Archive | April, 2018

Trump and Elite Schools: A Harvard Athlete Weighs In

By James Fallows

A week ago I quoted an unnamed “reader in New Haven,” who offered thoughts about “The Future of Elite Schools in the Trump Era.” That occasioned a lot of response, which is still coming in. I quoted some of it in “Trump vs. Harvard and Yale” and “The Future of Elite Schools, Continued.”

This next installment comes from the author of the original message, who is now willing to be identified. He is Michael Doolittle. As he explains, he is a Harvard College alumnus, and he works as a photographer in New Haven. In the message below he talks about the under-publicized but important role of sports in elite-college admissions. As he says an introductory note:

I have set up a website, where readers can go and click on a black button titled “Introduction: Sports in Admissions” if they want more detail about a lot of these themes. You could just say that I am trying a writing project exploring why the US is the only major country in the world that has tied sports so tightly into their colleges and universities and what that says about admission policies.

Now, Doolittle’s response to those who have read and reacted to his original message. By the way, the photos in this post are by him, of scenes at Yale:

I’ve amazed that my ruminations on elite schools in the Trump era have garnered so much interest. I want to start by saying that my comments were broadly about the institutions. In no way am I saying that all students at elite school are entitled jerks. I believe you can be critical of systems, even those you admire, without criticizing every individual in those systems.

My thoughts are grounded by my personal experience and a research project that I’ve been working …read more

Via:: The Atlantic



Randa Jarrar, Moral Grandstanding, and Forbearance

By Conor Friedersdorf

Last week, the Fresno State creative writing professor Randa Jarrar sparked the latest round of debate about free speech on college campuses when she reacted to Barbara Bush’s death by speaking ill of the dead on Twitter. “Barbara Bush was a generous and smart and amazing racist who, along with her husband, raised a war criminal,” she wrote. “Fuck outta here with your nice words.”

In an unintentional echo of President George W. Bush’s “with us or against us” moral logic, she declared, “PSA: either you are against these pieces of shit and their genocidal ways or you’re part of the problem. That’s actually how simple this is,” adding the sentiment, “I’m happy the witch is dead. Can’t wait for the rest of her family to fall to their demise the way 1.5 million Iraqis have. byyyeeeeeeee.”

If hate speech was not protected by the First Amendment, as some progressives contend, it would be necessary for us to probe whether or not it is hate speech to wish death on an entire family while cheering their matriarch’s demise. Since there is no such exception to the First Amendment, the free-speech analysis is simple: Fresno State, a public institution, may not punish this professor for her politically incorrect speech, a conclusion that consistent free-speech advocates including David French of National Review, Robby Soave of Reason, and staffers at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education all reached.

That she is being investigated by her university is the latest illustration of the fact that free speech on campus requires vigilant defenders if it is to be conserved going forward.

Predictably, this case ha exposed inconsistencies on both the left and right. Some leftists who believe hate speech is not free speech have been conspicuously silent. And insofar as I’ve seen, there is no …read more

Via:: The Atlantic



A Cassandra Cry Against Pope Francis

By Emma Green

Across every continent, in every country, Catholics “find themselves divided against one another,” writes the New York Times columnist Ross Douthat in his new book, To Change the Church. On one side stand the orthodox, who see doctrine and tradition as the best antidote to a changing world. On the other stand the liberals, who yearn for a Church that focuses on pastoring rather than enforcing rigid rules. This “widening theological and moral gulf,” Douthat argues, is potentially “wider than the chasm that separated Catholicism from Orthodoxy, and later from Lutheranism and Calvinism.”

That’s a bold claim to make. After all, the schisms of East and West, Catholic and Protestant, were world-shaking, often bloody events. But in today’s Church—and specifically in this pope—Douthat sees the possibility that the Roman Catholic Church will once again break apart.

Ostensibly, his beef is with Pope Francis, whom Douthat paints as an unyielding and stubborn manager who has spent his five years in Rome failing the clean up the Vatican’s messes, hurling insults at conservative clerics, and pushing radical doctrinal changes without buy-in from major wings of the Catholic hierarchy. He writes skeptically about Francis’s imagery and rhetoric of mercy, from pictures of the pontiff kissing a man covered in boils to his controversial declaration, “Who am I to judge?” about gay men searching for God. But at its core, Douthat’s book is about a vast, pre-modern institution’s halting evolution into modern times, and whether it can sufficiently adapt to maintain unified influence over 1.3 billion adherents spanning Africa to Asia to the Americas. “This is a hinge moment in the history of Catholicism,” Douthat writes. While he is unlikely to change many minds about controversial Catholic issues or reshape people’s opinions of the pope, Douthat is digging at a question present in every aspect …read more

Via:: The Atlantic



The Party of Ike

By Eliot A. Cohen

I stood, not long ago, on a chilly, damp, and windy Korean hill at the edge of Demilitarized Zone. With 40 of my students and half-a-dozen faculty we were conducting what the military calls a staff ride—a kind of in-depth treatment of a campaign as a case study in leadership. Mine was one of the concluding talks, in which I played President Dwight D. Eisenhower, telling the American people on July 26, 1953 that the Korean War had ended. But, he reminded them “we have won an armistice on a single battleground—not peace in the world.” His was a sober, moving tribute to America’s allies as well as her soldiers, an expression of “sorrow and solemn gratitude,” ending with a quote from Lincoln’s second inaugural, “with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right.”

Eisenhower’s story has something to offer the beleaguered moderate conservatives of America. He was not particularly ideological, though he had core convictions; but his was a life that sets an example worthy of emulation and reflection. He was no Lincoln, but for American conservatives in the years to come he may be more appealing than Reagan, embodying as he did qualities of prudence, diligence, and broad-mindedness that are the antithesis of politics in the age of Trump.

Eisenhower brought the Korean War to an end as he had achieved success throughout his military career, not through inspiration but unremitting and intelligent application to the problem. During the election campaign, on October 25, 1952, he administered a stinging but meticulously documented and factual critique of the origins of the war, and added the dramatic line: “I shall go to Korea.”

And so he did, only a few weeks after the election. He ate chow with the soldiers of his old regiment, and most importantly climbed …read more

Via:: The Atlantic



A Year Later, Fewer Deportations in Cities That Adopted “Welcoming” Policies

Demonstrators protest the deportation of undocumented immigrants on July 24, 2013, in New York City. (Photo: John Moore / Getty Images)

Demonstrators protest the deportation of undocumented immigrants on July 24, 2013, in New York City. (Photo: John Moore / Getty Images)

A year after the Santa Fe City Council adopted in February 2017 a resolution strengthening its welcoming and non-discrimination policies toward immigrants, the federal government launched a series of audits demanding verification from local small businesses that their employees were eligible to work in the country. In response to this blitz, advocates and city officials held a press conference in early March calling out an attempt to disrupt business, wreak havoc, and create a culture of fear and panic.

“Today, children will wake up at home wondering if there will be a knock on their door; parents will go to work wondering if there will be a knock at the door of their place of employment; families will wonder if they’ll have one more meal together,” said then-Mayor Javier Gonzales, who, following President Trump’s election, became an outspoken proponent of cities enacting sanctuary and non-discrimination policies. “That is not what our country has ever been about, but it is what this administration is trying to do by dividing our communities. All of us in our community know that one of the best values Santa Fe incorporates every day is the value of welcoming people.”

And that value of welcoming is not just compassionate talk. There is proof that sanctuary policies are working, keeping residents safer than in places that collaborate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement tactics.

According to a new study from Pew Research Center, nationwide deportations made by ICE in 2017 increased 30 percent from the previous year. But these increases are not distributed evenly. In regions where city and state governments worked hand in hand with ICE, deportations have increased …read more

Via:: Truthout



In a Major Win for Airline Labor, Nearly 5,000 JetBlue Flight Attendants Just Voted To Unionize

A JetBlue passenger jet (Embraer 190) taxis at LaGuardia Airport in New York, New York. (Photo: Robert Alexander / Getty Images)

A JetBlue passenger jet (Embraer 190) taxis at LaGuardia Airport in New York, New York. (Photo: Robert Alexander / Getty Images)

On April 18, nearly 5,000 JetBlue Airways flight attendants voted to form a union, notching a major victory for organized labor. The employees voted 2,661 to 1,387 to join the Transport Workers Union (TWU), a labor group that represents rail and airline workers, among others, and is affiliated with the AFL-CIO.

Sean Doyle, Assistant Director of Organizing for the TWU, tells In These Times that the vote to unionize JetBlue is “probably one of the largest and most successful union campaigns that’s happened in quite some time.” Doyle sees a connection between the successful effort to organize JetBlue employees and the recent wave of strikes and walkouts, particularly among teachers in states like Oklahoma and West Virginia.

“You can see by the workers, the teachers and what they’re doing that middle-class America has taken it on the chin long enough,” Doyle says. “Workers are uniting to protect their interests, not only in their jobs, but also their families and their welfare.” Although most workers at airlines such as Southwest are already unionized, Doyle believes JetBlue was hoping to block their employees’ desire to organize and join the TWU.

“We don’t do cold calls,” Doyle wryly points out, noting that it was JetBlue flight attendants who sought his group’s help, and not the other way around.

JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes said in a statement that, while his company does “respect the outcome of the election,” they are also dismayed at the vote to unionize. The statement does not spell out JetBlue’s reasons for resisting the flight attendants’ efforts, although labor organizing is not a new issue for the airline. In 2014, the …read more

Via:: Truthout



When Calling the Police is a Privilege

By Adam Harris

The call was brief, and had the relaxed feel of someone making a reservation at a restaurant.

“I have two gentlemen at my cafe who are refusing to make a purchase or leave,” the manager of the Starbucks told the 911 dispatcher. She calmly gave her address, and after being reassured that law enforcement would be on the way shortly, she thanked the dispatcher and hung up. The call, of which audio was released by the Philadelphia police department, lasted roughly 20 seconds.

Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson, the two men, both black, did not know the manager had called the police. They say that only a few minutes had passed between when they entered Starbucks and when they were surrounded by Philadelphia police officers.

Americans, on the whole, make millions upon millions of call to 911 each year requesting police assistance. But there are differences in who makes such calls, and for what purpose. That’s in part because black Americans have a much more contentious relationship with police officers than white Americans—and that has a pronounced impact on the differences in the tendency to seek help or report crimes.

Black people are less likely to call the police than white people. According to federal data on requests for police assistance from 2011—before many of the high-profile killings of black Americans that are etched into the collective national memory—black Americans were slightly less inclined to call police for help than their white counterparts. The data hint at the result of that estimation black people make daily: Whether involving police will help a situation or make it worse. Marginalized communities do not feel confident in reaching out to the authorities that are created to protect them—and that is extremely problematic.

Other research shows more pronounced distinctions. The tendency not to call the cops among …read more

Via:: The Atlantic



Bad News for President Trump

By Quinta Jurecic

One feature of the truth is that it doesn’t change much. A lie is hard to sustain. The details may change in each retelling because the liar is not actually remembering the events, but instead remembering the telling of the events. The truth, by contrast, is sticky. Consistency is not the only hallmark of truth—some people’s memories are better than other people’s memories, to be sure—but there’s a reason that inconsistency tends to discredit a witness.

If someone had told you a year ago, when news first broke that James Comey had made memos of his conversations with President Trump, that those memos would eventually come out and make little news, you probably wouldn’t have believed it. These memos are, after all, a big deal. They will play a major role in corroborating Comey’s story in the investigative setting.

But from a news perspective, they turn out to be a bit of a snooze, far more interesting for the fact of their release than for any new information they contain. Sure, there are modest bits of new information in them—that Reince Priebus asked Comey whether there was a FISA order on then-National-Security Adviser Michael Flynn, for example. But the broader theme is that they add little that is not already known.

The memos, on the whole, tell the same story as Comey told in his book. They tell the same story as he told in his congressional testimony last year. They corroborate these statements, often down to the level of the specific words spoken and the specific details reported. Notably, Comey did not have access to the memos while he was writing the book.

The truth is sticky.

There are, to be sure, minor inconsistencies between Comey’s four statements on what happened between him and the president—his written testimony to the Senate intelligence committee, his …read more

Via:: The Atlantic



CIA Operative Who Tortured, Destroyed CIA Torture Tapes, and Now Wants To Lead CIA Was “Cleared,” Says CIA

(Photo: Central Intelligence Agency)

Gina Haspel, who was in charge of a black site in Thailand where torture occurred and ordered the destruction of CIA tapes of the human rights violations, has been nominated to become director of the spy agency. (Photo: Central Intelligence Agency)

In what critics are calling a bald attempt to help Trump’s controversial pick to lead the CIA get through a very difficult confirmation process, the CIA on Friday released a previously classified memo in which Gina Haspel was “cleared” of any wrongdoing when she destroyed more than 90 videotapes of agency operatives torturing human beings.

According to the Associated Press, which first reported the story, the CIA on Friday “gave lawmakers a declassified memo Friday showing [Haspel] was cleared years ago of wrongdoing in the destruction of videotapes showing terror suspects being waterboarded after 9/11.”

Written by then-acting deputy director of the CIA Mike Morrell, the eight-page memo, as the Washington Post reports, “does not weigh in on questions about Haspel’s involvement in the use of brutal interrogation methods at a black-site facility she supervised in Thailand. The memo does suggest, however, that there was general CIA support for the destruction of the tapes at the time Haspel drafted the 2005 memo, as officials were still heavily influenced by the experience of fallout from the 2004 scandal involving the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.”

Sen. Diane Feinstein, Democrat of California and member on the Senate Intelligence Committee, responded by saying that the CIA’s memo should be seen for what it is: an attempt by the agency to release information that makes Haspel look good while continuing to block the release of information that might serve to incriminate her or hurt her chances for confirmation.

“It’s …read more

Via:: Truthout



Why Black Stories Matter: They Build Empathy and Heal Trauma

When she was growing up, Rachel Bailey was taught that only rich, self-indulgent White people suffered from mental health issues. Black people were supposed to be tougher. Although she remembers struggling with what was later diagnosed as bipolar disorder since she was 4 years old, it wasn’t until age 34 that she began to seek treatment, checking herself into a psychiatric ward after a severe mental breakdown.

“People of other races, especially White people, they get to be crazy and have their reasons and their subtle shades of insanity,” Bailey says. “It’s unfair that you get to be insane in colorful ways and I just get to be nuts and go to jail and rot there.”

Bailey was one of 11 Black performers who shared their stories in front of an audience of 600 people at TMI Project’s inaugural #BlackStoriesMatter show in 2017.

Among the performers was Tina-Lynn Dickerson, who spoke about becoming homeless after being evicted from her home in the now gentrified Harlem neighborhood she grew up in, and Micah Blumenthal, who spoke about how the lack of meaningful Black characters in film affected him as a child.

TMI Project is a nonprofit based in Kingston, New York, that works to uplift the voices of underrepresented populations in the community by helping them share their stories publicly. This is done through monologue-writing workshops that, if the writer chooses, culminate in a performance in front of an audience.

The goal is to raise awareness about different social issues, give people new perspectives, and inspire people to take action, says Eva Tenuto, co-founder and executive director of TMI …read more

Via:: Truthout