Political Thinking for Everyday Citizens
The country mourns the loss of a hero this weekend.
A man whose work in the real world achieved the legendary status of becoming a series of bestselling comic books. The heroes in comic books appear larger than life but Congressman John Lewis would insist that any of us could do what he did.
Spray cans left at the bottom of the Robert E. Lee statue in Richmond, Virginia invited everyone to leave their mark. People there transformed the space around the monument into a community space, some described the scene as a “focus of civic outpouring.”
The pictures posted online include basketball and ballerinas. Look at the t-shirts and you’ll find the claim, “I am my ancestors’ wildest dreams.”
Aimee Stephens answered so many questions in the last seven years of her life. In one of many interviews, she shared the first questions she remembers fielding—are you willing to see this through? ACLU attorneys had to ask if she would persevere.
The data is in: we’re buying the books. You might have even seen the screenshot circulating as a sign of hope. The top non-fiction titles on the New York Times Bestseller list are all about race and criminal justice.
“The question is not if we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice?
…The nation and the world are in need of creative extremists”
There’s one phrase that keeps shouting at me over all the images of the protests. The phrase comes from Ta-Nehisi Coates’ book, Between the World and Me (2015).
Reflecting on his childhood, Coates describes what it was like growing up as a black boy in the United States. The phrase that haunts me today appears in that account. Coates says he learned to be “powerfully afraid.”
“Anti-intellectualism is itself a means of short-circuiting democracy, because a stable democracy in any culture relies on the public actually understanding the implications of its own choices.”
This question comes by way of a recent book by Ezra Klein, Why We’re Polarized. The introduction introduces this question through a conversation between two political scientists. Klein shares the conversation in the introduction titled, “What Didn’t Happen.”