The crisis of truth is upon us and for many this is a phenomenon associated with Donald Trump. But Hannah Arendt diagnosed the crisis of truth in modern politics over 60 years ago. And in her essay “Truth and Politics” Arendt argues that one foundation for that crisis is the loss of a non-political standpoint from which one can speak about the world and politics.
As the lies pile up, people ask why the President’s lies don’t seem to hurt his standing. Roger Berkowitz argues that lies barely register today because lying has become, simply, a way of life. And he asks, “How Do We Rebuild a Shared American Reality on a Foundation of Lies?”
At the beginning of a conversation with Bill T. Jones this week as part of the Hannah Arendt Center’s “Race and Revolution” lecture series, Bill T. Jones read an excerpt from Hari Kunzru’s essay “Wages of Whiteness.” Kunzru’s essay is a magisterial retelling of the rise of current focus on whiteness, identity politics, and white privilege, one that raises as many questions as it answers.
Emily Langer tells the story of Ruth Gruber, “an American journalist who stumbled into one of the great rescue stories of the Holocaust when the U.S. government appointed her to escort nearly 1,000 Jews across U-boat infested waters to the shores of the United States, [who] died Nov. 17 at her home in Manhattan. She was 105.” The story is well worth your time.
Two recent essays address the way that the press and social media in particular are polarizing and radicalizing our politics. First, Matt Taibbi argues that the political polarization has its source in the new way that the news is marketed to partisan audiences.
Emma Graham-Harrison writes that new reports show that China is continuing to build re-education concentration camps for Muslim Uighurs in Xinjiang province. China has built nearly 400 internment camps in Xinjiang region, with construction on dozens continuing over the last two years, even as Chinese authorities said their “re-education” system was winding down, an Australian thinktank has found.
The “scandal” around President Trump telling Bob Woodward that he lied to the American people about the danger posed by the Corona Virus has come and gone, having little to no impact on the the President’s approval rating. One reason is that such lies are precisely the kinds of lies that are at the root of politics: they are purposeful lies. As Trump explained to Woodward, he lied to prevent a panic.
Carmen Lea Dege writes about the resurgence of interest in existentialism amidst the Covid crisis. Tracing the history of existentialism in the 20thcentury, Dege looks at Hannah Arendt’s two essays on the problems of German and French existentialism while thinking about how Heidegger and Jaspers influenced her understanding of evil..