Category Archives: Current Events

Who Doesn’t Love a Wall?

By Ivy Schweitzer

If a single symbol for the Trump presidency can stand the test of popular imagination, his proposed wall for the U.S. border with Mexico might be the strongest contender. It can look however you want to picture it because it will never get built. Last month, Trump suggested the fantasy wall be decked out with solar panels to earn a little money.   Continue reading

At a Crossroads: The La Jolla Crossroads Shooting

By Lisa Brackmann

On Sunday, April 30, a white man said to be despondent over his financial situation and a recent breakup with his girlfriend opened fire on a birthday pool party in a San Diego apartment complex. 49-year-old Peter Selis had sat in a lounge chair by the pool until the host of the party came over to invite him to have a drink and something to eat. He responded by shooting the host, the man whose birthday was being celebrated, twice. He then called his ex-girlfriend and made her listen to what he did next: continue to shoot, while sitting in the lounge chair, “his beer in one hand and his gun in the other,” according to one witness. Continue reading

Legacy of Racism: The Tree and Land as Symbols of Love and Hate

By Vanessa Fabien

At the Association for the Study of African American Life and History Conference a few years ago, I spoke with Michelle Duster, Ida B. Wells-Barnett’s great-granddaughter.

“What were Ida B. Wells’s thoughts on the environment?”

Duster replied: “She was too busy protecting people from getting lynched to think about the environment.” Continue reading

All Hail Daddy! Or, How Obedience Trumps Masculinity in the GOP

By Ani Kokobobo

Former FBI Director Jim Comey must have felt pretty good watching Attorney General Jeff Sessions testify to the Senate Intelligence Committee. Holding on to one’s integrity looked far better than renouncing it. If the Comey testimony broke television — even turning the middle-aged former FBI director into an unlikely and tepid, middle-aged sex symbol for an America so starved for public decency that it almost finds it attractive — then Jeff Sessions’ invited nothing but derision and distaste with his muted, self-pitying, and Trump-cowering performance. Sessions was obviously happy playing second violin to the key protagonist, The Don himself, and provided little in the way of testimony or entertainment, while Comey was a protagonist in his own right. GOP loyalists sought to discredit Comey, calling into question his masculinity, but did not seem to hold Sessions to the same standards. These contrasting responses call to mind how fluid and relative masculinity has become during Trump’s presidency. Continue reading

Don’t Panic: Coping with the Internet Age Through Ignorance

By Kevin Litman-Navarro

The last time the United States was the world’s premiere manufacturing power, American citizens lived under the specter of an atomic assault. From their perch atop a nascent post-war order, the global superpower enjoyed unprecedented levels of production — it was the 1950s, and business was a-boomin’. Foreign relations, on the other hand, were rather precarious. Continue reading

Don’t Expect Liberalism to Come to the Defense of Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor

By John W. W. Zeiser

If you haven’t read From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, you should. It has already found its place as essential reading on the intersection of race and class in recent US history. Sadly, Taylor has been in the news this last week for far more unsettling reasons, ones that should cause you (as they do me) grave concern — both for her personally, and regarding the liberal conception of absolute free speech. Continue reading

Living and Dying with Trump’s Sovereignty; Or, On Withdrawal from Climate Change

By Brian Connolly

In “explaining” his decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement, Donald Trump mentioned sovereignty several times. Indeed, along with the economy, it was the central justification for pulling out. “Our withdrawal from the agreement,” Trump said, “represents a reassertion of America’s sovereignty.” And then, later in the address: “exiting the agreement protects the United States from future intrusions on the United States’ sovereignty and massive future legal liability.” As others have noted, the specter of legal liability is difficult to parse, in large part because it is nothing but spectral, never to be realized — there is no legal liability. Continue reading

Joy Trumps Fear?: How Photographs Perpetuate Feelings in Political Dissent

By Marta Zarzycka   

A recent Saturday morning in Austin started with coffee and breakfast tacos with friends, followed by a walk downtown to join more friends at the March for Science. Many of us, including my four-year-old daughter, were carrying signs with witty slogans. Others were pushing strollers, and some had prepared by reading things like the online Activist Mama’s Guide to Taking Kids to a March. Singing, chanting, pointing to people dressed in white lab coats and Star Trek costumes, or carrying large periodic tables, chatting with strangers similarly equipped with babies, strollers, and signs — the mood was joyful, even if the issues the march addressed, such as climate change or infectious disease research, could not have been more weighty. Anger at the Trump administration, while hardly absent, did not set the tone. Instead, we celebrated the righteousness of our positions and our feeling of strength in numbers. It was 70 degrees and sunny: even the weather was on our side. Continue reading