Tracy Burr Strong died on May 11th. Tracy was one of the greatest contemporary political theorists with an extraordinary range. His first book, Friedrich Nietzsche and the Politics of Transfiguration (1975) is still read widely as both a contribution to Nietzsche studies and to political thinking more broadly. His latest book, Learning One’s Native Tongue, argues that the essence of American citizenship is not simply a matter of who can vote or whom has rights.
In the new issue of Salmagundi,Thomas Chatterton Williams, Margo Jefferson, Darryl Pinckney, John McWhorter, and Orlando Patterson debate “The Black Intellectual & The Condition of the Culture.”
Democracy is the rule of the people. Demagoguery is the people being led by a speaker who sparks and appeals to the people’s passions. Charles Sykes writes about a public hearing in Palm Beach, Florida in which citizens scream and yell at public health experts who argue that wearing masks should be required to help control the pandemic.
The linguist John McWhorter discusses debates amongst editors of the Merriam-Webster dictionary about the definition of racism. The classical dictionary definition is that racism is “a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race.”
Aliza Becker and Noah Schoen present a webinar, “The Synagogue Shooting: Pittsburghers Reflect on Antisemitism and Racism.” This presentation is part of the "Meanings of October 27th" oral history project that explores Jewish and non-Jewish Pittsburghers’ life histories and reflections on the October 27th, 2018 synagogue shooting at the Tree of Life building.
In the New York Review of Books, Sarah Churchwell discusses American fascism through a historical lens while reflecting on recent events. Churchwell highlights the fact that fascism in 2020 will not look like fascism in Europe in 1933, but also acknowledges the underlying causes of fascist movements, like racism.
Chris Lebron writes that while three medical associations now label racism to be a public health crisis, he has long spoken of “Racial Diminishment syndrome,” a disease that, if often deadly, “more commonly results in discomfort, inconvenience and the sort of pains that eventually go away but the memories of which do not.
Jonathan Chait tells the story of David Shor, a social democrat and a data analyst who worked for President Obama. But Shor, who worked for the data analysis firm Civis Analytics, was fired for tweeting a “short summary of a paper by Princeton professor Omar Wasow. The research compiled by Wasow analyzed public opinion in the 1960s, and found violent and nonviolent protest tactics had contradictory effects.
These are dark times. The hardest thing to do in dark times, writes Hannah Arendt, is to love the world. She invokes the Latin phrase Amor Mundi, For the Love of the World, to express the unspeakably difficult effort to reconcile with the world as it is while also insisting that the world must change.