Seeing What Is: “White Privilege,” “Antiracism,” The Police – Lessons from a Losing Culture on the Authority of Language at a time of MovementNikita Nelin
“We got engaged, preparing for a summer wedding, and started talking about kids. Then the pandemic hit. My industry crumbled and hers pressurized. Social distancing left us sheltered in place in our new neighborhood, as we watched the world outside first shudder, and then take to the streets, while we tried to reconcile our place in it with the disappearance our own dream.”
In March, 2017, I published an essay “Why Arendt Matters” about the newly inaugurated President Trump. I wrote that, “Common sense insists that we not abandon reality and imagine that the United States is experiencing totalitarianism.” I argued that while the President was leading a mass movement, and that while mass movements are at the core of totalitarian domination, it is also the case that not all mass movements are totalitarian.
It has become common sense that President Trump lies. Once again there are countless articles and Twitter feeds and video compilations showing that the President has lied, stated falsehoods, and denied having said what he said. And yet through it all, the President’s popularity rating is soaring.
Adolf Eichmann was a Nazi Higher SS officer and member of the Gestapo during the Second World War. When the Final Solution of the Jewish Problem was adopted as German policy at the Wannsee Conference in January 1942, it became Eichmann’s job to organize the destruction of millions of Jews.
Jill Lepore writes about the literature of epidemics, looking back at great works about plagues by Daniel Defoe, Mary Shelley, Edgar Allan Poe, Jack London, Stephen King, Albert Camus, and Jose Saramago. What all plague literature shares is, first, the knowledge that the plague threatens the human world, that is “cuts away the higher realms, the loftiest capacities of humanity, and leaves only the animal.”