Jim Verhulst - Deputy Editor of Editorials
Here’s what to read from the left and the right this week | Column
Here’s some interesting commentary from the opposite poles of the political spectrum.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle sit for an interview with Oprah Winfrey.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle sit for an interview with Oprah Winfrey. [ JOE PUGLIESE/HARPO PRODUCTIONS | New York Daily News ]
Published March 11, 2021|Updated March 11, 2021

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 “Stop Talking About My Hypothetical Baby’s Skin Color,” by Nathalie Baptiste in Mother Jones.

The context, from the author: Meghan Markle’s bombshell revelation was depressingly familiar.

The excerpt: This may come as a real disappointment to those who occasionally flood my inbox with accusations of “hating” white people, but I’m married to a white man. And despite the fact that we don’t have any children, I am intimately familiar with the random comments about the hypothetical skin tone of our hypothetical children. This is hardly a new story. “Concerns” over Archie’s Blackness are rooted in long-standing sociological and historical classifications about race. ... There’s a deep insecurity that comes from hoping a baby isn’t “too dark” — even if the child happens to have a British prince for a father. The underlying theme of the racial discourse today (it turns out saying the n-word at work is bad!) is that whites are losing control of the narrative. If a Black woman can produce an heir to the British throne, what’s next? (In that case we know what’s next; the prince gets fired.)

From “What Is Happening to the Republicans?” by Jelani Cobb in the New Yorker.

The context, from the author: In becoming the party of Donald Trump, the GOP confronts the kind of existential crisis that has destroyed American parties in the past.

The excerpt: The most widely debated political question of the moment is: What is happening to the Republicans? One answer is that the party’s predicament might fairly be called the revenge of “the kooks.” In just four years, the GOP, a powerful, 167-year-old institution, has become the party of Donald Trump. He began his 2016 campaign by issuing racist and misogynistic salvos, and during his presidency he gave cover to white supremacists, reactionary militia groups, and QAnon followers. Trump’s seizure of the party’s leadership seemed a stunning achievement at first, but with time it seems more reasonable to ponder how he could possibly have failed. There were many preexisting conditions, and Trump took advantage of them.

From “Teachers Are Right. Reopening Schools Too Early Could Be a Disaster,” by Branko Marcetic in Jacobin.

The context, from the author: Everyone wants schools to reopen, but the Biden administration seems to be ignoring what mounting evidence from overseas shows: many of the newest COVID variants do in fact infect children and promote community spread.

The excerpt: It’s easy to understand parents’ anger, and the eagerness of officials to end remote teaching. A year of no in-person schooling has thrown many parents’ lives into chaos and staggered kids’ educational progress, while widening racial disparities in education that existed long before the virus. But the teachers are right. There is mounting evidence that the push to reopen in the United States could not only wind up a public health fiasco, but do profound damage to public trust in government, health officials and science. The idea that kids rarely catch or transmit the virus was always dubious. But the emergence of the British variant, the so-called Kent strain that is set to become the dominant version of the virus in the United States by the end of March, has left this widely believed claim outdated and dangerous.

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From “The Miseducation of America’s Elites,” by Bari Weiss in City Journal.

The context, from the author: Affluent parents, terrified of running afoul of the new orthodoxy in their children’s private schools, organize in secret.

The excerpt: These schools are called prep schools because they prepare America’s princelings to take their place in what we’re told is our meritocracy. Nothing happens at a top prep school that is not a mirror of what happens at an elite college. What does it say about the current state of that meritocracy, then, that it wants kids fluent in critical race theory and “white fragility,” even if such knowledge comes at the expense of Shakespeare? “The colleges want children — customers — that are going to be pre-aligned to certain ideologies that originally came out of those colleges,” says a STEM teacher at one of New York’s prestigious prep schools. “I call it woke-weaning. And that’s the product schools like mine are offering.”

From “Texas Isn’t Crazy for Lifting Its Mask Mandate,” by Jim Geraghty in the National Review.

The context, from the author: “Everything is fine, take off your mask,” isn’t what Gov. Greg Abbott said at all.

The excerpt: It’s not quite a straight or smooth line (for Texas’ decline in coronavirus cases and deaths), but you can see a steady decline in cases, followed by a similar decline in deaths. This doesn’t mean the pandemic is over. But it does suggest that the worst is over. ... For far too many people, every decision by a Democratic governor is good and every decision by a Republican governor is bad.

From “Biden’s Immigration Agenda Puts Americans Last,” by Michael W. Cutler in the American Conservative.

The context, from the author: President Joe Biden’s decision to gut border security was a political one, which will make Americans less safe.

The excerpt: Rather than deter illegal immigration as the Trump policies did, Biden’s policies have incentivized massive illegal immigration. In considering all of the above, you could say that Biden and his administration have fired the starter’s pistol for aspiring illegal aliens from around the world, and for these desperate people — and the fugitives, criminals, and terrorists embedded among them — the borders of the United States are the finish line.