Saturday, April 30, 2005

If you want to visit my brother's blog, he's started blogging again about My Popular Music Tastes. His profile photo depicts my grandmother (holding my blogging brother), my mother, my other brother, and myself (at age 6? 8? I'm not sure).
For an excellent blog on issues of racism, voting fraud, and most recently, the shocking case of a 5-year old African-
American child handcuffed (!?) by police in Florida, see my friend Ben's blog, HungryBlues.
Rachel Barenblat (of Velveteen Rabbi) sent me a link to these heartbreaking drawings - Children’s Drawings from Darfur. These are drawings from children about what they saw and experienced when the Sudanese army soldiers and the Janjaweed invaded and destroyed their homes and villages. They were collected by Human Rights Watch workers sent to refugee camps in Chad.

Here is one of the images:

Monday, April 25, 2005

While cruising on the Ha'aretz web site, I found this hilarious guide to street Hebrew - The Hebrew they never taught you. I think that most of these words come from Army slang, Arabic, or Russian. I knew some of them but the more outre or more Army ones were less familiar. Ahla!

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Jim Davila at has an extensive post on the Association of University Teachers' proposed boycott of three Israeli universities, quoting the proposals and criticizing them in much the same terms as Frances Raday's letter to the Guardian, which I quoted in a previous post. The amazing hypocrisy and anti-semitism of these proposals knows no bounds. If they are so exercised about human rights abuses, perhaps they should consider the repression in almost all Arab countries of political dissent, the prohibition of the open practice of any religion except Islam in Saudi Arabia, the exceptionally bloody war in Chechnya, etc. No, nothing is terrible except what is done by Israel (and probably by the U.S. as well).

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Somehow, I knew this: Some Extra Heft May Be Helpful, New Study Says. Can we now stop with the hysteria about being fat? And note: this new study says that in 2000, in the United States, it is estimaged that 33,746 people died of health problems associated with being underweight, while 25,814 died of health problems associated with being overweight or obese.
The British Association of University Teachers is debating a motion to boycott three Israeli universities for their supposed support of Israeli government policies in the occupied territories. (See also Don't Boycott us, plead Israeli academics). Frances Raday, a distinguished Israeli professor of law at the Hebrew University and President of the Israel Association of Feminist and Gender Studies has published a letter on the Guardian's website protesting this attempt to ostracize Israeli academics. I received a copy of the letter because I'm on a Israeli feminist listserve. I thought it deserved more publicity and copy it here:
Open letter from Israeli feminist academics to their colleagues in England

Dear Colleagues,

We recently learned that the (British) Association of University Teachers, at its forthcoming council, is to debate a decision to boycott three Israeli universities for their alleged complicity with the Israeli government's policies on the Palestinian territories. Such a decision would reflect an assumption, widely shared by academics on the left (particularly in Europe), that Israel is a colonialist if not an apartheid state, which systematically and gratuitously violates the human rights of Palestinians both in the territories and in Israel. It is an attitude that stigmatises us Israelis as lepers, beyond the pale, not fit for human interaction. Israelis have become the one currently legitimate case for social exclusion in the eyes of those very people who are fighting social exclusion in all its forms.

Those of you who support the resolution will no doubt say to yourselves: 'but they (the Israelis) deserve it'. And the point of this letter is to ask you to question that rationalisation. The resolution is misguided on two grounds. First, it targets Israel in a disproportionate way. On a graded scale of evil intent, can it really be said that Israel is the worst offender in the world, deserving of the one and only boycott by left wing intellectuals? In condemning Israel, how many of England's academics have employed Karl Popper's empathy test? Would they like to change places with the Israeli population and have to deal with our problems: 60 years of mass immigration of refugee populations, a territory the size of Wales, 3 wars in which the State's survival was threatened, deaths from terrorism and suicide bombings relatively equivalent to recurrent 11th of September tragedies? Second, the resolution ostracises and silences the academic community - one of the most important sources of criticism and debate of the Israeli government's policies.

As feminist academics, many of us, too, are highly critical of our government's policy on occupation and settlement. In order to disseminate our work and our criticism, we need open channels of communication in the international academic community. Boycotts such as the one proposed, by undercutting the international and consequently the national status of the academic institutions within which we work, only weaken the ability of those institutions to serve as forums for the voicing of critical and alternative views - a role in which Israel's universities serve honorably.

Many of you surely have opposed the Bush-Blair invasion of Iraq. We wonder whether you are considering resigning from your University positions, refusing to lecture to English students and refusing to pay taxes to a government which uses them to kill Iraqis. To the best of our knowledge, the coalition forces have killed in the space of a year at least 5 times as many Iraqi civilians (16,000 as of October 2004, most of them women and children - BBC 29.10.04) as the Israelis have killed in the past 5 years of Intifada (3,574 according to the Palestinian Red Crescent - most of them Palestinian fighters, not civilians). And this - along with the preceding starvation of the Iraqi civilian population as a result of Western sanctions - was not preceded by any Iraqi attack on Britain's population, such as Israel's civilians have repeatedly suffered at the hands of organized Palestinian irregular fighters and suicide bombers; even the evidence of a potential threat of attack, on which Britain went to war, was flimsy and proved false. Is this perhaps a case of seeing "the speck that is in your brother's eye, but not the beam that is in your own eye?"

The academic community in Israel enjoys full academic freedom, as is clear from the wide divergence of views that emanate from it. The proposed boycott by British academics thus must be seen as an attempt to curtail academic freedom. We are convinced that our time as academics would be better spent not in ostracising and silencing other academics for the moral messiness in the world around us, but in encouraging research and exchange of information and ideas as to the most effective ways of rectifying it.

Frances Raday
President of the Israel Association of Feminist and Gender Studies,

Professor of Law
The College of Management Academic Studies
Lieberman Chair, Hebrew University of Jerusalem

This kind of boycott is very injurious to Jewish Studies in particular, because we have close contact with Israeli colleagues all the time, and it would be very damaging to our continued collaboration if this kind of official boycott were declared.
As pointed out by Jim Davila at Paleojudaica, the Yeshiva University Museum Presents A Journey Through the Talmud's History. The exhibit will be up through August 2005.

I'm curious whether they deal also with the anti-Talmud slanders frequent among anti-Semitic writers, and now to be found online as well. (I'm thinking of Carol A. Valentine's website, where she has put up a good deal of the Soncino translation of the Talmud into English, following in the footsteps of Elizabeth Dilling's publication of those passages in her book "The Jewish Religion: Its Influence Today." Dilling, a notorious anti-Semite, also published "The Plot Against Christianity"). (I'm not providing the links here because I don't want to have direct links from my site to hers!)

And I still wonder why the Soncino publishing company has not sued Valentine to force her to take down her site, since she's clearly violating their copyright.
Cardinal Ratzinger elected new Pope. We will see. Andrew Sullivan is very unhappy that Ratzinger is the new Pope, given Ratzinger's theological conservatism and role as enforcer of Catholic orthodoxy.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Here's the report from the IC student newspaper about yesterday's rally: Hundreds rally to 'Erase the Hate'. A detail that I got wrong from yesterday's posting - Emily Liu is the name of the president of Asian Culture Club.

And also, an important part of the rally I forgot to report on: before the rally started, a new rainbow flag was raised, along with a flag reading "Erase the Hate" with a rainbow fringe. As the Ithacan reported: "Freshman Taryn Michelitch announced that from 9 p.m. Thursday to 7 a.m. Friday, prism will hold a vigil underneath the flagpole to make sure the flag stays in the air."

To see some nice pictures of the rally, go to the "Erase the Hate" photo gallery.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Today's "Erase the Hate" rally was very exciting and hopeful. It was wonderful to see how well students organized the rally, how energetic they were, and how wide a coalition they had brought together to protest against the recent racist and homophobic acts on the Ithaca College campus. There were speakers from the African-Latino Society, including one young man very powerfully leading chants and energizing the crowd. Michelle Berry, the Ithaca Common Council member from the second ward, who also teaches at IC, gave a poetic and encouraging speech, as did Leslyn McBean Claybourn, one of the representatives on the Tompkins County Legislature. Amy Liu, from the Asian Culture Club, gave a powerful speech against racism. Representatives from prism, the student LGBT group, and from Created Equal, the gay-straight alliance, spoke very well. A student from Hillel spoke up about an incident that happened to her last semester, when a swastika was written on her door (an incident I hadn't heard about before). The student trustee (on the Board of Trustees), spoke out, as did the president of the student government, a gay man. There were many others as well. Peggy Williams, IC president, spoke very powerfully (I keep using that word, but it fits) against racism, homophobia, and other forms of xenophobia that destroy community - speaking directly and angrily to the perpetrators and telling them that there was no place in the IC community for hateful acts like these. She said that she wished she were speaking to them in her office and telling them directly what she thought of their acts. About 500 people came to the rally - mostly students, but also many staff and faculty, as well as deans and other administrators. I was very happy to see the seriousness of the student speakers (the president of the Caribbean Student Association was particularly eloquent) and their determination. Many people were wearing white t-shirts with slogans written on them, or holding up the student newspaper, which was published today - the entire back page was a very elegantly designed "Erase the Hate" poster.

I hope that the students remain active and involved, because I think that the administration is behind them, from the president on down, and that if they keep on pushing, there will be real change on this campus.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

On the depressing notes of racism and indifference.... at my college this semester there have been several notable racist incidents that are finally giving rise to energetic student activism. Earlier in the semester, an African-American student was harassed in a elevator by a white student, who jumped up and down in the elevator, and when she asked him to stop, he called her a racist slur. A few weeks later, as an Asian-American student was walking past a group of white male students, they yelled at her and called her names. She had earlier been harassed in the same way when using the communal dorm kitchen. This past weekend, across the front doors of one of the residence halls, and on the door of the student convenience store, more racial slurs (anti-Black) were written in green and black marker. The same weekend, the gay pride flag was stolen from the flagpole (this is the third year that's happened). Tomorrow a coalition of student groups is sponsoring an "Erase the Hate" rally and march to protest against these racist actions. The school president, Peggy Williams, expressed her anger in a talk with the student government on Tuesday night. "'I just want to say that I’m so angry I could actually just spit, and you’re going hear it in my voice as I’m just ready to scream,' Williams said. 'I actually am someone who has not grown up with hate as part of my sense of sentiment, and at this point I’m ready to throw whoever these people are off the highest roof I can find on the Ithaca College campus.'" Williams also said in a notice sent to all faculty and staff that
I was outraged and deeply saddened when I heard that acts of bias have once again taken place on our campus. This past weekend, explicit and angry racist graffiti were found written in several locations around the Towers Concourse and the rainbow flag symbolizing gay pride was stolen from the “free speech” flagpole.

As I said at my all-College address on March 15, heinous actions of this type, obviously born of ignorance and intolerance, have no place in a community that values diversity. And let me assure you that we are such a community. All of us -- students, faculty, and staff members alike -- must feel free to pursue our education and our work in a nurturing and safe environment. I urge us to not let these acts tear us apart but instead to bring us together. While I truly believe that these actions are being carried out by a small fraction of our community, we are all responsible for working together to build a campus that accepts and embraces our diversity, individually and collectively.
Once again, I'd like to invite my readers (whoever you are!) to pay a visit to the Coalition for Darfur and to Passion of the Present in order to learn what's going on in Darfur. Passion of the Present posts many current stories and editorials on Darfur, while Coalition for Darfur often posts analyses. Both are attempting to raise awareness of the ongoing genocide in Darfur and arouse citizen activists to action.

I keep being struck by the similarities to world inaction during the Holocaust. We may know more than we knew then (although a lot was known by the U.S. & British governments), but we still occupy our time with useless conferences, useless statements by diplomats (see under: Kofi Annan, Colin Powell, Condaleeza Rice), and general indifference. Somehow the Michael Jackson trial is more important. Terri Schiavo's death is more important. Reality TV shows are more important. Britney Spears' pregnancy is more important.

Do we want to spend our time ten years from now commemorating the tragic slaughter, rapes, death from starvation and disease, as we now commemorate the tragic slaughter in Rwanda in 1994 - or do we want to remember that finally the genocide was stopped by organized political action?

Monday, April 11, 2005

In this article, In a Judgmental World, She Was Ashamed of Getting Sick, the author writes about her mother who died of emphysema. She had been a heavy smoker, and felt shame about her death.

I wonder if this kind of shame is why lung cancer, or other lung diseases linked to smoking, gets far less public attention than other forms of cancer, like breast cancer and prostate cancer. It bothers me that when I tell people that my mother died of cancer, they often jump to the conclusion that it must have been breast cancer, even though far more people die every year of lung cancer than of breast cancer. And then when I tell them that it was lung cancer, they ask me if she was a smoker. Does it matter if she was a smoker? I wonder why people ask. Does it make them feel better somehow if the person was a smoker? Is it easier then to blame the person for her own death?

I ask too, when I hear that someone has lung cancer. Earlier this year, when a friend of mine died of lung cancer, I also wanted to know if he had been a smoker. It was disturbing to me - very disturbing - that he had not been a smoker. Since he wasn't a smoker, perhaps that meant that I - also not a smoker - might be vulnerable to lung cancer. It seems to me that being able to point to a definite cause - smoking - makes it easier for people to blame others who get lung cancer for their own illnesses, and simultaneously distance themselves from the sick person. It gives one a sense of having some control over one's death.

But should we gain this sense of control at the expense of shaming another human being? And what is more, what do we gain for ourselves by turning away from the fact that we will all die, from one thing or another, and that in the end, we don't have control over whether we will die?
Once again, Avi Shafran, the "Director of Public Affairs" of Agudath Israel, the ultra-Orthodox Jewish group, tries to claim in this letter to the editor of the New York Times - Judaism and the Pope - that ultra-Orthodoxy is more than 3,000 years old, even though it, like the Reform movement, is a creation of the 19th century.
To the Editor:

A word of clarification regarding the contention of Rabbi Eric Yoffie, the president of the Union for Reform Judaism, that "our religious traditions led us to different conclusions" than Pope John Paul II's regarding gender roles, abortion and homosexuality ("People of All Faiths Recall Pope With Fondness," news article, April 4).

The religious tradition to which the rabbi referred is the less-than-200-year-old Reform theology.

Traditional Judaism, which is more than 3,000 years old and continues to be embraced by Orthodox Jews worldwide, is much closer on all those issues to the stances taken by John Paul II.

(Rabbi) Avi Shafran
Director of Public Affairs
Agudath Israel of America
New York, April 4, 2005

It continues to amaze me how spokesmen for ultra-Orthodoxy can continue to maintain, against the historical evidence, that Judaism has never had a pluralism of views on various controversial issues, and that the current views of ultra-Orthodox rabbis are the only correct Jewish ones. Shafran is correct that ultra-Orthodoxy and Reform differ on these issues - but he is incorrect to think that all of Jewish history corroborates his view of Judaism. If we were to step back 3,000 years, approximately to the time of the building of the First Temple, I think we would find a very different religion than the one practiced by Jews (of any stripe) today. (For one thing, of course, Jews no longer sacrifice animals as part of worship). If we stepped back 2,000 years we would find evidence of some synagogues where women were leaders (see Bernadette Brooten's work, "Women Leaders of the Ancient Synagogue"). If we stepped back a thousand years we would find Jews in the Middle East who rejected the authority of the Talmud and the midrash (the Karaites).

Thursday, April 07, 2005

This scary story in Thursday's Haaretz tells about a "High alert amid warnings of Temple Mount attack."
The Shin Bet security service has raised the level of alert in Jerusalem amid indications that extremist Jews are planning to carry out an attack on the mosques of the Temple Mount, and on the basis of new intelligence has beefed up police and security around the site in the heart of the Old City....

Police on Wednesday announced plans to close the Temple Mount compound to Jews on Sunday, when a right-wing extremist group called Revava was planning to hold a mass rally there. Police fear the activists could clash with Muslim worshipers. Public Security Minister Gideon Ezra and Police Commissioner Moshe Karadi have approved an operational plan meant to prevent Revava activists from holding the event. Police will prevent Jews from ascending to the mount Sunday, and will work to prevent any friction between Jews and Muslims in the Old City's alleys. Jerusalem's police chief, Ilan Franco, announced several days ago that Revava activists would not be allowed to enter the Temple Mount compound. The statement came after reports in the Arab media expressed dismay at intentions of Israeli authorities to grant the right-wing activists permission to approach the compound, revered as holy by Jews, Christians and Muslims alike. Channel One reported Wednesday night that these security concerns have been made known to the political echelon. The radical rightists apparently aim to attack the mosques in the hope that will disrupt the execution of the disengagement plan.

The secret service created a ranking from 1-10 with 10 being the highest security risk. Three months ago, the Shin Bet was ranking the security threat at 7, meaning that "there are signs of planning for an attack," and that there are activists "talking about what to do and as soon as possible." Now, however, the ranking has moved to an 8 - and it is based on much more solid information.... A senior security source said recently that the mosques of the Temple Mount, known to Muslims as Haram el Sharif, have become a "hot topic" among radicals, on the assumption that an attack on the mosques would shock the Muslim world, drag Israel into a new war and prevent the disengagement. The source defined the chances of the threat against the mount being actualized as greater than the threat to the prime minister's life, where the security risk remains stable at 6, largely because of the difficulty of protecting the mount....

Jim Davila at Paleojudaica has been following this story much more carefully than I. It does sound dangerous. Before Israel's pullout from the Sinai Peninsula in the early 1980s there were plots by an armed Jewish underground to blow up the mosques on the Temple Mount. They were caught before they could do anything - I hope that the Shin Bet will manage to catch these folks too, this time around. (The 2002 Israeli movie Time of Favor dramatized this story, adding [of course] a romantic plot to spice things up).

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Another great Op-Ed piece by Nicholas Kristof on Darfur - The Pope and Hypocrisy. As he says, "'Throughout the West, John Paul's witness reminded us of our obligation to build a culture of life in which the strong protect the weak,' Mr. Bush said. Well, what about that reminder? What kind of a 'culture of life' is it that allows us to shrug as Sudanese soldiers heave children onto bonfires?" Or that allows us to stand by as Sudanese soldiers rape girls and then imprison them for adultery when they get pregnant (after their families have thrown them out of their huts in the refugee camps)?

Sunday, April 03, 2005

For two of my classes, I (and hopefully the students as well!) have been reading two fascinating new books - one by Arthur Green, Guide to the Zohar, and one by Harvey Goldberg, Jewish Passages: Cycles of Jewish Life.

The first one is assigned for my Jewish Mysticism class as an introduction to the Zohar. It is a beautifully, lyrically written induction into the Zohar, seducing the reader into loving the text of the Zohar as Green does. He explains the symbolism of the sefirot, traces the history of Kabbalah before the Zohar, and describes the midrashic and narrative techniques of the Zohar. I would recommend it for anyone who wants to know what the Zohar is. It was written as an introductory book to the new translation of the Zohar that Daniel Matt is doing (the Pritzker edition of the Zohar) but certainly stands very well alone.

The second one is an introduction to Jewish rituals of the life-cycle by an eminent Israeli anthropologist. It is also beautifully written and accessible to undergraduates. He traces the history of Jewish rituals (for example, circumcision), beginning with the Bible, going into rabbinic and medieval developments, and talks about how the ritual is practiced today. He explores the meaning of Jewish rituals within a wide range of Jewish cultures and brings in his own experiences as a Jewish ethnographer. He provides as well the relevant anthropological theoretical framework - for example, from Arthur van Gennep's Rites de Passage or from Victor Turner's The Ritual Process. He engages the material with a full awareness of his own personal role as an anthropologist/ethnographer. He is also admirably non-judgemental, thus allowing the reader to make up his or her own mind about the information he is providing.

Both of these books provide much information delivered in an effortless manner. I think they are challenging to undergraduates but ultimately very rewarding.

I cannot say the same of a book I used last semester for my Hebrew Scriptures course - John J. Collins, Introduction to the Hebrew Bible. The book is marketed as an introductory Hebrew Bible textbook suitable both for undergraduate and graduate courses. I found that it was not appropriate for my 100-level course, which has many first and second-year students in it. They complained that it often assumed too much knowledge on the part of the reader. I agreed, and think it is much more appropriate for a introductory Bible course taught at a seminary, in other words for first-year graduate students who have probably already studied the Bible as undergraduates. In many respects it does not work very well as an introduction - for example, it would have been very helpful if each chapter had summarized the biblical book (or part of biblical book) that it dealt with and outlined the main points it was going to deal with. It was a good summary of contemporary scholarship on a given biblical book, but I found that more useful for preparation for my lectures, rather than for the students to read. In addition to these drawbacks for an undergraduate course, I objected to Collins' political slant that popped up at various points in the book, in particular what seemed to me to be his dragging in contemporary politics to the biblical text. I particularly objected to what he said about the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, but there were other tendentious political remarks that I also disliked. This aspect of the book seemed to embody what I often find obnoxious about liberal Christian academics' approach to politics.

Previous to using this book I used another introductory textbook, Reading the Old Testament, by Barry Bandstra, which was written at the right level for my undergraduates, but also had occasional superficial excursions into contemporary liberalism that I objected to. If the author of a textbook for undergraduates wants to introduce contemporary politics into the book, I think that he or she should somewhere in the book justify that importation of politics, rather than simply citing his or her political views as if they had the same authority as the scholarship that the book presents.
I just read the article in today's New York Times Magazine about the Dutch-Somali ex-Muslim member of the Dutch Parliament, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and found it very disturbing for what it says about the relationship between liberalism and extremism. The author of the article, Christopher Caldwell, argues that it was Dutch liberalism that permitted the growth of an alienated Muslim immigrant population in the Netherlands that now includes many people who have embraced the ideology of Al Qaeda and militant Islamism.
Until recently, the Netherlands adhered to a national policy cumbersomely known as ''integration with maintenance of one's own identity.'' It arose partly out of unspoken guilt over the country's failure to save many Jews under German occupation during World War II and partly out of a modish multiculturalism. But letting ethnic communities go their own way also had a long history in the Netherlands. The ''Pacification'' of 1917 formalized a system in which different groups - Catholics, Protestants, secular citizens and others - lived in separate institutional universes, or ''pillars.'' A Catholic would typically attend a Catholic school, read a Catholic newspaper, join a Catholic trade union and social club and vote for a Catholic political party.

The system withered in the 1960's, but many Dutch clung to the hope that its virtues could be revived for an age of immigration. In the early 1990's, Frits Bolkestein, then the leader of the country's pro-free-market party, the VVD, warned in articles and speeches that they could not. He argued that certain identities, unlike the old Catholic and Protestant ones, would, if maintained, undermine the individual rights that are at the heart of the Dutch constitution. He cited the practice of bigamy, for instance. Where clashes occurred, Bolkestein insisted, Dutch norms must prevail. For this observation, he was condemned as a rightist and a racist. Today, most Dutch accept the validity of Bolkestein's critique, even if they can't agree on what to do about it.

Hirsi Ali says that it is not just militant Islam that is the problem - it is much of traditional Islam as well. She began to speak up after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001: " She took the floor at a conference in an Amsterdam political club to say that what Islam needed was not understanding from others but its own Voltaire. The national daily Trouw had her write an op-ed on the matter. Asked her opinion of Pim Fortuyn's characterization of Islam as a 'backward religion,' Hirsi Ali replied that by certain measures, including the treatment of women, Fortuyn's statement was not an opinion but a fact."

Eventually, she and Theo van Gogh, an outrageous Dutch filmmaker, made a movie called "Submission" - "It presented four fictional episodes. All involved violence against women and the Koranic verses that had been, or could be, used to justify it. These verses were written on the skin of the actresses' seminaked bodies." Van Gogh was murdered by an Islamist terrorist, and "Hirsi Ali says she felt guilt over van Gogh's death - guilt that van Gogh's mother publicly insisted was misplaced -- but she continues to reject any suggestion that the film they made was sensationalist, or gratuitous in its use of see-through clothing. 'Maybe Americans think, "This is a naked body,''' she says. 'But this body is why half the nation in Saudi Arabia is not allowed to drive.'''
The predicament of individual Muslim women has become a public concern in the Netherlands. In February, the daily Volkskrant ran an expose of widespread bigamy among Dutch Moroccans. Muslim views on virginity have led to other clashes. There are clinics that specialize in the surgical repair of broken hymens, a practice that was often covered by national insurance until the ministry of health blocked it last May. Genital mutilation, of the sort practiced on Hirsi Ali and 98 percent of girls in Somalia, has been illegal in Holland since 1993 but still occurs.

Hirsi Ali says of herself, "I confront the European elite's self-image as tolerant,'' she says, ''while under their noses women are living like slaves.''

Hirsi Ali raises the question of whether a liberal society that values multiculturalism must accept all possible values in order to be tolerant. Are there certain liberal principles, such as the belief in the equality of human beings, or the emphasis on individual rights, that must override tolerance for the principles of other cultures? In the U.S., this has certainly been true. For example, Utah was only able to become a state when it outlawed polygamy, which had previously been permitted by the dominant Mormon church. If people come to the U.S. from countries where polygamous marriages are permitted, they can't continue to engage in polygamy here. The Supreme Court has generally upheld the ability to hold different religious beliefs, but frowned on accepting different religious practices that collided with the dominant Protestant model of what religion is - for example, not upholding the rights of Native Americans to eat peyote as part of a religious ritual. [My former colleague, Eric Mazur of Bucknell University, is the person who taught me this approach to religious freedom in the United States - see his recent book, Religion on Trial: How Supreme Court Trends Threaten Freedom of Conscience in America.]