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.
This undated photo provided by Ben Crump Law shows Ralph Yarl, the teenager shot twice by an 84-year-old homeowner in Kansas City, Mo., when he got lost and went to the wrong door to pick up his youngest siblings.
This undated photo provided by Ben Crump Law shows Ralph Yarl, the teenager shot twice by an 84-year-old homeowner in Kansas City, Mo., when he got lost and went to the wrong door to pick up his youngest siblings. [ UNCREDITED | AP ]
Published April 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 “This Country Will Break Our Hearts Again,” by Imani Perry in The Atlantic at

The context, from the author: I ask, how are the people in this nation so adjusted to Black folks suffering?

The excerpt: Nauseated (at the shooting of Ralph Yarl), I think this: At least in Jim Crow–era sundown towns, there were ostensibly safe hours to be Black on the street. Now? Each day and every hour, we are balls bouncing along a roulette wheel. Remember back when we used to think we could offer protective advice to keep our children safe? Show your hands, no sudden movements, no running. We were so naive then, and hopeful.

From “A Recession Is Underway for the Many but Not for the Few,” by Julian Jacobs in Jacobin at

The context, from the author: Economic data doesn’t suggest that the U.S. economy is in a recession, but Americans’ on-the-ground experiences tell a different story. Extreme income inequality can explain the discrepancy between the economic data and the real-world belt tightening.

The excerpt: A closer look at the U.S. economy reveals a country with bifurcated economic experiences. Indeed, it is ultimately America’s historically high levels of wealth and income concentration that can best explain the dissonance between aggregated economic figures and middle- and lower-income Americans’ daily realities.

From “Yes in Our Backyards,” by Bill McKibben in Mother Jones at

The context, from the author: It’s time progressives like me learned to love the green building boom.

The excerpt: (W)e’re at a hinge moment now, when solving our biggest problems — environmental but also social — means we need to say yes to some things: solar panels and wind turbines and factories to make batteries and mines to extract lithium. And new affordable housing that will make cities denser and more efficient while cutting the ruinous price of housing. And — well, it’s a long list. And in every case there are both benefits and costs, all played out in particular places with particular histories. But what interests me is the search for some general principles that might make these disputes easier, at least for people of good will. I’m thinking of people like me: older white people, a class particularly used to working the system, and perhaps psychologically tilted toward keeping things the way they are.


From “School’s Out for Treason,” by Abe Greenwald in Commentary at

The context, from the author: There’s an underappreciated aspect of the Discord documents leak. The Washington Post describes the online group where suspected leaker Jack Teixeira may have divulged national-security secrets as “mostly bored young gamers, isolated during the coronavirus pandemic.”

The excerpt: It would be irresponsible and unfair to claim that unnecessary school closures during the pandemic led directly to the worst American intelligence breach in ages. But it would be cowardly to ignore completely their possible role in this story. ... What children learn academically in classrooms is only a fraction of what they learn as members of a school community. During closures, kids were deprived of the essential socialization that normally shapes a child’s ability to understand, negotiate with, and relate to others.

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From “We Need a Revenge of the Jocks,” by Wilfred Reilly in The National Review at

The context, from the author: The focus of mainstream conservatism in the near term should be to re-normalize normalcy and to counter the institutions promoting division as a virtue.

The excerpt: To a large extent, the United States of today has truly entered the Heavenly City dreamed of in “Revenge of the Nerds,” where the very last thing anyone wants to be is a well-adjusted, upper-middle class, straight jock from some damned place like Cleveland. And people act accordingly. Enough is enough, I say: We need a revenge of the jocks! There is obviously nothing wrong with being (actually) Black or, for that matter, bisexual, but it simply is not functional for a society to cater to every alienated and angry minority rather than to the 75 percent or 95 percent or 99 percent majority of the citizenry.

From “Indictment Illusions,” by Peter Van Buren in The American Conservative at

The context, from the author: The Trump indictments may be flimsy, but that doesn’t mean they can’t do plenty of damage to American political life.

The excerpt: Could things get to the point where the “rule of law” misinterpreted as a “rule of revenge” means a Republican candidate will need to stay out of blue states to avoid prosecution and vice-versa for Democrats? Trump went to New York and surrendered himself voluntarily; imagine if he had stayed in Florida and fought any extradition attempt to force him to Manhattan. Democrats salivating over the charges against Trump will feel differently when one of their own mascots ends up on the receiving end of a similar effort by any of the thousands of prosecutors elected to local office eager to make their bones by taking down a president of the other party. Imagine an aging Joe Biden as a virtual prisoner of a Democratic safe-house in Delaware.