With the release of Grand Theft Auto V last week, we’ve yet another opportunity to marvel at how far video games have come since the prehistoric days of the late 1970s. Meandering the streets of Los Santos, GTAV’s thinly veiled version of Los Angeles, we may marvel—if we take a short break from shooting pixilated prostitutes—at how adept the video game industry has become at harnessing stellar graphics in the service of increasingly complex storytelling.
"America may have lost its stomach for military intervention," Charles Blow wrote recently in the New York Times. At least among Obama supporters, that has become the most common explanation, hardening into cliché, for why the president’s call to punish Assad’s regime for gassing its own citizens met with a curdled mixture of anger and apathy.
Foreign Policy's website has an excellent report on the C.I.A.'s disgraceful backing of Saddam Hussein during the time that he used chemical weapons against Iran. In 1988, as Shane Harris and Matthew M. Aid explain, Iraq was on the verge of losing territory during the country's pointless and bloody war with Iran.
It never happened—but still had more impact than today's reenactment
From the outset, recognition of the fiftieth anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington has been a matter of ratios: congratulation to critique, historical reflection to contemporary concerns. The half-century point is a neat bookmark, a vantage point to assess the inevitable questions of how far we have come and how much further we must go to realize a democratic ideal. Even in the moment the mass mobilization of a quarter million people in support of racial equality had an element of history to it.
The 1963 March on Washington featured just one prominent white speaker. “We will not solve education or housing or public accommodations, as long as millions of Negroes are treated as second-class economic citizens and denied jobs,” declared Walter Reuther, the legendary president of the United Auto Workers. “This rally is not the end, it's the beginning of a great moral crusade to arouse America to the unfinished work of American democracy.” Thus did he confidently link the goals of organized labor to those of the black freedom struggle.
The famous filibusterer as a Harvard Law Grad in 1993
The famous filibusterer as a Harvard Law Grad in 1993.
Why a decades-old act of defiance still hasn't been surpassed
Daniel Ellsberg was a spiritual godfather to Snowden and Manning. But he was so, so different.
The incoherence of the British Empire
Was there ever really a British Empire? Cartographers certainly wanted you to think so. Starting in the late eighteenth century, British mapmakers colored territories ruled by the British in red or more often in pink (for contrast with the typeface). At the height of Britain’s global power, imperial pink tinted a quarter of the map. Suspended on the walls of schoolrooms around the empire, the map became one of the most memorable icons of British dominance.
Woodrow Wilson was as important as FDR or LBJ. Why aren't we celebrating his 100th anniversary?
The first liberal Democratic president took office exactly 100 years ago this spring. So why aren’t contemporary liberals bestowing the same praise on Woodrow Wilson as they lavish on Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson? Granted, if he were running today, Woodrow Wilson wouldn’t win a single Democratic primary and would no doubt be heckled out of the race. Raised in the South, he smiled on Jim Crow and did not object when two of his cabinet appointees re-segregated their departments.