Clear Thinking in a Topsy-Turvy World

Weather patterns change, national borders blur, and violence makes its way into normally placid classrooms. Spring has turned rapidly to winter in the Arab world, and thanks to global warming, winter feels a lot more like spring the world over. What is going on, anyway? Has the world turned upside down?

Only a few years ago, after a series of explosive protests, the Arab region looked like it was heading toward greater democracy and self-governance—but now the revolution has stalled, and the future seems ever more uncertain. Our intrepid department editor Syed Ali has assembled an incisive set of Viewpoints on the legacy of these revolts, and what they mean for the Arab world and beyond.

If we feel that we’re heading into an abyss, is it simply because we’re watching too many movies? The media’s global reach is bringing images of a world run amok into our living rooms with unprecedented frequency, according to Timothy Recuber. While some indict “disaster porn” for feasting on the misery of distant others, the author shows that this media genre may not be nearly as exploitative as we might think.

We turn next to gender vertigo, and how some people find themselves in roles that upend their ideas of family life. Docu menting the experiences of Vietnamese sex workers who marry North American men seeking to better their lives, Kimberly Kay Hoang finds that their hopes are dashed by economic realities, and they end up in family situations far different from what they’ve imagined.

In this issue, we’re also very pleased to bring you Carole Joffe’s interview with acclaimed poet and Nation columnist Katha Pollitt, and Howard Schuman and Stanley Presser’s look at the paradox of gun control. There are also features about the movement for climate justice, men’s participation in SlutWalk, abortion politics in Turkey, and much more.

We trust you’ll find, in the pages that follow, some clear thinking about a topsy-turvy world.