From the Left



Too many of us have not courage, but cowardice

From the Left / Leonard Pitts Jr. /

When, at Mamie Till's insistence, the coffin was opened, she saw her son's right eyeball sitting on his cheek, dangling by the optic nerve.

Let that single grisly detail stand in for all the rest. Let it speak to the savagery two white men unleashed upon the body of a 14-year-old black boy named Emmett Till.

On Saturday, a new marker was ...Read more

If we can't be free within ourselves, then we cannot be free

From the Left / Leonard Pitts Jr. /

"If you're white, you're all right. If you're brown, stick around. If you're black, get back." -- African-American folk saying

I was about to give a speech -- I can't remember when or even where -- when this teacher brought a student up, hoping I could help her.

The teacher was white, and her student was a black girl, perhaps 13 or so, of ...Read more

Why, when we see black people, do we so often see what isn't there?

From the Left / Leonard Pitts Jr. /

The beam from his flashlight reflects off the glass, so we can't see what he saw.

But in a sense, we don't need to see what Fort Worth police officer Aaron Dean saw to know what he saw, peering through that window. He saw something fearsome, a threat to life and limb. All this in the person of Atatiana Jefferson, a 28-year-old black woman, who ...Read more

It can happen here

From the Left / Leonard Pitts Jr. /

I was maybe 10 years old when this happened.

Mom is driving, I'm in the back seat. It's night. She's trying to cross Vermont, a busy L.A. thoroughfare, from a side street. Southbound traffic is jammed, but a guy in a truck makes a hole and waves us through. We've almost cleared the intersection when a car, speeding northbound, clips us. We go ...Read more

The thing about forgiveness

From the Left / Leonard Pitts Jr. /

Here's the thing about forgiveness.

It's not just something you extend to someone else. It's also a gift you give yourself, permission to lay down the heavy burden of grudges and rage. And if you're a Christian, it's an obligation -- albeit a hard one -- of faith.

One can believe all that, yet still be deeply conflicted by last week's act of ...Read more

How the times have changed

From the Left / Leonard Pitts Jr. /

You may, if you are old enough, recall a TV actor named Foster Brooks.

He was a guest star on such classics of boomer kitsch as "The Monkees," "The Munsters" and "The Mod Squad." But if you do remember him, it's likely for one thing only: his imitation of inebriation. Brooks made his slurring, stammering "funny drunk act" a TV staple, back when...Read more

What if Trump's right about a civil war?

From the Left / Leonard Pitts Jr. /

"If Democrats are successful in removing the president from office (which they never will be), it will cause a Civil War like fracture in this Nation from which our Country will never heal." -- Donald Trump, roughly quoting Robert Jeffress, a conservative Dallas preacher

What if he's right?

Granted, no militias are massing. No declarations of ...Read more

Trump makes Captain Queeg look like Captain Kirk

From the Left / Leonard Pitts Jr. /

Only the ball bearings were missing.

The reference, for those who don't know, is to Humphrey Bogart's performance as the emotionally unstable Captain Queeg in the 1954 film "The Caine Mutiny." In a pivotal scene, Bogart vividly etches the captain's mental disintegration, rambling on the witness stand about strawberries and tow lines and the ...Read more

What does it mean that Dennis Turner is black?

From the Left / Leonard Pitts Jr. /

'By Leonard Pitts Jr.

"They try to tell us we're too young..." -- Nat King Cole

So what does it mean that Dennis Turner is black?

Turner, as you may know, was the police officer who arrested Kaia Rolle last week. Kaia, it must be said, was raising a ruckus, acting in a disorderly and disruptive manner. Worse, when someone tried to restrain ...Read more

We were told our institutions would save us

From the Left / Leonard Pitts Jr. /

Once upon a time, there was an ideal. It was called the United States of America.

And in 2016, the presidency of the United States was captured by the flamboyantly incompetent star of a TV reality show, a man who doesn't believe in any ideal beyond his own enrichment and aggrandizement. Some shaken observers assured us everything would yet be ...Read more

The truth of climate change has long been painfully clear

From the Left / Leonard Pitts Jr. /

With apologies to Stevie Wonder, for whom it was once an album title, nothing is "hotter than July." July was the hottest month.

Maybe you're waiting for that sentence to be qualified: "hottest month of the last 20 years," let's say. But it turns out July of 2019 was the hottest month, period -- hottest in the history of record keeping, hottest...Read more

Arguments over electability are an annoying diversion

From the Left / Leonard Pitts Jr. /

Our subject today is a word.

It seems to be the word of the moment, at least on the political left. One can hardly read an opinion page or watch cable news without confronting this tiresome term, this irksome idiom.

For the love of heaven, people, please stop saying "electability."

Note, please, that the last president was a black man with ...Read more

Another mass shooting, a nation on tenterhooks

From the Left / Leonard Pitts Jr. /

In 1879, on the road leading into Dodge City, there stood a sign. "The Carrying of Fire Arms Strictly Prohibited," it said.

As recounted in the book "Gunfight: The Battle Over the Right to Bear Arms in America" by Adam Winkler, the gun control ordinance was the first law passed when the city was organized in 1873. Nor was Dodge unique. Many ...Read more

We are living the fable of the emperor's new clothes

From the Left / Leonard Pitts Jr. /

If you're going to lie, make it a good one.

Meaning, put some effort into it. Make it convincing. Make sure the truth is not easily discoverable. Don't just draw on a weather map with a Sharpie.

That's apparently what Donald Trump or someone in his employ did last week to prove he was right all along in claiming that the state of Alabama lay ...Read more

'I am tired of the dying'

From the Left / Leonard Pitts Jr. /

"I am tired of the dying," said Greg Abbott on Sunday.

And well he should be. The Texas governor was in Odessa, in the western part of his state, to preside over a mass shooting there: seven dead, not counting the shooter, and 22 wounded, one of them a toddler. This follows a May 2015 shootout in Waco (nine dead); an ...Read more

'Normal' is what got us here

From the Left / Leonard Pitts Jr. /

"America's present need is not heroics but healing; not nostrums but normalcy..." -- Warren G. Harding, 1920

I like Joe Biden.

His gaffes, his mistreatment of Anita Hill and even his kissy-face behavior with segregationists notwithstanding, I think he's a decent guy. If he is the Democratic nominee, next year, I'll vote for him -- twice, if I ...Read more

Trump's anti-journalism hit squad

From the Left / Leonard Pitts Jr. /

"The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers."

So says Dick the Butcher in Shakespeare's "Henry VI, Part 2." Though often regarded as a Renaissance-era lawyer joke, the line is actually a backhanded compliment to the legal profession. Dick, a follower of the rebel Jack Cade, knows that before their insurrection can succeed, they have to ...Read more

Cruelty is the point, but is it evil?

From the Left / Leonard Pitts Jr. /

We meet, my friends, in the face of evil.

In popular culture and historical memory, of course, evil has many faces. It is Darth Vader raising a lightsaber and Dr. Doom glowering from behind a metal mask. It is Charles Manson grinning his lunatic's grin and Adolf Hitler ranting himself into a frothing rage.

But in everyday life, evil is seldom ...Read more

The right has adopted the notion that education is the enemy

From the Left / Leonard Pitts Jr. /

You'd think it would be the one thing we could all agree upon.

Life grows ever more complex. Planetary overheating threatens a future of floods, food shortages and mass migration. We carry supercomputers in our pockets. Robots are taking our jobs.

So you'd think, for all the partisan and ideological rancor in this country, the one thing upon ...Read more

The 'peculiar institution' is no artifact of the dead past

From the Left / Leonard Pitts Jr. /

Perhaps you've heard of white fragility.

The term was popularized by sociologist Robin DiAngelo in her 2018 book of the same name that seeks to explain why white people often find it so hard to discuss race, why the subject frequently makes them angry and defensive. Well, a textbook example of that fragility recently roiled social media.

We're...Read more


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