The Top: Seven Op-Eds from UCR Professors in 2015

The most popular op-eds from UCR professors that had the highest pickup from news outlets such as The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Huffington Post and more.

A preview of an op-ed by Nigel Hughes, professor of geology, about religiously-motivated violence toward scientists and academics.

Welcome to The Top!

Each issue, we present a list of UCR staff and faculty favorites — from walking spots to gardens to events.

It comes as no surprise that UCR has a vast pool of faculty experts who can present a unique view from virtually every field imaginable. So this week, we present these experts’ opinions through the most popular op-eds of 2015. In no particular order (except the dates they were published), the following op-eds by UCR professors had the highest pickups from high profile news outlets such as The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times and The Huffington Post.

If you have something you’d like featured in The Top or an activity you’d like to share, email your suggestions!

1. Reza Aslan, professor of creative writing, in The New York Times on July 3

Reza Aslan

Reza Aslan

What Do Iranian-Americans Think of the Nuclear Deal?
“My family left Tehran in 1979, in the aftermath of the revolution that created the Islamic Republic of Iran. We arrived in the United States with nothing but a single suitcase each, assuming this would be only temporary. Once things settled down, we would surely be returning to our lives back in Iran.

That was 36 years ago.

Today, I am one of nearly a half million Iranians who live in Southern California, the largest population of Iranians anywhere in the world outside of Iran…”

Read on Aslan’s article here.

2. Nigel Hughes, professor of geology, in The Huffington Post on Nov. 5

Nigel Hughes

Nigel Hughes

Murderous Attacks on Bangladeshi Science Writers and Publishers
“This year to date, six people in Bangladesh who have promoted a natural and observation-based view of humanity’s place in history have been hacked to death by those who seek to impose a particular supernatural view of humanity’s origins and destiny. Other ‘free thinkers’ in that country have been severely injured and threatened. Previously confined to authors and translators, last weekend witnessed the same method of execution applied to publishers of science-based books. These targeted killings have generated both fear and bravery among the community of rationalist advocates in the country. During the same period, two foreigners not associated with science education have also been killed in the south Asian nation, but by a different method of execution: drive-by shooting. While there is debate about whether all these killings were linked, death by hacking has been exclusive to the former group…”

Read more of Hughes’ op-ed here.

3. Charmaine Craig, assistant professor of creative writing, and her fiction piece in The New York Times on Nov. 6

Charmaine Craig

Charmaine Craig

A Long Engagement
“I first learned of my would-be betrothal to a man named Stephen in 1993, when I was 21. My parents had just returned to the States from a trip to the territory of my mother’s people, the Karen; their home is the country I will always call Burma, though it had been renamed Myanmar by its military-backed government. A 29-year-old soldier engaged in resistance against the junta, this Karen man was also a self-taught programmer and engineer — and he appeared to have dazzled my parents. ‘I promised you in marriage to him,’ my mother informed me, only half in jest…”

Continue reading Craig’s piece here.

4. Laila Lalami, professor of creative writing, in The New York Times on Nov. 20

Laila Lalami

Laila Lalami

My Life as a Muslim in the West’s ‘Gray Zone’

“Some months ago, I gave a reading from my most recent novel in Scottsdale, Ariz. During the discussion that followed, a woman asked me to talk about my upbringing in Morocco. It’s natural for readers to be curious about a writer they’ve come to hear, I told myself. I continued to tell myself this even after the conversation drifted to Islam, and then to ISIS. Eventually, another woman raised her hand and said that the only Muslims she saw when she turned on the television were extremists. ‘Why aren’t we hearing more from people like you?’ she asked me.

‘You are,’ I said with a nervous laugh. ‘Right now.’ I wanted to tell her that there were plenty of ordinary Muslims in this country. We come in all races and ethnicities. Some of us are more visible by virtue of beards or head scarves. Others are less conspicuous, unless they give book talks and it becomes clear that they, too, identify as Muslims…”

Continue reading Lalami’s op-ed here.

5. Karthick Ramakrishnan, professor of political science and public policy, in The Los Angeles Times on Nov. 27

Karthick Ramakrishnan

Karthick Ramakrishnan

Mexican migrants are heading back home — and that’s bad news for the U.S. economy
“The Pew Research Center released a report this month on Mexican migration to the United States that should give us pause. It did not address Donald Trump’s claims that Mexico is mostly sending violent criminals to the United States; other studies, including a comprehensive report by the National Academy of Sciences, have systematically shown lower crime rates among immigrants than the general population. Instead, the Pew report focused on a phenomenon that most of us have not seen in our lifetimes: net outflow. In lay terms: More Mexican immigrants are leaving the United States than coming to work here…”

Continue reading Ramakrishnan’s op-ed here.

6. Susan Straight, professor of creative writing, in The New York Times on Dec. 4

Susan Straight

Susan Straight

A Battle in San Bernardino
“In the spring, I was asked to write a story called “Bang or Whimper,” about the end of the world.

I thought of this on Wednesday, as I watched a full-scale operation resembling war in the streets of San Bernardino, Calif., 10 miles from my house in Riverside, unfold on television, and my eldest daughter called me, haunted and tearful. On the screen fathers were crying for their daughters, who had been inside a holiday banquet. Then, live on our local news channel I watched as two young parents inexplicably fought a military-style gun battle in a residential neighborhood, where hundreds of rounds were fired by shooters and police officers and a man was killed before the news helicopter pulled back, blood pooling so dark beside him and the gun at his feet…”

Read more of Straight’s op-ed here.

7. Eddie Comeaux, associate professor of higher education, in The Huffington Post on Dec. 11

Eddie Comeaux

Eddie Comeaux

College Athletes Are Choosing Their Battlefields: Mizzou as an Instructive Model
“University of Missouri students recently claimed a small but significant victory for racial justice, following the resignations of the university chancellor and system president. For several months, Mizzou Black student activists had engaged in courageous acts of civil disobedience to raise awareness about rampant campus racism–hunger strikes, campus take-overs, marches, and demonstrations–while actively working to dismantle racial systems of oppression at Mizzou…”

Continue reading Comeaux’s op-ed here.

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