Biographies of George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, and John Adams and histories of the revolutionary era have been bestsellers and Pulitzer Prize winners in the past several years. What explains this recent surge of interest in the founding fathers of the American nation? What does the fascination with the founding fathers tell us about our own time? What would the founders have to say about the state of the nation today?
Throughout the latter half of the Twentieth Century, the United States and Western Europe seemed the staunchest of allies, united in NATO in defense against the common threat of the Soviet Union. With the end of the cold war and the loss of that common enemy, however, signs of emerging tensions have appeared in the friendship between America and Europe. How serious are the spats between Europe and the United States over issues such as the International Criminal Court, the conflict in the Middle East, and the U.S. conduct of the war on terrorism? With the formation of the European Union, Europe has become an economic rival to the United States. Will it become a political and military rival as well?
What is the proper role of the intellectual in public life? Plato believed that philosophers should govern society. He founded his famous Academy with the hope of creating such "philosopher kings." Another philosopher, Immanuel Kant, however, believed that "the possession of power unavoidably spoils the free use of reason." Therefore, he argued that intellectuals should keep a proper distance from the political realm. Who is right, Kant or Plato?
It may be that, as the Gilbert and Sullivan jingle has it, everybody is born a little liberal or a little conservative, but it usually takes some time before one decides for oneself which it is, followed by some more time before one decides one got it wrong the first time. Such are the shiftings and switchings experienced by the contributors to Why I Turned Right: Leading Baby Boom Conservatives Chronicle Their Political Journeys...
The dean brings charges of ‘unprofessional conduct’ for a vigorous defense of free inquiry.
The former FBI directors tend to investigate Republicans far more zealously than Democrats.
Use the power of the purse to abolish speech codes—making public colleges into a model for private ones.
Few top colleges explain their purpose to students. They want to talk gender and inequality instead.
As administrators foist ‘social justice’ on 4,000 suburban students, parents plead for balance.
Peter Berkowitz on Education’s End: Why Our Colleges and Universities Have Given Up on the Meaning of Life by Anthony T. Kronman
A case currently before the Supreme Court challenges the constitutionality of the Texas Homosexual Conduct Law, which in 1974 legalized heterosexual sodomy but not same-sex sodomy. Does the Texas law violate the constitutional rights of homosexuals, or are states permitted to pass such laws if they choose? If the Supreme Court does strike down the Texas law, what implications will that have for other civil rights that gays and lesbians are seeking, such as same-sex marriage?
Every year it seems that popular culture goes a little bit further—bigger explosions, more action, more violence, more sex... Is pop culture harmless or should we be concerned about the values presented in pop culture and the effects those presentations have on society? For instance, what is the connection between depictions of violence in films and on television and the incidence of violence in real life? If pop culture is having a negative impact on our society, what should we do about it?
Given recent trends at both local and federal levels, most notably the Supreme Court decision striking down the Texas antihomosexual sodomy law, it would appear that legal recognition of gay marriage may be just a matter of time. Should gay marriage be granted legal recognition? Are same-sex couples who are not allowed to marry under current law being denied equal protection of the law? How would recognition of gay marriage alter the traditional purpose of marriage? And would gay marriage erode support for families or strengthen it?
In a 2002 Gallup poll conducted in ten Muslim nations, only 22 percent of the people questioned viewed the United States favorably. Why does the United States foster such hatred in the Islamic world in particular? Is it our foreign policy—our support of Israel and of repressive Arab regimes in the Middle East? Or is it our culture? Does globalization spread American values that are simply antithetical, thus disruptive, to the traditional Islamic view of society? Just what should we do to win this struggle for the hearts and minds of those who despise us around the world?
Is America a divided nation? Sharp regional voting patterns were evident in the 2000 presidential election: rural, Midwestern, and southern voters went for Bush; urban and coastal voters went for Gore. These regional voting patterns have led some to describe America as one nation with two cultures. Is this an accurate way of looking at American society? Or is America divided along economic rather than cultural lines? Just how fundamental are these differences, and what impact will they have on the American political landscape?
Is the Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional? The original pledge, written in 1892 by the Christian socialist Francis Bellamy, did not contain the words "under God." Congress added these two words in 1954. And it is these words that caused the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to rule in June 2002 that recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance in schools violated the First Amendment's so-called separation of church and state. Now the case is before the Supreme Court. Will the Court rule that reciting the current pledge in schools is okay, or do the words "under God" have to go?
How is Mexican immigration changing the United States in the twenty-first century? In the past several decades, the United States has seen an explosion in the number of Hispanic immigrants to this country, most of them from Mexico. And most of them go to California. Today nearly half of all Californians are immigrants or the children of immigrants—most of them coming originally from Mexico. What is the economic and social impact of this influx on California, and what does it bode for the rest of the country? What makes Mexican immigration different than immigration from other countries? And what, if anything, should we do about it?
George Orwell was one of the great journalists and political writers of the twentieth century. His writings on the great political struggles of that century—imperialism, fascism, Stalinism—in books such as Homage to Catalonia, Animal Farm, and 1984, are revered. But is Orwell relevant to the main political and cultural issues of our present day? Or should we read Orwell merely out of an appreciation for language and history?
What are the root causes of terrorism and how should we respond to them? If the discontent and hatred that breed terrorism spring from economic, political, and cultural grievances, should we address those grievances? Or does acknowledgment of these types of causes of terrorism lend a dangerous legitimacy to terrorists themselves?
The contributors reveal how public policy in the United States has weakened the institutions of civil society that play a critical role in forming and sustaining the qualities of mind and character crucial to democratic self-government. The authors show what can be done, consistent with the principles of a free society, to establish a healthier relationship between public policy and character.