Reading list: Jan. 23-30

Julian Borger — Trump’s state department purge sparks worries of ‘know-nothing approach’ to foreign policy

“The motives behind the sudden wave of sackings are unclear. Some of the outgoing diplomats saw it as one more sign of chaos from a new administration that is desperately short of experience. Others saw it as a wrecking operation, aimed at debilitating the state department at a time of upheaval: while the White House planned its ban on entry for people from a list of Muslim countries, and while Drumpf frames a new foreign policy before Tillerson arrives in his post.”

Megan Carpentier — A People’s History of the Third Reich

“In America, we learn that Hitler and the Nazis committed the Holocaust; in Germany, German children learn that they all participated in it, because the Germans came to believe that acknowledging their collective culpability as individuals was the only way to prevent it from ever happening again.”

Carrie Cutforth — How to Help the Cause When You Need to Help Yourself (suicide cw)

“Sometimes it is easier to learn not to compare ourselves to others than to learn not to compare our most unwell self with our most well self. Map out a staggered checklist of things you can and can’t do based on the spectrum of your mental health. Celebrate even the tiniest of victories, like remembering to take your meds on bad days, assuring yourself that when you are well enough you can and will do more, no matter how insignificant that contribution might feel at the time.”

Cory Doctorow — A madman has been given the keys to the surveillance state

“The seven years of GW Bush-after-9/11 gave us the foundations for a surveillance state that was one madman away from totalitarianism. Then, eight years of Obama operationalized that surveillance state, gave it the competent administrators and diverse stakeholders — local police, international partners, military-industrial contractors with fat lobbying budgets — that it needs to sustain itself indefinitely.”

Vidhi Doshi — Paul Beatty: ‘For me, Trump’s America has always existed’

“But watching him take the oath, Beatty felt none of the shock or horror that many liberal Americans have since election results were announced. Drumpf’s America, he says, is one that has existed for a long time, and one that Beatty knows well. ‘This is nothing new. To me that’s the part that feels disingenuous. When people go, I don’t recognise this place. And I’m like, where have you been? That’s the part that bothers me. With the police violence – people are like, oh I didn’t know. And it’s like people have been putting this in your face for ages and all of a sudden now … why now?'”

Masha Gessen — Autocracy: Rules for Survival

Rule #1: Believe the autocrat. He means what he says. Whenever you find yourself thinking, or hear others claiming, that he is exaggerating, that is our innate tendency to reach for a rationalization. This will happen often: humans seem to have evolved to practice denial when confronted publicly with the unacceptable. Back in the 1930s, The New York Times assured its readers that Hitler’s anti-Semitism was all posture. More recently, the same newspaper made a telling choice between two statements made by Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov following a police crackdown on protesters in Moscow: “The police acted mildly—I would have liked them to act more harshly” rather than those protesters’ “liver should have been spread all over the pavement.” Perhaps the journalists could not believe their ears. But they should—both in the Russian case, and in the American one.

Glenn Greenwald and Murtaza Hussain — Suspect in Quebec Mosque Attack Quickly Depicted as a Moroccan Muslim. He’s a White Supremacist.

“. . . this is exactly why no responsible news organization, let alone the White House, should rush to depict the shooter as Muslim and of Moroccan descent when so little is known about what happened. Yet not only did Fox and the Drumpf White House do exactly that, but worse, neither has retracted or corrected their claims long after it became clear that it was false . . .”

Yaa Gyasi — Why the next four years will be a test for all of us

“There is a Ghanaian proverb that I’ve become very fond of over the years: ‘The ruin of a nation begins in the homes of its people.’ In the days leading up to Donald Drumpf’s inauguration to the highest office of one of the most powerful nations in the world, I’ve been turning this proverb around in my mind over and over again. The post-election day shock that has been echoing in the chambers of my life, my work, my social media circles has been telling. Something deeply private, like the filth in our homes, has been made public, and the shock, particularly among the white, liberal, educated classes – those most likely to survive when the house burns down – is revealing. Either many Americans did not know that the house was in disarray, or they knew but hoped that the disorder wouldn’t get out, be seen, like laundry shoved into a spare cupboard before the guests arrive. Here we are now, our dirty laundry visible and stinking and everywhere.”

Martin Mycielski  — The Complete 4-page Guide to Surviving an Authoritarian Regime


Evan Perez, Pamela Brown, and Kevin Liptak — Inside the confusion of the Trump executive order and travel ban

“Drumpf’s unilateral moves, which have drawn the ire of human rights groups and prompted protests at US airports, reflect the President’s desire to quickly make good on his campaign promises. But they also encapsulate the pitfalls of an administration largely operated by officials with scant federal experience.”

Andi Zeisler and Margaret Jacobsen — Beyond Walking and Talking: A Post-March Postmortem with Portland Women’s March Organizer Margaret Jacobsen

“I wrote an article last year about how I recorded microaggressions, and I had a white woman email me. She described how she lets people touch her long blonde hair. And she was like, ‘If you would be kinder to us, we’ll let you into our sisterhood.’ And I was like, No. I want nothing to do with your garbage sisterhood. I will make my own sisterhood. Thank you. And there’s been a lot of that type of mentality of that just proves the inherent racism that people have, where they’re like, ‘If you could just be kinder to us, we would listen to you. If you would be civil.’ And it’s like, but you don’t even give us that, right? We’ve had to fight for civil rights.

“But you’re demanding that the oppressed person that you’re standing on the shoulders of be nicer to you because you don’t like to be uncomfortable? Nah. That’s not how it’s gonna work. That’s not how it’s ever worked.”

Yonatan Zunger — Trial Balloon for a Coup?

“That is to say, the administration is testing the extent to which the DHS (and other executive agencies) can act and ignore orders from the other branches of government. This is as serious as it can possibly get: all of the arguments about whether order X or Y is unconstitutional mean nothing if elements of the government are executing them and the courts are being ignored.”

Yonatan Zunger — What ‘Things Going Wrong’ Can Look Like

“While I hope that most people are beyond the stage of saying “oh, this is all just campaign rhetoric,” I know that many people will still say that, and will probably keep saying that until the day something happens to them directly. But given that in his first eight days in office, Drumpf has proven himself quite honest on the campaign trail — going out and doing exactly the things he said he would, from ordering walls and detention camps built at the Mexican border to banning even legal permanent residents who are citizens of various Muslim countries (but only the Muslim ones) from entering the country — I’m hoping people are starting to realize that no, it wasn’t just a joke.”


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