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The Roundup Top Ten for March 10, 2023

At its 150th Anniversary, the Comstock Law is Relevant Again

by Jonathan Friedman and Amy Werbel

Anthony Comstock drew on elite connections to give himself near unilateral power to confiscate "obscene, lewd, lascivious, indecent, or immoral" materials —terms he was free to define on his own—and prosecute people for possessing them. Right-wing politicians seem to be inspired by the example. 

Fox's Handling of the "Big Lie" was Cowardly, but Not Unusual

by Kathryn J. McGarr

News organizations' standards of objectivity have long allowed public figures and politicians to proclaim lies without pushback, leaving the public to be arbiters of truth and falsity. 

The Left Should Reject an Alliance with the Far Right Against Ukraine

by Michael Kazin

The American left has always approached foreign policy with reluctance to impose America's will on the world. But that doesn't mean they should allow Russia to have its way in Ukraine. 

Why Are Dems Surprised at Eric Adams's Rant Against Church-State Separation?

by Jacques Berlinerblau

Democrats and secularists shocked by the New York mayor's declaration of religion as the heart of society need to confront facts: the church-state separation they revere has been all but entirely demolished. Secularists must now demand equal footing for their lack of belief.

How Superman Became a Christ-Figure

by Roy Schwartz

How did the comic book creation of two American Jews, whose origin story incorporates Moses, come to be understood as a stand-in for Jesus? Mostly through the movies. 

Cracking Stasi Puzzles is Key to Some Germans Finding the Truth

by Katja Hoyer

With an informant for every 90 citizens, the East German secret police left behind 16,000 sacks of shredded documents. Can information technology help reconstruct a record of what happens when a government commits to spying on its own citizens? 

Fear and Loathing in Florida

by Samuel Hoadley-Brill

"Much like 'voter fraud,' the term 'critical race theory' can mean whatever DeSantis needs it to mean to justify his anti-democratic agenda."

Ignoring International Relations Scholars is Leading the US to Mistakes on Ukraine

by Max Abrahms

Punditry on the Ukraine-Russia war ignores a host of scholarship on international relations that suggests Russian apprehension about NATO is a legitimate influence on Putin's actions, and not just an excuse for aggression. 

Why is the Right Obsessed with Gramsci?

by Alberto Toscano

A lack of familiarity with the actual writings of the Italian Marxist hasn't stopped the right, including Christopher Rufo and Nate Hochmann, from placing Antonio Gramsci at the center of a conspiracy theory about leftists seeking to conquer social institutions to undermine American society. 

Jimmy Carter Made Me a Better American; Did He Help Make America Worse?

by Jennifer Finney Boylan

Carter's call for a "moral revival" aimed at replacing materialism with collective purpose. His successors easily twisted that to make materialism into a collective purpose.