Best columns: The U.S.
Bursting the liberal bubble
The New York Times
“After Donald Trump’s election,” said Nicholas Kristof, “some universities echoed with primal howls. How could this possibly be happening?” The shocked disbelief of faculty and students that so many Americans chose Trump was proof of “how insular universities have become.” To be truly educated, students need to escape their liberal bubbles and interact with working-class Americans, evangelical Christians, and Republicans. Believe it or not, many of them are not “racist bigots.” The absence of ideological diversity on campuses has left many students trapped in a shrill state of permanent outrage—eager to censor virtually all opposing views and contemptuous of conservative ideas, free-market economics, and religious faith. Conservatism has a large and legitimate role in our nation’s history and current political debates, and the Left “will fight back more effectively if it is less isolated.” Indeed, liberals’ smug contempt for Trump voters and Republicans in general may be a major reason Trump won—and has gained in popularity since the election. In recent years, the word “academic” has come to mean “irrelevant.” If college professors and students want to change that perception, they’ll seek to bring more conservatives into the academy, and “embrace the diversity” they “supposedly champion.”
The death of the dream
The American dream is dying, said Alana Semuels. A new study led by economist Raj Chetty has quantified what many Millennials have experienced for years: It’s becoming increasingly difficult for young people “to climb the economic ladder and achieve more than one’s parents did.” People born in the 1940s, Chetty found, had a 92 percent chance of earning more than their parents did at age 30. For people born in the 1980s, by contrast, the chances were just 50-50. Why? Economic growth has slowed from 4 and 5 percent in past decades to just 2 or 3 percent today, so there’s less pie to go around. More importantly, almost all of the benefits of the growth that does occur are going to top earners, with people in the lower income brackets stuck with stagnant wages. Americans in the bottom 50 percent make an average of just $16,000 a year, while the top 1 percent averages $1.3 mil lion. And this inequality gap keeps widening every year. One reason for that is wealthy people can use their resources to give their kids a huge advantage over other kids by paying for preschool, nannies, tutors, private schools, and elite college educations. The result: A society in which most of the poor stay poor, and the rich stay rich.
A black life that didn’t matter
The Washington Post
“How cheap is black life in these United States of America?” asked Eugene Robinson. Last week, a mistrial was declared when a South Carolina jury of 11 whites and one African-American could not convict police officer Michael Slager of either murder or manslaughter in the shooting death of Walter Scott, an unarmed African-American. A bystander video introduced into evidence clearly showed that the shooting was utterly unjustified. After Slager stopped Scott for a broken taillight, the pudgy 50-year-old man slowly ran away. From a distance of 18 feet, the police officer calmly fired five shots into Scott’s back and butt. Then the cop dropped his stun gun by the body, apparently to bolster his story that they were struggling over it. In the trial, Slager claimed he feared for his life; apparently, that’s all a police officer has to say to get off the hook. There will be a retrial, but “this miscarriage of justice” would be easier to swallow if not for all the other unarmed black men who’ve been gunned down by police without legal consequences. This is why the Black Lives Matter movement is so necessary. It will remain so “until black lives do, in fact, matter.”
“Denying Trump the presidency through an Electoral College coup is not a procedurally legitimate response. The Electoral College gives voters in some states more power than voters in others, and yet it is close enough to a democratic system to have legitimacy. Trump’s clear national-vote defeat refutes his desperate boasts to represent the national will, but it does not negate his legal right to the presidency. Democrats need to stop fighting the last election and start planning to win the next one.”
Jonathan Chait in NYMag.com