There was a time when moral giants walked the Earth. One of them, Soviet dissident Elena Bonner — widow of the great physicist and human rights activist Andrei Sakharov — left us on June 18 at the age of 88. A model of courage, Bonner was one of my heroes when I was a teenager in the Soviet Union and my parents listened to news of Sakharov and Bonner on banned foreign radio broadcasts. She was also a personal hero I had the privilege to meet several times.
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.
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.