Friday, February 23, 2018
Opinion

Selected readings from the left and from the right

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 THE LEFT

From "The White House Claims Chicago Shows Gun Control Doesn't Work. That Misses The Real Problem" by German Lopez in Vox at http://bit.ly/2gwv5dT.

The context, from the author: Someone from Chicago can drive across the border — to Indiana or to other places with lax gun laws — and buy a gun without any of the big legal hurdles he would face at home.

The excerpt: Trump has someone very close to him in his administration who should be intimately aware of Chicago's gun problem: Vice President Mike Pence. As governor of Indiana, Pence helped set the laws for the state that, besides Illinois, contributes most to Chicago's gun problem. According to a 2014 report from the Chicago Police Department, nearly 60 percent of the guns in crime scenes that were recovered and traced between 2009 and 2013 came from outside the state. About 19 percent came from Indiana — making it the most common state of origin for guns besides Illinois.

From "The Limits of 'Diversity' " by Kelefa Sanneh in the New Yorker at http://bit.ly/2yZXqjn.

The context, from the author: Where affirmative action was about compensatory justice, diversity is meant to be a shared benefit. But does the rationale carry weight?

The excerpt: Diversity is often a comparative term: a college might strive to be as diverse as its community, or as its state, or as the country as a whole; often, in debates over diversity, the unspoken expectation is that the racial makeup of an institution should reflect the racial demographics of the nation. Colleges, especially the most selective ones, have become the chief setting for the country's ongoing argument over whether we should take account of race and, if so, how.

From "The Next Generation of GMOs" by Dana Perls in the Nation at http://bit.ly/2g2W2Fm.

The context, from the author: New genetic-engineering technologies like CRISPR are being sensationalized as "silver bullets" to address food-system challenges, from pollution to hunger. ... Unfortunately, the synthetic-biology industry is racing forward, fueled by hype and venture capital, with little regard for the possible consequences.

The excerpt: Instead of investing in potential problems masquerading as solutions, shouldn't we invest in the transparent, organic, humane, and socially just production of real food in a way that benefits farmers, food-chain workers, consumers, animals, and the environment?

FROM THE RIGHT

From "Journalism Is Not Like Selling Pizza" by Theodore Kupfer in the National Review at http://bit.ly/2wPNwQZ.

The context, from the author: News is not like other markets, and delivering information carries with it some degree of obligation to the culture at large. Responsible journalists are more than just profit-maximizers.

The excerpt: If Google and Facebook can't operate with basic editorial standards, they shouldn't be determining what is and isn't news. In the pursuit of profits, Silicon Valley has entered the business of journalism — and taken upon itself a social responsibility it seems unable to meet.

From "Both Sides Are Losing the NFL Culture War" by W. James Antle III in the American Conservative at http://bit.ly/2hCuSFO.

The context, from the author: Twisting patriotism to score political points will lead to disaster.

The excerpt: The ability to care about two issues simultaneously, while respecting the sincerely held viewpoints of our countrymen with radically different experiences, tends to get lost in culture war slogs. A complicated national conversation is thus reduced to a simplistic debate, kneel versus stand.

From "Why Not an IQ Test?" by Kevin D. Williamson in the National Review at http://bit.ly/2wOYg1Z.

The context, from the author: Give the man an IQ test.

The excerpt: Donald Trump has been badly burned by his two gambling bankruptcies, but maybe he would be open to a wager: If he actually scores 132 or better on a properly proctored IQ test, which would make him a MENSA candidate, I'll vote for him in 2020 — and if he fails to score 132, he's off the ballot. That's a fair bet, I think.

Comments
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