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 “Is John Durham Deliberately Stoking Right-Wing Conspiracy Theories?” by David Corn in Mother Jones.
The context, from the author: Special counsel John Durham’s investigation of the origins of the Trump-Russia scandal has turned into a conspiracy-theory-generating machine for feverish right-wingers. And his latest filing raises the question of whether that is by design.
The excerpt: Putting together all the allegations and suggestions — a tech exec possibly tied to the Clinton campaign “exploiting” data related to the White House and Trump Tower — right-wing journalists reached a dramatic conclusion: The Clintonites hacked (Donald) Trump at his home (or office) and at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. and spied on him. But this leap was based on cyber ignorance and possibly misinformation presented by Durham. Researching DNS lookups is not hacking a server. It is tracking the pattern of connections between servers and computers or smartphones. Much of this information — DNS logs — is not private.
The context, from the author: Socialists in the United States are stuck. How do we become masters of our own fate?
The excerpt: The question we may have to ask ourselves in the years to come is whether some of our actions could be hastening rather than reversing the process of class dealignment. On his journey to the top of Purgatory, Dante was accompanied by the great Roman poet Virgil. As he approached the higher reaches, having confronted his many sins, Virgil made his famous remark, “No longer wait for word or sign from me ... over yourself I crown and miter you.” At last, Dante was master of his own fate. In politics, things are never quite so tidy. But as one year of marginality drifts into another, it is increasingly hard to argue that the fault for the Left’s predicaments lies with everyone but ourselves.
From “U.S.-Born Children in China Will Have to Choose Between Rival Superpowers,” by Rong Xiaoqing in The Nation.
The context, from the author: Tens of thousands of kids in China were born in the United States to maternity tourists. But at 18, they have to decide which citizenship to keep.
The excerpt: There is more overlap between history and the present time than people may have realized, said Charlotte Brooks, a historian at New York’s Baruch College. “One of the things I worry about for anybody who is growing up in a time of growing hostility in both nations is that the shrill nationalism in both places will make their lives very difficult, whatever the identity traces they make.”
FROM THE RIGHT
From “What P. J. O’Rourke Knew,” by Kyle Smith in the National Review.
The context, from the author: After (the late P.J.) O’Rourke, how could you be funny and not be a Republican? “People who worry themselves sick over sexism in language,” he wrote, “and think the government sneaks into their houses at night and puts atomic waste in the kitchen dispose-all cannot be expected to have a sense of humor. And they don’t.”
The excerpt: Democrats believe so many far-fetched things about how society works that they’re practically Scientologists. They think every American has to be punished, protected or perfected by hideous monster programs dreamed up by sci-fi weirdos in the Frankenstein laboratories of Washington, D.C. Republicans don’t even need an affirmative credo (apart from loving our country) because we don’t think Washington should try to yank everyone’s strings in the first place.
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From “Let Freedom Honk,” by Jonathon Van Maren in The American Conservative.
The excerpt, from the author: For weeks, the world has been riveted by a unique populist uprising in one of the most docile nations on earth: Canada. The Freedom Convoy, a cavalcade of semis, pickups, and other vehicles crossed the country and set up camp in the capital to demand that the government lift vaccine mandates, ditch vaccine passports, and give Canadians their freedom back.
The excerpt: The Canadians (Prime Minister Justin Trudeau) is demonizing are an incredibly diverse bunch. Some are vaccinated, some are not; some object to getting vaccinated on medical or conscience grounds, others on political or conspiratorial grounds. Every ethnic background is represented, and the signage on the massive trucks parked in front of Parliament ranges in tone from “F--k Trudeau” to Bible verses. The convoy is impossible to characterize because it has become a lightning rod for Canadians of every race and creed with unaddressed concerns. The only thing that ties them all together, if you talk to them, is their commitment to freedom — prompting Canada’s state broadcaster to dub freedom a “far-right” concept.
From “From Wordle To The Super Bowl To The Oscars: American Culture Is Adjusting Amid Mass Media’s Rapid Decline,” by Emily Jashinsky in The Federalist.
The context, from the author: Popular culture is dying. The consequence is a decline in shared values and cultural touchstones. There will be fewer Jennifer Anistons and more Sydney Sweeneys, fewer “Titanics” and more “Parasites,” fewer Kronkites and more Acostas. There’s good and bad in all of this, as gatekeepers lose power and better products win out. Enter Wordle.
The excerpt: Part of Wordle’s appeal is the shared experience. Everyone is guessing the same word. When people post and send their results, the point is that we see our different paths to one common destination. We all play exactly once a day with exactly the same result. The game would be less fun if people played for different words at different rates. There’s something magnetic about shared entertainment experiences. But it requires the will and the knowledge to create something people want to consume.