- James Carroll on Columbus Day and the Microbes behind European 'Superiority' "The racist myth of European superiority still
shapes the story of the colonial conquest," argues
the Boston Globe columnist, "starting with how the Caribs, Mayans, and
Aztecs are remembered as never having had a chance against Spanish
steel and gun powder." In fact, the Europeans' largest advantage was
"the accident of disease." Native Americans proved highly susceptible
to unfamiliar European viruses but "for reasons still unknown, the
immune systems of the conquistadors knew no such vulnerability to
unfamiliar pathogens encountered in the New World." That's crucial: "If
Spaniards had fallen sick instead of Mayans and Aztecs, the
post-Columbus narrative would be very different."
- Gregory Rodriguez on Undocumented Workers "When it comes to illegal immigration," writes
Rodriguez in the Los Angeles Times, "nobody seems to take
responsibility, and we are all, through action or inaction, complicit."
Employers depend on undocumented workers, particularly "as the share of
low-skilled native-born Americans falls." Entire sectors in some states
rely in large part on their labor. Yet, argues Rodriguez, "the more we
blamed those awful illegals for coming to this country, the less
willing we became to claim any responsibility for their being here, or
for treating them decently."
- Ron Haskins and W. Steven Barnett on Evaluating Head Start "The bottom line," say
the pair--one at Brookings and the other a professor of education at
Rutgers--is that, despite the hype, "a substantial number of Head Start
programs are so ineffective that they do little or nothing to boost
child development and learning," and "taxpayers get little for their
annual investment of $8 billion in Head Start." Thus, they applaud the
Obama administration's decition to "[take] the strongest action in the
history of the Head Start program to force improvements," reviewing
Head Start and "proposing a system, even better than the one
recommended by [a Bush administration panel], to shut down failing
programs." This assault on Head Start's "charmed existence" and the
chance at making a real difference, they conclude, is "almost enough to
restore a person's faith in the federal government."
Anastasia O'Grady on a Novel Approach to the Drug War What if we could
reduce Mexican drug violence by simply making our drug borders more
porous, thereby breaking Mexican cartels through competition? It sounds
nutty, but it turns out, explains
O'Grady in The Wall Street Journal, that the "crackdown on Caribbean
narco-routes has driven the business through Mexico, though it hasn't
reduced U.S. drug use." An
economist O'Grady talks to "argued further that if cocaine moved more
easily through the Caribbean as it once did and the Mexican border were
more porous, it would be harder for a big cartel to monopolize the
traffic, even through violence." O'Grady realizes that the proposal
"runs totally counter to the direction of U.S. policy. But if that
policy is proven wrong," she continues, "it wouldn't be the first time
in the long history of the drug war."
- Michael McCarthy on the Real Origins of the 'Modern Green Movement' It wasn't global warming, British publication The Independent's Environment Editor reminds readers. It was Love Canal, Three Mile Island, and other "incidents involving large-scale industrial, chemical or nuclear pollution." In making environmentalism today synonymous with activism against global warming, we "[miss] something fundamental. ... Pollution ... has now almost vanished from the to-do lists and
mindsets of some green groups and activists, along with other critical
issues such as the protection of wildlife and natural habitats." It's worth recalling, argues McCarthy, that "there is more to protecting the planet than protecting its climate, vital though that is."
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