In the World
Steve Thorngate on public life and culture
The Koch brothers have grown wary of being perceived as a pro-rich people lobby, so they’re working on it. Matea Gold and James Hohmann report that “the theme of helping the lower class was echoed throughout the weekend conference.” “The theme of helping the lower class”—that’s a well-worded summary, because whatever shifts in tone or even substance exist here, it’s important to recognize that the subject of the sentence remains: uncommonly rich, powerful people.
The aftermath of the Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage decision included some thoughtful responses from evangelicals who don’t support it. Mark Galli’s is pretty good. So is this piece by Carey Nieuwhof, a useful list of things for anti-SSM church leaders to keep in mind. I do think Nieuwhof oversells his first point, “the church has always been countercultural.”
Take the question in isolation—given that we’re going to identify our church’s allegiances with these two flags, which one should be higher?—and I absolutely agree with Rit Varriale that it should be the Christian one. But the question didn't arise in isolation, of course.
This week it's harder than usual to watch big-budget news media keeping things light. It's hard to watch them spend much time on anything other than the scourge of white supremacy that persists in this country. Since 9/11, white terrorists have been a deadlier threat here than the jihadist variety, even before the Charleston massacre. Last month, three black female clergy in South Carolina received death threats. Oh, and black churches keep ending up on fire.
The Supreme Court has again ruled against those who seek to dismantle Obamacare. This morning I read Chief Justice Roberts's majority opinion and Justice Scalia's dissent. The latter was of course more entertaining; if you read SCOTUS opinions primarily for the entertainment value, stick with Scalia, Ginsburg, and maybe Kagan if you're a nerd. Roberts's opinion, however, is forceful and right: "Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them."
We learned last week that the Department of Education is taking steps to provide a measure of debt relief for students victimized by the whole Corinthian Colleges debacle. That's ostensibly a good thing, but it comes with a good deal of red tape—which means not everyone will get relief quickly, or at all.
I’m a white parent, and I want my white kids to be like Brandon Brooks when they get older. He’s the teenager who filmed the pool party incident in suburban Dallas, at which a police officer violently restrained 15-year-old Dajerria Becton and pulled his gun on others. That was smart of Brooks, and bold. His remarks to the press since then have been pretty perceptive, too.
It starts off as a standard writeup of a protest and counter-protest of a mosque’s Friday prayers. An accompanying video portrays the two sides as polarized not just in rhetoric but in various cultural markers, starting with the fact that one side is packing the kind of firepower that would have shocked people not so long ago (and would still if the heat-packers weren’t so white). You know, just a slice of 21st-century American life.
Caitlyn Jenner is on the cover of Vanity Fair, people far and wide are admiring her, and social conservatives—even the heterodox ones, from Brendan O’Neill to Rod Dreher—are not impressed. One liberalish counter-response does an admirable job of taking their concerns seriously, and it comes from an unexpected source—oh I’m just kidding, it’s obviously Damon Linker.