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Selected readings from the left and from the right

"Regretful Trump Voters Are (Mostly) a Myth," by Eric Levitz in New York magazine at

The context, from the author: The real test of the Trump coalition won't come until the president actually enacts one of his many plans to hurt the rural working class — and/or until the economy takes a turn for the worse.

The excerpt: While his governance has galvanized opposition groups and his overall approval level remains low by historical standards, his electoral base is not only intact but enthusiastic and energized, providing Trump with a significant base of power. Those who fail to recognize this may find themselves underestimating his capabilities in governance in the same way that many underestimated his candidacy.

"Can Words Be Violent?" by Patricia J. Williams in the Nation at

The context, from the author: Speech should be utterly free as a general principle, but in our McCarthyite, anti-Muslim mood, the idea that words and images have no real consequence is specious at best. Words can incite, enrage, divide, or just take the wind out of one's sails.

The excerpt: Neither words nor iconography like swastikas or flags — or portraits, for that matter — are bats or guns or machetes. But ... if we call people "garbage," "parasites," (and a series of vulgar words that can't be printed here) or "towelheads" — if we laugh about it, if we chant such words at rallies, if we take them in deeply by sheer repetition alone, then our vision changes. Our hearts shrink. Our exclusions grow meaner and more marked, our laws much more punitive.

"This White Woman's Painting of Emmett Till Belongs Under the Definition of Whitepeopleing, Not on a Museum Wall" by Michael Harriot in the Root at

The context, from the author: This controversy (about a white artist's painting of Emmett Till's casket) isn't about rights or freedom. This painting is a prime example of peak whitepeopleing.

The excerpt: What is "whitepeopleing"? Whitepeopleing is the privilege and dismissive confidence that you have not only the right but also the permission to do whatever the f--- you want. Whitepeopleing is the audacity of believing that your white hands are gifted with the skill, soul and empathy to transmute the horrific spilling of black blood into something passersby can contemplate before they move on to another sculpture or painting.

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.

"The Education Every Student Really Needs," by David Fouse in the National Review at

The context, from the author: Over the course of the past century, the role of education in government and the role of government in education have become increasingly muddled. Our current education system little resembles the intent of the Founders.

The excerpt: At its core, true education is more than facts and figures. It engages and enriches the soul. It rightly orients one to understand his or her place in the world, to pursue truth and beauty, and, perhaps most important, to understand why the pursuit of these things matters — not just for occupational production, but to know how to live. ... All the government money, programs, and agencies in the world cannot teach this knowledge. They're not equipped to do so, and the Founders understood this.

"When the Going Was Good" by Michael Barone in the Claremont Review of Books at

The context, from the author: The era you're nostalgic for says something about the era in which you live.

The excerpt: And did the Golden Age seem so golden at the time? I was born about when it began and became aware in the middle 1950s (at a perhaps unusually early age) of the world around me in supposedly booming and placid Detroit. Looking up in the sky, or out the classroom window while crouching under the desk during a "duck and cover" drill, I felt sure that we would be targeted in any Soviet nuclear attack. During the frequent recessions, neighbors wondered whether we were facing another Great Depression; my father's income as a physician dropped in half between 1956 and 1958. As for all those auto assembly jobs that young men could snag after leaving high school or the service, I remember that people hated — hated — those jobs.

"Detachment Plan, A Review of Rod Dreher's 'The Benedict Option' by Paul Baumann in Commonweal at (To be clear, the piece itself isn't conservative; it's explaining a conservative's thinking.)

The context, from the author: Rod Dreher is convinced that America, indeed the whole project of modernity, is doomed.

The excerpt: In The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation, Dreher insists that a "flood of secularism," bringing with it a tsunami of sexual libertinism, is destroying the family and ushering in the new Dark Ages. In response to the collapse of Roman civilization in the sixth century, St. Benedict established monasticism, preserving the faith from the barbarian hordes. Dreher thinks proponents of liberalism, moral relativism, heedless consumerism, and of course "political correctness" are the new Visigoths, and pose a similar threat to the faith today. He goes further. It is time for "orthodox" lay Christians ... to form intentional communities that are separated in significant ways from the moral contagion of the larger culture.







Selected readings from the left and from the right 03/24/17 [Last modified: Friday, March 24, 2017 4:26pm]
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