Every now and then – and especially around election time – someone from the general public becomes a household name thanks to a politically exploitable controversy. Politicians are eager to highlight how their philosophy and policies interact with real people, so they seek these representative examples. But the recent causes cÃ©lÃ¨bres that have been exploited by the right are much worse than your average Joe the Plumber. They are of a distinctly nasty character and help expose conservatives’ mainstreaming of bigotry, lawlessness and violence.
As a historic deal with Iran that would temporarily block it from pursuing certain nuclear ambitions in exchange for relaxation of sanctions moves ever closer to passage, Republicans are vowing to do all they can to scuttle the deal. It’s remarkable that, at a time when the first modern meaningful international agreement between the U.S. and Iran is about to go through, Republicans are rattling sabers as aggressively as ever.
Sam Harris, the prominent secularist and neuroscientist, recently exchanged a series of heated emails with Noam Chomsky, a linguist and leading social and foreign policy critic since the 1960s. Their discussion was buzzworthy because both men are well-known public commentators with occasionally overlapping subject matter who have never shared a forum before. Unfortunately for Harris, who reached out to Chomsky initially, the conversation didn’t go as well for him as he seemed to hope it would when he embarked on it.