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Education Beat: Why College Needs a Perestroika
The problem with politics at US universities isn’t simply the “imbalance” between Democratic voices and Republican ones, explains James Walker in Quillette, but “the extent to which humanities departments have become politicized.” Colleges have devalued the idea of reading or interpreting a lesson in any way other than as an extension of current political debates: “An education in the humanities risks becoming nothing more than a political education . . . that isn’t worth pursuing for anyone other than the already-converted activist.” The solution, Walker asserts, is “a perestroika that opens up the possibility for scholars and students to pursue the full range of intellectual interests.”
Foreign Desk: Trump’s Deal with China on North Korea
President Trump reportedly told Chinese President Xi Jinping that he could accept a trade imbalance in return for China’s help on North Korea. That’s because he sees trade differently, writes Walter Russell Mead at The American Interest. Since WWII, US presidents have been willing to accept trade agreements that aren’t strictly reciprocal because of the larger value in a peaceful, US-led world order. “In Trump’s view, that may have been good policy in the 1940s and 1950s, but beginning with the recovery of Europe and Japan, to say nothing of the rise of developing countries on the basis of export-led growth worldwide, America should have changed strategies, looking to bilateral negotiations,” says Mead, where political concessions can more readily be on the table.
From the Right: Rapper’s Lesson for Conservatives
Kendrick Lamar released his new album Friday, and on one track he samples a segment where Geraldo Rivera criticizes his appearance at the 2015 BET Awards, in which Lamar rapped atop a cop car while performing a song with references to police brutality. At The Washington Examiner, Liz Wolfe says there’s a lesson here for conservatives looking to engage with pop culture. Instead of reflexively taking offense, she counsels conservatives to “appreciate that Lamar doesn’t display any sort of blind patriotism.” Instead, supporters of limited government should understand the appeal of questioning the excesses of powerful government institutions: “We’re becoming more aware of racial bias, civil asset forfeiture and the embarrassing failures of the drug war.”
Cornell Professors: The Myth of Charles Murray’s Extremism
Last month, a violent mob of student-protesters chased conservative scholar Charles Murray from a planned lecture at Middlebury College, accusing him of bigotry and extremism. So Cornell professors Wendy M. Williams and Stephen J. Ceci decided to conduct an experiment: They took the text of his speech and sent it to 70 professors and, without telling them whose speech it was, asked for a rating of between 1 (very liberal) and 9 (very conservative). The two write in The New York Times that “the 57 professors who responded to our request gave Mr. Murray’s talk an average score of 5.05, or ‘middle of the road.’ ” Many found liberal themes in the talk, but, crucially, “No one raised concerns that the material was contentious, dangerous or otherwise worthy of censure.”
Humanitarian Exec: Iran’s Grand Ambition
“Iran’s strategic posture is only as strong as the supply line that supports it,” writes International Crisis Group COO Joost Hiltermann in the New York Review of Books. Thus, the importance of Syria: Iran has an air route connecting it to its proxies, “but the Iranian government wants to consolidate this with a land corridor running from its own borders to the Mediterranean.” That “explains the importance of Iran’s alliance with the Assad government in Syria, and also why Iran and Hezbollah were in such a hurry after 2011 to prop up the Syrian regime when it was threatened with imminent collapse.” This isn’t just unnerving to Israel: “For one thing, the envisioned Iranian land corridor threatens to cut off Iraq’s own north-south oil pipeline.” Plus, Turkey “feels threatened because the envisioned Iranian corridor skirts Turkey’s border with both Syria and Iraq.” Tehran’s quest for regional control continues to be at the center of Mideast turmoil.
Compiled by Seth Mandel
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