The Public Humanist

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Storytelling and Human Survival

For Memorial Day, a reflection on war and how storytelling can help veterans heal.


What is a Terrorist?: Modern War

Guy Fawkes, caught in an attempted bombing, proclaimed that declared that “a dangerous disease required a desperate remedy,” evincing the asymmetry of power and terrorism.

Terrorism may be modern warfare’s brutal apotheosis; a simple strategy in an asymmetrical environment.


What is a Terrorist?: The Difficulty in a Definition

Images via Google news

The standards by which we call someone a terrorist may be part religious and racial discrimination; hesitating to label individual or group violence as domestic terror appears wise when looking into history.


What is a Terrorist? An Introduction

“Terrorist” in English texts dating from 1800 to 2008: Image via Google Books Ngram viewer

After 9/11, the word “terrorist” dramatically increased in American discourse, and yet for many—including the United States government—its definition still lacks clarity.


Turmoil: Syria as a French Mandate

French troops during the Franco-Syrian confict

Syria’s current strife can be traced back to 20th-century French rule, a failed experiment that ended with the ascendancy of the Assad family.


Remembering Forgotten Memorials on Veterans Day

Worcester Memorial Auditorium

Historian Kristina Reardon weighs in on remembrance and public support for American war memorials.


Writing War’s Full Range of Emotions: The 1914 Christmas Truce

On Christmas Eve of 1914, German, French and British soldiers in Belgium waited in the trenches, now sure the war would not be over by Christmas. Yet optimism that the war might soon end had not died, and, according to war lore, neither had the spirit of the season.


Gaza, Why?

This month marks one year since Israeli land, sea, and air forces attacked the Gaza Strip, killing 1,434 men, women, and children and injuring upwards of 5000 according to the United Nations. The Gaza Strip became the Gaza Strip as a result of the creation of Israel in 1948. As a result of the 1948 war, refugees from the 78% of Palestine that became Israel crowded into the remaining portions of Palestine that then needed to be named. They were christened the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.


Into Harm’s Way

Several weeks have passed since President Obama delivered his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech in Oslo; and, despite my strong admiration for him and my respect for his convictions, some of what he said still deeply troubles me. As Commander-in-Chief, his hopeful invocation of traditional just war theory and his outspoken commitment to “follow the rules of the road” are no doubt heartfelt, but inescapably hollow.