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.
The AIDS activist and playwright Larry Kramer died this week. Kramer started ACT UP (The AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) in 1987 to fight hard for both gay rights and action against AIDS. His uncompromising activism and fight reinvented civil disobedience in the 1980s and 1990s, giving birth to tactics that have come to define democratic activism.
Rebecca Traister tells the incredible story of Marga Griesbach, now 92 and a survivor of—well of everything. Griesbach just recently made it back from a harrowing cruise to her home in Washington state. She was born Marga Steinhardt in Germany in 1927.
James Wallner has published a “review” of Hannah Arendt’s The Human Condition on the occasion of the new edition that appeared last year from the University of Chicago Press.
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.
On May 5, 2020, anonymously leaked video brought the lynching of Ahmaud Arbery in Glynn County, Georgia into the light of the public realm. It is devastating footage and I was overwhelmed when I truly comprehended what I was witnessing. As I did, I cried out of grief, shame, and anger. I looked to my husband and confessed, “I did not want to see this.” But, the fact is I did not see much, even if what I had witnessed was just enough to understand...
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.
Rolf Hochhuth died last week. Hochhuth was the author of The Deputy, A Christian Tragedy that premiered on the Freie Volksbühne stage in West Berlin in February 1963, making the author world-famous. The play is a documentary inquiry into the decision by Pope Pius XII to remain silent regarding the Holocaust, about which he knew.
Pamela Paresky, Jonathan Haidt, Nadine Strossen, and Steven Pinker write about the outrage mob that has forced institutions like the New York Times to run scared and censor the newspaper in response to public pressure.
Philanthropy increasingly has a bad name in some circles these days. And there are real worries about the retreat of government being replaced by wealthy donors who then have an outsized impact on our public world. But it is also important to recall Aristotle’s insight that a political community depends upon virtues, including what he calls the virtue of liberality. It is meaningful, Aristotle writes, when wealthy citizens build shrines to the graces in public places...