“He wears the clothes of a dissenter, but there’s a logo on his back.” — from “Damn It, Rose,” by Don Henley.
When he died, Martin Luther King was likely the most hated man in America.
This is a fact obscured by decades of veneration so intense that even conservatives now try to claim him as one of their own, but it’s a ...Read more
Robert E. Lee has retreated from Richmond. Again.
The first time, you will recall, was in April of 1865, when he and his tattered army abandoned the city, fleeing east before finally surrendering at Appomattox Courthouse to federal forces commanded by General Ulysses S. Grant. This latest — and, one hopes, last — retreat was similarly ...Read more
It was a day that did not end.
It went on for days, it went on for weeks, it went on for years. But then you look up and somehow, 20 years have gone, and you realize with a start that you can’t recall the last time you thought of September 11, 2001. “We’ll go forward from this moment,” I wrote. And we did. And we have. So much so that ...Read more
Can we first just say how bizarre it is?
Yes, it’s invasive, and hypocritical, too, and we’ll get to that soon enough. But first, let us spare a moment for how purely, intensely and prodigiously strange it is.
As you’ve likely heard, Texas’ new anti-abortion law, which the Supreme Court refused to block on Wednesday night, bars ...Read more
It’s been five years since I first speculated in this space about the end of American democracy.
In doing so, I felt like a man climbing out on an especially creaky limb. But as hyperpartisanship rose to ever more bizarre extremes, as the misinformation crisis left ever more people babbling angry gobbledygook, as voter suppression resurrected...Read more
Many years ago, one of my sons came to me, excited about a promotional offer from some bank. I no longer remember the offer or the bank, but I do remember telling him not to fall for it; I had accepted a similar offer years before, and it cost me several of my favorite limbs and the shirt off my back. If a thing sounds too good to be true, I ...Read more
He said many profound things that day.
He said America had given African Americans “a bad check.”
He said he had come to remind the nation of “the fierce urgency of now.”
He said we might hew “out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope.”
He said, “I have a dream.”
But as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s spiritual heirs ...Read more
Last week, at least two men fell from a U.S. military plane as it climbed into the skies above Afghanistan.
In video taken from the ground, they are so small you almost have to squint to see them. They seem roughly the size of a period, the end to some sentence no one wrote. But no, we are told those figures are Afghan men, plunging to their ...Read more
Chris Rock described it as a kind of temper tantrum.
This was in 2011. “When I see the tea party and all this stuff,” the comedian told Esquire, “it actually feels like racism's almost over.” He likened the tea party — with its street theatrics, overwrought histrionics and overt panic at the idea of living under a Black president — ...Read more
They told them they had bad blood.
What they actually had was syphilis, but the U.S. Public Health Service never shared that diagnosis with the almost 400 African American men, most of them poor and under-educated sharecroppers, they recruited for a secret study at Tuskegee Institute in 1932. Indeed, health officials did little for those men ...Read more
“Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” — Martin Luther King
Dr. King didn’t know the half of it.
Those words, after all, are from 1963. Back then, the idea of U.S. citizens and lawmakers attacking their own democracy would have been unthinkable, flouting precautions in ...Read more
Let’s talk about the things they will not learn.
“They” meaning K-12 students in Tennessee. Not that the Volunteer State is alone in passing laws and standards to restrict the teaching of African-American history. To the contrary, a number of states — Oklahoma, Texas, Florida and more — have lately done the same.
But Tennessee ...Read more
Gunther Hashida killed himself last week.
We don’t know why. At this writing, we don’t even know how.
What we do know is that Hashida, an 18-year veteran of the D.C. police force, is the fourth cop to die by his own hand after responding to the Jan. 6 insurrection by Trump supporters at the U.S. Capitol. What we do know, having heard ...Read more
We were almost there.
That’s the most frustrating thing about the most recent announcement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that even those who are fully vaccinated against the disease should return to wearing masks indoors in cities that are COVID-19 hot spots. It was only two months ago the CDC said we could put our ...Read more
It’s not that we forget.
But sooner or later, news becomes history, and the awful thing that happened loses its power to shock. You remember the emotions you felt, but you don’t re-experience them — not to any degree of sharpness or immediacy.
One day, that will happen to the events of Jan. 6. One day, as was the case with Dec. 7 and Nov...Read more
She is 8 years old.
That’s ... what? About third grade? Too young for boyfriends. Too young for R-rated movies. Too young for algebra or a learner’s permit.
But she has already experienced her second shooting.
It happened a little over a week ago in Washington, D.C., outside of Nationals Park where a ballgame was in progress. But you may ...Read more
Memo to Sen. Kyrsten Sinema:
Your friend would not be pleased with you.
Meaning John Lewis, the Georgia congressman and civil rights titan who died last year of pancreatic cancer. You marked the anniversary of his passing over the weekend with a spectacularly hypocritical tweet, calling him "a personal hero of mine — a man of principle and ...Read more
We live in ignorant times.
By now, surely this is obvious beyond argument to anyone who’s been paying attention. From the Capitol insurrectionist who thought he was storming the White House to Sen. Tim Scott’s claim that “woke supremacy is as bad as white supremacy” to whatever thing Tucker Carlson last said, ignorance is ascendant.
It was, let us say, an interesting weekend for democracy.
Call it a tale of two cities. One is Dallas, where thousands of so-called “conservatives” -- the word has less meaning by the day -- gathered in support of Donald Trump and his ongoing efforts to delegitimize a free and fair election that he lost. The other is Havana where thousands...Read more
Here you go:
I have forgotten more about race than most people have ever known.
Apologies if that sounds like braggadocio, but there’s a point that needs making. I’ve spent the better part of 40 years researching and writing about the history and dynamics of race in America — and 63 years living them. I know this terrain well.
Yet until...Read more