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Saturday, July 4, 2020

An Immigrant Talks About the Fourth of July

Friday, July 3, 2020

The Idea of America

George Thomas at The Bulwark:
We can take pride in the idea of America: a racially, religiously, and ethnically diverse republic bound by a set of common ideas is an extraordinary historical achievement. Yet more than two centuries into the American experiment, we must be humble in recognizing how far we have to go. The struggle before us, a struggle inextricable from the whole of our history, is to make that idea real—especially when it comes to race.
The poet Langston Hughes has given us the most sublime expression of this struggle in “Let America Be America Again.” He evokes some of what is best about America: pioneer dreams and liberty “where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme” and where “Equality is in the air we breathe.” But from the margins, those denied the promise mumble in the dark: “America never was America to me.” It is the hard truth of the unrealized idea. Yet driven by hard truths, the poem ends with a resounding commitment to the American idea that we can yet make our own:

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath—
America will be!
Also at The Bulwark, John Kingston writes in a similar vein :
Today we should still ask: “What, to Black Americans, is the Fourth of July.” Or, even better, “What, to all Americans, should the Fourth of July be?”
This year, let’s not gloss over the disconnect between the lived experience of white and black Americans. Let’s acknowledge the path Black Americans have traveled—through Emancipation, Juneteenth, Reconstruction, Jim Crow, the civil rights era, and on to today—to even get where we all are.
It’s okay for our holidays to be complicated. Memorial Day and Veterans Day, to take just two examples, commingle our celebration of what has been achieved, with our mourning of the sacrifice that work entailed, and the aspiration to earn the freedoms which were secured for us at great cost.
That’s a lot of freight. But the truth is, the holidays mean more when we appreciate their complexity. Not less.
Similarly, let’s change how we take July Fourth to heart. Together we can celebrate what has been achieved.
But together we should also mourn the costs with Douglass and our Black American brothers and sisters. And so together we can pledge to work to fulfill the Declaration’s promise.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

SCOTUS Okays Scholarships for Religious Schools

Edith Roberts at SCOTUSblog:
Court-watchers are focusing on Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, in which the court held on Tuesday that Montana’s exclusion of religious schools from a state-funded scholarship program for private schools violates the First Amendment. At Reason’s Volokh Conspiracy blog, Ilya Somin finds it “unfortunate” that the decision was “a close 5-4 ruling, split along ideological lines with the five conservative justices in the majority, and the four liberals all dissenting,” because “[s]triking down blatant government discrimination on the basis of religion should not be so controversial and divisive.” At National Review, Dan McLaughlin observes that “the case also likely marks a long-overdue death blow to openly anti-Catholic Blaine amendments adopted by many states in the 1870s and 1880s and defended by anti-religious progressives and public-school teachers’ unions to this day.” In an op-ed for The Washington Post (subscription required), Adam Laats argues that the historical analysis in Espinoza ignores “the basic provision enshrined long before the 1870s: American public education should use tax dollars to teach children how to read, write and become better citizens, not to teach them any religious ideas.”
At Dorf on Law, Michael Dorf questions the majority’s conclusion that the plaintiffs were treated unequally even though the Montana Supreme Court eliminated the scholarship program for everyone. At Take Care, Ira Lupu and Robert Tuttle warn that after Espinoza, “those who still believe that the Constitution precludes state involvement in promoting religious thought and experience have some work cut out for them.” Also at Take Care, Caroline Mala Corbin agrees that “Espinoza leaves us with a gluttonous Free Exercise Clause, and a starved Establishment Clause.” The editors of National Review point to “the real stakes in Espinoza: fear that parents will vote with their feet to choose religious schools over the public-school monopoly.” Additional commentary comes from Richard Garnett at the Federalist Society blog and Scott Cosenza at Liberty Nation.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Support for Increased Immigration

Thirty-four percent of Americans, up from 27% a year ago, would prefer to see immigration to the U.S. increased. This is the highest support for expanding immigration Gallup has found in its trend since 1965. Meanwhile, the percentage favoring decreased immigration has fallen to a new low of 28%, while 36% think it should stay at the present level.
This marks the first time in Gallup's trend that the percentage wanting increased immigration has exceeded the percentage who want decreased immigration.
Support for increased immigration is at historic highs this year among both Democrats and political independents. Republicans' views on increasing immigration have not changed much over the past decade. The rise among Democrats and independents coincides with a period of time when Republican leadership has attempted to limit immigration via physical barriers or changes to visa restrictions and de jure bans of immigrants from over 10 countries.
Nearly 8 in ten (77%) Americans think immigration is a good thing for their country. When measured in this more general sense, public support for immigration shows far less of a partisan divide, and both parties express a more generally positive view of immigration.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Climate Change Hits Home (Literally)

Brian Kennedy at Pew:
More than six-in-ten Americans (63%) say climate change is currently affecting their local community either a great deal or some, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted April 29-May 5, 2020 – similar to the share who said this in surveys from 2019 and 2018.
As is the case on many climate-related issues, perceptions of whether and how much climate change is affecting local communities are closely tied with political party affiliation. More than eight-in-ten Democrats and independents who lean to the Democratic Party (83%) say climate change is affecting their local community at least some, compared with 37% of Republicans and Republican leaners.
But politics is not the only factor related to these perceptions. Americans who live close to a coastline are more likely than those who live farther away to say climate change is affecting their local community. Seven-in-ten Americans who live within 25 miles of a coastline say climate change is affecting their local community at least some, versus 57% of those who live 300 miles or more from a coast.

Monday, June 29, 2020

Princeton Cancels Wilson

At WP, Princeton president Christopher L. Eisgruber tells why he changed his mind and now supports the decision to remove Woodrow Wilson's name from the university's public policy school.  As a political scientist and president of the university, Wilson did much for higher education, but...
Wilson was also a racist. He discouraged black applicants from applying to Princeton. While president of the United States, Wilson segregated the previously integrated federal civil service, thereby moving the United States backward in its quest for racial justice and contributing to the systemic racism that continues to damage black lives and our country today.
Wilson’s genuine achievements, I thought, gave Princeton sound reasons to honor him. He is a far different figure than John C. Calhoun or Robert E. Lee, people whose pro-slavery commitments defined their careers and who were sometimes honored for the purpose of supporting segregation or racism. Princeton honored Wilson without regard to, and perhaps even in ignorance of, his racism.

And that, I now believe, is precisely the problem. Princeton is part of an America that has too often disregarded, ignored and turned a blind eye to racism, allowing the persistence of systems that discriminate against black people. When Derek Chauvin knelt for nearly nine minutes on George Floyd’s neck while bystanders recorded his cruelty, he might have assumed that the system would disregard, ignore or excuse his conduct, as it had done in response to past complaints against him.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Incivility and Polarization

Rasmus Skytte has an article at The British Journal of Political Science titled “Dimensions of Elite Partisan Polarization: Disentangling the Effects of Incivility and Issue Polarization.”

The abstract:
Elite partisan polarization has been found to have several potentially problematic effects on citizens, such as creating political distrust and different types of polarization among partisans. However, it remains unclear whether these effects are caused by the parties moving apart in terms of issue positions (issue polarization) or by the rise of disrespectful rhetoric (incivility). In the literature, these two dimensions of elite polarization often appear to affect citizens in similar ways, but typical research designs have not been well suited to disentangling their effects. To determine their unique effects, four studies have been conducted using original designs and a mix of experimental and observational data. The results show that issue polarization and incivility have clearly distinct effects. A more uncivil tone lowers political trust, but increasing issue polarization does not. Conversely, only issue polarization creates attitude polarization among partisans. Both aspects of elite polarization create affective polarization.
From the article:
[The]  results also have normative implications. For instance, among the findings that might be regarded as positive, we see that trust in politicians is affected by the tone of the debate, but issue polarization has no effect on this outcome. The fact that citizens can cope with strong political disagreement without losing faith in their elected politicians is good news for those who believe that issue polarization is a valuable good in a democracy, and for those trying to improve the level of civility in public debate, hoping it might reduce political alienation.
However, the results also show that polarization in terms of policy attitudes is created solely by issue polarization, and that both types of elite conflict create affective polarization. Partisan divides among citizens are largely a function of how much the parties substantively disagree, and making debates more civil will do little to bridge them. Having parties with distinct ideological platforms is thus a state of affairs that cannot be attained without a rise in polarization and animosity among partisans, no matter how civil the debate becomes. To the proponents of the responsible party model – who have traditionally argued in favor of presenting citizens with clear political alternatives (for example, APSA 1950) – this might be regarded as bad news. It also shows that ‘disagreeing without being disagreeable’–a mantra advocated by politicians ranging from Reagan to Obama – is not enough to bridge partisan divides in the electorate. Politics matter, and tensions between ordinary Republicans and Democrats will persist unless the parties agree more on substantive issues.