He cannot heal us

As entire groups of his former supporters abandon him in waves – business leaders who have pushed for both economic and environmental deregulation, military commanders, a growing number of Republicans in Congress – Donald Trump hunkers down and lashes out. He shows no interest in bringing us together, in healing our wounds. He seems a […]

It’s (Long Past) Time to Take it Down

Like many who came of age in the 1950s and 1960s, I grew up admiring Robert E. Lee. In an era when our history books stressed a consensus view of America’s past, Lee was seen as a noble figure: a respected leader, a skillful tactician, and an honorable man. President Lincoln offered him a major […]

Diversity is not our Weakness

To combat a vision as malevolent as that currently hovering over America, it’s not enough to counter it with a series of bland policy bullet points aimed at attracting disparate groups of people by offering each something that won’t drive the others away – the way the Democrats keep trying to expand their coalition by […]

Resisting the erosion of democracy

On July 26, “The Legacy of Lynching: Confronting Racial Terror in America,” a joint exhibit of the Brooklyn Museum and the Equal Justice Initiative, opened at the museum. Two days later, not far away on Long Island, President Trump gave a speech to law enforcement officers in which, to “significant applause,” he gave a nod […]

The Reign of the Locusts

Some things you just can’t get out of your head. In yesterday’s Writer’s Almanac, Garrison Keillor discussed the “largest recorded swarm of locusts” in American history, which took place on July 20, 1875. Locusts have been a plague at least since the time of Moses whose god set them on Egypt where “they covered all […]

Thank Heaven for Women

Some years ago when my daughter Gayley was in preschool, her friend Niles would assume the characters of his favorite Saturday morning cartoon villains and terrorize his classmates, for whom the distinction between reality and television cartoons was not yet fully developed. Since we didn’t have a television back then, Gayley had no idea what […]

The Line of Dissent

Yesterday a friend sent me an essay, called “Mourning,” about Liu Xiaobo, the writer, scholar, and dissident. Minutes later the news came that Liu had died of liver cancer in the Chinese jail where he had been imprisoned since 2008. I had barely heard of Liu, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2012 and […]

Creation Stories (Part 2): America

One of the problems raised by the Trump creation story I wrote about last time is that America already has a creation story of its own. It begins in Boston Harbor in 1630, when John Winthrop counseled his parishioners to build “a city upon a hill.” His was an exclusive vision, his community included only […]

Creation Stories (Part 1)

“Creation myths tell us how things began,” writes David Leeming in Creation Myths of the World. “All cultures have creation myths, [which] explain in metaphorical terms our sense of who we are in the context of the world, and in so doing they reveal our real priorities, as well as our real prejudices. Our images […]