Posts by Prof. Michael Nagler

The New Abnormal: Reflections on Paris

paris police

We are hearing expressions of shock and sympathy for Paris on all sides, which is appropriate as far as it goes – but it’s not nearly enough. It is clear now that instead of lurching from crisis to crisis, we need to get off this disastrous path. After expressing our condolences we should be saying, “Let… read more

Who We Are: The Spirit Behind Mothers’ Day

There was a time  years ago when I was reading Plato very closely – I was studying at Heidelberg at that time – and had a flash of insight about who Socrates really was. What I saw was not something I could easily share with my fellow students, then or now: that both Socrates and Jesus were at… read more

Free Speech and Responsibility

Michael Nagler during the Free Speech Movement in Berkeley, CA.

I cut my teeth as a political activist in the famous Free Speech Movement of 1964-65, and still get emotional when I hear some of the fiery speeches of Mario Savio from that day. Though the issue that sparked the movement was racism (discrimination in housing, to be exact) the rallying cry was free speech… read more

Beyond Ferguson: the Deeper Issue

Michael Nagler’s op-ed as seen here first appeared at on December 4, 2014. You may also want to read The Shanti Sena Network’s response to Ferguson we posted last week. It can only be a good thing that the attention of the nation is focused on the police killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson,… read more

Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes? (Who Shall Guard the Guardians?)

Originally posted on Tikkun Daily Blog on October 23, 2014. I’ve just come from a three-hour conversation with Pietro Ameglio Patella, prominent Mexican professor and nonviolent activist, and an old friend. He was in the country with his friend Carlos Moreno who has been searching for his son for three years without any cooperation from… read more

Ferguson: this is what losing democracy looks like

(orig. posted in Tikkun online) by: Michael N. Nagler on August 21st, 2014 Some time back in the early fifties the U.S. Navy conducted an “exercise” to test bacterial warfare…in San Francisco!  They sprayed bacterial agents into the fog over the Bay to “see what would happen.”  Sure enough, some people got sick, and one elderly gentleman died. … read more

Israel and Palestine Can Never Be Secure Until Both Are Secure

Published on Truthout on August 4, 2014. Palestinian children try to pull a praying carpet out from the rubble of the Imam Shafi’i Mosque in Gaza City, Aug. 2, 2014. (Photo: Sergey Ponomarev / The New York Times) In The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas, the short story by Ursula Le Guin about an imaginary… read more

Tragedy and Humanity in Hebron

A little over a week ago I stood in the South Hebron Hills not far from the spot where, we now know, three Israeli teens had been put to death, assumedly by operatives of the Palestinian organization Hamas (though that is far from proven at this time). I was visiting a prominent nonviolent Palestinian activist… read more

Imagining the Unimaginable

Last week the quiet town of Waseca, MN narrowly avoided becoming “one more in a long list of school shootings” (I will come back to this language of the CNN report).  A boy, 17 years old, had plotted to kill his family and bomb the town’s junior and senior high school, to “kill as many students… read more

My Homage to Martin Luther King Jr.

My Homage to MLK by Michael N. Nagler I never knew Martin Luther King, Jr., but I grew up politically in his America. My personal awakening to nonviolence came one day in Greenwich Village when I happened to listen in to a radio broadcast covering a Civil Rights rally going on somewhere down south.  A… read more