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Ambivalent Dissident

Reconsidering Reparations

Reparations are back on the table. Or at the very least, they’ve made a return to the dinner conversation. In 2014, prominent journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates penned “The Case for Reparations,” an Atlantic article which argued that black Americans should receive restitution for slavery. The piece was widely discussed but dismissed by politicians across the board. Today, a surge of activism around racial inequality has pushed the Democrats to consider the issue again.

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Conserving Disagreement

April 10, 2019

This definition got me thinking: What, if anything, do I love enough to preserve at all costs? What, if anything, do I believe my society would be helpless without? It strikes me as strange that I have never attempted to answer this before. I have always been so confident in the Pinkerian view of human progress — where Enlightenment-style reason is our final triumph over tribalism — that I have not often paused to reckon with the fact that we are always at the potential endpoint of history.

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What Brexit Means for Democracy

March 27, 2019

For all those who are new to the Brexit debate, a quick summary: In June 2016, the United Kingdom voted in a public referendum to leave the European Union. Many saw it as the reclaiming of British independence from a declining, bureaucratic, power-hungry organization. Others decried it as the beginning of the end to the UK’s place on the world stage.

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How Do You Prescribe a Drug for a Culture?

March 06, 2019

Yet drugs are not for survival alone. Since ancient times, human beings have taken drugs precisely in order to shift the status quo, transcend waking life, and achieve altered states of mind.

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Criticisms of Course Syllabi Are Not Created Equal

February 20, 2019

My last column contained a disparaging reference to criticisms of course syllabi. In making it, I was referring to those student activists who disregard various Western thinkers on the grounds of their white male status; who hold the attitudes that helped overturn the core curriculum at Stanford and are currently threatening humanities courses at Columbia, Reed, and Harvey Mudd. I was not referring to those who are advocating for Harvard to create an Ethnic Studies department, nor to those who continue to press it to instate a great books-based core curriculum.

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