Last December, as the world tried to grapple with the devastating scope of the tsunami that hit South Asia -- at last count, the death toll stood at nearly 300,000 -- the tragedy became fodder for fatuous religious discussions, focusing on an ancient question: How can a just, good, all-powerful, all-loving God allow evil to happen and innocents to suffer?
The expectation that a commentator's views must be in lockstep with his or her ethnic, religious or sexual identity is always distasteful -- particularly when blacks, women, gays or Jews are labeled "self-hating" when they refuse to toe the perceived party line.
As the furor over the election dies down, with unseemly whining from sore losers and unseemly gloating from sore winners, certain stereotypes of Bush voters continue to command currency among disgruntled liberals. One of them is that Bush supporters, and conservatives in general, are dumb, ignorant and out of touch with reality.
After a short respite from the fight over the Pledge of Allegiance, the Republican Party has once again thrown itself into the fray over issues of church and state. This time it's the Republican Party of Texas, President Bush's home state, which has approved a plank in its platform affirming that "the United States of America is a Christian nation."
Twenty years ago, who could have thought that in 2004, the president of Russia would be attending a meeting of the leaders of industrialized democracies in the United States? Vladimir Putin's presence at the Group of Eight summit on Sea Island, Ga., in June could be seen as a sign of mind-boggling progress. Unfortunately, the rollback of democracy in Russia continues apace with more and more signs of a climate that bears some chilling similarities to that of 20 years ago.
The new book "Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism" (Metropolitan Books), by writer and social critic Susan Jacoby, is a historical work but it is also an unabashed polemic on an acutely topical issue: the role of religion in public life in modern-day America. I
The latest book to charge into the battle of the media, "What Liberal Media?: The Truth About 'Bias' and the News," by Nation columnist Eric Alterman, attempts to give ammunition to the liberal side.
Is condemnation of Israel in the current Middle East conflict often tainted with anti-Semitism? The discussion of this sensitive issue has generally focused on anti-Israeli sentiment in Europe. Recently, it was brought close to home by Harvard University President Lawrence Summers, whose Sept. 17 speech expressing concern over the resurgence of anti-Semitism drew national attention, both positive and negative.