Harold Pollack

Harold Pollack is Helen Ross Professor of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago.

Recent Articles

“MORE BASS.” JERRY WEXLER, RIP.

by Harold Pollack Great producer and impresario Jerry Wexler passed away today. Along with Ahmet Ertegun, Tom Dowd, and others, Wexler was a great behind-the-scenes forces in rhythm and blues—a term he himself coined, along with the delightful follow-on “immaculate funk.” The Times has a terrific obituary today. As recounted there, the filmmaker Tom Thurman asked Wexler, “ ‘What do you want written on your tombstone, Jerry?’ He said, ‘Two words: More bass.’ ”

DOES ANYONE CARE HOW WE ACTUALLY RUN THE GOVERNMENT? SOME QUESTIONS FOR THE NEXT DEBATE.

by Harold Pollack This month's Atlantic has a great James Fallows analysis of campaign debates. Buried deep is a compilation prepared by Sidney Blumenthal and Daniel Freifeld for the Clinton campaign, in which they examined reporters’ questions in 15 debates. As they summarize it: 352 QUESTIONS 29 GOTCHA QUESTIONS 33 PUFF QUESTIONS 7 GOVERNANCE QUESTIONS NOT A SINGLE QUESTION ABOUT A FEDERAL DEPARTMENT OR AGENCY AND ITS CONDITION UNDER BUSH That list is a stunning indictment of Brian Williams, Charles Gibson, the late Tim Russert, and others. It’s also old news to anyone who follows American politics or American government....

OUR DEBT TO DESPERATE STRANGERS.

by Harold Pollack Journalists and professors share one great perk: the opportunity to travel. Not too long ago, I found myself in Paris, strolling the most beautiful city in the world. I’m still awed by the usual tourist things. I gawked at a 7-foot North African traffic policeman in white gloves and full decorative dress. I smiled at the stylish Parisians and American college kids deep in café conversation around the Louvre. Then I entered the Marais, Paris's old Jewish district. Downing a tourist-trap "Yiddish sandwich," I passed a synagogue that was dynamited on Yom Kippur, 1940 and later rebuilt. Outside a local elementary school, I listened to the joyful noise of children’s lunch play as I read a chilling plaque: On this spot, 165 children were deported by the Germans with the assistance of French police. The nearby Tomb of the Unknown Jewish Martyrs, France’s Holocaust memorial, frankly described the widespread anti-Semitism in French life and the role of French police in...

WILL VLADIMIR PUTIN KILL HEALTH REFORM?

By Harold Pollack This morning’s New York Times includes a great column by Paul Krugman, noting that our age of globalization may perish as the first did: through destructive nationalism, violence, and war. I find Krugman's analysis frightening and compelling. If history is any guide, these developments also threaten the prospects for progressive legislation here at home....

I'M IN THE MOUNTAINS HUNTING THE TALIBAN, BUT I'M STILL AFRAID TO BUNK WITH SOME GAY PERSON.

By Harold Pollack When I was 16, I moved to a new high school My first day in gym class, a big bruiser tackled me and ripped my shirt. When he was done marking his territory and lumbered off, I turned to the guy next to me and commented that it was going to be a long two years. He reassured me: “Don’t worry. Everyone picks on Michael the fag.” (His name isn't really Michael.) I met Michael soon after. A slight, effeminate boy, he was the butt of ridicule and bullying pretty much every day. He would get body-checked in the hallway, have dodgeballs whipped at him in gym. I think the teachers expected him to be a man about things and to stand up for himself. How he was expected to defend himself, I’m not sure. He greeted the mistreatment with a sweet smile. It’s lucky he didn’t show up one day with a gun....

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