Obama's Evolving Outrage on Guns

July 24, 2015 – The shooting in Louisiana is part of an ongoing national tragedy with a simple solution. The President rightly says that it ought to obsess us.

An Honest Comedian on Guns

July 7, 2015 – In the endless struggle for gun sanity in America, it’s easy to get discouraged. But it’s encouraging to hear the plain truth about an issue.

Charleston, And The Next Time

June 23, 2015 – In the areas of gun crime where there has been extended study, we know that serious gun control works to end gun violence.

The Changing American Sex Scandal

June 3, 2015 – Even as many have become more narrowly judgmental about power relations and sexual consent, American culture has lost even its last pretenses of gentility.

Art and Money

June 1, 2015 – In today’s sky-high auction market, should artists be paid royalties?

The Plot Against Trains

May 15, 2015 – This week’s horrific Amtrak derailment renewed arguments about Americans’ failure to build for the common good.

PEN Has Every Right to Honor Charlie Hebdo

May 1, 2015 – If literature has any social function, it is premised on the belief that, in the long run, the most comfortable community is going to be the one that knows the most about itself.

What Shakespeare Knew About Robert Durst

March 25, 2015 – Durst’s words are not at all Hamlet-like, as some have said. They recall, instead, the soliloquies of Iago, in “Othello,” and of Edmund, in “King Lear.”

Iran, Inequality, and the Battle of American Norms

March 17, 2015 – Laws are plans, like the city grid, that must be followed; norms are landmarks, like the old Penn Station—you don’t think anyone could tear them down, and then someone does.

Obama vs. Vin Diesel: The Meaning of "Who We Are"

February 26, 2015 – The phrase recurs frequently in the “Fast and the Furious” films, and it’s a favorite locution of the President’s, too. But is it inspiring or impotent?

The Evolution Catechism

February 19, 2015 – Darwinian biology is not an ideology, which one believes in or doesn’t.

Obama and the Crusaders

February 13, 2015 – The President was profoundly right to point out that almost every religion has been implicated in horrors throughout its history.

Two Views on Speech

January 30, 2015 – The world on the whole regards our approach as uncivilized and confused about the significant distinctions that are necessary for truly free speech.

Snowpocalypse in the White Queen's Kingdom

January 28, 2015 – Though snow hysteria may have its absurdities, it’s part of social sanity. Not seeing the snowstorm coming costs more.

Satire Lives

January 19, 2015 – The massacred staff of “Charlie Hebdo” were not the gentle satirists of American editorial cartooning. 


The Newtown Lawsuit and the Moral Work of Gun Control

January 1, 2015 – On the problem of guns, no matter how far we may seem from a sane solution, the public deliberations are finished.

Fear and Torture

December 10, 2014 – The tragic resonance of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence’s report on C.I.A. torture will not, and probably should not, fade any time soon.

Arguing Abortion

November 28, 2014 – The Clintons’ shrewd formula—“Safe, legal, and rare”—may have been born of political necessity, but it misstates the truth.

Images and Interests at War

October 9, 2014 – We used to create images according to our arguments; now we do the opposite. Panicked by our sight, we craft plans to keep us from having to see any more.

Disunion and the Auld Alliance

September 18, 2014 – You will never understand a nation’s psyche by inventorying its interests. You must grasp its paranoias, its traumas, its irrationalities—and its history.

Does It Help to Know History?

August 28, 2014 – One lesson of history is that even doing the right thing rarely works out.

Ape-Woman, Artist

August 22, 2014 –  The Great Unanswered Question—well, one of them, to go along with what makes music emotionally meaningful, why people first thought of Gods, and how long it will be before the Expos return to Montreal—has always been at what moment humans began communicating with symbols, and why. A new scientific-minded guess at this riddle is both intriguing and politically appealing, not to say politically correct: it suggests that ape-men made art and culture only when ape-men finally became more like ape-women.

No More Mr. Tough Guy

July 31, 2014 – President Obama's critics have made it a practice to attack his supposed lack of strength.

Christopher Michael-Martinez's Father Gets It Right

May 25, 2014 – Richard Martinez, in the height of his grief, somehow did the hardest thing there is: he found the courage to speak a painful truth.

Big Government and the End of Slavery

April 11, 2014 – Contrary to Jim DeMint’s recent neo-secessionist comments, the Civil War was, in fact, the original big-government overreach.

Crimea and the Hysteria of History

March 7, 2014 With Crimea suddenly looming as a potential Sarajevo, the usual rhetoric comes blaring from the usual quarters.

Cold Days, Hot Planet

January 9, 2014 – Strong scientific theories are, whatever we might like to think, more often counterintuitive than self-evident.

How A Gun Dealer Sees It

November 21, 2013 – It can be a real pleasure to find a gun-control response rooted in the actual experience of guns and gun owners…

Canmerica the Beautiful

October 18, 2013 – A new book proposes that the answer to all of America’s problems is not to blame Canada but to join it…

Election Days, Opening Nights

October 31, 2013 – New York’s Mayor is expected to make the No. 6 train run on time, but also needs to have some personal flair.

The John Birchers' Tea Party

October 11, 2013 – What I find startling is how absolutely consistent and unchanged the ideology of the extreme American right has been over the past fifty years. The real analogue to today’s unhinged right wing in America is yesterday’s unhinged right wing in America. This really is your grandfather’s right, if not, to be sure, your grandfather’s Republican Party.

Who Was J.D Salinger

September 5, 2013 – In a new biography and film, Salinger as writer, or craftsman, or just listener is invisible throughout.

Look Here, Upon This Picture

March 12, 2009 – A lot of talk has been occasioned by the supposed find, over in England, of a new portrait of Shakespeare—the one that made the front page of the Times and that makes him look like George in the “Penny Lane” video, circa 1967.