Issue 4: Aug 26-Sept 1, 2017

THE WEEK IN TRUMP

Hurricane Harvey: The epic storm spawned criticism of things ranging from Trump’s failure to do president-with-storm-victims photo ops to his misspelled wish for post-hurricane ‘heeling’ to Melania’s high heels. (“The first lady offered up a fashion moment instead of an expression of empathy,” Robin Givhan wrote in the Washington Post after the Trumps flew to Texas.) More substantively, some raised the question of whether global warming, which Trump once dismissed as a concept “created by and for the Chinese,” is causing inordinately powerful storms—a question that may grow in prominence as a second big storm, Hurricane Irma, approaches the US mainland.

Arpaio Pardoned: Trump drew broad criticism by pardoning former Sheriff Joe Arpaio, infamous for his brutal treatment of illegal immigrants and other detainees. Arpaio had cost Arizona taxpayers nearly $70 million in legal settlements.

Tillerson Doesn’t Toe Line: The secretary of state’s remark that when it comes to values “the president speaks for himself” was widely taken as disavowal of Trump’s reaction to Charlottesville. Coming days after top economic advisor Gary Cohn bemoaned the administration’s failure to adequately condemn right-wing extremists, Tillerson’s remarks fueled commentary about administration officials in revolt (though Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is in noncompliance with this narrative).

Anti-Antifa: The militant anti-fascist group antifa drew criticism from some prominent Democrats and observers on the left after violence at a right-wing protest generated such sub-optimal headlines as (in the Washington Post): “Black-clad antifa members attack peaceful right-wing demonstrators in Berkeley”.

America’s Just Not That Into You: On Friday Trump’s Gallup approval/disapproval rating was 34/61 percent—the worst net negative rating of his presidency.

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QUOTED WITH APPROVAL

If the ask is, ‘Let’s understand what drives the farthest reaches of the right wing’… I don’t think that means agreeing with any or all of their positions. I don’t think that means even necessarily empathizing with their positions. I think understanding and just sort of factually knowing their positions is a first step. So let’s imagine that the alt right is the worst, most vile political force that has ever existed in this country. Let’s just stipulate that for the sake of argument. Let’s say they’re as bad as ISIS. The way we deal with ISIS, journalistically and culturally and academically, is to try to understand them without empathizing or excusing. We don’t read Rukmini Callimachi’s amazing reporting in the New York Times and say, ‘Oh, she must be an ISIS sympathizer because she’s attempting to understand these people’ or ‘She must have some sympathy with their views.’ I think we read it accurately as her trying to offer a deep, nuanced, accurate picture of their thinking and why they do what they do… I can feel people already cringing at even the notion that we’re going to such great lengths to try to understand what’s in the head of, you know, some Gamergate apologist. Like, ‘Who cares, they’re assholes, who cares what they think?’ I know that attitude exists in the world. But I think there’s a lot of space between ‘I condemn these people and I think they’re assholes’ and ‘Who cares what they think?’ I think the ‘Who cares what they think?’ part is a lot more dangerous than we often realize. 
—Andrew Marantz, contributing editor at the New Yorker, speaking to Virginia Heffernan in an episode of Slate’s Trumpcast podcast that shed light on what drives the alt right.

BACKGROUND

‘Antifa violence in Berkeley spurs soul-searching within leftist activist community’ is the headline on a Los Angeles Times piece that taps the expertise of experienced radicals from the 1960s and 1970s, such as Todd Gitlin, co-founder of the SDS.

How to Distinguish Between Antifa, White Supremacists, and Black Lives Matter: an Atlantic piece by Conor Friedersdorf compares the threats posed by left-wing and right-wing violence.

Conservative groups shrug off link between tropical storm Harvey and climate change The Guardian
 

DEEP BACKGROUND

Mark Lilla, whose new book argues that liberals’ reliance on identity politics helped fuel the rise of Trump, was cross-examined by Isaac Chotiner on Chotiner’s I Have to Askpodcast.
 

DEEP, DEEP BACKGROUND

piece on the website Stat looks at White nationalists who take DNA tests to establish their racial purity—and sometimes have to assimilate unwelcome news. (“This is called statistical noise” said one in response to the finding that he was “14 percent Sub-Saharan African”.)

By Aryeh Cohen-Wade and Robert Wright with contributions from Colleen Smith and Nikita Petrov