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The New Republic


  • Originally published 08/23/2013

    Andrew Delbanco: Lincoln's Long Game

    At the time of his first inauguration, it was widely noted that President Obama was a great admirer of Abraham Lincoln. Those who thrilled at the election of our first black president thought his decision to swear his oath on the same Bible Lincoln had used was fitting and proper. Those who distrusted him found it excessive and vain.

  • Originally published 06/04/2013

    Michael Kazin: The Forgotten President

    Michael Kazin is editor of Dissent and teaches history at Georgetown University. His latest book is American Dreamers: How the Left Changed a Nation.The first liberal Democratic president took office exactly 100 years ago this spring. So why aren’t contemporary liberals bestowing the same praise on Woodrow Wilson as they lavish on Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson? Granted, if he were running today, Woodrow Wilson wouldn’t win a single Democratic primary and would no doubt be heckled out of the race. Raised in the South, he smiled on Jim Crow and did not object when two of his cabinet appointees re-segregated their departments. A crusading Presbyterian, he vowed to “teach the Latin American republics to elect good men” and dispatched troops to Mexico and Haiti when they didn’t follow his advice. During World War I, he enforced new laws that effectively outlawed most dissent from government policy.

  • Originally published 05/17/2013

    Jeffrey Rosen: Obama Behaving Like Woodrow Wilson

    Jeffrey Rosen (@rosenjeffrey) is The New Republic's legal affairs editor....Obama’s rediscovery of the 1917 Espionage Act is grimly appropriate, since the president whose behavior on civil liberties he is most directly channeling isn’t, in fact, Richard Nixon or George W. Bush. It’s Woodrow Wilson. An enthusiastic supporter of Espionage Act prosecutions, the progressive, detached, technocratic Wilson was so convinced of his own virtue that he was willing to jail the Socialist candidate for president, Eugene V. Debs, for his mild criticism of the war, even as he championed progressive reforms such as the Federal Reserve and the Federal Trade Commission, both of them designed with the help of his economic advisor, Louis Brandeis.Wilson had a sorry record on civil liberties, and once Brandeis was on the Supreme Court, he eloquently criticized the Wilson administration for its betrayal of progressive values such as free speech and transparency, declaring that “sunlight is the best disinfectant,” and unforgettably extolling the necessity of protecting political dissent.Let’s hope today’s progressives teach the Wilsonian Obama a similar lesson.

  • Originally published 04/23/2013

    Gene Seymour: What the Jackie Robinson Film Leaves Out

    Gene Seymour spent more than thirty years writing for daily newspapers, eighteen of them as a movie critic and feature writer for Newsday. He has been published in Film Comment, The Nation, Washington Spectator, Los Angeles Times and American History.The 24-hour news cycle yielded one of its better sitcom interludes last week when Rand Paul went to Howard University, the historically black college, to tell its student body why it needed the Republican Party. The libertarian junior senator from Kentucky, at one point, asked for a show-of-hands from those who knew that most of the African Americans who founded the NAACP more than 100 years ago were Republican. When several dozen hands shot up, Paul insisted he wasn’t condescending to them, saying, “I don’t know what you know.” You won’t get a better title for this sitcom than that.

  • Originally published 03/14/2013

    Sam Ferguson: When Pope Francis Testified About the Dirty War

    Sam Ferguson is a visiting fellow at the Schell Center for International Human Rights at Yale Law School and a former Fulbright Scholar. He is writing a book, Remnants of a Dirty War, about human rights trials in Argentina.While the world has generally welcomed the Catholic Church's selection of the Argentine Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio as pope, one large and dark question hangs over his ascension: As the head of the Jesuit order during Argentina’s last dictatorship, was he complicit with the military regime that kidnapped, tortured, and murdered thousands of its citizens?

  • Originally published 03/07/2013

    David Thomson: Schindler's Girl in the Red Coat Speaks Out

    David Thomson is a film critic who often writes for The New Republic.Here’s an oddity, from Yahoo Movies this past Monday: two photographs, side by side—a dark-haired woman, apparently 23-years-old, in a belted red raincoat, standing in front of a wall covered with Jewish imagery; and then, a child, 3-years-old, in a red coat, but in the foreground of a black-and-white picture that shows German soldiers guarding abashed citizens. It is the same person in both pictures, Oliwia Dabrowska, from Krakow in Poland. There is a heading to the pictures and the short article that follows: “‘Red coat girl’ from ‘Schindler’s List’: I was ‘horrified.’”

  • Originally published 03/07/2013

    Francisco Toro: What Fidel Taught Hugo

    Francisco Toro is a Venezuelan journalist, political scientist and blogger. Born and raised in Caracas, he attended High School and College in the United States.Hugo Chávez died today in Venezuela at the age of 58, but his battle with a never-specified form of cancer was waged largely in a Cuban hospital—a telling detail, as Cuba loomed just as large in his political imagination as his native country.It's a point that my gringo friends up north always struggle with. The Cuban Revolution's immense influence on the region has been constantly underestimated and misunderstood from day one. It's only a slight exaggeration to suggest that everything of note that's happened south of the Rio Grande since 1959 has been an attempt either to emulate, prevent, or transcend the Cuban experience. Chávez will be remembered as the most successful of Fidel Castro's emulators, the man who breathed new life into the old revolutionary dream. 

  • Originally published 02/21/2013

    Michael Kazin: Who Are You Calling a Liberal?

    Michael Kazin’s most recent book is American Dreamers: How the Left Changed a Nation. He is co-editor of Dissent and teaches history at Georgetown University.Contrary to what everyone who loved—or hated—his inaugural address seems to think, President Obama has yet to demonstrate that he is determined to launch a new liberal era. The big speech did gesture in that direction. Obama declared, in the style of FDR, that “our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it.” The line about equality being “the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall” was a welcome salute to three of the most prominent civil rights movements in American history. And not since Lyndon Johnson has a president spoken about poverty with such apparent conviction and specificity: “We are true to our creed when a little girl born into the bleakest poverty knows that she has the same chance to succeed as anybody else, because she is an American; she is free, and she is equal, not just in the eyes of God but also in our own.”

  • Originally published 01/16/2013

    David A. Bell: The War in Mali is a Reminder of France's Grand Malaise

    David A. Bell is Professor of History at Princeton University. Born in New York City in 1961, he received his A.B. from Harvard and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Princeton.It remains to be seen whether France's military intervention in Mali will be considered a military success, but it already seems possible to count it a political one. The war has earned support from across the French political spectrum, President François Hollande has garnered acclaim for his leadership, and the French public broadly supports the country's stated humanitarian mission. The intervention recalls the days when “la grande nation” laid claim to an ambitious international role, particularly within its former colonial empire.But in today's France, this portrait of unity and resolve is actually something of an aberration. Far from expressing a confident sense of mission, the French public has recently been more inclined to a sense of decline, malaise, paralysis and crisis. And it is at least partially justified. 

  • Originally published 01/07/2013

    Sean Wilentz: Lincoln in Hollywood, from Griffith to Spielberg

    Sean Wilentz is a professor of history at Princeton.... Lincoln is a remarkable historical rendering, offering a deft, knowledgeable depiction of Lincoln as well as a shrewd handling of the politics of the Civil War and emancipation. But the film’s larger importance lies elsewhere. For a century and more, American culture has been polluted by outrageous and pernicious portrayals of the war that apologize for the Confederacy and, by extension, for slavery. A few exceptionally popular books and movies have played a large part in sustaining, sometimes decades after they first appeared, what American historians know as the myth of the Lost Cause, vaunting the slaveholding South. With its gallant white Southrons and its happy-go-lucky slaves, living an idyll heavy with the scent of blooming magnolia, it is an all-American variant of the larger genre of reactionary sentimentalism that is as old as the Romantics.

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