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

The Missing Measure of Our Outrage

If most of us can agree the Iraq War is a colossal failure, why aren't we doing much about it?

Demonstrators carry banners and signs during a protest against the Iraq War last March in downtown Hartford, Conn. (AP Photo/George Ruhe)
How do you measure war? It is a question that many of our greatest political philosophers have wrestled with for thousands of years. What number, what unit, what fields of inquiry could possibly describe the progress (or in our present conflict, the lack thereof) when it comes to the mess of war? Is it the number of dead soldiers? The dead plus the injured? The new alliances and government infrastructure? The "collateral damage"? Can it be measured by an absence -- of terrorist attacks, of tyrants, of dreams? As our Democratic-led Congress looks towards answering this question, or at least attempting to, I have been mulling it over myself. And of course rather than leading to an answer, it seems to have left me staring down another, perhaps even more difficult question: how do you measure a public's responsibility to end war? I sat drinking beers among family friends on a recent Sunday evening, discussing just this topic with a group of people hailing from both coasts and many places...

Time Off for the Overworked American

Our national work ethic should make us consider passing legislation to ensure we're all taking enough vacation.

Remember riding hip to hip with your brothers and sisters in the back of the family van, eating the snacks too soon, fighting over the music selection, losing tiny, indispensable pieces of travel games? Or maybe your family was not of the road trip ilk. Perhaps you remember exciting trips on airplanes, a special pin from the stewardess, watching the clouds take shape out of your own oval window, your grandparents waiting feverishly for your arrival in the sprawling Portland or Poughkeepsie or even Paris airport. As much as you may have resented it then, the family vacation is as quintessentially American as homemade apple pie. It is also just about as rare in this age of store-bought desserts and workaholism. Last year, 25 percent of American workers got no paid vacation at all, while 43 percent didn't even take a solid week off. A third fewer American families take vacations together today than they did in 1970. American workers receive the least vacation time among wealthy...

Fighting Apart for Time Together

Editor's Note: This piece is part of " Mother Load ," a TAP special report on work/family issues. I had one of those fathers who was always standing on the sidelines of my lacrosse games, cheering his heart out in a slightly wrinkled suit. When my teammates' mothers would comment on how extraordinary it was that my dad made the time, it confounded me. My father's hearty presence in my life seemed like a given. Of course he made the time. He was my dad. But as I've explored this rocky, unforgiving terrain called adulthood, I've thought more realistically about the kinds of sacrifices my dad made. It turns out that it wasn't a given that he showed up when it counted, and even when it kind of didn't; it was a Herculean effort. He described it for me recently: "I artificially expanded my time in ways that actually had a fairly big cost on my health and my quality of thinking. Like I would get up at 4:30 a.m., after maybe five hours of sleep, and get to work so that I could put in a full...

Willful Ignorance

My friend Jen was squashed into a packed lecture hall at the University of Colorado in Boulder, scribbling notes as her sociology professor elucidated the power dynamics underlying rape, when all of a sudden her stomach and pen dropped simultaneously. Her mind flashed back to a night over a year earlier: moonlight coming through her dorm window fell across the shoulders of a guy she barely knew, on top of her. Drunk and exhausted, Jen told him that she wasn't up for it. He persisted. She remembers saying no a few more times, then eventually giving up, staring at the dark ceiling, waiting for it to be over. Jen had woken up the next morning hung-over and angry at herself. Though the word regret was heavy on her mind, the word rape never once crossed it. But now, sitting in a sea of undergrads, some of whom had probably experienced similar sexual encounters fraught with alcohol and disconnection, the word rang true. Jen left class in a hurry, went home, and sobbed. Experiences like Jen'...