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.
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.
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.”
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.
Anne Applebaum tells the stories of Wolfgang Leonhard and Markus Wolf. Both were sons of prominent German Communist families who were educated in the Soviet Union and were roommates in the same military camp. They had similar ideological educations and both came to understand that the communist system behind the Iron Curtain was failing to deliver on its utopian promise. But then their paths diverged.
Many have been waiting and wondering when, and if, leaders would emerge from the conservative strongholds like the military and the Republican Party to call out the childishness, narcissism, and boorishness that makes Donald Trump such a singularly disastrous President. It seems that the President’s decision to use the U.S. military to clear away protesters so he could have a photo op at St. John’s Episcopal Church...
Thirty-one years ago today the Chinese People’s Liberation Army forcibly cleared democracy protesters from Tiananmen Square. Marking that anniversary has been banned in China (something I found out the hard way when I foolishly wore an Amnesty International t-shirt onto Tiananmen Square on June 4th, 1991 and nearly got arrested).