A fractured United States
Wednesday 28th October 2020,
Donald Trump’s brazen violations of democratic norms are not new, but a continuation of a political culture built on racism.The election of the president is a cause of agitation, but not ruin,” wrote Alexis de Tocqueville in his 19th century classic, Democracy in America (1835). “Nevertheless,” he continued, “one may consider the time of the presidential election as a moment of national crisis… The whole nation gets into a feverish state, the election is… the subject of every thought and the sole interest for the moment.”In the quarter of a century I have been covering American presidential elections there have always been people on either side who thought the outcome would be pivotal for the country, if not humanity. “I fear for this country if [John] Kerry wins,” Burton Kephart, from Franklin, Pennsylvania, who had lost his son Jonathan in the Iraq War, told me in 2004. “God has a plan for the ages. [George W] Bush will hold back the evil a little bit.”
The Bleak Resonance of ‘Native Son’
Thursday 1st October 2020,
One of the reasons Richard Wright’s Native Son remains an enduring classic is because while the racial power structure outlined in the book has evolved over the years, its basic underpinnings remain recognizable even eighty years later. Shortly before 8 AM on May 25, 2020, Christian Cooper, fifty-seven, was birdwatching in the Ramble—a semi-wild part of New York’s Central Park—when a cocker spaniel bounded into view pursued by its owner loudly calling for him. Dogs are not allowed off a leash in the Ramble and Christian asked the owner to observe the rules. The dog’s owner, Amy Cooper (no relation), forty, refused. Christian insisted. Christian started filming her. Amy asked him to stop. He refused. She approached him with a threat. Amy is white; Christian is black.