In response to news that Howard University is disbanding its Classics Department, Cornell West reminds us that Frederick Douglas and the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. were inspired and nurtured by the classics. West argues that the attack on the classics is an attack on the soul and symptom the moral and spiritual rot of American culture.
In eulogizing Larry Kramer, Masha Gessen tells us that Kramer was a devoted reader of Hannah Arendt. What attracted Kramer was not simply Arendt’s fearlessness. And not only her deep support for the right and practice of civil disobedience. Kramer found in Arendt a thinker of political power. For Arendt, politics is about acting in concert with others and such collective action is the source of power.
Martin Gurri argues that truth is based on trust. Trust in turn requires some authority in whom we trust. If we trust not in God, then we may trust in science or in experts, or in the people collectively amassed in a self-governing state. But we live, as Hannah Arendt argues, in an age when authority is no longer feasible. It is beyond doubt, Arendt writes, that “authority has vanished from the modern world.” And yet Arendt does not despair.
As part of his attempt to divert attention from his failures to address the Corona virus pandemic, President Trump has now fired four Inspectors General in the past six weeks. These firings are important. They represent the elimination and intimidation of those charged with overseeing the representatives elected to power in our democracy. The inspectors general are those who can expose the lies and corruption that foment cynicism that threatens the common world.
Governments and businesses are telling people to get back to work. Lyndsey Stonebridge notes that what what they really are saying is to get back to the business of laboring. The distinction between work and labor is central to Hannah Arendt’s thinking about the human condition.
In a Senate hearing this week, Senator Rand Paul called for humility and warned that Dr. Anthony Fauci was not the “end all” in predicting the course of the Coronavirus. In response, Dr. Fauci reminded Senator Paul—who is also a doctor—that he had never made himself to be an “end all.” “I am a scientist, a physician, and a public health official. I give advice according to the best scientific evidence...
Until recently, I had not left my apartment for 33 days. I did not touch another human being—not even the members of my family with whom I live—for even longer. The virus has been mild in my case. It is nearly gone. Physically, I am fine. I am one of the lucky ones; I never had to make a decision whether to go to a hospital, alone, not knowing whether I would see family and friends ever again.
Over and again we hear the refrain: “Listen to the experts.” Amidst a crisis that has witnessed a disastrous response from President Trump and the federal government and from many states and cities—Mayor Bill DeBlasio has been particularly inept causing untold misery for New Yorkers like myself—there is a desire to have the experts guide us.
When Li Wenliang saw the danger posed by the Corona Virus and tried to sound the alarm, he was forced to remain silent by the Chinese police. Dr. Li died from Covid 19, alongside thousands of others in Wuhan. During this time as the world learned of the ravages of the virus first in China and then in Italy, the United States refused to act to protect its citizens. With no national plan, no national testing strategy, no effort to acquire supplies, and no leadership...
Jane Mayer’s profile of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell offers essential political insight into our times. One of the mysteries of the phenomenon that is Donald Trump is his capacity to lead a successful mass political movement without any obvious political beliefs or ideology. President Trump seems to have loyalty to few causes outside of himself and his own interests. What President Trump cares about, above all, is winning...