Friday Open Thread
Haiti reminds us of how disastrous American foreign policy can be for our neighbors in this hemisphere. Pelosi throws world class shade at Nitwit Nero. Fetus Fetishist attacks Planned Parenthood clinic in Washington. Coal: it isn’t gone and some countries who should know better are burning more than they once were.
African Americans have lived through over 400 years of enslavement, lynchings, Jim Crow, redlining, gentrification, and cultural appropriation. Meanwhile, so much of our history has been destroyed, erased, and ignored by the white supremacist systems that dictate so much of American culture. But as Black people today fight to tell our truths—in the streets, the workplace, and now on Netflix—we are continuing our ancestors' unfinished work of liberation. By preserving and celebrating their legacies of resilience and spirit of resistance, we are building a world where they can finally find rest and freedom through us. “This is the first time in my life that I’ve ever been able to convene with them,” Satterfield says, overcome with tears as he pays homage to the enslaved at Benin’s Gate of No Return. “Finally, they get to come home.”
From human suffering to political chicanery to environmental degradation, the tide of bad news, blared in headlines every day, seems overwhelming. One poet and classics scholar asks: What can be done?
⬛ An interview with Cristina Beltrán on what unites and divides Latinos
⬛ A short story by Tanya Rey
⬛ Essays by Robert Lopez, Joe Wilkins, and Vincent Mowrey
⬛ Poems by Brionne Janae and Alison Luterman
⬛ A photo essay on “When Living Is A Protest”
⬛ Readers Write on “My Country”
We've Lifted Our Paywall
"In this time of isolation, we want to share stories about what connects us, the challenges we face, and the moments when we rise to meet them."
On August 5, 1949, a crew of fifteen of the United States Forest Service's elite airborne firefighters, the Smokejumpers, stepped into the sky above a remote forest fire in the Montana wilderness. Two hours after their jump, all but three of these men were dead or mortally burned. Haunted by these deaths for forty years, Norman Maclean puts back together the scattered pieces of the Mann Gulch tragedy. Young Men and Fire won the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1992.
"A magnificent drama of writing, a tragedy that pays tribute to the dead and offers rescue to the living.... Maclean's search for the truth, which becomes an exploration of his own mortality, is more compelling even than his journey into the heart of the fire. His description of the conflagration terrifies, but it is his battle with words, his effort to turn the story of the 13 men into tragedy that makes this book a classic."—from New York Times Book Review Editor's Choice, Best Books of 1992
"A treasure: part detective story, part western, part tragedy, part elegy and wholly eloquent ghost story in which the dead and the living join ranks cheerfully, if sometimes eerily, in a search for truth and the rest it brings."—Joseph Coates, Chicago Tribune
"An astonishing book. In compelling language, both homely and elegant, Young Men and Fire miraculously combines a fascinating primer on fires and firefighting, a powerful, breathtakingly real reconstruction of a tragedy, and a meditation on writing, grief and human character.... Maclean's last book will stir your heart and haunt your memory."—Timothy Foote, USA Today
"Beautiful.... A dark American idyll of which the language can be proud."—Robert M. Adams, The New York Review of Books "Young Men and Fire is redolent of Melville. Just as the reader of Moby Dick comes to comprehend the monstrous entirety of the great white whale, so the reader of Young Men and Fire goes into the heart of the great red fire and comes out thoroughly informed. Don't hesitate to take the plunge."—Dennis Drabelle, Washington Post Book World
"Young Men and Fire is a somber and poetic retelling of a tragic event. It is the pinnacle of smokejumping literature and a classic work of 20th-century nonfiction."—John Holkeboer, The Wall Street Journal
"Maclean is always with the brave young dead. . . . They could not have found a storyteller with a better claim to represent their honor. . . . A great book."—James R. Kincaid, New York Times Book Review
John Barry: The 1918 ‘Spanish Flu’ Was a U.S. Export, But Don’t Call It the Kansas Virus
"The final lesson of 1918, a simple one yet one most difficult to execute, is that...those in authority must retain the public's trust. The way to do that is to distort nothing, to put the best face on nothing, to try to manipulate no one. Lincoln said that first, and best. A leader must make whatever horror exists concrete. Only then will people be able to break it apart."
Don’t say we weren’t warned. As President Trump’s subversion of science wreaks havoc with American society, the reappearance on bestseller lists of John Barry’s 2004 classic work, “The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History,” is a reminder that presidential irrationality is not unprecedented. On this week’s installment of “Scheer Intelligence,” Barry joins host Robert Scheer to compare the two pandemics and the United States’ response to each.
Back in 1918, Woodrow Wilson was deprived of the jingoism card played by Trump in labeling the current worldwide scourge “the China virus” because the first wave of massive fatalities was exported from a huge military base in Kansas. Wilson relied on the patriotic fervor of war to play down the health risk in dispatching huge numbers of likely infected US troops to Europe and on to the rest of the world, leading to the death of between 50 to 100 million people, far exceeding the direct human cost of the “Great War” itself. The name “Spanish flu” derived from the first news of the global influenza pandemic being reported by the media in Spain.
“I think that it was clear that in 1918, people died, and in many cases their society began to fray–in some cases, worse than that–because the government was lying,” Barry tells Scheer. “Now, the motivation in 1918 was entirely different than it is today. We were, of course, at war. And going into the war, [Woodrow] Wilson had some legitimate reasons to be concerned about what would happen […]so he created an infrastructure to intensify patriotism, more so than at any other time in our history.
Linda Sarsour is an organizer and activist who has been on the frontlines of every major battle against creeping fascism, the Trump administration, state violence, and attacks on all marginalized communities. Along with Tamika Mallory, Carmen Perez and Bob Bland, she organized the Women's March in Washington D.C. on January 21, 2017, the largest protest in American history. Since then, she has been fighting the administration on it's Muslim ban, on criminal justice reform, along with her continued advocacy for Arab and Muslim Americans and for the Palestinian people.
She joins Michael discuss the urgent need to remove Trump from office, how Democrats should (and should not) bring out Muslim and Arab voters in key swing states such as Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Texas and Florida, and her decision to move to Louisville, Kentucky in the middle of a pandemic to fight for justice for Breonna Taylor.
Joe Sacco Shows What’s Been Taken from the North — and What Remains
In ‘Paying the Land,’ the renowned artist and journalist brings the words of the Dene people to an international audience.