We can always count on the New York Times to remind us how complete has been conservatives’ loss in the culture wars. Elisabetta Povoledo reports from Venice that Mayor Luigi Brugnaro had to retreat from his proposed ban on books headed for the magical city’s preschool library about (1) a male dog that aspired to be a ballerina; (2) a little boy who wanted to be a princess; (3) a penguin egg hatched and adopted by two male penguins. In the end, the mayor whittled his banned list to two, one of which is “Jean A Deux Mamans” that, says the Times, “touch on same-sex families living happily ever after.”
Camilla Seibezzi, a civil rights advocate, promoted the books because prejudices against same-sex marriage are “consolidated at 3 years of age.” The mayor counters that, “these books risk confusing children.” Elton John weighed in on Ms. Seibezzi’s side, calling the mayor “boorishly bigoted… stupid.” The mayor’s response, “… at home parents can call themselves daddy number one and daddy number two, but I have to consider the majority of families, which have a mum and a dad. It is parents who should educate children about these things, not schools.” A bookseller entered the fray with the observation that “it’s an issue drummed up to ingratiate the electorate,” surely not a crime in a democracy.
I have no idea whether any or all of the antagonists are right. But I do think it reasonable to say that the reporter reveals an incomprehension that is a testimonial to the thoroughness with which conservatives have been routed in the culture wars. “As subversive books go, many of the 49 children’s tales hardly seem seditious.” Not to the New York Times, surely, but perhaps to Italy’s Roman Catholics, 75% of the population, and to the Vatican.
Then there is a report in the paper of record that polling data show that Republicans are less likely to be divorced than Democrats, and more likely to have happy marriages. The significance of these findings, says The Grey Lady’s David Leonhardt, is that “they’re a reminder that conservatism also has values and cultural attitudes – about the importance of marriage and family – that seem to improve the environment in which children grow up.” The “reminder” is needed, I assume, by regular readers of the New York Times. There’s more, and better: “… it’s worth looking for potential lessons from any political ideology.” Even conservatism. The broad-mindness is breath-taking, a lesson for Times’ readers who until now did not feel it worth looking beyond their daily liberal fix.
Left-wing filmmaker Michael Moore will release his next movie in September in Toronto. Moore made the announcement on the Twitter live-streaming service Periscope. It'll premier at the Toronto Film Festival:
Americans have long been skeptical of the liberal arts. Frequently this takes the form of a discussion of whether a degree in history or literature is “worth it” in a purely economic sense. Annual reports highlight the top-earning college majors, subtly encouraging students to forgo a class in literature or history in favor of something useful, like nursing or engineering.
Perhaps it’s a reflection of our innate American pragmatism.
NPR’s “Race Card Project,” a series of stories on the topic of race and society, found another way to make us confront our own latent racism as well as the lingering racism in society this week by telling us the story of a white guy named Jamaal.
Every spring, thousands of American higher learning institutions and tens of thousands of high schools send their graduates off with a commencement ceremony. A centerpiece of the event, as old as American education itself, is the commencement speech. At their best, these speeches furnish students with wise and inspiring advice for the future. The choice of speaker is also part of the message; it signals the sort of person of whom the university, college, or high school approves.
If you pay any attention to the ways in which radicalism dominates the culture of the university these days, you're likely to feel as though you've gone through the looking glass. "White privilege." "Trigger warnings." "Rape culture." All of this (and much else) has turned academia into a bizarre, Orwellian simulacrum of itself.
President Obama talked about spending a lot of money tonight -- on preschool care, community college, new infrastructure, and a variety of tax preferences for middle- and lower-income earners. All financed by new taxes, primarily on the wealthy.
Put simply, in the face of the most Republican Congress since the 1920s, President Obama has offered a defiantly liberal agenda. It has precisely zero chance of passage.
If Chris Hughes knew anything about journalism, he’d throw a big party in New York and another in Washington and the media wags now heaping abuse on him would be hailing him as the last of the Medicis. But the 31-year-old owner and editor in chief of the New Republic doesn’t know a damn thing about journalism, which is why scores of hungry and thirsty journalists won’t shut up.
President Obama labeled the U.S. government "the most important organization on earth" and said that he'd "squeeze every last little bit of opportunity" from his position as president of the United State over the next two years. Watch here:
Tom Harkin, the top Democrat in Iowa, tells ABC News that he has serious questions about where Hillary Clinton stands on the issues:
"But some Democrats still have their doubts," says ABC's Jonathan Karl. "Some progressives are a little uneasy with Hillary Clinton and is she going to be too hawkish on foreign policy, is she going to be too moderate on economic issues?"