Michelle Goldberg

Michelle Goldberg is a senior correspondent at The American Prospect. She is also the author of Kingdom Coming and The Means of Reproduction.

Recent Articles

Is the Threat of Homegrown Extremism Real?

Government needs to watch fringe political groups more closely -- but can it do so without abusing its surveillance power?

Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino, is a former cop who now often consults with law enforcement. He studies all sorts of movements -- neo-Nazis, the violent fringe of the environmentalist movement, jihadis. "I could care less politically where someone is at," he says. "What I look at is, is this entity an entity that promotes extrajudicial violence? Is it an entity that promotes falsehoods and bigotry? Is it an entity that regards itself as removed and hostile towards the institutions and processes of democracy?" Levin believes that radical Islamists pose the greatest terrorist threat to the United States right now, but he's also increasingly worried about another breed of reactionary extremist. The climate on the American far right, he says, is starting to remind him of the one that prevailed before the Oklahoma City bombings. There's a similar sense of paranoia, political dispossession, and ferocious...


In The New York Times today, Nader Nadery and Haseeb Humayoon take the United States to task for sidelining the issue of women’s rights in Afghanistan. Nadery, a member of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, and Humayoon, who has consulted for NGOs working in Afghanistan, cite the brave girls who returned to school after being disfigured in acid attacks in Kandahar and the similarly valiant women who protested restrictive new legislation in Kabul this week. “They don’t fear much — except that the world might abandon them,” they write. That is why President Obama ’s Afghanistan-Pakistan policy speech last month and his administration’s related white paper are worrisome: both avoided any reference to democracy in Afghanistan, while pointedly pushing democratic reforms in Pakistan. The new policy represents critical shifts — such as a new emphasis on civilian work, and recognizing the regional nature of the problem and the inadequacy and abuse of resources. But a...

Rights Versus Rites

When it comes to the lives of women around the globe, do local traditions ever trump human rights?

On Feb. 6, 2007, two women, both of whom had been circumcised in Africa, met in the conference room of a small foundation on Fifth Avenue in New York City for a highly unusual debate. It was the fourth annual International Day of Zero Tolerance of Female Genital Mutilation, an occasion for events across the globe dedicated to abolishing the practice. The gathering drew about 30 women, half of them African immigrants from countries including Senegal, Sudan, and Kenya, where female circumcision is common. Several of them were shocked to realize that, despite the name of the event, this wasn't so much a discussion about how female circumcision can be eradicated as about whether it should be. The custom of cutting off all or part of girls' external genitalia -- deeply ingrained in large swaths of Africa and parts of Asia and the Middle East -- obviously has its defenders, as evidenced by how tenaciously it has endured in the face of a global campaign to eliminate it. Indeed, as the...


A newly leaked Department of Homeland Security warns, quite sensibly, that the “economic downturn and the election of the first African American president present unique drivers for rightwing radicalization and recruitment.” Many people who study the right have been expecting exactly that . The 1980s farm foreclosure crisis in the Midwest did much to spawn the Posse Comitatus movement, a progenitor of the milita movement. The latter flourished in the 1990s, as the far right reacted with horrified disbelief to the election of Bill Clinton , retreating into a febrile netherworld of conspiracy theories, persecution fantasies and gun fetishization. Cut to 2009, when the far right has reacted with horrified disbelief to the election of Barack Obama by retreating into a febrile netherworld of conspiracy theories, persecution fantasies and gun fetishization. Indeed, it’s even worse this time. As Dave Neiwert , who is invaluable on this subject, wrote recently: One of the hallmarks of the...


Like many writers with a new book out, I’ve been obsessively charting the vicissitudes of my sales ranking. Until a couple of days ago, when the ranking disappeared. At the same time, the hardcover version of my book stopped coming up in searches, although the Kindle version still did. At first I figured it was a technological hiccup, and on Friday evening I emailed my publisher to ask them to get it fixed. It turns out, though, that my book – about the global battle for reproductive rights -- was stripped of its ranking as part of some crazy initiative to exclude “adult” content from searches, rankings and bestseller lists. So far, it looks like most of the de-listed books were gay titles, but feminist books were hit as well. The self-published author Mark R. Probst got the following response when he emailed Amazon to find out what was going on: In consideration of our entire customer base, we exclude "adult" material from appearing in some searches and best seller lists...