Martin Luther King

Morning Reading Assignment
September 14, 2011

I woke this morning to Frank Deford on NPR exhorting me to read Taylor Branch's Atlantic piece on the college sports racket ("The Shame of College Sports"), a topic dear to Deford's heart. Branch writes with special clarity and fervor about the everyday moral outrages that society works hardest to ignore, which is why he was so well suited to chronicle the rise of the civil rights movement in his justly praised three-volume biography of Martin Luther King.

Hey Conservatives! Stop Trying to Appropriate Martin Luther King.
August 30, 2011

Leading conservatives seem to adore Martin Luther King. Jr. As president, George W.

Elmer “Geronimo” Pratt: The Untold Story of the Black Panther Leader, Dead At 63
June 27, 2011

Elmer Pratt, the prominent Black Panther known by his nom de guerre, Geronimo ji-Jaga, died at 63 on June 2 in Tanzania. He had served 27 years in prison in Los Angeles for murder, the first eight in solitary confinement, and had been denied parole 16 times before his sentence was vacated and he was freed.

Collective Bargain
March 03, 2011

Last December, I asked a prominent K Street Republican what he thought his party’s top priority would be following its successes in the midterm elections. He didn’t mince words. “Public employee unions are going to get hosed, and they deserve to get hosed,” he told me. So, I wasn’t exactly surprised when Republican governors in Wisconsin and Ohio put the public unions in their states on a hit list.

Don't Believe the Hype About Aborigines, Yiddish, or Ebonics
September 02, 2010

LANGUAGE AS THOUGHT: WATCH OUT FOR THE HYPE Judging from how the Times magazine’s excerpt from Guy Deutscher’s new book has been one of the most read pieces in the paper for over a week now, the book is on its way to libating readers ever eager for the seductive idea that people’s languages channel the way they think--that is, that grammar creates cultural outlooks. “Oooh-mmmm!” I heard in a room once when a linguist parenthetically suggested that the reason speakers of one Native American language have prefixes instead of words to indicate mixing, poking, and sucking on food is because they

Don't Believe the Hype About Aborigines, Yiddish, or Ebonics
September 02, 2010

LANGUAGE AS THOUGHT: WATCH OUT FOR THE HYPE Judging from how the Times magazine’s excerpt from Guy Deutscher’s new book has been one of the most read pieces in the paper for over a week now, the book is on its way to libating readers ever eager for the seductive idea that people’s languages channel the way they think--that is, that grammar creates cultural outlooks. “Oooh-mmmm!” I heard in a room once when a linguist parenthetically suggested that the reason speakers of one Native American language have prefixes instead of words to indicate mixing, poking, and sucking on food is because they

Muslims And Conservative Anti-Anti-Discrimination
August 30, 2010

Last week, Jonah Goldberg wrote that, if anybody is facing discrimination in this country, it's non-Muslims: The 70 percent of Americans who oppose what amounts to an Islamic Niketown two blocks from Ground Zero are the real victims of a climate of hate, and the much-ballyhooed anti-Muslim backlash is mostly a myth. ... Why aren’t we talking about the anti-Jewish climate in America? Because there isn’t one. And there isn’t an anti-Muslim climate either. Yes, there’s a lot of heated rhetoric on the Internet. Absolutely, some Americans don’t like Muslims.

Disgrace
August 23, 2010

From 2010, Richard Just on Obama’s increasingly absurd position on gay marriage.

But Is Jesse Jackson *Interesting*?
July 15, 2010

Jesse Jackson has never interested me much. I’m a little late out of the gate in commenting about Jackson’s latest diversion, analogizing LeBron James to a runaway slave in light of Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert’s sputtering about James’ departure to Miami. I’ve always been a little laggard in dogpiling on Jesse. When I first started writing about race, I quickly noted a certain cognitive dissonance: everybody expected the new cranky black “conservative” to have a Jesse obsession. I never did, and don’t now. He shouldn’t be news, really.

Is It Interesting to Criticize the Civil Rights Act? Down to Cases with Rand Paul and John Stossel
June 03, 2010

I have held off on writing about Rand Paul’s take on the Civil Rights Act. Partly because I am finishing a book. But also because his idea that it shouldn’t have been made illegal for businesses, as private institutions, to discriminate strikes me as, oddly, both too interesting to sound off on without long-term reflection and too uninteresting to get excited about in the moment. Uninteresting because who among us really thinks that there will be a move any time soon to legalize segregation for American businesses?

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