Peter Dreier

Peter Dreier teaches politics and chairs the Urban & Environmental Policy Department at Occidental College. His latest book is The 100 Greatest Americans of the 20th Century: A Social Justice Hall of Fame (Nation Books, 2012).

Recent Articles

Let Us NOT Praise Anthony Kennedy

Regardless of his motives, Kennedy will be responsible for allowing Trump to name a replacement who, along with the other right-wingers on the court, will further erode American democracy. 

AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta Supreme Court Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy testifies before a House Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services T he praise that Justice Anthony Kennedy is getting for being a courageous “swing” vote on the Supreme Court is nauseating. Kennedy clearly knows that whomever Trump nominates to replace him will vote to wipe out the protections for abortion and LGBT rights that Kennedy supported. Whatever praise Kennedy has received for helping chip away at homophobia and patriarchy, he no longer deserves. Thus, his legacy should NOT be his votes on those two issues, but his complicity with Trump to steer the Court even further to the right for at least the next 20 years. Kennedy made a calculated political decision to retire on July 31 . None of the news stories about his retirement indicate that the 81-year-old jurist is suffering from an illness that would preclude him waiting another 14 weeks—98 days—until the November 6 elections...

Was Albert Einstein a Racist?

The great scientist was a radical egalitarian—but subject nonetheless to some of the biases of his time.

Public Domain Albert Einstein in his office at the University of Berlin A lbert Einstein is back in the news, but not because someone has disproved or confirmed one of his theories. The publication of Einstein’s travel diaries last week reveal that he wrote some racist things about the Chinese back in the early 1920s. The media have jumped on Einstein’s observations to undermine his reputation as a progressive, suggesting that the world-renowned physicist was a hypocrite. “Einstein's travel diaries reveal physicist's racism,” BBC News headlined its story. USA Today’s version was: “Einstein was a racist? His 1920s travel diaries contain shocking slurs against Chinese people.” Wrote Fox News: “Einstein's diaries contain shocking details of his racism.” Princeton University Press (in coordination with the Einstein Papers Project at the California Institute of Technology) just published The Travel Diaries of Albert Einstein: The Far East, Palestine, and Spain, 1922–1923 , translated into...

For NFL Players, Civil -- and Visible -- Disobedience Is the Only Option

Taking a knee is in the best American tradition of protest.

(Ryan Kang via AP)
(Ryan Kang via AP) Members of the Houston Texans kneel during the national anthem during an NFL football game against the Seattle Seahawks on October 29, 2017, in Seattle. L ast week, NFL owners capitulated to President Donald Trump by voting to require players to stand on the field for the national anthem. Teams will be subject to a fine if any player disobeys, according to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. The next day, Trump applauded the owners for doing “the right thing.” Players who refuse to stand for the anthem, Trump declared, “shouldn’t be in this country.” Many NFL players have reacted with anger over the league’s new policy and Trump’s comments. “It’s disgusting because of our First Amendment rights,” said Denver Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall. “[Trump is] an idiot, plain and simple,” said Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin. In what the owners described as a “compromise,” the new policy gives players the option of remaining in the locker room during the “Star-...

Recalling Pete Seeger’s Controversial Performance on the Smothers Brothers Show 50 Years Ago

Seeger had been blacklisted as a communist and this gutsy defiance of a corporate media giant marked his return to the mainstream cultural scene.

Josef Schwarz/Creative Commons Pete Seeger performing in 1986 F ifty years ago this week, folk singer Pete Seeger performed the controversial anti-war song “Waist Deep in the Big Muddy” on the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour show on CBS television. The story of that appearance, and that song, illustrates the tumultuous political tensions of the era and was a bold act of defiance against corporate media power. Seeger, who died in 2014, is now viewed as a legendary figure in American history. But when Tom and Dick Smothers invited him on their show, many people still viewed him as a dangerous radical, marginalized by the nation’s political, business, and media establishment. Seeger had been blacklisted from network television since the 1950s because of his leftist politics. For a brief period in the early 1950s, as a member of the Weavers quartet, he performed in prestigious nightclubs, appeared on network television shows, and recorded several hit songs, including “Goodnight, Irene,” “...

Pages