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Jim Verhulst - Deputy Editor of Editorials
Why Trump doesn’t care, Tim Scott as class president and anti-Zionism vs. antisemitism
Here’s some interesting commentary from the opposite poles of the political spectrum.
 
Former president Donald Trump speaks to members of the media after testifying at his civil fraud trial at the New York State Supreme Court on Monday in New York City.
Former president Donald Trump speaks to members of the media after testifying at his civil fraud trial at the New York State Supreme Court on Monday in New York City. [ MICHAEL M. SANTIAGO | Getty Images North America ]
Published Nov. 11, 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 “Don’t Equate Anti-Zionism With Antisemitism,” by Adam Serwer in The Atlantic at tinyurl.com/nv9my4md.

The context, from the author: It is not antisemitic to want equal rights for all in Jerusalem, in Tel Aviv, in Gaza, in Ramallah.

The excerpt: There is nothing antisemitic about anti-Zionists who believe that the existence of a religious or ethnically defined state is inherently racist, and that the only real solution to the conflict is, as the Palestinian American advocate Youssef Munayyer writes, “equal rights for Israelis and Palestinians in a single shared state,” with a constitution that would “recognize that the country would be home to both peoples and that, despite national narratives and voices on either side that claim otherwise, both peoples have historical ties to the land.” Perhaps you think this idea naive or unrealistic; that is not an expression of prejudice toward Jews.

From “A Lack of Money Means a Lack of Freedom,” by Ben Burgis in Jacobin at tinyurl.com/2wbxc2em.

The context, from the author: Capitalism’s defenders often claim that it protects “negative freedom” — an individual’s freedom from others interfering with their choices. But a Marxist philosopher showed that capitalism systematically denies people just this kind of freedom.

The excerpt: The most passionate supporters of capitalist property rights often defend their position by talking about the value of freedom. If asked to define their terms, they’ll argue that freedom — or the kind of freedom they care most about — is freedom from interference. This is the kind of liberty the most extreme defenders of capitalism are thinking of when they call their position “libertarianism.” ... (But) unequal distribution of wealth just is the unequal distribution of freedom from interference.

From “Tim Scott’s Racial Absolution,” by Robert Samuels in The New Yorker at tinyurl.com/mykp848b.

The context, from the author: The senator from South Carolina presents an early electoral victory — he became president of his high school, years after a “race riot” — as a tidy tale of prejudice overcome. Is that the full story?

The excerpt: The fights at (R.B. Stall High School) today are no longer so-called race riots between Black and white students. Those ended — not because of a persuasive student-body president but because there are hardly any white students left. As in many schools across the country, white and Black students in North Charleston are more segregated now than they were in the ‘80s.

FROM THE RIGHT

From “Why Doesn’t Trump Seem to Care?” by Peter Van Buren in The American Conservative at tinyurl.com/yd5tf5h8.

The context, from the author: The former president had a busy day in court, but he isn’t acting like a man in trouble.

The excerpt: (Donald) Trump looks like a man who simply does not care what happens with the current trials, or any of the others upcoming. He is both convinced the system is fully unfair and equally aware that the more trouble he seems to get into the faster his poll numbers rise. Each courtroom defeat, small and procedural or a full-on guilty verdict, simply fans the flames for rally crowds. ... (And) Trump actually being jailed for violating a gag order would grant him official martyr status. Within a week of his release, Trump will be calling himself a jailed freedom-fighter like Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela.

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From “Not One Primary Vote Cast: Trump Is Not Inevitable,” by Ward Clark in RedState at tinyurl.com/jdzzfdv7.

The context, from the author: Polls are notoriously behind the curve these days. Does everyone remember the 2016 election? When we all went to sleep depressed at the idea of a Hillary Clinton presidency? Remember what those polls said?

The excerpt: We’re a year away from the general election. Not one primary vote has yet been cast. The first state to complete their process is my old stomping grounds of Iowa, and their popular governor just endorsed Ron DeSantis. Let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. The primary season is just getting started. Polls in the last few cycles have been notoriously unreliable. Let the primary voters vote!

From “Here’s What Biden Can Do to Change His Grim Polling,” by David Frum in The Atlantic at tinyurl.com/39a2x7vx.

The context, from the author: The president has a popularity problem. He needs to remind Americans who he isn’t.

The excerpt: Democrats span a much greater breadth of racial, regional, cultural, and ideological identities. They are the big-tent party compared with the Republicans’ little tent. Just consider this question: Who is the Democratic base? Jim Clyburn’s voters or Elizabeth Warren’s? ... Among the consequences for the Democrats of this multiplicity of identities is a special vulnerability to partisan attack. Both parties are home to people who espouse unpopular ideas. But the most unpopular ideas associated with the Republican Party — banning abortion nationwide, cutting Social Security and Medicare — actually are official policy. The most unpopular ideas associated with the Democratic Party — defunding the police, opening the border — are not its policies. In a president’s third-year slump, those not-party unpopular ideas can weigh heavily on Democratic fortunes. The party leader takes a lot of blame for things his party does not intend to do. But this vulnerability also creates an opportunity.