Courtney Martin

Courtney E. Martin is a Prospect senior correspondent. She is the author of Do It Anyway: The New Generation of Activists (Beacon Press). You can read more about her work at

Recent Articles

Reflections on Obama-Era Patriotism

Loving your country does not mean waving a flag and singing the anthem. True patriotism comes in the form of genuine, once-and-for-all integration.

(AP Photo/Reed Saxon)
President's Day is an opportunity to bore children with that old story about George Washington and the cherry tree (entirely fabricated by Mason Locke Weems, a turn-of-the-century Deepak Chopra, by the way), save on the new car you've been eyeing (must we always link patriotism with spending?), and most important, reflect on the deeper meaning of being American. Patriotism has gotten a spirited resurrection in the last year thanks to the longest and one of the most closely watched presidential campaigns in history, which led to an election with the highest turnout ever (128 million). From local restaurants to political blogs, water coolers to car pools, Americans were constantly chattering about who would be the best-equipped and most visionary leader for this country. We asked ourselves and each other, who do we want our president to be? The sometimes implicit, sometimes explicit core of these discussions was an even deeper question: Who the heck are we ? This is the question that...

The Big Business of Family Detention

It's not just alleged terrorists who are suffering from our inhumane treatment of detainees. It's also children.

When President Barack Obama made it his first act in office to shut down Guantánamo Bay prison, he effectively ended one shameful chapter in our country's embarrassingly large book of human-rights abuses. It was not so much redemption as a reminder that this country has a long, long way to go when it comes to detention, due process, and the Geneva Convention. It's not just alleged terrorists that are suffering from our inhumane treatment. It's also children. The United States is currently holding 30,000 immigrants in detention while they await hearings. The country operates three family immigrant detention centers, the most notorious of which is the T. Don Hutto Residential Center in Taylor, Texas, a former prison currently under the private management of Corrections Corporation of America (CCA). The 600-bed center detains families who are awaiting asylum or immigration hearings, a major departure from past federal policy. Pre-September 11, families charged with immigration...

What Tomorrow Really Means

It is not the end of war, racism, or politics as usual. But it is a chance to reaffirm our commitment to making this country a more ethical, more equal place.

Tomorrow will be historic, thrilling, profound. As Barack Obama takes the stage for his inauguration as our 44th president, the nation will hold its collective breath. Many will cry in utter relief. Some will dance on the Washington Mall, joyful where they once marched in rage. The country will be better. But it will not be healed. First, for what tomorrow is not … It is not the end of racism. Electing a biracial black man as president of the United States doesn't suck the centuries of blood, sweat, and tears from the slave-worked soil of this country. It doesn't unearth Nat Turner or Emmet Till or Amadou Diallo. It doesn't erase Jim Crow or COINTELPRO or the Rockefeller Laws from the history books. It doesn't change the fact that over 1 million black children live in extreme poverty today. Hell, it doesn't even guarantee better race relations among your co-workers or neighbors or friends. It is not the end of war. Just ask the folks in Iraq who are still waiting for even the...

Deadly Medicine for Youth Violence

New efforts at dating-violence prevention are based on the same old gender stereotypes. No wonder they're not working.

Within days of one another, two of the nation's top newspapers -- The Boston Globe and The New York Times -- published stories on youth violence. Titled, respectively, " Girl Power " (seriously Boston Globe ?) and " A Rise in Efforts to Stop Abuse in Youth Dating ," both reported that the rise in dating violence against young women and violence among young men rages on. The really bad news? Law enforcement, educators, and even parents are holding girls responsible for stopping it while entirely overlooking systemic and cultural influences that breed violent behavior. The Boston TenPoint Coalition, a Christian group focusing on "troubled youth," along with Boston School Police, is packing teenage girls into public-school auditoriums and sending them a bold and dangerous message: you must prevent your boyfriends from becoming violent. In addition to being heterosexist, this non-solution conjures up antiquated gender tropes. It paints young men as hormone-crazed meatheads who can't be...

America's New Year's Resolution: A Return to Integrity

As we prepare to usher in a new year and a new administration, let's all pledge to rediscover our moral way in this country.

As I read coverage of the unpublished 513-page account of the American-led reconstruction of Iraq, a wave of sad recognition washed over me. The narrative thread of how a $100 billion effort to "save" Iraq became a giant save-your-own-ass bureaucracy was one that I had seen repeatedly in the news recently. A depressingly familiar story. I'm not just talking about the story of botched humanitarian intervention. I'm talking about the story of hubris on a grand, immoral scale. It begins with some characteristic acts of a swollen ego -- inflated numbers and quick-draw decision-making. The story builds tension as the protagonists lose perspective, a sense of responsibility to others, and a commitment to the truth. And then it ends -- sometimes in a government bailout deus ex machina , sometimes in a collective shrug by the embarrassed American people, and all too often in the suffering of innocent people. It's time for a return to integrity. We have lost our moral way in this country. We...