Episode for May 27, 2021
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Nayyera Haq is an American culture and policy commentator who spent years in the trenches of the nation’s most competitive campaigns and in the halls of government working to resolve global challenges. A seasoned communications strategist who has advised global leaders, Nayyera is the rare politico with a nuanced understanding of both domestic and international current affairs.
Nayyera served as a Senior Director in the White House helping implement the President’s agenda on national security and economic policy. She served in the State Department as a spokesperson explaining U.S. foreign policy to audiences around the world. Nayyera’s global experience is based on a foundation of understanding U.S. politics and culture, having spent several years helping Members of Congress connect with their local communities. Overall, Nayyera has led communications campaigns and public relations efforts in nearly all 50 states and 30 countries.
As immigrants from Pakistan who settled in Staten Island, New York, Nayyera’s parents – a physician and a public school teacher – instilled in her a commitment to public service. From an early age, Nayyera has sought to understand how the American Dream worked for her while others around the world still struggle. A globe trotter first by nature and then by profession, Nayyera’s explorations have taken her from debates in the U.S. Congress and the Israeli Knesset, to hiking in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado and the Atlas Mountains in Morocco, to roaming the streets of London and Lahore.
Nayyera received a Masters from Georgetown University Law Center and studied history at the University of Michigan. She lives in Maryland with her veterinarian husband, toddler, and dog. Nayyera finds zen while scuba diving, which is not as often as she would like.
Ruth Ben-Ghiat is a historian and commentator on fascism, authoritarian leaders, and propaganda — and the threats these present to democracies.
Subscribe to her newsletter at Lucid.substack.com
As author or editor of seven books with over 100 op-eds and essays in media outlets including CNN, The New Yorker, and The Washington Post, she brings historical perspective to her analyses of current events. Her insight into the authoritarian playbook has made her an expert source for television, radio, podcasts, and online events around the globe.
Ben-Ghiat is Professor of History and Italian Studies at New York University and an Advisor to Protect Democracy. She is also a historical consultant for film and television productions. She is a big fan of electronic music, which is her preferred soundtrack while writing. She practices yoga several times a week.
Ben-Ghiat’s work has been supported by Fulbright, Guggenheim, and other fellowships. Her books Fascist Modernities and Italian Fascism’s Empire Cinema detail what happens to societies when authoritarian governments take hold, and explore the appeal of strongmen to collaborators and followers. Growing up in Pacific Palisades, California, where many intellectuals who fled Nazism resettled, sparked her interest in the subject.
With Strongmen: From Mussolini to the Present, which is now available she offers a blueprint for understanding and resisting authoritarianism.