The Internet’s big thinkers shared their perspectives on the issues of the week — from immigration reform to President Obama’s drone policies. Here are some of the opinions that got us thinking. Did we miss one? Share the “ideas” that caught your attention this week in the comment section.
“The Persistence of Racial Resentment” in The New York Times
Who: Thomas B. Edsall, Columbia University journalism professor and author of The Age of Austerity
The Idea: Have racial attitudes in America changed since the election (and re-election) of President Barack Obama? According to research quoted by Edsall, racial resentment toward blacks has risen since Obama was first elected in 2008, especially among Republicans. Yet despite this, Obama was able to earn a higher number of white votes than his Democratic predecessors. Why? Edsall blames the GOP’s “deepening conservatism” and cautions that, in order to win the White House again, the Republican party must “assuage the social conscience of mainstream, moderate white voters among whom an ethos of tolerance has become normal.”
Sum-it-up Quote: “Not only is the right risking marginalization as its views on race have become more extreme, it is veering out of the mainstream on contraception and abortion, positions that fueled an 11 point gender gap in 2012 and a 13 point gap in 2008.”
Who: Al Cardenas, Chairman of the American Conservative Union
The Idea: Cardenas argues that politicians on both sides of the aisle should forget about the political ramifications of immigration reform (i.e., votes) and work together to find an “acceptable” solution because it’s the right thing to do.
Sum-it-up Quote: “Let me be clear about the choices we face. They are: A continuation of our current unacceptable executive fiat or a bipartisan solution, which may be imperfect but at the very least significantly improve the status quo.”
Who: Peter Bergen, CNN’s national security analyst and director at the New America Foundation
The Idea: An attack on an Algerian gas facility by an al Qaeda-linked group has sparked fear in politicians around the world. But is the terrorist network, which has been irrevocably damaged by the death of Osama bin Laden and other top operatives, really a threat? Bergen says that while some jihadist militants linked with al Qaeda have footholds in Syria, Yemen and Libya, the core of al Qaeda is “going the way of the dodo” with no real threat to the West.
Sum-it-up Quote: “Western politicians and commentators who claim that the al Qaeda linked groups in North Africa are a serious threat to the West unnecessarily alarm their publics and also feed the self-image of these terrorists who aspire to attack the West, but don’t have the capacity to do so. Terrorism doesn’t work if folks aren’t terrorized.”
“Obama’s Drone Policy, Rooted in Self-Defense” in The Washington Post
Who: Michael Gerson, columnist and former speech writer and senior policy advisor to President George W. Bush
The Idea: The Obama Administration has been criticized for the use of drone strikes against al-Qaeda associated groups, especially when U.S. citizens are part of those groups. But Gerson argues that the strikes are based on a “concept of self-defense in an age of terrorism” that “emerges when terrorists plot, train for and incite attacks.” This approach has been embraced by many presidents, including George W. Bush, who talked of remaining “on the offensive” in order to prevent attacks “before they arrive”.
Sum-it-up Quote: “Drone strikes are an innovation in anticipatory self-defense, requiring careful oversight and a high threshold for action. They are also a technology that allows the most discriminate application of force in the history of warfare. That the use of drones protects U.S. troops from risk is a virtue.”
“Against Black History Month” on National Review Online
Who: Charles C.W. Cooke, editorial associate
The Idea: There isn’t a White History Month so why is there Black History Month? Cooke argues that instead of being treated as a “separate and limited discipline”, black history should be integrated into “mainstream” American history, especially in school curriculums. “If there is still too little ‘black history’ taught in America’s schools — or if ‘black history’ is being taught incorrectly — then we should change the curriculum,” Cooke says.
Sum-it-up Quote: “Eighty-seven years later… Black history is no longer ‘overlooked, ignored, and even suppressed.’ It shouldn’t be separated, either.”