‘Daddy, what is the Originalist?’ – The New York Times

Children’s bookstores are full of titles commemorating Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the late Supreme Court justice. Why not Amy Coney Barrett?

That’s a question that bothers Bethany Mandel, editor of a new series of children’s books geared toward conservative families. The series, called “Heroes of Liberty,” features a roster of celebrities of the right to date that includes Alexander Hamilton, Ronald Reagan, Thomas Sowell, John Wayne and indeed Justice Barrett. Margaret Thatcher will be next.

On Twitter and in her comments column, Mandel is a conservative brand and a fierce critic of what she considers liberal policies, such as child masking regulations. But the books, she insists, are not ideology.

“For me, it was: ‘Who do I want my kids to read about?'” Mandel said in an interview.

The books are the latest sign that red America and blue America are becoming separate cultural ecosystems. From the TV network to coffee, chicken bread arrive carAmericans increasingly want the products they buy, the clothes they wear, and the media they consume to be infused with their political preferences and values.

Growing up, Mandel said, “I hate American history.” As a child, she was more commonly seen reading the series “The Chronicles of Narnia” or “The Babysitter’s Club” rather than a biography of Winston Churchill.

There are now too many left-wing titles flooding the shelves, she said, and too few options for parents like herself, who want their children to learn about “the values ​​that make them great.” great America”.

New series appeared in the background conservative backlash against books that focus on race and sex or gender identity going on around the country and in political campaigns. Republicans say these books are infiltrate public schools and libraries without their consent. And while Democrats often flag works they find problematic, libertarians denounce what they see as counter-efforts by groups that have the power to censor views held by the liberals. conservatives don’t like.

Republicans in Congress have regrouped after a “Declaration of the Rights of Parents” that would grant parents a federal right to “be aware of what their child is being taught in school, including but not limited to curriculum, books, and other instructional materials.”

And while it remains to be seen whether that agenda will capture the imaginations of voters nationwide, the timing of the new series seems to fit a time when many on the right are unhappy. with what they see as the cultural hegemony of the left.

Mandel, a convert to Orthodox Judaism who homeschooled her five children, said she was worried when one of her children happened to watch “The Breakaways,” a novel graphic theory about a high school football team that includes a character going through gender. transition.

“That freaked me out a bit,” she said. “I don’t feel like I can go to the library and let my kids choose books anymore.”

It’s not that Mandel has a problem with LGBTQ identities, she stressed. It’s that she wants to discuss human sexuality with her children in her own way – and assumes there are millions of other parents who feel the same way.

“I don’t want other people to imitate those conversations and the way they’re going,” she said. “You want that to happen in your lap.”

The books are not always subtle. At times, they can look like an essay by a Heritage Foundation scholar.

“Ronald Reagan believed in God, family, and patriotism,” reads an epilogue in Reagan’s book. “And he believes that America will remain strong as long as its government avoids the mistakes of communism. It should never try to do for people what they are supposed to do for themselves. It also shouldn’t run their lives for them. ”

Barrett’s book, Mandel says, is primarily intended to celebrate the idea that a woman can have seven children and still reach the pinnacle of her career, without reading it like propaganda. player.

It is not an easy feat to perform. One passage seeks to explain Barrett’s connection to Antonin Scalia, a conservative Supreme Court justice known for his rigorous interpretation of the Constitution.

“Amy liked Justice Scalia very much,” the book reads. “She loved his good laugh and sense of humour. She also admires him because she is also an originalist.”

The messy realities of the characters’ lives can also sometimes pose a challenge to a series geared toward parents who don’t want to have to “pre-read” a book before buying it.

For example, how to deal with Hamilton giving birth out of wedlock? “It was really difficult,” Mandel said. “There was a lot of debate about that and in the end we decided not to touch it.”

Some of her ideas have yet to be approved by the publishing committee, including Yoni Greenwald, a businessman from Miami, and Rotem Sella, an Israeli publisher. Anne Frank, Brigham Young and Mother Teresa are among Mandel’s potential future subjects.

“It’s all on the table and possibilities,” she said.

At first, she said, it was also difficult to find illustrators willing to risk being “cancelled” by their freelance peers. “You can’t yield an inch to the crowd,” Mandel said.

Will she make a children’s book about Trump?

She quickly replied: No.

Mandel, it turns out, is a huge fan of the popular children’s book series by Brad Meltzer, a novelist whose first work was a thriller about Supreme Court clerks. They compared the notes on Twitter. And although their projects are completely different, their origin stories are very similar.

In an interview, Meltzer said he was inspired to create the series “Ordinary People Change the World,” because he was tired of his children “watching TV stars.” reality and think, ‘That’s a hero. “

His children’s books non-political and built around the themes or values ​​that each agent stands for. He chose historical figures who are admired by many: Amelia Earhart, Abraham Lincoln, Neil Armstrong, Rosa Parks.

“Heroes are role models,” Meltzer said. “You show me your hero and I’ll show you who you are.”

  • Shane Goldmancher analyzes Trump recent comments on the 2020 electionwrites that the comments “remove any assumption that the events of January 6, 2021, were anything but the culmination of the former president’s sole pursuit to stay in power.”

  • Republicans are debating how strongly to counter President Biden’s incoming Supreme Court nominee, Written by Carl Hulsenoted that they had little power to prevent his choice from winning approval in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

  • President Biden promises to mail 500 million coronavirus tests to Americans before the federal government secures them Reporting by Noah Weiland, Katie Thomas and Jessica Silver-Greenberg.


The retirement of Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer has sparked a flurry of reports that President Biden might choose to be his replacement.

High on the list of potential candidates is Ketanji Brown Jacksona former Breyer secretary who is now a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit.

Our Colleagues Elizabeth Williamsonthe author of the forthcoming book “Sandy Hook: American Tragedy and the Fight for Truth” Reminds us that Jackson is a federal judge who convict the so-called Pizzagate gunman 2017 to four years in prison.

For those who don’t remember the case: Edgar Maddison Welch, then a 29-year-old man from North Carolina, brought an assault rifle into a popular pizzeria in northwest Washington, D.C. , and shoot it at a locked door. He spent time on internet forums filled with conspiracy theorists and was convinced that the restaurant, Comet Ping Pong, was harboring and abusing children in a secret dungeon.

Jackson, who was then a district court judge in Washington, DC, said: “Her remarks from the bench became a clear expression of her views on the role of the judicial system. criminal law.

In sentencing Welch that day, the judge stated she was baffled that anyone would commit such a violent act “based on an online rumor”. But her admonition to Welch is sparked with compassion for a deluded man who she believes sincerely believes he is saving children, Williamson writes.

“I believe you thought you were helpful in doing the right thing,” Jackson told him, according to a transcript. “You are not some bandit who bursts into a restaurant looking for money or trying to make a profit. I know that, and I’ve taken that into account.

“But the problem is, in our society, no matter how well-intentioned, people are not allowed to solve problems on their own. Acting violently even for the right reasons is not okay,” she said.

In sentencing Welch, Jackson expressed his intention to prevent the violence from mimicking with statements that, in retrospect, are read as predictive.

“The scary thing is that now, even though no one was physically harmed in this case, others who are worried about other issues will come out with the aim of sacrificing their lives to get results. which they believe is a fair outcome.

“That kind of justice system is completely incompatible with our constitutional and rule of law scheme,” she told Welch, adding, “Your attack is an attack on the rule of law, not just the rule of law.” people in the restaurant and in this community.

“And what that means for this Court is that it needs to apply a judgment that prevents similar behavior from happening in the future. That risk is huge right now.”

Is there something you think we’re missing? Anything you want to see more of? We would love to hear from you. Email us at onpolitics@nytimes.com.

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/02/us/politics/bethany-mandel-conservative-childrens-books.html ‘Daddy, what is the Originalist?’ – The New York Times

Fry Electronics Team

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