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When Twitter abandoned its long-held policy of neutrality on issues relating to truth — and subsequently spurned its most devoted adherent (the president) — a predictable firestorm quickly descended from the mountains of the American Right. Cries of censorship and left-wing bias in Silicon Valley culminated in an executive order designed to punish Trump’s erstwhile inamorata for her infidelity. As the old adage goes, heaven indeed hath no rage like love to hatred turned.

But Twitter’s actions do not bespeak a Big Tech conspiracy to smother right-wing voices — far from it. Twitter’s decision to declare Trump’s statements as inaccurate restore balance to a platform that, as a result of the president’s hefty digital presence, was listing uninhibitedly towards the Trumpian, conspiracy-mongering Right. …


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Photo by Phillip Cohen (licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license).

The murder of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis demands long overdue action on the part of all Americans. Having worked in government at both the state and federal level, I know that letters to legislators result in considerably higher degrees of engagement than either emails or phone calls, particularly when those letters are accompanied by concrete policy proposals. The letter below lays out three policies that would help to reduce police violence against black and brown communities, each based on recommendations by the ACLU, the NAACP, the National Action Network, Campaign Zero, and Color of Change. …


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(Image adapted from Martin Falbisoner’s photo of the Capitol, courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.)

“Well, I got news for Mr. Bloomberg, and that is the American people are sick and tired of billionaires buying elections.” So declared Bernie Sanders earlier in February, reiterating an increasingly common American perception that everything is for sale, including political offices.

In light of this, I have a small (and ultimately encouraging) update: Everything you think you know about money in politics is probably wrong. That is, unless what you were thinking was, “Money has an incredibly limited impact on electoral outcomes in general elections and almost no impact on elected officials’ policy preferences once in office.”

If that is in fact what you were thinking, then you’re spot on. …


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(Photo by Andreas Weith, courtesy of Wikipedia Commons)

Wednesday night’s Democratic debate in Nevada laid bare what was only recently regarded as implausible, laughable, even: Michael Bloomberg as the 2020 Democratic nominee.

But as support for his candidacy has increased exponentially from a stream to a torrent — support that now includes endorsements from a governor, mayors of more than five major cities, and three members of the Congressional Black Caucus — so too has withering criticism of his past policies. …


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(Photo based on “Clenched Fist with Stars and Stripes” from the Library of Congress)

“I believe that the president has learned from this case…I believe that he will be much more cautious in the future.” So spoke Senator Susan Collins days before President Trump’s acquittal in the Senate.

Less than a week after Trump allegedly learned his lesson, he interfered in the federal sentencing of his former associate, Roger Stone. He afterwards asserted on Twitter that he has “the legal right to do so.”

In light of this new transgression, the impeachment trial is starting to look like the last chance we may have had to rein in a Commander-in-Chief that is now completely off the chain. And looking back, one is forced to ask: Did we do everything we could have? …


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We live in the age of post-truth, that much is clear. Defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as an adjective “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion” — and inaugurated by the OED as the 2016 Word of the Year — few words other than ‘post-truth’ can so adroitly summarize the morbid condition of our body politic. (‘Funereal’ and ‘lugubrious’ could be competing for second and third place, however.)

Inundated though we are with fraudulent Russian Facebook accounts, maliciously edited videos, and innumerable assertions by a president whose analyzed statements are mostly or completely false a cumulative 68 percent of the time,¹ “fake news,” in the post-truth era, is actually not Public Enemy №1. …


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Photo by Shealah Craighead.

Yesterday, President Trump signed an executive order that gives the government more leeway in fighting antisemitism, specifically on college campuses. The executive order effectively interprets Judaism as a “race” or “national origin,” a definitional shift that places Judaism under the protection of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (which prohibits discrimination “on the ground of race, color, or national origin,” but not religion). In doing so, the education department is now empowered to withhold federal funding from universities that are not seen to be taking appropriate action against antisemitism. The executive order comes amidst rising rates of antisemitism in the United States and the world, which in 2018 saw a 13 percent increase in antisemitic attacks. The executive order also comes in response to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS), which, in targeting Israel and Zionist students, has been viewed as contributing to antisemitism on campus. This claim is supported by research from 2019 that did in fact establish a relationship between support for BDS and antisemitic beliefs. …


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Anti-Zionist protests in Melbourne. Photo by John Englart.

While studying politics and history in the Czech Republic in the Spring of 2018, I took a course entitled “Comprehending the Holocaust.” The professor — an amiable, middle-aged Slovak — notified us right off the bat that contrary to the name of his class, there would be very little “comprehending” going on: the horrors of the Holocaust are, he informed us, fundamentally incomprehensible. Instead, his goal was to walk us step by step through the events, ideologies, and people that made the Holocaust possible. A historical analysis of antisemitism was a natural starting point for this journey.

“Every generation,” he lectured in heavily accented English, “creates anew a different form of antisemitism.” In the early Christian era, antisemitism manifested itself in official Catholic doctrine, which held that all Jews were collectively responsible for the death of Christ. Their persecution and marginalization were, therefore, completely justified. During the Middle Ages, antisemitism took the form of blood libel: the wholly fabricated accusation — first made in Norwich, England in the 12th century — that Jews habitually kidnapped and murdered Christian children for ritual purposes. In Europe in the mid-19th and 20th century, Jews were blamed for the immense social upheaval brought about by rapid industrialization. The idea — birthed in the wake of these changing class dynamics — that Jews manipulate global markets to their benefit has to date constituted the prevailing strain of antisemitism. …


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Supreme Court Photo by Joe Ravi.

In May 2019, Facebook expelled seven highly controversial users from its platform. Most notable among the evictees were right-wing conspiracy theorist and fear monger Alex Jones and left-wing homophobe and devout antisemite Louis Farrakhan. The excommunication of Jones and Farrakhan from their digital pulpits came amidst mounting pressure on Facebook executives to take a more active role in policing the content that appeared on their site. …


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Photo: J. Scott Applewhite (AP)

Dear Mr. Zuckerberg,

It has recently been brought to my attention that you are at present mired in a struggle that — and I do not say this lightly — could very well determine the future of free speech in this country. The question at hand, of course, is whether your company should wittingly accept advertising money from politicians who peddle, shall we say, alternative facts. Considering that more than two-thirds of Americans rely on social media for news, and 43 percent of those rely on your site primarily, your solution to this situation is of no small significance.

Several weeks ago, the renowned screenwriter and playwright Aaron Sorkin offered his own proposal to your perplexing predicament. In short, he argued that you need not publish what he calls “crazy lies.” As of the posting of this humble note, you have not heeded his advice. To which I sincerely say, bravo! Your principled decision to adhere strictly to the core tenets of our right to unrestricted free speech — a choice which undoubtedly has everything to do with your sincerely held convictions about the importance of the First Amendment and nothing at all to do with the $330-$400 million you stand to make next year on political advertisements alone — is laudable and brave. I shake your hand warmly! …

About

Graham Glusman

Columbia University, 2019; Vanderbilt Law, 2023

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