1. Opinion

Selected readings from the left and from the right

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 "Donald Trump's Best Day Was a Year Ago — Sad!" by John Nichols in the Nation at

The context, from the author: Progressives need to be more than just anti-Trump.

The excerpt: For those who resist Trump — in the streets and on the campaign trail, as we head toward a 2018 election in which the Republican majorities in Congress must be overturned — it is vital to strike a balance between the need to hold Trump to account and the necessity of opposing the agenda of what is now the "Party of Trump." We must harness the widespread disapproval of Trump and make it the fuel to get rid of those who enable him — starting with (House Speaker Paul) Ryan, who faces the most serious electoral challenge of his career. We cannot be distracted by the fantasy that Trump's style is the problem

From " 'Republican' Is Not a Synonym for 'Racist' " by Peter Beinart in the Atlantic at

The context, from the author: Conservatives must reckon with their policies' discriminatory effects. That would be more likely if liberals stopped carelessly crying bigot.

The excerpt: Pressuring people to accept a non-bigoted belief can engender resentment that leads them to express more bigotry than they did before. Liberals would be wise to recognize this vicious cycle, and to use the nuclear epithet more sparingly. Yes, Fox News and company will likely describe political correctness as a menace to white, straight, Christian men no matter what. But liberals can make Sean Hannity's work harder by resisting the temptation to deploy the label bigoted, or one of its synonyms, when describing an idea they consider stupid or immoral.

From "Anniversary of the Apocalypse" by Michelle Goldberg in the New York Times at

The context, from the author: This nightmare year has upended assumptions about the durability of the rules, formal and informal, governing our politics. There's a metaphysical whiplash in how quickly alarm turns into acceptance and then into forgetfulness.

The excerpt: How can America ever return from this level of systematic derangement and corruption? I wish there was someone I could ask, but we know more about how countries slide into autocracy than how they might climb out of it. It's been a year, and sometimes I'm still poleaxed by grief at the destruction of our civic inheritance. In moments of optimism I think that this is just a hideous interregnum, and that in a brighter future we'll watch prestige dramas about the time we almost lost America while members of the current regime grow old in prison.


From "Why Campus Rape Tribunals Hand Down So Many 'Guilty' Verdicts" by K.C. Johnson and Stuart Taylor Jr. in the Weekly Standard at

The context, from the author: Title IX training is a travesty.

The excerpt: Since nothing in the experience of most academics prepares them to competently investigate an offense that's a felony in all 50 states, it makes sense to train those who are assigned to investigate campus sexual-assault allegations. But the ideological regimes used on many campuses are designed more to stack the deck against accused students than to ensure a fair inquiry. ... The contrast between this training regime and the instructions given by judges to jurors in criminal trials — most obviously, that they should presume defendants innocent until proven guilty — is stark.

From "Nobody's Quaking in Their Boots, Anymore" by Patrick J. Buchanan in the American Conservative at

The context, from the author: There was a time when U.S. words were taken seriously, and we heeded Theodore Roosevelt's dictum: "Speak softly, and carry a big stick."

The excerpt: We no longer speak to the world with the assured authority with which America did from Eisenhower to Reagan and Bush 1. Our moment, if ever it existed, as the "unipolar power" the "indispensable nation" that would exercise a "benevolent global hegemony" upon mankind is over. America needs today a recognition of the new realities we face and a rhetoric that conforms to those realities. Since Y2K our world has changed.

From "Military-Worship Is Bad for the Military" by David French in the National Review at

The context, from the author: I'm a former major in the Army, a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, and I believe the decision to serve my country in uniform is among the best one's of my life. But I've got a confession to make: I'm getting very worried about our nation's military-worship.

The excerpt: Not everyone in the military is a hero. The mere act of donning a uniform does not make you any better than any other American. Though I've seen heroism in the military, I've also seen craven corruption, cynical exploitation of the public, and grotesque incompetence. If there is an iron law of human nature it's this: Absent accountability and oversight, all human institutions grow increasingly corrupt and incompetent.