Outside Reading — See Who They Are edition

‘Stop the Steal’ Didn’t Start With Trump by Jamelle Bouie

As Jamelle Bouie forcefully, smartly argues in this editorial, published by The New York Times, there’s nothing new about the Republican rhetoric that led directly to lawless storming of the U.S. Capitol. The party that touts itself as grand and old has been trafficking in reckless, opportunistic lies about election integrity for decades, all in an effort to delegitimize the voices of anyone who doesn’t zealously sign on to their agenda. They are collectively responsible with fomenting this corrosive distrust in the most fundamental U.S. institutions, and then they pledged their allegiance to a ruthless, amoral dolt who was all too happy to exploit the fiction to soothe his fragile ego, no matter who got hurt because of it.

The dangerous magical thinking of ‘this is not who we are’ by Soraya Nadia McDonald

Repeated like a mantra by political leaders desperate for the delusion of revived national unity, “This is not who we are” is an increasingly dubious statement. Writing for The Undefeated, Soraya Nadia McDonald goes right at the contradiction of that statement, especially during a fraught era where it comes back into the discourse every couple weeks like it’s perched solidly on the edge of a careening merry-go-round. It is time — well past the time, really — to reckon with the portions of the national character mired in hate and destruction, because that is the only way we can progress to something better, a version of the country where the oft-repeated statement in actually true.


Discovering a Haven in Sliders and Curveballs by Mike Wilson

In a rare story from the front page of The New York Times that inspires warm, happy feelings, Mike Wilson reports on a Texas man whose wife put out a call on the Nextdoor app, seeking others who might be up for a game of catch. It turns out there were a lot of neighbors who were excited to grab their mitts and head to the park.

American Contagions: Epidemics and the Law from Smallpox to COVID-19 (2020) by John Fabian Witt

Adapting one of his college lectures, John Fabian Witt considers the long history of public health measures in the U.S., including the ways the politics of any given moment have strengthened or damaged the general well-being of the citizenry. As the academic origins imply, the book can be fairly dry, but the scholarship is exemplary and the history utterly fascinating. Among other things, the book offers the reminder that health crises can be met with competent governmental leadership and problem-solving skills that address both the rampaging ailment and underlying problems in the social structure that, left unaddressed, leave people more vulnerable to needless suffering. Whodathunk it?

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