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.
Whether George Floyd died from asphyxiation or some combination of “cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression,” as the official Hennepin County autopsy has it, anyone can see that former police officer Derek Chauvin sat firmly on Mr. Floyd’s neck, left hand casually in his pocket as if bored, for over 8 minutes while three other officers calmly looked on.
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).
Masha Gessen’s newest book argues that Donald Trump is paving the way for the end of American democracy and the rise of autocracy. Whether Gessen is right, their argument about how President Trump attacks language attacks a shared world of meaning necessary for democracy is right. Gessen founds their argument on insights from Hannah Arendt...
Melvin Rogers argues that the protests and riots convulsing Minneapolis and the United States are about more than the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis policeman. “The anger and rage on display in Minneapolis is not only about police violence, however. It is taking place against a broad horizon of state violence, which among other things takes the form of utter disregard for the pain of black Americans.”
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.
In an earlier post about Michael Flynn, I linked to Matt Taibbi’s essay arguing that Flynn was mistakenly prosecuted by an overzealous FBI. Now Eli Lake has published a detailed and devastating account of the way the FBI railroaded Flynn. The importance of these stories is that the resistance to Trump continues to put its faith in the FBI and other institutions and to base its case against President Trump on the...