Marco Rubio's debate performance and immigration policy, plus Othello's race newsletter

Today in Slate: Interrogating Rubio’s Rise and Othello’s Race

Today in Slate: Interrogating Rubio’s Rise and Othello’s Race

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Nov. 11 2015 7:16 PM

Marco and William

The Florida senator continues to ascend, and Shakespeare continues to resonate.

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Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio during the debate sponsored by Fox Business and the Wall Street Journal at the Milwaukee Theatre, Nov. 10, 2015 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

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Don’t sleep on these pieces:

Rubio did well, but when will he finally be forced to spell out his immigration policy?

Tuesday’s Republican debate further entrenched the conventional wisdom that Marco Rubio is now the establishment candidate to beat in the fight for the GOP nomination. With the possible exception of John Kasich, his rivals (and the Fox Business Channel moderators) did their part to smooth his path to victory, and Rubio helped himself with a strong performance. Notably, he’s succeeding at dodging questions about his immigration beliefs, which in the past, have proven at odds with present-day GOP orthodoxy. Bold prediction: If Rubio offers immigration policy proposals in future debates, they will make much more noise than his feelings on welders and philosophers.

Philosophers and welders alike have wondered: Why is Othello black?

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The title character of Shakespeare’s Othello is famously dark-skinned: “a Moor.” The Bard’s contemporary world was not as diverse or freighted with racial politics and history as our own—indeed, he mostly wrote before the transatlantic slave trade began—but the playwright still chose to make his protagonist black. Why? Isaac Butler seeks answers in the play’s text and English history, particularly the sensational visit of a Moroccan ambassador to London the year before Othello was written, the weight of what it meant to “turn Turk” in the early-17th century, and Shakespeare’s perpetual obsessions with identity. Like so many Shakespeare plays, Othello still resonates because the character’s identity struggles speak to ours, still. His race is an important part of that struggle; it puts his self-perception at odds with that of his peers and the audience. Throughout the play, Othello interrogates who he truly is and whom he trusts, while Iago manipulates him into becoming someone else entirely. I read Othello in college, and I usually call it my second favorite Shakespeare play after Macbeth; this essay made me want to revisit it all over again.

More contemporary struggles that resonate: TV, statistics, and finance.

  • How should we manage debt? Should we keep any cash we find? More queries answered in a fantastic new financial advice column from Helaine Olen.

Rude am I in my speech,
Seth Maxon
Home page editor for nights and weekends