“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.
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New York Times Editorial: The Truth of ‘Black Lives Matter’
The Republican Party and its acolytes in the news media are trying to demonize the protest movement that has sprung up in response to the all-too-common police killings of unarmed African-Americans across the country. The intent of the campaign – evident in comments by politicians like Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina, Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin and Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky – is to cast the phrase “Black Lives Matter” as an inflammatory or even hateful anti-white expression that has no legitimate place in a civil rights campaign.
Former Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas crystallized this view when he said the other week that the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., were he alive today, would be “appalled” by the movement’s focus on the skin color of the unarmed people who are disproportionately killed in encounters with the police. This argument betrays a disturbing indifference to or at best a profound ignorance of history in general and of the civil rights movement in particular. From the very beginning, the movement focused unapologetically on bringing an end to state-sanctioned violence against African-Americans and to acts of racial terror very much like the one that took nine lives at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C., in June.
Soon after arriving here, I stopped at an A.T.M.; I needed some dollars, and all I had were dollars.
O.K., weak joke. What I needed were Australian dollars – Aussies – not U.S. greenbacks. There are actually four English-speaking countries with dollars of their own; the others are the Canadian loonie and the New Zealand kiwi. And you can learn a lot about the global economy, busting some popular monetary myths, by comparing those currencies and how they serve their economies.
All four dollar nations are, if you take the long view, highly successful economies. True, America is still recovering from its worst slump since the Great Depression, Canada is being hit hard by plunging oil prices and Australia is feeling nervous as its markets in China wobble. But we’re all wealthy nations that have weathered economic storms better than most of the rest of the world.
While the dollar nations have all done well, however, they occupy very different positions in the world economy. In part, I mean that quite literally: Australia and New Zealand are a long way from everyplace, while Canada, most of whose people live near its southern border, is effectively closer to the United States than it is to itself. And the U.S. is, of course, an economic giant around whose gravity smaller economies revolve.
NOT long after it was formed last year, members of the Select Committee on Benghazi gathered to meet privately with family members of the four Americans killed on that dreadful night in Libya in 2012. The meetings were emotional, and the chairman assured those present that the committee would be scrupulously nonpartisan and devoted to finding out the truth of what had happened.
Instead, the Select Committee became little more than a partisan tool to influence the presidential race, a dangerous precedent that will haunt Congress for decades. This is all the more painful when you consider how grievously the committee has let down those families, along with the rest of the American people. [..]
A committee that cannot tell the American people what it is looking for after 16 months should be shut down. Otherwise, Benghazi will come to be remembered not for the tragedy that claimed four American lives, but for the terrible abuse of process that now bears its name.
Paul Brandeis Raushenbush: No, Kim Davis Is Not Martin Luther King, Jr.
Kim Davis is going to jail, which is a good thing for everyone. It’s good for Davis, because she was caught between her “sincerely held belief” that same-gender couples could not be married and her job in Kentucky where she was required to issue marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples on account of the recent change in the nation’s laws. It’s also good for gay couples who wish to be married and yet had to endure immense humiliation by someone whose salary they help to pay. [..]Now, I have a certain amount of empathy for Ms. Davis. I understand the desire to go against the law of the land when you feel it violates your faith and your God. For example, I was glad when Bree Newsome broke the law and lowered the Confederate flag while quoting the Bible, saying: “The Lord is my light – Whom shall I fear?”
Many people engage in civil disobedience in the name of religion. Most famously, Martin Luther King, Jr. went to jail for his non-violent resistance in Birmingham, where he wrote his “Letter From Birmingham Jail.”
However, Kim Davis is no Martin Luther King, Jr.
Michelle Chen: Public schools’ disturbing conflation of race and disability
Too often, inequality in special education programs follows socioeconomic and racial divides
Special education is the last bastion of separate but equal in our public schools. But unlike the painful legacy of Jim Crow, some form of separation – whether specialized facilities or more accommodating treatment in an otherwise mainstream classroom – is generally considered necessary to provide an equitable education for children with special needs. But drawing the line between inclusion and exclusion in school is an ethically fraught process, and the division between different and inferior often cuts unnervingly close to the color line.
In July the Justice Department issued a scathing report condemning Georgia public schools for segregating students with disabilities in a way that systematically violated the rights of youths diagnosed with behavioral problems. They were subjected to not only substandard facilities but also inhumane treatment that made children and families feel stigmatized and inferior, as if in a prison, they recalled.
Critics of the president’s Alaska visit should examine the National Petroleum Council’s role in pushing drilling
President Barack Obama just completed what in many ways was a historic trip: the first sitting President to visit Alaska’s Arctic. He was there to bear witness to climate change’s impacts.
Understandably, critics have taken issue with the inherent hypocrisy and “greenwashing” of the entire endeavor. Just weeks earlier, on August 17, he handed Shell Oil the final green-light necessary to tap into Arctic oil. Although such criticism has a point, it misses the force behind the decision to approve Arctic drilling to begin with: the National Petroleum Council (NPC) Obama’s administration oversees.