Online Opinion Outpost: Feb. 17, 2014

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The Opinion Outpost features opinions and commentary on the latest hot topics from national news sources. As much as you love hearing from The Universe, we thought you might like to hear from journalists around the nation.

Stewart’s America
Timothy Egan, The New York Times

Since the golden era of fake news is over, does this mean that what passes for real news and real politics are also over?
Throughout the week, the morning shows will be stuffed with viral pet videos, diet and makeup tips and — hey, Taylor Swift said what? They will do follow-ups on listicles and assorted click-bait from blogs, and someone will take Donald Trump seriously.
Sadly, it’s gotten only worse since Jon Stewart built a secular church around the nightly ritual of mockery of the deserved class. So, while more people are in on the joke, more people continue to offer a steady stream of material for the jokes.
For Stewart, a gifted clown with wide-ranging curiosity, Fox News was not just a house of hypocrisy and endless source material. It was part of what made a great democracy harder to govern, and less likely to share a common narrative. He understood exactly what they were up to, even if some of their teleprompter readers never did.
When Stewart leaves later this year, he will walk away from an audience that will no longer take the theater of media-driven politics seriously. And as a promoter of serious books, he leaves his fans better informed.

 

Muslim college students killed
Mariem Masmoudi, CNN

Three young Muslim Americans were active in their neighborhoods and communities, worked with local and international charities and relief efforts, supported their brothers and sisters in the Triangle community in their educational and professional pursuits, promoted love, tolerance and togetherness.
Police said their neighbor, Craig Stephen Hicks, came into their home and shot them. For them, and for all of us, our Islam is our guiding light, our motivation, the lens through which we see the world and our places in it. Our Islam — Deah, Yusor and Razan’s Islam — is the Islam that tells us to do what Prophet Jesus said and did, to “honor thy neighbor as thyself.” These three did this every single day. Our Islam tells us to do what Prophet Mohammed said and did, to confront hate and evil with love and kindness. Deah, Yusor and Razan transformed this mantra into their lives’ work and passion, and lifted us all up in the process.

 

‘Patient pluralism’
Juliette Kayyem, The Washington Post

The rapidity of progress by the gay rights movement — from Stonewall to likely Supreme Court vindication of gay marriage in a historical blink — is causing a series of social and legal tensions.
It has left some recently evolved politicians looking cynical. It has left some conservative politicians appearing fidgety and anxious to change the subject. It has turned the taking of wedding photos and the baking of wedding cakes into unexpected cultural controversies. Is there a constitutional right to the baker of your choice?
The stigmatization of evangelical colleges that hold traditional views on sexuality involves a painful psychological adjustment on the part of the stigmatized. Many evangelical institutions with strong traditions of social justice are understandably offended when others portray them as benighted.
The unfolding victory for gay rights has set up a national debate about the meaning of pluralism. But there is an opposing view: Religious freedom is not merely the individual right to believe but also the right to associate with fellow believers. A community, in this view, is enriched by a proliferation of communities offering differing views of the good life (within the broad boundaries of public health and safety). And this requires the protection of institutional religious ­freedom.

 

Senate’s move
Rep. Steve Scalise, USA Today

In January, with more than a month before the current Department of Homeland Security (DHS) funding provision expires, the House of Representatives passed a bill to fund the department for the rest of this fiscal year.
That bill also includes language preventing the president from moving forward on illegal executive actions on immigration — an approach that Pew Research Center finds the majority of Americans oppose.
Multiple times now, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has tried to bring up the DHS funding bill. Every single time, Senate Democrats have voted in unison against bringing up this essential funding measure for debate. Are they afraid of a public and transparent debate on this bill?
It’s time for Senate Democrats to stop playing partisan politics with our national security and proceed to the House-passed bill. If there is something they don’t like in the bill, the legislative process allows them to file an amendment and fight for their proposed change.
The House has acted to fund DHS. It is now time for the Senate to do its job and take up the bill.

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