Throughout the Trump presidency, the summer of Black Lives Matter protests and the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, when asked about the alarming degree of polarization and anger in politics, I would always offer by way of comparison a time when I thought things had been worse: 1968.
Almost a half-century before Donald Trump signed on to the fraudulent notion that President Barack Obama’s American citizenship and constitutional legitimacy were suspect, Robert Welch (1899-1985) reached an equally alarming conclusion about the president of his day, Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower.
For liberal supporters of Israel, the unresolved status of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza presents a dilemma: a choice between a single state with so many Arab citizens as to inevitably dilute the Jewish character of the country, or the insistence of control over but denial of equal rights to millions of Palestinians, diluting if not destroying Israel’s democratic character.
In this time of corrective unnamings—to remove traces of admiration or gratitude for the morally reevaluated—the names of unrepentant slaveholders, Confederate generals, contemporary sexual predators and other assorted wrongdoers have been erased or proposed for erasure from college dorms, military bases, city streets and more.
The title of her new book is Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents. It retells the history of American racism from slavery to segregation, from everyday indignities to the use of lethal force. Throughout, she strives to write not of whites and Blacks, but of the majority caste and the minority caste.
In his foreword to Linda Sarsour’s memoir of political activism, Harry Belafonte remarks, “It wasn’t that long ago that we lost Martin and Malcom and Bobby.” He is comparing the vilification of Sarsour, the hijab-wearing, Brooklyn-born Palestinian-American, for her anti-Israeli politics to the murderous racist violence of the 1960s. It seems a stretch.