Jonathan Zimmerman

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An Indonesian journalist holds flowers as she sits in front of a banner during a protest in Jakarta against the killing of journalists by Islamic State. (Mast Irham / EPA)

In 1623, just two years after Native Americans and Pilgrims dined together at the first Thanksgiving, Pilgrim commander Myles Standish decapitated an enemy Indian chieftain and impaled his head on a pike outside of the Plymouth fort.

That's the part we typically omit from our Thanksgiving myth, which emphasizes interracial harmony instead of violence. And we certainly don't like to remember that our forefathers practiced beheading, especially when we're faced with an enemy that still engages in it.

After two American journalists were beheaded by Islamic State fighters, President Obama vowed to dismantle the organization, and has joined with five Arab allies to launch airstrikes on Islamic State targets.…  Seguir leyendo »

On Thursday, my students and I visited a high school here in Ghana. When the headmistress told us that her students were "losing their culture" and "becoming too Western," we asked for an example. "Homosexuality," she said. "To us, it is an abomination. It comes from elsewhere."

That morning, coincidentally, President Obama was addressing the same issue at a news conference in Senegal. Asked about the U.S. Supreme Court's recent decisions in support of gay marriage, Obama acknowledged that Africans have "different customs" and "different traditions" about homosexuality. But he went on to insist that gays should have equal rights under the law, no matter where they live.…  Seguir leyendo »

In the early 1980s, as a Peace Corps volunteer in Nepal, I wore a "Free Tibet" patch on my backpack. Two summers ago, when I returned to my old Nepalese village with my 16-year-old daughter, she affixed the same words to her water bottle.

And still, Tibet is not free.

In fact, it's less so. My Peace Corps years corresponded to a brief period of liberalization in Tibet, following the death of Chinese dictator Mao Zedong. But the Chinese cracked down in the late 1980s and early 1990s, restricting religious practice and Tibetan language instruction. Chinese authorities imposed martial law in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa after riots in 1989 and again in 2008, when hundreds of protesters were killed or detained by security forces.…  Seguir leyendo »