Selected readings from the left and from the right

Published May 22 2018
Updated May 25 2018

We live in a partisan age, and our news habits can reinforce our own perspectives. Consider this an effort to broaden our collective outlook with essays beyond the range of our typical selections.


From "Stealing From Workers Is a Crime. Why Don’t More Prosecutors See It That Way?" by Terri Gerstei in The Nation at

The context, from the author: It’s time for prosecutors to shift their focus to protecting the millions of workers who are victimized by their bosses each year.

The excerpt: In these terribly divided times, here is something we all should agree on: Work should pay, and crime shouldn’t. Too often, though, work doesn’t pay, and crime does, especially when the criminals are predatory employers who have cheated, endangered or otherwise mistreated their workers.

From "The Truth About the ‘Vegan Lobby’ " by Emily Atkin in the New Republic at

The context, from the author: A "Vegan Lobby" has long been demonized by conservatives — and even some vegans themselves — but does it really exist?

The excerpt: A lobby, by definition, is a group of people (lobbyists) who are paid to persuade lawmakers to enact policy on behalf of an interest group. These lobbyists are often paid by trade associations which, in the food industry, include the International Dairy Foods Association, the North American Meat Institute, the National Pork Producers Coalition and the National Chicken Council. Thus, there are currently 52 people registered to lobby on behalf of the dairy industry; 24 people on behalf of the poultry and egg industry; 34 people for meat products and processing; and 54 people for livestock. The Vegan Trade Council, by contrast, has no lobbyists.

From "The Birth Of The Strike" by Dermot Feenan in Jacobin Magazine at

The context, from the author: (The word "strike") first appeared during the London Strikes of 1768 led by coal-heavers and sailors. The word originates in the action of "striking," or removing the topsails of ships, rendering them motionless. Since then, "strike!" has been the iconic word heralding workers’ struggles from the London docks in 1768 to the West Virginia capitol in 2018.

The excerpt: The phenomenon of riotous assembly was not new in Hanoverian England. It gained frequency as George III became increasingly reactionary and the aristocracy, the newly propertied landowners and merchants ruled Parliament, ignoring the needs of the vast majority of the population. In response, the ruling class deployed spectacular hangings, legal persecution of rioters, and military repression to convert London’s poor into a compliant industrial working class. These tools never really went away. ...


From "Conservatives Need To Argue About Ideas, Not About Trump" by Jonah Goldberg in the National Review at

The context, from the author: It is time for conservatives to get to work on updating or even reinventing what it means to be a conservative. The conservatism of the last 50 years, programmatically, politically and psychologically, is in dire need of rejuvenation.

The excerpt: We forget that the conservative movement’s strength came from the fact that it was armed with new arguments from diverse intellectual sources. More important, its vigor stemmed from the fact that these various strains of conservatives were eager to argue among themselves. There are arguments aplenty on the right these days, but the vast majority of them are arguments over a specific personality — Donald Trump — not a body of ideas.

From "No, I Won’t Check My Privilege" by Joanna Williams in the American Conservative at

The context, from the author: The left’s latest pejorative is racist, sexist, and stifling of honest debate.

The excerpt: Calling on someone to check his privilege is a cheap form of ad hominem attack. It focuses on the person rather than what they are saying; it asks others to make judgments based on who an individual is rather than the strength of his argument. My response to having my apparent privilege pointed out was outrage. How dare someone with no knowledge of my personal history make such sweeping assumptions? How dare they overlook all my many wonderful arguments and focus instead on my biology, something I have no control over?

From "There’s No Such Thing As ‘Free Love’ " by Armstrong Williams in the Daily Signal at

The context, from the author: So-called free love is never, in fact, free. The true cost of love and intimacy is commitment and faithfulness. These are enduring principles, unchanged by any artifice man can possibly engineer.

The excerpt: The so-called sexual revolution was brought to us by the technology that enabled us to seemingly forestall the results of sex thorough birth control, or to erase the responsibility created by sex through the abomination of abortion. It supposedly freed women to seek professional careers and cheapened the transaction cost of casual relationships. It freed men to opt out of family formation while doing their own thing.