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 “An Indictment of the Trump Organization Is an Indictment of Donald Trump,” by Russ Choma in Mother Jones.
The context, from the author: Donald Trump is the company.
The excerpt: The Trump Organization is something of a one-note brand — nearly every aspect of the company’s identity is tied to the former president. The company’s entire strategy is to appeal to consumers by evoking the ethos of wealth, status and luxury that Trump has tried to equate with himself. But the company is also, legally speaking, his alter ego. With the exception of a few ventures, Trump owns 100 percent of every corporate entity and asset that falls under the Trump Organization umbrella.
The context, from the author: When Sen. Ron Johnson spreads misinformation about vaccines, he endangers Americans — and makes it harder to end the pandemic.
The excerpt: It’s no surprise that Johnson is in hot water for spreading medical misinformation. The senator embraces conspiracy theories regarding everything from the 2020 presidential election (which, despite what Johnson says, Donald Trump lost by 7 million votes) to the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol (which, despite what Johnson says, was a violent insurrection carried out by Trump supporters to overturn the results of the election Trump lost). But his biggest lies have always been about the coronavirus pandemic.
The context, from the author: South Florida’s real estate is only going to get more deadly if we continue to ignore all the warning signs of a doomed coastline.
The excerpt: In an eerie sort of way, the debate about fixing the building (Champlain Towers South, the 12-story Florida condo building that collapsed) was a lot like the debate about fixing our climate: It’s all too easy to kick the can down the road, to minimize the scale of the risk we face, and to believe that even urgent warning signs can be ignored because, after all, buildings don’t just suddenly fall down and cities don’t just suddenly become uninhabitable, right?
FROM THE RIGHT
The context, from the authors: For the project of human knowledge to advance, nothing should be completely off limits in the crucible of higher education. ... (But) the modern view of education as a pipeline designed to carry children from preschool to graduate school tends to obscure the fact that K-12 education had a very different evolution from the university system.
The excerpt: What will become the curriculum in most public K-12 schools is democratically decided by a combination of state legislatures, local school boards, and individual schools. As such, they represent the will of the people, as expressed in local and state elections. The individual schools cannot exceed the scope granted them by their school boards, which themselves derive power and authority from the state. There is a large distinction between the expansive role that higher education plays in our society and the restricted responsibilities incumbent upon an American elementary, middle, or high school. ... (In contrast to K-12 education) for the project of human knowledge to advance, nothing should be completely off limits in the crucible of higher education. Those who genuinely believe the ideas addressed in these bills to be indefensible should encourage them to be tested in that crucible, not protect those ideas from potentially devastating analysis by exiling them from the institutions dedicated to that inquiry.
From “U.S. Companies in China Must Become Part of Team America,” by William J. Holstein and Clyde Prestowitz in the National Review.
The context, from the author: U.S. companies whose technologies and trading relationships have strategic implications need to recalibrate how they do business with America’s economic rival.
The excerpt: Critics say some American CEOs have become hostages of the Chinese Communist Party, which may be overly harsh. But the fact remains that they are caught in the middle of an emerging geopolitical confrontation and are being used as policy tools by Beijing. Xi’s government is openly appealing to American CEOs to lobby the Biden administration to go softly on the China policy his administration is developing.
From “We Have To Face History No Matter How Hard We Try To Erase It,” by Peter Van Buren in the American Conservative.
The context, from the author: Changing the name of a school, or tearing down a statue, does not change history. That is why everyone is still “raising awareness” about the same problems after decades. It feels good, though.
The excerpt: America did not invent slavery, racism, or discrimination. We can point to a moral struggle hundreds of years in process including a civil war that remains the most costly conflict to Americans in body count and brutality. The Founders struggled over how to deal with a system most knew was unsustainable, Jefferson among them. Yet alone in history we haven’t figured this out. South Africa, with an apartheid system designed to be as plainly racist as possible, found a way to untangle itself. The ancient world was built on slave labor and made the transition. The Germans dealt with their relatively recent attempt not just at enslavement but industrial scale genocide. We fail because we refuse to admit crying racism, and making faux-fixes ... is as profitable politically as doing racist things is.