SEX AND SOLIDARITY HOW TO INTERVIEW A NAZI SARAH LEONARD Our Revolution is gearing up for the long haul in the Lone Star State. J O H N DECEMBER 18/25, 2017 THENATION.COM N I C H O L S GARY YOUNGE 2 The Nation. e What Killed thty? Democratic Par New from University of Toronto Press c A new report offer s a brac of the 2016 election— ing autopsy out a plan for revit and lays alization. WILLIA M GREID ER NEW! Read your subscriptio n on an iPad NOVEMBER 20/27, Can You Do the Con-Con? Growing a Sustainable City? The Question of Urban Agriculture by Christina D. Rosan and Hamil Pearsall Growing a Sustainable City? analyzes the development of urban agriculture policies and their role in making post-industrial cities more sustainable. Christina Rosan and Hamil Pearsall tell the story of change and growing pains as a city attempts to reinvent itself and reveal how growing food in the city has become a symbol of urban economic revitalization, sustainability, and gentrification. utorontopress.com Richard Kreitner’s call for a new constitutional convention [“Conventional Wisdom,” Nov. 20/27] is not only a great idea for today, but also one that’s long overdue. Unfortunately, for decades, most Americans have revered the US Constitution as if it were a sacred religious text. We even force our government officials to swear an oath in public to uphold it; in some instances, they must place their hands on a Bible as they do so. The Constitution is not only obsolete today; it has been so for decades. The oligarchy that adopted it in 1789 evolved into a plutocracy during the Gilded Age of the robber barons. That plutocracy is stronger than ever in today’s neo–Gilded Age, in which billionaires buy public offices and politicians secure their power through legislative gerrymandering. As the world’s oldest document guaranteeing elected representative government, the US Constitution has failed to adapt to the needs of this country’s growing, diverse, and dynamic population. Its tattered language has much in common with the Bible—it’s archaic and vague. Its obsolescence is most obvious in the Second Amendment. Now 226 years old, the arms amendment (minus its first clause) is considered by many to be the Constitution’s most sacred sentence of all. A new constitutional convention should do far more than amend the existing Constitution. It should start from scratch, and perhaps look beyond our borders to successful representative governments elsewhere for new ideas. Although the Constitution contains no mention of political parties, whatever might replace it should encourage multiple parties that embrace separate but humane principles. Any system is broken that allows a minority of voters to elect a 2017 THENATION.C OM or iPhone FREE! Visit TheNation. com/app wealthy, psychopathic narcissist to its highest executive office. Any new system would be better than the current entrenched duopoly that has long served the wealthy before all others. Ken LeSure east stroudsburg, pa. Richard Kreitner’s “Conventional Wisdom” convinced me that we need to invoke Article V of the Constitution and have a new constitutional convention. Earlier this year, I listened to an NPR debate on the topic and was not convinced either way. Kreitner clinched it for me with the argument that the antidemocratic features of our existing Constitution are the reason for our government’s inability to get anything done. What I’d like to know is how we can spur this idea along. A starting point might be to forward the article. Lois C. Braun st. paul, minn. In general, I applaud Kreitner’s call for an Article V constitutional convention. And yes, without the Electoral College, 2016 would have worked out better for Hillary Clinton and for all of us. But would direct popular election of the president really be such an improvement? Adlai Stevenson’s comment would still be true: “In America, anybody can be president. That’s one of the risks you take.” In a parliamentary system, there is much less risk of a demagogue with no competence in governmental administration reaching the pinnacle of power. Let’s consider that if we intend to revise the Constitution. Victor Urbanowicz st. paul, minn. RIP, Democratic Party Re William Greider’s “What Killed the Democratic Party?” in The Naletters@thenation.com (continued on page 26) The Nation. since 1865 UPFRONT 4 By the Numbers: Marine Life in the Plasticene; 6 Poetry: Alissa Quart; 10 USPS: Amazonian Problems 3 Fighting for Net Neutrality John Nichols Fighting for Net Neutrality T he future of the Internet will be at stake on December 14, when Ajit Pai, the former Verizon attorney chosen by President Trump to chair the Federal Communications Commission, will force a vote on ending net neutrality. But that’s just the start of it. Because our lives are now so digital, the fight over net neutrality is really a fight over the whole of our future. other cities. They’ll target the offices of corporaIf Pai and the Trump-aligned majority on the tions that have opposed net neutrality—including FCC eliminate what has come to be known as Verizon, Pai’s former employer, whose interests “the First Amendment of the Internet,” it will give he continues to serve. They’ll target the offices of telecommunications conglomerates a blank check members of Congress. They’ll march on the FCC. to create “fast lanes” for paid content from cor“This is the free speech fight of our generaporations and billionaire-funded politicians, while tion, and Internet users are pissed off and paying relegating the essential information-sharing of civil attention,” says Evan Greer, campaign director for society to “slow lanes” on the periphery of the the group Fight for the Future. “Ajit Pai may be information superhighway. owned by Verizon, but he has to answer Pai is proposing much more than a to Congress, and lawmakers have to anCOMMENT regulatory shift; this would be a sociswer to us, their constituents. The corrupt etal change. If the FCC allows profiteerbureaucrats trying to kill net neutrality ing and inequality to define the Internet, [were] hoping to avoid public backlash by it will affect personal communications, burying the news over the [Thanksgiveducation, commerce, economic arrangeing] Holiday weekend. We’re taking our ments, electioneering, and democracy itprotest from the Internet to the streets to self. And the changes will be for the worse. make sure that doesn’t happen.” How much worse? “There can be no Activist groups will make it easy for truly open Internet without net neutralcitizens to communicate their support ity,” explains former FCC commissioner Michael for net neutrality, which past debates over the issue Copps. “The FCC under Pai is handing over the have confirmed is overwhelming. It is frustrating to Internet to a few humongous gatekeepers who see have to fight this battle again; even some of the most the rest of us as products to be delivered to adver- passionate supporters of a free and open Internet will tisers, not as citizens needing communications that wonder if they can win this time, given Pai’s deterserve democracy’s needs. By empowering ISPs to mination and the GOP’s control of Washington. In create fast lanes for the few and squelch alternative fact, they can. When coalitions of urban and rural, points of view, the Trump FCC fecklessly casts liberal and conservative, have demanded media that aside years of popular consensus that the public serve democracy, the FCC has done the right thing: needs net neutrality.” That’s how we won net-neutrality protections in the As the FCC’s vote approaches, Americans need first place. And when the FCC hasn’t done the right to communicate that understanding to the com- thing, legal challenges have succeeded—because missioners, to members of Congress, and to all of judges have refused to allow federal agencies that are our fellow citizens who will be voting in 2018. Free supposed to serve the public to neglect public input. Press, Common Cause, Color of Change, Demand Of the scheming to end net neutrality, former Progress, and other media and democracy groups FCC commissioner Copps says: “This naked corhave been organizing for years on behalf of net poratism is Washington at its worst.” Americans neutrality. They are ready for this fight, with plans can and must upend Ajit Pai’s plan with activism at JOHN NICHOLS for street protests in Boston, Denver, Phoenix, and its best. 4 Sex and Solidarity Sarah Leonard 5 The Score Bryce Covert COLUMNS 6 Subject to Debate Addicted While Pregnant Katha Pollitt 10 Beneath the Radar How to Interview a Nazi Gary Younge 11 Deadline Poet Personnel Changes Calvin Trillin Features 12 Building a Blue Texas John Nichols Our Revolution, a national group aiming to transform the Democratic Party, is setting its sights on the Lone Star State. 16 When Protesting Police Violence Puts You in the Crosshairs Collier Meyerson For African Americans, the trauma of racism is being compounded by the increasing militarization of our police forces. 22 Righting the Scales Rebecca Clarren One Native American tribal court is showing how restorative methods of justice can succeed where punitive measures have failed. Books & the Arts 27 The Lights in the Distance Ursula Lindsey 32 What Revolution? J. Hoberman 34 Out Here Struggling Bijan Stephen VOLUME 305, NUMBER 16, December 18/25, 2017 The digital version of this issue is available to all subscribers November 30 at TheNation.com. 4 The Nation. 400 Average number of plastic bags used each year by a person living in California before the state voted in 2016 to ban singleuse bags 8M Tons of plastic that enter the ocean each year; 60 to 80 percent of all marine litter is plastic 2050 Year when there will be more plastic than fish in the Earth’s oceans, if current trends continue 85% Amount by which plasticbag use has decreased in England after it required all stores to levy a 5-pence-perbag charge starting in 2015 —Glyn Peterson “Take a bow, California voters. It’s working.” San Jose’s Mercury News, on the one-year anniversary of California’s plastic-bag ban in the White House is hanging over this,” the activist and author Jaclyn Friedman told the Times. “People feel like they can’t do anything about that right now, but at least they can do something about this.” The New Yorker’s story Women need collective action to beat the creeps. about Weinstein, published almost simultaneously, focused onald Trump’s election represented the mainly on actresses who had since become successful and violation of many norms of a decent wealthy, and who were largely white and glamorous. The society—I’ll spare you the litany of out- #MeToo moment at first ignored the outsize role of black rages, which The Nation and others have women in creating both the legal (think Anita Hill) and reviewed exhaustively over the past year, the activist framework for dealing with sexual harassment: but his treatment of women certainly ranks high among Tarana Burke, a black organizer and youth-camp director, them. Before the election, some of us had fooled our- turned the phrase into a rallying cry years ago. But those selves into thinking that our humanity and worth was early 2017 marches laid the groundwork for a broader something we could take for granted. But Trump’s vic- critique of women’s oppression in the workplace. Soon, tory, enabled in part by 53 percent of the white women female farmworkers were expressing their solidarity with who went to the polls, told us: “Nope, you’ve got it actresses (and implicitly asking for theirs in return), and wrong—we see the pussy-grabbing, the beauty-pageant- new investigations had begun to expose harassment and leering, the creepy borderline daughter-groping, and the assault in the restaurant industry, in home care, and in multiple allegations of sexual assault, and we care not at other workplaces across the country. The Nation has always all.” Not only was Trump creepy, but he had casually said reported from the forefront of working-class movements, that women should be punished for getting abortions. It and in the year ahead, we plan to focus our sexual-assault felt like we had entered a new dark age. reporting on the abuses that plague those Then came the wave of feminist protests Twitter won’t doing low-wage and unglamorous work. that has carried us to our present moment We know that in these less glitzy indusbe enough to of resistance to sexual harassment and astries, naming and shaming will not be enough. get your boss sault. The day after Trump’s inauguration, the Where the bosses—and, more importantly, Women’s March would become one of the fired if you’re the workers—aren’t famous, Twitter is only largest demonstrations in American history. of limited use. Labor Notes has documented not famous. The politics of the march were amorphous the abuses in myriad working-class industries, and sometimes contentious. Its name was as well as some solutions. Hotel workers in changed early on from the “Million Women March,” after Chicago with Unite Here Local 1, for example, have activists noted the appropriation of the name of a huge pioneered a “Hands Off, Pants On” campaign to combat 1997 march by black women in Philadelphia. Nonethe- rampant sexual harassment and assault by hotel guests; less, the march drew together hundreds of thousands of their demands include access to panic buttons for anyone women from across the country, along with the men who working alone. Members of the worker organization supported them, to protest gender oppression. Restaurant Opportunities Centers United have mounted Many of these women returned home from the a campaign called “One Fair Wage” to eliminate the march and got involved in organizing for the first low minimum wage for tipped workers, which forces time in their lives. waitresses to overlook harassment from patrons and Less than two months later, on March 8, Ameri- managers in order to ensure that they’ll be paid decently. can women celebrated International Women’s Day The Coalition of Immokalee Workers in Florida has with a one-day strike in solidarity with women built language against sexual harassment and assault into across the world, notably the Ni Una Menos (“Not its hard-won contracts and has actually managed to get One Less”) movement against gender violence in Argen- abusive managers fired. These are struggles that we can tina and Poland’s massive grassroots movement against learn from, and they must be expanded. the elimination of abortion rights. In one Virginia school One way for them to grow: by channeling the largely district, so many teachers called in sick that the public unfocused female solidarity demonstrated at the marches schools shut down. These protests were smaller than the earlier this year into concrete collective action. If those Women’s March but more politically focused. Organizers who showed up at the Women’s March with signs like highlighted how the vast majority of women struggle to “Pussy Grabs Back” meant what they said, they should get by. As inequality has grown and the social safety net has now create more collective power by supporting or parshrunk, women have been forced to work longer hours for ticipating in unionization efforts, or by working to make stagnant or declining wages, while simultaneously taking labor organizations much more feminist than they curon a larger burden of care for their families. (Disclosure: I rently are. High-profile women should get behind the was involved in organizing the Women’s Strike.) Members campaigns of those less famous, to make #OneFairWage of the New York State Nurses Association were at the head the next phase of #MeToo. And journalists should dig of the march in the Big Apple, emphasizing the role of into the pervasive problem of sexual abuse, which working labor in protecting women’s well-being. women have fought for decades without acknowledgment. When The New York Times exposed Harvey Weinstein’s The biggest blow we can strike against our predator in predations, it felt cathartic for women across the country. chief would be to turn the outrage he has engendered into SARAH LEONARD “There is no doubt that having an accused sexual predator a true mass movement for equality. Sex and Solidarity D COMMENT BY THE NUMBERS December 18/25, 2017 December 18/25, 2017 5 The Nation. T H E S C O R E / B RY C E C OV E R T + MIKE KO N C Z A L Deductive Reasoning he news, at first, seemed welcome: In their quest to reduce the myriad deductions that Americans can use to lower what they owe at tax time, House Republicans proposed capping the mortgage-interest deduction at $500,000 and getting rid of it entirely for second homes. The deduction has long been sacrosanct, surviving decades of reform attempts thanks to powerful lobbying groups. But given that the deduction helps those who need assistance the least, it’s ripe for change. Of the $190 billion that the government spent on housing in 2015, about 60 percent went to households earning more than $100,000. A household earning $200,000 or more received, on average, four times the amount of assistance as one making $20,000 or below. That’s mainly because the mortgage-interest deduction, which allows homeowners to write off some of their loan sistance actually gets it. Yet it would take just $22.5 billion a year to end homelessness by extending assistance to every needy and vulnerable family in the country. The deduction wouldn’t even have to be eliminated completely to offer meaningful help to low-income families. The Tax Foundation estimates that capping it so that it applies only to the first $500,000 of existing and future mortgages would raise $319 billion over a decade, mostly by taking away benefits from the richest fifth. Converting it to a credit, which would open up the benefit to lower-income families (who don’t typically itemize their deductions), would raise another $105 billion. So reforming the deduction would be a more-than-welcome change in tax policy. And, at first, it looked like Republicans had finally gotten on board with the idea. But they’re already botching it. When Senate Republicans unveiled their tax plan, the deduction was left as is. The same was true in President Trump’s own proposal, despite early indications that he would cap it. Perhaps Staunch opposition—in both parties— it’s not so shocking that to reforming the mortgage-interest many Republicans have now balked at touchdeduction may have finally cracked. ing the deduction; when the House unveiled its payments, overwhelmingly benefits the rich. own bill, the powerful National AssociaIt will cost us $68.1 billion this year, representtion of Home Builders quickly blasted it. ing one of the largest expenditures in our But even if Republicans were to stick to their tax code. But more than 72 percent of that guns and reform the deduction, they aren’t benefit is captured by the richest fifth of the proposing to use the recouped tax revenue to country, while the bottom two-fifths see less assist poor families. Instead, the savings would than 2 percent. And, of course, the deduction be used to keep down the overall cost of the offers no benefit at all to those who can’t afGOP’s tax plan, which is mostly a giveaway ford to buy a home and must rent instead. to those who are already wealthy. By 2027, Yet it’s the latter group that is in the most dire the wealthiest 0.1 percent of the country will need of assistance. Rents are rising faster than get a quarter of the benefits, which translates inflation, so incomes can’t keep up. Just about into an extra $278,370 in their pockets. Meanhalf of rental households spend more than 30 while, the poorest fifth gets just 0.3 percent, percent of their income on rent, above what’s or a mere $10 extra. Other analyses have considered affordable; about a quarter are found that many low- to moderate-income spending at least half of their income on rent. families would wind up with a tax increase. It wouldn’t cost a whole lot to change There’s a glimmer of hope to be found this picture. Only one out of every four lowin the fact that years of staunch opposiincome families who qualify for rental astion—in both parties—to reforming the T mortgage-interest deduction may have finally cracked. But while this regressive tax benefit desperately needs to be changed, it only makes sense if the federal assistance offered to rich families is funneled toward those struggling to make rent. Instead, many Republicans want to get rid of it to hand yet more money to the rich. That would utterly squander a chance at meaningful reform. BRYCE COVERT Who Deserves Housing Help? The mortgage-interest deduction mainly beneﬁts the rich... $68.1 billion The cost this year of the mortgage-interest deduction 72.6% 1.2% of the beneﬁts go to the richest one-ﬁfth of the beneﬁts go to the poorest two-ﬁfths ...while the people most in need of housing assistance don’t get it. Only 1 in 4 families who qualify for rental assistance actually receive it Money saved from reforming the mortgage-interest deduction could help millions of poor families get housing. $22.5 billion per year would be the cost of ending homelessness, according to the Center for American Progress Sources: Tax Policy Center; Center for American Progress; Center on Budget and Policy Priorities 2017 Infographic: Tracy Matsue Loeffelholz 6 December 18/25, 2017 The Nation. PER VERSE I n “The Harasser’s Apology,” Alissa Quart reconfigures the recent public statements of men who have sexually harassed, assaulted, or raped women (or, in one case, other men) into free-form poetry. I always felt I was pursuing shared feelings. I am suffering the same treatment A wake up call Wish I had reacted to their admiration of me conquer my demons I wielded that power I came of age when all the rules different script I was mistaken I’ve brought anguish and hardship to the people a good example to them as a man This story has encouraged me to address other things. I so respect all women. Wake up I believe tampering has occurred. I am sorry for the feelings he describes having carried I moved on her like a bitch. —Alissa Quart Katha Pollitt Addicted While Pregnant This is a public-health crisis, not a law-enforcement one. I t’s often noted that the victims of the opiate epidemic receive a degree of compassion not usually extended to drug users, but apparently that approach doesn’t extend to pregnant women. Consider the case of Kasey Dischman of Butler County, Pennsylvania. Dischman has been in prison since June, when she overdosed on heroin seven months into her pregnancy, delivered prematurely, and was charged with felony aggravated assault of an unborn child. Dischman went straight from the hospital to jail. Her bail was set at an astronomical $500,000. (Remember, bail is supposed to make sure you show up in court, not keep you locked up until trial because you’re poor.) Dischman was charged under a Pennsylvania law that makes harming a fetus a crime separate from causing injury to a pregnant woman—one of a wave of such laws passed in recent decades whose ostensible purpose is to protect pregnant women from violence. But the Pennsylvania law specifically exempts pregnant women, who cannot be charged with harming their fetuses. Dischman’s lawyer, assistant public defender Joseph Smith, filed a writ of habeas corpus and won. End of story? “Ordinarily, winning a habeas petition is a get-out-of-jail card,” Tara Murtha of the Women’s Law Project points out. But Kasey Dischman is still in prison. Laura Pitchford, assistant district attorney for Butler County, is appealing the ruling, and has added misdemeanor charges to keep Dischman in prison, even though the charges don’t justify anything like her current high bail. So if you thought that Pennsylvania’s law could not be used to police pregnant women’s behavior just because it explicitly exempts pregnant women, think again. Dischman may not be the world’s most sympathetic defendant: According to a local news report, her baby will suffer “lasting injuries” from the circumstances of her birth. But Dischman’s prosecution, while doubtless emotionally satisfying to many in rural, conservative Butler County, has major implications that should concern us all. In the first four months of 2017, Butler County had more deaths from overdoses than from all other causes combined. In Pennsylvania overall, the number of pregnant women hospitalized for substance abuse has more than doubled from 2000 to 2015; in 2015, 4,600 pregnant women were hospitalized because of a drug problem. According to a news report, the prosecutor seems to believe that punishing pregnant women like Dischman is necessary in light of the state’s opiate epidemic. (Pitchford did not return my several phone calls.) But if the prospect of prison—or losing custody of your kids or contracting HIV or dying—doesn’t consistently deter drug addicts in general, why would it work for pregnant ones? This is a public-health crisis, not a lawenforcement one. The last thing anyone should want to do is deter pregnant women from seeking medical care or drug treatment. But criminalizing their drug use will cause addicted women to stay away from the very people who can help them, lest they end up under arrest. That doesn’t help anyone. Dischman’s prosecution matters to abortion rights as well. If pregnant women who abuse drugs can be criminally charged for endangering a fetus, what about those who take drugs to terminate a pregnancy without a doctor’s supervision? Plenty of women buy abortion pills off the Internet, and as abortion clinics close and restrictions make access more cumbersome and expensive, that number is likely to grow. Seven states already have statutes criminalizing self-induced abortions, and another 18 have laws on the books that can be used to prosecute women who terminate their own pregnancies. When prosecutors go If the prospect after women who abuse of prison doesn’t drugs, they open the door to using the same deter drug addicts laws against women in general, why who self-manage their abortions. And abortion would it work for aside, there is no end to pregnant ones? the things a woman can do that could harm her fetus, from living with a batterer to smoking cigarettes to changing the kitty litter. A woman could be criminally charged for having a miscarriage, as has happened in countries where abortion is forbidden, or for delivering a baby with health problems. These are not arcane concerns. The group National Advocates for Pregnant Women has documented hundreds of cases in which women have been charged with crimes in connection with their pregnancy. Most of these are low-income women ILLUSTRATION: ANDY FRIEDMAN Ode on a Potted Plant Amazing price breakthrough! ADVANCED HEARING AID TECHNOLOGY Under $200 How can a hearing aid that costs less than $200 be every bit as good as one that sells for $2,250 or more? 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But at least one woman, Bei Bei Shuai of Indiana, was charged with a crime when her newborn died from the poison she had taken in a suicide attempt; another was charged with second-degree manslaughter after she caused a car crash that resulted in the premature birth and death of her child. In a letter to the Butler County district attorney’s office, NAPW rightly calls the arrest of pregnant women and new mothers “dangerous and counterproductive”: “As every leading medical organization to address this issue has concluded, including the American Medical Association, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American College of Nurse-Midwives, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the March of Dimes, issues related to alcohol and drug use during pregnancy are health issues best addressed through education and community-based treatment, not through the criminal justice system. “Drug dependency is a medical condition—not a crime. Pregnant women do not experience drug dependencies because they COMIX NATION December 18/25, 2017 want to harm their fetuses or because they don’t care about their children.” NAPW adds that “There is also a general lack of available substance use disorder treatment in Pennsylvania, especially in Butler County and especially for pregnant women.” (In fact, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs, there are no drug-treatment programs specifically for pregnant women or women with children in Butler County.) NAPW’s letter is co-signed by 10 experts and includes supporting statements from a long roster of professional associations concerned with maternal health, children’s health, and addiction. “We all get it, the facts in this case are horrible,” Joseph Smith, the assistant public defender, told me by phone. “It’s tragic all around— for the baby, for Kasey, and for her older child. Drug use during pregnancy should not happen. 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He thinks Hitler was “chill” about Slavs and gays, and considers the claim that 6 million Jews were slaughtered during World War II “overblown.” She’s “pretty lined up” politically with him. The political party he helped establish sells swastikas online. We know this because The New York Times told us. In an article running more than 2,000 words, the paper of record profiled Mr. Hovater, detailing the banalities of a young man that reporter Richard Fausset characterizes as the “polite and low-key” “Nazi sympathizer next door.” Interviewing Nazis is a tricky business, as I can attest from personal experience. In late July, just a few weeks before Charlottesville, I spoke with alt-right leader Richard Spencer at a white-supremacist conference for a documentary I was making for British television about white anxiety in the age of Trump. In the clip of our conversation—in which Spencer appears visibly shocked that I turned out to be a black man—he argued that African Americans benefited from slavery and white supremacy and insisted that I could not be both British and black. After about half an hour, I called time on the interview, pointing out that he was ignorant and had nothing to say. I was conflicted about whether I should have talked to him at all, but given his connections to Breitbart News and Steve Bannon and the racially divisive and explosive mood created by Trump, I felt, on balance, it made sense. That balance is important. Nazis should not be ignored. They are dangerous. We need to understand where they’re coming from, what motivates them, and what their strategies are. Ignoring bigotry doesn’t make it go away. The basic principles of journalism still apply: They should not be misrepresented, lampooned, or caricatured. But neither should they be indulged. We should not inflate their importance, ignore their brutality, or enable their self-aggrandizement. They are not regular politicians. Violence is central to their method; exclusion is central to their meaning. Instead, they should be confronted, challenged, and exposed. How we engage them—and why—is an issue of political morality. This is an imperative that sits uneasily with flaccid notions of journalistic objectivity, in which those views that make it through the filter are considered equal, regardless of their factual or moral integrity. “On the one hand, on the other hand” doesn’t work here: You can’t weigh genocide against relatively stable democracy as though any reasonable person might disagree on the outcome. In these moments—and with the rise of the far right across the Western world, there are many of them—the claim that journalists sit above society, as though in a hermetically sealed chamber, responsible only to their editors and “the story,” becomes increasingly thin. We have responsibilities, both professional and human, to resist the allure of spectacle. There is too much at stake. The Times article failed on most of these counts. Indeed, thanks to its obsession with the trivial details of the Hovaters’ daily lives, its effect was not to expose the obscenity of their views, but rather to underscore the normality of their The idea that existence. It offered this as a revelation, as Nazis go though Hannah Ar- shopping and endt had never covered Adolf Eichmann’s watch television trial. The idea that shouldn’t surprise Nazis go shopping, watch television, and us: They generally eat at chain restaurants live “next door” shouldn’t surprise us: They generally live to someone. “next door” to someone. Fascism, as the British poet Michael Rosen pointed out, doesn’t arrive in fancy dress. Fascists do not appear with horns and a trident, any more than the proud advocates of segregation 50 years ago were anything other than ordinary Americans. As Wednesday Addams explains in the Addams Family movie, as she heads off to a Halloween party in the same clothes she wears every day: “I’m a homicidal maniac. They look just like everyone else.” ILLUSTRATION: ANDY FRIEDMAN T o fulfill its orders quickly and cheaply, the online retail giant Amazon relies on hundreds of thousands of warehouse workers who sort and cart packages, often on very tight schedules. This holiday season, workers in Germany and Italy staged a strike on Black Friday, decrying dangerous conditions as well as Amazon’s refusal to give them bonus pay. But the company’s rapid growth has also put pressure on employees of the US Postal Service. Hoping to offset its declining revenue, the USPS agreed in 2013 to deliver Amazon’s packages (and only Amazon’s packages) on Sundays. Packages now account for 25 percent of USPS delivery revenue, up from around 10 percent in 2007. But because of the Postal Service’s outdated funding structure, high-volume shippers like Amazon can mail their packages for less than cost. According to one analysis, Amazon effectively receives a $1.46 subsidy on every item mailed. As a result, many workers in the Postal Service’s local depots have faced increased physical strain, especially around Christmas. And due to fiscal constraints, the USPS has not met these demands with additional staffing capacity or infrastructure. Amazon’s warehouse workers, meanwhile, have enriched the company without guarantees of fair pay or safe labor conditions. As cities around the United States attempt to lure Amazon’s new second headquarters with massive tax breaks, it’s worth asking the company’s underpaid, overworked laborers whether Amazon’s aggressive expansion is an unqualified good. —Jake Bittle December 18/25, 2017 December 18/25, 2017 This is essentially the same mistake that the British press makes every time it profiles a jihadi terrorist. The reporters marvel that the killer in question once supported Manchester United, ate fish-and-chips, drank in pubs, and had girlfriends. In short, having first set him up as an aberration beyond societal norms, they then salivate over how familiar a person who has made hate his mission can be. It is a function of white privilege that white terrorists get this treatment even as they freely voice their commitment to terror. If The New York Times ran a profile on Saturday of a Muslim associated with the kind of violence that Tony Hovater embraces (after Charlottesville, he wrote that he was proud of the comrades who’d joined him there: “We made history. Hail victory”), he’d be in prison by Sunday. I make no great claims for my interview with Spencer. Television is a different beast, both less nuanced and more powerful. But I don’t think, by the time that se- S N A P S H O T / M A N I S H S WA R U P Breathtaking AP On November 15, hundreds of students marched in New Delhi to protest the city’s toxic air. With thick smog blanketing India’s capital, one measure of airborne particulates spiked to 75 times the level considered safe by the World Health Organization. 11 The Nation. quence concludes, that anyone could be in doubt as to the vehemence of his racist views. I also believe that Spencer’s pomposity, ignorance, and inability to make a case for those views will leave anyone who watches it feeling less likely to identify with him rather than more. The same cannot be said for the Times article. The Hovaters come off as exemplars of those “very fine people” that Trump referred to in Charlottesville—the ones who marched with (but were supposedly different from) the torch-bearing bigots chanting, “Jews will not replace us!” “We need to have more families,” said Matthew Heimbach, the leader of the Traditionalist Worker Party, which Hovater helped found. The two were speaking on a Radio Aryan podcast. “We need to be able to just be normal,” Heimbach continued. The Times effectively assisted in that effort. It made Nazis look Q normal. And that’s not a good look. Calvin Trillin Deadline Poet It is a function of white privilege that white terrorists get this treatment even as they freely voice their commitment to terror. PERSONNEL CHANGES John Kelly may be easing Jared Kushner out of the White House. —News reports We only hope that Kelly waits at least ’Til Jared straightens out the Middle East. If Kelly does from personnel erase him, One wonders who could possibly replace him. The Nation. . Our Revolution is gearing up for the long haul in the Lone Star State. J O H N N I C H O L S W OUR REVOLUTION TEXAS / CHRIS KUTALIK December 18/25, 2017 The Nation. hen jim hightower, nina turner, and the our revolution road show rolled into Tyler, Texas, Ed Moore liked what he heard. “This is basically what we’ve all been needing,” explained the retired factory worker and union leader, who lives in a town where factories and unions have taken a lot of hits in recent years. Moore, a city councilman who represents working-class neighborhoods shaken by deindustrialization, nodded in agreement as Hightower channeled old-school Texas populism into a warning: “The powers that be…are knocking down the middle class. They are holding down the poor” and attacking “the essential ethic that holds America together—and that is the notion that we are all in this together.” Our Revolution is the national group created by backers of Bernie Sanders’s 2016 presidential run with the goal of transforming the Democratic Party. When Turner, a former Ohio state senator who now leads the organization, ﬁnished her address by declaring, “We can change the world—one community at a time, one state at a time.… Tyler, Texas, can we do this?,” Moore joined the enthusiastic multiracial, multiethnic crowd, which was packed into an activity center on the local college campus, in answering: “Yes!” It was an optimistic response to a tough question. Texas Democrats haven’t won a single statewide race since 1994, and they’ve had a harder and harder time winning congressional, legislative, and local races in places like Tyler, an East Texas city of 105,000 where the party once called most of the political shots but in recent years has struggled to Crashing the gates: pull together slates of candidates. Even Hightower, who Our Revolution Texas has long preached that a populist coalition could rejuve- has attracted a new generation of Lone nate the state Democratic Party—and who is well aware Star populists. of the argument that demographic shifts are helping parts of Texas get out of their right-wing rut—says it’ll take time, and a lot of organizing, to tip the state. But he has faith. Hightower argues, with the experience of a Texan who knows what has been lost and what might be found, that Our Revolution can renew the kind of progressive-populist politics that once elected “I think Democrats like him to statewide ofﬁce. “There’s an energy—you can feel it,” says the author and activist, who people has argued for years that the party must unshackle itself know that from big money and reconnect with working people in if we break places like Tyler. “You felt it in the Sanders campaign. So many people came into politics, in Texas and across through the country: young people, working people, people who in Texas, had given up on the Democratic Party but who started to think that maybe we could make this a party that ap- anything is peals to people everywhere.” And Hightower really does possible.” mean everywhere—“not just in the blue areas, but in the — Nina Turner, Our Revolution reddest areas of the reddest states. Now that the presidential election is over, the Bernie people are coming from the outside and crashing the gates of state parties and saying, ‘You have to get better at this.’” Of the many resistance and rebuilding groups that are working on the ground to renew Democratic fortunes in the states, Our Revolution has made a notable decision: It’s betting big on Texas. As soon as the Sanders campaign 13 gave way to the organization—with its slogan “Campaigns End, Revolutions Endure” and its promise to “transform American politics”—Hightower and a new generation of Lone Star populists vowed that they would make Texas Our Revolution’s most engaged, active, and, they hope, politically successful state branch. And after a shaky start, Our Revolution is developing into a muscular grassroots organization with nearly 500 chapters in 49 states and a burgeoning capacity to organize on behalf of issues and to help win elections. This is about the recognition of a need: Political movements that evolve out of presidential campaigns often have a hard time deﬁning themselves as more than a reﬂection of a particular candidate and a particular moment in history. To get to that broader deﬁnition, groups that seek to fundamentally change parties and politics must deliver successful examples of how the politics of an insurgent presidential campaign can elect candidates in other races. That’s no easy endeavor. There are still plenty of Democrats who aren’t ready to change, at least not as much as they need to. But in an era when everything seems up for grabs, when frustration with Donald Trump’s ﬁll-the-swamp presidency is rising, and when the Democratic Party is looking for the pitch-perfect response that might undo not just Trump but the politics that produced his presidency, there’s an openness to new approaches. This means that models can be tested and proved—especially in a state as big, politically vital, and rapidly diversifying as Texas. Texas progressives say there’s no time to waste. As the results from this fall’s elections indicate—not just in Virginia and New Jersey, but in states like Georgia and Oklahoma as well—the 2018 off-year election cycle could be the best since 2006 for red-state Democrats. They say it’s time to rethink dismissals of the Lone Star State as uncompetitive, noting that Hillary Clinton ran as well in Texas last year as she did in Ohio. They point out that Republicans hold three congressional districts that were won by Clinton. They note that one of the state’s most dynamic Democrats, Congressman Beto O’Rourke, is mounting an audacious “no PAC money” challenge to Republican Senator Ted Cruz. They point to a memo from Dave Carney, a political adviser to GOP Governor Greg Abbott, in which Carney explained after the 2017 midterms, “It would be easy for us to say Texas is not Virginia. It would be easy for us to say the Democrats in Texas aren’t that well organized. That would be a huge mistake.… The enthusiasm gap that we face is real.” Informed of the Carney memo, Texas Democratic Party ofﬁcial Manny Garcia told the Houston Chronicle: “We agree.” There’s hope for Texas Democrats. But there has been hope before—as recently as 2014, when Wendy Davis’s gubernatorial run started strong but ended in a 59–39 defeat. Progressive populists now say hope must be coupled with persistent grassroots organizing, and they argue that the promise of a $15-an-hour minimum wage may do more to 14 The Nation. December 18/25, 2017 increase turnout than a $15 million TV ad campaign that repeats failed talking points. So Our Revolution Texas is moving fast, racing to create the next politics for a state, and a nation, that desperately needs it. “I think people know that if we break through in Texas, anything is possible,” says Turner, a Sanders surrogate in 2016 whose dynamic speaking style and unapologetic advocacy for emboldening the Democratic Party have made her a hero among millennial activists. “We have to do the work here if we are going to renew the Democratic Party.” the state: nonvoters. This emphasis on expanding the voter roll and the candidate list intrigues Texans who have grown cynical after years of hearing that the demographics of this minority-majority state will soon make Democrats dominant. It’s true that Texas is rapidly diversifying, with substantial Latino, African-American, and Asian-American communities. But voter suppression and gerrymandering esignated by our revolution’s national board as the by the GOP—and lethargy on the part of establishment organization’s first state affiliate, the Lone Star group has hired staff; Democrats—still give Republicans the upper hand. Acused Sanders-campaign lists to connect with grassroots activists; and tivists argue that the TV ads and tepid talking points begun organizing chapters at the local, county, and regional levels. favored by too many Democratic strategists won’t undo It has spelled out a progressive agenda—a $15 minimum wage, the GOP’s advantage anytime soon. Pushing instead Medicare for All, worker rights, support for immigrants, policies to address for intense organizing and messaging, Our Revolution climate change, and a commitment to get big money out of politics—and it is leaders and organizers have taken to the old-fashioned encouraging political newcomers who came of age in the Sanders campaign, populist circuit, driving county highways before dawn as well as the worker-rights, immigrant-rights, and Black and after dark to get to towns that haven’t experienced Lives Matter movements, to start running in Democratic much political excitement in recent years. The meetings primaries and nonpartisan local elections. fuse activist energy with practical politics, pulling in laSome of these newcomers have already won. Activ- “The bor, civil-rights, and immigrant-rights groups, as well as ist La’Shadion Shemwell, 30, was elected in June to the young people who have never identiﬁed as Democrats. McKinney City Council in conservative Collin County, Democrats “There are people who haven’t trusted the Democratic north of Dallas. “If I can do it,” Shemwell says, “having have been Party, but they trust Our Revolution,” says Julie Ann been arrested, being a minority, having tattoos and dreadNitsch, who won a seat on the Austin Community Colbypassing locks, being a poor person with all the odds against me—if lege district board of trustees last December with strong I can do it, then anybody can do it.” In San Antonio, his- East Texas support from the group. There are also plenty of Demotory teacher John Courage surprised nearly everyone by for so crats who have stuck with the party through thick and winning his uphill run for a City Council seat. “We can’t thin but have grown tired of waiting for something new. long that I overstate how huge an upset this is,” said Our Revolution, “This really is exciting,” said Ed Moore, as the “Revwhich backed him. “Education activist John Courage has wondered if olutionize Texas” rally concluded on a Sunday night alwon his race in San Antonio’s most conservative district!” most a year after Trump swept East Texas and obliterated they knew The group plans to endorse candidates in 2018 for Hillary Clinton in Tyler’s Smith County by a 70–26 perposts like state commissioner of agriculture—where Kim we were still cent margin. “The Democrats,” Moore conﬁded, “have Olson, a retired Air Force colonel and rancher who has here.” been bypassing East Texas for so long that I wondered if — Ed Moore, they knew we were still here.” It wasn’t just that Highbecome a dynamic advocate for sustainable food producTyler City Councilman tower, Turner, and the Our Revolution crew showed up. tion, seeks the Democratic nod—as well as in hundreds of down-ballot contests that have often been neglected in It was what they preached: the sort of red-hot populist, recent years. And it’s exploring the possibility of endorsing strong-for-workers, tough-on-billionaires gospel that for governor and US Senate. There will be some primary Democrats used to embrace in these parts. “Hightower ﬁghts, but in many parts of Texas, Our Revolution activtalks about yellow-dog Democrats,” Moore said of the ists are working with local Democrats and stepping up as Spreading the word: old-time loyalists who backed the party’s ticket no matter candidates supported not just by Sanders backers but by Nina Turner (rear who was nominated. “That got me wondering if, maybe, 2016 Clinton backers. “They’re bringing energy and a center) and Jim some of the yellow rubbed off on the Democrats.” Hightower (in hat) lot of young people into the party,” says Lorraine Broll, join Our Revolution That’s “yellow” as in “scared of their own shadow.” In president of the Circle-C Area Democrats club in Cen- Texas on a five-city conversations with Democrats and Democratic-leaning tral Texas. She isn’t a member of Our Revolution, but she’s tour across the state. independents from towns across Texas this fall, I was pleased the group is organizing struck by just how profoundly in places like Hays County, an frustrated the base is with a area between Austin and San national party that couldn’t Antonio where Trump narbeat Trump and a state party rowly won in 2016 but where that has been on a losing Democrats hope to make drastreak longer than any in the matic progress in 2018. country. There’s a sense that Part of the Our Revoluthe party has, in the words of tion Texas strategy is to run in veteran Texas labor organizer places where Democrats aren’t Paula Littles, “lost its way” by supposed to have a chance. To advancing a campaign-donorthat end, it’s organizing not just deﬁned agenda that appeals to frustrated Democrats but also elites in Dallas and New York independents and members of rather than an economicthe largest political group in populist agenda that speaks to OUR REVOLUTION TEXAS / CHRIS KUTALIK D December 18/25, 2017 folks on Tyler’s Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. Objections that Democratic strategists, donors, and candidates have narrowed the party’s appeal with “Third Way” platforms and policies that fail to excite much of America aren’t new. Sanders carried that complaint into the 2016 presidential race with considerable success, emerging as the most popular politician in America, according to recent Harvard-Harris polls. Even Hillary Clinton now admits that her campaign “lacked the sense of urgency and passion that I remember” from her husband’s successful presidential run in 1992. AP PHOTO / TAMIR KALIFA M ost texas democrats i spoke with on my 1,000-mile trip around the state recognized that their party’s problems in Texas— and the nation—run deeper than personalities and last year’s election results. The party has become uncompetitive in much of America. In 2016, it won just 487 of the more than 3,100 counties nationwide (and just 27 of the 254 counties in Texas). The big, bold, contentious, and yet strikingly competitive party that controlled Congress for most of the 60-year period from Franklin Roosevelt’s election in 1932 to Bill Clinton’s in 1992, and that dominated statehouses for much of that time, now struggles to compete in vast stretches of the country. According to Hamline University professor David Schultz, “Democrats are in the worst shape they’ve been in since the 1920s.” Nowhere has the decline been so dramatic as in Texas, a state once so solidly Democratic that the great political battles played out in the primaries, because Republicans weren’t competitive enough to make November contests matter. Into the early ’90s, Democrats were so dominant that the state’s political stars—people like Hightower, once the Texas agriculture commissioner, and thenGovernor Ann Richards—became leading progressive voices on the national stage. Hightower was defeated in 1990, the victim of a slimy campaign engineered by Karl Rove. Richards lost four years later to Rove’s gubernatorial candidate, George W. Bush. The party lost the Texas Senate in 1996 and the Texas House in 2002, and as the years passed, it lost courthouse posts at such a steady rate that in recent years, contests for local, county, legislative, and even statewide ofﬁces have often been conceded to the Republicans without much of a ﬁght. The change has occurred in the lifetime of many of the Texans who have joined Our Revolution. Before the “Revolutionize Texas” rally in Tyler, Hightower and I drove around the surrounding region. “I used to win this county, Smith County,” Hightower recalled. He ﬁnished his 1982 race for agriculture commissioner with more than 60 percent of the vote statewide, running on a Democratic ticket that swept every state ofﬁce, and he ﬁnished equally strong in 1986. In those days, says Littles, the union organizer who grew up south of Tyler in Groveton and now directs the Texas efforts of National Nurses United, “I loved working elections in East Texas. Everyone understood what it was about. You had steelworkers, rubber workers, oil and chemical workers, all these unions, all these union families. We elected a lot of populists and progressives. We had a saying: ‘We elect Putting up a fight: Jim Hightower protesting legislation to restrict reproductive rights, Austin, July 2013. Our Revolution has “reactivated” the Democratic Party in many areas of the state, says local activist Hatem Natsheh. people and then we collect from them.’ Everyone knew what that meant—it meant that elected ofﬁcials didn’t just respond to the big money and the bosses; they listened to us, they responded to the needs of working people.” Then things started to fall apart. First came the layoffs, then the factory closings. The sprawling Goodyear plant that once employed more than 1,000 tire workers on Tyler’s west side closed a decade ago; a Carrier Corporation plant closure cost another 400 jobs four years ago—long before Trump made a show of trying to save the company’s facility in Indiana. Union locals dwindled and disappeared—not just in Tyler but in much of East Texas. Democrats started looking elsewhere for support: to wealthy donors and campaign consultants who argued that the best way to win elections was by pouring money into TV ads rather than local parties and grassroots organizing. “The party turned into a club,” says Littles. “People didn’t feel so connected to it. They stopped showing up for meetings, stopped answering calls to knock on doors.” Now they’re showing up. On a Monday night in early October, I drove out of Austin to a candidates’ forum sponsored by the Circle-C Area Democrats club, which works part of the sprawling, and absurdly gerrymandered, district of retiring Republican Congressman Lamar Smith. When I arrived, I couldn’t ﬁnd a parking spot. The club has moved its meetings to larger and larger halls as the crowds have grown in recent months. Trump’s election shook a lot of folks into action. They’re not all Our Revolution members, but many are, including club vice president Hatem Natsheh, who says Our Revolution Texas has “reactivated” the party in many parts of the state. That certainly seemed to be the case as the congressional candidates spoke; as Natsheh notes, “A lot of them were sounding the Bernie Sanders themes: Medicare for All, $15 an hour.” One of the leading contenders at the Circle-C forum, former congressional aide Derrick Crowe, told the crowd that Texas Democrats must spell out an agenda that excites not just the party faithful but also the great mass of nonvoters who must become engaged in order to tip Texas. Crowe wasn’t just talking the talk. A few days before the forum, when the group organized a rally for universal health care, Crowe showed up, held his “Medicare for All” sign aloft, and tweeted that he was “Proud to stand with @OurRevolutionTX & @OurRevolution for Q #Medicare4all in San Antonio!” WHEN PROTESTING by COLLIER MEYERSON POLICE The Black Lives December 18/25, 2017 Matter movement has inspired massive uprisings against police violence. But protesters face the very thing they’re fighting: police brutality, unjustified arrests, jail time—and lasting trauma. VIOLENCE PUTS YOU IN THE CROSSHAIRS I Collier Meyerson is a contributing writer at The Nation and a Knobler Fellow at the Nation Institute. n october, lisa batiste visited her old home in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, for the first time since moving out last year—a month and a half after 37-year-old Alton Sterling was killed by police. “I have a pretty decent handle on the English language, but ‘Wow’ is about what I have right now,” she said, welling up with tears, as we stood outside the house together. (Crying is something that Batiste didn’t do much of before last year.) The hedges on either side of the walkway leading up to the house had grown since she’d lived there. In front, Lisa had flown an American flag; now there are two out back. But one is different: Displaying black, white, and blue stripes instead of red and white ones, it’s a so-called “Blue Lives Matter” flag, popularized in 2014 to show solidarity with the police. When Batiste first saw it, waving behind the American flag, she laughed wryly: “How ironic.” But the porch was the same as ever—big and inviting, set back from the boulevard. On July 10, 2016, Batiste was sitting on this porch with her 27-year-old daughter when a march called to protest Sterling’s death neared her home. The father of ﬁve had been shot and killed by police in the parking lot of the Triple S Food Mart, where he sold CDs, ﬁve days earlier. Videos of the incident show two police ofﬁcers wrestling Sterling forcefully to the ground. While he was pinned down, one of the cops yelled, “He’s got a gun!” and ﬁred his weapon six times, hitting Sterling in the chest and back. Yet the owner of the Triple S—who recorded one of the videos—said that Sterling hadn’t been causing trouble outside his store, and also that he considered the sidewalk salesman his friend. The July 10 protest reached Batiste’s corner, where police in riot gear had formed a line in front of the pro- REUTERS / JONATHAN BACHMAN No escape: Over 100 protesters came onto Lisa Batiste’s lawn in Baton Rouge, trying in vain to avoid confrontation with police. testers. Armored vehicles were stationed in adjacent streets. There was only one place for the protesters to go: onto Batiste’s lawn. She counted between 100 and 150 people and, fearful that the police would start arresting the protesters, made a split-second decision. “My anxiety level starts to go up,” Batiste recalled, “and I was just like, ‘You guys come on.’” The protesters took refuge on her lawn. But within a few minutes, the police advanced, despite her objections. “That’s private property,” she recalled telling them. “You can’t [enter].” The cops didn’t listen. Video shows around 100 ofﬁcers, some in riot gear, storming her lawn, throwing protesters to the ground and arresting them. In an effort to get away from the cops, the protesters backed from Batiste’s lawn onto her porch. One young woman “was like, ‘Oh my God, please let me in,’” Batiste said. “I was like, ‘I’m not gonna risk my family, no.’” The mother of two remembers putting up her arms and blocking her front door. In hindsight, she feels embarrassed about trying to keep the protesters out. Batiste, who is 51, had been living in Baton Rouge for eight years. She had lived in the city once before, from 1998 to 2006; the second time around, she came for work and stayed for love, marrying an ofﬁcer on the Baton Rouge police force. After the marriage went south, Batiste and her daughter moved into the house in Beauregard Town—“a transition neighborhood,” as Batiste calls it, with middle-class and poorer residents living side by side. She’d been living in the rental a little over a year when the police charged onto her property without asking. For most of her life, Batiste prided herself on understanding “both sides” of every situation. “Your uniform, your title, your whatever, it [didn’t] matter,” she said of the way she used to see things. She had “never been an — Brachell Brown emotional person.” When she was diagnosed with thy- “I carry [jail] with me like a backpack. Pretty much whenever I see a police, I [wonder]: Am I about to get in trouble for something that never happened?” roid cancer in 2011, she told me, she didn’t even cry. And she’d always been able to rationalize the police killings of black men like Eric Garner in New York City and Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. To Batiste, those killings, while rooted in racism, were spurred by a “fear that you cannot extinguish.” She recognized the realities of racism—that cops discriminate against black drivers, that they shoot black men in situations where they wouldn’t shoot a white man—but she didn’t let those realities hinder her everyday life. On the contrary: Living in Baton Rouge “was extremely comfortable,” she said. “If I felt like I needed to go to the grocery store at 3 o’clock in the morning, I would go. I wasn’t looking over my shoulder.” But after one of the ofﬁcers who came onto Batiste’s property shoved her with his shield; after she was separated from her daughter, who, Batiste says, the cops then threw from her porch; after she witnessed Baton Rouge’s ﬁnest closing in on her home and leaving no place for the protesters to go, she snapped. Batiste no longer felt like she could go to the grocery store late at night. The sight of a cop set her heart racing. “It triggered some fundamental insecurity,” she said. “No—it created some fundamental insecurities.” She now feels constantly provoked and threatened—anywhere from Facebook to passersby on the street. The events of that July day have “kind of raped me of my ability to ﬁnd balance,” she said. When she was at home, memories from that day kept ﬂooding back. So about a month and a half later, she moved out of the rental home—and away from Baton Rouge. “I’ve always loved being black, but it was never in opposition to anything,” she told me. It is now. W hen lisa batiste’s home was rushed by dozens of protesters and police, she experienced a trauma that altered her sense of safety and well-being, even a year and a half later. And she isn’t alone. I spoke with four others, all of them black, who were involved in the protests in Baton Rouge last year. Each of them now reports having similar reactions to police. On the evening of July 9, 2016, Christopher Brown, then 22, and his sister Brachell, then 21, were at their home on a sleepy street (named after a Confederate general) in a suburban section of Baton Rouge, when they began to see calls for protests against Sterling’s death pop up on their Instagram and Facebook feeds. Neither of the siblings had ever participated in a protest before. But Sterling’s death struck a chord with them: “He was the ‘CD Man’—everybody in the community knew him. He didn’t bother nobody,” Christopher said. “It The Nation. In Ferguson, one study found that a disproportionate number of black residents “exceeded clinical cutoffs for PTSD and depression.” Losing a safe haven: Lisa Batiste sits on her porch in the hours after police stormed her lawn and began arresting protesters. December 18/25, 2017 could have been me,” Brachell remembered thinking. “It could have been anyone that I’m close to.” They grabbed some signs that Brachell had made (hers read: “Dear police, we are not target practice”) and drove down to join the crowd at a thoroughfare called Airline Highway, near the Baton Rouge Police Department headquarters. “It felt very empowering,” Brachell said. “I know I was doing the right thing. I was making sure my voice was really loud—my poster was held up.” The two had been protesting for about an hour, Brachell said, when the police showed up in riot gear and began to arrest people at random. Brachell was one of the unlucky ones. “I seen a policeman point toward me—then, before you know it, a few of them just came running at me,” she recalled. Christopher wrapped his arms around his sister to protect her. Police ofﬁcers threw them both to the ground and tased Christopher, the siblings say. Both of them were arrested. Christopher and Brachell were placed on a bus and taken to police headquarters. “When I get really, really angry, I begin to shake,” Brachell said. “I was shaking nonstop.” The arrest had happened so quickly, and none of it made sense to her: Why had she been aggressively pursued by police for exercising her First Amendment rights? The siblings were then put in separate vans and driven to the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison, a 25-minute drive from where they were arrested. The driver of Brachell’s bus “had the heat on high” with the windows rolled up, Brachell said, exacerbating the extreme heat of Baton Rouge in July. The siblings would be separated for an excruciating night. While Christopher was in a holding cell, the police pepper-sprayed him and others. The 36 hours he spent there “felt like two weeks. The food was horrible,” he remembered. “I didn’t eat the entire time…. I was tired, restless, hungry. I will never forget it.” (The Baton Rouge Police Department didn’t respond to The Nation’s request for comment on the pepperspraying incident, or on Brachell’s claim about the excessive heat in the bus.) A report issued by the Promise of Justice Initiative described the jail housing the protesters as full of overcrowded cells “caked with grime and blood.” “The way [corrections ofﬁcers] talk to you in there—it’s like, you don’t even talk to an animal like that,” Christopher added. Brachell spent her own 36 hours in jail cold and hungry, talked down to and yelled at by guards. She was too ashamed to use a restroom with no doors. “I carry [jail] with me like a backpack,” she says now. “Pretty much whenever I see a police, I always question their motivation: Am I about to get in trouble for something that never even happened?” AP PHOTO / MAX BECHERER 18 2017 Awards and Fellowships Shane McCrae Literary Award for Poetry Rickey Laurentiis Mai Der Vang Natalie Scenters-Zapico Literary Fellowship for Poetry Literary Fellowship for Poetry Literary Fellowship for Poetry Awards and Fellowships Totaling: $700,000 Roy Scranton Javier Zamora Literary Fellowship for Fiction Literary Fellowship for Poetry Nancy MacLean Cultural Freedom Award for an Especially Notable Book Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America (Viking, 2017) Lannan IS A FOUNDATION DEDIC ATED to cultural freedom, diversity, and creativity through projects that support exceptional artists, writers, and inspired Native American, social justice, and environmental activists. The Foundation recognizes the profound and often unquantiﬁable value of the creative process and is willing to take risks and make substantial investments in ambitious and experimental thinking. Understanding that globalization threatens all cultures and ecosystems, the Foundation is particularly interested in projects that encourage freedom of inquiry, imagination, and expression. lannan.org Photos: Shane McCrae © Shane McCrae; Rickey Laurentiis © Rickey Laurentiis; Mai Der Vang © Ze Moua; Natalie Scenters-Zapico © José Ángel Maldonado; Roy Scranton © Hannah Dunphy; Javier Zamora © Ana Ruth Zamora; Nancy MacLean © Bruce Orenstein Brachell tries to avoid the street where she was arrested. When she does have to pass by it, she ﬁnds herself becoming “angry all over again.” Being tased, arrested, and treated poorly in jail has fundamentally altered Christopher’s view of policing as a profession. Brachell agrees: “I feel like even when I turn 40, I’m still going to relive this moment. I’m still going to try to get people who I’m connected to to pretty much avoid police in any way possible.” O ver the course of the past three years, the emergence of the Black Lives Matter movement has inspired protests across the country against police violence. Some, like those in Ferguson, Baton Rouge, and Baltimore, were sustained over several weeks and drew a massive, militarized response from law-enforcement agencies. In each city, SWAT teams equipped with tear gas, armored vehicles, and rifles patrolled the streets, and protesters were subject to mass arrests and police brutality. In Ferguson, 10 days of protesting led to 150 arrests—80 percent of them for “failure to disperse.” Nearly 200 protesters were arrested in Baton Rouge. In Baltimore, a group of aggrieved residents sued the city: One man had his arm broken by police and was never even charged; two others, who weren’t taking part in the protests, were beaten by cops with batons anyway. Reporters and TV cameras descended on these communities, capturing the violence meted out to the overwhelmingly black residents. After the protests died out, the media packed up and went away. But the emotional trauma from those incidents remains. Eddie Hughes and his then 16-year-old daughter, Godavari, were both arrested and sent to jail for protesting in Baton Rouge last summer. Like Batiste and the Browns, neither had a particularly negative perception of the police before that protest—but they do now. Seeing a cop, “I wonder if he’s having a bad day today,” Eddie said. “It’s mainly because of the experience I had, [where] I wasn’t doing anything wrong.” His daughter added, “I just [thought that police] arrest people for bad stuff, but now it’s like, ‘Oh, do they really do that? Do they really have a job?’” She spent the weekend in juvenile detention for “simple obstruction of a highway.” Having been subjected to the very police violence that they’d taken to the streets to protest, the Hugheses and the Brown siblings, like Lisa Batiste, all now report feelings of wariness and distrust of law enforcement. Batiste says she suffers from a heightened general sense of anxiety. Though there’s a dearth of research on how experiences with militarized police affect community members, a report released last year by mental-health researchers found a link between the amount of exposure to violence during the Ferguson protests and the psychological-trauma symp- The Nation. December 18/25, 2017 toms seen among the protesters. That study reported that, out of the 565 Ferguson residents and local law-enforcement ofﬁcers interviewed, members of the black community “exceeded clinical cutoffs for PTSD and depression signiﬁcantly more than white community members.” Previous studies have found that having been in close proximity to a traumatic event was a “strong and consistent predictor of negative mental health outcomes.” Of the people that the researchers surveyed in Ferguson, those more impacted by the protests were more likely to have suffered a negative psychological effect. The psychological impact of violent police interactions doesn’t only hit while the protests are under way. It’s ever-present, says Anton Hart, a psychoanalyst at the William Alanson White Institute. “Absolutely, police proﬁling Freedom of speech? and violence has an effect on the people who are memBrachell and bers of targeted groups,” he told me. “I’ve worked with Christopher Brown people who were hurt by the police, stopped, frisked. Just spent the night in jail last week, a client was running to get to a session with after protesting. me. And because he’s of color and running, police stopped him.” Incidents like this take a toll, Hart says. Some of the people he treats complain of nightmares and ﬂashbacks after witnessing or being involved in incidents with police. “I [thought Over the past two decades, the militarization of police that police] forces has given black Americans more to fear. In 1997, the Department of Defense began to supply surplus miliarrest tary equipment to police departments across the country. people for After the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, money for military-grade resources ramped up considerably. bad stuff, grants from the Department of Homeland Security but now it’s With totaling $34 billion, police departments bought drones like… do and armored vehicles. Police now receive military training and use military tactics to manage protesters. they really But the police militarization isn’t having a disproporhave a job?” tionate impact on communities of color only during pro—Godavari Hughes tests. “Militarization makes every problem—even a car of teenagers driving away from a party—look like a nail that should be hit with an AR-15 hammer,” The Washington Post concluded in an analysis of whether military Paying the price: equipment made police forces more violent. A 2014 reEddie Hughes and his port by the ACLU found that 42 percent of those visited daughter, Godavari, were both arrested. by SWAT teams to execute a search warrant were black, and another 12 percent were Latino. In other words, more than half were people of color. When it comes to the psychological impacts of militarized policing on black Americans, “we’re a little bit behind on really understanding these things at a psychological level,” says Monnica Williams, a professor of psychology at the University of Connecticut who studies the effects of racism on African Americans. “Especially when it comes to people of color, the research is way behind where it needs to be.” But there is research on the disparities in health, both mental COLLIER MEYERSON 20 December 18/25, 2017 The Nation. and physical, suffered by black communities. According to a 2009 study, 9.1 percent of black Americans experienced post-traumaticstress disorder, compared with 6.8 percent of white Americans. The American Heart Association has found that nearly 43 percent of black American adults have high blood pressure, compared with just over 33 percent of white non-Hispanic American adults. And according to the National Stroke Association, black Americans are more likely to suffer strokes than any other race. The stress of living in the United States, Williams argues, makes African Americans much less healthy than their white counterparts. “There’s a lot of evidence that it’s the social milieu that is causing [these diseases],” she says. “You take those same people out of the United States and put them in other countries, and those conditions disappear.” While speciﬁc traumatic encounters with police can provoke mental-health problems, so can the mere awareness that the cops aren’t necessarily on your side. That awareness can manifest in the form of anxiety, depression, or fear—of law enforcement, authority ﬁgures, or what might happen to the members of your family, Williams says. Those conditions can lead to substance abuse and binge eating. Sometimes black Americans develop paranoia and psychosis from trauma. “There’s a cultural mistrust of white society in communities that are alienated and marginalized,” adds Shawn O. Utsey, a professor of psychology at Virginia Commonwealth University. “It can impact work, school, and family life. And it can limit opportunities, because folks begin to become nervous to venture outside their own communities.” It is difﬁcult to determine precisely how many black Americans living in heavily policed communities experience PTSD. “A lot of these symptoms aren’t captured by standard mental-health [evaluations] because, when people are looking at what counts as a traumatic event, we’re often looking at an event that happened one time—so we’re not considering the cultural trauma” of living in a community targeted by police, Williams points out. And that means episodes of police harassment are omitted as indicators when researchers look into the rates of psychopathology. Poor treatment by law-enforcement ofﬁcers has been a reality of African-American life since before the United States existed. Even after the many successes of the civil-rights movement, police brutality and discrimination in the criminal-justice system didn’t end; they just became less transparent and more insidious. Today, black men are six times more likely to be incarcerated than white men, and black women more than twice as likely as white women. Black men are three times more likely than white men to die at the hands of law enforcement. And when black communities like Baton Rouge have objected to living under these conditions through protests and demonstrations, the response from law enforcement has been more aggression, more brutality, and more jail time. T he psychology professors i spoke with suggested that the psychological impacts on black protesters confronted by militarized police forces can’t be truly addressed until discriminatory policing practices are eradicated. Until that happens, Williams notes, a less dramatic change is for police forces to shift their approach from a “warrior” mentality to a “guardian” one, as suggested in an Obama-era report issued by the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing. But with a new administration focused on undoing Obama’s efforts to reform law-enforcement tactics, there is little incentive for police forces to change. Improved mental-health services for communities of color can also be helpful, Utsey suggests. Black psychologists are training 21 their peers to conduct “emotional emancipation circles,” which are designed to help black communities process trauma. These workshops “really took off after the publicized murders [by police],” says Cheryl Grills, former president of the Association of Black Psychologists. “And we were on the ground in all those places—in New York, Ferguson, Baltimore. At the height of the community stress, we were on the ground providing safe-space meetings.” Lisa Batiste, the Hugheses, and the Browns have all brought related lawsuits against the city of Baton Rouge, its police department, and the Louisiana Sheriffs’ Association. “We hope to expose the decades-long oppression of black people by Baton Rouge–area law enforcement, and to hold them accountable for their unconstitutional treatment of black people and those who stood in solidarity with them in July 2016,” said James Craig, the co-director of the MacArthur Justice Center, which is representing the plaintiffs. The lawsuits accuse the defendants of violating the protesters’ rights to free speech and free assembly; they also assert that demonstrators were arrested on trumped-up charges of trafﬁc obstruction, and that black protesters were targeted based on their race. (Both cases await responses from the defendants.) For Batiste, the trauma hasn’t only erased her conﬁdence around police; her lifelong sense of patriotism is gone, too. For years, she ﬂew an American ﬂag outside her home. “Not only did I have one—when the anchor of it broke, I called my landlord” to come ﬁx it, she told me. Her favorite thing about being an American? “Freedom—the ability to do any damn thing that I want.” But Batiste doesn’t ﬂy a ﬂag outside her new home in Houston, Texas. “It’s not representative of me—nor is it representative of the things that I was sold about what it is to be an American.” The deep pain from that realization is one that Q she’ll carry for the rest of her life. RIGHTING THE SCALES by REBECCA CLARREN O n a gloomy day in september, lisa hayden rushed through the circular door of the Yurok Tribal Court in Klamath, California, with her 1-year-old son on her hip. Hayden, 31, worried that the day wouldn’t turn out any different from all the others she’d spent in court trying to protect herself from her ex-husband. For 12 years, starting when she was pregnant with their first child, Hayden alleges, her ex-husband had held guns to her head, punched her, and called her terrible names. The abuse that Hayden says she suffered is shockingly common: According to a Justice Department study in 2016, four out of ﬁve Native Americans have experienced violence from an intimate partner. In 97 percent of those cases, Native women were victim- ized by non-Natives. To make matters worse, indigenous people are less likely to receive fair treatment when interacting with police and judges, according to a recent analysis of data from the Centers for Disease Control and a report from the National Council on Crime and Delinquency. This has been Hayden’s experience. Last year, anticipating her ex-husband’s release from prison, Hayden went to county court to request a restraining order, showing the judge threatening letters her ex had sent from jail. After spending less than ﬁve minutes listening to Hayden, the judge dismissed her fears as something “she had to work through” and denied her request. Within six months of his release, according to Hayden, her ex-husband—high on heroin, wearing a bulletproof PHOTO COURTESY OF YUROK TRIBE The criminal-justice system often fails Native Americans. Judge Abby Abinanti wants to change it. December 18/25, 2017 23 The Nation. vest, and armed with three guns—kicked in the front door of her apartment, yelling that he wanted to kill her, as she and her three children huddled on the ﬂoor. Though her ex was sent back to prison, Hayden remained afraid. This was why Hayden brought her request for a restraining order to Judge Abby Abinanti of the Yurok Tribal Court, a respected ﬁgure with a distinctive approach to jurisprudence. Abinanti doesn’t wear a robe, opting instead for jeans and cowboy boots. She sits not on a dais, but behind a wooden desk in a small room. Immediately upon entering Abinanti’s courtroom on that September day, Hayden said, she felt “more like a person” than she had in county court. Abinanti listened at length, squinting as if trying to solve a puzzle. Ultimately, Abinanti issued the restraining order. But she also made an offer to Hayden’s ex-husband, to send letters to his children and receive photos through a caseworker; an earlier offer still stands for him to attend a program designed by Abinanti’s court to rehabilitate batterers, and to remove his gang tattoos on the tribe’s dime. The goal was to protect Hayden while giving her exhusband a chance to end his cycle into and out of prison. (So far, he’s refused all services.) “No one ever came up with that in the county system,” Hayden said after Abinanti’s ruling, smiling as her kids played nearby. “No one ever tried to get at the root of it. ‘Relieved’ is the big word for today.” Abinanti is one of a growing number of tribal judges nationwide incorporating traditional culture into their courtrooms, with the dual aim of rehabilitating individuals and providing justice to people often failed by the regular criminal-justice system. Abinanti, whose court was recently described in a federal assessment as “extremely “My purpose fair and balanced in its rulings,” is more likely to ask defendants to devise their own ways to atone for a crime is to help or settle a dispute than to slap them with ﬁnes or incar- you think up ceration. As Abinanti explains, “I’m looking at: How did we resolve things before our cultural interruption, when how to make invasion occurred? We were village people, and we sat it right if around and had discussions. My purpose is to help you you made a think up how to make it right if you made a mistake.… mistake. For For me, jail is banishment. It’s the last resort.” Traditional models of dispute resolution, which are me, jail is characterized by the involvement of everyone affected by banishment. an offense and emphasize repairing harm instead of inﬂicting punishment—an approach often called “restorative It’s the last justice”—are gaining attention outside Native communi- resort.” ties. It’s a signiﬁcant shift, as historically both Congress — Judge Abby Abinanti and the Supreme Court have diminished the legitimacy of tribal courts and peacemaking forums. (In almost all circumstances, tribal courts cannot hear criminal cases involving non-Native people, even for crimes committed on Native land.) Now ﬁve Western states as well as Michigan are using tribal models to develop courts that seek to create a consensus between the plaintiff and the defendant. Casey Family Programs, one of the nation’s largest child-welfare foundations, is promoting partnerships between state and tribal courts in which judges, social workers, and attorneys convene to adjudicate cases. In the past several years, courses in Native American peacemaking have been taught at the Columbia, Lewis and Clark, and University of New Rebecca Clarren is Mexico law schools. Prestigious law-review journals, in- an award-winning cluding the American Bar Association’s, have published journalist with InvestigateWest, a articles on the importance of therapeutic tribal courts and nonprofit journalism peacemaking. As a sign of this increasing respect, Senators studio in the Pacific Al Franken (D-MN) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) recently Northwest. This introduced legislation that would grant tribal judges ex- story was reported panded ability to prosecute non-Native assailants. in partnership The new attention is partly due to the growing rec- with that outlet. ognition that the country’s punitive approach to criminal justice has failed: The United States has 5 percent of the world’s population but 25 percent of its population of prisoners, a disproportionate number of them people of color. “The American justice system is in crisis, and we have to think about what else could work,” said Cheryl Fairbanks, a board member at the National American Indian Court Judges Association. Could the old practices revived by Abinanti be part of this future? E very other week, abinanti packs her hatchback with groceries, books, and blankets and drives six and a half hours from her apartment in San Francisco, through the tawny hills of Northern California, and up into the foggy redwood forests of the Yurok Reservation. Abinanti, 70, has been making this drive her entire life. As a child, Abinanti was shuttled from her drugaddicted mother’s house near the reservation to the home of her paternal grandmother, who lived in San Francisco’s Noe Valley neighborhood, blocks away from Abinanti’s current apartment. Like many Native children, Abinanti was misdiagnosed by her school and placed in a class for developmentally delayed students; not until high school did a teacher realize she was bright. Abinanti was angry a lot. (“I’m better now, even though I’m still half-mean,” she offered with a dry smile.) Relatives often said she reminded them of her grandfather, Marion Rube, a bank robber who once escaped from San Quentin prison. Her childhood isn’t something that she typically shares from the bench, but it informs her empathic orientation. “You don’t start out to be a meth-head—it’s not, like, a career objective,” Abinanti said on a recent drive north. When not talking, she hummed along with Hank Williams on the radio. “You don’t know what breaks a person, and if you’re strong enough to come back, you can’t judge someone who isn’t.” Abinanti speaks often about intergenerational trauma, the idea that the events of colonization in the past—rape, murder, and the dissolution of indigenous languages and cultures—create ongoing problems in the present: Native American communities now experience physical and sexual assault at three times the national average. For the Yurok, that traumatic history is recent. Throughout Abinanti’s childhood and until 1970, the federal government, eager to assimilate indigenous people, terminated more than 100 nations, including the Yurok. The government stripped those citizens of their land and made it illegal to dance ceremonially or practice Native religions. By 1974, when Abinanti became the ﬁrst Native American woman to pass the bar in California, there was no tribe for her to work for, so she joined California Indian Legal Services, a nonproﬁt law ﬁrm for the state’s tribes and tribal members. In some courtrooms, she was the ﬁrst Native American lawyer ever to enter there. Abinanti was the ﬁrst Native woman in California to become a state judge; she also taught law at the University of California, Berkeley, and served as a judge or attorney for seven other tribes. In 2007, after the Yurok Tribe reclaimed its legal status and reestablished its government, Abinanti became chief justice. At the time, the court was open only once a month, mostly to adjudicate ﬁshing violations. Under Abinanti, it’s grown into an enterprise with about 20 employees and hears an average of 670 cases per year, ranging from illegal trash dumping to domestic-abuse cases. I December 18/25, 2017 The Nation. nnovation and flexibility are what distinguish abinanti’s court. For instance, if both parents agree to the terms, she permits nonmonetary child-support payments such as manual labor or salmon. Abinanti and her staff have created a handful of programs intended to provide alternatives to incarceration. A wellness program sanctioned by the state allows the Yurok Tribe to pull members accused of drug crimes out of the court system and bring them home for addiction treatment; the program includes cultural rituals like sweat lodges and prayer. Another program is designed to rehabilitate people who have beaten their partners or children. It’s the first in the state of California, and possibly in the country, certified to include non-Native people. That’s imperative on the Yurok’s checkerboard reservation, where tribal members and non-Natives are often neighbors and partners. Participants in the yearlong program consult with elders and learn to identify personal triggers and to use anger-management tools. Since the program began two years ago, none of its participants have returned to jail for domestic violence. The tribe has yet to analyze its recidivism rates overall, but a handful of studies indicate that other tribal courts are achieving better success for their members than are state courts. The Kake Tribe in Alaska found that members enrolled in a peacemaking project fulﬁlled their Sweat lodges and court-ordered amends 97.5 percent of the time, compared other ceremonies are with a 22 percent success rate in the Alaskan state-court part of a wellnesscourt program run by system. Participants in the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe the Leech Lake Band Wellness Court, which allows people arrested for driving of Ojibwe and Cass while intoxicated to receive culturally speciﬁc treatment on County, Minnesota. the reservation, had 60 percent fewer rearrests one year after entering the program than the DUI offenders, both Native and non-, who attended a county rehab program. Timothy Connors, who’s been a state judge in Michigan for more than 25 years and has served by invitation in the past ﬁve on the court of the Little Traverse Bay Bands Once of Odawa Indians, is leading an effort to create county attacked as courts that use a tribally inspired peacemaking approach in cases where the parties involved will have an ongoing illegitimate relationship after they leave court. In the ﬁrst four years of forums, these peacemaking courts, 94 percent of the cases resulted in an agreement between both parties and avoided litiga- tribal tion. Unlike mediation, the goal of these courts isn’t sim- courts are ply the resolution of a given issue, but rather a deepened beginning understanding between the affected parties. “It’s the idea of cleansing and healing versus judging,” Connors said. to be seen “They are designed not to get even, but to get well.” as partners Under current law, states aren’t required to recognize with most tribal-court rulings. Yet there are now at least 15 Tribal-State Court Forums—coalitions of federal, state, innovative and tribal judges, which meet regularly to facilitate ef- approaches. ﬁcient cross-jurisdictional enforcement of court orders, civil proceedings, and compliance in child-welfare cases. “Tribal courts have been continuously attacked as ille- gitimate forums since contact,” said Jerry Gardner, executive director of the Tribal Law and Policy Institute. “But with the rise of restorative justice, tribal courts are being seen not just as legitimate institutions but as partners, which have wise and innovative approaches and resources to probe the root causes of crimes.” O ne recent evening, abinanti sat on her couch watching baseball with a few colleagues and discussing the people who’d ended up in jail over the weekend. For the judge—who spends much of her spare time studying economic development, searching for a way to help her tribe overcome its 73 percent unemployment rate—knowing these families is an asset, as it deepens her understanding of the impact of a particular crime. In non-tribal courts, by contrast, judges must recuse themselves if they know a defendant. That’s just one of a number of barriers to applying tribal models to America’s criminal-justice system more broadly. The scale of the state-court system alone makes it nearly impossible for judges to take the time required for Abinanti’s approach: There were nearly 7 million cases ﬁled in California state court in 2015. Mandatory-sentencing laws would also have to be overhauled. As Savala Trepczynski, executive director of the Thelton E. Henderson Center for Social Justice at the UC Berkeley School of Law, noted by e-mail: “If we were serious about mirroring Judge Abby’s style, we’d have to create and sustain a society with minimal incarceration. We’d have to reimagine the purpose of the criminal-justice system and destroy the economic incentives to incarcerate.” Developing such courts can be a challenge even for tribes. There’s no reliable data on how many of the 567 federally recognized tribes have set up courts that reﬂect their traditions. But at least 19 have written tribal codes, and many more are revitalizing their courts with cultural concepts. However, many face signiﬁcant budget challenges. (Abinanti likens herself to a street hustler for all the time she spends applying for grants.) The Bureau of Indian Affairs is funding most tribal courts at just 6 percent of what is needed, according to a 2015 BIA report to Congress. Certain states, including California and Alaska, receive no allocated federal funds for tribal courts. A pilot project to determine funding needs in those states was created during the Obama administration, but it would be eliminated under President Trump’s proposed budget. There is also the question of whether a restorativejustice model is appropriate for every crime, particularly those involving sexual predators. There is a real potential for further harm if the victims of sexual violence are expected to communicate with the perpetrators, said Sarah Deer, co-director of the Indian Law program at the Mitchell Hamline School of Law and a national expert on violence against Native women. “I get nervous about putting victims in that system,” Deer continued, “because it sets up a lot of victim-blaming.” Still, Abinanti believes that for perpetrators truly committed to making amends, rehabilitation is possible, even though it may take years. “This isn’t as simple as saying you’re sorry and moving on,” she said. “Some things aren’t ﬁxable, but… you at least have to try.” Q AP PHOTO / MINNESOTA PUBLIC RADIO / TOM ROBERTSON 24 26 The Nation. December 18/25, 2017 The Nation. 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SUBMISSIONS: Go to TheNation.com/submission-guidelines for the query form. Each issue is also made available at TheNation.com. Printed on 100% recycled 40% post-consumer acid- and chlorine-free paper, in the USA. (continued from page 2) tion’s November 20/27 issue: Even back in 2008, after massive grassroots participation in an inspiring, youthful, promising campaign, the party failed to ask its constituents for anything except donations. We have hearts, souls, stories, experiences, and ideas—all of which the left desperately needs. As Tip O’Neill discovered (and as Greider reminds us), people like to be asked— but for more than just money, because, after decades of neglect, we have little enough of that. It’s hard to give to a party that accepts corporate donations and drones on about the (shrinking) middle class while failing to address the structures that consistently reproduce poverty, or while failing to meaningfully address the concerns of the working class. In my district, this can be a problem even at the local level, where at times I’ve been unable to locate a left-sounding platform from the Democratic candidates—or any platform at all. It’s bad enough that the party panders to moderate Republicans rather than its constituents, particularly when its real power has always been the working-class vote. The Democratic Party may get a progressive’s vote by default, but it should not count on my Martha Otis money. miami Are you kidding me? In terms of values, Democrats are rock solid. The party has always been for workers, equality, minimum-wage adjustments, unions, women’s rights, education, and respect for people of any color, sex, religion, or ethnicity. Sure, mistakes were made in 2016. Along with Russian interference, the Comey letter, WikiLeaks, mi- sogyny from men and women, the quashing of voting rights, and media bias for Trump’s sensationalist stupidity, the Democrats were indeed responsible for some errors. For instance, it was condescending to count on the Rust Belt states and an even bigger error—a huge one—to minimize them. Still, Democrats are the only ones fighting for a higher minimum wage, unions, women and children, and respect and rights for immigrants. When it comes to values, Democrats and independents easily win over Republicans and their party. Mary Ann Hannon west yarmouth, mass. Corrections In Sasha Abramsky’s article “When Violence Comes” [Oct. 23], a photo caption erroneously stated that the picture showed Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at the 1965 march on Selma. The photo was actually taken during King’s 1968 march with black sanitation workers in Memphis. In “Hiding in Plain Sight” [Nov. 6], David Yaffe writes that an unpublished poem by Elizabeth Bishop was inspired by Lota de Macedo Soares. In fact, while the poem is undated, it was found in a notebook that predates Bishop’s relationship with Soares. In “Frequent Gunfire” [Nov. 13], John Banville refers to A Farewell to Arms and Death in the Afternoon as “two novels”; in fact, the latter is a work of nonfiction. The Dec. 4/11 cover, headlined “Pillaging America’s Parks,” features an illustration of a Trump-headed monster stomping through a lake. The location pictured is actually Maligne Lake in Alberta, Canada. Books & the Arts. THE LIGHTS IN THE DISTANCE The peregrinations of Raja Shehadeh RAMALLAH, 2009 (AP PHOTO / MUHAMMED MUHEISEN) by URSULA LINDSEY A ll my life I have lived in houses that overlook the Ramallah hills,” writes the Palestinian author Raja Shehadeh. This simple statement speaks volumes. It suggests the difficult achievement, for any Palestinian, of finding a fixed and livable position within the occupied territories. The verb “overlook” also encapsulates Ursula Lindsey writes about culture and politics in North Africa and the Middle East. She hosts the BULAQ podcast. Shehadeh’s own role as witness and guardian. He is determined to keep his eyes wide open, trained on the horizon, looking for future openings and alternatives. Shehadeh’s effort to find an opening with his Israeli neighbors is the subject of his latest book, Where the Line Is Drawn. As a pioneering human-rights lawyer, a writer, and an avid walker, Shehadeh has dedicated his life to exploring and exposing the landscape of the Israeli occupation. He has struggled to stay put, but also to be free—free Where the Line Is Drawn A Tale of Crossings, Friendships, and Fifty Years of Occupation in Israel-Palestine By Raja Shehadeh New Press. 230 pp. $25.95 of bitterness and delusion, of family expectations and the burdens of history, of hopelessness in the face of the settlements that today ring Ramallah like a “noose.” All of Shehadeh’s writing concerns how to find one’s footing on this splintered terrain, how to make one’s home in a world of loss. 28 S hehadeh’s family hails from Ramallah, but they had relocated to the more sophisticated seaside town of Jaffa, where his father, Aziz, worked as a lawyer and his mother’s family owned a hotel. In 1948, the Shehadehs, fearing the violence that would follow the UN-mandated partition of Palestine, closed up their apartment and returned to Ramallah. They expected to be there for only a few weeks, but they wound up joining the 30,000 refugees who were stranded in the city in the wake of the 1948 war. Raja Shehadeh was born there in 1951. For decades, his family remained focused on the life they had left behind. At night, Shehadeh recalled in his 2002 memoir, Strangers in the House, “the glittering lights of Jaffa sparkled in the short but unreachable distance.” After the 1967 war, Israel annexed the West Bank, and Palestinians were allowed to visit the towns they had fled 20 years before. In an act of great literary conjuring—and one of the most memorable passages in Strangers in the House—Shehadeh reconstructs his father’s return to Jaffa. In a car with an Israeli friend, Aziz traveled down to the coastal plain: “As it opened up my father felt his heart open with it.” Aziz recognized the turns in the road, the views, the eucalyptus trees planted by the British, the citrus orchards surrounding the city. But once in Jaffa, he discovered how much the city had changed. The courthouse had been demolished and the cinema closed; the Ottoman clock in the center of the square had stopped running. “His house, his office, his favourite haunts, the shop where he had sandwiches for lunch, the newspaper stand, the little public garden… were all lost to memory,” Shehadeh writes. The landmarks that survived—the old barbershop and bakery that Aziz’s father had owned, his mother-in-law’s house, the church where he got married—made it all the worse: “Why had something of the living past remained? Would it not have been easier if it had all gone, better still all crumbled and buried in the ground? Why this half reality, neither fully there nor fully gone?” But what Aziz was most shaken by was a different discovery: When his Israeli friend pointed out the bustling city of Tel Aviv nearby, “my father must have realized that the glittering lights to which his eyes had been riveted for all these years were not the lights of Jaffa but those of Tel Aviv.” This realization led to another: Aziz was now determined to make a break with the past, to focus only on what could be accomplished in the present. He refused the December 18/25, 2017 The Nation. “shadow life, a life of dreams and anticipation and memory,” led by many Palestinian refugees and exiles. His father’s refusal to accept this shadow life became essential to Shehadeh’s own moral and political outlook. Unlike other boys who came of age after the 1967 war and became fedayeen, he never felt the appeal of armed resistance. After earning a law degree in the United Kingdom, Shehadeh returned to the West Bank in 1976—the first Western-educated lawyer to return to practice there, he says, since 1948. He would find his own ways to support the national cause, focusing doggedly on what could be accomplished in the present. In 1977, Shehadeh accompanied his father to a hotel in Tel Aviv, where they watched Egyptian President Anwar Sadat’s televised speech to the Knesset offering peace with Israel. At the hotel, he met a young Jewish Canadian immigrant to Israel named Henry Abramovitch; the long friendship between the two is at the heart of Where the Line Is Drawn. Shehadeh felt an immediate rapport with Abramovitch, a jaunty free spirit with bright eyes and a huge, straggly beard. The two shared an interest in literature and self-analysis. They visited each other, explored the country together, and talked endlessly. Abramovitch was a pacifist, critical of Zionism and interested in the spiritual dimension of Judaism. He was adventurous and fearless, and he expected the best from people. When they met, both men thought of themselves as “not political,” although this is one of the book’s central questions: Is it possible for an Israeli and a Palestinian to be friends, outside of—or despite—politics? Shehadeh’s answer to this is unsentimental: He is honest about the resentment that nearly undermines their relationship and the compromises that salvage it. When he first met Abramovitch, he was still attempting “to relate to Israel and Israelis as if there was no occupation.” He and Abramovitch believed that the conflict would eventually be resolved and that the Palestinians would emerge with a state of their own. In fact, Shehadeh was even intrigued by the “active, adventurous and confident” citizens of Israel, envious of how they were building a new national identity and of the personal freedom of young Israelis. But his and Abramovitch’s youthful optimism and eventual four-decade-long friendship would be severely tested by the unfairness and brutality of the occupation. It is very difficult to keep a relationship free from a politics that colonizes the space around and between you. It is nearly impossible not to pick a side, or have a side pick you. I n the early 1980s, the Israeli government drew up a master plan that called for settling 80,000 Jews in the hills of the West Bank by 1986. Palestinian towns were forbidden from expanding in any direction. “We are going to leave an entirely different map of the country that it will be impossible to ignore,” declared Ariel Sharon, then the Israeli defense minister. A few years earlier, Shehadeh, along with a few other idealistic young lawyers, launched Al-Haq, a human-rights organization that offered legal aid to Palestinians to fight land expropriations. In Israeli military courts, he witnessed his clients being dispossessed through dubious legal stratagems and, when all else failed, by fiat. The Israeli military authorities in control of the West Bank after 1967 eventually adopted the view that all nonregistered land there was public land. Homes that Palestinians didn’t reside in and land that they failed to cultivate were now deemed abandoned. Nearly all of this property reverted to the Israel Land Authority and could then be leased or sold—but only to Jews. Often, it was used for settlements. Even land to which Palestinians had a valid legal claim could be taken away from them. The office of the Custodian of Absentees’ Property and the Israeli military courts transferred lands from supposedly “absentee” owners to future settlements even when Shehadeh and his colleagues were able to prove the claims of the Palestinians who owned them. Despite such defeats, Al-Haq grew, offering legal aid to thousands of people and documenting human-rights violations across the occupied territories. Its lawyers also raised awareness of torture in Israeli prisons Donald Trump: “No family will have to pay the death tax. American workers have paid taxes their whole lives, and they should not be taxed again at death—it’s just plain wrong and most people agree with that. We will repeal it.” Fact: “Workers” are decidedly NOT paying federal estate taxes: 998 out of every 1,000 American estates do not. The tax affects only the wealthiest 0.2%. And so, a modest proposal: Since you, dear reader, are highly unlikely to pay federal estate taxes of any kind, no matter what Donald Trump or the right-wing paranoia machine claims, we hope you’ll consider leaving a bequest to The Nation. Keep Journalism Alive Even After You’re Not A gift in your will—a bequest to The Nation—will help us keep ﬁghting to build a more just world for your children and grandchildren. Steve Brodner Contact us to learn more. phone: 212-209-5400; e-mail: email@example.com; website: TheNation.com/Legacy 30 and defended clients in cases where the evidence itself was kept secret from them. Shehadeh is both proud of this work and rueful about his and his colleagues’ belief that by using the law, they could successfully challenge Israel’s illegal land-acquisition and settlement policies. “The building of settlements in the Occupied Territories was a state project,” he wrote in his 2007 book, Palestinian Walks. “The government knew the decision it wanted out of these land courts. Higher national objectives overrode legal niceties.” Today, there are an estimated 380,000 settlers in the West Bank. The settlements are fortified gated communities, surrounded by walls and security cameras. They dominate the hilltops and are connected to Israel by a growing network of highways and bypass roads that are open only to Israelis. In his methodical way, Shehadeh hammers away at one overarching point: that the settlements are the source of the violence in Israel and Palestine, the key to understanding the conflict. “For an occupier to take through legal chicanery the lands of the occupied,” he writes, “and in stark violation of international law settle its own people in the midst of the towns and villages of the hostile occupied population can only lead to violence and bloodshed.” For Shehadeh, the settlements are also why he himself can’t help being part of the hostile occupied population and seeing his Israeli friend Henry Abramovitch as one of the intended settlers. “As the settlements advanced and more land was taken using means we were helpless to stop through legal action, I became more certain that the policy of the Israeli government was to throw us out altogether,” Shehadeh writes. “All this was to make room for Jews from the West, like Henry.” I n 1982, Israel invaded Lebanon, where the Palestine Liberation Organization was based. Shehadeh quotes from a letter that he wrote Abramovitch at the time: “Inasmuch as you have made your choice to come to Israel and settle, by your silence you are acquiescing and participating in its evil.… The absence of your voice against what is taking place in Lebanon with the Israeli army has cut me deeply.” December 18/25, 2017 The Nation. Abramovitch responded by accepting his friend’s criticisms: “as Enoch the Jew, I do feel that I am murdering your people here daily with frightening efficiency, and will I, can I, live up to those expectations of which you write so beautifully? For I think you are right. I have failed you—my demonstrations, proclamations, against the occupation don’t help you or your people a damn.” He then ended the letter by inviting Shehadeh to his wedding; Shehadeh accepted. The meetings between the two men became more sporadic after the first intifada broke out and the occupied territories were sealed off from Israel. Yet each time they saw each other, Shehadeh found his resentment melting away in the presence of his old friend: “I still cared for him, as one child cares for another, without thinking why.” But after their meetings, on the long and difficult trip back to his home, Shehadeh’s anger returned, and he found himself holding indignant imaginary arguments with Abramovitch. “What did he mean when he said I did not want to see him because I was too angry?” Shehadeh thought to himself. “It was his way of explaining it all away as a flaw of my character. He had failed to take into consideration what had caused every Palestinian to be justifiably angry.” Abramovitch was a conscientious objector and joined anti-occupation groups, but over time his protestations of solidarity left Shehadeh “cold.” The truth, he admitted, was that “I couldn’t forgive Henry for coming to Israel.” Abramovitch was free to choose whether to live there or not and welcome to come and go as he pleased. Despite his criticism, his presence seemed like an endorsement of the country and its policies, and those policies were designed to drive Palestinians out. Most Palestinians, meanwhile, were faced with choices that didn’t deserve that name. Most did not have the freedom to go home or, if they were sick of the occupation, to leave it. Their main form of agency and heroism, Shehadeh argued, was a “determination to stay put,” or sumud—“steadfastness.” To bear up and hold on to one’s dignity and balance is a daily struggle in the face of settler violence, army incursions, and the petty and exhausting harassment and humiliation. This is a heroism that often goes unrecognized. When Shehadeh visits an Israeli artist living in an old Arab house in Jaffa, the artist asks him: “What is this holding onto the past? It’s despicable. Why don’t you get on with your life? It’s pathetic. Look at us, how well we’ve managed.” Shehadeh doesn’t argue back, only noting later that “I was shocked to hear what she had to say and how she failed to appreciate that for us Palestinians it was not only a question of material losses, but the denial of our very existence as a nation.” Shehadeh’s tone is, as usual, remarkably measured here. Indeed, throughout his many books, he exercises just such a painful mastery and control. Elsewhere in Where the Line Is Drawn, he describes his fear of confrontation with the Israeli authorities, saying that he is less afraid of what they will do to him than of losing his self-control. I n Strangers in the House, Shehadeh describes himself as a “weak and vulnerable” child, often ill and shut up in his home. Yet he can also be strong-willed, turning his frailty into a weapon of sorts. His writing is sharpened and powered by what it leaves unsaid. It is also stretched taut by a movement in two opposing directions: the desire to cling to Palestine, to dig in and not budge an inch, and the desire to escape. Shehadeh can find life in the West Bank stifling; his lifelong habit of walking is a means to be alone, to roam physically and mentally. More than once, he describes his elation at traveling abroad, arriving in a vibrant foreign country, escaping the pressures of a conservative and intrusive Palestinian family and society, and especially the burden of being his father’s son. To his sensitive offspring, Aziz Shehadeh has always loomed larger than life. He was freethinking and decisive, capable of starting from scratch after enormous personal setbacks, and willing to challenge political orthodoxy and the authorities. He was also distant and critical, “an enigma” that his son spent his life trying to impress, to emulate, and to rebel against. From his father, Shehadeh also inherited a sense of himself as an outsider. Bright and awkward, the young man often felt estranged from his classmates—he writes, touchingly, that “I wanted so much to belong but interpreted my failure to do so to be evidence of my uniqueness and superiority.” Members of an Anglican minority within the Palestinian Christian minority, the She- December 18/25, 2017 hadehs were skeptical of Arab leaders who inveighed against Israel but offered little real assistance to the Palestinians when war broke out in 1948 and again in 1967. They also took a dim view of the local political leadership. “The prevailing local Palestinian politics were of the crudest kind,” Shehadeh writes in his memoir. “In essence they involved control—at any cost.” After 1967, Aziz Shehadeh was one of the first and only Palestinians to call for recognition of Israel and the immediate implementation of a two-state solution. The day after the war ended, he drafted a memo listing 40 prominent Palestinians and outlining a provisional Palestinian government that would sign a peace treaty with Israel. The Israeli authorities never responded. Meanwhile, on “The Voice of the Lightning Bolt,” a Damascus radio station broadcasting communiqués in support of Palestinian revolutionary groups, Shehadeh’s father was denounced as “a traitor, a despicable collaborator. You want to surrender and sell our birthright. We know how to deal with the likes of you.” But Aziz wasn’t intimidated, and he never stopped insisting that only a negotiated settlement would provide the Palestinians with a homeland—and that 1967 had been a missed opportunity for brokering such a deal. In 1985, an unknown assailant slit Aziz Shehadeh’s throat as he parked his car in front of the family home. The Shehadehs offered a $10,000 reward for information, hired a private investigator, and held press conferences, but the murder was never solved. The family came to believe that Israeli investigators weren’t pursuing all the available leads, probably because the murderer was an Israeli informant. For Shehadeh, the world was emptied and flattened by his father’s death: “he was the fire, the energy, the anger, the conflict, the explosion, the troublemaker, the instigator, the energizer. It would all be meaningless without him.” Yet Shehadeh still cared enough to be devastated, a few years later, by the Oslo Accords. He held the unpopular view that Oslo was a fool’s bargain, “a mere repackaging of the occupation,” because it did not require an end to settlement construction. Political expediency and arrogance, he believed, had led Yasir Arafat and the PLO leadership, which was eager to return from exile and govern, to dismiss the warnings and experiences of Palestinians like himself, who had lived under the occupation. Coupled with his father’s death, the accords turned out to be the low point in 31 The Nation. Shehadeh’s life. “Oslo buried my truth,” he writes in Palestinian Walks. Labeled a “rejectionist,” he watched impotently as settlement construction accelerated after the accords and the second intifada inevitably broke out. Just as his father had in 1967, Shehadeh found himself lamenting a missed opportunity for the Palestinian cause. After this double loss, Shehadeh dedicated himself to writing. It became his refuge, a way to manage his despair and reckon with the dead end that his life’s work seemed to have reached. If it was hopeless to fight the settlements through legal activism, at least he could ensure that the relentless theft of Palestinian land under the occupation wasn’t camouflaged by untruths. Since 2002, Shehadeh has published seven works of memoir and journalism. These books not only document the spoliations and violence of the occupation; they chart its insidious nature. In Palestinian Walks (subtitled Forays Into a Vanishing Landscape), Shehadeh recounts a late-afternoon hike to the small village of A’yn Qenya. On his walk, he observes the terraced hills and orchards, the deserted stone houses and enormous oaks and pines; suddenly, he decides to race the setting sun to the top of a hill. “I got there just in time,” he writes. “The air was dry and fresh. Lower hills spread below me like a crumpled sheet of blue velvet with the hamlets huddled in its folds. There was Janiya, Deir Ammar and on the highest hill the attractive village of Ras Karkar, all spread below me.… I tried to hold my breath until the last sliver of the orange sun disappeared and all that was left was the pink light reflected by the clouds that scattered in the big sky all around me. At this moment the wind began to pick up as it always does after the sun has set.” This was the last time that he would take in this view. “Shortly afterward the Israeli authorities expropriated the land and used it to build the settlement of Dolev.” The book contains many such vivid accounts of the landscape that Shehadeh has traversed, admired, and gradually lost over the course of four decades. His descriptions, as detailed as photographs, lay claim to the terrain he knows so well, even as it becomes the land of others. When he returns to a hilltop near A’yn Qenya in Where the Line Is Drawn, he discovers that the hill is now covered in the remnants of an illegal outpost, Yad Yair, that had been dismantled because the army would not protect it. Reaching down to pick up an abandoned sign, Shehadeh has a panic attack. Shaking and trying to breathe, he is overcome with a feeling of defeat: “I realized that I could no longer walk on this land without feeling that I was crossing into forbidden territory.” W riting has allowed Shehadeh to continue crossing into these territories, even as they become increasingly off-limits to him. His books are maps, painstakingly pieced together, of regions lost to senseless division, to bad choices, and to lies. The process of assembling them lets him know where he stands. It also allows him to continue to practice sumud. Through them, he can fill in the gaps in his own family history and make whole the open landscapes of his youth. He can revisit friendships damaged by the occupation and affirm the connection and proximity between Palestinians and Israelis—as well as the need to approach one another again with curiosity, patience, and honesty. His honesty toward himself is also unflinching. Shehadeh is 66 now, and in Where the Line Is Drawn he is primarily taking stock of his losses. Looking at himself in the mirror, he sees the impish face of a “rebel son” replaced by that of an older man, lined by tension and disappointment. Most of us worry in middle age that we have wasted our efforts, that our life’s work hasn’t amounted to enough. But Shehadeh’s loss is particular and staggering. “I am doomed to feeling the need to justify my existence through writing and speaking,” he admits, “while assuming the burden of and responsibility for the failure of all I see around me as if it were my own.” When it comes to his friend Henry, Shehadeh is much more generous than he is to himself. The two eventually reconnect, and find a new forbearance born not of any improvement in the political situation, but of the passage of time and an awareness of their own mortality. Shehadeh doesn’t want to add their friendship to everything he’s already lost. “Henry and I will continue to disagree,” he writes. “I know there will be more times when I feel disappointed with him and he with me, and perhaps there will be some anger. I was tempted to ask him when we last met, ‘Now that you have seen what Israel has become, do you ever regret coming to live here?’ But this would have been the wrong question to ask.… [H]ow could someone who has built his entire life here feel that it was all a mistake?... We cannot unpick our life or the history of our nation.” After all, he adds, if Henry Abramovitch hadn’t come to live in Israel, Q the two would never have met. 32 December 18/25, 2017 The Nation. Things were hardly rosier in the West, as the presidency of Bill Clinton effectively pushed American liberalism to the right of Richard Nixon and Tony Blair brought the Labour Party to the verge of Thatcherism. As Traverso observes, “market and competition—the cornerstones of the neoliberal lexicon—became the ‘natural’ foundations of post-totalitarian societies.” Whatever else it may have been, communism—as the French philosopher Jacques Derrida pointed out—was an unprecedented worldwide social philosophy as well as a political movement, and its failure left a monumental void. Simultaneously, much of the culture that emerged around communism and socialism evaporated. With “the downfall of State Socialism,” Traverso writes, “the entire history of communism was reduced to its totalitarian dimension.” The hegemony of global capitalism that filled the vacuum may no longer seem as eternal as it did even two years ago, but the communist dream of a classless society feels more distant than ever. Enzo Traverso’s new book offers us a guide to the left that the 20th century left behind by J. HOBERMAN C an a symptom explain itself? Enzo Traverso’s Left-Wing Melancholia is both an example and an explication of a particular condition, namely the post-1989 red blues. An Italian-born historian whose previous work has focused on Europe’s bloody violence in the first half of the 20th century, Traverso sets out in his new book to diagnose the mourning that he claims was produced by the collapse of what was known by its defenders as “really existing socialism.” Like many other historians and scholars, Traverso identifies 1989—the year that the Berlin Wall fell—as the unexpected and disruptive end of a particular historical epoch. “After 1989,” Traverso writes, “we became ‘spiritually rootless.’” All that was solid melted into air. The East German writer Christa Wolf had the uncanny sensation of being exiled from a country that no J. Hoberman has written, co-written, or edited 14 books, including The Red Atlantis: Communist Culture in the Absence of Communism and Film After Film (Or, What Became of 21st Century Cinema?). Left-Wing Melancholia Marxism, History, and Memory By Enzo Traverso Columbia University Press. 289 pp. $35 longer existed. More drastically, an entire culture of communist dissidence—which took much of its shape from what it opposed—was now stripped of its meaning. Artifacts like Milan Kundera’s early novels, Komar and Melamid’s parodies of Socialist Realist paintings, and scores of movies had become footnotes written in hieroglyphics. The collapse of communism did also occasion a brief period of euphoria: The left would now be released from the excesses of its past. Some expected a new form of democratic socialism to arise. Others took solace in declarations that the “end of history” was at hand and that liberal democracy might now prove universal. But by the mid-1990s, almost all of these hopes proved to be illusory. Nationalist regimes came to power in newly liberated Eastern Europe; civil war ravaged the former Yugoslavia; the promise of even limited political democracy in China was liquidated in Tiananmen Square. ST. PETERSBURG, 2017 (AP PHOTO / DMITRI LOVETSKY) WHAT REVOLUTION? I f the short 20th century that Eric Hobsbawm once called the “age of extremes” was bracketed by the messy birth and inglorious death of the Soviet project, the 21st century that began in the early 1990s may be characterized by a general pessimism regarding things to come. The demise of communism in the East more or less coincided with the decline of a socioeconomic system in the West that had empowered workers and led to a relative compression of income inequality. The failure of really existing socialism tainted the objectives of noncommunist socialism; capitalist democracies lost their utopian promise of shared prosperity on their own. For Traverso, the Soviet implosion represented “the shipwreck of the hopes of a century of emancipatory struggles.” But it did not obliterate history’s dialectic. Even as utopian imagination was buried beneath the rubble of the Berlin Wall, a hidden leftist tradition was revealed: “a melancholic vision of history as remembrance of the vanquished.” Traverso is hardly the first writer to address this malaise. The dust had barely settled in Berlin before Derrida eulogized the passing of communism in his 1993 Specters of Marx. A cottage industry of academic books soon followed, notably Susan Buck-Morss’s Dreamworld and Catastrophe (2000) and Charity Scribner’s Requiem for Communism (2003). But though he closely identifies with the mourning occasioned by the left’s defeats, Traverso also finds in it a December 18/25, 2017 kind of redemptive power. Left-Wing Melancholia takes its title from a 1931 essay by Walter Benjamin, in which he excoriated a fashionable group of Weimar writers for a left-liberalism that he believed was pitifully devoid of any corresponding action. Traverso, however, essentially stands Benjamin’s critique on its head. Rather than attacking what Benjamin called “the decayed bourgeoisie’s mimicry of the proletariat,” he seeks to commemorate and dignify the vanquished. Traverso’s left-wing melancholics (Benjamin among them) are akin to Leonard Cohen’s “beautiful losers.” For them, the tragedies of the past—the crushing of the Paris Commune, the Kronstadt uprising, the Stalinist terror, the civil war within the Spanish Civil War, the liquidation of the Prague Spring—are “a burden and a debt.” These melancholics do not suffer from the identity crisis that one West German sociologist characterized in 1990 as “leftist mourning.” Nor are they dazed and confused in the manner described by the blunt, not altogether sarcastic title of Richard Foreman’s 2001 production, Now That Communism Is Dead My Life Feels Empty! For Traverso, their unhappy condition carries the seeds of hope. Identifying melancholia with an awareness of human limitation, he cites Slavoj Žižek’s observation that the melancholic is not mourning a loss so much as recognizing a lack. It is not communism as it was realized that is being mourned by so many left-wing melancholics, but rather communism as it was imagined and as it never existed. M elancholia is Traverso’s heritage. He was born in 1957 in Gavi, the son of the north-Italian town’s communist mayor. Traverso came of age just as the New Left expired, and matured during a decade that brought the exhaustion of postwar anti-imperialism, the horror of the Khmer Rouge killing fields, the Iranian Revolution, the rise of Thatcherism, and the presidency of Ronald Reagan. All in all, it wasn’t a great time to be on the left. It was during the Big Chill of the 1980s, Traverso argues, that utopian aspiration began to fade. Historical victims supplanted historical victories. The memory of the October Revolution was eclipsed by that of the gulag; World War II was defined less by the defeat of fascism than by the Holocaust; and centuries of anticolonial struggle were overshadowed by the recollection of slavery. The radiant future was overwhelmed not 33 The Nation. only by the dismal present but by the ruinous past. It was, Traverso writes, as if the commemoration of victims, isolated in their victimhood, could not “coexist with the recollection of their hopes, of their struggles, of their conquests and their defeats.” In an interview with Alain Finkielkraut, conducted in the early 1980s, former communist true believer Kundera characterized Marxism as an ideology that, having failed “to explain the world in terms of total rationality,” had become a form of poetry: “It picked up a lyre and descended into the irrational.” While Traverso may not view Marxism exclusively in aesthetic terms, Left-Wing Melancholia is nevertheless dedicated to resurrecting those theories, memoirs, yearnings, and epigrammatic “thought-images” that help elaborate Marxism as a culture—or even a mythology—of left-wing defeat. For guidance in this allegorical terrain, Traverso turns to the giants of 20th-century critical thinking. His Virgils include German Jewish exiles like Siegfried Kracauer, for whom melancholia was a form of posttraumatic healing, and Benjamin, who asserted that revolutionary movements were “nourished by the image of enslaved ancestors rather than that of liberated grandchildren.” He also cites Sigmund Freud, whose essay “Mourning and Melancholia” surfaces several times in the book, and the contemporary German historian Reinhart Koselleck, who argued that, while history may be written (at least in the short run) by the victors, “historical gains in knowledge stem in the long run from the vanquished.” Beginning with a chapter on “Melancholy Images,” Traverso spends a considerable portion of his book on what might be called the cinema of left-wing defeat. His key example is the Italian director Luchino Visconti’s 1948 La Terra Trema (The Earth Trembles). A nearly three-hour epic, the film—inspired in part by Visconti’s reading of Gramsci—methodically chronicles the failure of a Sicilian fisherman to establish a cooperative in his impoverished village. Albeit made by a communist, La Terra Trema is the opposite of a Soviet drama. The hero does not inspire revolt; rather, as Traverso notes, he loses everything. Essentially digressive in structure—more a set of linked essays than a straightforward argument—Left-Wing Melancholia does not lack for fascinating asides. The chapter “Bohemia: Between Melancholy and Revolution,” for example, seems to be the précis for a book treating the artistic counterculture as a political laboratory. Traverso here would seem to revisit Benjamin’s essay “Paris: Capital of the 19th Century” to examine the French metropolis as the meeting ground of art and politics—reactionary as well as revolutionary—before going on to discuss the relationship between déclassé intellectuals like Marx, Trotsky, and Victor Serge and the marginal milieus through which they passed. A bit of counterfactual speculation appears at the end of another chapter, “Marxism and the West.” Traverso puts the German refugee Theodor Adorno and the Trinidadian Trotskyist C.L.R. James in conversation, imagining these two close readers of Marx and Hegel meeting for lunch in New York sometime in the 1940s, under the auspices of their mutual friend, Herbert Marcuse. Given that Adorno failed to grasp the significance of European colonialism, Traverso acknowledges the likelihood that he and James may have gotten together “only to acknowledge their mutual dislike and incomprehension.” Traverso has his reasons for seizing upon this missed opportunity. As in the Soviet bloc, if in a totally different fashion, the Marxism that remained prominent in the West during the last quarter of the 20th century was less a political form than a cultural one. For Traverso, “Western Marxism and Postcolonial studies merged under the sign of defeat,” and “their common field became the academy, where critical thought found a haven, far from the sound and the fury of the past century.” By reintroducing Adorno’s and James’s ideas in tandem, Traverso suggests the possibility of a vital, newly relevant synthesis. Traverso’s efforts to recuperate left-wing losses are not entirely successful, yet he does offer us another way to look through the lens of melancholy: Bluntly put, the struggle is its own reward. Traverso twice invokes Gramsci’s assertion that continued struggle is the left’s only surety—and he believes that this more pragmatic approach to the left means retaining much of our memory of the past. T hese days, Traverso’s gloomy assertion of liberalism’s triumph—“never, since the Reformation, had a single ideology established such a persuasive, global hegemony”—might seem a bit dated. There are signs of a newly invigorated socialist left emerging—though it is perhaps also worth pointing out that Jeremy Corbyn, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, and Bernie Sanders are themselves beautiful losers— but the most potent current alternatives to post–Cold War consensus, at least for now, appear to be populist xenophobia, authori- 34 OUT HERE STRUGGLING On Revelations, Shamir trades the glitz and brashness of his early work for a more ruminative and uncertain sound by BIJAN STEPHEN E xistential angst gets anthems; generational anxieties get an entirely new sound. In American music, there’s a long, rich history of both: from the scratchy Paramount 78s reinventing American recorded music to capture the bluesy gestalt and underlying racial tensions of the late 1910s, to the wild, druggy peace-rock of the Vietnam War era, which provided the soundtrack to a massive youth uprising. The late 1980s and early 1990s got Kurt Cobain for its angst, but it had to return to rap to describe its political discontents. The era would eventually become a golden age for political hip-hop, when acts like Public Enemy, KRS-One, A Tribe Called Quest, and N.W.A were on the rise. As the Chuck D quote goes, rap is black America’s CNN, and what its creators saw on the streets moved them enough to want to report on it in their work. As the platforms for music proliferated and fractured in the 2000s, with more Bijan Stephen writes for The New Yorker, the New Republic, and Esquire, among other publications. Revelations Shamir Father/Daughter Records. 31:00. $12 ways to get noticed yet less attention to go around, it’s been harder to keep up with exactly how today’s culture is working out its issues. But in an increasingly unequal world, more and more musicians appear to be responding to the pressures that economic injustice creates. From St. Vincent to Vince Staples, we see a common generational anxiety: We are all coming undone in a society that makes it hard to make ends meet. After all, an era’s musicians are representatives of its id, capturing the uncertainties roiling just beneath the surface. Shamir Bailey is a striking example: He sprang, fully formed, from the shimmering desert-heat mirage of Las Vegas, with that beautiful, improbable countertenor, singing his vulnerability. As the story goes, Bailey graduated high school, then went mononymous and sent a demo to Godmode records in Brooklyn. Nick Sylvester, the label’s head, signed him immediately. Their first SHAMIR (JAMES MACDONALD) tarian kleptocracy, illiberal democracy, and varying degrees of theocratic fanaticism. Traverso further notes that the absence of communism facilitated the rise of another kind of nostalgia, namely that of the ethnonationalist right. “The past,” he laments, “is revisited almost exclusively through the prism of nationalism.” This nationalism— here, there, and everywhere—is not simply the rejection of Soviet communism; it is also the near antithesis of the post–Cold War era’s liberal cosmopolitanism. In a remarkable reversal of the future-oriented traditions that dominated much of the 20th century, the 21st century seems to be marching forward into a utopian past: Rather than project themselves into a neoliberal paradise to come, the liberated nations of Central and Eastern Europe are obsessed with their purloined history— museums that enshrine their suffering at the hands of their red and Russian oppressors have sprouted throughout the former Soviet bloc—and visions of a glorious national heritage are central to right-wing politics in Western Europe as well as the United States. Traverso has no concrete answers, but Left-Wing Melancholia does offer solace, even some sites of possibility. A melancholic film like La Terra Trema may have appeared at more or less the moment when the Cold War effectively stymied the aspirations of the anti-fascist Italian Communist Party—and though today it’s regarded as arguably the greatest of the neorealist films made in this period, it was initially greeted at the 1948 Venice Film Festival with boos, catcalls, and other expressions of disapproval. Nevertheless, it embodied radical utopian hope. Visconti’s nonprofessional cast more or less played versions of themselves, speaking in their own dialect, and were thus empowered to experience themselves collectively as historical actors. Thanks to Visconti’s mise-en-scène, these impoverished villagers appear as almost mythological heroes—as figures who might transcend the constraints of their moment, despite being left with nothing, save the struggle, at the movie’s end. To dramatize or even conceive such a scenario is, in some way, to live it. La Terra Trema used a catastrophic setback as a way to demonstrate the possibility of change. Likewise, Traverso invokes the mourning of the previous century as a way for us to illuminate our own path. Just because communism failed in the 20th century, Traverso argues, doesn’t mean that it—or some other form of egalitarian society—cannot be accomplished in the 21st. The yearning for Q utopian hope springs eternal. December 18/25, 2017 The Nation. TWEETS GOT MUCH OF THE ATTENTION... ...BUT JOURNALISM MADE ALL OF THE DIFFERENCE. Make a donation to support The Nation’s journalism for the year ahead. Give by Dec. 31 and your gift will be matched dollar for dollar by a $100,000 matching fund. Donate today at TheNation.com/Donate 36 collaboration resulted in 2014’s Northtown EP, named for the neighborhood where Shamir grew up, and critics were cautiously optimistic—and after Ratchet, his first fulllength album, came out on XL Records the following year, they were convinced. Ratchet was a dancy, R&B-inflected romp through glitter-spattered soul-baring. “I’m holding on desperately / But you know they always will / Go in for the kill,” Shamir sang on “In for the Kill.” And yet two years and two albums later, critics seem to have cooled on the young star in the making with the impossible voice. So what gives? The short answer is that Shamir left Godmode and Sylvester’s production, and then was dropped from XL’s roster, and somewhere in the process changed his sound entirely: Hope, his second full-length, which was released directly to SoundCloud last year, was a lo-fi bedroom-rock experiment that, in Pitchfork’s words, represented “the fear of the sophomore album realized as music.” The longer answer might be that Shamir decided to plot another course entirely, finding a sound that was wholly his own: After he was dropped by XL, he struggled with mental-health issues and considered quitting music entirely. Hope came about as an effort to cope. Which is why his latest effort, Revelations, feels so revelatory. It delivers on Hope’s promise: The album is lo-fi, yes, but more sylphlike and tender than his previous work. It is also more assured. There’s a clumsiness to the production that’s endearing, which makes it feel like being inside Shamir’s head: Everything is stripped down and pared back, and his voice does the heavy lifting, carrying the catchy melodies that are his trademark. Yet what’s most revealing in Revelations is not its sound but its words. Its lyrics reflect the ambitious task that Shamir has set for himself: to be a conduit for his generation’s December 18/25, 2017 The Nation. desires, its hopes and dreams and secret fears. “90’s Kids,” one of the album’s standout tracks, begins like this: We talk with vocal fry We watch our futures die (90’s kids, 90’s kids) In debt before we slave But mom just thinks we rave (90’s kids, 90’s kids) And Shamir continues in this vein. Appearances seem to clash with material reality, although there’s really no contradiction: It’s possible to both talk with vocal fry and fear for your future, just as it’s possible to attend raves while sinking further and further into debt. Not acknowledging that struggle and joy can coexist, however, is frustrating. So put a drink in the air For the college girls and boys Paralyzing anxiety Is just a chore... Well our parents say we’re dramatic But they always ask for more Than we do So fuck you We out here strugglin’. Can someone tell me why I always seem to let these Straight boys ruin my life? I guess I’m just too nice Clearly, there’s a message that Shamir is trying to send. It’s the same one that many of his peers have been trying to convey to their elders: Mom, Dad, the kids ain’t alright. While every case is different, the math is basically the same: When young people come of economic and political age, they are faced with the twin revelations that they will a) work until they die and b) have to do more for less, and more with less. The frankly insane levels of economic inequality in this country ensure that its young can’t imagine a future that perpetuates the present state of affairs. It’s what’s responsible for the upsurge of interest in socialism among young people across America and the world, and it’s at the The Nation (ISSN 0027-8378) is published 34 times a year (four issues in March, April, and October; three issues in January, February, July, and November; and two issues in May, June, August, September, and December) by The Nation Company, LLC © 2017 in the USA by The Nation Company, LLC, 520 Eighth Avenue, New York, NY 10018; (212) 2095400. Washington Bureau: Suite 308, 110 Maryland Avenue NE, Washington, DC 20002; (202) 546-2239. 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POSTMASTER: Send address changes to The Nation, PO Box 433308, Palm Coast, FL 32143-0308. Printed in the USA on recycled paper. heart of many of the protest movements that have emerged since the financial disaster of 2008—because what is the left if not a set of politics that imagines a better future? In Revelations, Shamir has added himself to the growing chorus of millennial Cassandras. Although the personal is political, emotions aren’t necessarily so. On this latest album, Shamir also tackles the problem of being young today, which means working through the trickle-down anxiety that follows from our generation’s economic situation. It often warps relationships. Our hyperquantified digital lives—which are as real as our IRL ones, because there’s no way to separate them and still participate in society— mean that regular relationship anxieties (“Do they like me, too?”) are also seen through the prism of “Can I get by?” If your crush doesn’t like your latest selfie, what does that say about how others might feel? On “Straight Boy,” Revelations’ final song, Shamir captures these anxieties as well, singing: “Straight Boy” offers the emotional corollary to “90’s Kids”: One does the work of playing out our angst through a rock anthem; the other captures our times by helping to innovate a new sound. That’s no coincidence, because our economic uncertainties play into our emotional ones. In “Cloudy,” we find Shamir musing on confidence, and in “Blooming,” on strength. Loving yourself in an age of anxiety can be a radical act; finding joy there can be, too. On Revelations, we glimpse a slightly older Shamir, one who’s ready to shuck off the glitz and brashness of pop. He’s leaving behind the sounds of his early music and stepping into a new future—the one that Q our generation will make together. SOLUTION TO PUZZLE NO. 3449 ACROSS 1 anag. 9 CHA[t] + GRIN 10 TRI(BU)TE 11 ENSU(R)E 12 S + UPERIOR (our ripe anag.) 14 anag. 16 final letters 17 ALI + AS (&lit.) 18 L(YRIC)ISTS (I cry anag.) 20 F(RIGHT)EN 22 B(L)EACH 25 CUL(PRI)T 26 AN + TH[r]ILL 27 anag. DOWN 1 SU(C + C)ES + S 2 “praise” 3 letter bank 4 rev. 5 OUT NUMBERS 6 anag. 7 “Jew, Belize” 8 REGRE[e]T 13 T + W + ELVES + TEP (rev.) 15 I + NITIALS (is Latin anag.) 16 anag. 17 A(F + FE)CT 19 SC(HOL[d])AR 21 rev. 23 A MISS 24 2 defs. SUPREMECOURT~~~ U~R~R~T~U~H~J~R CHAGRIN~TRIBUTE C~Y~O~A~N~N~B~G ENSURE~SUPERIOR S~~~L~T~M~~~L~E SPIDERWEB~ERECT ~~N~S~E~E~S~E~~ ALIAS~LYRICISTS F~T~~~V~S~A~~~C FRIGHTEN~BLEACH E~A~A~S~L~A~M~O CULPRIT~ANTHILL T~S~P~E~S~O~S~A ~~~COMPUTERUSER IS THERE A WINE LOVER ON YOUR LIST THIS HOLIDAY SEASON? GIVE THE GIFT OF THE NATION WINE CLUB! Our one-time purchase options make the perfect present. Gift-membership recipients will receive four exceptional wines monthly. Each comes with a detailed tasting note from our wine buyers featuring insights into what makes the wine YRMUYIXLIWXSVMIWFILMRHXLI[MRIEVYRHS[RSJMXWǼEZSVWERHEVSQEWERHHIPMGMSYW food-pairing suggestions. Your gift supports The Nation’s indispensable, one-of-a-kind journalism. The Nation;MRI(PYFWSYVGIW[MRIWVIǼIGXMRKTVSKVIWWMZIZEPYIW Each month you’ll receive a new shipment of four captivating wines for just $15 per bottle plus $9.99 delivery. Cancel anytime. ORDER NOW AT THENATIONWINECLUB.COM OR CALL 800.946.3568 38 The Nation. December 18/25, 2017 Puzzle No. 3450 JOSHUA KOSMAN AND HENRI PICCIOTTO or over a decade, OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS has asked its staff and online community to help it choose a Place of the Year. Past winners have been as varied as our lost ninth planet, Pluto, and the host of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, South Africa. This year, each of the four places on the short list was important for its own reason, but one stood out among them. Complete the crossword puzzle and unscramble the letters in the shaded boxes to spell out the chosen 2017 Oxford Place of the Year. F O ne Across answer in each row must be altered to fit in the grid, forming an unclued entry in one of two related categories. When the grid is filled, the circled letters, read left to right, will say where these new diagram entries appear, ultimately. Enumerations for the Across entries are withheld; Down entries are normal. Good luck! ACROSS DOWN 1 Cushion stuffed with long-processed grain 1 Contest mediocre grade in algebra, e.g. (5) 5 Sensual messenger, perhaps, in Berkeley 2 Quantity obtained from a horse (6) 10 Greek letter on back of napkin—it might be double 3 Meat is 29, lacking limits (4) 11 Resting places with a turkey? Nonsense 4 Thanks poet for archaic garment (6) 12 Bird went into the water 5 Spells “scorch” and “manuscript” (6) 13 Young animal is oddly chubby 6 Assistant’s crazy idea (4) 14 Chief of police to agent: “A passport could be settled in advance” 7 Marine beginning to nudge molten rock uphill (5) 16 Digital storage in retrograde medium, or… 8 Game is ruined when some people are discriminated against (6) 18 …alternatively, Michael’s electronic holdings 9 Aristocrat is mostly amusing in retreat (4) 20 Carefully examine sexy man at gym 15 Chemical element (copper) I stored in alcohol (6) 21 Small beer transaction 17 Consumed with school in England, we hear (5) 23 For each sound made by a cat, loudly… 19 Boo-boos are found covering sailor’s back (6) 27 …suspicious stare is something shocking 20 Poles in boxes (5) 29 Inside of café, anger is burning 22 Caterpillar? Varmint, somewhat! (5) 30 Saucy dog, for example, swallows part of rug 24 Author and university elevated knight (4) 31 Die in peace, drained of energy 25 Kill animal specialist at rear of zoo (4) 32 Opening an old five-and-ten, surprisingly 26 Above a river dividing many countries… (4) 33 Muscleman returned no strong tennis stroke, lacking height 28 …a way to get power from water without a dam (4) 34 Press down headgear softly The solution to last week’s puzzle is on page 36.