Adam Serwer

Adam Serwer is a writing fellow at The American Prospect and a graduate of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. He also blogs at Jack and Jill Politics and has written for The Village Voice, The Washington Post, The Root, and the Daily News.

Recent Articles

Adventures In Logic With Tom Coburn

Obama's pal, Senator Tom Coburn on, of all things , Medicare: Responding to a man in Langley who asked if Obama “wants to destroy America,” Coburn said the president is “very bright” and loves his country but has a political philosophy that is “goofy and wrong.” Obama’s “intent is not to destroy, his intent is to create dependency because it worked so well for him,” he said. “As an African-American male,” Coburn said, Obama received “tremendous advantage from a lot of these programs.” So, I think the notion that somehow black people benefit from social insurance like Medicare but white people don't is a pretty ugly one, but fairly central to the effectiveness of the conservative argument against the welfare state. Even as Republicans win elections by scaring the crap out of white seniors over cuts to Medicare, and Democrats do the same, somehow, the notion that black people are the ones gaining a "tremendous advantage" prevails. Turns out "entitlement" has more than one meaning here...

The Help

John McWhorter offers a contrarian take on the civil rights era drama The Help, arguing that its critics are overreacting. Not content simply to make the case that the film is compelling, he goes onto argue that its critics are actually racist: This is a “feel-good movie for a cowardly nation”? How could it be that this film, hardly The Sorrow and the Pity but honest and thoroughly affecting, is being treated like a remake of Imitation of Life? We must dismiss out of hand a discomfort with this sad period being “packaged” by Hollywood at all. The Help certainly includes swelling strings on the soundtrack, what Nelson George terms its “candy-coated cinematography,” and neatly intertwining stories with beginnings, middles, and ends. Some might prefer a visually peculiar, spiritually ambiguous, narratively desultory art-house opus. But that film would be seen by only a few, which would contravene the imperative that America as a whole needs to see it to learn about its racist past...

Fallout

No you guys are racist! The White House really cares what hippies think even though it wants to punch them. Sweetening the Perry beat. Rush Limbaugh has a problem with miscegenation .

Recidivism, Israel Edition

The Prospect's Jerusalem correspondent Gershom Gorenberg sent me a note in response to my recidivism and unemployment post earlier: Reminded me of attending a Jewish student convention in 1975 and meeting the guy who was there to raise consciousness of the situation of Jews who couldn't keep their religion in American prisons. He'd gotten religion after being convicted of 2nd degree murder in a California bar, or so my memory of the distant conversation tells me. I think he'd been a longshoreman, but maybe that's just because he was burly enough to be one. Anyway, when he got out, he started studying for rabbinic ordination at a Chabad yeshivah. He wasn't a Chabadnik, but no other yeshivah would take a convicted murderer who wanted to start a new life and be a decent person. I always wondered what happened to him afterward, and hoped that he managed to get a job. Me too.

Begging For Recidivism

Matthew Yglesias comments on a New York law recently signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo that would make "convictions for 26 felonies...become automatic disqualifying factors, raising the number of crimes for which a conviction would warrant a permanent ban from school-bus driving to 58." Obviously, it’s tough to be the guy who’s going to bat for convicted murderers, pimps, and rapists. But the reality is that most people convicted of these crimes don’t serve life sentences. They don’t get executed either. So they have to do something. And the nature of the modern American economy is that the majority of job opportunities involve interacting with other human beings. If it was up to me, we’d try to draw these restrictions very narrowly. A school bus driver supervised children and pilots a vehicle. Serious curbs on people with records of criminally inept driving seem clearly warranted. Similarly, you could plausibly worry that pedophiles would be interested in driving a school bus for sub-...

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