Tag Archives: Politics

How to Get Students on the True Path to Knowledge

THE PATH TO HOPE by Stephane Hessel and Edgar Morin

by Jeff Madick, foreword writer for The Path to Hope (Other Press, 2012) and author of The Age of Greed: The Triumph of Finance and the Decline of America, 1970 to the Present  (Vintage, 2012).

I do not necessarily believe in pluralism for its own sake. It always makes sense for students to understand opposing viewpoints, of course.  But reading the many opposing views on key intellectual issues is not always an adequate path to knowledge. Should young students be required to read the works in support of creationism, for example, to understand the pros and cons of evolutionary theory? Or all the efforts to undermine global warming theories?  At some point, one has to separate the theories that move beyond superstition, that are grounded in adequate deductive thought, and that are based on available empirical knowledge from those that do not.   

The social sciences clothe themselves in the virtues of being grounded in deductive thought and empirical knowledge, of course, and that is the problem. How can students broaden their perspectives constructively? Economics in most academic institutions has Continue reading

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Obama, Madoff and American Self-Esteem

WHY WE HATE US by Dick Meyer

by Dick Meyer, author of Why We Hate Us: American Discontent and the New Millennium  (Three Rivers Press, 2009).

Since publishing Why We Hate Us: American Discontent and the New Millennium, the single question I have been asked the most is, “Will Barack Obama lead Americans to hate us less?”

The answer, I am sorry to report, is “no.”

The basic argument of my book is that Americans have developed a broad, enduring distaste and suspicion toward the main institutions and directions of our public culture. This holds true for politics, government, journalism, business, entertainment, marketing, law and even the clergy. Increasingly, Americans feel alienated from their culture and susceptible to its coarseness and toxicity. Continue reading

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Author Response: “Why the Debate on Immigration is All Wrong”

Enrique's Journey by Sonia Nazario

A few years ago, in a conversation with my husband’s oldest brother, I said that I thought the only solution to illegal immigration was to help create jobs in the handful of countries that send about four in every five undocumented immigrants to the U.S.

My husband’s brother, assuming I was talking about U.S. foreign aid, got very angry. He reached for his pant pocket and yanked out his wallet. He slapped it down on the picnic table. “This is my money!” he told me. No one, he said, was going to use his hard-earned cash to help a bunch of people in another country he didn’t even know. Continue reading

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Why You’re Wrong About the Crusades

LOST TO THE WEST by Lars Brownworth

by Lars Brownworth, author of  Lost to the West: The Forgotten Byzantine Empire That Rescued Western Civilization (Crown, 2009).

There are few words as controversial—or as misunderstood—as ‘crusade’.  Those who doubt that need only remember nine years ago when President George W. Bush casually used it to describe the War on Terror.  The ensuing firestorm caused frantic verbal backpedaling, and resulted in the President spending the next seven years repeatedly explaining that he was not waging a war against Islam. 

Yet for all the disbelief and outrage, most people today know only a few basic ‘facts’ about the Crusades.  They are largely regarded as an exercise in hypocrisy, an unprovoked assault into the Middle East by an expansionist West.  Goaded on by the Pope, the knights of Europe sewed crosses onto their shirts and smashed their way into Jerusalem, committing horrendous atrocities in the name of a supposedly peaceful religion.  The shocking events traumatized the Islamic world, poisoning relations and leading many Muslims to conclude that the West—and Christianity in particular—was out to destroy them.  The chance for peaceful co-existence was lost, and it has been war ever since. 

Like so many popularly accepted storylines, this one depends on a short view of history.  Continue reading

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Author Response: “Legalize All Drugs Now!”

HIGH by Brian O'Dea

Brian O’Dea, author of HIGH: Confessions of an International Drug Smuggler (Other Press 2009), responds to comments posted to his “Legalize All Drugs Now!” essay from September 23rd, 2009.

I was interviewed recently by a young reporter who grew up in the midst of the so called “drug war”.  As far as she was concerned, it is perfectly alright for our government to wage a war against the weakest of our citizens, even though her entire premise for it being acceptable  was built on a foundation of lies, untruths, omissions, and a complete disregarding of the facts.  Numbers issued by the DEA have notoriously distorted the facts for years (a simple example is found in their excessive valuation of the drugs they seize), and even only recently, under extreme pressure from LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition –LEAP.CC) have they changed a blatant lie on their home page regarding marijuana.

At any rate, I digress, let’s return to the interview. Continue reading

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Your Brain on Swine Flu

The Unthinkable by Amanda Ripley

by Amanda Ripley, author of The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes—and Why and a contributor to TIME Magazine.

One of the strange things about influenza pandemics is that they happen in slow motion, giving us time to reflect.
Looking back, it’s clear that one major challenge was (and will be) striking the elusive balance between reasonable mobilization and overreaction. We want people to wash their hands and stay home when they are sick; we don’t want people to stone buses carrying a sick passenger from another country.

How do we dial up—or down—our response to a pandemic in real time? It might help to shape public warnings and communication according to how the brain actually works. Continue reading

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Why the Debate on Immigration is All Wrong

Enrique's Journey by Sonia Nazario

Enrique's Journey by Sonia Nazario

by Sonia Nazario, author of Enrique’s Journey: The Story of a  Boy’s Dangerous Odyssey to Reunite with His Mother (Random House 2007).

Congress and the Obama Administration are again proposing new “solutions” to curtail illegal immigration. Sadly, they are the same tired ideas that have been tried — and failed — in the past. No one is proposing the one thing that would work.

First, a few facts. In recent years, driven by a dearth of jobs in the U.S., illegal immigration has dropped . Still, half a million people continue to enter the U.S. illegally each year; in all 4% of the population in the U.S. is undocumented. In Los Angeles, 4 of 10 people are from another country.

The benefits of this influx are clear. These migrants do some of the most backbreaking, dirty, dangerous jobs U.S.-born workers largely won’t do—and for rock-bottom wages. Immigrants’ low wages keep some businesses from closing or going abroad in order to compete. A 1997 study by the National Research Council, still considered the most objective and authoritative on the effects of immigration, found that immigrant labor also lowers the cost of food and clothing for all of us. Indeed, 5% of every good or service Americans buy is cheaper because of immigrant labor. That means more Americans can avail themselves of essential services offered at lower prices—like child care. Now, the downside….
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