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Obama’s Leadership Gap

By Elvin Lim
For after endorsing the idea of the mosque near Ground Zero and resisting the path of least resistance, a day later, the President back-tracked, saying, “I was not commenting and I will not comment on the wisdom of making the decision to put a mosque there. I was commenting very specifically on the right that people have that dates back to our founding.” (As Kerry was for the Iraq war before he was against it.) Well done, Polonius.

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Martin Luther King, Jr., Rhetorically Speaking

Each year on the third Monday of January, we’re reminded of the practice of civil disobedience, of overcoming (and sometimes succumbing to) overwhelming adversities over which we have but marginal control, and of the power that language has to effect change in the world.

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Politics & Paine: Part 4

Welcome to the final installment the Politics & Paine series. Harvey Kaye and Elvin Lim are corresponding about Thomas Paine, American politics, and beyond. Read the first post here, and the second post here, and the third post here. Kaye is the author of the award-winning book, Thomas Paine: Firebrand of Revolution, as well as […]

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Wilberforce University: a pioneering institution in African American education

What do opera singer Leontyne Price, activist Victoria Gray Adams, civil rights organizer Bayard Rustin, and Harvard sociologist William Julius Wilson have in common? They all attended or graduated from Wilberforce University. Located outside of Dayton, Ohio, Wilberforce was the first institution of higher education to be owned and operated by African Americans.

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The Importance of History

by David Brion Davis I’m concerned with the erosion of interest in history — the view expressed by even some leading teachers and intellectuals that we should “let bygones be bygones,” “free” ourselves from the boring and oppressive past, and concentrate on a fresh and better future. I’m passionately committed to the cause that distinguishes […]

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Osama and Obama

By Andrew J. Polsky
No Easy Day, the new book by a member of the SEAL team that killed Osama bin Laden on 30 April 2011, has attracted widespread comment, most of it focused on whether bin Laden posed a threat at the time he was gunned down. Another theme in the account by Mark Owen (a pseudonym) is how the team members openly weighed the political ramifications of their actions.

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9780195331318

Our Distant Civil War

We too often forget that the generation that fought the Civil War lived in a world very different from our own. In our attempt to personalize the past, which all too often leads us into a romanticization of that past, we see the elements of human experience that unite us with the Civil War generation—how they, as individuals, loved and lost, laughed and cried, lived and died—but we tend, in the process, to overlook how these same people spent their lifetimes in a world that, upon closer inspection, seems like an alien planet.

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Presidents, protest, and patriotism

By Andrew J. Polsky
In the midst of a military conflict, domestic antiwar opposition always vexes a president. This reaction is understandable. He sees the criticism as a risk to national security, something that will give aid and comfort to the enemy, demoralize American troops in combat, and weaken the resolve of the public. What he fails to appreciate is how protest serves as a warning that something has gone very wrong with his war.

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