The morning bell rang at Republican High (”Home of the Fightin’ Pachyderms”) as students shuffled in. Gretchen Niedermeyer dry swallowed a couple of pre-emptive aspirins and reminded herself as she did every morning that she was just 16 months and — a glance at the calendar — seven days from her pension.
“Good morning, class,” she...Read more
A few words about the makers and the takers.
That, as you may recall, was the formulation once favored by Fox “News” and other organs of the political right to describe the dynamic between those at the top of the economic pyramid and those at the bottom. The poor — characterized as scavenging animals by more than one conservative — were...Read more
Dear Sen. Joe Manchin:
It has only been 56 years.
As Americans, we are pleased to call ourselves one of the world’s oldest democracies. We are actually one of the world’s newest. Democracy, after all, is government shaped by the will of the people. But until 1920, roughly half the people were not allowed to vote, disqualified by dint of ...Read more
So what will you do after democracy dies?
Who will we be after democracy dies?
After democracy dies, will we remember the country we had? Will we remember all that we lost? How will we explain what we allowed to happen?
Will we be ashamed after democracy dies?
After democracy dies, maybe we’ll be haunted by the fact that we had a chance to...Read more
It’s not just Tulsa.
From the 2019 premiere of HBO’s “Watchmen,” which introduced many Americans to a racial atrocity they’d never heard of, to all the recent media attention — CNN, the New York Times, NPR — marking this week’s centennial, the Tulsa Race Massacre of May 31 to June 1, 1921 has lately been inescapable.
As well it...Read more
It’s not every day you interview someone who tells you he wants to kill himself.
He was a Vietnam veteran named Greg, a man with haunted eyes and a soft voice filled with the horror of his experience in Southeast Asia: the jungle rot, the lost friends, the children rigged to explode when some unsuspecting GI scooped them up.
Greg limped from...Read more
There is no such thing as the united States.
As an era of medical mask mandates draws to a close and we begin to ponder lessons learned, that one should top the list. Not to overstate the case.
To our credit, we are a nation that has always united in times of national crisis. When Pearl Harbor was attacked, when the Russians launched Sputnik, ...Read more
You didn’t see what you thought you saw.
You got it wrong, you misunderstood. Your memory is playing tricks.
But who can blame you? It was so long ago. We’re talking way back on Jan 6.
That’s four whole months. That’s a third of a year! Who can remember back that far? Goodness, what kind of stuff did people wear? What were the big ...Read more
Fifty years ago.
Left-wing terrorists exploded a bomb at the U.S. Capitol.
An Army officer was convicted in the massacre of civilians at My Lai.
Vietnam chewed up another 2,414 American lives.
And across the country, needles were lowered for the first time to the grooved surface of a certain spinning vinyl disc, and there came the murmur of ...Read more
Not that the subject has ever been easy. No, as has often been noted in this space, this country has been positively Herculean in its effort to remain ignorant of African American history. From schools trying to ban it to state laws restricting it, to textbooks telling lies about it, that history is something we have long resisted.
But if the ...Read more
That, as you may recall, was the explanation attorney Joseph Hurley offered last week at a court hearing for his client, accused Capitol insurrectionist Anthony Antonio, who is facing five federal charges for his role in the attack. “You want war?” he reportedly yelled to police. “We got war! 1776 all over again!”
But as it turns out, ...Read more
We keep hitting new lows.
So perhaps we ought not be surprised that the GOP, the party that brought us the insurrection of Jan. 6, now presents the public, if figurative, execution of Liz Cheney. At this writing, she is not yet politically dead, but the vultures are certainly tying their bibs.
Cheney, you understand, committed no sin against ...Read more
Its Constitution fixed the value of African Americans at three-fifths that of other humans.
Its bloodiest war was over whether they should be enslaved.
It has no institution — not one — that is free of racial discrimination.
Yet, we are supposed to take seriously those who now ask if America is a racist country? It seems to have obsessed ...Read more
Thirty years ago, when I was still a music critic, I received a letter from a lady who informed me in no uncertain terms that I didn’t know what I was talking about.
This was after I‘d written about the origins of gospel music, a subject on which I considered myself, if not expert, reasonably well informed. But Minnie C. Howard, a church ...Read more
An open letter to the children.
We owe you an apology.
Meaning all of us in the generations above you. We had one job where you were concerned, and that was to keep you safe. “Save the children,” pleaded a man named Marvin Gaye a long time ago. But we didn’t. We failed.
And for that, I’m sorry. You deserved so much more.
I offer this...Read more
Sorry, but this is not an open-and -shut case.
This is not Tamir Rice, Philando Castile or Walter Scott, unarmed and clearly executed on camera by police. No, the bodycam video of Tuesday’s killing of a 16-year-old black girl named Ma’Khia Bryant tells a more complicated story.
In it, we see Columbus, Ohio police officer Nicholas Reardon ...Read more
Look, I get it, OK?
A lot of this, you plain do not understand. Much of it leaves you confused. Well, me too.
I have no idea what it must be like to grow up feeling as if you were assigned the wrong body, a girl with boy genitalia or vice versa. I confess to being discombobulated at the idea of having to declare my preferred pronouns. And all ...Read more
I sat there trying to remember how to breathe.
I suspect I had that in common with people — particularly African-American people — all over the country. Didn’t we all hold our breath as we awaited the verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin?
Then that verdict was read. The former Minneapolis police officer was found guilty on all three ...Read more
“The anguish we are suffering cannot translate into violence.”
So said Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey last week in the wake of yet another police killing of yet another unarmed African-American man. The sentiment was altogether fitting and proper, especially given that his city was the epicenter of a national uprising last year after one of ...Read more
There is nothing sacred about nine.
The number was not carried down from a mountain on stone tablets, nor did it appear in a burning bush. In fact, before the Supreme Court contained nine justices, it contained six, the number fixed when the tribunal was established in 1789. Then, in an attempt to hobble his successor, President John Adams ...Read more