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Demonstrations in Washington DC after the decision not to prosecute police officer Darren Wilson, who shot dead Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.
Photograph: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Ferguson, Selma and a mood for change
When the film trailer for Primary Colors, based on a novel about the election campaign of a philandering southern Democratic president, came out in 1998, the Monica Lewinsky scandal was in full bloom. I saw it at a movie theatre in Virginia, and when the announcer boomed, “At a cinema near you”, a man in the audience shouted, “It’s already here!”


Bradley Cooper as Chris Kyle in American Sniper. ‘What makes the west different is the force with which it simultaneously makes its case for superiority and contradicts it.’ Photograph: Keith Bernstein/Allstar/Warner Bros
American Sniper illustrates the west’s morality blind spots
Say what you like about the film American Sniper, and people have, you have to admire its clarity. It’s about killing. There is no moral arc; no anguish about whether the killing is necessary or whether those who are killed are guilty of anything. “I’m prepared to meet my maker and answer for every shot I took,” says Bradley Cooper, who plays the late Chris Kyle, a navy Seal who was reputedly the deadliest sniper in American history. There is certainly no discursive quandary about whether the Iraq war, in which the killing takes place, is either legal or justified. “I couldn’t give a flying fuck about the Iraqis,” wrote Kyle in his memoir, where he refers to the local people as “savages”.
Supporters of Front National leader Marine Le Pen hold placards paying tribute to all the victims of Islamist terrorism during a march on January 11, 2015. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)
Paris Attacks Will Bolster the Right-Wing Front National
“Terror is first of all the terror of the next attack,” writes Arjun Appadurai in


‘Far from being ‘sacred’, as some have claimed, freedom of speech is always contingent.’ Photograph: Joel Saget/AFP
Charlie Hebdo: the danger of polarised debate
In times of crisis, those who would like us to keep just one idea in our heads at any one time are quick to the megaphones. By framing events in Manichean terms – dark versus light; good versus evil – an imposed binary morality seeks to corral us into crude camps. There are no dilemmas, only declarations. What some lack in complexity they make up for in polemical clarity and the provision of a clear enemy.
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Stranger in a Strange Land – Encounters in the Disunited States
book review
'It often takes an outsider to look inside. This is especially true of the United States.'
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