Leah Platt

Leah Platt is a writing fellow at The American Prospect.

Recent Articles

Runaway Republicans

R epublican Mike Ferguson is vying for a hotly contested open seat in central New Jersey. He's running squarely in the center, playing up his commitment to improving the public schools and passing gun control legislation. The one taboo: any talk of George W. When pressed for Ferguson's views on Bush's Social Security initiative--or any of the nominee's Real Plans for Real People--his press secretary Annie Mayol demurs: "The answer would be that there are parts of the Bush plan that are good, but that's it." Ferguson "wants to look at different reform proposals. He's seen what's out there, but he doesn't know which is the best one." Not only is Ferguson running away from Bush, but he's also trying his hardest to associate himself with crossover stars. Mayol crows that one of Ferguson's pet projects, a bipartisan pledge to protect Social Security , has been endorsed by the likes of Joseph Lieberman, John McCain, and Bob Franks, the district...

What Democracy Looks Like

"Virtually all the leaders who met in Quebec to expand trade were democratically elected, while 'the people' in the streets clamoring for 'justice' were self-appointed or paid union activists." -- Thomas Friedman, New York Times, April 24, 2001 Somewhere between 30,000 and 40,000 protesters descended on Quebec City last month to demonstrate against the Free Trade Area of the Americas, a hemisphere-wide version of NAFTA, which would create the world's largest free trade zone. Despite the considerable turnout, critics were quick to write off the three-day demonstration as one more stop on a traveling road show for self-righteous college students. Particularly irksome to the summit's defenders was the protesters' claim to represent democracy in action (a documentary about the Seattle protests is called "This is What Democracy Looks Like," and activism in Quebec City last month included a two-day forum called the People's Summit). Free trade zealot Thomas Friedman was joined in mocking...

The Working Caste

T el Aviv's city bus number four runs down Allenby Street through the heart of secular Israel's glittering urban showcase. Just visible in one direction is the crowded Mediterranean coast, dotted with international hotels and frolicking sunbathers. A few blocks in the other direction are the cafés and boutiques of Dizengoff Street. As the bus pulls southward and heads farther inland, the scene out the window becomes seedier and, in a country not known for its clean streets, even dirtier. Trendy shops are replaced by open-fronted stores displaying luggage and trinkets, carts piled with vegetables and candied nuts, and placards advertising peep shows. This is South Tel Aviv, an area populated by members of Israel's large and growing community of foreign workers. At the end of a workday, Romanian men still dusty from the job gather on benches to drink bottled beer. African men sit in threes and fours on folding chairs outside international calling centers that advertise rates to Kenya,...

Not Your Father's High School Club

A s the school bell signals the end of another day at Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School, a sprawling concrete structure two blocks from the Harvard University campus, the kids of Project 10 East gather around a shiny black lab table to munch on chips and clementines and wait for their adviser. Project 10, so named because of the oft-cited statistic that one in 10 Americans is homosexual, has its own classroom, which is decorated with rainbow flags and colorful posters ("Generation Q: Young, Proud and Queer"; "In a Just Society, Family Values Are for Everybody") and operates as a drop-in center during the six-hour school day. Students stop by between classes, at lunch, and after school to work on projects or hang out; a weekly planning meeting is held in the bio lab next door. This is not your mother and father's high school club. First established in a Los Angeles high school in 1984, gay-straight alliances (GSAs) like Project 10 are school-sponsored...

To Love Out Loud:

Evan Wolfson, Director of the Marriage Project at the Lambda Legal and Education Defense Fund, discusses the right-wing war on gays and lesbians and the prospects for same-sex marriage. Platt: There were two ballot initiatives in this election cycle banning same-sex marriage -- in Nebraska and Nevada. As you know, the initiatives passed easily. How would you put these referenda in the context of the decade-long quest for the recognition of same-sex partnerships? Wolfson: It is very important not to characterize the Nebraska anti-gay, anti-family, constitutional amendment as being about marriage alone. The Nebraska amendment sweepingly bars gay people from all family protection under state law, at all levels of government big or small, and in fact spells out that gay people must be excluded from marriage, from respect for domestic partnership, from civil unions and from "any other similar relationship." What's clear is that the right-wing is maintaining a...

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