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How Russian Trolls Imitate American Political Dysfunction

How Russian Trolls Imitate American Political Dysfunction

Suppose you were a vast global conspiracy plotting to foster discord among Americans. How would you approach your task? You might try to spread some salacious but dubious accusations—say, that a politician is a “devotee of Bigfoot erotica.” But that particular charge would feel kind of stale, since a Democratic congressional candidate already lobbed it at her rival this summer. Maybe you could think bigger, and make a video that tries to red-bait a candidate by linking him loosely to George Soros and, from there, even more loosely to “antifa.” But that would be superfluous because the...

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Don’t Rebrand the ‘Countering Violent Extremism’ Program—Just End It

The question shouldn't be which groups the program ought to target. It's whether the program should exist at all. For the Southern Poverty Law Center, the move suggests that "President Trump wants the government to stop its efforts to prevent terrorism by far-right extremists." For Jezebel, it's "another victory in a long series of wins for Neo Nazis, the KKK, and other violent and terroristic groups." Salon calls it "pandering to white supremacists." The target of their ire: a plan to rebrand the federal government's Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) program. According to Reuters, which...

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FDR’s Internment Policies Haunt Us

FDR's Wartime Violations of Civil Liberties Are Not a Good Precedent for Anything And you don't get points for not being as bad. Last night on The Kelly File, Carl Higbie, the spokesman for a pro-Trump PAC, defended the idea of a federal registry of Muslims by citing the World War II–era internment of Japanese Americans as a precedent, weakly adding "call it what you will, it may be wrong":   Megyn Kelly immediately leaped on this, and Higbie quickly declared that he did not in fact favor internment camps. The video then went viral. The video also gave me a dose of deja vu. Last...

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Welcome to the Fight Against Unchecked Power

You may have heard of whataboutism—the practice of rejecting criticisms of a regime on the grounds that other regimes do bad things too. Well, whataboutism has a cousin. Call it wherewereyouism: the impatient disdain that civil libertarians start to feel right after an election, when many members of the newly disempowered party suddenly rediscover the virtues of limiting government power. It's an understandable feeling, and I've sometimes been prone to it myself. (Back in 2009, when the Tea Party protests started taking off, my initial response was: "Why weren't you marching when Bush was...

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