Kirsten Powers

Kirsten A. Powers served as deputy assistant U.S. Trade Representative for public affairs in the Clinton administration and is a New York-based Democratic consultant. In addition, she writes the blog PowersPoint.

Recent Articles

Who Should Apologize?

The week before last, Pope Benedict cited an ancient text that criticized Islam for being too violent. The Muslim reaction was swift and violent: An Italian nun in Somalia was murdered, four Christian schoolgirls were beheaded in Indonesia, churches were burnt, mosques in Iraq were plastered with posters threatening to kill every Christian in the country, and death threats against the pope were made. Following the pope's comments, al-Qaeda militants in Iraq vowed war on "worshippers of the cross" and protesters burned a papal effigy. Seems the Pope may have been on to something -- but at any rate, he apologized. Meanwhile, on ABC's The View , Rosie O'Donnell was offering her insight on Islam, arguing that radical Christianity is just as dangerous as radical Islam. The audience clapped enthusiastically as Rosie aggressively made her ill-informed and irresponsible case. Christian groups complained. Nobody was beheaded. To date, no mass burnings of A League of Her Own have been reported...

The Costs of Crying Wolf

Polls show that Americans no longer believe that terrorism is the greatest threat facing the United States. Indeed, when the recent London terror plot forced Americans to dump their Herbal Essence shampoo and Kiel's body lotion prior to boarding, many were outraged. Who knew that tossing your MAC lipstick was a more traumatic proposition than getting blown up over the Atlantic Ocean? This is what President Bush calls a “pre-911 mentality.” And it's back in vogue. Multiple studies over the years have shown that steady exposure to violent television programming is desensitizing. It now appears that steady exposure to naked political posturing by government officials seeking to find electoral advantage in fighting terrorism is desensitizing Americans to what remains a serious threat. The perils of politicizing national security are becoming abundantly clear as Americans slowly slide into complacency over terrorism. Apparently even conservative New York Times columnist John Tierney has...

Burn, Baby, Burn

Did you hear that? It was the collective sigh of relief of flag burners across the country…all ten of them. Last night, the Senate fell one vote short of passing a constitutional amendment to ban flag desecration. Free beers all around at the Flag Burners Club! It's going to be a lonely celebration. According to the Citizens' Flag Alliance, an advocacy group that supports a constitutional amendment, there have been only four instances of flag desecration this year. There were 12 in 2005, three in 2004, and six in 2003. Not exactly a nationwide epidemic. But facts are so antiquated. All that mattered was that Republicans got another arrow in their “Democrats hate America” quiver by forcing a debate on a nonexistent problem. It remains to be seen if, on the campaign trail this fall, they will again channel 9/11 to score political points over the flag-burning amendment. Recall the words of the infamous Randy “Duke” Cunningham in 2005: "Ask the men and women who stood on top of the World...

God's Army

Gandhi once said if Christians lived according to their faith, there would be no Hindus left in India. He knew how powerful the fundamental tenets of Christianity -- fighting poverty, caring for the least among us, loving your enemies, eschewing materialism and embracing humility -- could be if everyone who called themselves a Christian truly followed them. The new documentary, Jesus Camp , which chronicles a North Dakota summer camp where kids as young as 6 are taught to become dedicated Christian soldiers in “God's army,” is an illustration of this sentiment in the extreme. The film, by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady, the duo who also directed the critically-acclaimed The Boys of Baraka , opened to an appreciative and flabbergasted audience at the 2006 TriBeca Film Festival, where it received the Special Jury Award. The directors skillfully captured the daily interactions of a world that would be foreign to most viewers: children speaking in tongues and talking of being “born again”...

Feminist Mystique

The ongoing “Mommy Wars” has been building with such ferocity that it seems destined for an old-fashioned rumble. The Greasers and the Socs used knives and tire irons; the working mothers will hurl blackberries and briefcases, while the stay-at-homes try to run them over with their minivans. Barrels of ink have been expended to make unequivocal cases for the “right” way to be a mother, when any reasonable person knows there are no simple answers, and there is no panacea for raising emotionally healthy, productive children. So, why can't we all just get along? If Caitlan Flanagan, New Yorker writer and author of To Hell with All That: Loving and Loathing Our Inner Housewife , has her way, it's not going to happen any time soon. She urges women to find their inner housewife, but she has a maid and brags that she has never cleaned or changed a sheet during her marriage. Yet anti-feminist writer Christina Hoff Summer's blurb on the jacket cover calls the book “a tribute to homemaking and...

Pages