I wish I’d had Mark Charles and Soong-Chan Rah’s book when I was in college.
New books that are shaping conversations about American religious history
Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old boy shot in Cleveland by an officer in training, suffered death. According to an Ohio grand jury, the case is closed. Elsewhere in these United States, presidential candidates have and will continue to laud America as exceptional.
This past Saturday, President Obama spoke in Selma, Alabama, marking the 50th anniversary of "Bloody Sunday"—the assault by Alabama state troopers on marchers from Selma to Montgomery for equal voting rights for African Americans. His speech is remarkable for many reasons, but one of the things I find really remarkable is that it ranks as a singular example of presidential exceptionalist rhetoric.
When President Obama argued for U.S. strikes on Syria, he used a familiar trope: When, with modest effort and risk, we can stop children from being gassed to death and thereby make our own children safer over the long run, I believe we should act. That’s what makes America different. That’s what makes us exceptional. Yet his proposed Syria policy put him in new political territory: against the views of a majority of African Americans.
On the subject of CNN's epic fail yesterday—here's a great Photoshop illustration of the episode—Paul Waldman thinks CNN missed a great opportunity to anticipate the problem and promise to avoid it and focus on accuracy, not on being the fastest. "Maybe," says Waldman, "they would have gained a few viewers." Maybe a few. But it's hard to imagine such a move being transformational.
With its widening gap between the rich and the poor, the decline of its middle class and crises in its health care and educational systems, the U.S. is no longer the golden land of opportunity.