In clumsily deploying history, the Trump White House has insulted the memory of the past and failed to understand the moral urgency of the present.
One can debate ad nauseam whether refusing to stand for the national anthem or declining an invitation to the White House is an appropriate mode of protest, or whether failing to take such a stand signals complicity in injustice. What is undeniable is that the injustices prompting these actions are real and that progress against them is stagnating.
Two events of the past week, however, should remind us just how fragile the institutional foundations of this progress are.
The Constitution guarantees that our schools do not impose religious beliefs on students. It ought not prevent them from learning about the great cultural productions of human history to the fullest extent possible.
The administrative state may seem obtuse, but it is at the core of our experiment in self-government. Crude and craven attacks on it should inspire nothing but contempt and resistance.
As long as the United States has existed, its success has rested on the willingness of people who enjoy only partial inclusion in its political community to lay down their lives in defense of it.
History, it seems, just won’t end in the galaxy far, far away, to the glee of moviegoers everywhere. For better or for worse, it won’t in this galaxy either—so we’d better do our best to understand it.
Electing leaders “who will exercise their conscientious judgment” to protect “the real good of the rest of the community” remains the basic imperative of American democracy.
A better sense of history might have saved the Obama administration from the ignominious failure of the New Syrian Forces.
Today’s House Republican caucus has worse problems than its 1990s predecessor, in areas far more serious than its generation of sexual rumors.
Effective gun control will require new strategies around the country. But more fundamentally, America needs integrated economic, legal, and social solutions to the deep-seated racial disparities that are at the root of urban violence around the country.
The time for Secretary Clinton’s own “Checkers Speech” is approaching.
History gives us reason for cautious optimism. Long-standing prejudice and ancient dogma remain central to understanding current problems; but the role of individual and collective decision-making cannot be ignored.
Ultimately, in every situation, protestors and the administration are engaged in a debate to see whose ideas have the moral force to carry the day. When administrators choose dismissive and violent tactics, they will lose that debate as they did 1969.
However one chooses to parse the history and the data, one thing is clear: Women are still underrepresented the world over. Electing a woman as president of the most powerful country on earth would, like the election of Barack Obama, be a powerful signal that abstract notions of equality can become reality.
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