Tue, 28/05/2024 - 23:29

The academic year that just ended left America’s college campuses in quite a state: with snipers on the rooftops and checkpoints at the gates; quads overrun by riot squads, state troopers, and federal agents; and even the scent of gunpowder in the air. In short, in the spring semester of 2024, many of our campuses came to resemble armed camps. What’s more, alongside such brute displays of force, there have been congressional inquisitions into constitutionally protected speech; federal investigations into the movement for divestment; and students suspended, evicted, and expelled, not to speak of faculty disciplined or simply dismissed. Welcome to Repress U., class of 2024: a homeland security campus for the ages. But don’t think it all only happened... Read more

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Thu, 23/05/2024 - 23:33

There are constants in this world — occurrences you can count on. Sunrises and sunsets. The tides. That, day by day, people will be born and others will die. Some of them will die in peace, but others, of course, in violence and agony. For hundreds of years, the U.S. military has been killing people. It’s been a constant of our history. Another constant has been American military personnel killing civilians, whether Native Americans, Filipinos, Nicaraguans, Haitians, Japanese, Koreans, Vietnamese, Cambodians, Laotians, Afghans, Iraqis, Syrians, Yemenis, and on and on. And there’s something else that’s gone along with those killings: a lack of accountability for them. Late last month, the Department of Defense (DoD) released its congressionally mandated annual accounting... Read more

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Tue, 21/05/2024 - 23:31

On April 22nd, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments for Grants Pass v. Johnson, a case that focuses on whether unhoused — the term that has generally replaced “homeless” — people with no indoor shelter options can even pull a blanket around themselves outdoors without being subject to criminal punishment. Before making its way to the Supreme Court on appeal, the Ninth Circuit Court held that municipalities can’t punish involuntarily homeless people for merely living in the place where they are. This is exactly what the city of Grants Pass, Oregon, did when it outlawed resting or sleeping anywhere on public property with so much as a blanket to survive in cold weather, even when no beds in shelters were... Read more

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Mon, 20/05/2024 - 07:29

Consider Donald Trump to be in a racial bind when it comes to election 2024. After all, he needs Black voters to at least defect from Joe Biden in swing states, if not actually vote for him. Yet, more than ever, he also needs his white nationalist base to believe that a second Trump term will be even more racist than the first and he’s been openly claiming that he’ll address the ghost of anti-white racism. Not surprisingly, his evolving strategy for the Black vote has been high on empty symbolism and viral moments, but distinctly low on specific promised policy benefits for the Black community. Milkshakes and far-right policies are all the presumptive Republican presidential candidate has recently offered... Read more

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Thu, 16/05/2024 - 23:25

An acquaintance who hails from the same New Jersey town as I do spends his free weekends crawling through the woods on his stomach as part of a firearms training course, green camouflage paint on his face and a revolver in his hand. He considers this both a way to have fun in his free time and to prepare for the supposed threat from immigrants everywhere. (“You never know when something could happen,” he tells me.) He’s never gun-less. He brings his weapon to diners and dinners, to work meetings, and always on walks in his quiet neighborhood, where he grumbles “this is America!” whenever he hears Spanish spoken by neighbors or passersby. The implication, of course, is that the... Read more

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Tue, 14/05/2024 - 23:32

I’ve spent most of my life as an advocate for a more peaceful world. In recent years, I’ve been focused on promoting diplomacy over war and exposing the role of giant weapons companies like Lockheed Martin and its allies in Congress and at the Pentagon as they push for a “military-first” foreign policy. I’ve worked at an alphabet soup of think tanks: the Council on Economic Priorities (CEP), the World Policy Institute (WPI), the New America Foundation, the Center for International Policy (CIP), and my current institutional home, the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft (QI). Most of what I’ve done in my career is firmly rooted in my college experience. I got a bachelor’s degree in philosophy at Columbia University,... Read more

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Mon, 13/05/2024 - 07:53

When wildfires began erupting in the Texas Panhandle in February, Laurie Ezzell Brown, the editor and publisher of the Canadian Record, was in Houston on a panel discussing ways in which losing local newspapers represents a danger to democracy. Running the once-a-week Record from the Panhandle town of Canadian, she certainly knew something about the rise of “news deserts” in this country. While she was meeting with other journalists concerned about disappearing local newspapers, Brown kept an eye on reports about ignitions sparking wildfires west of her town and posted updates from afar so that her readers would remain informed. “Those fires never stay in the next county,” Brown said grimly. And indeed, as the flames galloped through fallow fields... Read more

Thu, 09/05/2024 - 23:32

Persisting in his support for an unpopular war, the Democrat in the White House has helped spark a rebellion close to home. Young people — least inclined to deference, most inclined to moral outrage — are leading public opposition to the ongoing slaughter in Gaza. The campus upheaval is a clash between accepting and resisting, while elites insist on doing maintenance work for the war machine. I wrote the above words recently, but I could have written very similar ones in the spring of 1968. (In fact, I did.) Joe Biden hasn’t sent U.S. troops to kill in Gaza, as President Lyndon Johnson did in Vietnam, but the current president has done all he can to provide massive quantities of... Read more

Tue, 07/05/2024 - 23:30

It was the jokes about Trump’s rumored flatulence in the courtroom that pushed me toward despair. And don’t think it was disgust with the subject matter either. After all, I’ve lived with teenagers and I wasn’t all that surprised by yet another Trump-inspired trivialization of a critical civic institution. What appalled me was the possibility that — let’s be clear here — such stories would somehow humanize the monster, that his alleged farting and possible use of adult diapers would win him sympathy. I even wondered whether such rumors could be part of a scheme to win him votes. So, yes, Trump can make you that crazy. Or maybe it’s something about important trials, about the slow unspooling of evidence... Read more

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Thu, 02/05/2024 - 23:29

Helicopters have been throbbing overhead for days now. Nights, too. Police are swarming the streets of Broadway, many in riot gear. Police vans, some as big as a city bus, are lined up along side streets and Broadway.  Outside the gates of the Columbia University campus, a penned-in group of pro-Israel demonstrators has faced off against a penned-in group of anti-genocide and pro-Palestinian protesters. These groups are usually small, often vastly outnumbered by the police around them, but they are loud and they are not Columbia students. They’ve been coming every day this April to shout, chant, and hold up signs, some of which are filled with hateful speech directed at the other side, equating protests against the slaughter in... Read more