The Week: Most Recent from Damon Linker recent posts.en-usWed, 23 Jul 2014 06:04:00 -0400http://theweek.com Recent from Damon Linker from THE WEEKWed, 23 Jul 2014 06:04:00 -0400What both sides in the immigration debate get wrong<img src="" /></P><p>Ever get the feeling that American political culture has fallen so far down the rabbit hole that no one on either side of a polarizing public debate has staked out a civically responsible position?</p><p>That's how I feel about the immigration debate that's been convulsing the nation's capital and the states along our southern border this summer, as the regular flow of undocumented immigrants from Mexico has been augmented by thousands of children fleeing poverty and gang violence in Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador.</p><p>Faced with this problem, the country seems to have split into mutually exclusive...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/damon-linker" ><span class="byline">Damon Linker</span></a>Wed, 23 Jul 2014 06:04:00 -0400A letter to Andrew Rosenthal of The New York Times<img src="" /></P><p>Dear Andrew Rosenthal,</p><p>As editorial page editor of the <em>New York Times</em>, you're a very busy man. But I was so excited by Timothy Egan's column from last weekend that I couldn't resist writing to thank you for your good work &mdash; and to pass along a handful of proposals for some op-eds of my own. (My bosses at <em>The Week</em> are a little skittish about taking on the kind of bold pieces Egan has inspired me to write.)</p><p>It was so thrilling to read in the pages of America's leading newspaper about how "faith-based fanatics" are making this the "summer of the violent God," with religious zealots rampaging...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/damon-linker" ><span class="byline">Damon Linker</span></a>Tue, 22 Jul 2014 06:05:00 -0400The greatest threat to traditional churches isn't liberalism -- it's the men who run them<img src="" /></P><p>Have you heard the news about Archbishop John C. Nienstedt of St. Paul and Minneapolis? It seems he's been accused of making numerous sexual advances towards men while also leading his archdiocese's fight against same-sex marriage and regularly denouncing homosexuality in the most uncompromising terms possible. Nienstedt and his predecessor, Archbishop Harry Flynn, have also been credibly accused of covering up and showing indifference toward the sexual abuse of children by priests in the archdiocese.</p><p>I heard about both charges from blog posts by Rod Dreher, a conservative Christian friend, who...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/damon-linker" ><span class="byline">Damon Linker</span></a>Fri, 18 Jul 2014 06:01:00 -0400The sheer terror of being alone with our thoughts<img src="" /></P><p>I recently thought about Pascal while crossing Terminal B of the Philadelphia International Airport.</p><p>No, not Pascal the computer programming language. I mean Blaise Pascal, the 17th-century French philosopher and mathematician for which the programming language is named.</p><p>A line of his came to mind as I looked up in irritation at one of the dozens of televisions blasting CNN throughout the terminal. The racket reminded me of the piped-in music that passersby are subjected to while strolling down the sidewalk outside of strip malls near my home in the Philly suburbs. And the overly loud pop tunes...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/damon-linker" ><span class="byline">Damon Linker</span></a>Wed, 16 Jul 2014 06:15:00 -0400Israel's bombing of Gaza is morally justified -- and eminently stupid<img src="" /></P><p>Israel's many wars have many names. The War for Independence (1948). The Six Day War (1967). The Yom Kippur War (1973). The First Lebanon War (1982-1985). The Second Lebanon War (2006). The Gaza War (2008&ndash;09).</p><p>I'd like to propose that Israel's current bombing campaign in Gaza be known henceforth as The Stupid War.</p><p>Note that I didn't say The Immoral War. With Hamas and smaller jihadi groups hurling rockets at Israeli cities from the Gaza Strip, Israel is clearly justified in responding. (No nation in the world would accept such a bombardment without striking back.) And though the lopsided...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/damon-linker" ><span class="byline">Damon Linker</span></a>Tue, 15 Jul 2014 06:06:00 -0400How liberalism became an intolerant dogma<img src="" /></P><p>At the risk of sounding like Paul Krugman &mdash; who returns to a handful of cherished topics over and over again in his <em>New York Times</em> column &mdash; I want to revisit one of my hobby horses, which I most recently raised in my discussion of Hobby Lobby.</p><p>My own cherished topic is this: Liberalism's decline from a political philosophy of pluralism into a rigidly intolerant dogma.</p><p>The decline is especially pronounced on a range of issues wrapped up with religion and sex. For a time, electoral self-interest kept these intolerant tendencies in check, since the strongly liberal position on social...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/damon-linker" ><span class="byline">Damon Linker</span></a>Fri, 11 Jul 2014 06:07:00 -0400It's time to kill the word 'troll'<img src="" /></P><p><iframe width="100%" height="166" scrolling="no" frameborder="no" src=";color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false"></iframe></p><p>Read more on this story.</p><p><strong>Listen to more of <em>The Week's</em> mini podcasts:</strong></p><ul><li>Why <em>Seinfeld</em> is still master of its domain</li><li>Your weekly streaming recommendation: <em>The Station Agent</em></li><li>This week I learned the best way to cure your gnarly garlic breath, and more</li></ul><p> </p><p><strong>*You can also find <em>The Week</em>'s mini podcasts on iTunes, SoundCloud, Swell, and TuneIn.*</strong></p><p> </p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/damon-linker" ><span class="byline">Damon Linker</span></a>Wed, 09 Jul 2014 17:38:00 -0400The laughable campaign to get Mitt Romney to run in 2016<img src="" /></P><p>More than once over the past few weeks, as the Draft Mitt petition has rocketed upward past 50,000 signatures, a politically informed friend has predicted that Mitt Romney will run for president in 2016. Each time I've dismissed the notion &mdash; though now I'm beginning to wonder if I've been overestimating Romney's intelligence.</p><p>The occasion for my latter-day soul searching is Rep. Jason Chaffetz's Monday-night appearance on MSNBC's <em>Hardball</em>, in which the Utah Republican told host Chris Matthews that he thinks Mitt is "actually going to run, and I think he will be the next president of the...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/damon-linker" ><span class="byline">Damon Linker</span></a>Wed, 09 Jul 2014 06:09:00 -0400Will neocons ditch the GOP for Hillary Clinton?<img src="" /></P><p>Writing in <em>The New York Times </em>this weekend, Jacob Heilbrunn thinks that neoconservative writers and policy analysts may be preparing to break from the Republican Party and align themselves "with Hillary Rodham Clinton and her nascent presidential campaign, in a bid to return to the driver's seat of American foreign policy."</p><p>The suggestion isn't crazy. Clinton's instincts appear to be far more hawkish than Barack Obama's. As secretary of State, she pushed the president to intervene in Libya &mdash; and tried, and failed, to get him to provide military support to the rebels seeking to overthrow...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/damon-linker" ><span class="byline">Damon Linker</span></a>Tue, 08 Jul 2014 06:05:00 -0400It's time to kill the word 'troll'<img src="" /></P><p>At the risk of being accused of trolling, I'd like to suggest that everyone who spends their days on the digital playground of social media should henceforth cease invoking the facile, vacuous, imprecise, insipid term "trolling."</p><p>For the handful of readers who may not be familiar with this ubiquitous bit of internet slang, allow me to explain. A "troll" is someone who makes inflammatory, outrageous, and ostensibly insincere statements in order to draw attention to himself by provoking an emotional reaction in readers.</p><p>The problem with the term "troll" is (at least) three-fold:</p><p>First, the internet...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/damon-linker" ><span class="byline">Damon Linker</span></a>Mon, 07 Jul 2014 06:07:00 -0400The Hobby Lobby decision is one more sign of the religious right's decline<img src="" /></P><p>Another day, another 10,000 or so examples of social media&ndash;facilitated ideological panic over the Hobby Lobby decision.</p><p>My current favorite, fresh from my Facebook news feed: "What's next? Mandatory burqas?"</p><p>Yes, I'm sure that's what's next, just as soon as a suitable case comes down the pike, giving the Supreme Court's conservative majority (the five "Faces of Fascism," according to Twitter) the long-awaited opportunity to one-up ISIS by refounding the Islamic caliphate right here in the good ol' US of A.</p><p>Meanwhile, back in the land of the thinking, things look very different. While indignant...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/damon-linker" ><span class="byline">Damon Linker</span></a>Wed, 02 Jul 2014 06:09:00 -0400Why liberals should cheer the Hobby Lobby decision<img src="" /></P><p>The Supreme Court's 5&ndash;4 decision in the Hobby Lobby case &mdash; giving certain corporations an exemption under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act to the Affordable Care Act's contraception mandate &mdash; is a travesty, an outrage, a monumental setback for the rights and reproductive health of women.</p><p>At least that's what many liberals are saying.</p><p>Which is unfortunate. Because liberals should be cheering the decision on.</p><p>The notion that liberalism is primarily an ideology of personal liberation and social egalitarianism &mdash; an ideology imposed, upheld, and enforced by the government...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/damon-linker" ><span class="byline">Damon Linker</span></a>Tue, 01 Jul 2014 06:05:00 -0400Hillary Clinton's authenticity problem<img src="" /></P><p>Hillary better watch it.</p><p>The old George Burns adage about sincerity &mdash; if you can fake that, you've got it made &mdash; remains as true as ever, especially in politics. But in the age of the 24-hour news cycle and total social-media saturation, it's become harder than ever to pull off. All it takes for merciless mockery to go viral is one person on Twitter to pierce the veneer of faux-authenticity with a witty one-liner.</p><p>Even Bill Clinton, one of our greatest masters of peddling fake sincerity, might find it difficult to pull off today, two decades after he turned it into an art form on...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/damon-linker" ><span class="byline">Damon Linker</span></a>Tue, 17 Jun 2014 06:03:00 -0400How we lost a generation of boys to video games<img src="" /></P><p><iframe width="100%" height="166" scrolling="no" frameborder="no" src=";color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_artwork=true&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false"></iframe></p><p>Read more on this story.</p><p><strong>Listen to more of <em>The Week</em>'s mini podcasts:</strong></p><ul><li>Your weekly streaming recommendation: <em>Cure</em></li><li>This week I learned even Houdini used a movie stunt double, and more</li><li>A world-ranked competitive eater talks training, hot dogs, and vomit</li></ul><p> </p><p ><strong>*You can also find <em>The Week</em>'s mini podcasts on iTunes, SoundCloud, Swell, and TuneIn.*</strong></p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/damon-linker" ><span class="byline">Damon Linker</span></a>Mon, 16 Jun 2014 17:44:00 -0400The peril of America's populist confusion<img src="" /></P><p>A cottage industry of political theorizing has sprung up in the days since the resounding defeat of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor at the hands of political neophyte Dave Brat. Some pundits said it was immigration that did Cantor in. Others highlighted the influence of talk radio. Still others fastened onto Cantor's less-than-charming personality.</p><p>And then there were those who pointed to populism.</p><p>I agree that populism had a lot to do with Brat's surprise victory &mdash; but I'm not as sanguine as some others about what it portends for our politics. My attitude toward populism varies widely...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/damon-linker" ><span class="byline">Damon Linker</span></a>Mon, 16 Jun 2014 06:47:00 -0400How we lost a generation of boys to video games<img src="" /></P><p>In the test-obsessed, grade-gripped hothouses of meritocratic striving that are America's suburban public schools, some kids are thriving. They are the ones we (revealingly) call the "overachievers" &mdash; students who, with curricular, cultural, and parental support and encouragement, study hard after school, cramming their waking hours with homework, music lessons, sports, special projects, volunteering, and even the occasional fastidiously scheduled "play date" with a suitably achievement-oriented peer.</p><p>And then there are the children left behind.</p><p>I'm especially interested in and troubled...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/damon-linker" ><span class="byline">Damon Linker</span></a>Fri, 13 Jun 2014 06:03:00 -0400