• Policing Doesn’t Protect Women

    On June 30, as part of a virtual discussion on the topic of “Prison as Abuse,” feminist activist Monica Cosby recounted a memory from when she was incarcerated. It was the day after armed police in riot gear, part of a tactical team called Orange Crush, had done a shakedown in the women’s prison where she was detained, she recalled. As these men destroyed the women’s personal things, yelled abuses at them, and aggressively strip-searched them, something clicked for her: “If there was anyone out...

  • The Willful Blindness of Reactionary Liberalism

    It was always a given that 2020 would be a year to remember. Even so, it continues to surprise. It seems likely that June will go down as one of the pivotal months of our political era, a period when our streets, our press, and some of our major institutions were rocked by the force of progressive identity politics. Conversations over the implications of all that’s happened in recent weeks will continue for some time. One of the more active debates is whether our recent social controversies...

  • What Woodrow Wilson Did to Robert Smalls

    Last week, Princeton University announced that it would remove Woodrow Wilson’s name from the School of Public and International Affairs because his “racist thinking and policies make him an inappropriate namesake for a school or college whose scholars, students, and alumni must stand firmly against racism in all its forms,” said the university’s president, Christopher L. Eisgruber. “Wilson’s racism was significant and consequential even by the standards of his own time.”

  • Conservative Austerity Created the Mask Wars

    As coronavirus cases soared this week in a number of states—not a few of them red—a handful of GOP leaders and right-wing pundits had a desperate message for conservatives: Wear a mask, please. Mike Pence now wears a mask; Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, who had previously blocked local governments from requiring masks, now calls them “your best defense against this virus”; Fox & Friends host Steve Doocy, whom Donald Trump once ranked a 12 out of 10 in terms of loyalty, said recently, “I think...

  • Reckoning With Anti-Blackness in Indian Country

    “Just spray the hell out of ’em,” one man shouted to the police officer standing in the middle of the road in Pembroke, North Carolina. “Goddamn pack of lazy sons of bitches,” mumbled another. The voices joined a chorus of insults and slurs being lobbed at a group of students at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke and other community members who were peacefully marching in a protest against police brutality. Their hecklers cursed at them and peppered them with beer and soda cans; one...

  • Elena Kagan’s Fiery Defense of the Administrative State

    Selia Law v. CFPB wasn’t among the highest-profile cases of this Supreme Court term, but it was far from insignificant. In a 5–4 decision along the usual partisan lines, the court struck down part of a federal law that said the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau could only be fired by the president for cause. Such protections aren’t uncommon at the federal level, especially among financial regulators, but they are unusual for a post like the one in question.

  • Hurricane Season Traps People on the Wrong Side of the Income Gap

    I was in college when I lived through my first hurricane. I don’t even remember the name of the storm. What I do remember is that those who could afford to leave campus flew home to California, New York, and Texas—away from the hurricane that was threatening South Florida. 

  • Searching for Consolation in Max Weber’s Work Ethic

    People worked hard long before there was a thing called the “work ethic,” much less a “Protestant work ethic.” The phrase itself emerged early in the twentieth century and has since congealed into a cliché. It is less a real thing than a story that people, and nations, tell themselves about themselves. I am from the United States but now live in Amsterdam; the Dutch often claim the mantle of an industrious, Apollonian Northern Europe, as distinct from a dissolute, Dionysian, imaginary South. Or...

  • Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Ingenious Families

    Two women are playing a tender scene. The brunette, who can’t be 30 yet, strokes the blonde’s hair. The blonde is in her seventies, but her lips tremble as if she’s a child trying not to cry, and she calls the younger one “maman.” “Please don’t go away without me,” she says. Behind the women, you can see a blurry reflection of the camera crew filming them, and the blonde actress’s daughter standing there watching.

  • Trump’s Extraordinary Gift for Self-Sabotage

    The publishing industry, knocked first by the loss of Oprah’s Book Club and then Jon Stewart’s departure from The Daily Show, has found an unlikely savior: Donald Trump. The president’s tweets about sycophantic tomes that compare him to Churchill or attempt to retcon his obvious lack of Christian faith can juice sales, but his promotional talent is particularly apparent when it comes to books detailing his gross incompetence as president.