Past Present Podcast: Khizr & Ghazala Khan, Roger Ailes, and Juicing


On this week’s episode, Niki, Natalia, and Neil debate the Khans and the politics of grief, Roger Ailes and sexual harassment at Fox News, and the history of juicing.

Khizr & Ghazala Khan

Khizr and Ghazala Khan’s appearance at the Democratic National Convention was only one among many speeches at both political conventions by parents who had lost their children. Neil argued that these speeches were effective because people felt sympathetic towards grieving parents no matter one’s politics. Niki pointed to the example of Emmett Till’s mother as a good use of the personal becoming political, and Neil cited the organization Mothers Against Drunk Drivers who had translated their grief into policy changes. Natalia observed Donald Trump’s implication that Ghazala Khan couldn’t speak because she was a Muslim woman depended on a common view that Muslim women need saving by the West, as Leti Volpp has demonstrated. Neil noted that Ghazala Khan has not remained silent, in fact, as she spoke at length on Lawrence O’Donnell’s show and also penned an op-ed for the Washington Post.

Roger Ailes

Roger Ailes has been ousted from his position as Fox News chairman after several women accused him of sexual harassment. Niki detailed Ailes’ professional biography beginning with his involvement in Richard Nixon’s 1968 campaign. Natalia wondered how Ailes’ alleged actions, particularly those raised by Laurie Luhn’s sordid accusations, fit within Fox News’ attention to “family values” politics, something that Bill O’Reilly’s sexual harassment case had also challenged. Neil commented that most Americans had come to understand sexual harassment through Anita Hill and Paula Jones’s accusations against Clarence Thomas and Bill Clinton, respectively. Natalia shared that Susan Brownmiller’s In Our Time talks about how feminists came up with the term “sexual harassment” in the 1970s to describe the experiences many women were facing in the workplace.


Niki’s on a juice cleanse! But is this just a modern phenomenon? Natalia sketched the long history of juicing from its mention on the Dead Sea Scrolls to the 1936 classic by Dr. Norman Walker, Raw Vegetable Juices. Neil placed juicing in a religious history of fasting, and recommended Judith Shulevitz’s essay “Jesus and Moses Went on Cleanses.” Natalia shared the writer Marisa Meltzer’s observation that juicing allowed women to speak about wellness without ever talking about weight loss. And Niki recommended Katy Waldman’s Slate essay, “There Once Was a Girl,” that remarked on the religious practice of “holy anorexia.”

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