from the world's big
Proselytizing for Self-Respect
Reihan Salam is a writer, journalist, and Schwarz Fellow at the New America Foundation, a Washington, D.C.-based public policy institute. His writing appears regularly in The National Review, Forbes.com, The Daily Beast, Slate, and other publications. His article "The Death of Macho," concerning the disruptive effects of the recession on men across the globe, appeared in Foreign Policy in 2009. He is the co-author, with Ross Douthat, of "Grand New Party: How Conservatives Can Win the Working Class and Save the American Dream" (Doubleday, 2008).
Question: What is your religious background, and how has it shaped you?\r\n
Reihan Salam: My parents come from Bangladesh and both of them are Muslims and we were raised somewhat informally in that tradition. For a variety of reasons I say informal. I mean we weren’t observant in the sense of going to some kind of a religious service on a very regular basis, although certainly identified with it in this broad way and I remember praying pretty regularly. There are surahs and you’re supposed to memorize them and I remember I was taking Arabic lessons very briefly, for maybe only a couple of weeks and that I had an argument with the tutor about whether androids have souls and I remember I didn’t feel as though I was getting a very satisfactory answer regarding the androids having souls question, so I kind of shirked my duties in that regard and then I suppose had a kind of broad interest in religion as a phenomena and I think that I identify with Muslim communities in some broad sense, but I’m not all that reflective about religion per se. I kind of recoil against people who sneer at religion in part because I have a lot of friends who are devoutly religious and relatives and what have you. At the same time I think that there is such a thing as a religious impulse that some people possess or don’t posses and I think that I far more possess the spaceman who is kind of visiting Earth impulse rather than the religious impulse. Although I also have a kind of boosterishness that I think that some religious people have, but it happens not to apply to religion per se, so that is not necessarily a very good answer to your question, but that is my…those are my kind of broad impressions of religion.\r\n
Question: If not religion, what activates your “boosterish” impulse?\r\n
Reihan Salam: Well I remember once overhearing a conversation in which a guy was asked, “Where are you from?” And he said, “New Orleans.” And then the interlocutors proceeded to ask, “What was that like?” And he said something to the effect of, “What do you think it was like? All these people saying ‘y’all’ all the time.” He had this contempt for it and that really turned my stomach. I just recoiled against it, and I thought to myself, if you have objections to where you’re from, you share them with your friends who are also from New Orleans. You don’t share them with outsiders and you certainly don’t express that kind of contempt. It just seemed really untoward. And them some years later, as you may recall, Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans and this same guy, he proceeded to write kind of moving, you know, pieces about the devastation of his native city, and I thought to myself, this person is beneath contempt, and I just at a very, very basic gut level think that this is just not a morally praiseworthy individual, and so I guess I think that when you’re engaged with something you should work to improve it to the extent possible, be constructive. Don’t allow your boosterishness to blind you to the kind of various foibles and downsides of whatever it is that you’re associated with, but I mean do your best. Act in good faith and you know consider yourself kind of a steward of this tradition that you’re a part of whether voluntarily or involuntarily. And in a way that is a little unfair because, you know, Shelby Steele talks about the totalitarianism of black identity, the idea that one is obligated to identify with a certain thing and there is a way in which I can see how that’s problematic and maybe if we could all be wraith-like beings who are free of those associations that would be nice, but that doesn’t strike me as the world and you’re embedded in a context, and being respectful of that strikes me as reasonable.
Recorded on November 16, 2009
Interviewed by Austin Allen
Reihan Salam was raised informally as a Muslim, but isn’t particularly religious. So what brings out his "boosterish" zeal?
Study findings<p>For the study, <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11606-020-05970-4" target="_blank">published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine</a><em>, </em>Flentje and her team evaluated survey responses from nearly 2,300 individuals who identified as being in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) community. Most of the participants were white, while nearly 19 percent identified as a racial or ethnic minority. Multiple genders were represented with cisgender women (27.2 percent) and men (24.6 percent) making up a majority of the participants. Sixty-three percent had been assigned female at birth. For the most part, participants identified their sexual orientations as queer (40.3 percent), gay (36.5 percent), and bisexual (30.3 percent).</p><p>The JGIM study participants were recruited from the 18,000-participant <a href="https://pridestudy.org/" target="_blank">PRIDE Study</a> (Population Research in Identity and Disparities for Equality), which is the first large-scale, long-term national study focusing on American adults who identify as LGBTQ+. It conducts annual questionnaires to understand factors related to health and disease in this population. </p><p>Participants filled out an annual questionnaire (starting in June 2019) and a COVID-19 impact survey this past spring. Flentje noted that on an individual level, some people may not have experienced a big change in anxiety or depression levels, but for others there was. Overall, depression increased by a <a href="https://patient.info/doctor/patient-health-questionnaire-phq-9" target="_blank">PHQ-9 score</a> of 1.21, putting it at 8.31 on average. Anxiety went up by a <a href="https://www.mdcalc.com/gad-7-general-anxiety-disorder-7" target="_blank">GAD-7</a> score of 3.11 to an average of 8.89. Interestingly, the average PHQ-9 scores for those who screened positive for depression at the first 2019 survey decreased by 1.08. Those who screened negative for depression saw their PHQ-9 scores increase by 2.17 on average. As for anxiety, researchers detected no GAD-7 change among the study participants who screened positive for anxiety in the first survey, but did see an overall increase of 3.93 among those who had initially been evaluated as negative for the disorder. </p>
Risks among gender and sexual minorities<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="fc3fd1ae68b77bbbf58a6995638d6d65"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/EnUqDjCqg0A?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>The LGBTQ+ community is a vulnerable population to mental health concerns because of their fear of stigmatization and previous discriminatory experiences.</p> <p>Previous research by the Human Rights Campaign has found "that LGBTQ Americans are more likely than the <a href="https://medicalxpress.com/tags/general+population/" target="_blank">general population</a> to live in poverty and lack access to adequate medical care, paid <a href="https://medicalxpress.com/tags/medical+leave/" target="_blank">medical leave</a>, and basic necessities during the pandemic," said researcher Tari Hanneman, director of the health and aging program at the campaign.</p> <p>"Therefore, it is not surprising to see this increase in anxiety and depression among this population," Hanneman said in the release. "This study highlights the need for <a href="https://medicalxpress.com/tags/health+care+professionals/" target="_blank">health care professionals</a> to support, affirm and provide <a href="https://medicalxpress.com/tags/critical+care/" target="_blank">critical care</a> for the LGBTQ community to manage and maintain their mental health, as well as their physical health, during this pandemic."</p>
What should health care providers do?<p>The authors of the study recommend that health care providers check in with LGBTQ+ patients about stress and screen for mood and anxiety disorders in members of that community—even among those with no prior history of anxiety or depression.</p><p>As cases of COVID-19 continue to mount, the sustained social distancing, potential isolation, economic precariousness, and personal illness, grief, and loss are bound to have increased and varied impacts on mental health. Effective treatments may include individual therapy and medications as well as more large-scale coronavirus support programs like peer-led groups and mindfulness practices. </p><p>"It will be important to find out what happens over time and to identify who is most at risk, so we can be sure to roll out public health interventions to support the mental health of our communities in the best and most effective ways," said Flentje.</p>
What we know about black holes is both fascinating and scary.
The team caught a glimpse of a process that takes 18,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 years.
- In Italy, a team of scientists is using a highly sophisticated detector to hunt for dark matter.
A new study looks at what would happen to human language on a long journey to other star systems.
- A new study proposes that language could change dramatically on long space voyages.
- Spacefaring people might lose the ability to understand the people of Earth.
- This scenario is of particular concern for potential "generation ships".