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Jim Verhulst - Deputy Editor of Editorials
Here’s what to read from the left and the right | Column
Here’s some interesting commentary from the opposite poles of the political spectrum.
Insurrections loyal to President Donald Trump climb the west wall of the the U.S. Capitol, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington.
Insurrections loyal to President Donald Trump climb the west wall of the the U.S. Capitol, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. [ JOSE LUIS MAGANA | AP ]
Published Jan. 22

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 “How Do We Confront White Christian Nationalism?” by the Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis in The Nation at bit.ly/3qHwTFn.

The context, from the author: While it’s only one feature of the authoritarianism increasingly on vivid display in this country, white Christian nationalism is critical to understand.

The excerpt: The Bible has long been used as a tool of domination and division, while Christian theology has generally been politicized to identify poverty as a consequence of sin and individual failure. Thanks to the highly militarized rhetoric that goes with such a version of Christianity, adherents are also called upon to defend the “homeland,” even as their religious doctrine is used to justify violence against the most marginalized in society. These are the currents of white Christian nationalism that have been swelling and spreading for years across the country.

From “I Escaped the Trauma of Homelessness — Only to Face Your White Savior Complex,” by Lori Teresa Yearwood in Mother Jones at bit.ly/3AeuWTY.

The context, from the author: I am determined to become something other than a white savior’s project.

The excerpt: Thus, to be formerly unhoused is to be the subject of continual scrutiny, stuck in a system that relies on acts of individual kindness and moral surveillance meant to ensure the recipient of other people’s generosity remains “deserving” of it. And so that’s what I emerged into: a wall of judgment that has made it much harder to reconstitute my own identity beyond what you perceive to be that of a “damaged” and struggling person, one hobbled by the character defects you assume I have, that to reenter the privileges of middle-class life would become an inconceivably herculean task.

From “They Shoot Bunny Rabbits, Don’t They?” by Luke Savage in Jacobin at bit.ly/3Ab0nP2.

The context, from the author: White House spokesperson Jen Psaki dismissed legitimate questions about Biden’s governance, sarcastically referring to “bunny rabbits and ice cream.” It’s an admission that this administration and its party are incapable of delivering what they promise.

The excerpt: It’s hard to miss the subtext of derision contained in references to ponies, ice cream and bunny rabbits — the “goodies” in question, after all, quite literally being desperately needed action on climate change, the federal protection of voting rights from right-wing onslaught, and whether people in need of medical treatment can actually get it (to name just a few). For an administration that talked a big legislative game out of the gate, Psaki’s comments are a striking reversion to the norm — and a morbid symptom of what may ultimately be its direction of travel over the next three years.

FROM THE RIGHT

From “The Software Of Civilization,” by Micah Meadowcroft in The American Conservative at bit.ly/3InLID3.

The context, from the author: A French presidential candidate wants French students to learn Latin and Greek. We should want that for America, too.

The excerpt: Would that an American presidential candidate called for the standardization of Latin and Greek studies in the United States’ public education system. In 2024 perhaps one will. There was a time when this was assumed — as an aspiration and ideal at least, if not the rule in practice. Think of the classical training of the Continental Congress and the framers of our Constitution, or the pioneers and farmers who founded the constellations of liberal arts colleges that dot the Great Plains. To read a Harvard College entrance exam from 1869 is to cross a river into another land, one with an almost totally alien set of priorities and expectations for its ablest young men.

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From “How To Keep Library Porn From Kids Without Banning Books,” by Garion Frankel in The Federalist at bit.ly/3FGsqXx.

The context, from the author: Librarians are deluding themselves if they truly believe parental concerns about books kids can find at school are all right-wing hogwash.

The excerpt: What the American Association of School Librarians likes to call “censorship,” I like to call “parenting.” Parents keep things from their children all the time, be it media, technology, sugary snacks — and porn. Families have a clear interest in ensuring that their 8-year-old children don’t have access to material containing explicit sexual content, excessive violence, or anything else they deem inappropriate. Sadly, such material can be found in schools, even elementary schools, around the country.

From “Is Trump Buckable? &c.,” by Jay Nordlinger in the National Review at bit.ly/3FJTN3c.

The context, from the author: To what extent does Trump call the shots in the Republican Party?

The excerpt: Mike Rounds is a Republican senator from South Dakota. By George Stephanopoulos of ABC News, he was questioned about the 2020 presidential election. “The election was fair,” said Rounds, “as fair as we have seen. We simply did not win the election, as Republicans, for the presidency.” Such a statement, from a Republican politician, qualifies as gutsy in the present environment.

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