The poor aren’t to blame for the subprime mortgage crisis


Max Ehrenfreund, an old classmate of mine, has been writing some fantastic policy-related material at The Washington Post's "Wonkblog." I woke up to a very cool piece in my inbox: Irresponsible lending might have been one of the many causes of the financial crisis -- but not just irresponsible lending to poor people, according to a new study."The large majority of mortgage dollars originated between 2002 and 2006 are obtained by middle- and high-income borrowers (not the poor)," the authors … [Read more...]

French Muslims have faced more violence since Charlie Hebdo than they did in all of 2014

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Tracy McNicol at The Daily Beast reports:The National Observatory Against Islamophobia says there were 128 anti-Muslim incidents reported in France between the Charlie Hebdo killings and Jan. 20, compared to 133 last year. The Islamophobia monitoring group, linked to the French Council of the Muslim Faith, notes the figure only takes into account incidents reported to law enforcement. It leaves aside victims who haven’t bothered out of fear or resignation. It also leaves out numbers not yet a … [Read more...]

Defending racist speech isn’t moral or productive


The following is a guest post by Aaron Underwood. At its core, I believe the rallying phrase "Je Suis Charlie" was meant to show that free speech cannot be strong-armed. The office of Charlie Hebdo has a long-standing history of legal and physical attacks, and France doesn't have the same robust legal protections on free speech that the US has. This is all an understandable and important response, and that can’t be understated.With some respectful distance, though, I think it’s worth … [Read more...]

An Interview With Zachary Gallant


"In faraway places with strange sounding namesPeople live in fear of the soldiers and planes,The thunder of hundreds of thousands of boots,The rat-tat-tat-tat of their guns as they shoot.A family’s home, where they’ve lived all their lifeCan disappear in the course of one single night." And thus, war begins--or, in this case, a children's book about the subject.  War: A Children's Book is a new conflict resolution project from author Zachary Gallant and illustrator Jenna Frome. Zach, who attende … [Read more...]

Where Vlad has been

At the Basillica of St Lawrence.

It's probably past the point where a New Year's post is timely or relevant, but I've been gone a fair bit and it seems only appropriate to say where I've been, so here we are.Physically, I've spent the holiday and the first few weeks of January home in Durham, mostly working. I've been really academically productive, which has been hard but encouraging. I've started the first round of edits for a paper I spent most of last semester collecting data for, and I can't wait to wrap this project u … [Read more...]

When dialogue works (and when it doesn’t)


The following is a guest post by Trav Mamone from Bi Any Means.In the Emergent Christian scene, there’s a focus on dialogue between liberals and conservatives. The underlining philosophy is that all Christians are members of the same Body of Christ, and as such, our petty differences shouldn’t cause schisms.I was a Christian for twelve years, and I dabbled in every theological persuasion I could find: tongue-talking holy-rollers, suburban megachurches, old-school Lutherans, and Emergent h … [Read more...]

Richard Dawkins still doesn’t really get the whole “race” thing

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Happy new years from the NPS crew. I've had a lot going on (updates to come), but I couldn't resist a quick update in response to the latest Dawkins twitter scandal. me try to pull a Daniel Dennett on this one:I take it the point of the tweet was to respond to a common criticism of new atheist writers---that they're Islamophobic and racist. Yet Muslims aren't a coherent racial identity and neither is Islam. To Dawkins, it … [Read more...]

KKK Imperial Wizard describes a kind of kinship with the Taliban

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VICE News recently posted a feature on the KKK's recruitment of armed forces veterans. This documentary focuses primarily on veteran members of a particular Mississippi chapter. (I would have liked to see more emphasis on broader trends, but that just isn't VICE's thing.)Early on in the reportage, Imperial Wizard Steven Howard admits a kind of kinship to the Taliban: People have called us the Taliban. In some way we can relate to Islamic extremists, just like we are Christian … [Read more...]

Interfaith literacy: Omar Sarwar on religious violence

On Monday, we posted the second of three parts of an interview with Omar Sarwar. Sarwar is a doctoral candidate at Columbia University who wrote a piece for Huffington Post that thoroughly debunked some of Bill Maher and Sam Harris’ go-to talking points about Islam. I’ve learned a lot from Sarwar about Islam, atheism, and everything in between, and I hope you will as well. If you missed the first part, you can find that here. And here's a link to the second one. This post elaborates on Sarwar's … [Read more...]

Humanists doing service work abroad: an interview with Conor Robinson

Taking a break from latrine-building in Haiti

Conor Robinson is a humanist speaker and activist from Los Angeles, California. He and I first met my freshman year at Yale, when he founded the Yale Humanist Society. Since graduating, he spent time in Los Angeles doing Teach for America, before pioneering the Pathfinders Project, a yearlong global humanist service trip.Conor was the recipient of Foundation Beyond Belief’s 2014 Humanist Visionary award, and he is now working with the Foundation to launch the Humanist Service Corps. I spoke w … [Read more...]