Where Fear and Hate Take Us


In the wake of the 2016 election, Michael Gerson has proved to be one of the more thoughtful observers of our depressing political scene. Gerson, as many of you will recall, was a speechwriter for George W. Bush, but he is no partisan hack; although he looks at our contemporary scene through a decidedly conservative political lens, he is no […]

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What Do We Do?

civic participation & democratic norms

Yesterday morning, I spoke to the Danville Unitarians. Later in the afternoon, Mike Pence ostentatiously walked out of the Colts game when players “took a knee” to protest racism and inequality. In light of his despicable posturing,  my morning remarks seem particularly relevant, so I’m sharing them. When I was a very new lawyer, an older lawyer in the firm […]

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Interesting Parallels: Whigs, Know Nothings & Republicans

GOP is the new Know Nothing Party thanks to the Tea party

History doesn’t really repeat itself, at least in the sense of “re-enactment,” but there are historical cycles with striking resemblances. We really can learn from history–if we are open to pondering its lessons. Because I think the past can illuminate the present, I found this article by a Brookings Institution scholar fascinating. Philip Wallach looked at various pieces of evidence […]

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GOP Lawmaker: Civil Rights Protesters as “Disgusting” as White Supremacists

Rep Sean Duffy compared civil rights protests to white supremacists saying both are disgusting

During a CNN interview yesterday, U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI) argued civil rights protesters and Black Lives Matter members are as “disgusting” as the white supremacists (and Nazis) Trump took entirely too long to denounce following his election two weeks ago. The exchange between Duffy and The Lead guest host Jim Sciutto ventured into historically tone deaf false equivalency when Duffy attempted to pin the […]

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It Seems We Aren’t So “Exceptional” After All

American Exceptionalism - are we truly exceptional? Is Democracy safe?

The election is over, but the racial and cultural resentments that led to the election of  Donald Trump are not over, and the incalculable damage he will do to America and the world is just beginning. Unfortunately, when the largely rural and less-educated population that voted for him realizes that he cannot deliver on his fanciful and frequently unconstitutional promises, […]

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A Really Important History Lesson

Maddow offers a history lesson about Lincoln and xenophobia

At Dispatches from the Culture Wars, Ed Brayton highlighted a truly important segment from Rachel Maddow’s show, in which she traces America’s history of xenophobia and anti-immigrant hysteria. Many readers of this blog are familiar with the broad outlines of America’s nativist history–the periodic eruptions of movements like the Know-Nothings and later, the Klan. But in this explanatory segment, Maddow ties […]

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121 REPUBLICAN Foreign Policy Experts on Trump

Angry Donald Trump

The nativist backlash against global interconnectedness and diversity is not unique to the United States. In Great Britain, that “us versus them” resentment found expression in Brexit; here, it has given us the candidacy of Donald Trump. Both pose threats to national security, as well as the global economic order. Before Trump secured the Republican nomination, Benjamin Wittes of the […]

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Who’s Driving? Trump & the Radical Right

Angry Donald Trump

“Who’s driving?” is actually a very scary question. The New Republic recently ran a first-person account of a Trump rally, written by a creative writing professor who attended out of curiosity. His report on the event–what he heard from attendees and from those hawking paraphernalia–was deeply disturbing, and gave rise to a “chicken and egg” question: Did The Donald create the angry, […]

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“A Signature Act that Unifies the GOP”

Image: Dylan Petrohilos/AP Photo

I hadn’t heard of the First Amendment Defense Act until I read about it at RightWing Watch. Since statutes cannot trump (excuse the phrase) constitutional provisions, you may wonder–as I did–which of our First Amendment liberties requires this ineffectual statutory “assistance.” The Act would prohibit the federal government from “taking discriminatory action against a person on the basis that such […]

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