Gregg Easterbrook

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(Redirected from A Progress Paradox)

Gregg Easterbrook is an American author who is a senior editor of The New Republic, a journal of politics and the arts based in Washington, D.C. He formerly wrote for Slate and has also written sports columns, first for ESPN.com and now for NFL.com. Easterbrook has a bachelor's degree from Colorado College and a master's from Northwestern University. He is the brother of Judge Frank H. Easterbrook.

Writings

Easterbrook has been a long time critic of the Space Shuttle program, publising an extensive criticism in 1980 in the Washington Monthly. Following the Challenger and Columbia disasters Easterbrook recieved attention for his belief that the shuttle program should be canceled.

In addition to his journalism work, Easterbrook has published several books. His latest, The Progress Paradox: How Life Gets Better While People Feel Worse, was published in December 2003. The book focuses on statistical data indicating that Americans are better off in terms of material goods and amount of free time available but that surveys show that they are not happier than before. Easterbrook argues that this has occurred due to choice anxiety and abundance denial.

Easterbrook has also written books on Christian theology, American football, and the environment, along with two novels.

Kill Bill controversy

Easterbrook also had a blog [1] (http://www.tnr.com/easterbrook.mhtml) at The New Republic Online, a branch of The New Republic, until mid-2004. In October of 2003, in an angry column about the violence in the Quentin Tarantino film Kill Bill, he wrote the following:

Set aside what it says about Hollywood that today even Disney thinks what the public needs is ever-more-graphic depictions of killing the innocent as cool amusement. Disney's CEO, Michael Eisner, is Jewish; the chief of Miramax, Harvey Weinstein, is Jewish. Yes, there are plenty of Christian and other Hollywood executives who worship money above all else, promoting for profit the adulation of violence. Does that make it right for Jewish executives to worship money above all else, by promoting for profit the adulation of violence? Recent European history alone ought to cause Jewish executives to experience second thoughts about glorifying the killing of the helpless as a fun lifestyle choice. But history is hardly the only concern. Films made in Hollywood are now shown all over the world, to audiences that may not understand the dialogue or even look at the subtitles, but can't possibly miss the message--now Disney's message--that hearing the screams of the innocent is a really fun way to express yourself.

After the ensuing uproar and accusations that Easterbrook and The New Republic were anti-semitic, Easterbrook wrote that he "mangled" his own ideas by his choice of words and wrote the following to explain his thought process and to apologize:[2] (http://www.tnr.com/easterbrook.mhtml?pid=868)

I wondered about the consciences of those running Disney and Miramax. Were they Christian? How could a Christian rationalize seeking profits from a movie that glorifies killing as a sport, even as a form of pleasure?... I did exactly that one week earlier, when I wrote a column about the movie The Passion asking how we could take Mel Gibson seriously as a professed Christian, when he has participated in numerous movies that glorify violence.
But those running Disney and Miramax are not Christian, they're Jewish. Learning this did in no way still my sense of outrage regarding Kill Bill. How, I wondered, could anyone Jewish--members of a group who suffered the worst act of violence in all history, and who suffer today, in Israel, intolerable violence--seek profit from a movie that glamorizes violence as cool fun?...
Twenty minutes after I pressed "send," the entire world had read it. When I reread my own words and beheld how I'd written things that could be misunderstood, I felt awful. To anyone who was offended I offer my apology, because offense was not my intent. But it was 20 minutes later, and already the whole world had seen it... My attempt to connect my perfectly justified horror at an ugly and corrupting movie to the religious faith and ethnic identity of certain executives was hopelessly clumsy...accusing a Christian of adoring money above all else does not engage any history of ugly stereotypes. Accuse a Jewish person of this and you invoke a thousand years of stereotypes about that which Jews have specific historical reasons to fear. What I wrote here was simply wrong, and for being wrong, I apologize.
I worship in one of the handful of joint Christian-Jewish congregations in the United States... Two years ago I wrote in The New Republic of the Bradley Hills-Bethesda Jewish joint congregation, "One of the shortcomings of Christianity is that most adherents downplay the faith's interweaving with Judaism." I and my family sought out a place where Christians and Jews express their faith cooperatively.

The New Republic accepted blame for the piece in an apology [3] (http://www.tnr.com/doc.mhtml?i=express&s=editorial102003) and denied that his comments were intentionally anti-semitic. Easterbrook continued to blog for them, and still writes articles on environmentalism (especially the damage caused by sport utility vehicles), religion and other subjects.

At the time, Easterbrook also wrote Tuesday Morning Quarterback, a weekly column during football season about the National Football League that appeared on ESPN's website. The column was noted for its humor and ruthless self-parodying, a "Running Items Department", football haiku and senryu, "Cheerbabe Cheesecake" and "Equal-Time Beefcake", and humorous team names such as "Potomac Drainage Basin Indigenous Persons" (Washington Redskins) and "Arizona CAUTION: MAY CONTAIN FOOTBALL-LIKE SUBSTANCE Cardinals". ESPN, which is owned by Disney, fired Easterbrook after his comments about Kill Bill were published. He later resumed the Tuesday Morning Quarterback column for NFL.com.

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