Gabriel Arana

Gabriel Arana is a senior editor at The American Prospect. His articles on gay rights, immigration, and media have appeared in publications including The New Republic, The Nation, Salon, The Advocate, and The Daily Beast.

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Recent Articles

Paul Ryan's Self-Made Myth

(AP Photo)
In politics and journalism, myth often passes as biography. For evidence, look no further than The New York Times and Washington Post 's profiles of newly minted vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan, who by virtue of a few well-deployed anecdotes—told by his brother and by fellow congressman and confidant Jeff Flake—has been transformed into the apotheosis of the self-made man. The linchpin of this pull-yourself-up-by-you-bootstraps story is the death of his father when Ryan was 16. "It is remarkable that he chose a path of individual responsibility and maturity rather than letting grief take a different course," the candidate's brother tells the Times , which elaborates with an encomium worthy of an Anglo-Saxon epic: His self-reliance followed him to summer camp, where as a counselor he canoed and hiked, and into young adulthood, where he took up deer hunting. … It followed him into college, where he immediately took a passionate interest in the canon of...

Does Spanish Scare You?

Fights about whether we should adopt "English only" legislation have little to do with language.

(Flickr/C. Pualani)
Every once in a while, when anti-immigrant sentiment is running high, Congress will revive the "English-only" debate, which was last a topic of national conversation during the 2006-2007 push for immigration reform. But the most recent attempt to make English the official language of the United States came out of the blue, the day before Congress's August recess. Led by Representative Steve King, a Republican from Iowa, the House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on the Constitution held a hearing on an English-only bill that would require all federal government communications—including voting materials—to be printed in English. The proposal would nullify a Clinton-era law requiring that federal agencies provide interpreters for non-English speakers for certain activities. In protest, Representative John Conyers, a Democrat from Michigan, voiced his opposition in Spanish: " Hoy en día, los inmigrantes de Asia o América Latina son los objetivos de la...

James Holmes: There, We Said It

Let's stop playing word games and start talking seriously about how to prevent another massacre like the one in Colorado.

(Rex Features via AP Images)
Heeding the wishes of victims of the Colorado shooting and their families, some members of the media (including the Prospect 's Steve Erickson) have refrained from using alleged shooter James Holmes's name. On Monday, CNN’s Anderson Cooper tweeted: “I have no intention of saying AuroraShooting suspect's name tonight. Don't want to give him more attention than needed.” True to his word, Cooper referred to Holmes as “the suspect” and “the alleged shooter” throughout the broadcast. Fox News went a step further, blacking out Holmes’s name in documents it displayed on the air. Politicians—including President Obama—have also joined the cause. Colorado governor John Hickenlooper has taken to calling him “suspect A.” The idea is not only to deny Holmes the notoriety he presumably seeks, but to focus on the victims. It’s a well-intentioned gesture, perhaps, but it’s futile—and wrong-headed to boot. Making...

Merit Badge for Silence

As with the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy, the Boy Scouts' position on homosexuality denies gay people the basic right to self-definition.

(AP Photo/LM Otero)
On Tuesday, after a two-year review, the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) "emphatically reaffirmed" its current ban on "open or avowed homosexuals"—a restriction that applies not only to Scout leaders, but to Scouts as well. I have a soft spot for the Scouts, having been a member until I reached high school (the uniforms, if you haven't noticed, are radically uncool, and as soon as I hit adolescence, my interest in earning merit badges evaporated). But I still remember how to tie a square, bowline, and sheet knot—and how to hang a bear bag. I learned the importance of the latter the hard way, at Boy Scout camp. Too tired to be bothered with finding a tree tall enough to hoist my bag of food, I swung it onto the roof of the Scoutmaster’s lean-to. Later that night, everyone was awakened by the sounds of a bear rustling through my food. The fond memories I have of the Scouts make it all the more sad to think, had I stuck with it long enough to come to terms with my sexual...

On the Word "Faggot"

Making terms taboo has the paradoxical effect of giving them more power.

(Flickr/Lisa Monster)
Rabble-rouser and sex columnist Dan Savage has a corner of the gay blogosphere clutching its pearls over his use of the word "faggot" to describe members of GOProud, the gay Republican group that endorsed Mitt Romney last week: The GOP's house faggots grab their ankles, right on cue:… . Pathetic. — Dan Savage (@fakedansavage) June 20, 2012 GOProud supporters shot back, attacking Savage for being a "bully," and now the gay commentariat is debating the use of the word "faggot." Let me say first that I'm no huge fan of Dan Savage, whose moral absolutism I find grating. And while I think it's good that there are people on the right fighting for LGBT inclusion, it's baffling that GOProud supports politicians like Mitt Romney who are antagonistic to their interests. But I think it's a bad idea for gay-rights supporters to go on a crusade against the word "faggot," which in Savage's case seems little more than a mocking barb. I'm not...