Public Eye Magazine
Cartoon by Pat Bagley

You don’t find publications like the Public Eye around much anymore. Our style evolved out of a moment of progressive ferment when we read avidly to understand the world in order to change it. The magazine was founded in the 1970s by the National Lawyers Guild to publish the latest news coming out about government repression of activists. Our mandate broadened when we moved to the then-new think tank Political Research Associates during the Reagan era. Thus our articles are a hybrid of journalism and more academic-styled research and we aspire to track and illuminate the role of the U.S. Right for activists no matter which issue they happen to be working on. We seek to defend and expand progressive achievements even as we seek to understand the sources of strength of the reaction.

It is arguable that the Reagan era finally ended with President Obama’s inauguration. So is there still a role for Public Eye to play? Of course. When the Right is out of power, its activists use that time to strategize, regroup, and do movement building. So we need to pay attention. And as we saw during the Clinton years, when pushed from power, parts of the Right can get mean. We saw, and the Public Eye documented, the upsurge in militias, the expansion of the Christian Right and its attempt to paint a “family friendly” face, and even homegrown terrorism, from Oklahoma City to the parking lots of abortion providers.

Winter issue: Apologies for the late arrival of the winter issue. Our mailhouse originally sent our freshly printed copies to another group’s list, forcing our printer to hastily create a new batch for our own readers.

It is an interesting time. As the articles in this issue reveal, the Christian Right is embracing new tactics (as in its attack on Planned Parenthood) but also is facing new cleavages (among the young evangelicals from whom they hope to nurture future leaders). The economic meltdown has not stopped conservative leaders’ from peddling a bankrupt view of the market, but we need to know whether this tune still plays in Peoria. We’ve felt tectonic shifts in discussions of race with the election of Obama, but does that mean the Right and the GOP’s reliance on racism in their rise to power is no longer tenable? The government’s capacity for repression grew exponentially during the Bush years but will the new administration dismantle these tools? We will continue to ask interesting questions that we hope help our readers be clear-eyed about the real political challenges we must face to organize a more just world.

–Abby Scher, editor

Spring 2009
Vol. 24, No. 1 :

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