Hello there! I’m Gabriel Roth, filling in for Rebecca Onion. I’ll be here all week to highlight thought-provoking pieces from Slate and around the web.
The struggle between Apple and the FBI over whether the company should help law enforcement break into a terrorism suspect’s iPhone has inspired responses from technologists, politicians, and security experts. One philosopher thinks they’re all missing the point. “An iPhone isn’t a safe,” writes Matthew Noah Smith, “it’s an extension of the mind.” At the heart of this debate, Smith argues, is “a very deep issue about the permeability of the boundaries of the self. How much of ourselves should we give over to the state?”
Reihan Salam argues that Donald Trump’s primary-season success is rooted in “the Republican failure to defend the interests of working-class voters, and to speak to their hopes and fears.” The GOP establishment, he writes, “often fall prey to wishful thinking about the rank-and-file voters who actually elect GOP candidates. They imagine that working- and middle-class conservatives are passionately devoted to the things they care about—tax cuts and entitlement reform.” Under the headline “Folks Before Kochs,” Salam offers a sweeping new platform for the party—one geared to the concerns of working-class voters rather than wealthy donors.
Happy Leap Day! Celebrate with Jane Hirshfield’s lovely poem “February 29.”
Chris Rock hosted last night’s Oscar ceremony, amid controversy over the overwhelming whiteness of the nominees. Willa Paskin says Rock “ensured that members of the academy stayed on the hook, instead of helping them get off of it.” But Rock’s performance was marred by a joke about Asian stereotypes, which Lowen Liu calls “garbled at best and doubly offensive at worst.” Rock’s joke, and another made later in the broadcast by comedian Sacha Baron Cohen, “served as another reminder of how, too often, Asian jokes are the last frontier in cheap racial humor.”
Slate Angler-in-absentia (and history correspondent) Rebecca Onion found the indie-horror film The Witch “a great exploration of the dark, chaotic, troubled psychology of English colonists at the very beginning of the empire’s colonial experiment in North America.” Put aside the accuracy of the film’s settings and costumes (which Forrest Wickman explored in a Q&A with director Robert Eggers), and remember: “People living through those first settlement years often lost their goddamn minds.”
Poke your eyes, pull your hair, you forgot what clothes to wear,