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.
There is an apparent myth going around that cancel culture is a phenomenon of the political left. One sees this in the reaction to the Open Letter in Harpers that I signed last week. There was in that letter no mention of “the left.” The letter explicitly mentioned the danger from illiberalism from both the political right and Donald Trump as well as from cultural intolerance for curiosity and experimental thinking.
Bari Weiss resigned from The New York Times this week in an open letter, citing the effect social media has had on traditional publishing platforms.
What I’m going to do today is to talk about two remarkable upsurges of self-organized citizen activity that have spread across the United States in just the last decade. I’m going to be talking about the Tea Party from 2009 to 2011—although there are still some Tea Parties meeting—and the anti-Trump grassroots resistance that has self-organized across many communities in the country since the November 2016 election.
The weakness of a group letter—and I have never signed one before and hope not to have to sign one again—is that it never fully captures one’s own views. It is by necessity a compromise. And I feel strongly that in a group letter, no person should be attacked. That is one reason why the letter took a positive and quite abstract approach.
Daniel Denvir interviews Barbara Fields and Karen Fields, the sisters who wrote the extraordinary book Racecraft: The Soul of Inequality in American Life. The Field sisters coin the word “Racecraft” to name the magical process through which the fiction of race is made real. When a police officer who is black is conjured as a black man, this conjuring trick is what allows that officer to be discriminated against or even killed
Peter Beinart acknowledges what he calls “the painful truth” that there is not going to be a two-state solution in the Middle East. Given that reality, Beinart asks, what is the path forward? Growing numbers of Palestinians embrace a one-state solution. But in Israel and amongst Jews, the one-state solution crosses a red line, since it would likely mean the end of Israel as a Jewish state.
Since we are here concerned with citizenship, I want to preface my brief remarks by signaling the relationship between citizenship and national memory, and how the concept of race, as we see in various historical examples, necessarily replaces that of citizenship.
Lily Kuo writes about the impact of the new National Security Legislation that is being imposed by China on Hong Kong. The law defines national security crimes broadly, allows suspects to be sent to China for trial, permits Chinese state agents to work in Hong Kong, expands police powers, and allows secret trials without juries.