“…if race becomes an irreducible category in politics, rather than being incorporated into universal claims of justice, it’s a weapon that can be picked up and used by anyone”

I recently spoke with the social scientist Glenn Loury, who teaches at Brown University. As he sees it, if race becomes an irreducible category in politics, rather than being incorporated into universal claims of justice, it’s a weapon that can be picked up and used by anyone. “Better watch out,” he said. “I don’t know […] continued…

“One of the first observations the checkers made about Trump is that he doesn’t care when his statements are shown to have no basis in fact”

Trump was not trying to make reference to reality in what he said to win votes. He was trying to substitute “his” reality for the one depicted in news reports. “On a certain level, the media lacked the vocabulary to describe what was happening,” Stanley writes. And I agree with that. He compares what Trump […] continued…

“Those who play the identity game should be prepared to lose it”

The media’s newfound, almost anthropological, interest in the angry white male reveals as much about the state of our liberalism as it does about this much maligned, and previously ignored, figure. A convenient liberal interpretation of the recent presidential election would have it that Mr. Trump won in large part because he managed to transform […] continued…

“The Jewish mix of particular and universal is not easy to figure out, for Jews or anyone else”

Up to modernity, Jews and non-Jews lived within boundaries, well defined from within and without. With the fall of those boundaries in the rise of nation-states and the dismantling of traditional Jewish communities, the latent tensions between the universal and particular aspects of Jewishness became were radicalized. Jewish politics, largely passive and inward-looking for centuries, […] continued…

“For tens of millions of Americans, Trump was unthinkable as President”

For tens of millions of Americans, Trump was unthinkable as President. It came to be conceded that he had “tuned into something”: the frequencies of white rural life, the disaffection of people who felt overwhelmed by the forces of globalization, who felt unheard and condescended to by the coastal establishment. Yet Trump himself, by liberal […] continued…

“…for Bannon, and many on the Trumpian right, the crucial political divide in today’s world is between internationalists (who they call “globalists”) and nationalists”

…for Bannon, and many on the Trumpian right, the crucial political divide in today’s world is between internationalists (who they call “globalists”) and nationalists. Internationalists believe in universal principles like human rights, international law and free trade. They see their countries less as ends in and of themselves than as means for achieving these broader […] continued…

“…conservatives with big microphones taught their listeners not to believe what is reported in the mainstream media…”

…while conservatives with big microphones taught their listeners not to believe what is reported in the mainstream media (and especially the elite press in New York and Washington) they themselves still relied on those sources as their baseline reality— minus the liberal “spin,” of course. They weren’t willing to adopt the information diet they recommended […] continued…

“Bannon and the Trumpian right have discovered what Jews have known for a century: That Zionism is built, in part, on the rejection of Diaspora Jewish identity”

Bannon and the Trumpian right have discovered what Jews have known for a century: That Zionism is built, in part, on the rejection of Diaspora Jewish identity. That’s especially true today, as a rising Orthodox population pushes Israel toward greater nationalism and secular millennial Jews push American Jewry further away from nationalism. The real question […] continued…

“In order for a music for young people to come into being, young people have to have a way to play it”

In order for a music for young people to come into being, young people have to have a way to play it. The jukebox was one delivery mode: kids could listen to the music in a diner or an ice-cream shop, someplace outside the home and in the company of other kids. More significant, as […] continued…

“…the point of the saloon was never the lager. It was the shared institution. Today it often feels as if the only shared spaces are big-box checkout lines and fast-food parking lots”

Neither work nor unions nor “decent homes” seem stable anymore. And older social institutions like saloons, constructed to cope with such instability, are long gone. In the gap between the two, poorer communities tend to have weaker civic institutions, higher levels of social isolation, and far lower rates of voting. Bringing back the saloon will […] continued…
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