TIME politics

The History Behind the Other ‘United Nations’

united nations - Jan. 19, 1942
From the Jan. 19, 1942, issue of TIME TIME

In 1942, the group known as the United Nations was convened to accomplish one goal: defeat the Axis powers

The United Nations was created in 1942 — but not the United Nations as we know it, the group whose representatives are this week converging in New York City for the 69th General Assembly.

When the phrase first “slipped into the world’s vocabulary,” as TIME wrote, the world was in the midst of war, and the concept of wide-scale international collaboration was fraught. World War II had already exposed the failure of the League of Nations, the international organization set up after the previous world war. Still, in January of 1942, 26 nations, including the U.S., the U.K., Russia and China, signed a pact uniting them in one goal: to defeat the Axis powers. The name, which had been proposed by the Roosevelt administration, became the official title for the Allied powers.

“For the people of the Axis countries that fact could not be other than sobering: 26 nations—count them—26, all determined that Hitler and his tyranny shall be destroyed,” TIME wrote at the time.

Even then there was skepticism that the United Nations could be effective. Some called for a cooperative body to oversee the war effort, while others continued to call for a union of peoples and not just an intergovernmental pact.

But the United Nations prevailed, and when, after the war, world leaders descended on San Francisco for the conference to hash out the details of an intergovernmental organization to jointly confront the world’s problems, they called it the United Nations. The first session of the United Nations General Assembly opened in 1946.

Take a look at TIME’s coverage of the signing of the declaration of the original United Nations in 1942:

The significance of the pact was slower being digested. In Washington, enthusiasts compared it to the Articles of Confederation that had held the 13 States together until the Constitutional Convention. Advocates of Union Now thought it did not go far enough, wanted a union of peoples, rather than of governments. Josephus Daniels recalled his last talk with Woodrow Wilson, when Wilson had said: “The things we have fought for are sure to prevail . . . [and] may come in a better way than we proposed.” Advocates of a revived, strengthened League of Nations hoped the United Nations would prove the better way.

Taken at its face value, the Declaration was impressive. If the signing nations could actually employ their “full resources,” their power would be staggering. Their combined populations came to almost 1,500,000,000 of the world’s 2,145,000,000. They held twice as much of the world’s steel capacity as the Axis, most of its wheat, most of the materials needed for making war or prospering in peace.

Today’s United Nations, by those standards, is even more impressive: instead of 26 member nations, there are 193.

Read the 1942 story about the original United Nations here, in TIME’s archives: The United Nations

TIME China

Xi’s India Visit Highlights Changing Power Dynamic

Xi Jinping
Chinese President Xi Jinping, makes a joint statement with Maldives President Yaamin Abdul Gayoom, unseen, in Male, Maldives, on Sept. 15, 2014 Fayaz Moosa—Associated Press

Xi is due in New Delhi on Wednesday for a three-day visit focused on trade, investment and the resolution of decades-old border disputes

(BEIJING)— Chinese President Xi Jinping’s trip to India this week highlights subtle shifts in the regional power dynamic that are bringing warmer ties between the two Asian giants, challenging China’s traditional relationship with Pakistan, and opening a new chapter in Beijing’s ongoing competition for influence with arch-rival Japan.

Xi is due in New Delhi on Wednesday for a three-day visit focused on trade, investment and the resolution of decades-old border disputes. With the world’s second-largest economy and a proven track record at building highways, railways, and industrial zones, China has much to offer India as it seeks to upgrade its creaky infrastructure.

The visit is the latest sign of easing suspicions between the two huge countries — which between them have 2.6 billion people — dating from a month-long border war in 1962 that left around 2,000 soldiers dead. That conflict ended in a standoff with both sides accusing the other of occupying its territory.

Xi’s visit “will definitely enhance the bilateral political mutual trust,” Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Liu Jianchao told reporters in Beijing last week.

While ties have been steadily growing for years, they’ve been given a major boost under new Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who’s signaled he wishes to pursue a more vigorous foreign policy. Xi is the first Chinese head of state to visit in eight years, while the country’s prime minister, Li Keqiang, made Indiahis first overseas visit shortly after taking office last year.

“Good relations with India are a key part of China’s regional strategy and Xi’s visit creates the opportunity for direct face-to-face communication on the problems that still exist, such as the border issue,” said Zhao Gancheng, Director of the Asia-Pacific Center of the Shanghai Institute for International Studies.

Modi spoke repeatedly to top Chinese officials in the first weeks of his administration, and during a recentvisit to India, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi described the new relationship as “the emerging tip of a massive buried treasure.”

There’s certainly plenty of room for growth. China may be India’s biggest trading partner, but commerce between them dropped to an anemic $65 billion last year, with China exporting $48 billion more goods than it imported. For Modi, boosting trade and foreign investment is critical to making good on his campaign promise of creating jobs for the 13 million young Indians entering the labor market each year.

China also has a strong vested interested in preventing India from drawing too close to the West and especially to Japan, which has enthusiastically courted Modi’s government.

Recently, Modi paid a five-day visit to Japan, bringing home pledges of billions of dollars in aid and investment and an agreement to strengthen their economic and security ties. Modi has emphasized the value of their shared commitment to democracy in contrast to China’s one-party authoritarian communist system.

In light of that visit, Xi is expected to make investment pledges matching or exceeding the $35 billion Modi received in Japan — a sign of how Modi has been able to leverage the rivalry between China and Japan to maximize gains for India.

“China, I think, is conscious that we have a good equation with Japan,” said Jayadev Ranade, president of the New Delhi-based think tank Center for China Analysis and Strategy.

Both sides have said the border disputes shouldn’t impede relations and recent years have brought regular consultations between both their diplomats and troops on either side high along the Himalayan frontier.

That’s despite the occasional Indian accusation of Chinese incursions and an increased Chinese military presence along the border that has prompted India to deploy more armored units, refurbish air strips, and construct new roads in the area.

China lays claim to the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, an immense territory of nearly 84,000 square kilometers (more than 32,000 square miles), while India says China is illegally occupying the region of Aksai Chin, a rocky and largely empty 37,000-square-kilometer (14,000-square-mile) region far to the east.

Talks have yet to produce a long-term solution, but until they do, China says its policy is to avoid conflict.

“We are all committed to tranquility and peace at the border. We will strive for an equitable and reasonable solution based on negotiation and consultation. We have confidence and capability for that,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said Thursday.

While both Xi and Modi are strong leaders who’ve shown initiative, they’re constrained on the border issue by domestic sentiment, particularly rising nationalism in China, Ranade said.

“There will be many issues raised and discussed but I don’t see a major breakthrough on the border issue. These are difficult issues,” Ranade said. “But even if they are discussed in a tangible fashion, which I expect the Modi government will do, it will be a move forward.”

Xi’s visit comes during a swing through the region that also includes stops in the Maldives and Sri Lanka, where Chinese companies are at work on a major port and other infrastructure projects.

He won’t, however, be stopping in on long-time ally and Indian rival Pakistan amid an outbreak of violent political protests in the capital, Islamabad. That offers further evidence for those who see a growing Chinese ambivalence toward Pakistan, although Ranade said the fact that the country was included on the original itinerary shows Beijing still values the relationship.

“Under the circumstances, it’s inappropriate to have such a high-level visit,” said the Shanghai Institute’s Zhao. Beijing hasn’t commented on reasons for the visit’s cancellation and the Foreign Ministry says China and Pakistan remain friendly neighbors.

China and Pakistan had in the past found common cause in checking India’s growth as a regional power, but China’s own stratospheric rise has alleviated that need. Beijing also has grown increasingly concerned with the threat to stability in its northwestern region of Xinjiang posed by Islamic radicals hiding out in northwestern Pakistan.

At the same time, Pakistan’s political dysfunction and economic malaise also offer little incentive for Chinese companies to take on the sort of major projects there that they’re now eyeing for India.

TIME Books

I’m a Woman Who Lived as a Boy: My Years as a Bacha Posh

The Underground Girls of Kabul
The Underground Girls of Kabul Crown

For 9 years of her youth in Afghanistan, Faheema lived as Faheem—a boy, one free from the societal barriers and stigmas women face

Jenny Nordberg’s The Underground Girls of Kabul, published Sept. 16, is the result of five years of research into why it’s not uncommon for girls in Afghanistan to be brought up as boys. Nordberg, an investigative reporter, discovered the practice in 2009, and detailed it in a story for The New York Times.

The Underground Girls of Kabul explores the reasons for, and the consequences of, this longstanding practice, which has affected many Afghan girls and women. It also offers a glimpse into the situation for women there, which remains precarious.

What happens to such a person, Nordberg wondered, when they relocate to a society that values women more, and there is no longer a need to hide? She recently connected with another young Afghan woman, now living in the U.S., who once passed as a boy in her home country.

Exclusively for TIME, this is the story of Faheema.


Liberating. That’s how it felt, walking out the door for the first time as a boy. I was 12. I was no longer Faheema, who needed to be proper and watch her every move, but Faheem, who had guts and could go where he wanted. That was my right as a bacha posh—from Dari, it translates to, “dressed up as a boy.” It’s what they call girls who live their lives disguised as boys in Afghanistan. And I suppose those who eventually become boys on the inside, too.

My family had returned to Kabul after the Taliban, and in 2002, society was so much more conservative there than in Pakistan, where we had lived as refugees. Girls were looked down upon, and being one was made very difficult.

With short hair and in pants, I found that no one would look at me on the street, or harass me. I did not have to wear the scarf. I could look people in the eyes. I could speak to other boys, and adult men too. I did not have to make myself smaller by hunching over. I could walk fast. Or run, if I felt like it.

In fact, I had been brought up as a boy—I just didn’t look like one at first.

At home, I was the one who got things done. We were carpet weavers, and I ran the family enterprise from our house. Seven other, younger, children took orders from me. My parents often told me they wished I had been born a boy. They have said it for as long as I can remember; my father in particular. It would have made more sense, he said, since I was a harder worker than any of my brothers.

Even while living as a girl, I tried to do everything Afghan society and culture said I couldn’t do. I became strong. I took responsibility. I educated myself and my siblings. I helped my father with his guests and all the technical work at the house. But I still felt inadequate.

Most bacha posh in Afghanistan are made that way by their parents. But my story is different. One day I made the decision for myself to switch. I gave them what they asked for.

It worked.

The attitude, the lowered voice; how I moved with more confidence. I could disappear in a crowd. The more divided a society, the easier it is to change the outside. Others bought it. It shocked me that I could trick those harassing eyes just by how I looked. Being a boy allowed me to function as a more of a whole person in society. It was practical. I could protect my sisters, and escort them to class in winter. It pleased my parents, too. At least they did not protest.

I spent nine years as a boy. I continued trying to please my parents like that until a few years ago, when I came to a small town in America to go to college. My turning point was when I started thinking about being a woman. Why should I need to hide? Could I not have the same pride, and the same abilities, as a girl? Why did only my male self have that strength? I had been so proud to be a boy, in that I had figured it out and outsmarted everyone. That I had won. But I began feeling more and more angry. I was like, “How long will I have to do this?”

To be honest, I had always thought of being a bacha posh as my own choice; that I was doing something also for myself, and of my own free will. But that was not entirely true, I realize now. My parents’ wish for me to be a boy forced me to become one. I took it too literally. So a few years ago, I wanted to try and accept myself as a girl. I knew it was inevitable at some point anyway.

By then, I was 18 but I still had no breasts, and my periods were irregular. When my mother had sought out a doctor in Kabul, he said that my psyche may be turning into that of a man’s. It scared her. She worried I may never be able to turn back.

It was hard. I began letting my hair grow out. Now it’s almost all the way down to my waist. I also went to see a psychologist at my university. We talked about what is male and what is female in me. I don’t know what normal is, but I am not as angry anymore. The differences between men and women exist here too, but there is no need for me to pretend to be a man in order to go outside, or to count as a full person. In some ways America is a conservative society too, and it’s so important for many people to be either male or female. I have both in me now and that’s how I’ll always be.

I think often about what it means.

Being a man gives you so many privileges, you don’t see the small things. You own the world and everything is yours. As a boy, I was very busy thinking of everything I needed and wanted. That’s what you do. You just don’t take much of it in. You focus on yourself. A lot is expected of you as a man, so you have to.

As a woman, you see more. You notice what’s around you. To me, that is the essence of it. You relate to others. As a woman, I have a soft core that melts with everything. As a woman, I can feel what others feel. I see what they see. And I cry with them. I think of that as the female in me. I allow that now.

I’m in my twenties now, and I don’t expect to live long. A woman’s average life in Afghanistan is 44 years, so I’m halfway done. I would like to stay here and become an anthropologist, but my American visa expires in a few months, and then I have to return home.

My father still only accepts me as a boy, not as a girl. We talk on Skype: He is a macho colonel in Afghanistan who calls me every day. Like my close friends, he is still allowed to call me by my boy name. But I know now that both my family and much of my society was wrong in saying that only boys can do certain things. They are the ones who don’t allow girls to do anything.

I have complicated feelings about the freedom I have here in the West. It’s borrowed. It’s not really mine. Deep down you know it’s going to be taken away at any moment. Just like that of a bacha posh.

As told to and edited by Jenny Nordberg.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME politics

Hate Immigrants? Good Luck With Women Voters

Elena, 14, her mother Lucia, and Andrea Mercado, Co-Chair of We Belong Together. Elena and Lucia live in Homestead, FL. Elena's father was deported two years ago, leaving Lucia to raise Elena and her four younger siblings by herself with the meager salary she earns cleaning houses. Les Talusan

Terry O’Neill is the president of NOW. Pramila Jayapal is a Co-Chair of We Belong Together.

Fixing our broken immigration system is a crucial part of the struggle for women’s equality

Why did we both get arrested outside the U.S. Capitol last year demanding Congress pass comprehensive immigration reform? Why did Terry join more than 140 other activists outside the White House last week in an act of civil disobedience to demand that President Obama stop deporting workers, parents and children? Why did over 30 Floridian children whose parents have been deported hold a vigil in front of the White House on Monday afternoon to urge the President to stop separating families?

Because we had to. None of us can march into the Oval Office, pound on the President’s desk and tell Barack Obama to reverse the delay that he announced on Saturday. But we can give the President and members of Congress something to think about when they look out their windows. The question is whether they can muster the political will to do the right thing.

Barack Obama said he would act on his own if the do-nothing Congress continued to block reform—but now, he seems to be listening to cautious political advisors who believe they can siphon away votes from Republican Senate candidates by parroting their hard line on immigration. That’s the wrong way to go.

The 11 million undocumented men, women, and children cannot vote in the U.S. But members of their families and communities, who recognize the incredible contributions immigrants have made to our nation, can and will vote. In the year since the Senate immigration reform bill was passed, while the House refused to act, 1.5 million immigrants became newly eligible voters. For immigrant and Latino voters, relief from deportations and family separation will be a key issue in the upcoming elections.

And women vote. We know that fixing our broken immigration system is a crucial part of the struggle for women’s equality. Women and children make up 75% of immigrants in the US and they bear the brunt of harsh enforcement measures, backlogs in the family immigration process, and a biased visa system that doesn’t credit women’s contributions in informal labor sectors. Creating an immigration process that is fair to women and children is a priority for women voters, with 70% supporting immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship.

The power of this voting bloc should be enough to make this a pressing issue for every candidate, but it seems almost nothing will move Republicans in the House to act. With Congress refusing to listen to their hearts, minds, and pollsters, President Obama must step in to make common-sense changes that provide relief from deportations and the separation of families.

Republicans allege that the President is overstepping his authority and disrespecting our system of checks and balances. But this Congress has pledged not to work with the President on the issue; it is the obstinacy and inaction of Congress that has tipped the scale, and the President must balance it out for the sake of millions.

There are several things that President Obama can do today to provide relief to millions of families and to live up to his campaign promises: use his legal authority to allow immigrants to remain and work legally in the U.S without burdensome requirements that could exclude women; alleviate the 4 million backlogged cases in the family visa system that jam the path to citizenship; repeal enforcement programs like “Secure Communities” and 287 (g) initiatives that are rife with racial profiling and create barriers for survivors of sexual and domestic violence to life-saving services and protection; allow spouses of visa holders to work to give women the ability to support themselves and contribute to our economy; immediately end the detention of families with children; and prioritize family unity in any Department of Homeland Security enforcement mandates.

By taking bold action now President Obama will live up to his promise and set us on the path to an immigration process that values families, is fair to women, and recognizes the invaluable contributions of immigrants to our nation. House Republicans have underestimated the power of immigrant communities, and the power of women who espouse true family values. People who care about their immigrant neighbors, relatives, friends, and co-workers will vote their values come November. Politicians who gambled on xenophobia and misanthropy will have to find a new line of work.

Terry O’Neill is the president of NOW. Pramila Jayapal is a Co-Chair of We Belong Together.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME politics

How Little Has Changed on Gun Control Since 1967

Lyndon Johnson
President Lyndon Johnson speaks to members of his advisory commission on civil disorders at the group's first meeting on July 29, 1967 at the White House in Washington. WX/AP

Two arguments from Lyndon Johnson and Barack Obama for limitations on gun purchasing, five decades apart

If you want a reminder of how little some things change in American politics, look no further than the modern discussion about gun control. On this day, Sept. 15, all the way back in 1967, President Johnson released a letter to Congress urging both houses to take quick action on gun control. Comparing Johnson’s letter to a more recent presidential text with the same topic — President Obama’s speech last April after Congress failed to pass the post-Sandy Hook gun control bill — reveals how much has stayed the same in how politicians talk about guns during the past five decades.

The most obvious similarity may be, to modern observers, the most surprising. Mass school shootings, like the one that took place in Newtown, Conn., in December of 2012, are often discussed as a tragedy of our time. Video games are blamed, for example, and few accounts refer to events earlier than 1999’s Columbine massacre. But they’re not actually a 21st-century tragedy: on Aug. 1, 1966, Charles Whitman — who appeared on the cover of TIME two weeks later — brought several guns with him to the observation deck of a 307-foot tower at the University of Texas, where he was a student. He killed 13 people and wounded 31 before being shot by police; later, police discovered the bodies of his wife and mother, whom he had killed before coming to campus. The Whitman shooting was the context for Johnson’s urgency when writing to Congress, and that’s the information with which he began his letter.

Then Johnson, like Obama would decades later, clarified that the people the bill in question would affect are people whom nobody wants armed. “There is no excuse,” Johnson wrote, for selling guns to “hardened criminals” and “mental defectives.” Likewise, “we’re talking about convicted felons, people convicted of domestic violence, people with severe mental illness,” Obama said.

Furthermore, both stressed that the bill wouldn’t even change all that much. Here’s Johnson in 1967: “[The bill's] basic approach is to limit out-of-state purchases and interstate mail order sales of firearms.” Here’s Obama in 2013, with a modern take on mail-order problems: “All [the bill] did was extend the same background check rules that already apply to guns purchased from a dealer to guns purchased at gun shows or over the Internet.” (There was one big change here: while both are concerned with gun-buying by mail, Johnson’s bill was much stricter and would have stopped interstate mail order sales altogether.)

Then, both appeal to the law-abiding gun owners. “The measure now before Congress is aimed solely at keeping deadly weapons out of the wrong hands. It interferes neither with sportsmen nor law-abiding citizens with a legitimate need. This legislation will impose no real inconvenience on gun buyers,” in 1967, and “Nobody could honestly claim that [the bill] infringed on our Second Amendment rights,” in 2013.

Finally, both end with an appeal to the safety of “the American people” and a call for Congress to act. And for Johnson, at least, it worked: a Gun Control Act passed in 1968.

Read TIME’s 1968 cover story about guns here, in the archive: The Gun in America

TIME politics

Gabrielle Giffords: 20 Years After VAWA, There’s Much More Work To Do

Business Leaders Speak At New York Ideas Event
Retired Congresswoman and co-founder of Americans for Responsible Solutions, Gabby Giffords, speaks at New York Ideas, a conference that brings together leaders from a variety of industries on May 6, 2014 in New York City. Andrew Burton—Getty Images

Even though many couples are choosing to marry later in life, our laws haven’t been updated to address dating partner abuse

Some said it would be too hard – impossible, even.

Two decades ago, a broad and brave coalition of determined women’s advocates, domestic violence survivors and fair-minded leaders in Congress set out to do what some said could not be done: pass a law that helped protect women and their families from the scourge of domestic violence.

The proposal, called the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), took badly needed steps toward protecting women. It gave judges, prosecutors, and law enforcement officials new tools to combat violence; it strengthened services for survivors and their families; and, for the first time under federal law, ensured that dangerous individuals subject to domestic violence restraining orders couldn’t have easy access to guns.

Still, securing the needed support for the law was no easy fight. There was obstruction, willful misrepresentation, and needless gridlock. Entrenched special interests sprang into action; inaction was their goal.

But Americans made their voices heard, and Congress passed VAWA with the votes of Democrats and Republicans alike. And so, 20 years ago this weekend, then-President Bill Clinton made the Violence Against Women Act the law of the land – a real victory of common sense and courage over the status quo.

Since its passage, VAWA has been a staggering success in making our communities safer. Annual rates of domestic violence have dropped by more than half. The law has saved lives and kept guns out of the hands of countless domestic abusers.

But 20 years later, there is still more work to do to make women safer from gun violence.

Because of VAWA and subsequent updates to the law, individuals who are under domestic violence protection orders or have misdemeanor domestic violence convictions can’t legally buy or own guns. But even though many couples are choosing to marry later in life, our laws haven’t been updated to address dating partner abuse. And convicted stalkers can still get guns.

With such glaring loopholes in our gun laws, guns sometimes fall into the wrong hands – and the results for women are often tragic.

Most of the time, women are murdered with guns by someone they know, either by a family member or an intimate partner, like a former or current husband or boyfriend. In domestic abuse situations, if the abuser has access to a gun, it increases the chance that a woman will die by 500 percent.

This is one reason why American women are 11 times more likely to be shot to death than their peers in other countries, and why more American women were killed by gunfire by a partner between 2001 and 2012 than the total number of American troops killed in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars combined.

That is not the America we strive for, is it?

That’s why it’s time for Congress to build on the legacy and success of the Violence Against Women Act by closing the loopholes that let dangerous stalkers and abusive dating partners buy guns.

There are several commonsense proposals before Congress right now that would help address the nexus of gun crime and domestic violence – and they would do nothing to limit the rights of responsible, law-abiding gun owners.

In fact, for those of us who own guns and cherish our Second Amendment rights, these laws should be a welcome step. Because every time guns fall into the wrong hands and are used to intimidate, injure, or murder women, it erodes the rights of responsible gun owners everywhere.

Passing these laws wouldn’t prevent every act of gun violence against women, but there is no doubt they would save women’s lives. They are the commonsense thing to do.

Over the last two decades, the Violence Against Women Act has been reauthorized, improved, and updated several times. Sometimes, a small minority of legislators and powerful special interests – standing on the wrong side of history and far out of step with the vast majority of Americans – has fought it.

But each time, Democrats and Republicans have voted for commonsense and safety. And thankfully, each time they have prevailed.

With lots of hard work, and with reasonable Americans making their voices heard, I hope that a similar bipartisan group of leaders can forge the hard but necessary path of making America’s women safer from gun violence.

It won’t be easy. But it will save lives.

Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords is the Co-Founder of Americans for Responsible Solutions.

TIME politics

Girl Tells President She Wished Surprise Guest at School Was Beyoncé

Michelle Obama wanted to see Queen Bey too

President Obama got a bit of an ego blow yesterday at a visit to a D.C. charter school when a young girl told him she had hoped the surprise guest would be Beyoncé.

“I understand,” Obama told Madison, a sixth grader at Inspired Teaching School, according to ABC News.

The girl backpedaled, saying, “But then I realized it was going to be you and that’s even better!”

Obama said, “I appreciate you saying that in front of the press. I know it’s not really true.” Then Michelle Obama piped in that she would rather see Beyoncé too. Because we all know who really “run the world”:


TIME domestic violence

Sen. Blumenthal and Former NOW President: The NFL Owes America a Responsible Policy on Domestic Violence

Ray Rice Press Conference
Running back Ray Rice of the Baltimore Ravens addresses a news conference with his wife Janay at the Ravens training center on May 23, 2014 in Owings Mills, Maryland. Rob Carr—Getty Images

The NFL benefits from broad anti-trust exemptions granted by Congress, as well as hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer benefits

Earlier this week, the New York Times ran the following headline: “A Punch Is Seen, and a Player Is Out.”

As most Americans knew by then, video footage was released on Monday of running back Ray Rice punching his then-fiancée Janay Palmer Rice in an elevator and knocking her unconscious. Later on Monday, the Baltimore Ravens terminated Ray Rice’s contract, and the National Football League placed him on indefinite suspension.

That these actions were not taken until “after” the punch was seen might suggest that the Ravens and the NFL could not have made this decision earlier. On the contrary, video of Rice dragging his unconscious fiancée out of the elevator has been circulating since February. Rice was indicted on third-degree aggravated assault charges in March. In July, the NFL suspended Rice for two games – a penalty less severe than those the League has imposed for offenses such as the one-time use of a banned substance or breach of a memorabilia policy.

This incident, and the egregiously slow, inadequate response to it, highlights at least two inescapable facts about domestic violence.

First, this crime, which is shrouded in secrecy and stigma, is disturbingly underreported. One of the primary reasons for that is that action is too rarely taken unless the “punch is seen.” Real action was not taken after Rice apologized for his bad behavior, or even after the video of the aftermath became public. Instead, it took the video of the punch itself for the Ravens and the NFL to even approach a proportionate response – and by that time, the charges against Rice had already been dropped after he agreed to the patently insufficient outcome of court-supervised counseling.

This perfectly, if tragically, exemplifies the difficulty that faces victims of domestic violence. The video provides evidence of the incident – but it also compounds the public humiliation and pain of a woman who has already suffered. A record like this one almost never exists in cases of domestic violence, and yet this is the only crime in which the victim is routinely expected to produce evidence that it occurred.

As a result, too many women fear that they will be disbelieved, mocked, or even blamed. Their fear has good reason: it took until this week for the Ravens to retract their disgusting statement on Twitter that Janay Palmer Rice “deeply regrets the role that she played the night of the incident” – as though this “apology” somehow exonerated Ray Rice.

We did not have to see the video to know this was unacceptable. The NFL should not have needed the video to impose more than a two-game suspension. And therein lies the second unfortunate conclusion we can draw from this week’s events: the pernicious nature of domestic violence, which nearly always happens behind closed doors, leads to policies that fail to address it fully.

In the 20 years since the passage of the landmark Violence Against Women Act, we have made important strides in understanding this reprehensible crime, holding offenders accountable, and providing life-changing services to victims. But continuing to combat the stigma that contributes to victims’ reluctance to report abuse requires better laws, better processes, and a change in the culture that tells women to be ashamed.

As one of the most powerful and influential organizations in America, the NFL has an opportunity – and an obligation – to help change this culture. Across the country, boys – and a rapidly growing number of girls – are watching the players, the coaches, and the teams. When they see athletes committing acts of violence, and when those acts are excused, glossed over, and given pathetically weak punishments, they learn that domestic violence is not taken seriously. They learn that they will not be taken seriously if they report abuse. They learn that they can get away with committing abuse against others.

The NFL’s obligation to set and enforce responsible policies does not come only from its players’ public example, but from its significant public support. The NFL benefits from broad anti-trust exemptions granted by Congress, as well as hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer benefits, including enormous subsidies for teams and stadiums. NFL policies should take seriously the NFL’s public trust. Lawmakers must demand better, and taxpayers who support the League with their hard-earned money must do the same.

We have called on the NFL to do better, and we will watch to make sure that it does. And we don’t need video. We will work with the NFL to develop policies that help victims to come forward – policies that help them after they have done so, and that don’t assume they are lying. And we must ensure that abusers are punished in a manner that reflects the seriousness of the offense – and without a requirement that anyone have “seen the punch.”

Richard Blumenthal is the senior U.S. Senator from Connecticut. Kim Gandy is the president and CEO of the National Network to End Domestic Violence, and the former president of NOW.

TIME politics

How the Star-Spangled Banner Became the National Anthem

The famous words were written 200 years ago this week, but it didn't become the national anthem until 1931 — and not everyone was happy about it when it did

Exactly 200 years ago this weekend, on Sept. 14, 1814, Francis Scott Key, a lawyer from Georgetown, found himself on a ship in Baltimore’s harbor as the War of 1812 raged around him.

On Aug. 24, 1814, the British army had invaded Washington, D.C. The Capitol building and the White House were burned, and the Brits turned to nearby Baltimore, firing on the harbor’s Fort McHenry on Sept. 13. It was in the midst of that battle that Key, who had been negotiating for the release of a prisoner of war, was at sea. At dawn on Sept. 14, the American flag still flew over the fort; the British were in retreat. Key’s poem about what he saw, which he set to an earlier tune by John Stafford Smith, came to be known as “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

But Key hadn’t written the American national anthem. In fact, for more than a century after that day, America had no national anthem at all.

The “Star-Spangled Banner” did quickly gain popularity, however, and military bands during the Civil War and World War I used it as a de facto anthem — even though officially it was just another patriotic ditty like the rest. The effort to acquire a national anthem gained speed following World War I, as can be traced through early mentions of the song in TIME. In 1925, the magazine reprinted an anti-“Banner” letter from a man who found it “hurtful to every ideal which Americans cherish” in its violence (particularly toward Britain, an ally) and who said that he would refuse to remove his hat while the song was played. The other camp was represented by people like John C. Wright, whose 1929 letter to the magazine is shown above:

As Wright’s letter makes clear, one of the main concerns with naming “The Star-Spangled Banner” the anthem was that, with its octave-and-a-half range, it was just too hard to sing. That was why, in Feb. 1930, the pro-“Banner” crowd invited the U.S. Navy Band to perform the song for the House Judiciary Committee. “Two sopranos sang all its four verses to prove that its words were not difficult, that its pitch was not too high,” TIME reported. And, whether or not that was the deciding factor, it worked. In listing the work of the 1930 congressional session, TIME had this to report:

July 14, 1930
From the July 14, 1930, issue of TIME

On Mar. 3, 1931, President Hoover signed the bill into law, and the U.S. had an anthem for the first time. But two sopranos do not a nation make — and history has shown that, despite its other virtues, the song isn’t exactly easy to sing. These ten terrible national anthem renditions are proof enough of that.

Read a 1990 story on the difficulties of singing the national anthem here, in TIME’s archives: Oh Say, Can You Sing It?


TIME politics

No, Hillary Clinton Isn’t The Frontrunner Because She’s a Woman

Secretary Of State Kerry Joined By Former Secretaries Break Ground On US Diplomacy Center
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivers remarks during the ceremonial groundbreaking of the future U.S. Diplomacy Center at the State Department's Harry S. Truman Building September 3, 2014 in Washington, DC. Chip Somodevilla—Getty Images

Sorry, Chuck Todd—you're wrong about Hillary

During an interview with Charlie Rose this week, Meet the Press host Chuck Todd said, “If [Hillary Clinton] were running to be the second woman president, I think she would not even be considered a frontrunner.”

While I’ve always had deep respect for Chuck’s reporting and analysis, to imply that Hillary Clinton is the Democratic frontrunner only because she’s a woman is not just offensive, it is flat-out wrong.

Writing off Hillary Clinton’s accomplishments and credentials as merely a result of her gender undermines the progress we’ve made toward equality in this country and is indicative of just how far we have to go. Nearly a century after women earned the right to vote, there still seems to be an underlying presumption that we aren’t as capable as our male counterparts. Even though women make up 60% of our college graduates and 70% of our high school valedictorians, they hold just 18.5% of the seats in Congress, 4.8% of Fortune 500 CEO positions, and earn just 77 cents for every dollar earned by men. The numbers get even more disappointing for women of color.

This systemic inequity is felt throughout our society, but especially in the media and especially with regard to Hillary Clinton.

While I do believe the country would benefit from having a female president, being a woman does not guarantee anyone frontrunner status. If that were the case, Michele Bachmann would have been the Republican frontrunner in 2012, but she didn’t even come close.

Why is that? Because the American people are smarter than that. The American people don’t vote on gender alone. They vote for the person they believe is the most qualified to lead our nation – gender, race and religion aside. The media needs to start giving Americans a little more credit for their decisions.

Americans know that Hillary Clinton is ready to be the next President of the United States. The enthusiasm behind Hillary Clinton is a result of her years of hard, incredible work serving this country and her fellow Americans. The fact that she’s a woman is just icing on the cake.

Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez represents California’s 46th Congressional District.

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