Adam Serwer

New Spider-Man

Count me among those who are pretty happy to see Marvel introduce a Blatino Spider-Man: The creation of Miles Morales, a teenager with an African-American father and Hispanic mother, has been personal for his creators. Axel Alonso, Marvel's editor in chief, is of mixed cultures (his father is Mexican, his mother is British), and Bendis has two adopted daughters, a 3½-year-old from Ethiopia and a 4½-month-old African American. "Wouldn't it be nice for them to have a character or a hero that speaks to them as much as Peter Parker has spoken to so many children?" Bendis says. "There's nothing wrong with that, and I think we need more of it." I'll just link back to what I wrote last year: Spider-Man is basically the story of a working-class kid from Queens who was raised by a nontraditional family. Despite his superheroics and academic striving, he has endless beef with the cops, a ball-busting boss who cheats him out of his rightful pay, an elderly aunt to take care of, and a set of...

Daily Dose Of Economic Determinism

I talked to a bunch of economists and political scientists who say that Obama's got a tough road to re-election, and he's likely to lose if the economy doesn't show some serious signs of improvement: Grim forecasts aside, Obama has two important advantages: He retains levels of base approval higher than presidents facing bad economies usually do, and many Americans still blame Bush for the recession. Come election time, though, voters may simply decide that even if the recession isn’t Obama’s fault, he still failed to get us out of it. The presidency is not graded on a curve. Even assuming Republican intransigence and obstruction have given Obama the most challenging political landscape ever for a Democratic president, what matters is whether voters feel like he did what he was elected to do: Bring the American economy back from the brink. “Voters can be especially responsive to growth right before an election,” says Nyhan. “It’s certainly possible, even if you have poor economic...

Saving Alabama From Economic Self-Destruction

Okay, so the express rationale behind the feds suing to block Alabama's immigration law is that states aren't allowed to set their own immigration policies. But Alabama's law, which, like Arizona's, demands that police check the immigration status of anyone they stop and requires schools to verify the status of students and their parents as well, has already resulted in the exodus of a significant amount of the local labor force and is likely to further harm the state's economy.

DoJ Invokes State-Secrets Privilege In Mosque Surveillance Suit

Josh Gerstein reports that the Department of Justice is seeking to dismiss a suit filed by the Council on American Islamic Relations and the ACLU of Southern California charging that the FBI violated the rights of members of the Muslim community when it used an informant to infiltrate California mosques. The informant, Craig Monteilh, acquired a tape that appeared to show a local mosque attendee, Ahmadullah Sais Niazi, agreeing to participate in a terrorist plot, when in fact Niazi had sought to notify authorities shortly afterward. Prosecutors attempted to try Niazi but the case ultimately fell apart. The ACLU/CAIR lawsuit contends that Monteilh acted as an "agent provocateur" in a "dragnet investigation" that "did not result in even a single conviction related to counterterrorism." The practice, however, is in line with FBI investigative guidelines allowing agents to perform surveillance on "concentrated ethnic communities" if "these locations will reasonably aid the analysis of...

New Gallup Poll On Religion And Violence

Gallup has a new poll out that sheds some light on American religious views on violence, some of which might be startling. Muslims are by far the least likely among all religious groups to justify targeting civilians, whether done by the military or by "an individual person or a small group of persons." Seventy-eight percent of Muslims say that military attacks on civilians are never justified, while the numbers for Protestants, Catholics, Jews, and atheists hover in the 50s. The only religious denomination that comes close to Muslim disapproval is Mormons at 64 percent. The number of Muslims who say attacks on civilians by "an individual person or a small group of persons" are never justified even higher, at 89 percent, while the other religious denominations fall somewhere in the 70 percent to 80 percent range. In a nutshell, Muslims are more likely than any other religious group to disapprove of targeting civilians, whether it's done by the government or by a terrorist group. That...

DoJ Sending Primary Observers To Noxubee County

In 2007, the Bush-era Justice Department took action against a black man named Ike Brown in Noxubee County, Mississippi, saying that he had tried to discriminate against white voters in the local Democratic Primary. This became a key exhibit in the right's accusation, during the uproar over the New Black Panther Case, that the Civil Rights Division was racist against white voters. Republican hires said that the liberal attorneys in the division didn't want to protect white voters, while those attorneys responded that they didn't contest the merits of the Noxubee case, and that their objection was to the Bush-era Justice Department not acting on much more egregious instances of discrimination against minorities. The incident was a key part of the scurrilous Republican accusation that the Obama Justice Department wouldn't protect the voting rights of white Americans. That notion was quickly debunked last year when the Civil Rights Division requested that the injunction against Brown be...

Great Moments In Newspaper Aggregation, Ctd

I mostly enjoyed this column by Roger Cohen about his upbringing as a Jew in South Africa, except for this: Hatred of Muslims in Europe and the United States is a growing political industry. It’s odious, dangerous and racist. Thanks to my colleague Andrea Elliott, we now know the story of the orchestration of the successful anti-Shariah campaign in the United States, led by a Hasidic Jew named David Yerushalmi who holds that “most of the fundamental differences between the races are genetic.” The rightists in Europe using anti-Muslim rhetoric are true heirs to the Continent’s darkest hours. We don't know that because of Andrea Elliott. We know it because of Matt Duss , even if The New York Times pretends otherwise.

Fallout

Jonathan Bernstein argues that starve the beast didn't win. Lax enforcement of Title IX. Gary Johnson isn't buying all this Shariah stuff. The good news of the day.

Damning With Effusive Praise

WaPo Obudsman Patrick Pexton defends Jennifer Rubin: But when an attack happens elsewhere, whether Oslo, Bali, Madrid, Beslan, Mumbai or London, U.S. pundits and politicians climb on their electronic soapboxes and denounce the act as one more evil deed by the enemy we most love to hate, be it militant Muslims, or in Oslo’s case, militant Christians. There is no interval before scoring rhetorical and partisan points, not even time to mourn. Rubin fell into this trap. She cited terrorist expert Thomas Joscelyn’s speculation that it had all the hallmarks of an al-Qaeda operation, and then she argued that we don’t dare cut defense or homeland security funding, even in a debt crisis, because jihadists are still after us and we live in a “very dangerous world.” Rubin, like many others, assumed that the Oslo attack was the work of Islamic extremists. At the time, given the multiple targets and recent foiled al-Qaeda plot in Norway, I thought the same thing, so it’s hard for me to criticize...

Hot Coffee, Ctd

Here's another (less well known) popular interpretation of the McDonald's Coffee Case , which involves Cartoon Network's Adult Swim poking fun at the racial caricature of Super-Friends' Apache Chief: This is actually a really funny episode, whose major target is the well-intentioned but patronizing attempt to diversify the Super-Friends lineup, but it's another reminder of how the Liebeck case has been immortalized as "frivolous" in popular culture despite the actual seriousness of her injuries. Okay, so maybe I just wanted to share this clip. It's my blog, I can do that.

Geller Getting Close To The Line

One of the reasons I've argued that the Shariah-panic crowd is not responsible for the massacre in Norway is that, despite their vitriol, their justifications largely center on arguments for curtailing Muslim rights, not for slaughtering people wholesale. That's noxious, but it's very different from religious extremists concocting religious justifications for terrorism, or even anti-choice radicals in the United States who try to frame the killing of abortion doctors as justifiable homicide. Pamela Geller, however, has responded to the Oslo attacks by skirting dangerously closed to justifying violence by attacking the victims. Her recent posts contain the obligatory disclaimers regarding violence, but given her other statements these have all the force of the phrase "I'm not a racist but..." The day of the Norway shooting, I was blindsided by one of the survivor's statements to the press immediately after the shooting (see above). It was so outside the box, I thought it was the...

Great Moments In Newspaper Aggregation

The New York Times profile of the Shariah-panic industry's favorite lawyer, David Yerushalmi, is a stellar example of how newspapers aggregate other people's reporting without giving them credit. I frankly don't know if this is the fault of the piece's editors or of the reporter, Andrea Elliott, but Yerushalmi's role in crafting anti-Muslim legislation was well reported in the lefty blogosphere prior to Elliott's piece, which offers some new biographical details but mostly relies on information reported elsewhere. It also manages to soft-ball the legislation he's helped craft. The first person to report on Yerushalmi's extreme views on Islam ("Islam was born in violence; it will die that way"), blacks and women ("There is a reason the founding fathers did not give women or black slaves the right to vote"), liberal Jews ("Jews of the modern age are the most radical, aggressive and effective of the liberal Elite") was Matt Duss, who doesn't so much as get a mention in the piece...

Will Extremists Hijack The Aftermath Of The Arab Spring?

Daveed Gartenstein-Ross has a sobering analysis of al-Qaeda's strategy for exploiting popular discontent in the wake of the Arab Spring: We haven't seen Islamic law implemented or a caliphate established, of course, but al Qaeda probably sees a more fertile recruiting environment. The Arab Spring is not just about the desire for democracy. It is also about unemployment and skyrocketing food prices. Will material needs be met? The unemployment rate in Egypt has in fact increased rather than decreased since Mubarak was overthrown. Historically when you have sky-high expectations -- as you've had with the Arab Spring -- that go unfulfilled, extreme ideologies can take hold. I'm slightly more optimistic than Gartenstein-Ross, for a couple of reasons. Extreme ideologies can take hold during periods of economic misery, but I think they also flourish through repression. Part of how the Muslim Brotherhood drew support during the Mubarak era was because they were one of the few fonts of...

Fallout

Wonder who sent this e-mail. King's witness rebuts his own claims. The truth about spending . Florida drug law declared unconstitutional.

Bitter Pills

Matthew Yglesias writes about something I thought about often during the health-care debate: Something interesting is that it was during the Roosevelt era that African-Americans in started voting Democratic in large numbers. So even though the Democratic civil rights agenda of the era was puny and the welfare state was deliberately exclusionary of black interests, it at least seems to be the case that all things considered, black voters deemed the New Deal agenda to be in their interests. Of course the ideal scenario would be to say that there would have been some way to enact all the famous programs of the era without concessions to white supremacists. But I don’t see any credible account of how that could have been done. So great leadership, or appalling sellout? Most likely both. Most likely, political leadership just demands a level of cognitive dissonance and self-justification that normal people can’t muster. If I were a congressman at the time, I don't know that I could have...

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