The Bloods and the Crits
December 09, 1996
During the past decade, an academic movement called critical race theory has gained increasing currency in the legal academy. Rejecting the achievements of the civil rights movement of the 1960s as epiphenomenal, critical race scholars argue that the dismantling of the apparatus of formal segregation failed to purge American society of its endemic racism, or to improve the social status of African Americans in discernible or lasting ways. The claim that these scholars make is not only political; it is also epistemological.
The end of obscenity
July 15, 1996
On June 11, three judges in Philadelphia struck down parts of the Communications Decency Act. The decision, ACLU v. Reno, is being justly celebrated as the New York Times v. Sullivan of cyberspace, an occasion for dancing in the chat rooms. The three judges understood how the old First Amendment battles are being overtaken by new technologies; and in an endearingly self-dramatizing touch, they had their separate opinions distributed on floppy disks.
The Air Around Tom Paine
April 24, 1995
Thomas Paine: Collected Writings edited by Eric Foner (The Library of America, 906 pp., $35) Thomas Paine: Apostle of Freedom by Jack Fruchtman Jr. (Four Walls Eight Windows, 557 pp., $30) Thomas Paine: A Political Life by John Keane (Little, Brown, 644 pp., $27.95) I. Every twenty-ninth of January, Thomas Paine's admirers assemble at his old farm in New Rochelle, New York, to celebrate his birthday and to lay a wreath on his monument.
I. I just got back from Hollywood, where I had breakfast with Ricardo Mestres at the Bel Air Hotel. Mestres shot from Harvard to the head of Disney’s Hollywood pictures, only to release a string of flops so unremittingly horrible that finally, after a deathwatch that seemed to go on for years, he lost his job. But there he was, with a spanking new title, dressed with casual confidence in khakis and a plaid shirt, working on his second breakfast of the day. The head of Warner Brothers’ film division sat across from us, the new chairman of Disney in the corner.
August 12, 1991
How the eclectic hodgepodge saved Modernism.
Trouble in Store
July 02, 1990
Following a dispute between a black "customer and a Korean merchant, blacks in a heavily Haitian part of Brooklyn's Flatbush section have been boycotting two Korean produce stores since the end of January. Protesters have kept the flow of customers to a trickle, vowing to drive the merchants from the neighborhood. Each side has made the inevitable Spike Lee allusions. In mid-May, in front of the Family Red Apple grocery store, a boycotter with a megaphone yelled, "Koreans must go. They should not be here in the first place.
Rookie of the Year
November 05, 1984
Vice Presidential debates are a sideshow, at best, to the main action of a Presidential election, but the pressures on George Bush and Geraldine Ferraro going into their October 11 meeting in Philadelphia nonetheless were enormous. After President Reagan's disastrous debate with Walter Mondale, Bush had to perform more than creditably. It was up to him to defend the Reagan record, undercut the Democratic case, and project some vision of the next four years in a way that Reagan did not.
Why I Love America
July 04, 1983
A British journalist finds freedom across the pond.
October 11, 1982
With great fanfare, the New York Daily News announced on May 1, 1982: NEWS TO CITY: WE'RE HERE TO STAY. Its owner, the Chicago Tribune company, had just discovered that it could neither sell nor close the News, and had decided, perforce, to keep it going. On an inside page, the paper announced: TRlB TO RUPERT: DROP DEAD. That blunt message was intended, of course, for Rupert Murdoch, Australian proprietor of the New York Post, the evening paper with which the News is waging the most acrimonious newspaper war the country has seen in years.