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 “Let’s Be Clear: Trump Is Threatening To Take His MAGA Base and Walk If He’s Not the GOP Nominee,” by Kerry Eleveld in The Daily Kos at tinyurl.com/548dkujv.
The context, from the author: As weakened as (Donald) Trump is today, that possibility still sends shivers down the spine of every Republican Party loyalist across the country.
The excerpt: Running as an independent isn’t the only way for Trump to doom Republicans. If he doesn’t win the nomination, he could simply devote all his energy to trashing the nominee, the party and the GOP “establishment,” which his acolytes already despise with a white-hot rage. A simple dumpster-fire media tour would likely be enough to set the party aflame. Trump also took time during (a recent) interview to remind listeners that none of his rivals were worth more than dirt until he plucked them out of obscurity.
From “The US Is Doing Far Worse Than Floating Balloons in Other Countries’ Airspace,” by Branko Marcetic in Jacobin at tinyurl.com/7wn8srfp.
The context, from the author: Let’s assume, for argument’s sake, that the recently shot-down Chinese balloon was indeed spying. The U.S. doesn’t like other countries snooping on them — something the U.S. is constantly doing all over the planet.
The excerpt: It’s worth asking ourselves: How might other countries and populations feel — and what kind of effect might it have on how foreign people and governments feel about the United States — when the U.S. government does the same thing, only much more regularly and with deadly results? Under the U.S. drone program, the U.S. military routinely violates other countries’ airspace and sovereignty — not by sending spy balloons, but flying robots armed with missiles.
The context, from the author: If you regularly walk in any American city, you, too, probably have crossed a street against the signal or outside of a designated crosswalk. Sure, one could argue that crosswalks were created as a way to protect pedestrians from potentially dangerous automobiles. But why would transgressing those limits become a petty crime? Thanks to a century-old automobile industry campaign to push pedestrians out of the streets, jaywalking is now, in most places, punishable by a hefty ticket ranging from $68 in Seattle to as much as $250 in New York City.
The excerpt: This could be consigned to the realm of being merely annoying, but in fact, there’s a serious injustice embedded in the process. According to research in several cities, policing pedestrian behavior disproportionately affects low-income people and people of color. Plus, making jaywalking an offense doesn’t keep people safe. Now, a growing number of cities and states are striking these antiquated statutes from their books.
FROM THE RIGHT
The context, from the author: Slavery has been a fact of human existence throughout recorded history. Why did it suddenly create capitalism a couple of centuries ago in a few select places?
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The excerpt: A new episode (of the 1619 Project on Hulu) is devoted to the idea that slavery created American capitalism and is about as subtle as the Disney+ cartoon, relying extensively on the commentary of the Marxist academic Robin D.G. Kelley. If there were any doubt about the radical agenda of the 1619 Project — which has made a pretense of a neutral pursuit of the historical truth — the Hulu show should remove it. It argues that, as (Nikole) Hannah-Jones puts it, our “economic system was founded on buying and selling Black people.” Imprinted by this legacy, American capitalism is brutish and exploitative to this day. In fact, there is a direct line from antebellum cotton plantations to 21st-century Amazon warehouses.
The context, from the author: Wang Huning’s diagnosis of the West’s dysfunction has shaped 30 years of Chinese policy.
The excerpt: There’s a distinct difference between power and influence. The former allows an individual, organization, or government to impose its will on others. The latter, meanwhile, is a far more subtle way of affecting the behaviors and attitudes of others. Xi Jinping is certainly the most powerful man in China, but he’s not the most influential. That title goes to Wang Huning, a man who has been shaping Chinese policies for decades, long before Xi rose to prominence. Without his work, China probably wouldn’t be the powerhouse it is today. Without his unique insights, China probably wouldn’t pose such a grave threat to the United States. A relative unknown outside China, Wang has been the country’s top ideological theorist for more than 30 years.
The context, from the author: This is a serious moment. It’d be nice if we had some serious people in government capable of navigating it.
The excerpt: It’s not every day that a gigantic, self-propelled Chinese surveillance balloon traverses the continental United States, becoming a source of national curiosity and scandal before a Sidewinder missile shoots it out of the sky. The Biden administration improvised its way through the crisis, leaving behind a variety of contradictory statements and unanswered questions in its wake. Before anyone makes any more sudden movements, those questions need to be answered.