Author: Henry Rambow

Safe University

Heart fluttering, Sophia Libby thumbed through her lecture notes as she waited for the last few students to trickle into the room. The mere sound of their voices now stirred within her a sense of dread that was, physiologically, identical to what an inmate experiences while being prepped for execution. The feeling was said to be common among teachers at inner-city public schools. But not professors at top-tier universities. A resonant buzz, her phone vibrating against the surface of the lectern, startled her, and she glanced down to find that an email had just arrived from Dick Swaddler, the Dean of Students. The emetic power of the Dick’s missives had grown substantially in recent years, and as Sophia began reading, she saw that the present piece was no less potent than usual. Dear Faculty, Just a quick reminder that our students’ well-being is our top priority. I recently received a report that one of our colleagues said the words, “That’s wrong,” to a student during a recitation. That student is now undergoing counseling. With this …

The Josiah Effect: How Moderate Religion Fuels Fundamentalism

For years, my response to the most vocal critics of religion was to say, “By all means, rail against the extremists, but leave the moderates alone. They haven’t done any harm.” I was unconvinced that moderate religion gave shelter to fundamentalism, and I could find no justification for criticizing those familiar, comforting forms of the Abrahamic faiths that play a prominent role in the lives of even the most peaceful citizens of modern society. But then I looked in the mirror. It was after the attack on Charlie Hebdo. A pair of brothers, Said and Cherif Kouachi, had stormed the magazine’s offices and executed unarmed cartoonists, shouting, “Allahu Akbar!” The incident reminded me of another pair of brothers: Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who perpetrated the Boston Marathon bombing. In each case, I saw myself in the younger sibling. Cherif and Said Kouachi While the rest of the world was holding up signs saying, “I am Charlie,” I was thinking, I am Cherif. I was not, nor had I ever been, a terrorist. But I saw …