Today’s column is presented as a public service. It is for serious politicians both Democratic and Republican — and also for Donald Trump. The urgent need for this service has been painfully obvious for many years and never more so than today. So, let’s get right to it.
His name doesn’t even appear in the book. But make no mistake. “Hillbilly Elegy,” the new bestseller by J.D. Vance, is, in a very real sense, about Donald Trump. More to the point, it’s about the people who have made his unlikely run for the presidency possible.
He was no Trayvon Martin or Tamir Rice, no unarmed innocent gunned down. No, Milwaukee police say Smith was an armed 23-year old with a lengthy arrest record — drugs, weapons, robbery — who bolted from a traffic stop Saturday afternoon. They say he ran a short distance, then wheeled around, gun in hand, refusing orders to drop it. Whereupon the police officer shot and killed him.
The Khan’s son, Humayun, was killed in Iraq in 2004, running toward a suicide bomber to save his men. Yet, as his father noted, if it were up to Trump, he of the hateful rhetoric, the Mexican wall and the Muslim ban, Humayun would never even have been in this country.
Last week’s Republican conclave in Cleveland came across less as a nominating convention than as a four-day nervous breakdown, a moment of fracture and bipolarity from a party that no longer has any clear idea what it stands for or what it is.
Montrell Jackson was the only one of the eight cops killed in Baton Rouge with the maddening and paradoxical distinction of being an African-American man killed in protest of police violence against African-American people.
Another tragedy overarches the killings of police and black men last week: America’s ongoing struggle to reconcile itself along lines of race. We are still fighting over what being black means — and should mean — in a nation that ostensibly holds equality as a foundational belief.
As these words are written, I am on a cruise ship pulling into the harbor of the Greek island of Crete. All around me, the morning sparkles. The water is placid, the sky is clear and pale blue, our ship is embraced by gently sloping hills dotted with houses and shops. And I just turned on the television.
The assassination of Donald Trump on Saturday would have been a new low for a political season that is already the most dispiriting in memory. It would have deprived a family of its father and husband. And it would have imparted the moral authority of martyrdom to Trump’s ideas.
Once again, a clownish demagogue bestrides the political landscape, demonizing vulnerable peoples, bullying opponents, encouraging violence, offering simplistic, strongman solutions to difficult and complex problems, and men and women who bear more moral authority on this subject than I ever could see something chilling and familiar in him.
The Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network says that one woman in every six has been the victim of an attempted or completed sexual assault. It’s an awesome, awful number. Think about it in terms of women you know. Think about Bonnie, Kadijah, Heather, Consuela, Sarah and Kim. One, two, three, four, five …
In 1933, a vengeful Franz von Papen struck an alliance with Adolf Hitler, and maneuvered to have him appointed chancellor. Von Papen didn’t think much of his partner. Like most political observers, he considered Hitler a noisy buffoon. Von Papen was certain he could control him once in power.
Dear Snoop Dogg — You could have been honest about it. If you had, I’d still think you wrong as two left shoes, but at least I could give you points for guts. As it is, I can only shake my head in appalled wonder at your entirely gutless Instagram attack on the remake of “Roots” that aired last week on the A&E Networks.
You wrote: “I have no problem with trans people of whatever biology or stage of transition in bathroom stalls, but what about locker rooms, where nudity is normal?” And Roz, the response from many readers can be summed up as follows: Relax. You have nothing to worry about.
So it was on a Sunday night, the 23rd of January, in 1977. Your black friends simmered like a pot left too long on the stove. Your white friends tiptoed past you like an unexploded bomb. We had all watched the first episode of “Roots.” Now we no longer knew how to talk to one another.
Donald Trump is the avatar of the post-factual era. Asked by The New York Times to name the most dangerous place in the world he’s ever visited, Trump replied that “there are places in America that are among the most dangerous in the world. You go to places like Oakland. Or Ferguson. The crime numbers are worse. Seriously.” You wonder whether it’s worth correcting him.
And someone will say, yes, but isn’t there a lively trade in all sorts of murder memorabilia? One website alone offers a signed postcard from Charles Manson, a letter from Jeffrey Dahmer, pictures of Ted Bundy. So how is this different? Funny thing, though: All those men went to prison for what they did.
Last week, when it was announced Barack Obama will become the first sitting U.S. president to visit Hiroshima, everyone from Salon to the National Review raised two important questions: Will the president apologize for what America did 71 years ago this August? Should he? The White House says the answer to the first question is No. For whatever it’s worth, the answer to the second is, too.
That question has gone conspicuously unasked as we enumerate the possible outcomes of November’s election. The potential impact on the nation’s economy, its foreign policy and its standing in the world have all been duly analyzed. But there has been little, if any, discussion of the potential for violence.
What first seemed a joke, then an unsettling possibility and then a troubling likelihood, became a grim certainty last week as Donald Trump, real estate developer turned reality show ringmaster turned would-be president, won an emphatic victory in Indiana’s Republican primary — leaving Trump the de facto nominee of what used to be called, with some pride, the Party of Lincoln.
The extreme left now mirrors the extreme right, each reflecting the anger and unbending rigidity of the other. And the idea that politics is the art of compromise, where everybody gets something but nobody gets everything, seems a lost artifact from a distant age.
Last week, Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat, issued an executive order restoring voting rights to more than 200,000 ex-offenders. The sweeping order applies to those who have completed their sentences and any probation or parole.
As you no doubt know, the water crisis in Flint, Mich., returned to the headlines last week with news that the state attorney general is charging three government officials for their alleged roles in the debacle. It makes this a convenient moment to deal with something that has irked me about the way this disaster is framed.