May 2021

Selected articles, including Matti Friedman on the complex forces within Jerusalem; Cameron Hilditch on CCP's efforts to revise the Bible; and Glenn Loury making the case for Black Patriotism.

Jerusalem of Glue

Matti Friedman in Tablet

The idea of a complex place is anathema to the current mood in America and the West, where many people seem to be regressing to a world of childhood, of heroes and monsters... Being an observer in Jerusalem always means gauging two opposing forces: the one pulling the city apart, and the glue keeping it together. The former gets plenty of attention from observers, and the latter almost none, but both are always in play in this city of nearly a million people. The glue is on display in malls and taxis and hospitals, the places of no interest to journalists or politicians, where Jews and Arabs of different ideological stripes interact carefully in their daily lives to a greater extent than ever before, moving things forward to a future that’s unknowable but could be better. That has been the trend here in the past few years. But it’s the other force, the destructive one, that we’re seeing now.

Why the Lab Leak Theory Matters

Tyler Cowen in Marginal Revolution on Ross Douthat in the New York Times

“Our wet market was low quality and poorly governed” is a story consistent with the Chinese elites not being entirely at fault.  Wet markets, after all, are a kind of atavism, and China knows the country is going to evolve away from them over time.  They represent the old order... In contrast, the story of “our government-run research labs are low quality and poorly governed”…that seems to place the blame entirely on the shoulders of the CCP and also on its technocratic, modernizing tendencies.  Under that account, the CCP spread something that “the earlier China” did not, and that strikes strongly at the heart of CCP legitimacy.

China's Communist Christ

Cameron Hilditch in National Review

Historically, the absolute claims of religion have also made absolute claims on the state. Christianity has not been immune to this tendency, but it has been alone in rejecting the idea that the state can or should embody God’s plan for the salvation of mankind. The CCP cannot allow the desacralizing of the state and the concomitant rise of conditional government circumscribed by the social compact to gain momentum in China. So Commie Christ has been invented as a necessary corrective to these dangerous notions.

Anti-Communism and Anti-Racism

Bryan Caplan in The Library of Economics and Liberty

Caplan provides an argument for why he would oppose an Anti-Communist policy, were one to be adopted by his university, regardless of his hatred of communism. By analogy, he argues concisely and effectively in opposition to Anti-Racist policy.

The Case for Black Patriotism

Glenn Loury in City Journal

Is this a venal, immoral, and rapacious bandit-society of plundering white supremacists, founded in genocide and slavery and propelled by capitalist greed, or a good country that affords boundless opportunity to all fortunate enough to enjoy the privileges and bear the responsibilities of citizenship? Of course, there is some warrant in the historical record for both sentiments, but the weight of the evidence overwhelmingly favors the latter. The founding of the United States of America was a world-historic event by means of which Enlightenment ideals about the rights of individual persons and the legitimacy of state power were instantiated for the first time in real institutions.

John McWhorter on how critical race theory poorly serves its intended beneficiaries

John McWhorter in The Economist

Sadly, the new antiracism leaves us with yet something else we must overcome. The notion that what black America needs is a vast, unprecedented and ultimately impossible transformation of white psychology is an idle distraction from how justice actually proceeds.

America is Flunking Math

Percy Deift, Svetlana Jitomirskaya and Sergiu Klainerman in Persuasion

At the undergraduate level, too few American students are prepared for higher-level mathematics courses. These students are then unprepared for rigorous graduate-level work. According to our own experiences at the universities where we teach, an overwhelming majority of American students with strong math backgrounds are either foreign-born or first-generation students who have additional support from their education-conscious families. At all levels, STEM disciplines are more and more dependent on a constant flow of foreign talent.

There are many reasons for this failure, but the way that we educate and prepare teachers is particularly influential... Another major concern is the twisted interpretation of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).