Legitimizing the Unthinkable
During the early 20th Century, advocates of eugenics throughout the western world argued that the use of modern medicine and costly welfare programs to keep people with disabilities alive allowed the "unfit" to reproduce and contributed to the "degeneration" of society. Once Hitler took power in Germany 1933, scientists and medical proponents of eugenics legitimized the Nazis' racist ideology and subsequent murderous policies.
We are faced today with many ethical questions about the legitimate uses of medicine and science. During the "Legitimizing the Unthinkable" program, Joan Ringelheim posed the question of "cure" to Harriet McBryde Johnson.
Johnson's concluding statement -- "Does that make sense?" -- points to the complexity of defining disability, identity, the role of medicine, and the concept of cure in society today. Who should decide what needs a cure?
How to Tackle Antisemitism and Anti-Americanism in the Muslim World
Prejudice against or hatred of Jews — known as antisemitism — has plagued the world for more than 2,000 years. The Holocaust, the state-sponsored persecution and murder of European Jews by Nazi Germany and its collaborators between 1933 and 1945, is history’s most extreme example of antisemitism. Yet even in the aftermath of the Holocaust, antisemitism remains a continuing threat. Today, there are signs of increasing antisemitism and bigotry across Europe and the Islamic world, including hate speech, violence targeting Jews and Jewish institutions, and denial of the Holocaust.
In an effort to better understand this phenomenon and to develop recommendations to address it, Akbar Ahmed, the Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies at American University in Washington, DC, recently traveled to eight countries in the Muslim world, where he spoke at universities, mosques, and madrassahs and interviewed President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan, as well as a number of clerics, scholars, and others.
At the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Dr. Ahmed discussed his findings publicly for the first time.
What can be done to encourage dialogue between Western and Muslim societies, and how can such dialogue tackle antisemitism, anti-Americanism, and Islamophobia?