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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.
 
Soquoia Green, a cousin of Tyre Nichols, lights candles with family and friends during a vigil for him on Jan. 30 at Regency Community Skate Park in Natomas, California, where Mr. Nichols used to skateboard when he lived in Sacramento. Mr. Nichols, who moved to Tennessee in 2020, was fatally beaten by Memphis police earlier this month.
Soquoia Green, a cousin of Tyre Nichols, lights candles with family and friends during a vigil for him on Jan. 30 at Regency Community Skate Park in Natomas, California, where Mr. Nichols used to skateboard when he lived in Sacramento. Mr. Nichols, who moved to Tennessee in 2020, was fatally beaten by Memphis police earlier this month. [ PAUL KITAGAKI JR. | AP ]
Published Feb. 4, 2023

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 Killing of Tyre Nichols and the Issue of Race,” by Jelani Cobb in The New Yorker at tinyurl.com/2v28r7x6.

The context, from the author: The case dispatches several assumptions associated with police reform.

The excerpt: Seemingly few Black people have harbored the delusion that white people are the sole vectors of white supremacy. In 1897, W. E. B. Du Bois noted that among the most corrosive effects of racism was its tendency to make its victims see themselves through the eyes of people who hold them in contempt. When the Black-nationalist firebrand Marcus Garvey gave rise to the “Black is beautiful” movement, a century ago, he wasn’t trying to convince white people; he was addressing Black people who had never considered the possibility that those two adjectives could coexist. ... The notion that racism is exiled to the periphery of Black environments is a misconception. The most pernicious effects of American racism were to be seen in what happened in the absence of white people, not in their presence.

From “This Experiment Could Help Restore Eroding Coastlines,” by Sarah Trent in Mother Jones at tinyurl.com/3bukcwk5.

The context, from the author: David Cottrell dropped $400 worth of rock on “washaway beach” in Washington state to see what would happen. Now engineers are watching, too.

The excerpt: Much of this coastline has held, putting North Cove at the forefront of a global shift in how communities protect their coastlines as sea levels rise. Engineers — who have long depended on rigid sea walls — are now closely watching this softer approach. North Cove’s solution, which resembles the techniques many Indigenous communities use to cultivate shellfish, looks less like the conventional structures engineers know, and more like the dunes and berms that centuries of storms and tides build on their own.

From “‘Ethical Consumption’ Used to Mean Something More Than Feeling Smug About Your Purchases,” by Nick French in Jacobin Magazine at tinyurl.com/yc7pvsva.

The context, from the author: Today “ethical consumerism” mostly refers to individuals feeling morally righteous about what they buy. But the consumers movement was once motivated by the broader, collective goal of democratic management of the economy.

The excerpt: These efforts are obviously well-intentioned. But while they may have some minimal impact in pushing individual companies toward less destructive practices for public relations purposes, they do almost nothing to address the systemic problems of climate change, sweatshop labor and the like. They allow consumers to feel better about their purchases, but efforts at shopping ethically are usually disconnected from any broader vision of social change — and from larger movements that could bring about that sort of change. It wasn’t always this way.

FROM THE RIGHT

From “No, White Supremacy Isn’t to Blame for Tyre Nichols’ Death,” by Charles C.W. Cooke in The National Review at tinyurl.com/3kaavt8c.

The context, from the author: Question: What do you call it when five Black cops brutally beat a Black man to death, in violation of their oaths, their duties, and all respect for the sanctity of human life? Answer: White supremacy. Alas, I am not kidding.

The excerpt: This is absurd. (Under this) approach, there is no circumstance in which the killing of a Black American will not be deemed the product of white supremacy. If the cops act consciously in the name of white supremacy, that’s white supremacy. If the cops don’t act consciously in the name of white supremacy, that’s white supremacy. If the cops are white, it’s white supremacy. If the cops are not white, it’s white supremacy, too. Whatever the input, whatever the details, the result is always the same: white supremacy. That’s not logic; it’s magic.

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From “Getting Serious About Responsible Defense Spending,” by Kevin Roberts in The American Conservative at tinyurl.com/4f48b2d7.

The context, from the author: Congress needs to take a “Moneyball” approach to our national defense.

The excerpt: The task at hand today is to achieve both goals: restore fiscal sanity and ensure our military protects our citizens from today’s threats. Republicans must defund unnecessary programs and unneeded bureaucrats, while also ensuring our military is ready to confront the nation’s threats. It will not be easy, but with enough political will, it can be done. ... Instead of engaging in a debate over topline spending numbers and throwing money at old programs and systems, Congress should insist that every dollar is used to advance military lethality and readiness while saving taxpayers as much as possible.

From “Decluttering Expert Marie Kondo Makes Candid Admission About ‘Tidying Up,’ “ by Sister Toldjah in RedState at tinyurl.com/5n7jnusb.

The context, from the author: It’s OK to have people — role models if you want to call them that — to look up to, and to learn from. But it’s always a good thing to keep things in perspective, for your sanity if nothing else.

The excerpt: Though I was never attempted to partake in the “KonMari method” and though I’m not a Kondo expert, it seems silly to me for anyone to blame her for the pressure they supposedly felt to have their home look like something you’d see in a Southern Living magazine. We, women in particular, put those pressures on ourselves and we need to be willing to recognize when certain things (or methods, in this case) are not working for us. And then make modifications accordingly.