Monday, July 22, 2013

Seize the Chance to Strangle Hamas. By Jonathan Schanzer.

Strangling Hamas. By Jonathan Schanzer. Foreign Policy, July 22, 2013.

With Middle East peace talks coming and the Muslim Brotherhood on the rocks, now’s the time to bankrupt Gaza’s Islamists.

Hamas Is Having a Horrible Year. By Ben Lynfield. The National Interest, July 22, 2013.

Israel’s Fast Evolving Demography. By Paul Morland.

Israel’s Fast Evolving Demography. By Paul Morland. Real Clear Politics, July 22, 2013. Also at the Jerusalem Post.

The Myth of the Inevitable Jewish Minority in Israel. By Jeff Jacoby. NJBR, June 30, 2013. With related articles.

Helen Thomas and Bias in the Press. By Jonathan S. Tobin.

Helen Thomas and Bias in the Press. By Jonathan S. Tobin. Commentary, July 22, 2013.

Don’t Sanitize Helen Thomas's Toxic Prejudices. By Jeffrey Goldberg. Bloomberg, July 22, 2013.

Hamas Website Posts a Tribute to Helen Thomas. By Sharona Schwartz. The Blaze, July 22, 2013.

42 Seconds That Sullied Helen Thomas –and New Media. By Paula Cruickshank. Real Clear Politics, July 31, 2013.

Playboy Interview: Helen Thomas. By David Hochman. Playboy, April 2011. Also here, here.

Helen Thomas To Jews: “Get The Hell Out Of Palestine.” Video. Real Clear Politics, June 4, 2010. YouTube.

Juan Williams On Helen Thomas’s “Jews Go Home,” Comment. Video. Fox News Sunday, June 6, 2010. YouTube.

Helen Thomas to Joy Behar on Israel Comments: “I Should Have Kept My Mouth Shut.” The Huffington Post, February 17, 2011. Video at CNNYouTube.


Longtime White House correspondent Helen Thomas is being celebrated today as a trailblazer who showed the way for young female reporters and the avatar for tough-minded journalism. Thomas deserves great credit for making her way against the odds in a man’s world before becoming a fixture as the dean of the White House press corps and a leading member of the once-all male Gridiron Club. Doing so required grit, tenacity, and the kind of work ethic that enabled her to beat out many of her colleagues and win her a place among the elites of the Washington press corps. But even the most laudatory discussion of Thomas’s career must mention its end when she was forced to resign from her last post for an anti-Semitic outburst. In order to maintain the story line of Thomas as trailblazer, obituaries like the front-page article in today’s New York Times, and appreciations like the one in the Daily Beast by Eleanor Clift, must treat it as something that does not detract from her significance or an understandable expression of legitimate opinion that showed she didn’t care what others thought.
But an honest assessment of her legacy requires us to do more than make a token acknowledgement of the “get the hell out of Palestine” statement while lionizing her as a symbol of equal rights for women. Thomas’s prejudice was not a minor flaw. It was a symptom not only of her Jew-hatred but also of a style of journalism that was brutally partisan and confrontational. We want reporters to be tough and relentless in the pursuit of good stories and truth. Yet anyone who watched her use her perch in the front row in the White House press room as if it were a platform for political opposition to administrations whose policies she didn’t like must understand that, along with her symbolic importance, we must also give Thomas her share of the credit for the creation of an ugly spirit of partisanship that characterizes much of the press.
As for Thomas’s line about throwing the Jews out of Palestine, the attempts to soften its impact by her friends still fall flat. The reporter wasn’t talking about Jewish settlers in the West Bank. She was referring to all six million Israeli Jews who, she thought, ought to go back where they supposedly belonged, to Germany and Poland. We are supposed to give her a pass for that because she was either elderly at the time or because she was the child of Lebanese immigrants, who brought their prejudices against Jews with them. Though she subsequently attempted to weasel her way out of the dustup with a statement that expressed her wish for peace, it was clear that she thought such a peace ought to be based on Israel’s eradication. This wasn’t so much, as the Times wrote, an “offhand remark” as it reflected a deep-seated hatred for Israel and its Jewish population that had characterized much of her reporting and writing throughout her career. That her fans are willing to regard this as not germane to the main story about her achievements is to be expected. But let’s ask ourselves how her stature would be affected if her offhand remarks, even in her dotage, had been aimed at African-Americans, rather than Israelis? Rationalizing or minimizing her prejudices for the sake of preserving Thomas’s reputation is intellectually indefensible.
Many people grew to like Thomas specifically because of her unrelenting hostility to the George W. Bush administration and her open opposition to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Those stances are seen by some as either prescient or praiseworthy these days, but even if you shared her political position, it’s important to understand that her use of her front-row seat in the White House briefing room to promote those positions represented a disturbing breakdown in civility as well as the way the press views itself.
Thomas made no secret of the fact that she felt the mainstream press gave too much leeway to Bush in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. But her decision to fight her own war against the war on terror from inside the White House wasn’t quite the responsible position that many of her backers pretend it to be. Thomas’s point wasn’t so much based on skepticism about whether Saddam Hussein really did possess, as every Western intelligence agency thought he did, weapons of mass destruction as it was on the idea that Islamist terrorists and their allies had legitimate grievances against the United States and the West. In her view, American attempts to defend against these threats or Israeli efforts to protect their people against a bloody terrorist offensive were the real problems.
Moreover, as much as the press needs to always be on guard against a tendency to be played by the president (something that has been crystal clear during most of Barack Obama’s presidency, as much of the mainstream media served as his unpaid cheerleaders), Thomas illustrated the pitfalls of the opposite trend. At times, Thomas appeared to be acting as if she thought the role of the press was to be the mouthpiece for Bush’s detractors. In doing so, she undermined her own shaky credibility more than she cut the president down to size.
Journalists should recognize that Thomas helped paved the way for subsequent generations of women in the working press. But we should also understand that the negative lessons of her career are as instructive as the positive ones. Helen Thomas may have been a pathfinder for women, but her prejudices and poor judgment are textbook examples of how journalists should not behave.


Helen Thomas’s death on July 20 brought to mind my last encounter with her, a couple of years ago, not long after she gave full vent to her almost comically hostile anti-Israel views.
In 2010, if you recall, Thomas, a longtime reporter and columnist, was asked by a rabbi with a video camera outside a White House Jewish heritage day celebration (of all things) if she had any thoughts on Israel.
It turns out she did. Here is what she said: “Tell them to get the hell out of Palestine.”
The rabbi, David Nesenoff, asked her where they should go.
“They should go home,” she said. “Poland. Germany. And America, and everywhere else. Why push people out who have lived there for centuries?”
Nesenoff: “Are you familiar with the history of that region?”
Thomas replied, “Very much. I’m of Arab background.”
Thomas resigned from her job as a columnist for Hearst Newspapers shortly after the video surfaced, though she was mostly retired at that point, anyway: Only a handful of newspapers carried her reliably screedish columns.
Not long after the controversy, Playboy ran an interview with Thomas, who was asked to respond to something I had written about the controversy.
Playboy: “In the wake of your anti-Israel comments, a blogger from The Atlantic argued there’s really no distinction between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism. He wrote, ‘Thomas was fired for saying that the Jews of Israel should move to Europe, where their relatives had been slaughtered in the most devastating act of genocide in history. She believes that once the Jews are evacuated from their ancestral homeland, the world’s only Jewish country should be replaced by what would be the world’s 23rd Arab country. She believes that Palestinians deserve a country of their own but that the Jews are undeserving of a nation-state in their homeland, which has had a continuous Jewish presence for 3,000 years . . .’”
At which point, Thomas interrupted to ask: “Did a Jew write this?”
The interviewer gamely plowed through: “‘. . . and has been the location of two previous Jewish states. This sounds like a very anti-Jewish position to me, not merely an anti-Zionist position.’”
Thomas’s reaction to my analysis of her essential atrociousness: “This is a rotten piece. I mean, it’s absolutely biased and totally – who are these people?”
As it happens, I ran into Thomas shortly after the Playboy interview appeared. I couldn’t resist the urge to let her know that I was (and am, by the way) Jewish, that the expression “these people” is not terrifically respectful and also that telling the Jews of Israel to move to Germany, where their families were murdered, scores fairly high on the Goldberg Insensitivity Scale. She responded with something unprintable – not anti-Semitic, just unprintable – which I found delightful, because I have a fondness for old people who curse and are filled with vinegar.
I understand the tributes to Thomas that have been issued after her death was announced. She was a pioneer in the White House press room, and she carved a path through Washington journalism that was followed by many other women, including journalists of much greater talent and probity. And I understand why obituary writers feel the need to capture her in her fullness. But I don’t think her anti-Semitism should be treated as an afterthought, as it has been. (This Eleanor Clift appreciation, which sanitizes Thomas’s anti-Jewish rant to an unconscionable degree, is typical.)
The toxic tone Thomas struck in her 2010 comments wasn’t the excusable byproduct of old age; it was the same tone she’d been using, in her questions and her columns, for years (this Jack Shafer column from 2003 will help you understand the Thomas method).

Thomas’s sympathy for the Palestinians was a blinding compassion. Her prejudices followed inevitably from her inability to understand a competing and equally valid – and equally tragic – national narrative.
Which, by the way, isn’t the mark of a very good reporter.

Marie Arana: Simon Bolivar the “Polar Opposite” of George Washington. By Robin Lindley.

Simon Bolivar the “Polar Opposite” of George Washington. Interview with Marie Arana. By Robin Lindley. History News Network, July 22, 2013.

Review of Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman’s “American Umpire.” By Bernard von Bothner.

Review of Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman’s American Umpire. By Bernard von Bothner. History News Network, July 21, 2013.

American Umpire. By Elizabeth Cobb Hoffman. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2013.

What Ever Happened to American Regionalism? By Ira Chernus.

What Ever Happened to American Regionalism? By Ira Chernus. History News Network, July 20, 2013.

The Arrogance of a Well-Fed Society. By Alex B. Berezow.

The Arrogance of a Well-Fed Society. By Alex B. Berezow. Real Clear Science, July 22, 2013.


Every time I write an article about population growth or poverty, I receive at least one e-mail insisting that there are too many humans on the planet. That erroneous statement is usually followed up with a not-so-subtle suggestion that letting a few people starve to death wouldn’t be a terrible thing, but instead would actually make the planet a safer, richer and more sustainable place.
Not many things shock me anymore. But the arrogance and callousness of a well-fed society toward those who are less fortunate always leaves me stunned.
What is particularly frustrating is that both sides of the political spectrum claim to be the true champions of the poor – while simultaneously endorsing policies that disproportionately harm them.
The Left repeatedly insists that climate change is the world’s #1 problem, and this has distracted us from the world’s actual #1 problem: Poverty. About 1.3 billion people don’t have electricity, meaning they also don’t have adequate access to food, healthcare or the Internet. Essentially, such communities are condemned to a life of indefinite poverty. Providing them with cheap electricity is a compassionate, progressive thing to do.
Or at least it was at one time. In an article posted on New Geography, Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus explain how the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) “established the progressive principle that cheap energy for all was a public good, not a private enterprise.”
Why is it necessary to make cheap electricity a public good? Because it helps end the vicious cycle of poverty. The authors describe the stark reality of life in the American South in the 1930s:
Eighty years ago, the Tennessee Valley region was like many poor rural communities in tropical regions today. The best forests had been cut down to use as fuel for wood stoves. Soils were being rapidly depleted of nutrients, resulting in falling yields and a desperate search for new croplands. Poor farmers were plagued by malaria and had inadequate medical care. Few had indoor plumbing and even fewer had electricity.
The TVA helped change this. Cheap hydroelectric power lifted residents out of poverty and even helped restore the environment.
Therefore, providing cheap electricity to the 1.3 billion people without it should be a top global priority. Solar and wind power should be implemented if possible, but not all locations will be amenable to that technology. And that means it will be necessary to burn more fossil fuels in some locations, even though more people will die as a result of air pollution. But given a choice between a life of poverty (and all the hazards that come with it) versus a chance at a more prosperous life (albeit one with an increased risk of lung cancer), most people in the developing world would probably choose the latter, even if that upsets climate-obsessed progressives in the rich world.
On the Right, conservatives need to give up their ideological opposition to birth control. While the world is not overpopulated as a whole, overpopulation does cause issues at the regional level. (That is why I like to say the world is not overpopulated, but rather “maldistributed.”) For instance, only so many people can live in the U.S. Southwest before water shortages become a routine problem.
At the behest of President George W. Bush, the United States implemented a program called PEPFAR (President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief) that was rightfully praised for saving millions of Africans from HIV. But the program was criticized for doing little (perhaps even undermining efforts) to provide women with birth control. But, cheap birth control – just like cheap electricity – is an important tool to help end the vicious cycle of poverty.
To truly help developing societies, we need to answer their immediate needs. That is far more compassionate than trying to shape them into the societies we would like them to be.

Was America’s Prosperity an Accident of History? By Benjamin Wallace-Wells.

The Blip. By Benjamin Wallace-Wells. New York Magazine, July 21, 2013. Also here.

What if everything we’ve come to think of as American is predicated on a freak coincidence of economic history? And what if that coincidence has run its course?


Why Innovation Won’t Save Us. By Robert J. Gordon. Wall Street Journal, December 21, 2012.

Robert Gordon: The death of innovation, the end of growth. Video. TED. Filmed February 2013, posted April 2013. YouTube. Summary by Ben Lillie.

Erik Brynjolfsson: The key to growth? Race with the machines. Video. TED. Filmed February 2013, posted April 2013. YouTube. Summary by Kate Torgovnick.

Debate: Erik Brynjolfsson and Robert J. Gordon at TED2013. By Thu-Huong Ha. TED, February 26, 2013. Video at YouTube.

Are robots hurting job growth? Video. 60 Minutes. CBS News, January 13, 2013. YouTube. YouTube.

Excerpts from Race Against the Machines. By Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee. The Atlantic, October 24- 26, 2011. Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

The Jobs Crisis: Bigger Than You Think. By Walter Russell Mead. NJBR, May 10, 2013.

The Jobs Question: Work Is a Human Right. By Walter Russell Mead. NJBR, May 16, 2013.

Job Creation in the Information Technology Age. By Walter Russell Mead. NJBR, May 22, 2013.


For more than a century, the U.S. economy grew robustly thanks to big inventions; those days are gone.
Nothing has been more central to America’s self-confidence than the faith that robust economic growth will continue forever. Between 1891 and 2007, the nation achieved a robust 2% annual growth rate of output per person. Unfortunately, the evidence suggests to me that future economic growth will achieve at best half that historic rate. The old rate allowed the American standard of living to double every 35 years; for most people in the future that doubling may take a century or more.
The growth of the past century wasn’t built on manna from heaven. It resulted in large part from a remarkable set of inventions between 1875 and 1900. These started with Edison’s electric light bulb (1879) and power station (1882), making possible everything from elevator buildings to consumer appliances. Karl Benz invented the first workable internal-combustion engine the same year as Edison’s light bulb.
This narrow time frame saw the introduction of running water and indoor plumbing, the greatest event in the history of female liberation, as women were freed from carrying literally tons of water each year. The telephone, phonograph, motion picture and radio also sprang into existence. The period after World War II saw another great spurt of invention, with the development of television, air conditioning, the jet plane and the interstate highway system.
The profound boost that these innovations gave to economic growth would be difficult to repeat. Only once could transport speed be increased from the horse (6 miles per hour) to the Boeing 707 (550 mph). Only once could outhouses be replaced by running water and indoor plumbing. Only once could indoor temperatures, thanks to central heating and air conditioning, be converted from cold in winter and hot in summer to a uniform year-round climate of 68 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit.
As the impact of the late-19th-century inventions faded away around 1970, the computer revolution took over and allowed the economy to remain on our historic path of 2% annual growth. Computers replaced human labor and thus contributed to productivity, but the bulk of these benefits came early in the Electronics Era. In the 1960s, mainframe computers churned out bank statements and telephone bills, reducing clerical labor. In the 1970s, memory typewriters replaced repetitive retyping by armies of legal clerks. In the 1980s, PCs with word-wrap were introduced, as were ATMs that replaced bank tellers and bar-code scanning that replaced retail workers.
The climax was the marriage of communications to the computer as the Internet arose in the 1990s. was founded in 1994, Google  in 1998 and Wikipedia in 2001. Since 2002, though, most computer-related inventions have resulted not in fundamental transformation but in miniaturization, as with hand-held devices like the iPhone, which combines the pre-2002 functions of laptops and early cellphones.
Innovation continues apace today, and many of those developing and funding new technologies recoil with disbelief at my suggestion that we have left behind the era of truly important changes in our standard of living.
The first response from skeptics always involves health care. They believe that medical research, especially on the genome, promises to achieve enormous advances in the treatment of diseases. But the new techniques often fail to deliver. One recent study, for instance, demonstrated that high-cost proton-beam treatment for prostate cancer yields no better results than old-fashioned radiation therapy.
Pharmaceutical research appears to be entering a phase of diminishing returns. Developing new drugs is increasingly expensive, and the potential pool of beneficiaries is ever smaller, mainly people with esoteric types of cancer. Few of the medical optimists acknowledge a stark historical fact: The rate of improvement in U.S. life expectancy was three times higher in the first half of the 20th century than in the second.
The fracking revolution and soaring oil and gas production have also excited optimists. But this isn’t a source of future economic growth; it merely holds off future economic decline. Over the past decade, the economy has been burdened by oil prices between $50 and $150 per barrel, which have sapped purchasing power available for nonenergy consumption. Holding these prices at bay is progress, to be sure, but it can’t compare to the 1960s, when “See the U.S.A. in your Chevrolet” became ever more possible along an expanding interstate highway system when gasoline cost 25 cents a gallon.
Another claim by the growth optimists is that 3-D printing and micro-robots will revolutionize manufacturing. This is an old story, told in one form or another since the first industrial robot was introduced by General Motors in 1961. Manufacturing productivity, driven by robots and other machines has been healthy throughout the postwar era, even in the past half-decade. But manufacturing’s share of the economic pie has inexorably shrunk, from 28% in 1953 to 11% in 2010. That sector of the economy is performing a marvelous ballet, on a shrinking stage.
Can economic growth be saved by Google’s driverless car? This is bizarre ground for optimism, but it is promoted not just by Google's Eric Schmidt but by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Erik Brynjolfsson. People are in cars to go somewhere, whether from home to work or from home to shop. Once they are inside the car, there is relatively little difference between driving the car on their own or having it drive itself. Greater safety? Auto fatalities per million miles traveled have already declined by a factor of 10 since 1950.
In setting out the case for pessimism, I have been accused by some of a failure of imagination. New inventions always introduce new modes of growth, and history provides many examples of doubters who questioned future benefits. But I am not forecasting an end to innovation, just a decline in the usefulness of future inventions in comparison with the great inventions of the past.
Even if we assume that innovation produces a cornucopia of wonders beyond my expectations, the economy still faces formidable headwinds. The retirement of the baby boomers and the continuing exodus of prime-age males from the labor force, sometimes called the “missing fifth,” are reducing hours worked per member of the population. American educational attainment continues to slide ever-downward in the international league tables, due to cost inflation at our universities, $1 trillion in student loans, abysmal test scores and large numbers of high-school dropouts.
And inequality in America will continue to grow, driven by poor educational outcomes at the bottom and the rewards of globalization at the top, as American CEOs reap the benefits of multinational sales to emerging markets. From 1993 to 2008, income growth among the bottom 99% of earners was 0.5 points slower than the economy's overall growth rate. If future output grows, as I expect, at a rate of just 1% a year, that means the overwhelming majority of Americans will see their incomes grow just 0.5% annually.
The future of American economic growth is dismal, and policy solutions are elusive. Skeptics need to come up with a better rebuttal.

The Decline of the Civil-Rights Establishment. By Shelby Steele.

The Decline of the Civil-Rights Establishment. By Shelby Steele. Wall Street Journal, July 21, 2013. Also here.

Black leaders weren’t so much outraged at injustice as they were by the disregard of their own authority.

Shelby Steele: Zimmerman Verdict Demonstrates How the Civil-Rights Establishment Has Lost Its Juice. By Rush Limbaugh., July 22, 2013.


The verdict that declared George Zimmerman not guilty of murdering Trayvon Martin was a traumatic event for America's civil-rights establishment, and for many black elites across the media, government and academia. When you have grown used to American institutions being so intimidated by the prospect of black wrath that they invent mushy ideas like “diversity” and “inclusiveness” simply to escape that wrath, then the crisp reading of the law that the Zimmerman jury displayed comes as a shock.
On television in recent weeks you could see black leaders from every background congealing into a chorus of umbrage and complaint. But they weren’t so much outraged at a horrible injustice as they were affronted by the disregard of their own authority. The jury effectively said to them, “You won’t call the tune here. We will work within the law.”
Today’s black leadership pretty much lives off the fumes of moral authority that linger from its glory days in the 1950s and ’60s. The Zimmerman verdict lets us see this and feel a little embarrassed for them. Consider the pathos of a leadership that once transformed the nation now lusting for the conviction of the contrite and mortified George Zimmerman, as if a stint in prison for him would somehow assure more peace and security for black teenagers everywhere. This, despite the fact that nearly one black teenager a day is shot dead on the South Side of Chicago—to name only one city—by another black teenager.
This would not be the first time that a movement begun in profound moral clarity, and that achieved greatness, waned away into a parody of itself—not because it was wrong but because it was successful. Today’s civil-rights leaders have missed the obvious: The success of their forbearers in achieving social transformation denied to them the heroism that was inescapable for a Martin Luther King Jr. or a James Farmer or a Nelson Mandela. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton cannot write a timeless letter to us from a Birmingham jail or walk, as John Lewis did in 1965, across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., into a maelstrom of police dogs and billy clubs. That America is no longer here (which is not to say that every trace of it is gone).
The Revs. Jackson and Sharpton have been consigned to a hard fate: They can never be more than redundancies, echoes of the great men they emulate because America has changed. Hard to be a King or Mandela today when your monstrous enemy is no more than the cherubic George Zimmerman.
Why did the civil-rights leadership use its greatly depleted moral authority to support Trayvon Martin? This young man was, after all, no Rosa Parks—a figure of indisputable human dignity set upon by the rank evil of white supremacy. Trayvon threw the first punch and then continued pummeling the much smaller Zimmerman. Yes, Trayvon was a kid, but he was also something of a menace. The larger tragedy is that his death will come to very little. There was no important principle or coherent protest implied in that first nose-breaking punch. It was just dumb bravado, a tough-guy punch.
The civil-rights leadership rallied to Trayvon’s cause (and not to the cause of those hundreds of black kids slain in America’s inner cities this very year) to keep alive a certain cultural “truth” that is the sole source of the leadership’s dwindling power. Put bluntly, this leadership rather easily tolerates black kids killing other black kids. But it cannot abide a white person (and Mr. Zimmerman, with his Hispanic background, was pushed into a white identity by the media over his objections) getting away with killing a black person without undermining the leadership’s very reason for being.
The purpose of today’s civil-rights establishment is not to seek justice, but to seek power for blacks in American life based on the presumption that they are still, in a thousand subtle ways, victimized by white racism. This idea of victimization is an example of what I call a “poetic truth.” Like poetic license, it bends the actual truth in order to put forward a larger and more essential truth—one that, of course, serves one’s cause. Poetic truths succeed by casting themselves as perfectly obvious: “America is a racist nation”; “the immigration debate is driven by racism”; “Zimmerman racially stereotyped Trayvon.” And we say, “Yes, of course,” lest we seem to be racist. Poetic truths work by moral intimidation, not reason.
In the Zimmerman/Martin case the civil-rights establishment is fighting for the poetic truth that white animus toward blacks is still such that a black teenager—Skittles and ice tea in hand—can be shot dead simply for walking home. But actually this establishment is fighting to maintain its authority to wield poetic truth—the authority to tell the larger society how it must think about blacks, how it must respond to them, what it owes them and, then, to brook no argument.
The Zimmerman/Martin tragedy has been explosive because it triggered a fight over authority. Who gets to say what things mean—the supporters of George Zimmerman, who say he acted in self-defense, or the civil-rights establishment that says he profiled and murdered a black child? Here we are. And where is the authority to resolve this? The six-person Florida jury, looking carefully at the evidence, decided that Mr. Zimmerman pulled the trigger in self-defense and not in a fury of racial hatred.
And here, precisely at the point of this verdict, is where all of America begins to see this hollowed-out civil-rights establishment slip into pathos. Almost everyone saw this verdict coming. It is impossible to see how this jury could have applied the actual law to this body of evidence and come up with a different conclusion. The civil-rights establishment's mistake was to get ahead of itself, to be seduced by its own poetic truth even when there was no evidence to support it. And even now its leaders call for a Justice Department investigation, and they long for civil lawsuits to be filed—hoping against hope that some leaf of actual racial victimization will be turned over for all to see. This is how a once-great social movement looks when it becomes infested with obsolescence.
One wants to scream at all those outraged at the Zimmerman verdict: Where is your outrage over the collapse of the black family? Today’s civil-rights leaders swat at mosquitoes like Zimmerman when they have gorillas on their back. Seventy-three percent of all black children are born without fathers married to their mothers. And you want to bring the nation to a standstill over George Zimmerman?
There are vast career opportunities, money and political power to be gleaned from the specter of Mr. Zimmerman as a racial profiler/murderer; but there is only hard and selfless work to be done in tackling an illegitimacy rate that threatens to consign blacks to something like permanent inferiority. If there is anything good to be drawn from the Zimmerman/Martin tragedy, it is only the further revelation of the corruption and irrelevance of today’s civil-rights leadership.

Seven Reasons There’s Hope for Israeli-Palestinian Peace. By Ben Birnbaum.

Seven Reasons There’s Hope for Israeli-Palestinian Peace. By Ben Birnbaum. The New Republic, July 21, 2013.

Netanyahu Could Save the Two-State Solution. By Ben Birnbaum. NJBR, July 9, 2013. With related articles.

The End of the Two-State Solution. By Ben Birnbaum. NJBR, March 12, 2013. With related articles.

Salam Fayyad: The Visionary. By Ben Birnbaum. The New Republic, May 24, 2012. Also here.

Why Salam Fayyad Cannot Deliver. By Khaled Abu Toameh. Gatestone Institute, April 20, 2010.