TIME Iran

Nuclear Deal or No Deal

Joe Klein is TIME's political columnist and author of six books, most recently Politics Lost. His weekly TIME column, "In the Arena," covers national and international affairs.

Why the U.S. cannot walk away from negotiating with Iran

As March dwindled down toward an unmet deadline, I found myself growing nostalgic for the early days of the Iran nuclear negotiations. The going was tough, of course, but an interim deal was produced–and a wonderful deal it was. Iran agreed to stop enriching uranium. It agreed to inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency. It stopped construction on its heavy-water nuclear reactor. It acknowledged, tacitly, that the lion’s share of economic sanctions would remain in place until a final agreement was done. That was 16 months ago, and much to the surprise of skeptics, Iran has abided by the deal. And almost as surprising, the global coalition–including the Russians and Chinese–has held together and stuck to its guns, much to the credit of the oft-maligned Obama negotiating team. “It is ironic,” an Arab diplomat told me. “The interim deal is better than the deal you’re negotiating.”

Well, of course it is. There is no way Iran would permanently agree to stop its program in return for limited sanctions relief. It has the right, as a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, to process low-grade uranium for peaceful purposes. And so we have had this messy haggle over how many centrifuges Iran will be allowed to operate going forward, where they will spin and how quickly we will lift the sanctions.

There have been nonnuclear issues on both sides. The proud Iranians have to concede without seeming to concede. The Americans and the rest of the world, but mostly the Americans, have to acknowledge that after 36 years, the Iranian theocrats–caricatured by Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu and assorted Republicans as half-crazed religious fanatics–can act responsibly.

The atmosphere surrounding the negotiations has also been complicated by a significant upheaval in the region during the past 16 months. The unnatural straight-line national borders drawn 99 years ago by the British and French are disappearing in the sand. The true regional fault line, between Sunni and Shi’ite, is emerging. A full-blown sectarian war looms. The U.S. would be crazy to take sides in this struggle, but events–the rise of ISIS, a barbaric Sunni army–have conspired to nudge us toward the Shi’ite side of the equation. A nuclear deal with Iran suddenly has import it didn’t have before. “It would give Iran international credibility,” says Nicholas Burns, a former U.S. diplomat who has negotiated with Iran in the past, “to go along with the increased influence it has in Iraq and Yemen.” Burns believes we should make the deal if we can, “but the Administration has to focus on rebuilding our relations with the Sunni powers like Egypt and Saudi Arabia.” (On March 31, Obama lifted the arms embargo against Egypt, which is fighting ISIS-related forces in Sinai and Libya.)

On April Fools’ Day, no less an international expert than Howard Dean opined that the Obama Administration should walk away from the talks and let the sanctions continue to bite Iran until it begs for mercy. A week earlier, the incredible–that is, not credible–former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton modestly proposed that we should just bomb the Iranian nuclear facilities and be done with it. The frustration with the negotiating process was understandable. By persisting at the table, the U.S. seemed more slouchy than strong–especially as the Iranians appeared to walk back parts of the agreement and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei acknowledged a chant of “Death to America” from a handpicked crowd with a simple “Indeed.”

It would be nice to think that melodrama–walking away from the table, bombing Iran–would have some sort of conclusive effect. But Dean’s plan assumed that the international sanctions would remain in effect if we walked away–a very unlikely proposition, as the Russian and Chinese foreign ministers made it clear that they were satisfied with the outline of the deal the Americans and Iranians were still squabbling over.

Bolton’s bomb throwing assumed that Iran would react as Iraq and Syria did when Israel bombed their nuclear reactors–that is, not at all. But Iran is completely different from the almost-states of Syria and Iraq. It is a real place. It has natural borders on all but one side. It has a 4,000-year history and a distinct culture. It is Persian, not Arab. It has a sophisticated, well-educated populace, which may not like the authoritarian government but is proud and patriotic and very sensitive to disdain from Western imperial powers. Indeed, if we were to bomb its nuclear facilities, the Iranians would quickly rebuild them and rush toward the creation of a nuclear deterrent.

One way or another, that is a reality we have to deal with, even if it involves ongoing negotiation–a prospect that shouldn’t be so painful as long as the lovely interim agreement remains intact.

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This appears in the April 13, 2015 issue of TIME.

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 Books

Hirsi Ali: Beware of Michiganistan

Ayaan Hirsi Ali is the founder of the AHA Foundation and the author of Infidel, Nomad, and the new book Heretic: The Case for a Muslim Reformation.

“It couldn’t happen here” is the attitude, but Islamic fundamentalism may become more prevalent in the U.S. in coming years

Since the massacre at the offices of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in January, the U.S. media has understandably devoted attention to the problem of radical Islam in Europe. The fact has been widely reported that thousands of European Union citizens have traveled to Iraq and Syria to join the self-styled Islamic State. Almost as much coverage has been given to stories of French Jews emigrating to Israel. And there have been numerous articles about Michel Houellebecq’s diabolically timed novel Soumission, which imagines France in 2022 with a Muslim president introducing sharia law and being fawned over by the Parisian establishment.

The implication of many of these articles is: “How utterly terrifying. Thank heavens it couldn’t happen here.”

True, there are no American equivalents of the alarmist books about Europe with titles like Eurabia or Londonistan. Apparently it is not quite time to warn about the “United States of Sharia” or “Michiganistan.” But are we underestimating the speed with which this country could develop substantial and influential populations of Islamic extremists? A growing, if still small number of cases like that of Abdi Nur — the 20-year-old student who left south Minneapolis to join IS last year — suggests we may be.

Mainly as a result of postwar migrations, there are now more than 20 million Muslims living in the European Union. In France – where accurate census data on religious affiliation are not collected – the Muslim share of the population is now estimated at between 7 and 8 percent. That is an order of magnitude larger than the current Muslim share of the U.S. population.

Yet, as the European experience shows, demographic change can happen rapidly, as a consequence of migration patterns, differentials in birth rates and – in the case of religious affiliation – rates of conversion and apostasy. In 1990 Europe (the whole continent minus Russia) had a Muslim population of 16 million. It had nearly doubled by 2010. It will be 40 million by 2030.

According to estimates by the Pew Research Center, the Muslim population of the United States is set to increase from around 2.6 million today to 6.2 million in 2030, mainly as a result of immigration, as well as above-average birth rates. Although in relative terms this will still represent less than 2 percent of the total U.S. population (1.7 percent, to be precise, compared with around 0.8 percent today), in absolute terms that will be a larger population than in any West European country except France. Between now and 2030, the Muslim population of the United States will be growing faster than that of any EU member state (with two exceptions where the absolute numbers are tiny: Ireland and Finland). The annual growth rate will be more than double that of France.

As an immigrant of Somali origin, I have no objection to other people coming to America to seek a better life for themselves and their families. My concern is with the attitudes many of these new Muslim Americans will bring with them – and with our capacity for changing those attitudes.

Approximately two fifths of Muslim immigrants between now and 2030 will be from just three countries: Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Iraq. Another Pew study – of opinion in the Muslim world – shows just how many people in these countries hold views that most Americans would regard as extreme. (Data on opinion are unavailable for the other two big “sender” countries, Somalia and Iran.)

Three quarters of Pakistanis and more than two fifths of Bangladeshis and Iraqis think that those, like me, who leave Islam should suffer the death penalty. More than 80 percent of Pakistanis and two thirds of Bangladeshis and Iraqis regard sharia law as the revealed word of God. Only tiny fractions would be comfortable if their daughters married Christians. Only a minority regards honor killings of women as never justified. A quarter of Bangladeshis and one in eight Pakistanis think that suicide bombings in defense of Islam are often or sometimes justified.

People with views such as these pose a threat to us all, not because those who hold them will all turn to terrorism. Most will not. But such attitudes imply a readiness to turn a blind eye to the use of violence and intimidation tactics against, say, apostates and dissidents – and a clear aversion to the hard-won achievements of Western feminists and campaigners for minority rights.

Of course, “it” might still not happen here if the United States is as successful at turning these immigrants into an assimilated, “hyphenated” community as it was a century or so ago when the immigrants were Irish, Italian and Jewish. But will the melting pot work its magic this time? Ten years ago, the late Samuel Huntington feared that it already had ceased to function, citing what he saw as problems of assimilation with Mexican immigrants. If he were still with us, I suspect he would be a lot more worried about what is happening in Muslim America.

According to a detailed survey of Muslim Americans, about 8% of those surveyed said that suicide bombing and other violence is often or sometimes justified to defend Islam from its enemies. Indeed, more than a fifth of Muslim Americans say there is a great deal or a fair amount of support for extremism in the Muslim American community. About 20% say that Muslim Americans want to remain “distinct from the larger American society.” Indeed, half say they think of themselves first as a Muslim, second as American, despite the fact that 81% of those polled were U.S. citizens.

Finally, there is a singular feature of American life that, for historical reasons, is not a factor in Europe: the high rate of conversions to Islam among African-Americans. Nearly a quarter (23%) of all Muslim Americans are in fact converts, many of them — just under two thirds according to Ihsan Bagby, a professor of Islamic Studies at the University of Kentucky — African-Americans.

It has been more than fifty years since the heavyweight boxing champion of the world, Cassius Clay, astounded his audience by changing his name to Muhammad Ali and joining the Nation of Islam. Today, more and more African-Americans are following his example, though their route to Islam is a different one.

According to J. Michael Waller of the Institute of World Politics, Muslim inmates comprised between 17 and 20% of the U.S. prison population in 2003, but most of them arrived in jail as non-Muslims. According to his research, 80% of prisoners who “find faith” while behind bars convert to Islam.

Last month, I was dismayed to learn that Fouad al-Bayly, the Egyptian-born imam of the Islamic Center of Johnstown, PA — who in 2007 said that I deserved to die for “defaming” Islam — has been paid thousands of dollars by the Department of Justice to offer religious instruction to inmates in prisons. The European experience shows that radicalization is a serious problem, one that we ignore at our peril.

Who, then, can help build a better future for assimilation of Muslims in America? In 2011, when Pew conducted its detailed study of American Muslims, nearly half of American Muslims (48%) surveyed said that Muslim leaders in the United States had not done enough to speak out against Islamic extremists; only about a third (34%) said that Muslim leaders had done enough in challenging extremists. It is these Muslims — dissident Muslims, disenchanted with the current “official” leadership of the American Islamic community, concerned about illiberal views held in their community — in whom I place my hopes for a better future. Such dissident Muslims include Asra Nomani, Zuhdi Jasser and Irshad Manji, all reformist Muslims who have clashed with “official” Islamic groups to reform Islam and grant greater equality to women. The reformers can help build a future of successful assimilation. But they cannot achieve it alone.

U.S. officials urgently need to choose better partners in the Muslim-American community — not the likes of Fouad al-Bayly. The assumption that Europe’s problem of failed assimilation “couldn’t happen here” just because American assimilation worked well in the past is much too complacent.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s new book, Heretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now, comes out this week. She is a Fellow of the Future of Diplomacy Project at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, a Visiting Fellow of the American Enterprise Institute, and the founder of the AHA Foundation.

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 Race

How Native Americans Shaped Washington, D.C.

Tourist
Chris Maddaloni—Roll Call Photos / Getty Images Melissa Mederos, 10, from Miami, Fla., looks at the Baptism of Pocahontas by John Gadsby Chapman in the Rotunda of the Capitol.

The story the region tells of its first inhabitants is a complicated one

This post is in collaboration with The John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress, which brings together scholars and researchers from around the world to use the Library’s rich collections. The article below was originally published on the Kluge Center blog with the title The Indians’ Capital City: Native Histories of Washington, D.C.

As a Kluge Fellow at the Library of Congress, historian Joseph Genetin-Pilawa is researching his forthcoming book “The Indians’ Capital City: ‘Secret’ Native Histories of Washington, D.C.” He sat down with Jason Steinhauer to discuss the facts, myths, and contradictions of Native presence in the nation’s capital.

The Chesapeake has a rich indigenous history that predates the creation of Washington, D.C. What societies were here before the birth of modern-day Washington?

The human history of the region goes back thousands of years. Groups organized themselves into stratified political units known now as chiefdoms, developed military and political alliances, and practiced religious and spiritual ceremonies aimed at giving thanks and keeping the world in balance. They were all part of the massive Algonquian language that spanned the east coast, up through the Great Lakes and Canada, and even stretched to the Great Plains and part of present-day California. Although the distinct languages were related, they were not mutually intelligible.

The primary Native group that inhabited the area between the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers was and continues to be the Piscataway, along with several related groups, including the Anacostank, Pamunkey, Mattapanient, Nangemeick, and Tauxehent.

You’ve asserted that Native peoples played a significant role in shaping Washington, D.C. Can you elaborate on what you mean by that?

In my forthcoming book, I write about the perceived incongruity of Native people in urban spaces–that the Native past must give way to an urban future, and that they’re mutually exclusive. This incongruity is rooted in Washington, D.C. especially due to the creation of a commemorative landscape–centered in the art and architecture of federal buildings, but dispersed around the city as well–that iterated notions of pacification, of a conquest completed, and of vanishing Indians.

The artwork in the rotunda of the Capitol Building, for example, focuses on Native people assimilating (like Pocahontas), signing land treaties (William Penn and the Delaware), and being subjugated (Daniel Boone fighting Indians). My book argues that, unlike the Native subjects of capital art and architecture though, Indigenous visitors and inhabitants engaged with non-Native individuals and the symbols of settler society in Washington, carved out their own space(s) within it, and claimed or reclaimed an ownership of the place.

The presence of Natives in Washington in the first half of the 19th century coincided with removal of Native tribes from their homelands in the South and West. How do you interpret this tension between Natives being welcomed in Washington while Washington elected officials evicted Natives nationwide? Was that tension felt at the time?

That’s certainly a big part of what attracted me to this project. Much of the early artwork in the city was created and installed in the 1830s, ’40s, and ’50s, to support and justify the removal and reservation policies being simultaneously crafted by Congress and the Presidents. Yet, hundreds and thousands of Indian delegates were in the city concurrently. White Washingtonians told themselves one story on their walls and in their paintings, a story of a completed conquest and vanishing Indians, yet experienced an entirely different story in their everyday lives as they encountered actual Native people all over the city.

From the perspective of the Native visitors themselves, the tension was not so much about the representation versus the reality, but about resisting the very representations themselves. That process started in the earliest days of the city and continues to the present…

Click here to read the rest of the interview, at the Kluge Center blog.

Joseph Genetin-Pilawa is Assistant Professor at George Mason University. His first book is “Crooked Paths to Allotment: The Fight over Federal Indian Policy after the Civil War.” Genetin-Pilawa lectures on the history of Native Americans in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, April 2nd at 4 p.m. at the Kluge Center.

TIME politics

Exclusive: Read a 9-Year-Old’s Letter to Obama About Putting a Woman on U.S. Currency — and His Response

Image courtesy of Kim B., Sofia's mother Sofia, the girl who wrote to Obama asking him to put a woman on U.S. currency

"Why don’t women have coins or dollar bills with their faces on it?"

The little girl who asked Obama last year why there aren’t any women on U.S. bills has finally gotten a letter back from the President — and she’s invited to the annual White House Easter Egg Roll.

President Obama made waves last year when he mentioned he had received a letter from a little girl asking him to put some women on U.S. currency, which he called a “pretty good idea.” That letter was from Sofia, a Massachusetts girl who was just finishing third grade at the time.

“I was studying Ann Hutchinson, who stood up for women’s rights,” she says. “Almost everyone who chose a boy, on their poster they had pictures of different dollar bills or coins with their person on it. So I noticed, why don’t women have coins or dollar bills with their faces on it?”

Sofia, now 9, knew immediately what she had to do. “I just came home from school and said, ‘I need to write to the president.’” Sofia’s mother provided her letter exclusively to TIME:

Kim B. (Sofia's mother)
Image courtesy of Kim B., Sofia’s mother

For a while, Sofia didn’t hear anything back from the President. She says she “sort of forgot about it” until her dad showed her the President had mentioned her letter in a speech. “I was really excited about it, because I thought that maybe it would actually happen,” she says.

In the months since Sofia wrote to Obama, a campaign to put a woman on the $20 bill has gone viral. The W20 movement is hosting an online poll so the public can vote on which woman should replace Andrew Jackson. The group plans to petition Obama and the Treasury Secretary to make it happen. Almost 220,000 people have voted in the online poll so far. And Sofia, who is now in fourth grade, is a junior ambassador for the campaign.

MORE 10 Countries That Put Women on Cash Before the U.S.

Even though she’s a longtime fan of Ann Hutchinson, Sofia wants to see Rosa Parks on the $20. “What she did was really important,” she says. “If it wasn’t for her, we’d still be segregated today.” She got her whole class to vote in the online poll, and her third grade teacher got her class to vote as well.

Last month, Sofia finally got a personalized letter back from the President, along with an invitation to attend this year’s White House Easter Egg Roll. Here’s what President Obama wrote to her:

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Image courtesy of Kim B., Sofia’s mother

“The women you listed and drew make up an impressive group,” Obama wrote. “And I must say you’re pretty impressive, too.”

“I’ll keep working to make sure you grow up in a country where women have the same opportunities as men, and I hope you’ll stay involved in issues that matter to you,” he continued. “If you keep focusing in school and trying to help others whenever you can, there are no limits to what you can accomplish.”

Sofia wants to be a teacher or a scientist when she grows up — after a younger friend was diagnosed with cancer, she decided she wants to study cures. But she also has some advice for other kids her age who want to make a difference. “Write a letter to somebody important,” she says, “because something could happen and it could actually change.”

Read next: The Campaign to Get a Woman on the $20 Bill Is Picking Up Steam

TIME climate change

White House Outlines Plans to Cut Carbon Emissions By Up to 28%

Coal plant
Getty Images

The plan is the first step toward achieving an 80% reduction in carbon emissions by 2050

The White House reaffirmed a commitment to cut carbon emissions by up to 28% by 2025 in a Tuesday submission to the United Nations that promises new regulations on power plants, new fuel economy standards for some vehicles and rules to address methane emissions.

The plan, the first step toward achieving an 80% reduction in carbon emissions by 2050, calls for a dramatic increase in the rate at which the U.S. reduces carbon pollution, from 1.2% per year between 2005 and 2020 to between 2.3% and 2.8% between 2020 and 2025.

“This submission is ambitious and achievable,” said Brian Deese, a senior advisor to the President on climate change, on a conference call. “We know this is good for our economy, good for our health and good for our future.”

The plan, submitted to meet an informal United Nations target date, reaffirms a commitment made by the U.S. in November to cut its carbon emissions by more than a quarter by 2025. At the time, the U.S. and China—the world’s two largest emitters of carbon—made a bilateral commitment to take the lead on the issue, with China agreeing to stop growth in its carbon emissions by 2030.

The commitments of the U.S. and China, along with those of other countries that have submitted plans to the UN, are intended to make a statement that will encourage other countries ahead of a U.N. conference in December intended to produce a binding international agreement on climate change. Leadership aside, the plans already submitted promise to make a dramatic impact on global carbon emissions. Together the U.S., China, the European Union and Mexico, all of which have submitted plans, represent 58% of the world’s carbon emissions.

The U.S. plan, which relies on actions that don’t need Congressional approval, will likely face pushback from Republicans who have already sought to undermine the effort. U.S. officials said Tuesday that proposals are designed to remain in place for years beyond the Obama administration.

“The undoing of the kind of regulation that we’re putting in place is something that’s very tough to do,” said Todd Stern, special envoy for climate change at the State Department, on a conference call.

The plan drew immediate praise in environmental circles. Natural Resources Defense Council president Rhea Suh in a statement that she believes the plan can be “met” and “even exceeded.”

“This important commitment sends a powerful message to the world: Together we can slash dangerous carbon pollution and combat climate change,” she said.

TIME politics

How Terri Schiavo Shaped the Right-to-Die Movement

Terri Schiavo
Matt May / Getty Images A family photo of Terri Schiavo, taken at Terri's hospital bed in 2003 in Gulfport, Fla., as seen on a protester's sign.

The question of the role of government in end-of-life decisions still resonates 10 years later

Throughout the late 1990s and early 2000s, the Death With Dignity National Center kept an office in Washington, D.C. For years, Republican lawmakers tried to pass legislation nullifying Oregon’s 1997 Death With Dignity Act, which allowed terminally ill patients to obtain life-ending medication. The legislation never made it out of the Senate, but it eventually passed in the Republican-controlled House, and the aid-in-dying organization felt compelled to keep pressure on Congress to stop the bill. Then came Terri Schiavo.

Ten years ago, Schiavo—a severely brain-damaged Florida woman—became a national symbol for how not to die in America. At its heart, the case was a family squabble. Schiavo had been kept alive by a feeding tube after collapsing in 1990 from full cardiac arrest that deprived her brain of oxygen. Multiple doctors diagnosed her as being in a persistent vegetative state. Her husband Michael Schiavo argued that his wife would never have wanted to live like that and attempted to get the feeding tube removed. Her parents disagreed and fought to keep her alive.

MORE: How Canada’s Right-to-Die Ruling Could Boost Movement in U.S.

Schiavo’s case languished inside courtrooms for years. Jeb Bush, who was Florida’s governor at the time and is now a likely 2016 Republican presidential candidate, signed “Terri’s Law” in 2003 to reinsert her feeding tube after courts had ordered it taken out. Congressional legislators attempted to diagnose her on the Senate and House floors without having seen her in person. It all culminated with President George W. Bush cutting short a vacation at his ranch in Texas to fly back to Washington to sign a bill that would allow Schiavo’s case to be heard in federal courts.

Eventually, the courts agreed with Michael and allowed her feeding tubes to be removed. After Schiavo died on March 31, 2005, Congress all but stopped trying to pass a law banning aid in dying, says Death With Dignity National Center Executive Director Peg Sandeen, and the group eventually packed up its Washington, D.C., office and took its fight to the states to try to legalize it. A majority of Americans seemed to say that in a relationship involving physicians and families, politicians should steer clear. According to a TIME poll taken in 2005, 70% of respondents said they disapproved of the president’s role in the issue and 54% said they would be more likely to vote against their representative in Congress if he or she sided with the president. Congress appeared to have gotten the message, and aid-in-dying organizations eventually stopped worrying about the practice being outlawed at the federal level.

“The will of the people was not for the government to intervene in end-of-life decisions,” Sandeen tells TIME. “When [Sen.] Trent Lott and [Senate Majority Leader] Bill Frist are on the floor diagnosing her, not having ever looked at her as a patient, I think America said, ‘Enough is enough.’”

People associated with the aid-in-dying movement today say that the Terri Schiavo case was a turning point for Americans thinking about their own end-of-life decisions. While Schiavo’s situation was an extreme outlier, her case ultimately brought into question the government’s role in end-of-life choices altogether.

“A lot of people saw the Schiavo case and said, ‘I don’t want to end up like that. I don’t want to get trapped,’” says Arthur Caplan, a bioethicist at New York University. “It scared people.”

MORE: More States Considering Right-to-Die Laws After Brittany Maynard

In the months following Schiavo’s death, there was a spike in national interest in written advance directives — documents that instruct family members on what to do in end-of-life situations — says Barbara Coombs Lee, president of Compassion & Choices, an aid-in-dying advocacy organization. The news also sparked a discussion about the benefits of prolonging life at all costs.

Prior to Schiavo’s case, the person most associated with aid in dying was Jack Kevorkian, the Michigan doctor who performed dozens of assisted suicides and was eventually convicted for second-degree murder. If Kevorkian showed the darker side of individual end-of-life decisions, Schiavo showed a side in which not making those choices can mean an individuals’ ultimate fate ending up in the hands of feuding family members, judges and legislators.

“One of the American people’s greatest fears is that someone other than themselves will make these decisions,” says Coombs Lee. “This isn’t political or partisan, it’s personal. And that was the first time people realized how intrusive government could actually be.”

Ten years later, there’s renewed interest in end-of-life choices thanks to Brittany Maynard, the 29-year-old newlywed who was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer and moved from California to Oregon to take advantage of the state’s physician-assisted suicide law. Maynard died Nov. 19, 2014, after ingesting barbiturates given to her by a doctor. In the last several months, more than half of all U.S. states have either introduced end-of-life legislation or signaled they would do so.

Most polls today show that about seven in 10 Americans support the idea that state and federal governments should allow people to make end-of-life choices for themselves, something Schiavo’s story made clear a decade ago.

“The lesson,” Coombs Lee says, “is that death is not the worst thing that can happen to you.”

Read TIME’s 2005 cover story about the battle over Terri Schiavo, here in the archives: The End of Life: Who Decides?

TIME States

The Debate Over What Indiana’s Religious Freedom Act Is Really About

Demonstrators gathered at the Indiana State Capital to protest the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in Indianapolis on March 28, 2015.
Nate Chute—Reuters Demonstrators gathered at the Indiana State Capital to protest the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in Indianapolis on March 28, 2015.

More than a dozen other states have considered similar measures this year, which critics tar as "anti-gay"

Opponents of Indiana’s new Religious Freedom Restoration Act believe that while the law explicitly says one thing, it is designed to do another.

Supporters say the measure is meant to do just what it sounds like: make sure the government doesn’t impinge on the religious liberty of Hoosiers. But many gay rights advocates, politicians and civil liberty organizations believe the law will aid discrimination against lesbians and gays in the Midwestern state—giving businesses, landlords or employers legal grounds to treat them differently based on a religious opposition to homosexuality.

When Gov. Mike Pence signed the bill into law on Saturday, Indiana joined 19 other states that have similar “RFRAs,” while Indiana is one of 31 states that does not have a state-level non-discrimination law that covers sexual orientation and gender identity.

“The boogeyman that wants to attack religious adherents has just not arrived in Indiana,” says Jennifer Drobac, a law professor at Indiana University who signed a letter from academics expressing concern about the bill. “This is all coming on the heels of the same-sex marriage debate.”

The law prohibits the government from infringing on a person’s sincerely held religious beliefs unless the government has a “compelling interest” and that infringement is the “least restrictive” means of protecting that interest. The language of the bill defines a “person” as not just an individual, but essentially any business or organization.

Many religious freedom laws are modeled on a 1993 federal law signed by former President Bill Clinton. Pence has explicitly likened Indiana’s new law to that measure. Back then, Democrats lauded the bill as righting wrongs done to Americans who had been forced to follow the letter of laws that contradicted their beliefs—like a man whose religion forbids autopsies being forced to undergo that procedure, or an American Indian who loses his job for taking part in a ritual that involves peyote.

Notre Dame law professor Richard Garnett, who supports the law, says Indiana’s measure has the same aim of protecting such people. In an op-ed in the South Bend Tribune, he gives the example of a Muslim prisoner who should be able to wear a beard, as his religion dictates, despite prison regulations against facial hair. Garnett was among the signatories of another letter from academics expressing support for the bill and arguing that Indiana’s Constitution “protects religious liberty to a considerable — but uncertain — degree.”

MORE: What You Need to Know About Indiana’s Controversial Religious Objections Law

Opponents of the bill point out that more than 20 years from the time Clinton signed the federal law, the political context has changed.

Some social conservatives have championed religious freedom bills as way to exempt businesses like bakeries or florists from providing services to same-sex couples who are winning the right to marry in places where that practice isn’t politically popular. Lawmakers in Indiana worked but failed to pass a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage in 2014, months before the state was forced through court rulings to start issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Advocates who oppose the law say it appears like a “Plan B.” Eunice Rho, counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, says that amendments to the bill that would make it clear that it can’t be used to undermine civil rights laws were repeatedly offered. “The proponents of the legislation proclaimed, over and over again, that this can’t be used to discriminate, this is about religious freedom. So we said, ‘Great. We’re in agreement on that. Let’s put it in the bill,'” she says. “And all of those amendments were voted down.”

In addition to Indiana, lawmakers in more than a dozen other states have considered “religious freedom” bills in 2015. Sometimes such measures crop up alongside non-discrimination legislation that LGBT rights advocates continue to push in legislatures across the states. While federal law prohibits discrimination based on attributes like sex and race, there is no federal anti-discrimination law that protects people on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. The same is the case in 31 states, where there is no law prohibiting employers from firing someone or landlords from denying someone housing solely because they are gay or transgender.

In Michigan, the Christian Coalition’s Keith den Hollander recently testified against an LGBT non-discrimination bill and said it amounted to “religious persecution.” David Kallman, speaking on behalf of the socially conservative Michigan Family Forum, framed the stakes this way: “Why should that baker or photographer be forced against their religious beliefs and conscience to participate in [a same-sex wedding]? And if they refuse to because of their religious conscience, to be put out of business?”

Such opponents of non-discrimination laws sometimes seek “religious freedom” bills as a counter attack, giving that hypothetical business owner grounds to challenge non-discrimination laws and protections against being sued.

MORE: 5 Things to Know About Indiana Gov. Mike Pence

While Indiana has no state-level LGBT non-discrimination measure, several cities including Indianapolis do. Those are the places where such laws could go head to head in court when the act takes effect on July 1. Legal experts say it’s unclear how the courts in Indiana would rule. “It does not say that members of religious minorities will be successful if they seek exemptions,” Garnett, the Notre Dame law professor, wrote, “only that they are entitled to a day in court.”

Jennifer Pizer, senior counsel at Lambda Legal, which advocates for LGBT rights, also expresses uncertainty about what precedents might be set in court. But, she says, regardless of what happens in the legal sphere, there is also a “social effect” that could lead to more discrimination.

“People’s conduct is shaped by their understanding of what is acceptable and what is not acceptable in terms of human interactions, what the social standards are,” she adds. “That bill now embodies a state policy that religion is a legitimate reason for turning away customers because of who they are.”

As Indiana has dealt with backlash from passing the new law—ranging from grassroots protests to announcements that companies would be taking their business elsewhere—North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory said he wouldn’t be signing a similar bill. In Georgia, a committee meeting to consider a religious freedom act on Monday was canceled, for the time stalling a measure that already passed the state senate.

In Florida, a state that has passed a Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the legislature is considering a LGBT non-discrimination bill. A group working to pass the measure released a study in late March suggesting that having an environment that is potentially “hostile” to LGBT people was costing the state around $362 million per year. Several organizations and businesses have expressed dismay at Indiana’s new law, which may end up being costly for the Hoosier State. Conventions are relocating, businesses are putting expansions in the state on hold and even the NCAA has expressed skepticism about the political climate.

Some Indiana politicians are calling for the state’s civil rights law to be updated so that people are explicitly protected on the basis of sexual orientation. Pence has meanwhile said he’s open to legislation that will further clarify what the new religious freedom law can do. Rho, of the ACLU, says there are few limitations about which acts the law could be used to defend based on religious conviction—whether it’s firing a woman for using the pill or kicking a couple out of an apartment for cohabiting before marriage.

“I’m definitely worried about gays and lesbians, but I’m also worried about women who want to access birth control,” says Indiana University’s Drobac. “This is a stupid law … We need to repeal this law immediately.”

Read next: Uproar Over Religious Freedom Law Trips Up Indiana’s Governor

TIME Law

Indiana Governor Says Religious Objections Law Is ‘Not About Discrimination’

Mike Pence
Michael Conroy—AP Indiana Gov. Mike Pence holds a news conference at the Statehouse in Indianapolis, March 26, 2015.

"We're not going to change this law"

(INDIANAPOLIS) — Indiana Gov. Mike Pence defended the new state law that’s garnered widespread criticism over concerns it could foster discrimination and said Sunday it wasn’t a mistake to have enacted it.

Pence appeared on ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” to discuss the measure he signed last week prohibiting state laws that “substantially burden” a person’s ability to follow his or her religious beliefs. The definition of “person” includes religious institutions, businesses and associations.

Since the Republican governor signed the bill into law Thursday, Indiana has been widely criticized by businesses and organizations around the nation, as well as on social media with the hashtag #boycottindiana. Already, consumer review service Angie’s List has said it will suspend a planned expansion in Indianapolis because of the new law.

Pence did not answer directly when asked at least six times whether under the law it would be legal for a merchant to refuse to serve gay customers. “This is not about discrimination, this is about empowering people to confront government overreach,” he said. Asked again, he said, “Look, the issue here is still is tolerance a two-way street or not.”

Pence told the Indianapolis Star on Saturday that he was in discussions with legislative leaders over the weekend and expects a clarification bill to be introduced in the coming week. He addressed that Sunday, saying, “if the General Assembly … sends me a bill that adds a section that reiterates and amplifies and clarifies what the law really is and what it has been for the last 20 years, then I’m open to that.”

But Pence was adamant that the measure, slated to take effect in July, will stick. “We’re not going to change this law,” Pence said.

Some national gay-rights groups say it’s a way for lawmakers in Indiana and several others states where such bills have been proposed this year to essentially grant a state-sanctioned waiver for discrimination as the nation’s highest court prepares to mull the gay marriage question.

Supporters of the law, including Pence, contend discrimination claims are overblown and insist it will keep the government from compelling people to provide services they find objectionable on religious grounds. They also maintain courts haven’t allowed discrimination under similar laws covering the federal government and 19 other states. Arkansas is poised to follow in Indiana’s footsteps, with a final vote expected next week in the House on legislation that Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson has said he’ll sign.

Josh Earnest, President Barack Obama’s spokesman, appeared on “This Week” just after Pence, and said the debate isn’t a political argument.

“If you have to go back two decades to try to justify what you’re doing today, it may raise questions,” Earnest said, referring to the 1993 federal law Pence brought up. He added that Pence “is in damage-control mode this morning and he’s got some damage to fix.”

State Rep. Ed DeLaney, an Indianapolis Democrat, told a large, boisterous crowd Saturday gathered outside of the Statehouse to protest that the law creates “a road map, a path to discrimination.” Rally attendees chanted “Pence must go!” several times and held signs that read “No hate in our state.”

Pence addressed the critics Sunday, saying: “This avalanche of intolerance that’s been poured on our state is just outrageous.” Asked if he would be willing to add sexual orientation to the list of characteristics against which discrimination is illegal, he said, “I will not push for that. That’s not on my agenda, and that’s not been an objective of the people of the state of Indiana.”

U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly, a Democrat, released a video statement on his Facebook page Saturday, saying: “We’ll work together to reverse SB101 and we’ll stand together to make sure that here in Indiana, we welcome everyone, every day.”

Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard, a Republican who opposed the law, has said he and other city officials will talk with businesses and convention planners to counter the uproar.

Angie’s List had sought an $18.5 million incentive package from Indianapolis’ City-County Council to add 1,000 jobs over five years. But founder and CEO Bill Oseterle said in a statement Saturday that the expansion was on hold “until we fully understand the implications of the freedom restoration act on our employees.”

The Indianapolis-based NCAA has expressed concerns about the law and has suggested it could move future events elsewhere; the men’s Final Four will be held in the city next weekend.

___

Associated Press writers Tom Davies and Rick Callahan contributed to this report.

TIME politics

Former Obama Tech Expert: Democrats Need a Competitive Primary

Barack Obama's tweets on Nov. 7, 2012 after his re-election as US president.
Lionel Bonaventure—AFP/Getty Images Barack Obama's tweets on Nov. 7, 2012 after his re-election as US president.

Scott Goodstein is CEO of digital-strategy firm Revolution Messaging and former external online director for Obama for America.

Democrats risk falling behind Republicans on technology

For much of our nation’s history, there have been insiders who aimed to quash competition within political parties. Even today, far too many party elites seem to think uncontested primaries are better. However, competitive primaries force an evolution of organizing models and new technologies that benefits campaigns and the public. The lack of a vibrant primary in 2016 would put Democrats at risk of falling behind Republicans in bringing technology to bear on campaign strategy — and that would be a big loss for both Democrats and the country.

Primaries are the research-and-development stages for the nation’s political machines. It is during primaries that our politics evolve. This is true of policy as well as campaign strategy — especially online. Large organizations need deadlines to beta-test products. The Obama campaign in 2008 looked at the 50 state primaries as the best timeline to create new experiments, test them, and release finished products. Remember how well-oiled the Obama machine felt by the summer of 2008 when you couldn’t turn a corner without some form of “Hope and Change” bombarding you in a battleground state? That didn’t happen overnight!

In 2007 and 2008, Barack Obama’s stiffest competition was Hillary Clinton. Competing against Clinton — a household name, a former first lady, and a well-respected senator — as a first-termer with a name like Barack Obama was truly daunting. When you have an uphill battle, you are going to get creative, and that’s what we did. As part of his early campaign team, we had to get a new and different set of voters to the polls. We needed to find younger voters who would be motivated by Obama’s message. And for the first time in a presidential primary, that meant using social media and sending messages directly to voters’ cell phones.

Back then, social media was seen as a fun new fad that kids were playing with — not as an organizing tool. Facebook had been open to non-college students for less than a year, and MySpace was in its prime. With each tool, we were able to target different voting blocks. We used Facebook mostly for reaching college-educated people, college students, and super-local groups. On MySpace we targeted young voters, military families (it was an easy way to communicate between military members overseas and family members back home), Silicon Valley techies, the entertainment industry, and women over 35.

Over the course of the primaries, having multiple digital teams experimenting with new techniques pushed each campaign to become better and evolve more quickly. And, quite frankly, we enjoyed the challenge.

In Iowa, we experimented to see if setting up a statewide MySpace page would return new volunteers. In Nevada, we built rapid-response interactive voice hotlines and text-messaging tools that reinvented the process for dealing with election violations. In South Carolina, we launched two-way text messages on canvasses to see how we could better tether canvassers to their local headquarters. On Super Tuesday, we created separate MySpace and Facebook groups to empower Obama supporters to self-organize, kept in touch with our hard-core base on Twitter, and used the social networking tool Eventful to send surrogates to rallies and build crowds quickly. In the late primaries, we tested new ways to engage young voters by combining offline advertising and point-of-purchase display advertising with text-messaging and toll-free hotlines that provided additional information.

By the time the general election arrived, we were wielding more powerful tools with a known return on investment. We even built our own social media site (MyBO) for supporters and volunteers. All of that work during the primaries put the party in a stronger position for the general election. It also enabled Democratic firms and private-sector partners at social media sites to build more and more robust tools in the years that followed to allow candidates to engage with voters and vice versa. These advancements put Democrats at a serious advantage over the competition — and none of these advances would have been realized if not for a hotly contested primary.

So what will we be missing if the Republicans have a debated primary and the Democrats don’t? Their candidates and campaigns will get better at giving a rehearsed stump speech and answering questions at debates and fish fries. But the lost opportunities would go far beyond that.

There is no question that Republicans are catching up when it comes to putting technology to work on the campaign trail — a competitive Democratic primary would allow us to stay out in front. We can pressure-test the new advances in ad-technology and mobile marketing by experimenting in each state primary with real deadlines and real results. Can hyper-geo-fencing different messages affect turnout on an election day? Can Democratic campaigns better divide their resources between direct-mail universes, walkable precincts and geo-fenced ads in gated-communities that can’t be canvassed? Can connected TV be integrated in a campaign’s field and in fundraising efforts?

While the political results of a candidate who isn’t battle-tested are well known, the lasting effects from failing to evolve our political technology could not only put us at a disadvantage in 2016, but also put Democrats behind for years to come.

 

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 Congress

Harry Reid’s Early Retirement Announcement Shows How Much He Likes to Plan Ahead

Harry Reid
Douglas Graham—Roll Call/Getty Images Harry Reid on July 10, 2000

The Senate minority leader will not seek reelection in 2016

By announcing early that he will not run for reelection next fall, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid has freed up party resources that might have been spent on what would have been a tough race for other elections — a major reason behind his early decision, as he told the New York Times. That kind of planning ahead is not unusual for the minority leader.

Reid’s personal background might not peg him as a super planner: as TIME explained in a 2004 profile, he was once an amateur boxer, the son of “a hard-drinking gold miner.” (His mother’s pay came from taking in laundry from brothels.) But he devoted himself to finding stability, including through a conversion to Mormonism, and ended up the kind of person who famously carries around notecards on which to record every promise he makes, with the idea that he’ll later be able to record when he fulfills them.

One of the best illustrations of that forward-looking nature was explained in that same 2004 article, in which TIME’s Douglas Waller laid out how the Senator prepared for a filibuster:

Harry Reid is the kind of adversary who might just wear you down. Last year, for example, the Nevada Senator staged a one-day filibuster, standing on the Senate floor and talking for eight hours and 35 minutes straight to put majority leader Bill Frist hopelessly behind schedule on other bills that he wanted to rush through before the Thanksgiving recess. Reid planned everything carefully, down to his diet. So he wouldn’t be forced to go to the bathroom and lose his right to the floor, he ate only a slice of wheat bread and a handful of unsalted peanuts for breakfast, kept Senate pages from refilling the water glass at his desk and made sure he sipped only half of it during the day.

One thing he can’t plan, of course, is the one thing that many Washington-watchers will wonder most: who will take his place as the leader of the Senate Democrats.

Read the full 2004 story, here in the TIME archives: Herding the Democrats

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