Best columns: The U.S.
Leftists who justify violence
As President Trump subverts democratic norms, “progressives face a choice,” said Peter Beinart. Do they try to limit the president’s “corrosive effect” through patient application of the checks and balances of our system, or do they try to defeat him and his supporters by any means necessary, including violence? This is not an abstract question: The “antifa,” or antifascist, movement is gaining strength among disaffected, mostly young leftists who consider Trump and his supporters racist and fascist, and believe that “hate speech” must be suppressed. So in Portland, Ore., and other cities, masked activists have tried to break up demonstrations by Trump supporters, creating ugly, bloody confrontations. Eggs, bottles, rocks, and bricks have been thrown; “street warfare” is breaking out. Yet some on the Left are actually cheering on the antifa movement, with The Nation saying that a radical response to “this political moment” is justified. That just fuels the fears of Trump supporters that they’re being silenced and oppressed—raising the likelihood of even more violent confrontations. Antifa activists “may consider themselves fierce opponents of the authoritarianism growing on the American Right. In truth, however, they are its unlikeliest allies.”
Trump’s credibility problem
Donald Trump’s “penchant for lies resembles an incorrigible alcoholic’s thirst for drink,” said Steve Chapman. Out of a desperate need to feel he’s constantly “winning,” he lies about both trivial and important matters. After his inappropriate, bizarrely partisan address to the Boy Scouts got him rebuked, Trump bragged that the organization’s CEO called to say “it was the greatest speech” the Scouts had ever heard. That call never happened, the White House now admits. Trump tweeted that he was banning transgender people from military service “after consultation with my generals.” The Joint Chiefs of Staff knew nothing about it. And consider how Trump is dealing with the Russia investigation: His attorney insisted the president had no role in crafting Don Jr.’s first, deceptive statement about meeting with a Russian lawyer last year; when press reports revealed that Trump had personally dictated the statement, the White House admitted he’d “weighed in.” The Washington Post describes Trump as “the most fact-challenged politician” ever, averaging 4.6 falsehoods a day since becoming president. When Trump inevitably faces a major crisis, such as a terrorist attack or a war, he will badly need credibility. Sadly, “most Americans will assume they are being misled.”
The real bias in college admissions
The Washington Post
Affirmative action for black and Hispanic people isn’t keeping white Americans from going to college, said Christine Emba. “Rich people are.” A leaked Justice Department memo indicates that the Trump administration was considering suing colleges that use “race-based discrimination” in admissions. The department said it was focusing only on discrimination against Asians, but the news rekindled the long-standing debate over whether affirmative-action policies unfairly block qualified white applicants from getting into college. The reality is that the playing field is heavily skewed not by race, but by wealth: At 38 top colleges, more students come from the top 1 percent of income earners than from the bottom 60 percent. And who gets the biggest advantage? The children of alumni, who at universities like Harvard, Yale, and Princeton have triple the acceptance rate of ordinary folk. President Trump himself got into the University of Pennsylvania because of family connections, and three of Trump’s children later attended that Ivy League school. Does Trump’s base resent that? Evidently not. What gets his supporters riled up is the message: “Minorities are pushing you out of college!” ■