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Editor’s Choice: The Best Articles of 2018

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A look back at our editor’s choices for our favorite Merion West articles of 2018.

8.The Culture of Machismo in Mexico Harms Women” by Veronica Lira Ortiz

In this January op-ed, Yale visiting student Veronica Lira Ortiz uses personal stories from her family and upbringing in Mexico to discuss how ingrained cultural practices impede gender equality. From salacious remarks on the streets to reduced career expectations for girls, Veronica Lira Ortiz argues for a re-examination of how Latin American culture has historically viewed women.

7.  “Libertarians Are Going Nowhere, But Their Ideas Are” by Eddie Ferrara

In February, Eddie Ferrara discussed how despite recent gaffes such as Gary Johnson’s so-called “Aleppo moment” and dismal showings by Libertarian Party candidates at the polls, the ideas these candidates stand for are gaining increasing acceptance in the political mainstream. Even if candidates formally aligned with the Libertarian Party still remain on the periphery of American politics, their ideas continue to seep through into policy and law.

6. “‘Extra Time’ Is Just Another Way the Wealthy Game the System” by Luke Egan

Vanderbilt University freshman Luke Egan, in this personally-courageous August op-ed, singled out classmates and parents at his high school alma mater for, in his view, exaggerating symptoms of ADD/ADHD in order to gain extra time for standardized tests such as the SAT.  He argued that such a tendency was both an abuse of a well-intended policy to help students with true disabilities and a socioeconomic issue where wealthy families were the ones able to find and secure these loopholes for their children.

5. “Trump’s Real Victory Is Redefining the Republican Party” by Christopher England

In this November opinion piece, Christopher England drew upon the less-than-famous story of early 20th century Cleveland, Ohio mayor Tom Johnson to make the point that politicians, such as President Trump, are capable of redefining their parties, regardless of the success of their own political careers. Even though Johnson failed in his bid to become Governor of Ohio, the campaign he ran reshaped the Democratic Party of Ohio. Just the same, England argues that even if President Trump is a one-term president (or less), his influence on the Republican Party may be timeless.

4. “What is Post-Modernism? (Part Two)” by Matt McManus 

In this August essay, Matt McManus outlines a fundamental problem of modernity: that in the absence of any “more great political, ideological, and spiritual battles to be fought,” individuals are “now endlessly [recycling] the past, creating pastiches out of the religious, literary, and political ideologies to provide some distraction from our frozen existence.” Furthermore, in an age of relative stability and prosperity, we are sometimes tempted to imbue meaning into everything, even the most mundane of activities. Thus, our modern world can suffer from an over-saturation of meaning. And when everything has meaning, nothing does.

3. What Howard Zinn Forgets” by Henry George

Henry George, in this December essay, takes aim at historian Howard Zinn and his influential 1980 book A People’s History of the United States. Arguing that Zinn is unduly harsh in his criticisms of the United States and its historical practices, Henry George writes that, “There is no monopoly on cruelty in our human story.” In a counterpoint to Zinn, Henry George draws out inconsistencies in Zinn’s reasoning, while situating American transgressions in the context of historical crimes that have been perpetrated by nearly all of the world’s nations and groups.

2. Feminists of the West, Women Are Hurting in the Middle East” by Yasmine Mohammed

Writing in October, activist Yasmine Mohammed argues that feminists in the West ought to focus their efforts away from more subtle displays of sexism such as so-called “manspreading” and instead prioritize helping women in places like the Middle East and Africa where women are subjected to practices such as female genital mutilation or are denied education.

1. Does Loneliness Give Rise to Totalitarianism?” by Henry George

In this June essay, Henry George, discusses the distinctly modern phenomenon of mass loneliness. Coming on the heels of the British government’s creation of a Minister for Loneliness and the massive increase in time spent behind computer screens, Henry George argues that this problem of loneliness can have far-reaching political implications. In an anticipation of his subsequent October piece “Where the Alt-Right Really Comes From,” Henry George traces this sense of isolation and widespread lack of personal purpose to radical political or ideological movements from ISIS to the alt-right.

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