states (Tufts magazine, Fall).