In the last week, two news stories have caught my eye:
Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) attempted to draw praise from Democrats when he broke with Senate norms and testified against Jeff Sessions. Yet that very same day, he voted against legislation which would have enabled Americans to purchase less expensive Canadian medicine.
Congressman John Lewis (D-GA) claimed that the president elect is “illegitimate”, drawing the standard Trump Twitter response. Liberal media outlets immediately began publishing posts lionizing Lewis as a civil rights hero, as if this made him immune from criticism concerning his congressional record. In the past, Lewis has misled the public about Bernie Sanders’ policies and record as an activist.
Booker and Lewis are often portrayed as if they were radical progressive or left wing figures because of the strong public stances they have taken and continue to take on racial issues. But this activism on race and social issues belies a creeping disinterest in much of the rest of the left’s platform–Booker and Lewis don’t seem to care about tuition-free college or single payer healthcare. Indeed, Booker doesn’t even believe in lowering drug prices by exposing the American pharmaceutical industry to Canadian competition. What’s going on here?
A friend of mine at Purdue University recently informed me that under the leadership of former Governor Mitch Daniels (R-IN), Purdue has become the first major American university to offer Income Sharing Agreements (ISAs) to students as a new alternative to traditional student loans. ISAs are exploitative and morally disgusting. Here’s why.
Over the past few days, the public debate has turned toward the question of Syrian refugees. I’ve been wandering around the internet, reading the different arguments people have for refusing to accept refugees, and I have found all of them wanting. So today I’d like to run through the most common and pervasive anti-refugee arguments and the reasons they fail.
Over the last year, British comedian Russell Brand has fashioned himself into something of a champion for the little guy–for poor and marginalized people in society. Politically, he’s a classic, old school Marxist. He sees politics as a fundamental struggle between owners and workers and wants a revolution of some kind to empower the masses (though he admits he doesn’t know what form that revolution should take). I’ve written about Brand before, and I don’t fully agree with his views, but I sympathize with his core observation–that our society is not yet fully just and that many groups of people suffer unnecessarily as a result. I also appreciate that he is providing us with opportunities to discuss fundamental questions of political theory with a wider audience. In recent weeks, we have seen conservatives in Britain attempting to discredit Brand as a political actor by labeling him a hypocrite. The story goes that because Brand has a lot of money (an estimated net worth of $15 million), this disqualifies him from taking issue with the distribution of wealth in Britain. This is a deeply misleading argument that would, if universalized, leave the poor and marginalized utterly voiceless.
A few months back, I watched a show on Netflix called BoJack Horseman. There’s a bit in the show where BoJack, the protagonist, gets into an argument with a veteran about the nature of heroism:
In particular, BoJack says:
Maybe some of the troops are heroes, but not automatically. I’m sure a lot of the troops are jerks. Most people are jerks already and it’s not like giving a jerk a gun and telling him it’s okay to kill people suddenly turns that jerk into a hero.
This has got me thinking–what does it mean to be a hero?