TPM Cafe: Opinion

With the latest tragic news about Jimmy Carter’s cancer, many commentators and pundits have begun offering new assessments of Carter’s life and legacy. The widespread consensus has been that Carter redefined the concept of the post-presidency, and that it’s in the manifold projects and efforts undertaken during those 35 post-presidential years that Carter’s most significant and influential legacy can be found. From the work for global peace that culminated in Carter’s 2002 Nobel Peace Prize to the anti-poverty activism exemplified by his three-decade-long partnership with Habitat for Humanity, and up through his pledge to dedicate the remainder of his life to fighting for women’s rights, Carter has contributed immeasurably to his society and world since the end of his presidential term.

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The long-awaited data dump of private information for 32 million users of Ashley Madison, a dating website specifically aimed at married people looking to cheat, has arrived, and the internet is gleeful. Despite somber warnings from some corners not to celebrate a security breach on this level, the pleasure at seeing cheaters and attempted cheaters get their comeuppance appears to be winning out on social media, where divorce jokes abound. As all this unfolded, I immediately started drafting a self-righteous piece explaining the dangers of glass houses and stone throwing.

And then I was stopped short by a headline at Gawker.

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The controversy over whether children of undocumented migrants should be citizens may be heating up now, but it’s just the latest in a string of similar moments in U.S. history. The citizenship status of every non-white racial group has been challenged for literally centuries.

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GOP front-runner Donald Trump’s immigration plan, released on Sunday, can be easily summarized in the candidate’s own four words: “They have to go.” The plan is little more than a nativist wish list, with a bold kicker: an end to so-called “birthright citizenship,” the constitutional rule that a child born in and under the jurisdiction of the U.S. is a citizen.

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George W. Bush will not be giving speeches on behalf of his brother anytime soon. In fact, if the Republican establishment has its way, Dubya won't be anywhere near a camera for the 2016 election. (Who could forget his five-minute boilerplate video, shown in lieu of his attendance at the 2012 Republican National Convention?) His disappearance from the national spotlight is a strange phenomenon in contemporary American politics. Under normal circumstances, Bush would take his place along other ex-presidents as a national figurehead of some influence, especially with his brother as a presidential candidate. Yet, his deafening silence is indicative of not only his disastrous administration, but the GOP’s attempt to erase him from the country’s memory.

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Right-wing myths never die. They simply mutate, changing their forms with the times while retaining the core beliefs that made them appealing in the first place. It would be understandable to assume that birtherism—a conspiracy theory that holds that Barack Obama is not a “real” American citizen—would serve as the exception to this rule, as Obama’s presidency moves into its twilight years. After all, it only started because of right-wing anger over a black man in the White House, so why shouldn’t it disappear as he prepares to move out?

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For as long as it has existed, Hollywood has tiptoed around issues of race, using historical narratives with white saviors to appeal to the broadest swath of the public. Such narratives have been rightly criticized for filtering the black American experience through a white perspective, and for perpetuating a system of white supremacy; even if they bring conservative white folks to the cause of civil rights (an oft-employed justification for the white savior narrative), they still depict blacks as subjects, a dynamic that by definition can never lead to liberation. Movies like The Help and The Blind Side may have won awards, but they perpetuated a losing system for black America.

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Shortly after my third wedding anniversary one year ago, I wrote in the Guardian about the gendered risks associated with my decision not to work while I finished my degree. I had become a de facto housewife, even though I was working toward my career as an economist rather than doing the more traditional housewife work of raising children or supporting a husband.

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As Republican efforts to defund Planned Parenthood have taken center stage, Planned Parenthood supporters are fighting back. Facebook pages like “Humans of Planned Parenthood” have sprung up, with people from across the country sharing their stories of how the organization provided them with quality care. Supporters and Planned Parenthood itself have been quick to note that the bulk of the care they provide—97 percent, in fact—isn’t abortion care. Most of what Planned Parenthood does is sexual and reproductive health care services like breast exams, STI screenings, contraception and gynecological care like PAP smears.

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Want to contribute to TPM Cafe? Email ideas for your pieces to us at talk@talkingpointsmemo.com

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