TPM Cafe: Opinion

Secretary of State John Kerry and President Obama have just succeeded where so many have failed (or not even attempted to try). Last week’s announcement of a framework for an agreement between the world’s major powers and Iran on the latter’s nuclear program was, according to President Obama, “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity”—and a major win for American diplomacy.

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After months of anticipation, Rolling Stone has finally released a critical examination, performed by a team assembled at the Columbia School of Journalism, on all the journalistic failures regarding a December story on the problem of rape on campus at the University of Virginia. While the original story, “A Rape On Campus” by Sabrina Rubin Erdely, reported on multiple rapes on campus, the centerpiece of her story, an alleged gang rape of a girl named “Jackie” at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity, came under special scrutiny.

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Christmas came early in my house last month when Texas Senator Ted Cruz announced he was running for president. The GOP presidential primaries are my favorite TV show, and I’ve been waiting so long for the 2016 season.

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Earlier this week, a woman in Indiana was sentenced to 20 years in prison for “feticide” and neglect of a dependent. Purvi Patel went to a hospital emergency room bleeding and in distress; she told physicians that she’d had a miscarriage in a bathroom and tried to resuscitate the fetus. When that proved unsuccessful, Patel, unsure what to do, put the fetus in a plastic bag and left it in a dumpster.

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Amid all the backlash and backpedaling that has followed the signing of Indiana’s new Religious Freedom Restoration Act, there’s one important perspective that has gotten lost: Christians who believe that sex outside of heterosexual marriage is wrong, and who oppose discrimination against gay people—both on religious grounds.

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To be a Negro in this country is really… never to be looked at. What white people see when they look at you is not visible. What they do see when they do look at you is what they have invested you with. What they have invested you with is all the agony, and pain, and the danger, and the passion, and the torment — you know, sin, death, and hell — of which everyone in this country is terrified.” –James Baldwin

The first time I learned about lynching was when I was 19 years old and I had just heard “Strange Fruit” for the first time.

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During the furor over Indiana’s new “religious liberty” law, the debate has been haunted by some not-too-distant memories of the last time rapid social change encountered an embattled conservative population placed on the defensive. Yes, it enrages today’s religious conservatives to hear their demands for a zone of “conscience” in which they may choose to exempt themselves from antidiscrimination laws with similar demands a half century ago. But the parallels cannot be wished away.

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There’s been an amazing backlash against the new law in Indiana, signed by Gov. Mike Pence, that appears to give business owners broad rights to discriminate against LGBT people by citing “religious freedom.” The backlash is so rampant that Pence has already started dodging and weaving and pretending that this bill has nothing to do with gay people, even though, when he signed it, he made sure to surround himself with anti-gay activists so you know that’s exactly what this is all about.

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