Social Issues & Demographics

The Old Taboos, Back in the News

  • By
  • Gregory Rodriguez,
  • New America Foundation
May 23, 2011 |

Sex, power, class and race. The scandals encircling French politician Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who is accused of sexually assaulting an African-born maid in New York, and Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has confessed to having a child out of wedlock with a Latina housekeeper, for all their differences, conjure major taboos.

Comprehensive Immigration Reform Is Dead -- and the Left Is to Blame

  • By
  • Michael Lind,
  • New America Foundation
May 17, 2011 |

Comprehensive immigration reform is dead. For the foreseeable future, there is no chance that Congress will pass a grand bargain on immigration reform like the one that fell apart in 2007 including a mass amnesty or path to citizenship for most illegal immigrants already in the U.S. Nor is there any chance that the Dream Act, which would provide citizenship for many illegal immigrants as long as they attended college or served in the U.S. military, will be enacted into law. The Democrats could not pass the unpopular Dream Act even when they controlled both houses of Congress last December.

Secularism Gains Ground

  • By
  • Gregory Rodriguez,
  • New America Foundation
May 16, 2011 |

Woohoo! Secularism has arrived. That was one reaction to the news that Pitzer College in Claremont is launching a secular studies department.

"Well, it's about time!" wrote an eager academic in the Chronicle of Higher Education. The editor of CNN's Belief blog didn't know "whether to be surprised that it happened or surprised that it took so long."

Do We Need a New Bible?

  • By
  • Michael Lind,
  • New America Foundation
May 10, 2011 |

A.C. Grayling, a British professor of philosophy, recently published a secular version of the Bible, "The Good Book: A Humanist Bible."  To create his scriptures, Grayling has rewritten thoughts from many sages of the past in archaic language that evokes the King James Bible. His humanist Bible has sections titled Genesis, Proverbs and Epistles.

For Americans, to Infinity and Beyond

  • By
  • Gregory Rodriguez,
  • New America Foundation
May 9, 2011 |

President Obama tried to use the announcement of the death of Osama bin Laden to get Americans to think big again. The successful end of a 10-year manhunt, he declared last week, was a "testament to the greatness of our country and the determination of the American people."

But Bin Laden's death instead seemed to feed stubborn domestic divisions and conjure thorny geopolitical stalemates. Maybe the president should take a different tack to get the public to embrace the "big things" rhetoric he launched in January's State of the Union address.

America Reboots

  • By
  • Gregory Rodriguez,
  • New America Foundation
May 3, 2011 |

When I got to ground zero at 10 minutes past midnight Sunday night, a few hundred people, mostly   young men, were hooting and hollering in the direction of two kids waving a 3' x 4' American flag with a black-and-white image of Marilyn Monroe emblazoned on it.  Scores of people were thrusting their camera phones in the air taking pictures of the swirling crowd, and complete strangers were shooting one another friendly glances.

Compassionate Consumerism? Don't Buy Into It

  • By
  • Gregory Rodriguez,
  • New America Foundation
May 2, 2011 |

Compassionate consumerism — as some critics describe today's hottest trend in philanthropy — encourages people to feel socially conscientious while guiltlessly enjoying the good life. The idea is that you "give" by buying or selling a product, a portion of whose proceeds go to the needy. I don't think so.

Parachute do-goodism is a little closer to a charitable ideal, but it still allows you to think you can succeed at saving the world merely by helping faraway strangers on a one-off spring break or during a gap year before college.

Out of Eden

  • By
  • Charles Kenny,
  • New America Foundation
April 27, 2011 |

The image of the innocent indigene, unsullied by the coarsening traffic of civilization, has a long history. When Christopher Columbus returned from the New World, he reported his interaction with peaceful natives living the life of Adam and Eve in a new Eden. His descriptions were part of a ploy to snatch success out his failure to reach the Spice Islands of the East Indies. And the image remains a powerful advertising tool to this day.

The War Between the Whites

  • By
  • Gregory Rodriguez,
  • New America Foundation
April 25, 2011 |

The fourth-grade teacher in Virginia who performed a mock slave auction in her classroom April 1 — with the white kids pretending to buy and sell the black kids — was duly chastised by school officials for her racial insensitivity. Given that she meant to be giving a lesson on the Civil War, she should also have been scolded for pedagogical inaccuracy.

The Joy of Not Cooking

  • By
  • Megan McArdle,
  • New America Foundation
April 12, 2011 |

I call my Shun chef’s knife beautiful, but objectively, nothing about its form is particularly lovely. The blade has a strange, asymmetrical curve, a hint of the crooked leer that curls the lips of villains in old detective movies. It cuts brilliantly, of course, with formidable balance and heft. But my potato masher does a fine job of smashing tubers, yet I never tell people it’s pretty. So why lavish such praise on a knife? One reviewer even called it “sexy,” a flinch-worthy description if you dwell on it for even a nanosecond.

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