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Anita Hill deserves a real apology. Why couldn't Joe Biden offer one?

Anita Hill deserves a real apology. Why couldn't Joe Biden offer one?His failure to genuinely say sorry makes Biden not seem like a responsible, self-aware man who has learned from his mistakes and wants to make amends‘It’s the same demand she’s had for years: not for a simple acknowledgement that she has suffered, but for a way to ensure that other women don’t have to suffer the same way.’’ Photograph: Jennifer Law/AFP/Getty ImagesJoe Biden’s long-awaited presidential announcement finally came on Thursday, in the form of a policy-free video in which the former vice-president castigated Donald Trump for his racism and offered peans to an imagined noble American past (presumably, the past of 2008-16, when Biden served under Barack Obama) instead of a vision for the future.“America’s coming back like we used to be,” Biden said of his run. “Ethical, straight, tell ’em the truth. Supporting our allies, all those good things.” It was Make America Great Again, delivered from a different old white man, with a slightly more patrician east coast accent – harking back to a past that never was, and ignoring or, perhaps, tacitly embracing the injustices that the real past contained.Several of those injustices have been perpetrated by Biden himself, or exacerbated by his career in the Senate, in which he worked steadily to push the Democratic party to the right, championed the 1994 crime bill that needlessly and sadistically accelerated mass incarceration, and cultivated a chummy, shoulder-clapping consensus with Republicans.Among those injustices were the 1991 confirmation hearings of Clarence Thomas, now one of the most fiercely conservative justices on the supreme court. As chair of the Senate judiciary committee, Biden led the hearings into accusations of gross sexual harassment by Thomas that had been unearthed from Anita Hill, a lawyer who had once been Thomas’ employee at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Under Biden’s leadership, the committee subjected Hill to a humiliating public ordeal in which she was belittled, condescended to, smeared and disbelieved.It was a spectacle of cruelty in which Biden and his all-male committee colleagues confirmed the dark suspicions of many American woman, on live TV: that men could harass and humiliate them with impunity. Hill was harangued in the press, which concocted a bizarre and evidence-free theory, encouraged by Republicans, that she had invented her accusations against Thomas because she was sexually obsessed with him. Biden and his cohort confirmed Thomas anyway.In an interview with the New York Times this week, Hill, now a law professor at Brandeis, revealed that Biden contacted her last month. She “declined to characterize his words to her as an apology”.In the past, Biden, under pressure from women’s rights activists and a Democratic base increasingly intolerant of sexual misconduct, has spoken of the Thomas hearings in passive terms, as something that happened rather than as something he did. At an event in New York in March, he said: “To this day, I regret I couldn’t give her the kind of hearing she deserved. I wish I could have done something.” Like his announcement, this statement partakes of a kind of rosy historical revisionism, one that conveniently absolved Biden of all responsibility. Because he absolutely could have, in his words, “done something”. He was the chairman of the committee overseeing the hearings. There was no one with more power to “do something” than him.> He seems to understand Hill as an annoying obstacle to his own rise, rather than as a full person with rights and dignityBiden’s non-apology to Hill, coming as it did 28 years after the disastrous hearings, six months after a similarly humiliating and futile ordeal was endured by Dr Christine Blasey Ford, who accused Justice Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault, and mere days before Biden’s own presidential run, smacks of insincere opportunism. He seems to understand Hill as an annoying obstacle to his own rise, rather than as a full person with rights and dignity, whom he wronged and should make amends to.His insistent use of the passive voice, meanwhile, makes him appear to lack an understanding of his own agency and power, like someone who will exaggerate his responsibilities for successes and disavow any role in missteps, wrongdoings and failures. As the journalist Bryce Covert put it: “There’s a huge difference between ‘I’m sorry for what I did’, and ‘I’m sorry that happened to you’.” In failing to grapple with his own blind spots, privileges, prejudices and personal failures, Biden has betrayed a lack of personal responsibility that in unacceptable in any adult, let alone in a national leader. The episode does not make Biden seem like a responsible, self-aware man who had learned from his mistakes and wants to make amends. It makes him seem like a man who wants to shut a woman up.To her credit, Hill has not taken the bait. Where a person of less fortitude would have understandably wanted to put the hearings behind them, Hill has been unwavering in her insistence that the way she was treated was wrong and unwilling to compromise in her search for real justice. “I cannot be satisfied by [him] simply saying, ‘I’m sorry for what happened to you,’” she told the New York Times. “I will be satisfied when I know there is real change and real accountability and real purpose.”It’s the same demand she’s had for years: not for a simple acknowledgement that she has suffered, but for a way to ensure that other women don’t have to suffer the same way. “Rather than expect an apology, which in political terms is a pretty easy act to do,” she told the writer Irin Carmon in 2014, “I would like for us to improve our processes, and ensure that we do not allow this to happen ever again.” * Moira Donegan is a Guardian US columnist



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NOT REAL NEWS: A look at what didn't happen this week

NOT REAL NEWS: A look at what didn't happen this weekA roundup of some of the most popular but completely untrue stories and visuals of the week. None of these is legit, even though they were shared widely on social media. The Associated Press checked these out. Here are the real facts:



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U.K. Reassures Ireland May's Brexit Pivot Is Real, Source Says

U.K. Reassures Ireland May's Brexit Pivot Is Real, Source SaysDavid Lidington, May’s de facto deputy, called Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney on Tuesday to explain her initiative to begin talks with opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn in a bid to end the deadlock, according to the person, who asked not to be named because the conversation was private. On the call, he assured Coveney that preparations to hold European Parliament elections, a key condition for the U.K. to win a longer extension, were real.



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Tucker: The real collusion is between the Democratic Party and the liberal news media

Tucker: The real collusion is between the Democratic Party and the liberal news mediaHouse Speaker Pelosi asks media to switch focus from Mueller report to health care.



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The 2020 Lincoln Corsair Brings a Real Name Back to the Brand's Compact SUV

The 2020 Lincoln Corsair Brings a Real Name Back to the Brand's Compact SUVLincoln ditches the MKC name and follows the nautical and aeronautical themes of its Nautilus, Aviator, and Navigator SUVs.



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The Real Reasons American Evangelicals Support Israel

The Real Reasons American Evangelicals Support IsraelIt never fails. Whenever a Republican president makes a controversial or contentious move to support Israel — such as moving the American embassy to Jerusalem, or yesterday’s decision to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights — you’ll see various “explainers” and other stories that purport to inform progressives why the American Evangelical community is so devoted to the nation of Israel.The explanation goes something like this — Evangelicals believe that the rebirth of Israel is hastening not just the second coming of Christ, but a particular kind of second coming, one that includes fire, fury, and war that will consume the Jewish people. The pithy, tweet-length version of this analysis comes from progressive Young Turks host Cenk Uygur:> You know what's REAL anti-semitism? Right-wing Evangelical Christians supporting Israel because they think it will bring about the End Times where all of the Jews die. Worst anti-Semitism in the world!> > — Cenk Uygur (@cenkuygur) March 7, 2019Thus, the political marriage between American Evangelicals and Israelis represents a cynical form of mutual exploitation. Evangelicals support Israel to hasten the apocalypse, while Israelis (who obviously don’t believe Christian eschatology) are happy to humor the Evangelical community and milk that support for tourist dollars and political power.But the true narrative of American Christian support for Israel is substantially different. The intellectual and theological roots of Christian Zionism do not rest in end-times prophesies but rather in Old Testament promises. Last month Samuel Goldman at Tablet wrote an outstanding piece explaining the centuries-old history and legacy of Christian support for Jewish claims to the Holy Land. After tracing Christian support for a Jewish Israel to the Reformation, he writes this:> These arguments were products of the emphases on the plain meaning of Scripture and the theological significance of covenants that characterized Calvinism. Before the Reformation, most Christians read prophecies like Ezekiel’s as allegories for the transformation of the “carnal” Israel descended from the patriarchs into the “spiritual Israel” represented by the Church. Calvin and his followers, by contrast, insisted that allegorical interpretations were permitted only when literal ones made no sense. But why was it nonsensical to believe that the Jews might be reconstituted as a nation and return to their own land?In addition, I’d argue that Romans 11 has enduring significance in the American Christian mind. It begins, “I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means!” Paul declares that God “has not rejected his people whom he foreknew.” The chapter continues with the assertion that Gentiles have now been “grafted in” to the same spiritual tree, and it concludes with the promise not that all Israel will be burned up in the apocalypse, but rather with the statement that “all Israel will be saved.”Now, the precise theological meaning of these verses has been and will be debated for some time, but the practical impact in contemporary American Christian culture has been to create a bond between American Christians and Jews that would be utterly mystifying to the vicious Christian persecutors of Jews in the not-so-distant European past.The end result is a community — including a political community — that believes two things with firm conviction. First, God has reserved Israel as the Jewish homeland, and second, that the creation of modern Israel was an act of divine providence. While there are many Christians who believe this act of divine providence may be a prelude to the Second Coming (whenever that may be), that is miles and miles away from the belief that Jews will burn in a fiery apocalypse.These beliefs are then reinforced by experience and basic morality. It’s difficult to overstate the profound impact that a visit to the Holy Land has on a believing Christian. I’ll never forget my time in Israel. Not only was it moving to stand where Jesus stood and to walk where Jesus walked, other aspects of the visit bring the miracle of Israel’s rebirth into sharp focus. How can you visit the ruins of the fortress of Masada and not grasp the improbability of the journey from total destruction to diaspora to renaissance?Then there’s basic morality. As I’ve written before, from the very moment of its founding, Israel has been subject to repeated, genocidal threats to its existence. It has defended itself in the face of overwhelming odds, faced enduring terrorist threats that we in the United States can’t imagine, and built an imperfect but well-functioning democracy that grants all its citizens (Jewish and Arab) a greater degree of individual liberty than the citizens of any other Middle Eastern nation.The pernicious persistence of anti-Semitism heightens the moral case for supporting Israel. There is zero justification for the U.N.’s obsessive focus on alleged Israeli crimes. Actual genocidal tyrants face less condemnation by the U.N. Human Rights Council than does the state of Israel. The Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions (BDS) movement proudly holds Israel to higher standards than it holds the entire rest of the Middle East and most of the rest of the world. Some of its founders and leaders hope to eradicate Israel as a Jewish state.Finally, the fact that Evangelical support for Israel is rooted in part in Christian biblical interpretation does not mean that it is somehow less legitimate than purely secular support. In a nation full of believers, religious arguments have always been a part of our national life, and they always will be. They should be weighed and measured just like any other belief. Nor are religious arguments a right-wing phenomenon. There are liberal religious arguments for gun control, for laxer immigration policies, and for welcoming refugees, to take just a few, easy examples. And who can forget the mighty power of the Christian argument in the American civil-rights movement?Yes, you can find Christians who obsessively focus on the end times and try to match each and every significant news story in Israel with biblical prophecies. Those people are out there, no question. But the vast bulk of Evangelical support for Israel rests on faith in ancient promises, wonder at modern miracles, and a deep conviction that evil forces must not prevail against the Middle East’s most vibrant democracy.



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NOT REAL NEWS: A look at what didn't happen this week

NOT REAL NEWS: A look at what didn't happen this weekA roundup of some of the most popular but completely untrue stories and visuals of the week. None of these is legit, even though they were shared widely on social media. The Associated Press checked these out. Here are the real facts:



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The Latest: Nielsen tells Congress border crisis is real

The Latest: Nielsen tells Congress border crisis is realWASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen testifying in the House (all times local):



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Jussie Smollett hate attack claim: 'Bogus police reports cause real harm,' police say

Jussie Smollett hate attack claim: 'Bogus police reports cause real harm,' police sayWhile hoaxes are rare, each one diverts resources from real victims, sows doubt about real attacks and gives material to those who minimize real hate



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Activists worry that Jussie Smollett arrest will discourage hate-crime reporting by real victims

Activists worry that Jussie Smollett arrest will discourage hate-crime reporting by real victimsThe dramatic turn of events in the Jussie Smollett case was treated by Trump as a vindication, and disheartened gay rights and civil rights advocates who fear that it will discourage future victims of hate crimes from coming forward.



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