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This week’s front page editor


Sunny Hundal is openDemocracy’s social media editor.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

Immediate responses: openDemocracy’s North America editor, Todd Gitlin, writing from Ground Zero with dignity and moral passion. Ariel Dorfman drawing parallels with the Chilean tragedy. Lindsay Waters registering the end of an era of evasion. Godfrey Hodgson wondering whether the US would awake to humility. For Eric Darton, Michael Mehaffy and Nikos Salingaros, the link between the architectural fundamentalism of the WTC and the nihilism of its destroyers offers discomfiting truths.

To combat hate, we must celebrate diversity

Extremists want to destroy the fabric that binds people together – but religious diversity brings people together, reminding them that they have more in common than that which keeps them apart.

openGlobalRights overview and progress report — March 2016

openGlobalRights has come a long way since its launch in June 2013. Check out the latest figures on our progress. (PDF version)

Rethinking the origins of 9/11

As 2013 came to an end ‘9/11’ continued to cast a violent shadow in Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet the US response betrayed a failure to understand its origin.

Pakistan: next in line?

After Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, the US has now turned its belligerent attention towards Pakistan. But opening up a new battlefront, this time in Pakistan, in the run-up to the presidential elections, will prove another quagmire for the Obama administration.

A new American reality

A half-decade after 9/11, the United States appeared to Andrew Stroehlein to be locked in a “conflict mentality”. Now, he says, a new set of economic concerns - and even the rise of carnivalesque politics - signal the return of a kind of normality.

Shattered faith

The disaster of 11 September has had a traumatising impact on the global class of business professionals, reported here by one of their number. As existential fear succeeds confident modernity, can a restored idealism help repair the emotional fragments?

You and me: looking forward from Kenya and New York

A poem from a New Yorker who is not a professional poet, and a statement from a Kenyan who is not a professional writer. They do not know each other, but their responses resonate and echo the feelings of the many.

The addiction of optimism

Even in New York, even after 9/11 and corporate scandal, an atmosphere of frenetic consumerism and hype grips the social elite. Is the cult of the happy ending just too endemic to let go?

The end of the modern world

The 20th century ushered in a historic era of optimism for the rational, “modern” future of humanity. As the century fades into history, that modernist dream lies in pieces — but new outlines are emerging for a wiser, more hopeful future.

The American challenge: waking to dream again

Does America need even more than critical self-examination after its ejection from the previous decade's slumber? An experienced observer argues that a deeper transformation is needed, through the recuperation of art as a source of imaginative truth.

Only connect : lessons from Harvard

At one of the United States’ leading universities, 9/11 and the subsequent drive to war impacted on a student community with experience of mobilisation against wage poverty. How did it react to these events in a national atmosphere of conformist patriotism? The complex political and intellectual pattern of an academic environment in time of crisis is examined here from the inside.

What we do with words

Making a clear declaration about major public events is not just wordplay, but an act of civic responsibility. And being attentive to the complex meanings inside such declarations is part of the public intelligence that distinguishes a democratic society. What, then, does it mean to say “I am a supporter of the war”?

The Janus face of architectural terrorism: Minoru Yamasaki, Mohammad Atta and the World Trade Center

Two years ago, a study of the World Trade Center argued that the ideas embodied in the twin towers’ creation – immense, highly abstract, and distanced from the experience of ordinary life – were shared by the terrorists who tried to destroy them. After 11 September, a detailed comparison between the WTC’s chief architect and the head of the suicide hijackers provides further chilling evidence of these connective ‘daydreams of domination’.

Big government is back

The 11 September crisis in the US may have huge domestic as well as foreign policy consequences. The combination of a sustained war and deepening economic pressures make strong government essential. This is bad news for conservatives.The 11 September, the talking heads agreed, marked the end of irony. Yet nothing could be more ironic than the sea change in American politics and policies since the terror attacks. Prior to 9/11 (as the day is known in America), George W. Bush was leading the most ideologically conservative administration since the Great Depression.

Can America go modest?

The United States's self-understanding is underpinned by three core elements: immigration, the frontier and exceptionalism. Now, says Godfrey Hodgson, a more complex and diverse world makes a reorientation essential.

The ordinariness of American feelings

The reaction to 9/11 outside the United States has mixed sympathy with intense political criticism that denies the human normality of Americans’ post-disaster emotional cycle. The result is to stifle what is urgently needed, says Todd Gitlin: a global conversation between equals.

The two 11 Septembers

On the same date twenty-eight years apart, the two American cities which shaped Ariel Dorfman’s life - Santiago and New York - have now suffered catastrophe. Their terrible fate, he reflects, also offers the chance to repair damaged humanity.

Grasping ruins

The fourth in Todd Gitlin’s series of reflections hears the echoes of Auden and feels the aftershocks of hatred around Manhattan.

Taking it slowly

Everyday heroism prompts us to re-think our notions of “heartland.” This is our Americas Editor’s third piece from New York in the aftermath. Now it’s clear: there’s more than one America.

Real and imagined enemies

The superpower shakes, and the openness of its domestic society with it. As another New Yorker explains, tension around foreigners and immigrants was immediate and all-too-popular. But there are deeper questions: are innocence and omnipotence compatible?

Moral seriousness

Our North Americas editor continues his reports from New York.

Shifting the rubble

A day after the US attacks, Max Robbins decided to volunteer in the clear-up effort. This is his personal account.

Is this our fate?

openDemocracy’s North America editor witnessed the events in New York. This is his first response.
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