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.”
Ned O’Gorman argues that what makes Hannah Arendt so meaningful in our divided, highly partisan, and post-truth age is her embrace of politics that avoids claims to truth. While some may recoil from the intensity of politics and seek to restrain political excess, Arendt insists that the only way to protect ourselves from democratic tyranny is by expanding rather than constricting democratic powers.
The linguist John McWhorter discusses debates amongst editors of the Merriam-Webster dictionary about the definition of racism. The classical dictionary definition is that racism is “a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race.”
Aliza Becker and Noah Schoen present a webinar, “The Synagogue Shooting: Pittsburghers Reflect on Antisemitism and Racism.” This presentation is part of the "Meanings of October 27th" oral history project that explores Jewish and non-Jewish Pittsburghers’ life histories and reflections on the October 27th, 2018 synagogue shooting at the Tree of Life building.
In the New York Review of Books, Sarah Churchwell discusses American fascism through a historical lens while reflecting on recent events. Churchwell highlights the fact that fascism in 2020 will not look like fascism in Europe in 1933, but also acknowledges the underlying causes of fascist movements, like racism.
Right wing governments in Hungary, India, Turkey, Brazil, and to some degree even in the United States have increasingly embraced Viktor Orbán’s claim of “illiberal democracy.” These governments remain democratic even as they reject liberal safeguards for personal freedom such as freedom of speech and association, independent courts, a non-partisan professional civil service, respect for constitutional limitations on political power.
Chris Lebron writes that while three medical associations now label racism to be a public health crisis, he has long spoken of “Racial Diminishment syndrome,” a disease that, if often deadly, “more commonly results in discomfort, inconvenience and the sort of pains that eventually go away but the memories of which do not.
Jonathan Chait tells the story of David Shor, a social democrat and a data analyst who worked for President Obama. But Shor, who worked for the data analysis firm Civis Analytics, was fired for tweeting a “short summary of a paper by Princeton professor Omar Wasow. The research compiled by Wasow analyzed public opinion in the 1960s, and found violent and nonviolent protest tactics had contradictory effects.