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 Coming Attack on an Essential Element of Women’s Freedom,” by Kimberly Wehle in The Atlantic at tinyurl.com/5epseu66.
The context, from the author: No-fault divorce has improved the lives of millions. Now some extreme Republicans want to abandon it.
The excerpt: No-fault divorce managed to meaningfully shift the power balance in marriage relationships. Women now had the option of leaving without their husband’s permission. From 1976 to 1985, states that adopted no-fault divorce saw their overall domestic-violence rates plummet by a quarter to one-half, including in relationships that did not end in divorce. The number of women murdered by “intimates” declined by 10 percent. Female suicide rates also fell immediately in states that moved to unilateral divorce.
The context, from the author: Is (Donald) Trump just an ordinary Republican now? The GOP isn’t, of course, the same party it was in 2016: the catalog of Trump’s apostasies is now something like the Republican platform.
The excerpt: The nightmare scenario that so many of us feared in 2016, the pairing of violence and electoral malevolence, did arrive, on Jan. 6, 2021, but it also failed. Now Trump is in a new, post-revolutionary phase. That doesn’t necessarily mean he will be tamer: the attack on (the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark) Milley suggests one way he might seek to distinguish himself from the rest of the party. His case to Republican voters is that he remains indispensable to them. For Trump, in his trials, as in his political career, that he might seem dispensable is the gravest threat of all.
The context, from the author: “Lean In” feminism doesn’t seem to have the purchase it did a few years ago. Maybe that’s because it is so obviously irrelevant to the lives of the vast majority of women, who need a union and decent pay, not a female boss.
The excerpt: In our century, bourgeois feminism has been hopelessly linked to an oppressive workaholic culture, in which people are expected to sacrifice family life, social activities, interests, and their physical and mental health. One of the few positive outcomes of the pandemic is that even many relatively well-off workers have been rejecting that culture. Once you’ve decided that there is more to life than work, “Lean In” feminism doesn’t have much appeal.
FROM THE RIGHT
The context, from the author: Ibram X. Kendi — and this entire intellectually insulting racial-grievance subculture — is precisely who we thought he was. I, for one, will enjoy not letting him off the hook.
Spend your days with Hayes
Subscribe to our free Stephinitely newsletter
You’re all signed up!
Want more of our free, weekly newsletters in your inbox? Let’s get started.Explore all your options
The excerpt: The present Kendi scandal — which involves allegations by his own former employees of misuse of millions of dollars of funding for his Boston University antiracism center, as well as claims of a leadership style that flitted between authoritarian, suspiciously opaque, and altogether absentee — fills me with delight. ... Over the course of a decade, a cottage industry has arisen out of the shocking amounts of money available to be wrung from corporate America on matters of racial grievance, diversity and “equity.” This was possible because it was buttressed by an academy long suffused with a maximally aggressive generation of scholars inculcated in racially essentialist orthodoxy and therefore happy to both perpetuate and profit from it.
The context, from the author: Republicans haven’t issued a platform since 2016, and it shows. What the party stands for is no longer central to its identity. Enraptured by Donald Trump, the GOP’s vanguard longs above all for outsiders who promise to rebuke the left, upend the political system and restore America to lost glory. The details are to be filled in later. In today’s GOP, positive messages and government experience are out; novelty, conspiracy theory and a sense of foreboding are in.
The excerpt: In the New Right’s view, Reagan-era Republicans had a few accomplishments between 1980 and 2008 but have had little useful to say in the years since. That is why the New Right network — which includes media and technology personalities such as Tucker Carlson, Elon Musk and David Sacks, and legacy institutions such as the Heritage Foundation — wants radically to revise the right’s positions on foreign intervention, free markets and limited government. The first thing to say about the New Right is that it can get weird.
The context, from the author: On the eve of independence in 1947, India was seen as the country of the future. Seventy-five years later, it still is.
The excerpt: Decades ago, Samuel Huntington cautioned that “the differences between democracy and dictatorship” are far less important than the divide between those states which can provide order and those which cannot. This in a nutshell explains the unforgivable failure of India to achieve the economic success, national political consolidation, and the global prestige and respect that come from the ability to project hard power.