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Saladin Ambar
Saladin Ambar teaches courses in American politics at Lehigh University and is the author of How Governors Built the Modern American Presidency (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012). A former fellow of the Miller Center of Public Affairs at the University of Virginia, Ambar is also the author of the forthcoming study of racial politics in the US and UK: Malcolm X at Oxford Union (Oxford University Press, 2014).

Entries by Saladin Ambar

They're Listening, Marlon: Stevan Riley's New Brando Documentary Haunts and Inspires

(0) Comments | Posted September 6, 2015 | 3:25 PM

Stevan Riley's "Listen to Me, Marlon," like its subject, is a bit unwieldy, cerebral, and at times pock-marked by bouts of profound sadness. And yet, it is difficult to take your eyes off of. More important, it is an honest descent into Brando's legacy on film and the culture -...

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The Thawing of Dave Chappelle: Comedy's King Returns to New York City

(10) Comments | Posted June 20, 2014 | 11:08 AM

In a bit of comedy confessional ("I've had to watch the news for two weeks to catch up"), Dave Chappelle delighted the packed Radio City Hall crowd Wednesday night in his first New York City stand-up appearance in over a decade. The results were a blend of highly satisfying comedy,...

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America's Racial Carnival: Where Have You Gone Jimmy? (and Malcolm Too!)

(0) Comments | Posted May 20, 2014 | 12:16 PM

It's been a bizarre spring in America's longest running drama of race. From Congressman Paul Ryan's observations on "inner city" life, to the most recent battle over affirmative action on the Supreme Court; to the slimy racial politics of sometime GOP darling, rancher Cliven "Let me tell you something else...

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A Day Without Dying: America's Best Day in Years

(0) Comments | Posted April 7, 2014 | 9:26 AM

Perhaps the most meaningful day in decades for progressives passed earlier this week. News outlets reported on April 1st that for the first time in over a decade an American combatant was not killed on the field of battle. On the same day, the Obama administration announced that over 7...

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The Exceptional 12 Years a Slave

(2) Comments | Posted November 4, 2013 | 2:52 PM

Steve McQueen's 12 Years a Slave may be unreviewable. Its power and emotional significance are beyond question. Its truthfulness makes it a near-living document. But what McQueen and his cast have achieved is nothing short of spectacular. They all have made not simply the definitive film on slavery, but perhaps...

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How (Not) to Bow: Lee Daniels' The Butler

(5) Comments | Posted August 21, 2013 | 6:09 PM

It was one of those lazy August afternoons, and I was busy working at not preparing for my first lecture of the academic year. My colleague had dropped into my office to chew what was left of the summer fat, when suddenly she asked me: "So, what did you think...

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The George W. Bush (Ka-pow!) Presidential Museum Experience

(0) Comments | Posted May 31, 2013 | 3:13 PM

The George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum may be the single most ironic, self-deceiving, quasi-religio-patriotic experience you'll ever witness in your life. It is Operation Iraqi Freedom meets the Rain Forest Cafe. I challenge you not to cry -- for all the wrong reasons.

But this is too much,...

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Luhrmann's 'Gatsby': From Old Sport to 'Dude' in 143 minutes

(1) Comments | Posted May 20, 2013 | 7:13 PM

Mark Twain. Frederick Douglass. Malcolm X. Jay Gatsby.

Those names are all inventions. And as is the case in America's greatest novels -- be it Invisible Man, Moby Dick, or Gatsby -- we're never quite certain about just who our protagonist is. "Call me Ishmael." Well, if you say...

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The Second Act (of a Nation)

(5) Comments | Posted January 21, 2013 | 4:00 PM

President Barack Obama's Second Inaugural Address was a speech delivered by a man entering a room confidently, betting that the door he is pushing swings one way. It was a speech attempting to redefine "We the People" for what we intuitively know the term to encompass: gays and lesbians. Blacks,...

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Django's Djumbles

(34) Comments | Posted December 31, 2012 | 10:53 AM

"Directors don't get better as they get older." The line is Quentin Tarantino's, and it mirrors his character Marcellus Wallace's soliloquy on aging fighters delivered in Pulp Fiction. I didn't expect to find confirmation of this aphorism in Django Unchained. I went in well aware of the criticisms...

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Gettysburg Redux

(0) Comments | Posted November 21, 2012 | 3:36 PM

About one score and seven years from now, the United States will become the first state in the history of the world to transition from white majority status to a majority non-white republic. How we undertake this transition, how we demonstrate to the world that this "crossing" needn't be defined...

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Who Would Winthrop Choose?

(0) Comments | Posted August 15, 2012 | 10:08 AM

It has been said in the history of the world no one has ever washed a rental car. The other notable thing about said history is that no one has ever showed up on an election day to vote for a vice president. That sorry individual who might be so...

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"Mr. Corleone, Meet John Marshall": Obama, Roberts, and Health Care in Context

(7) Comments | Posted July 2, 2012 | 1:21 PM

There is a moment in The Godfather, reportedly President Obama's favorite film, when the boyish Michael Corleone becomes the Don. Sitting in an oversized chair, jaw busted by a crooked cop, he coolly plots the killing of the police captain and the head of a rival organization. "I'll...

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Obama, Gay Rights and the Abrahamic Law of Politics

(0) Comments | Posted June 6, 2012 | 11:14 AM

"I claim not to have controlled events," wrote Abraham Lincoln, "but confess plainly that events have controlled me." Whether the "event" in question for President Obama's acceptance of gay marriage was an awkward Joe Biden appearance on Meet the Press is not so important. What is relevant is that this...

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