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The Glory and the Gutting: Steeler Nation and the Humiliation of Pittsburgh

Last football season the Pittsburgh Steelers stunned fans with an unexpected series of victories. A Steeler Nation—composed of a generation of Pittsburgh’s workers who scattered across the United States as their jobs vanished in the last quarter of the twentieth century—filled stadiums in a dozen cities with their team’s colors, black and gold. The delirium peaked with the Steelers’ victory over the New York Jets, which seemed like an act of God. The improbable twice-missed field goals and overtime win continued the Steelers’ fourteen-game winning streak and their march toward the Super Bowl—until that road was cleanly blocked by the New England Patriots. Whatever deity oversees such matters, she must have a sense of equity or cosmic balance because the Steeler Nation in diaspora enjoyed its moment of glory just as the real, living, here-still-today city of Pittsburgh, near bankruptcy, suffered humiliation and dismemberment | more…

Haiti Matters!

Arriving at the Hotel Oloffson in Port-au-Prince on the eve of the new year, 2004, the bicentennial of Haiti’s independence, tension was thick in the air. Street violence was mounting but still mostly under control. Clashes took place between opposition demonstrators and police or between anti- and pro-Aristide forces. Since the hotel is near the university and its hospital, we witnessed several groups of 100 to 200 anti-Aristide student demonstrators jogging in cadence toward police with signs and banners shouting slogans—A bas Aristide! Down with Aristide! Since my previous trip in June, anti-Aristide slogans had blossomed in some areas of Port-au- Prince, while pro-Aristide graffiti retained its hold in the poorest districts, smaller towns, and rural areas. Our visit to the towns of Fondwa and Jacmel in the south was eventful in the normal Haitian way, but peaceful. Back in the capital, at the end of our five-day trip up-country, cars were being torched, boulders rolled on roads, and gas stations and banks closed in antigovernment actions | more…

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