Here are my columns, reviews, interviews, essays, and random videos, podcasts, and radio interviews, from the most recent, back to some in the 1990s. Many of these appear also in this website’s thematic sections but here they’re in chronological order. Asterisks indicate items most important to me, although perhaps not to you.
I learned how to rig an election in 1982, and, although the technology and political circumstances have changed, what I saw then taught me something about what may happen in 2022 and 2024. The New York Daily News, September 26, 2022.
Why PBS’ Mark Shields was “tired of Ivy Leaguers”. Posted by The Boston Globe, June 28, 2022 online, and in print, in the Globe’s Sunday Ideas section, July 10. The late NewsHour commentator’s Irish-Catholic parish cultural wit and working-class sense of justice offered invaluable — and all-too-rare — assessments of American politics.
The long-buried roots of Rudy Giuliani’s toxic tie to Trump, The New Republic, June 16, 2022. I and other muckrakers once backed him, then watched him dance on a razor’s edge between authority and freedom until he fell off onto the dark side. Here’s why he fell. (Also on RealClearPolicy, June 22, 2022).
Guns and Capitalism, Salon, May 29, 2022
It isn’t just the Second Amendment: If we can’t control social media and “corporate speech,” we’ll never end this. On this website are many other essays and an NPR interview about gun mayhem, Go to the section, “Second Amendment People and the Republic.“
The West and Putin’s War, May 1, 2022, History News Network. One side’s shameless atrocities doesn’t excuse the other side’s shameful record, but we have to stop the ones that are slaughtering people before our eyes. The question is how to do it. The answers aren’t necessarily “moral.” Also at Salon, May 5, 2022: “Confronting Putin isn’t about sanctions or military strategy. It’s about facing what we did to make him possible.” Also at RealClearPolicy, May 9, “We Must Defeat All Enemies of Democracy — Not Just Putin.”
What Western universities and liberal education risk in joint ventures with illiberal regimes, especially in Asia and Russia: a new, May 2022 anthology, Normative Tensions: Academic Freedom in International Education, introduced magisterially by Kevin W. Gray, includes my pivotal essay, “Innocents Abroad?” published originally by the Carnegie Council on Ethics & International Affairs.
Here also are a) the Carnegie podcast with me, warning in 2015 about dangers to liberal education; and b) an April, 2022 assessment in the Yale student journal, The Politic — in which Daevan Mangalmurti interviews me extensively — of Yale’s failure to sustain a liberal-arts college with the National University of Singapore, which terminated that venture in September, 2021.
**Why Putin is so desperate and dangerous in Ukraine that he’s resurrecting Europe’s darkest demons. Salon, March 1, 2022. Adapted by History News Network Roundup, March 2, and at Yale’s Class of 1969 website.
**Kyle Rittenhouse’s America: Trumped Again, Salon, November 23, 2021. The verdict suggests that Americans can no longer keep their republic. Also at History News Network, RoundUp: And at RealClearPolicy, Dec. 2, 2021
Yale’s older foreign-policy strategists are almost half-right. Foreign Policy magazine, Oct. 15, 2021. Also at History News Network, Oct. 19, 2021. Also on Diane Ravitch’s Blog, Oct 21. I also condensed this critique of Yale’s “Studies in Grand Strategy” program into a shorter column which editors of the student newspaper The Yale Daily News invited me to write after the Foreign Policy piece had been posted.
***It wasn’t only the Taliban that ousted Americans from Asia in August, 2021. Asia Sentinel, Sept. 7, 2021. History News Network, and Yale Class of 1969 website (restricted to its 700 members). Also at Salon. And listed at RealClearWorld.com. (This is a valedictory-cum-post-mortem on strategies I’d challenged for years: When Americans were booted from not one but two parts of Asia in August, 2021, the genteel humiliation of Yale by Singapore’s ruling elite shed some light on the horrific expulsion of Americans from Afghanistan. Both debacles showed that Americans have often been naive missionaries to societies we don’t understand, partly because we don’t understand our own evangelical conceits and military-economic impulses. Americans have made some liberating contributions to world order and justice, but we’ve lost our balance and, with it, our right to think as well of our ventures as many Americans in the last century.)
From Saigon to Kabul, American leaders and pundits doubled down on their ignorance and hubris. History News Network, August 18, 2021.
***A post-racial America seems implausible. But it’s inevitable. Here’s why. Commonweal, August 18, 2021 This is a summary and a summa of arguments I’ve made for years against using ethno-racial identity as a central organizing principle of American civil society and politics. Both conservatives and liberals have made this mistake, in ways and for reasons I summarize here.
***How ‘Politics’ mangled ‘History’ at the hands of Henry Kissinger and George Shultz, thanks to someone you probably never knew. Salon, May 8, 2021. (Also at History News Network and at RealClearPolicy. )
**Mario and Andrew Cuomo: Like Father, Like Son?” Salon, March 30, 2021 . A tragic story that not many know or remember may explain something about the current Governor Cuomo’s weaknesses and travails.
*** The second impeachment trial shows how far American democracy has been weakened, openDemocracy, Feb. 9, 2021. RealClearPolicy, Feb. 10. Also at History News Network, Top Ten Roundup, Feb. 19.
Trump isn’t ‘history,’ but our blindness to history could lead to its comeback. Salon, Jan. 23, 2021, Also at AlterNet, Democraticunderground, and RealClearPolicy.
*Taming the Beast: How can we get Trump’s mobs back into civil society? DEMOCRACY Journal, Jan. 15, 2021. Some of us foresaw a Capitol Hill riot coming long ago. Others willfully, wishfully, or cynically did not. Salon, Jan. 7, 2021; also at openDemocracy (U.K.); History News Network; and AlterNet.
Election 2020: (Nov. 3, 2020 In 2016, Trump joined the conservative war against “safe spaces” and campus “safetyism.” In 2020, he vowed to keep Americans from imaginary and exaggerated dangers. Salon, openDemocracy (U.K.), History News Network, and AlterNet.
The latest temptation of Ross Douthat: His “right-wing” id. On the eve of the 2020 election, Douthat confesses — backhandedly, as usual, and with semi-priestly cunning — to having been a somewhat-duplicitous Never Trumper, grateful for gains that the right has made under Trump. History News Network,Oct. 25, 2020. Also in RealClearPolicy.
Mitch McConnell versus Trump in Kentucky and nationwide? Trump wants a “Go big” stimulus deal, but he’s afraid to admit that it’s his fellow Republicans in the Senate — and not Nancy Pelosi — who are blocking it. Here’s why. Salon, October 24, 2020. Also in PhillyNews and AlterNet
How Four Ex-Presidents Could Help to Stop Trump’s Coup.Dissent, September 30, 2020. Picked up by RealClearPolicy and History News Network.
***The NY Times’ Barry Gewen and the inevitability of defending Henry Kissinger.The New Republic, Aug. 13, 2020. A review-essay about Gewen’s opus, The Inevitability of Tragedy: Henry Kissinger and His World. (It’s not easy to write a book review of a book by a major book-review editor. I’ve paid for it, but that’s a story for another time.)
The Israel/United Arab Emirates deal is Kissingerian, even if Kissinger only blessed it from the sidelines. Salon, August 17, 2020
Resistance for Real: The Moment Has Come. Channeling a Wall of Moms. Moyers/DEMOCRACY, July 26 2020. It matters how protests are conducted, not just how they’re assailed. If they’re conducted badly, they ammunition to their assailants. Protesters need to be persuaded to do better.
‘The Die is Cast.’ Can the Republic Be Saved? (Moyers/Democracy, June 4, 2020)
Is Tyranny Around the Corner? New York Times, May 12, 2016. (Written when I and many others thought — or dearly hoped — that Trump wouldn’t win the 2016 election.)
***The Invisible Enemy of 2014 and 2016, recalled now and in 1776 and 1787. (Two ‘I told you so’ columns.) Long before Americans could imagine Donald Trump in the White House or rampant opiod addiction, mass shootings, and suicides, let alone COVID, the United States was already being punched bloody by a hand that most Americans kept on insisting was invisible and more beneficial than harmful. But by 2014, amid rising societal derangement, I wrote a Fourth of July essay claiming that our national experiment has failed. In 2016, as candidate Trump was demolishing the Republican Party, I explained why so many millions were falling for him and why news media and social-media platforms were helpless. Here are the 2014 and 2016 essays, plus an introduction summarizing reactions to the first.
Donald Trump and Andrew Cuomo’s Conavirus Lovefest, Salon, March 19, 2020. Two tough guys from New York City’s Borough of Queens grapple with the then-new pandemic and with each other.
Is civic republicanism “good for the Jews” at a time like this? My concerns about that, which I expressed last August in Tikkun and openDemocracy.net, are linked and summarized in this March 19, 2020 essay by Win McCormack, publisher of The New Republic.
**Dealing With ‘Bernie Doubt’ on the Eve of Super Tuesday: Letter to a Skeptical Friend, Salon, March 2, 2020. Also at RealClearPolicy,at AlterNet,and at the French site Bitin.
What Buttigieg gets wrong about Sanders and the Democratic Party, Salon, Feb. 22 2020. Written the day before Sanders swept the Nevada caucuses, this short column argues that Bernie Sanders isn’t going to “burn the party down,” as Pete charged, because Democrats have done that to themselves years ago. Also at History News Network.
*Dogmatism and Truth, Yale Daily News, Jan. 27 2020. A 1969 (half-century old!) address by Yale President Kingman Brewster, Jr. suited perfectly (and surprisingly!) the crisis surrounding Trump’s impeachment trial. (Also posted by History News Network, “Top Ten” of the week of 1/31/20) and on the Yale Class of 1969 website. For more on Kingman Brewster Jr.’s Yale, read my 2004 Los Angeles Times review of Geoffrey Kabaservice’s The Guardians)
***The Tragedy of the Commons comes to Yale, courtesy of Stephen Schwarzman. How his and others’ fincialization of higher education is eviscerating the civic culture, politics, and liberal education itself. The New Republic, Dec. 12, 2019
*What’s missing in Anthony T. Kronman’s ‘The Assault on American Excellence’. Los Angeles Review, Nov. 21, 2019. Also in History News Network and RealClearPolicy.
***What’s happening to Rudy Giuliani now was happening to the Rudy I knew long before 9/11.Tikkun, Oct, 9, 2019 Also in RealClearPolicy and History News Network
***How and how not to use history and public memory on a college campus. The Politic at Yale, September 18, 2019. This 2000-word commentary, posted first by the Yale undergraduate journal The Politic and then on the other sites below, is about how and how not to use history and public memory on college campuses. Also at: openDemocracy, Oct. 17 and History News Network and RealClearPolicy and Salon.
The ‘White supremacist terror network’ is real, but it’s diverting us from challenging an even deeper and much subtler threat. Salon,August 15, 2019; History News Network, August 7.
**A big donor to Yale, my classmate Stephen A. Schwarzman doesn’t pass a smell test. Yale Daily News, September 6, 2019. His donations to Yale, to MIT, to Oxford, etc. are too self-exculpating and self-celebrating to support his pretensions to public virtue.
***How the evangelical-Christian and Jewish Zionist alliance endangers American Jews — in America. Tikkun, August 6, 2019. A revised, updated version of this essay is at the London-based openDemocracy.net. Jews’ long-standing security in the U.S. has relied on a hard-won “Judaeo-Christian” consensus that’s now being weakened by some Jews’ indulging Christian evangelicals’ “End of Days” eschatology that foresees all Jews “called in” to the Holy Land for the Second Coming. (New York Times columnist Bret Stephens comes in for criticism here for his fancy dancing with Christian Zionists when he edited the Jerusalem Post (from 2002-2004) and then was a columnist for the Wall Street Journal.)
***Billionaires can’t fix college: An interview with Jim Sleeper on the crisis in higher education, Salon, May 27, 2019. The Yale historian Matthew Frye Jacobson, director of the Historian’s Eye project, interviewed me in 2015. The 2019 Salon version has been edited for length and clarity.
**Resistance can’t be tweeted or texted. Good political leadership often grows from deep reading. Jonathan Schell’s The Unconquerable World showed how often it has mattered to successful movements for justice. Salon, April 22, 2019 (Re-posted by RealClearPolicyand featured by History News Network. Linked by Bookforum and other sites.)
**What you haven’t been told about uproars on some American college campuses. Salon, March 31, 2019 (also posted by Tikkun, April 1)
*On the ending of the ‘Mueller ex machina” myth and a liberal field of dreams,Salon, March 27, 2019.
**The college-admissions bribery scandal is only the tip of the iceberg. This interview with me was conducted at Yale well before the current bribery scandal at selective colleges, including Yale. It’s 49 minutes long — a quiet but unsettling conversation between me and historian Matthew Jacobson, who has chaired Yale’s American Studies Department and directed the Historian’s Eye (historianseye.org) and its Education Project, for which he interviewed me and other observers and practitioners of higher education.
***Michael Jackson and the hole in our civic soul. Salon,March 4, 2019. Some readers considered this column crypto-religious and evangelical. Not at all! It poses a challenge to other ways of configuring society — civic-republican, or anti-capitalist, or corporate-capitalist — by wondering if any of these alternatives are really potent enough to lift people’s social sights amid accelerating atomization and automation.
What should undergrads learn about American national identity? Here’s what students confronted in my Yale seminars on “New Conceptions of American National Identity.” Salon, Feb. 25, 2019 ***Looking for a new American national story line? We’ve overlooked an American ‘origin story’ from early Massachusetts Puritans. John Winthrop’s biblical metaphor of a “city upon a hill” has been misunderstood and misused.
This 2019 Los Angeles Review of Books essay on the historian Daniel Rodgers’ book, As a City on a Hill shows we’ve forgotten Winthrop’s effort to balance early capitalism with the common good — the “commonwealth.” At times, he sounded a lot like Massachusetts’ current senator, Elizabeth Warren, albeit with a big difference that matters.
Connecticut Governor-elect Ned Lamont’s American family history is older than Harvard’s and Yale’s. History News Network, Nov. 26, 2018; Salon, Nov. 28.
A Republican Party that I once respected has gone off the cliff. Salon, Nov. 9, 2018. Also in The Berkshire Edge, Nov. 22. A meditation on the demise of civic-republican Republicans such as those who represented and governed Massachusetts not so long ago.
***How Hollow Speech Enables Hostile Speech. First Amendment rulings are destroying democratic deliberation by protecting seemingly harmless but dishonest, mindless commercial speech. Los Angeles Review of Books, Oct. 25 2018.
The American ‘free speech’ crisis takes a dangerous turn. Trump is right about ‘media’ causing violence, but not in the ways he means. Mindless commercial speech is often as dangerous than malevolent political speech. The latter is protected by the First Amendment. The former needn’t be. Salon, Oct. 25, 2018.
**America’s coming civil war isn’t all Trump’s doing. And it won’t be fought by Democrats vs Republicans. Salon, Oct. 7, 2018. It won’t be fought that way because the Democratic Party is a zombie, or a suppurating casualty of our lost republic. Also at Tikkun
**Brett Kavanaugh’s youth was bad enough. Here’s why his career has been worse. The Washington Monthly, Sept. 28, 2018. But his problem isn’t only about what ‘frat boys’ did when he was young. It’s equally about what they do when they think that they’ve cleaned up their acts and are posing as responsible ‘men of the world.’
Connecticut’s likely next governor (Ned Lamont, who did win after this was written) is performing two interesting, perhaps exemplary balancing acts, one economic, the other historical. Am I the last person who thinks that both matter? The Washington Monthly, Sept. 19, 2018
Resistance to Trump from within the White House? Not yet, and not for real. Don’t fall for at anonymous NY Times op ed. Salon,September 6, 2018
***Freedom of speech is on two slippery slopes. Why is the ACLU ignoring one of them?Salon, August 3, 2018.
***An eye-opening historical perspective on Putin/Trump, coming from the Brezhnev/Ford meeting of 1975 and even from Molotov/Ribbentrop “Soviet-Nazi” non-agression pact of 1939. Salon, July 19, 2018. Watching Trump in Helsinki almost 80 years later, you didn’t have to be John McCain to see the stunning hypocrisy in Trumps claim, “I like people who haven’t been captured.” Trump himself was captured by Putin as the world watched.
**What really drives Alan Dershowitz’s obsession with being shunned at Martha’s Vineyard, Harvard, and Yale? Hasn’t he obviously been asking for it for decades? Salon, July 11, 2018
***Speech Defects: How Consumer Marketing Distorts Democracy. The Baffler, July 3, 2018. Also at RealClearPolicy It’s not only conservative Supreme Court justices and a lavishly funded, brilliantly orchestrated conservative campaign that have deranged the American public sphere by making commercial “speech” the decider of public priorities that should be determined by American citizens. Civil-liberties advocates are also to blame.
****It Can Happen Here. An few moments one morning in Berlin reminded me never to underestimate the depths to which people like Donald Trump and his enablers will go to crush their enemies. The Washington Monthly, June 22, 2018.
**This “historical” find reveals a lot about Excellent Sheep and ‘The Coddling of the American Mind,’ Salon, June 13, 2018. This column explains how aHarvard Crimson essay that I wrote in 1975 anticipated and debunked the campus-bashing hysteria of 2014- 2016. Be sure to read the Crimson essay itself, linked at the end of this column in Salon.
***What Tom Wolfe got wrong about New York Salon, May 16, 2018. This column resurrects, from its pre-digital purdah, a response that I wrote in 1990 to Wolfe’s Bonfire of the Vanities and to an essay he wrote about that novel in Harper’s. This is also my love letter to the New York City that Wolfe didn’t understand.
**Free speech on campus? When these Yale Daily News students wrote critically about billionaire Stephen Schwarzman, here’s what happened. Dissent,May 15 2018. Posted also by Education News, May 16, and Salon, May 17
**These Singapore students showed courage in publishing my new column on freedoms of inquiry and expression there. The Octant,May 1, 2018. The column was picked up immediately by The Asia Sentinel. This is my first statement in several years about Yale’s joint venture with The National University of Singapore, which I and many Yale faculty challenged several years ago in several venues, including via this column in The New York Times.
**The Hidden Motives of Robert Mueller, The Washington Monthly,March 9, 2018. Also Salon, March 10, 2018. Although the Special Counsel for the Russia investigation will probably never say so, he’s not chasing Trump only for Constitutional and “political” reasons.
***This Boy Cried ‘Wolf!!’ — and the Wolf Came. How did this lament for America look, four years after I’d posted it on July 4th, 2014? I wrote it after the first long, breathtaking spate of public massacres, but I also had dark forebodings about the republic that had been accumulating for some time. After Salon editor David Daley accepted and posted this long piece, it was picked up by the British website openDemocracy, by Reset (in Rome), by the American History News Network and, later, by HuffingtonPost. The right-wing Drudge report sent hundreds of negative commenters my way. The conservative theologian Carl Raschke called me an “op ed Jeremiah.” The New Yorker’s Hendrik Hertzberg tweeted: “Jim Sleeper is the Jonathan Edwards of civic republicanism—and that’s a compliment.” http://bit.ly/1n8CvBi
***Six months later, in December, 2014, I wrote another, shorter piece — ‘Our Real ‘White Male’ Problem: Why Fox News Defeats Bruce Springsteen and Liberal Moralizing Every Time’ — that explained what, two years later, would be Trump’s high level of support among :working class” white men.
Crying ‘Wolf!!’, Yet Again. In March, 2016, As Trump rampaged through the Republican primary elections and knocked the conservative establishment off its rocker, I gave this 20-minute interview on New York City’s NPR station. The day after Trump was inaugurated, I posted “The Die is Cast”. Several months after that, I characterized the accelerating implosion of America’s civic-republican culture. I reprised the 2014 essay here in 2018:
***The end of the American republic. Salon, Oct. 30, 2018, AlterNet, Oct. 31. Possibly nothing annoys readers of journalism more than a columnist saying, “I told you so.” I told you so. ***Americanization’ as progressives might like it: This U.S. immigration plan worked a century ago. It could help us now, too. DEMOCRACY Journal, Feb. 16, 2017, Also on History News Network
**About Warlocks, Witches, American Stampedes, and #MeToo. History News Network, Dec. 27, 2017, and Salon,Dec. 28, 2017. How crusading ‘movements’ on all sides risk devouring their own.
***What Leon Wieseltier’s Fall Reveals About Washington – Alternet.org AlterNet, Nov. 4, 2017 Why former New Republic literary editor Leon Wieseltier’s disgrace reveals more about Washington than it does about him.
Some ‘Free speech on campus’ crusaders have a hidden agenda. The Observer, Case-Western Reserve University, Sept. 22, 2017. See here how the ‘Foundation for Individual Rights in Education’ is funded
***Fake News Was a Hallmark of the Mainstream Media Long Before Trump and Twitter. So let’s stop blaming social media. The Washington Spectator, Sept. 10, 2017. Also posted by Newsweek, Sept. 11, 2017
**Is Mark Lilla trying to save liberals from themselves — or himself from liberalism? He’s doing a bit of both, I argue in this review of Lilla’s The Once and Future Liberal for DEMOCRACY journal, August 19, 2017. And my comments on public discussion of the book, including in a conversation between Lilla and New Yorker editor David Remnick.
***How neoconservatives chose a bad U.S. Afghan strategy in 2009 — and did it hypocritically, with consequences for now. The Washington Monthly, August 29, 2017 About ideologically driven hackery by Max Boot and David Brooks.
***What John McCain Really Showed Us when he spoke and voted against repealing the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare), The Washington Monthly, July 30, 2017. No, McCain hasn’t been perfect, and he’s sometimes been bad. But this time, as at some other times, he delivered,courageously, what a republic requires.
**The hypocrisy of conservative “free speech” advocates. Here’s what their “free speech on campus” crusade missed and what purposes it really serves. The Washington Monthly, July 21, 2017.
Trump embodies what America has been doing to itself for half a century. Salon, March 26, 2017 and other sites. Amid the Constitutional crisis inherent in the Comey firing and allegations that Trump colluded with Russia, I note that the implosion of America’s political culture all around us and within us was well underway nearly 50 years ago, when conservatives themselves were the carriers of something a lot like “political correctness.”
**This is way beyond telling Comey, “You’re fired.”: This isn’t ‘only’ a Constitutional crisis, it’s a civic-republican implosion. Moyers & Company, March 11, 2017 and Common Dreams,and other sites.
What Trump’s opposition to asylum for Amos Yee reveals about Singapore and about dangers to Americans’ freedoms.Moyers & company, March 27, 2017. Also “Is the U.S. becoming a corporate-authoritarian state like Singapore?” Also on Salon, March 29, as “No More Land of the Free”?
What ‘Citizen Bannon’ misremembered and misread on his way to misleading Trump,openDemocracy, March 24, 2017. March 27, 2017 ***Why Yale should return a $150 million donation from Blackstone CEO Stephen Schwarzman,The Washington Monthly, Feb. 18, 2017. Another version, with additional information about Schwarzman’s “business,” ran on Salon.
On the increasingly precarious right to visit other countries. openDemocracy, Feb. 12, 2017. The U.K. and the U.S.’s use of private contractors to retrench on immigration and tourism highlights the reality that global capital’s riptides are making nations’ sovereignty as fragile as migrants’, refugees’, and asylum-seekers’ right to have rights.
***Virginia NPR interview on why the conservative campus ‘free speech’ crusade is still at it, and why it should give up. Interviewed Feb. 4, 2017 by NPR reporter Sandy Hausman.
What’s driving Donald to derange democratic discourse and journalism. AlterNet , Feb. 6, 2017
***Neocons v. Trump? No thanks, and here’s why. Alternet, February 2, 2017
***A warning about Trump from America’s Founders to America’s conservatives.openDemocracy, January 29, 2017
***The Die is Cast: Why Trump will lurch toward dictatorship, openDemocracy.net, Jan. 21, 2017. Posted the day after his Inaugural Address. Defending the republic against the government. New Hampshire NPR radio conversation with Jim Sleeper and former state senator Burt Cohen. (45 minutes) January 17, 2017. Sometimes citizens must break the law to uphold the law, at personal risk. But how to determine which risks are worth it? The Trump presidency is giving that question new urgency. The interview begins with a minute-long montage of American leaders’ recorded comments about what republican patriotism requires.
** What Resisting the Vietnam War taught me about resisting Trump. The Washington Monthly, January 11, 2017.
**The crusade against political correctness gave Trump all the cover he needed. January, 2017. Salon and Moyers & Co. My argument here and in 5 minutes on Virginia NPR was that “liberal” political correctness and identity politics are maladroit, counterproductive reactions to powerful currents dissolving American civil society. Feckless liberals who endorse identity politics weren’t as responsible for Trump’s ascent as much as were the massacres in streets and schools, the gladiatorizing of sports and entertainments, the road rage, mass incarceration, and the foreclosure and eviction of millions of Americans from their homes.
‘Whitelash’? Not Exactly – or Maybe Not Even Really. Dec. 15, 2016. How I brought 30 white working guys to hear James Baldwin at Harvard 40 years ago — and what I’ve learned since about Trump and the ‘white working class.’
***Another reason why Rudy Giuliani shouldn’t be Secretary of State, Foreign Policy, Nov. 22, 2016.I knew this guy before you did, and before I turned against him.
My argument with identity politics in 400 words, in The New York Times, Nov. 23, 2016
Some saw early what Trump’s rise meant, and some denied it. How to gaze into the abyss. Posted the morning after the election, at Moyers & Co., Reset, and here.
***American conservatism’s contradictions, in 234 words — and in 6000 words. My letter to the Yale Daily News, Oct. 31, 2016, refers to my longer essay, “The Coddling of the conservative Mind.” Salon, Jan. 13, 2016. In the latter, scroll down to the section headed “Look Who’s Been Coddled” to see how Harvard and Yale, under conservative governance, were panopticons of self-censorship and conformity enforced by students themselves as much as by their preceptors.
***The conservatives driving the campus ‘free speech’ crusade – – and some revelations about that crusade. American Prospect, Oct. 19, 2016. On the eve of an appearance by Foundation for Independent Rights in Education president Greg Lukianoff at Bard College, I sought to plant a few questions in his listeners’ minds.
Radio Interview, Portland Oregon, Sept. 15, 2016, on campus political correctness and the “free speech” crusade. This aired for 15 minutes. After clicking on or pasting the link, drag the white ball to the right to 33.20, where the interview begins. http://www.xray.fm/broadcasts/13432 (Remember: go to 33.20 to hear the interview)
**God and Brand at Yale, New York Times, Sept. 4, 2016: Conservative donors have seized on campus debates to push their belief in free markets, not in free speech.
***What the Campus ‘Free Speech’ Crusade Won’t Say, AlterNet, Sept. 4, 2016. This long essay (6400 words!) provides the analysis and explosive information on the crusade’s funding and philosophy that I couldn’t include in the NY.
**The Real PC Threat, Yale Daily News, Sept. 21, 2016. I wrote this for the student newspaper to rebuke alumni on conservative websites who were engaging in a new round of tongue-clucking and hand-wringing about student “cry-bullies,” for no reason other than that some critics had revived and a year-old video of an incident of ugly racial protesting amid soul-searching about race. Breaking glass ceilings doesn’t necessarily strengthen their structures’ walls and foundations. Salon July 28, 2016. How conservatism’s original sin became neoliberals’ sin, too.
**”Race war,” a blast from the past? Washington Post columnist Courtland Milloy on Jim Sleeper’s review of Carl Rowan’s book on that subject — 20 years ago. Here’s my review that prompted Milloy’s comments,
***Memo to the Democratic National Convention: Forget about glass ceilings and David Brooks’ cultural sermons, Salon, July 28, 2016. Here I warned that Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and her party’s establishment had failed to name and challenge the turbo-capitalism whose ravages doomed them in the coming election.
How FOX NEWS’ Roger Ailes looked in 2013 My review, for the Columbia Journalism Review, of Zev Chafets’s hagiography of Ailes.
Trump’s Nomination May Not Be the Worst of It, Dissent, July 21, 2016, a review of on David Daley’s Ratf**ked, his riveting expose of how Republican state legislatures’ election districting has locked up the House of Representatives for two more decades via diabolically legal line-drawing.
***My equivalent of Tom Paine’s Common Sense: Not Hitler or Augustus, Donald Trump does show what the American polity is becoming. openDemocracy, July 20, 2016. Our national crisis isn’t really about Trump and Republicans; it’s about what’s happening to the American people. (Like Paine’s pamphlet, this is 7000 words long and worth the hour it will take to read.) An earlier version, posted in March at Salon and AlterNet, prompted an NPR interview, and the NY Times had me lead off a “Room for Debate” segment,
“Is Tyranny Around the Corner?” The New York Times, on May 12. (Hint: I was too optimistic.)
On the eve of the Republican convention, some conservative writers are still trying to wish Trumpism away after seeding Trumpism for years. AlterNet, July 17, 2016.
The bad side of Brexit needn’t prompt a Trump-style ‘Amerexit’ in the U.S. And in openDemocracy, July 13, 2016. Civic-republican nationalism is flawed but indispensable on both sides of the Atlantic in a time of crisis.
***These mass shooters R Us. Boston Globe, July 9, 2016. 750 words, written the day after the Dallas massacre, explain why I don’t much care about the backgrounds and motives of these monsters but do care about how we let powerful commercial engines derange our public culture, sending subliminal and direct signals that lots of “misfits” tune into.
**What Brexit means for American civic nationalism, and vice versa. openDemocracy.net, July 4, 2016
***Why a good guy with a gun isn’t the only answer to a bad guy with one. The Washington Monthly, June 30, 2016
*What happened to the 2015 campaign against campus political correctness in 2016, Salon, May 22, 2016. Greg Lukianoff, Jonathan Haidt, and other scourges of the liberal academy saw their strategy co-opted and the tables turned.
*It’s Not About Trump. It’s About What’s Happening to the American People. Salon, May 20, 2016. It’s what’s being done to us more than it’s what we’ve done to ourselves. Can we un-do it?
Is Tyranny Around the Corner? New York Times, May 12, 2016. My 400-word contribution to a six-person “Room for Debate” round-robin on the presidential race just after Donald Trump has virtually locked up the Republican nomination.
Bye, Bye, Bernie? No, and here’s why, as of late April, we still need him in the race and in public discussion. Salon, April 26, 2016
*Free Speech on Campus: Why conservatives have themselves to blame for most of the campus controversies they condemn. A short essay for a forum on campus speech for Dissent, April 25, 2016
**How I’ll vote in New York’s 2016 Democratic primary — and WHY. Huffington Post, April 18, 2016
**Why The Donald Has Trumped Everyone Else So Far, DEMOCRACY, March 8, 2016. 124o words on what I hadn’t seen anyone else say about his campaign as it surged into Michigan and Mississippi: It’s actually the “high point” of a campaign that’s been going on for half a century.
***The ‘Blame the Liberals’ Campaign Hits Yale — Again, HuffingtonPost and AlterNet, Feb. 12-14, 2016. How the anti-‘political movement’ has developed an ‘ideology’ and a strategic pattern across 15 years: Three examples of how its invasion of a campus and its narrative of what’s happening there collapsed, including last fall at Yale.
***The Coddling of the CONSERVATIVE Mind, Salon, Jan. 13, 2016. Conservative critics of campus protests are trying to deflect their own long history of coddling the collegiate mind and their own long history of abetting an unraveling of civil society that’s leaving more students afraid and angry. In this long response, and in an interview with the British website openDemocracy, I argue that American conservatism itself once had better approaches than this.
*Student Protests and Free Speech, Washington Monthly, Dec. 10, 2015. This short post (1230 words), written two weeks after the one below from Salon, is somewhat less polemical and more meditative, only partly because the onset of the holidays and the end of a semester had cooled the campus protests to which it refers. It’s a good, general assessment, but it should be read in tandem with the Salon piece right here below it.
***Race, Campus Protests, Helicopter Pundits, and What Black Students Really Experience at Yale, Salon, Nov. 25, 2015. Travel warning: This piece is 6700 words long. It reports things I haven’t seen elsewhere, but it’s many layered as well as long. (Note: I didn’t write Salon’s awful headline or choose the photo.)
*** Most of us think that the Puritans are still dead, BUT: The Self-Flattering Assumptions Behind Stacy Schiff’s The Witches: Salem 1692. DEMOCRACY, Nov. 13, 2015. And how I escaped Puritanism’s creepy side by attending to my 50th high school reunion in an old Puritan town. HuffingtonPost, Nov. 14, 2015
At Yale now, It’s About Justice, Not “Safety“, New Haven Independent, Nov. 12, 2015. The turmoil in colleges about racism and sexism may still be driven, on some “precious,” leafy campuses, by politically correct intolerance of views that make students feel “unsafe,” as some claim and as conservative pundits love to lampoon them for claiming. But at Yale, something more useful (and perhaps more frightening to the pundits) is gathering momentum. Here, at least, the ugliness is coming from the commentators and their trolls more than from the students.
Can Yale’s Pivot to India Offset its Mistakes in Singapore? HuffingtonPost, Oct. 27, 2015. A late entry in my long skein of columns about Yale’s misbegotten joint venture with Singapore, described in columns I’ve written since 2011, listed below.
From Columbine to Umpqua Community College, It’s Not Just Bullets We’re Dodging. Huffington Post, Oct. 3, 2015. Yes, gun control is imperative, and mental illness is an urgent challenge: But we also have to challenge swift, mindless currents that are driving Americans crazy and arming them.
**Punched Bloody by a Hand We Think is Invisible, We See Only Trump and Fox. But There’s Worse. Huffington Post, August 27, 2015. How massacres in South Carolina and Virginia reveal and accelerate the American republic’s implosion.
* The Ambiguous American Heroism on a French Train, Dissent, and The Washington Monthly, August 25, 2015. What the three young Americans did was heartening, but they acted in a situation that had no moral ambiguity — unlike most of foreign and domestic situations and our personal and policy responses to them. Some cautions.
Prep Schools, “Diversity,” and Puritan Dirty Socks. The Washington Monthly, July 1, 2015. This is a short sequel to “What John Winthrop Taught Elizabeth Warren,” just below. “Diversity” is sometimes embraced — or shifted, like one of Salome’s veils — as a disguise for indefensible inequalities. Two cheers for “manly Christianity,” which has its own indefensible qualities but also its strengths.
***What John Winthrop Taught Elizabeth Warren, or What American Puritans Could Teach Today’s Neoliberals, DEMOCRACY journal, summer issue, 2015. This is the second of two long essays about American Puritanism’s surprising, sometimes disturbing relevance and even resilience in American political culture. Even for us non-believers, there are perspectives and even premises worth recovering. This was adapted and re-posted by The Atlantic, July 20, 2015, as Gifts of the Puritans that you weren’t expecting, The Atlantic, July 20, 2015. Read also The Self-Flattering Assumptions Behind Stacy Schiff’s The Witches: Salem 1692. DEMOCRACY, Nov. 13, 2015.
*** Innocents Abroad? Liberal Educators in Illiberal Societies, Ethics & International Affairs, the journal of the Carnegie Council, summer issue, 2015. This 6000-word assessment of American universities’ joint ventures with regimes in Singapore, China, the Emirates, and elsewhere is accompanied by an audio interview with me and an interactive map of campuses abroad. AUDIO with Jim Sleeper on what I consider to be liberal education’s three voices: A discussion of the “Innocents Abroad?” essay with the Carnegie Council journal’s senior editor Zach Dorfman. This essay is being re-published in 2022 in the anthology Normative Tensions: Academic Freedom in International Education.
*Is Islam Really Our Greatest Danger? Clueless keyboard warriors think so, but I argue here that some of them are more dangerous to America than Islam. Salon, May 11, 2015.History News Network.
*Charlie Hebdo’s Dubious PEN-Pals: Highly Privileged Conservative Pundits, HuffingtonPost and Salon, May 5, 2015. This column appeared on the day that the Poets, Essayists, and Novelists American Center gave an award to Charlie Hebdo.
Neoliberalizing Liberal Education, Bookforum, April 22, 2015. Why Fareed Zakaria’s new book, In Defense of a Liberal Education, is not a defense of it but a subtle evisceration of what should really count in a college experience. This blog post preceded “School Daze,” my actual review of Zakaria’s book, which Bookforum posted in June.
Podcast with Jim Sleeper on American liberal educators’ mixed purposes and dubious prospects abroad, for the Carnegie Council on Ethics & International Affairs, 2015
***Singapore: “We decide what’s right. It doesn’t matter what the people think.” Salon, April 1, 2015. American elites swooning over Singapore late founder Lee Kuan Yew ignore his wrongs and reveal their own. This is also posted on the U.K. website openDemocracy.net, on Huffington Post, and on History News Network.
Israel and the Politics of Paroxysm, The Washington Monthly, March 24, 2015. A column written with Gramsci’s “pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will.” Also posted by the international website Reset.Doc, Dialogues on Civilizations.
**Rudy Giuliani’s Long Self-Destruction Explained: Salon, Feb. 22, 2015 Although he insists that Obama doesn’t love America, Rudy loves something a lot more than he loves America or even himself.
An exchange with Yale-National University of Singapore students.Fox & Hedgehog, a Yale-NUS student journal, January, 2015. A student, Nicholas Carverhill, wrote a column taking issue with my writings about his college, and I responded. You can read his column, my response, and a short back-and-forth here. This gives a pretty good summary of Singapore’s bad record in human rights and liberal education, but I hold out some hope that students can meet challenges that I sketch here.
***The Charlie Hebdo Hypocrites: Meet the Free-Speech Absolutists Who Aren’t So Absolute Beyond the Muslim World, Salon, January 10, 2015. It’s not just neoconservative would-be warriors for Western freedoms who fall silent when free speech is squelched by their allies; some prominent liberal and even leftish thinkers fall into line with suppressions of freedom of expression outside Paris and New York.
**The article that made Mario Cuomo governor in 1982 — no kidding! Village Voice, June 22, 2015 (pdf; digital version below). When this was written, he was well behind Ed Koch in the Democratic primary campaign. I wrote about his mind and character and about New York State politics at the time and controversial issues facing the candidates. It’s interesting to measure Cuomo’s record now against the promise with which he was elected. He let down his supporters, but I, in turn, let him down in my New York Daily News columns when he was running for a fourth term, in 1994.
Here’s my reflection on Mario Cuomo 32 years later in The Washington Monthly (January 6, 2015), just after his death, and another reflection in the Voice, which has finally digitalized the piece here. The New Yorker’s Hendrik Hertzberg cited Cuomo’s comment to me in the Voice profile — about wanting to serve on a high court — and proposes that Cuomo changed his mind only because he was waiting for the equivalent of a divine call, in the form of an order, not just an invitation, from Bill Clinton.
Some of my columns on race and justice in America, 2014-2015 But for the best selection of my columns on race, go to this website’s section on “Race: Why Skin Color Isn’t Culture or Politics”
*“Diversity” on Police Forces vs. Racism in the Economy, Salon, January 2, 2015. Drawing from my own experiences of the “cops and race” problem in Brooklyn, this adds a dimension or two to most of what I’ve read on the subject. *America’s Real White Male
**In Living Color: Bookforum, Dec./Jan. 2015. A review of the historian Jason Sokol’s All Eyes Are Upon Us, his perceptive analysis of how whites from Boston to Brooklyn were two-faced about race –and how both faces, the idealistic and the racist, in the same community and even the same person — could be utterly sincere. Also posted by History News Network.
*Why Al Sharpton Just Can’t Get It Right, Salon, Nov. 21, 2014. A NY Times front-page story on his latest shenanigans brings stirs some old memories — and a poignant truth.
The perilous legacy of racial election districting, The Washington Monthly, Nov. 18, 2014. Alabama legislators turn a discredited voting-rights strategy against the advocates — while pretending not to.
***In Trayvon’s Memory, Here’s Who We Should ‘Profile’ Next?, HuffingtonPost, July 21, 2013. Amid the deluge of commentary on the acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s killer, some dimensions of this tragedy remained unconsidered. I get at them in this post, drawn from long experience of the histrionics around racially charged trials, from Howard Beach through OJ and beyond. I argue that while crime by young blacks should not be minimized or moralized away, it’s part of an expanding criminality, beyond racial markers, that’s often equally violent.
*What I’ve Learned From 25 Years in America’s ‘Race’ Debate, The Washington Monthly, June 1, 2014. A short post prompted by, but not joining, the debate between Ta-Nehisi Coates and Jonathan Chait.
What Dallas and Houston Can Learn From Hong Kong about Democracy, The Washington Monthly, Oct. 22, 2014. Now that the John Roberts Supreme Court has approved Texas’ intention to implement its unnecessary and racist “Voter I.D.” law, Texas voters who are better than this should take a tip from Hong Kong’s protestors and show up peacefully but massively in the Nov. 4 elections. Re-posted by opendemocracy.net, the indispensable U.K. website for assessments of the democratic public sphere.
**We’re being punched bloody and blinded by a Hand we keep on insisting is Invisible. A 4th of July mood piece (or “bad mood” piece): Salon, July 4, 2014 openDemocracy (London), History News Network, AlterNet and by Reset (Rome). Although this truly was a “mood piece” consisting of notes and impressions, at best, of a more coherent argument, it drew a lot of commentary, some of it from displeased conservatives. Beyond the comments that are posted below the column itself in the venues linked here, you can find other reactions find by googling “Jim Sleeper” and “new shots”.
**Not Your Typical Election Post-Mortem, Salon, Nov. 5, 2014. The real problem isn’t Republicans vs. Democrats but both parties vs. the large and growing asymmetries in American life, involving elite degradation of Americans’ security, freedom of speech, productive investment opportunities, and sovereignty as citizens — as distinct from their empty “sovereignty” as stressed, distracted consumers. (N.B. I didn’t write Salon’s headline.)
What’s is Fareed Zakaria’s Problem? (Salon, Cutting Edge News, other sites, Labor Day weekend 2014). Recent revelations about past plagiarism by the TIME and Washington Post columnist and host of CNN’s “Global Public Square” don’t establish that he’s still a plagiarist. They do suggest he’s too busy being a one-man Global Positioning System whose plagiarism was a symptom of a deeper malady — a neo-liberal know-it-all-ism that’s distracting people from asking important questions about what global capital has become and what it’s doing to our ailing liberal-democratic public spheres.
*** Renew America’s great liberal-arts colleges, don’t just assail them. I posed this challenge in Bookforum in June and more broadly in Salon, July 25, 2014, as former Yale English Professor and essayist William Deresiewicz became the latest would-be prophet to succumb to marketing pressures. The New Republic ran a chapter of his book Excellent Sheep under the headline, “Don’t Send Your Kids to the Ivy League!”, fulfilling my prediction, in Bookforum, that, by promoting books like his, the gilded cage’s conscience-keepers would drag “the kept” through another empty ritual of self-flagellation on their way back to college. There’s a monumental hypocrisy in Ivy League editors’ and professors’ telling 18-year-olds and parents to avoid the colleges that they themselves attended or taught at and would still do anything to send their own kids to.
The more important challenge, I say at least briefly in these two essays, is to renew what’s best in these schools, which do have a role to play in American public discourse and regeneration. To say that these colleges are compromised by the increasingly illegitimate and unsustainable regime they currently serve is only half an answer: They haven’t always been in synch with the powers of the day, and they’ve sometimes stood apart and stimulated real reform.
***Who Really Governs American Universities? Who Should? HuffingtonPost, Oct. 3, 2013. This tribute to former Harvard President Derek Bok and his new book, American Higher Education, is also a rebuke to recent leadership at Yale.
Why Business Schools Seeking Business Won’t Help Business, The Washington Monthly, June 4, 2014. A dean at Wharton, trying to justify Harvard Business School’s effort to supplement interactive classroom teaching with massive online showcasing of star professors, made a passing observation about community theaters vs. “the big time” that takes the lid off a whole B-school-driven mindset that’s destroying society.
THE UKRAINE CRISIS, RUSSIA, AND U.S. NEO-CONS, 2014
**Lost in Washington’s House of Columnists, The Washington Monthly, March 10, 2014.Quick critique of the quasi-liturgical war-mongering of New Republic literary editor Leon Wieseltier, who in every crisis re-enacts his armchair strategizing for Iraq. This ran also in The Washington Spectator
In the Ukraine Crisis, Analogies aren’t Actions, but this analogy to the U.S. and Cuba Might Help. Washington Monthly, March 21, 2014. To fight or block someone, you must understand him or her. And to do that, you must understand yourself and be able to imagine how you’d behave in his shoes. Also in The Washington Spectator
Ukraine’s Neo-conservative Champions in Kiev Championed Mainly Themselves. Huffington Post, May 21, 2014. A “congress of intellectuals” convened by New Republic literary editor Leon Wieseltier and Yale historian Timothy Snyder enhanced little but its convenors’ self-importance.
What If Yale Historian Timothy Snyder Is Wrong to Ascribe World-historical Importance to the Ukraine Crisis? The Washington Monthly, May 13, 2014. A comment on the historian’s impassioned, eloquent argument that the entire European order is imperiled as it hasn’t been for 70 years by Vladimir Putin’s moves against Ukraine. (btw: It was I who was wrong.)
The American Foreign-Policy Problem that No One Talks About, The Washington Monthly, May 4, 2014. Why Leon Wieseltier, David Brooks, and others in the chorus of critics that blames American weakness abroad on President Obama and feckless liberals at home need to take a good look in the mirror. (A Huffington Post version of this column is more explicit about the roots of Wieseltier’s and Brooks’ critique in Jewish historical experiences that I understand intimately. See the last six paragraphs of the Huffpost column, beginning with “At bottom…”)
*** Henry Kissinger and the Coming Imbalance of Power, Los Angeles Review of Books, Oct. 9, 2014. This is a substantial consideration of the tensions between Kissinger’s diplomatic “philosophy” of state-based “realism” and his actual performance and legacy as secretary of state in the 1970s.
***Where Kissinger’s Dark Wisdom Blinds Him. HuffingtonPost, Oct. 10, 2014. A brief addendum to the review-essay, based on new revelations about savagery in strategy and on an additional surmise about Kissinger’s modus.
**Yale’s ‘Great Conversation’?, The Politic, Feb. 27, 2014, March/April issue in print. An “open letter” to Yale undergraduates, in a campus journal, on why Yale’s venture in Singapore is wrong even though it’s up and running and I wish its participants well.
Not So Fast, Fareed! HuffingtonPost, Feb. 27, 2014and Washington Spectator, 2014http://washsp.ec/1bPlit9#.Uw-lIg5buws.gmail About Zakaria’s “triumphal” return to Yale, from whose governing board he had to resign two years ago after playing fast and loose with his audiences one time too many. Unfortunately, he’s still at it.
***Business Press Failure: Firedoglake Book Salon with Dean Starkman, hosted by Jim Sleeper at on Feb. 15, 2014. Here Starkman responds to comments on his book The Watchdog that Didn’t Bark: The Financial Crisis and the Disappearance of Investigative Journalism. In a review for Dissent I explained why consider it a fine civic-republican treatment of journalism, especially business journalism. (If you don’t know what I mean by “civic republican,” go to my home page here and click on the section, “A Civic Republican Primer”.)
David Brooks Explains More Than He Intended, HuffingtonPost, Dec. 17, 2013 Prompted by an eerie column he wrote on “Thought Leaders.”
***A 1970 ‘letter to the editor’ that I wrote, at age 24, to The New York Times on the dangers of surveillance, re-posted by History News Network, Dec. 16, 2013. Not only is surveillance today more enveloping now than in 1970; it’s intimately intrusive, because it plays so deftly on an underside of “human nature” that a lot of people “Like” it. http://hnn.us/article/154240
In Singapore, Migrants Riot, Websites Chill, but Yale-NUS College RemainsSuspiciously Warm. HuffingtonPost, Dec. 11, 2013; openDemocracy.net(U.K.), Dec. 12, 2013;
***New York City’s 2013 mayoral election: Not a pendulum swing, but a learning curve. HuffingtonPost, Nov. 4, 2013. A landslide victory by the left-liberal Bill de Blasio after 20 years of high-capitalist management by Rudy Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg doesn’t herald a swing back to the era of urban mayoral “Rainbow” politics, whose demise I covered for The New Republic in a 1993 cover story. To explain what’s changed, the magazine resurrected my story from its archives alongside its reflection on what de Blasio’s victory means now. All of those pieces are linked in this post.
**This Brave Congressmen Taught Me How to Break News, HuffingtonPost, Oct. 25, 2013. I’d make this one a must-read for every aspiring journalist. In about 1000 words, it distills two or three wonderfully important lessons from some hard-won experience.
YALE IN SINGAPORE: More of columns than are presented right here on Yale’s misadventure in Singapore and what it reflects about the condition of American liberal arts colleges have been collected at http://www.jimsleeper.com/?p=912 Here are a few:
A photo that’s worth 1000 words about American universities in authoritarianplaces: HuffingtonPost, Sept. 2, 2013.And, me being me, 1000 words with it.
***Liberal Education in Authoritarian Places, New York Times, Sept. 1, 2013.
**Globe-Trotting Universities Serve Diplomacy and Markets, not Democracy, openDemocracy.net, Sept. 1, 2013. The NYTimes column is shorter and had more impact, but this longer version on openDemocracy, one of Britain’s best websites, offers more substantiation and a richer argument.
***A former Dean of Harvard College, Harry R. Lewis, weighs in on two of my columns about American universities’ collaborations with authoritarian regimes. Lewis also links his column on that subject from the South China Morning Post.
*Singapore: At Yale College, the Sounds of Silence, HuffingtonPost, Sept. 9, 2013. Read this with the other posts about Yale’s adventure in Singapore, here below. New faculty and inaugural class of students there deserve encouragement, but the venture reflects the decline of liberal education in the U.S., part of a crisis Yale is ducking, not addressing, by going to Singapore.
To Singapore — With Love? Yale Daily News, Sept. 26, 2014. Once again, as anticipated in my columns on this subject collected here, the Yale-NUS College in Singapore got caught up in and embarrassed by compromises of freedom of expression that it should never have made.
I developed this argument a day later: “For Yale in Singapore, It’s Deja Vu All Over Again” (Huffington Post), explaining that the consequence of Yale’s joint-venture with the National University of Singapore has been not conflict but an all-too-smooth convergence of restrictive approaches to freedom of expression in both countries.
Singapore’s Defenders should be its strongest critics, HuffingtonPost, Oct. 3, 2014. A response to criticisms of my columns about the film controversy. When a terrific column in the Yale Daily News by sophomore Nathan Steinberg posed similar criticisms and a professor who has worked on the Yale-NUS rebutted, I followed with this letter.
***These Singaporeans Spoke Truth at Yale — Against Yale, HuffingtonPost, Dec. 6, 2012.
At Last, These Singapore Opposition Leaders Can Speak Truth to Yale, HuffingtonPost, Nov. 29, 2012. This post helped bring out 100 students and faculty to hear Chee Soon Yuan, secretary-general of the Singapore Democratic Party, and Kenneth Jeyaretnam, secretary-general of the Reform Party, when they came to New Haven to enjoy their first opportunity to speak to a large public audience in the U.S., not to mention in Singapore itself.
***Blame the New Israel-Arab Conflict on….Singapore?? HuffingtonPost, Nov.17, 2012. Well, yes, but only in a way you probably didn’t know about before now. The regime’s perfervid apologists descended on this piece, having missed the irony in the title, which they took literally because Singapore is a irony-free society. (See their comments!)
*** How Eliot Spitzer’s Fall Showed He Deserves a Second Chance, HuffingtonPost, July 9, 2013.
**Why Fox News’ Roger Ailes is bad for the American Republic and the Jews. A review-essay on Zev Chafets’ book Roger Ailes: Off Camera for the Columbia Journalism Review, July/August, 2013. (For “the Jews,” see especially the final six paragraphs of this review). Here’s a pdf of the same review-essay as it appears in the print edition.
George Packer’s Rebirth and The Unwinding of David Brooks, HuffingtonPost, July 3, 2013. Brooks’ churlish review of Packer’s The Unwinding reveals more than either writer anticipated five years ago. Now Packer has done well what I argued that he should have been doing then, and Brooks has proved that, as I also argued, he didn’t deserve the benefit of the doubt that Packer was giving him.
***Don’t Panic About the Voting Rights Ruling: Re-Strategize. HuffingtonPost, June 29, 2013. Just after the Supreme Court’s ruling against racial districting in Shelby v. Holder, this piece re-affirms to my prescient argument of 15 years ago that racial districting had indeed gone too far.
**Ed Koch as I Knew Him: Should Mayors Rule the World? Ed Koch Thought So and May Yet Be Proved Right, HuffingtonPost, Feb. 5, 2013 ***One and a half Cheers for Ed Koch, New York Times, Feb. 2, 2013. A personal reminiscence, written the morning after his death, published the next day in the same edition that carried the Times’ front-page obituary. Koch won the Democratic primary for mayor of New York(and then the mayoralty itself) in 1977 with a death-penalty pitch and with former Miss America Bess Myerson on his arm; twelve years later, he was defeated by Democratic primary voters weary of the racial tensions, violent crime, and corruption that had not abated on his watch.
Israel’s Election: Sea Change, or Mood Swing? HuffingtonPost, March 27, 2013
What David Brooks’ Anglophilia and Thatchermania Cost his Readers and His Yale Students. Huffington Post, April 9, 2013. I couldn’t let this belly flop pass without notice.
COLUMNS AND AUDIO ON AMERICA’S GUN MAYHEM
***The Coming Civil War Over Guns and TV Mayhem, HuffingtonPost, Dec. 14, 2012. Written the day of the Sandy Hook massacre.
*To Stop Gun Violence, Fight the Marketing. The Atlantic, Jan. 24, 2013. Moving beyond four other columns written after Sandy Hook, I contacted Daniel J.H. Greenwood, a legal scholar of corporate jurisprudence, and we co-authored this trail-blazer.
****NPR Interview me on What the Gun Debate Means for Free Speech. The Brian Lehrer Show, WNYC-FM, Feb. 15, 2013. In this 20-minute interview, I argue that we’ll never get effective gun regulation unless we can alter primal American myths by breaking the link between libertarian individualism and our glorification of runaway corporate engines that grope and goose our fears. Every society since Homer’s and the Bible’s has had violent storytelling, but today’s media violence is more destructive of social trust than the gladiatorial spectacles of ancient Rome. The First Amendment shouldn’t protect this.
**What’s STILL Missing from the Gun Debate, Huffington Post, Feb. 7, 2013
The ‘Gettysburg Address’ on media violence and corporate ‘speech,’ Philadelphia Inquirer, Feb. 6, 2013 This is also on History News Network.
How’s Gun Control Workin’ Out For Ya?, Huffington Post, April 2, 2013. The truth is that we’re not getting there, and the mayhem continues. Gun control won’t be as effective as it should for deep political cultural reasons I’ve been trying to explain for months and that recent events impelled me to summarize here. Liberals and libertarians haven’t faced up to our need to reinterpret not only the Second Amendment but also the First.
Letter to a Marine who Warned Sen. Diane Feinstein About His Guns and Freedom, Huffington Post, Jan. 7, 2012
*What We Should Tell the Gun Lobby and Editors and Producers, Huffington Post, Dec. 22, 2012. Gun violence and media violence are a one-two punch to American civil society, and here’s why liberals should stop rolling their eyes and fretting about the First Amendment whenever people like me make this argument.
Gun Lovers, as ‘Normal’ Now as Segregationists Once Were, Huffington Post, Dec. 18, 2012. No, not most gun owners. I mean those gun lovers who side with the gun lobby’s belief that the answer to violence is more guns and less restrictions on them.
***The Sad Beauty in a Video of Obama Thanking His Campaign Staff, HuffingtonPost, Nov. 8, 2012
While You Were Following the 2012 Campaigns, Singapore Was Romneyizing Yale: Huffington Post, Nov. 5, 2012. Those of us who’ve opposed Yale’s collaboration with the tightly controlled corporate city-state of Singapore aren’t interested in a clash of civilizations that pits ivory tower “Western values” against “Asian values”. We’re worried about the convergence of commercial riptides, here and there, that turns universities and liberal education into management tools. This column has some new examples of how that’s being done at Yale.
What Obama’s Win in the 3rd Debate Drew From His Loss of the 1st, Huffington Post, Oct. 23, 2012. Most Americans today are no more likely to understand this column than a fish is to understand water. At least John Winthrop and I understand it.
Why Obama Defaulted in the first Presidential Debate, 2012 Huffington Post, Oct 4, 2012
***With Friends Like These, Who’ll Defend Liberal Education? Dissent, Fall 2012. Part of a special issue on higher education (go to www.dissentmagazine.org and subscribe to see the other essays), this one scrutinizes New York University president John Sexton’s breathless manifesto for “The Global Network University” and makes a few observations about what’s driving this and other such distortions of liberal education in the name of “engagement” with differences. https://www.jimsleeper.com/?p=3524
**A talk I gave at Yale about the fragility of institutions like Yale, October, 2012 The Y Syndicate, an umbrella organization of student activists at Yale whose members had been reading the Huffington Post columns on Yale’s misadventure in Singapore, asked me to reflect my and others’ opposition. Here I tried to explain why opposition shouldn’t only tear something down, unless on behalf of a deeper, clearer affirmation.
Chris Hayes’ Twilight of the Elites doesn’t go far enough, says the historian David Noble, and I find both writers right, but neither shows us a way forward. Bookforum, Sept./Oct./Nov. 2012
What the Yale President’s Resignation Means for Higher Education, Huffington Post, Sept. 1, 2012
Fareed Zakaria’s Plagiarism: Worse Than It Looks, Huffington Post, Aug. 11, 2012. It’s not just a case of cutting corners. It’s more evidence of a deeper hypocrisy and of misleadership in opinion-making. Long before any plagiarism charge had surfaced, I tried to get at it in Fareed Zakaria’s Problem–and Ours.
***Yale Steps Into the Authoritarian Abyss, Huffington Post, July 17, 2012. An explosive Wall Street Journal story (linked herein) reinforced concerns many of us on Yale’s faculty had expressed about Yale’s venture into Singapore. Here I explain how the self-censorship prompted by fear of state power in those countries is mirrored eerily among some American students by a self-censorship prompted by the seductions of becoming power-players.
In Liberal Education, A Cover-Up Worse Than the Crime HuffingtonPost June 15, 2012. Yale’s press office provided a lesson in how and how not to read posts like mine. Hint: You should not try to read them like a business-corporation spokesman, preoccupied with your company’s image, liability, and market share. This post describes other responses to its predecessors about Yale’s venture into Singapore.
**As Yale’s Blunder Deepens, Singapore Bares Its Teeth, Huffington Post, June 5, 2012. Even as Yale’s project to help Singapore establish a new liberal-arts college bearing Yale’s name moves ahead, essential liberal values in that authoritarian corporate city-state take another direct hit from Yale’s hosts. This post was also posted on History News Network, openDemocracy.net, CuttingEdgeNews and other sites. It also got some interesting commentary, some on Singapore websites re linked in the post. Here’s one that I enjoyed especially.
*** Yale Has Gone to Singapore, But Can It Come Back? HuffingtonPost, May 4, 2012. I don’t usually say things like, “You gotta do what you gotta do,” but that sentence came to mind when I saw that I’d written the following at 13,000 words, after editing and amputating it. This was something I really had to write, not for myself, but — and here I surprised myself again — for country and for Yale.
Will Yale Alumni Help to Rescue Liberal Education at Yale?HuffingtonPost, April 11, 2012
A Small But Solid Victory for Liberal Education,HuffingtonPost, April 7, 2012. (Also at openDemocracy.net and History News Network.) The Yale faculty rebuked its administration, and not just for collaborating with the regime in Singapore. Be sure to see the Yale Alumni Magazine’s account of the faculty meeting.
The Showdown Over Liberal Education at Yale, HuffingtonPost, April 4, 2012. This column, written the day before a Yale College Faculty meeting that on the question, is a major sequel to the post of March 16, below.
How the Supreme Court Aids Government-Controlled Speech, Huffington Post. March 26, 2012.John Roberts and his merry band of Court conservatives enabling China TV to bring us censored news? The irony is too rich not to savor, and to important not to parse: It owes a lot to one-hundred years of bad jurisprudence about corporate “personhood,” most lately in Citizens United.
* Will Yale’s Venture in Singapore Advance Liberal Education or Corrupt It?, Huffington Post, March 16, 2012. Some societies in Asia may be receptive to a seed of liberal education sown by universities such as Yale. Some might even nourish liberal education’s understandings of ordered liberty and democratic deliberation better than we’re doing in the United States. But the real challenge is to keep liberal education alive in the U.S.: to keep it independent of the global capitalization of everything, which is asphyxiating at home what university leaders say they want to promote abroad.
Another challenge is the well-funded Vulcan conservative effort to rescue liberal education from liberals by setting up national-security oriented programs that conscript the humanities into the service of political agendas I was pleased with how the London-based openDemocracy.net played this piece. Brits know a thing or two about Singapore and a thing or two or three about universities (the London School of Economics, Warwick) that have over-reached abroad.
America’s Afghan Debacle Disgraced its Cheerleaders, HuffingtonPost, Feb. 27, 2012. This is a moment to remember how conservatives like Max Boot and David Brooks became sudden champions of throwing public money at social welfare problems in Kabul and Kandahar rather than New Orleans or Detroit.
*Why Yale fumbled its star quarterback’s Rhodes Scholarship pass, HuffingtonPost, Feb. 6, 2012. This column isn’t really about football, although it draws a vivid contrast between how the game was played at Yale 125 years ago and now. It’s really about why old colleges are losing what’s worth cherishing and rescuing from them. They weren’t only about the elitism, sexism and racism that have been so rightly challenged. They were also about nurturing the personal strengths and public virtues necessary for that challenge. It’s not enough to drape soulless, self-protective legalism and compulsive marketing in a colorful raiment of “diversity” that disguises their subservience to a business-corporate ethos education.
Rich ironies in Elizabeth Warren’s U.S. Senate Campaign, Huffington Post, Feb. 4, 2012. Early in her race to upset Massachusetts Republican Scott Brown, Warren uttered a long-suppressed truth about society that immediately went viral on video. A truth of this kind has no owner, and Warren may have been channeling the British social historian R.H. Tawney, who uttered the same truth almost a century ago.
**Gods and Monsters: Simon Critchley’s Pilgrimage Away from Liberalism. Review of Critchley’s Faith of the Faithless, Bookforum, Feb-Mar, 2012
Why Obama Defaulted in the State of the Union, Huffington Post, January 25, 2012. His advisers and Beltway apologists in the press had as much to do with this let-down as did Congress.
How Newt Plays the Race Card: Brilliantly Huffington Post, January 23, 2012. This was posted just after his South Carolina primary upset and before the Florida debate and primary.
*Romney’s White, but Social Conservatism Isn’t, Dissent magazine (January 20, 2012). This was prompted by a New York Times essay noting that Romney’s aggressive embodiment of a “white picket fence,” patriarchal family-man image plays to subliminal racism. But the Times wrongly reinforced the notion that there’s something inherently “white” about social conservatism like Romney’s. Quite the opposite, I learned years ago in Brooklyn.
*Review of Randall Kennedy’s The Persistence of the Color Line, Racial Politics and the Obama Presidency, The Nation, December, 2011. I assess Harvard Law Prof Kennedy’s argument that a politics of racial grievance and paroxysm won’t hit the moving target of plutocracy. (I was glad to review this book for The Nation, where I’d been assailed years earlier for making arguments like Kennedy’s in my own books, Liberal Racism and The Closest of Strangers.)
Guess Who Obama Was Channeling in his Populist Kansas Speech? (Dec. 2011) His speech vindicated political psychologist Drew Westin, whose criticisms of Obama I’d been defending since August (see below) against Obama’s Washington apologists. Obama showed he’d gotten Westen’s message (and OWS’ message). Huffington Post, Alternet.
*HENRY KISSINGER’S GRAND STRATEGY TAKES A NEW TURN AT YALE.
Nov., 2011 When Kissinger wrote a coronating New York Times review of a biography of George F. Kennan by the Yale historian John Lewis Gaddis, I decided that someone had to tell the truth about how it had been arranged. As I told a number of people who wrote to congratulate me on this one: “Somebodyhaddasayit.” Kissinger’s Diplomatic Review – Dissent Magazine also in Huffington Post, and the History News Network, Kissinger’s “Diplomatic” Review of John Gaddis’s Latest Book | History News Network I addressed this theme in other reviews and essays, such as this one in Foreign Policy magazine. Grand Strategic Failure – Foreign Policy
How Occupy Wall Street made history,Nov. 12, 2011 even as OWS’ encampments were dispersed. This was written just after Portland, Oregon’s mayor had acted, a day or so ahead of the New York and other city governments. The lessons from Portland apply well to other cities where encampments have been dispersed. Huffington Post
Obama’s neo-liberal Beltway apologists can’t stop defending his compromises. Nov. 8, 2011. This was prompted by a review of Ron Suskind’s book about Obama by Ezra Klein in the New York Review of Books. Klein is a very astute observer of Capitol-corridor realities, but he spends too much time with those realities to recognize that a president must point us all toward broader horizons. Huffington Post
About Occupy Wall Street’s detractors. Nov. 1, 2011 Fed up with Obama’s apologists, I tried to show what a 58-word presidential grand narrative should be.
Behind all the Snarking at Occupy Wall Street. While many and possibly most Americans identified with Occupy Wall Street’s democratic, non-violent protest, the movement brought out more than a little misplaced resentment among certain journalists as well as their readers. Somebody had to say something about where this dark undercurrent has come from. I did — somewhat furiously — in Huffington Post, also in OpenDemocracy.
“New Media,” Markets, and Occupy Wall Street. (Oct. 21-22, 2011) The dynamics of news-gathering and organizing were never more interestingly scrambled than in this movement, I noted first in Dissent and then in Huffington Post
When ‘Diversity” Increases Inequality. Huffington Post, Oct. 22, 2011. It does that when it’s used by elite institutions to disguise the truth that most of their graduates — of whatever color or ‘culture’ – have no serious intention of redressing the grinding inequalities that increasingly divide blacks from blacks as well as blacks from whites, and women from women as much as women from men.
9/11, Then and Now, Ten Years Later. On Sept. 9, 2011, the Yale Daily News published this column, reprising and updating a prescient NPR commentary (if I do say so) that I had recorded two days after 9/11, on Sept. 13, 2001. In this 10th anniversary reflection, I wrote that American grand-strategists haven’t learned much from the attacks about where a republic’s strengths come from and what’s required to sustain them besides armies and economic growth. Versions of this column also ran in openDemocracy,Huffington Post and Alternet. In its next edition the Yale Daily News published a column by Senator Joe Lieberman (Monday, Sept. 13, 2011, “Lessons of the 9/11 Decade,” that was pretty obviously a rebuttal to my commentary, because, in the 9/11 commemorative issue, I had criticized the “grand strategy” approach to foreign-policy that Lieberman made a point of defending.
The unintended irony in Lieberman’s column was that he’d taken time of his speech-writer’s busy schedule to rebut a minor dissent in a special edition of the YDN overloaded with grand strategists’ self-serving reflections and comments. So I responded to Lieberman the next day, in the paper’s online edition and in a letter to the editor in the print edition.
***George Soros and Me on Our Failing Public Sphere, Sept. 8, 2011. (TPMCafe) He and I had been issuing very similar warnings about the public sphere’s howling emptiness and susceptibility to lies.
Great Orations vs. Great Obfuscations, HuffingtonPost, Sept. 4, 2011.Obama’s critics on the left are justified in more ways than one. Here I say in 499 words what it took me 4300 words to say in the posts just below:
***Bluster in the Beltanschauung, HuffingtonPost, Aug. 30, 2011. (Beltanschaunng is my coinage for the worldview of Obama’s Beltway apologists.) Reflecting on recent attacks on Obama’s critics by Fareed Zakaria and other neo-liberal apologists for Obama’s leadership failures, I argue that Washington Beltway pundits have a world-view, or Weltanschauung, all their own: the “Beltanschauung”.
Fareed Zakaria’s Problem — and Ours, August 18, 2011 (TPMCafe) The problem isn’t Obama’s critic Drew Westen, although he was Zakaria’s obvious target. It’s something deeper.
*Why Jews Shouldn’t Obsess About Black Anti-Semitism, Jewish Daily Forward, August 16, 2011 online, August 26 in print.
***Obama vs. the Debt-Crisis’ Greedheads, Fountainheads, Godheads, Airheads, and the Rest of Us, my taxonomy of Obama’s opponents at the 11th hour before the federal debt-default deadline. (TPMCafe)
**Britain’s Murdoch Mess Isn’t Just a Scandal; It’s a Syndrome Dissent, July 20, 2011. Focusing on the criminal activity, horrific though it’s been, eclipses the deeper danger to good journalism that Murdoch reflects and accelerates but didn’t cause.
What the Murdoch Bombshells Really Reveal, July 19, 2011. This is about more than systemic phone-hacking and police corruption.
What Blinds Murdoch’s Enablers and Apologists? and History News Network July 11, 2011. It’s something lower than just “money” that’s making some people who have every reason to know better continue to excuse what he’s doing to democratic publics. I put it in a nutshell here.
Why Revolutions and Raptures Can’t Be Digitized, Salon, July 4, 2011. I was pleased that election law expert Rick Hasen, tracking Brooklyn voter fraud cases from the 1970s and ’80s, resurrected my reporting on it in the Village Voice. He could do it because I’d preserved those stories in pdfs right here below on this site’s “Scoops and Revelations” section. As I explain briefly in the introduction to that section, I was able to break this important case, emboldening the wronged party to take it to court, because I’d been immersed in the community long enough as a journalist to have the context and contacts necessary to catch sleights of hand at the Board of Elections that otherwise wouldn’t have been caught and written about. This was my own introduction to journalism’s indispensability to a healthy public sphere. Hasen judged it sound and shared it around.
****Reinhold Niebuhr in 900 words, beyond (and Above?) Left and Right. Bookforum, summer, 2011
Are We Ready for Rudy Giuliani’s Comeback? Unfortunately, he thinks he is. June 13, 2011. (TPMCafe) To everyone who laughed at me for this column, I said, “Just you wait and see.”
Muddled Washington Leaders Inspire Muddled Punditry May 17, 2011 (TPMCafe)
***American Journalism in the Coils of Ressentiment (TPMCafe) This exposes the serpentine and sad dishonesty of William McGowan’s Gray Lady Down: What the Decline and Fall of the New York Times means for America, May 11, 2011. Here I broaden arguments from my Washington Monthly review, “Misreading the New York Times.” Both of these have been commended by an editor at The Columbia Journalism Review.
Obama bin Dustbin? Not necessarily. May 2, 2011.(TPMCafe)
The Stakes in the Budget Debate Revealed? Not Quite, April 17, 2011. (TPMCafe) Neither conservatives nor liberals are telling a central truth about the regime we live in.
***Academic Audacity? Dissent, Spring, 2011. My review of historian James Kloppenberg’s Reading Obama assesses the book’s claims that Obama’s sensibility and his political thinking (even if not his political practice) owe a lot more to philosophical pragmatism than I think they do. Kloppenberg acknowledges the other, pre-university elements in Obama’s make-up and thinking, but Kloppenberg is a lot more ardent about the necessity and the benefits of pragmatic philosophy than Obama is or can afford to be.
*David Brooks, Social Animal, or Social Scientist?, March 28, 2011. (TPMCafe) (Ab)using social science to stage a political makeover.
Whose ‘Solidarity’? March 2, 2011. (TPMCafe) On labor unions’ impurities and necessities.
All the News that’s Fit to Sell, Yale Daily News, Feb. 25, 2011. A column about what has happened to newspapers’ contributions to the public sphere as conglomerate ownership displaces old moguls and family trusts with single-minded bottom-lining.
The New Jews, 1971: A totally surprising blast from my past. by Yehudah Mirsky, Jewish Ideas Daily, Feb. 9, 2011. In the summer of 1968, between my junior and senior years in college, I conceived an anthology of essays by young religious Jewish “radicals” such as myself at that time. Co-editor Alan Mintz and I recruited contributors and published The New Jews as a Vintage paperback in 1971. Imagine my surprise (and embarrassment, since my essays in the volume are jejune) when a review appeared last week, prompted by the 40th anniversary of the book’s publication. My own essays were paltry, but Yehudah Mirsky rightly observed that some essays were lovely, some profound, and that some had stood up well.
The Arab Spring’s False New Friends, Feb 2, 2011. (TPMCafe) More neoconservative democratic songs and dances.
Glenn Beck Reminds Neocons It’s 1939 All Over Again, Nov. 12, 2012(TPMCafe) Also at History News Network How American Stalinists became Neoconservatives without really changing. Beck Also Knocks at 78-year-old Radical — and Me (TPM Cafe), Jan. 22, 2011Third Thoughts About the Tuscon Massacre, Nov 3, 2010 (TPMCafe) Deranged loners are more tuned in to a society’s subliminal hatreds and fears than most of us admit. So, yes, there was a connection between the rampage and the sorry condition of the public sphere.
Why did Democrats lose the 2010 midterms so badly? George Packer tries to explain it by telling us about himself. Nov. 3, 2010 (TPMCafe)
Re: Israel, Can There Be Sagacity Without Sincerity? Oct. 27, 2010.(TPMCafe) Another look at ex-war hawk Peter Beinart’s ballyhooed conversion.
“Blame Those Ivy League Liberals!” Oct. 25, 2010. (TPMCafe) Conservative pundits recycle their familiar dodge of the real reasons why income disparities are destroying American politics.
*Yale’s Real Social Network, Yale Daily News, Oct. 15, 2010. The world isn’t flat, Yale’s founders insisted in 1701; it had abysses that harbored demons. Students still need a faith and symbols strong enough to plumb those depths, face down those demons, and sometimes re-surface and defy worldly power in the name of a higher one. What has happened to that pedagogical mission, and what are the consequences of losing it?
**Two Ways of Bankrupting Businesses’ Cultures, October 6, 2010. (TPMCafe) What corporate bottom-lining is doing to civic decency in news media — and why. This example comes from a New York Times report on what’s been happening at the Tribune Corporation.
Getting Race Right: A response to Ta-Nehisi Coates’ critique of the Peretz legacy, in Sept. 21, 2010 (TPMCafe)
What ‘on dit’ about New Republic literary editor Leon Wieseltier, Sept. 18, 2010.(TPMCafe) He’s at it again, seeing through “sophistication” while remaining trapped in it.
Martial Flaw: How to Spin History to Justify Modern-Day Orchestrations of Military Power, DEMOCRACY Journal, Fall, 2010. This review-essay is partly about Victor Davis Hanson, the firebrand conservative historian. I show that some of his anthology’s contributors went off his reservation but that, to his credit, he published them, anyway. Also posted in History News Network. Hanson didn’ take this well. So:What Hanson’s Ideology Does to Ancient History and Foreign Policy, Sept. 23, 2010.(TPMCafe)My response to his rant about my review.
***Grand Strategic Failure: Why Charles Hill’s new book is as suspect as his entire career. Foreign Policy, August 13, 2010. This account of the crisis in American leadership training and liberal education is extended in my report, “What Politics Does to History via George Shultz & Charles Hill.” These two pieces should be read together.
**Power and Appeasement. Donald Kagan and Paul Kennedy on opposite sides, and a third Yale professor, Jonathan Schell, looks beyond. The Guardian, August 12, 2010.
*Sorry, Robert Kagan, America Isn’t Superman, Washington Monthly, July 23, 2014.This post links a 2-minute video (3rd-to-last paragraph) showing Kagan’s balloon being popped in 2009 by then-French foreign-minister Dominique DeVillepin. Also in History News Network.
**Stanley McChrystal’s Master-Stroke (at home, not abroad)? June 24, 2010. By getting fired, has he set the state for an insurgency against Obama? What Obama may lose by dismissing him,
All Israel, All the Time? A risky dissent at TPM Cafe, June 13, 2010
ISRAEL’S TRAGEDY, AMERICAN NEO -CONSERVATIVES’ FOLLY. A dozen columns, written early in 2009, during the Gaza War and amid neo-conservative re-positionings on American conservatism.
Peter Beinart Unbound, and Israel in the Dock. May 19, 2010.(TPMCafe) There are no un-thankless ways to write about Israel and its apologists or its scourges, but here goes.
**New York Mayor John Lindsay and the Liberal Dilemma I was one of the talking heads on WNET’s hour-long documentary, “Fun City Revisited: The Lindsay Years”. For some reason, the video is no longer available, but here are my comments on what it showed about liberals’ urban dilemmas.
***Reflecting about race and the left; NPR Interview, April 15, 2010, NPR Interview, April 15, 2010, The Brian Lehrer Show, WNYC, on the 20th anniversary of my The Closest of Strangers: Liberalism and the Politics of Race in New York. This interview lasts about 20 minutes.
Liberal Racism and Power at the New York Times, April 7, 2010. (TPMCafe)
Beware Racial Conspiracy Mongers — on Both Sides, April 5, 2010. (TPMCafe) Both The New Republic and The Nation got dragged into this one, and both got a bit over-excited — as I had reason to know.
**Religion in Politics? Can’t Live With It, Can’t Live Without It, March 26, 2010. (TPMCafe) Religion is often indispensable to civic insurgencies but odious and oppressive when it rules.
What David Brooks and his Editors and Producers Keep on Missing, March 16, 2010 (TPMCafe)
***The Original Boston Tea Party Was Anti-Big Business, (TPMCafe) and openDemocracy, February, 2010 Tea Partiers protest that government is coddling incompetent and dishonest corporations with taxpayers’ money, but they don’t stand up against those corporations.
Obama’s 2010 ‘State of the Union’ Address: Pearls Before Swine. January 27, 2010 (TPMCafe)
***How the Supreme Court Heralded its Campaign-finance Coup in Citizens United, Jan. 22 and 24 2010. (TPMCafe) Two columns here. To really understand how shoddy this ruling is, note what some Justices actually said about it six months before they delivered it. The day after writing this, I did a quick follow up, “More Obfuscation About Corporate ‘Speech’”, prompted in part by a lazy piece in the New York Times.
Dems won in 2008, but here’s why they’re in trouble in 2010 Two short, columns, Jan. 18, 2010, (TPMCafe) show why undercurrents driving Massachusetts’ upset election of Scott Brown to replace Ted Kennedy in the U.S. Senate are also driving a new American Dilemma. (“Whose Voodo?” Not Haiti’s, January 15, 2010.) The Haitian earthquake points up the dangers of carrying cultural explanations of disaster too far.
A Neo-con Hanukah!(?) Dec. 12, 2009. (TPMCafe) Once again, neo-cons are trying to find in Judaism too many precedents and justifications for their national-security-state strategies.
**Obama, Commander-in-What?”Dec. 11, 2009. (TPMCafe) His Nobel Prize acceptance speech was deft, but it still begged a few too many questions, prompted by his predecessor’s failures, and still unresolved, about the proper scope of presidential power.
What Obama’s West Point Speech Revealed About His Presidency, Dec. 2, 2009. (TPMCafe) The problem isn’t his presidency, its what others are doing to the republic.
The Corrupt Congressional Black Caucus, Two Columns,Dec. 2, 2009 and Feb. 13, 2010. (TPMCafe) A study in sinuous ethno-racial solidarity.
***Dissent magazine essay, “Stanley McChrystal’s War on Poverty,” in which I explain why those who are demanding that the U.S. spread democracy while defeating the Taliban are the same people who have spent a decade seriously damaging this country’s capacity to do either.
David Brooks: Here He Goes (to War) Again October 30, 2009. (TPMCafe) A Halloween post that’s dead serious about NY Times columnist David Brooks as he ratchets up another doomed war scenario. An indictment of this charming but serpentine writer, who, as I put it gently in this Halloween column, “sucks the blood of the American republic and thinks he’s in love.”
Obama’s Civil Religion — And Ours,October 27, 2009. (TPMCafe) The President is one part Harvard neo-liberal, one part Chicago pol, and one part legatee and leader of an American civil religion carried forward by the civil-rights movement from earlier Puritan and Hebraic currents that joined Christian personal witness to collective history making as exemplified in the Hebrew Exodus from Egypt.
* World Affairs Journal, how Puritan and Hebrew strands shaped the early American republic and still drive its character and purposes in ways we have forgotten and miscarried.
What ‘Liberal’ Academy? October 21, 2009. (TPMCafe) In writing this column and, after that, this letter to The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Chronicle of Higher Education, October 18, 2009, I was provoked by an exchange there among Mark Lilla, Alan Wolfe, and Bruce L. R. Smith about “liberal” bias against conservative scholars. I thought that they missed the elephant in the room: The real cause of intellectual and cultural conformity isn’t leftists or liberals, silly though their priorities and policies have sometimes been, but swift market currents driving students and administrators, as well as professors and students.
***Can Anything Change the Conversation? Maybe This Book Can. Sept. 21, 2009. (TPMCafe) Irving Kristol’s bad faith vs. Nicholas Thompson’s civic-republican faith.
***This Anger Isn’t Just Black and White, Washington Post, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2009. When Jimmy Carter said that most Tea Party-style rage at Obama is racist, I felt that there’s more to it than that. The Washington Post ran my take on the front page of its “Outlook” section and hosted this extensive on-line chat in which readers and I discussed the claim.
Has the New York Times Book Review Come to Its Senses? Sept. 12, 2009. (TPMCafe)Leon Wieseltier’s put-down of Norman Podhoretz in the Book Review isn’t as reassuring as it may seem.
**Corporate ‘Free Speech’? Since When?, Boston Globe, Sept. 5, 2009. In 700 words, my civic-republican case for why the Supreme Court shouldn’t void restraints on corporate influence in election. This got a lot of responses.
Why Are Some Jews Like Norman Podhoretz? Bookforum, Sept.-Oct., 2009. In Why Are Jews Liberals?, Norman Podhoretz unintentionally shows why some Jews are neo-conservatives and why, these days, a few liberals are former neo-cons who’ve been mugged by reality.
**After Finger-pointing at the Tea Party, a Cautionary Reminder to the Left, August 25, 2009. (TPMCafe) Town-hall and “Tea Party” craziness like what we saw this summer isn’t exclusive to the right, as some have suggested. Candor about the parallels on the left actually makes some important differences between it and the right much clearer.
Gail Collins Tells David Brooks, the Sophist, Where to Go, August 13, 2009. (TPMCafe) One Times columnist tells another to stop pretending to have undertaken a post-partisan makeover and to return to his Republican Party to change it.
An ‘Imperturbably Valiant’ Lawyer, July 29, 2009. (TPMCafe) Nancy Wechsler (1916-2009) balancedcivic-republican principle and progressive conviction.
Annals of Protest: Chris Hedges: A Jeremiah Without a God? July 17, 2009. (TPMCafe) Hedges scourged the producers of Michael Jackson’s weird afterlife, justly. But maybe he also scourged himself.
**Who Needs the NY Times? We All Do. Still. July 8, 2009 (TPMCafe)
***Four columns on Iran’s “Green Revolution” that foresaw what its neoconservative cheerleaders didn’t see coming. (TPMCafe) 2009
Yale’s student civic culture, 1969 and 2009, Yale Daily News, April 30, 2009. A Commencement-season reminiscence suggests that certain things haven’t changed. You might be surprised at what hasn’t.
* Ross Douthat, a Strange New Voice on the NY Times Op Ed page, March 13, 2009. (TPMCafe) The conservative Catholic Douthat, 29, will pose a deeper challenge to left-liberals than his neo-conservative predecessors have, because he has beliefs, while they have insecurities masquerading as insights.
Neo-cons, Rising Again? This editor seems to hope so. Feb. 18, 2009(TPMCafe) New York Times Book Review deputy editor Barry Gewen can’t quite let go of his fascination with them. The review section’s editor-in-chief sees things a little differently:
U.S. Neo-Cons Jump Conservative Ship, openDemocracy, Feb. 10, 2009. Their predicament reminds us that conservatism’s original sin lies not in its bombastic neo-conservative interlopers but in the tragic nature of conservatism itself.
**Half-Right, (Douthat reconsidered). Commonweal, Feb. 13, 2009. A review of Ross Douthat and Reihan Salam’s Grand New Party: How Republicans Can Win the Working Class and Save the American Dream.
**Status/Self-Esteem Disequilibrium Strikes David Brooks, Feb. 3, 2009.(TPMCafe) You’ve never heard of it? Neither had I until I made it up to parody Brooks’ confusion on my way to explaining why his punditry is almost as self-deluding and destructive as Bernard Madoff’s ponzi-scheme investing.
**David Brooks’ Love-Hate Ivy Obsessions, Nov. 21, 2008. (TPMCafe) Like most conservatives, David Brooks used to lampoon them. Then he discovered that the reality at Yale and Harvard is more complex and, in some ways, more impressive. But don’t count on him to keep saying so.
For 20 columns written in 2008-9 on Barack Obama’s rise through his year-long, civic-republican revival rally, through his election and inauguration and a little beyond, read JIM SLEEPER’S OBAMA CHRONICLES, 2008. jimsleeper.com » The Obama Chronicles, 2008 – 2012
There you’ll find, in chronological order, reportage and commentary that are now useful to historians, political observers, active citizens, and journalists who covered the high-stakes campaign.
The columns trace the evolution of my own and others’ thinking about Obama’s candidacy and his handling of challenges involving race, elitism, exoticism, economic disorientation, campaigning style, and leadership. Note the ones on racial identity, including assessments of what other commentators, were saying. Note also the columns on Louis Farrakhan, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Obama’s comment on whites who “cling to guns and God,” and his race speech in Philadelphia.
Here also are others’ assessments of my columns that appeared in the New York Times “Opinionator,” in The Chronicle of Higher Education, and in posts by Obama-bashing neoconservative such s Daniel Pipes. Some of the columns look at candidates Rudolph Giuliani, John McCain, Joe Biden, and “Billary” (Bill and Hillary) Clinton. Don’t Gloat — Organize. Dissent, Nov. 6. 2008 — part of a collection of pieces, “The Day After,” by Dissent editors, including Michael Walzer on Obama’s victory.
***Things We Don’t Talk About When We Talk About Race, Dissent, Oct. 27, 2008. Eight days before election, everyone is talking about whether “the Bradley effect” will sink Obama’s apparent lead.
Senators, Don’t Just Hold Your Nose and Go Along This Time, October 1, 2008. (TPMCafe) Hours before the Senate’s scheduled vote on a bailout package, responses from sober bankers, professors, and policy analysts to my column of last night were surprising and seemed to warrant another column.
Why a Second Bailout Bill Should Fail, Sept. 30, 2008. (TPMCafe) Not that I expected it to….
***“Yoo EsAy! Yoo Es Ay!” September 6, 2008. (TPMCafe) The Republican tragedy in John McCain’s acceptance speech.
***Intellectual Usury Feels Good, at First” (TPM Cafe) andHistory News Network.July 20, 2008. Punditry, perversity, and the foreclosure crisis. Liberal education vs, money, power, and public relations.
“Examining the Crimson’s Civic Slide,” The Boston Globe, 2008. Review of former Harvard College Dean Harry Lewis’ book, Education Without a Soul.)
Changing the Debate — For Real, History News Network July 18, 2008. This continues the arguments of the previous post, focusing somewhat on the deep and pervasive taboos against criticizing corporate capitalism and our two-party system. I see Republicans as Whigs, circa 1858, but, so far, there is no credible leadership pointing beyond both parties, unless Obama can actually do it.
Conservatives’ Conundrum — and Ours, History News Network, June 18, 2008. What’s gotten into George Packer? His account of “The Fall of Conservatism” in the May 26 New Yorker shows mainly how the chattering classes, liberal as well as conservative, avoid reckoning our civic-republican decline.
A Literary Prophet’s Bad Faith, April 28, 2008. (TPMCafe) This assessment of Leon Wieseltier’s assault in the New York Times Book Review on Martin Amis book about 9/11 shows not only that it takes one to know one but also envy and rivalry compounded by bad faith.
Did disgraced New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s deserve a second chance? Wayne Barrett and I discussed this on NPR’s Brian Lehrer Show in March 2008. There and in this Huffington Post column, I contended that Spitzer’s self-destruction hadn’t exactly left his investigators with clean hands.
Giuliani: Should We or Shouldn’t We? The Tallahassee Democrat, January 24, 2008. This ran in the daily newspaper of Florida’s capital just before Rudy Giuliani’s make-or-break bid for the Republican presidential nomination in the state’s GOP Primary of January 29, 2007
Arthur Sulzberger’s Cracked Kristol Ball (also at History News Network) (TPMCafe) January 6, 2008. Why The New York Times’ publisher made a leading neoconservative apparatchik an op-ed page columnist, and what that costs the paper’s credibility. Jury’s Out, Dissent, Winter, 2008, in a collection of short essays prompted by Tocqueville’s remarks on the jury system.
Teaching Toughness, Democracy Journal, Winter, 2008, review of Richard Kahlenberg’s Tough Liberal, a biography of teachers’ union president Albert .
The Sacred States of America, Boston Globe, August 19, 2007 (Review of David Gelernter’s Americanism: The Fourth Great Western Religion)
Invasion of the Body Snatchers: Another Good Journalist Lost, this time in Eric Pooley’s fawning profile of Rupert Murdoch, July 6, 2007 (TPMCafe)
Brooks Gores (Al) Gore, May 29, 2007 (TPMCafe)
**They Can’t Stop Flailing the Ghosts of Left-Liberalism Past, Nov. 9, 2006 (TPMCafe)
Loyalty Gone Wrong: Review of The Man TIME Forgot, by Isaiah Wilner, Yale Alumni Magazine, 2006 (Scroll way down the pdf to “Loyalty Gone Wrong”) If you tend to idealize the “old,” white-male Yale, this will temper your enthusiasm.
***What I saw on 9/11 and shortly after. These four columns, each for a different newspaper, took distinctive but related approaches. The New York Daily News column, written on 9/12, when the horror was still raw, was published on 9/14. In the New York Observer I made some counterintuitive observations about what fortified the city’s first responders. In a New York Post column, I noted a personal connection to the World Trade Center’s destruction. And here’s what I said about 9/11 on NPR’s ‘All Things Considered’ three days later, on 9/14. I adapted that commentary for the Yale Daily News.)
Washington Post reviews:
Washington Post book reviews by Jim Sleeper:
C. Eric Lincoln’s ‘Coming Through the Fire: Surviving Race and Place in America’; Benjamin DeMott, The Trouble With Friendship: Why Americans Can’t Think Straight About Race; Henry Louis Gates and Cornel West, The Future of the Race
Ronald Dworkin’s Sovereign Virtue’ Jonathan I. Z. Agronsky, Marion Barry: The Politics of Race An accessible critique of the political philosopher’s arguments.
Carl T. Rowan’s The Coming Race War in America: A Wake-up Call, Richard Delgado’s The Coming Race War? And other apocalyptic tales of America after Affirmative Action and Welfare. (“Nightmares of Rage and Destruction,” The Washington Post, 1996.)