Week of July 20, 2020

A few things of note from around the Internet this week:


Nikole Hannah-Jones on giving black Americans what they’re owed. Frederick Douglass’ observation in the third paragraph is particularly damning.

It devastates black people that all the other black deaths before George Floyd did not get us here. It devastates black people to recall all the excuses that have come before. That big black boy, Michael Brown, must have charged the weapon-carrying officer. Eric Garner should have stopped struggling. Breonna Taylor’s boyfriend had a weapon in her home and shouldn’t have shot at the people who, without a knock or an announcement, burst through her door. We’re not sure what Ahmaud Arbery was doing in that predominantly white neighborhood. Rayshard Brooks, who in the midst of nationwide protests against police violence was shot in the back twice by a police officer, just shouldn’t have resisted.

It should devastate us all that in 2020 it took a cellphone video broadcast across the globe of a black man dying from the oldest and most terrifying tool in the white-supremacist arsenal to make a vast majority of white Americans decide that, well, this might be enough.

In 1881, Frederick Douglass, surveying the utter privation in which the federal government left the formerly enslaved, wrote: “When the Hebrews were emancipated, they were told to take spoil from the Egyptians. When the serfs of Russia were emancipated, they were given three acres of ground upon which they could live and make a living. But not so when our slaves were emancipated. They were sent away empty-handed, without money, without friends and without a foot of land on which they could live and make a living. Old and young, sick and well, were turned loose to the naked sky, naked to their enemies.”


Robinson Meyer and Alexis C. Madrigal on the current state of things in the United States.


Eventually, Governor Greg Abbott of Texas and Governor Doug Ducey of Arizona went even further, blocking cities and counties from implementing any pandemic-related restriction more stringent than that required by the state. This meant that when a video emerged of packed nightclubs in Phoenix, full of people who were not wearing masks, the mayor was unable to close or sanction the clubs—or even require them to force patrons to wear masks. Both governors finally reversed those policies last week. (“To state the obvious, COVID-19 is now spreading at an unacceptable rate in Texas, and it must be corralled,” Abbot said at a press conference on Monday. This had not been obvious to the governor less than a week earlier, when he told Texans that the state’s record-breaking number of new infections was “no reason today to be alarmed.”)


A typical Patriots fan.

Sean Murphy seethed as he watched from his weed dealer’s couch. It was February 2008. Skinny, with deep-set brown eyes, Murphy was a typical Patriots fan. He pronounced “cars” as “cahs,” got his coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts, and had a mullet and a horseshoe mustache, at least when his girlfriend didn’t make him clean up. He moved furniture for a living in Lynn, Mass., a down-and-out suburb on the North Shore, and on Sundays, when he could get tickets, he made the 40-mile drive south to Foxborough to root for the Pats.

But there was another side to Murph, as his friends called him. On Saturday nights he put on an all-black ninja suit and went out looking for things to steal. He was a cat burglar—the best in a town where burglary was still regarded as an art form.


Rashad West, a humble hero in the tragedy of George Floyd.

Today, it appears that West’s purpose wasn’t solely cooking up Asian cuisine and modeling a successful Black-owned business; it was assisting in the defanging of police departments whose practices so frequently devalue Black lives. The move made him the savior that Emmett Till, George Stinney Jr., Sandra Bland, and so many other African Americans did not have before their unjust and untimely deaths. “The only reason I put that video out was to preserve the truth,” says West. His voice lowers as if he’s thinking out loud. “I know how that can get twisted.” You can hear in his voice how much he hated being lied to about George Floyd’s death.


Alex Danco on Sigmund Freud and refusing to wear a mask.

The minute that wearing masks became about protecting other people, it was game over for America. Masks became a symbol of the superego; and as far as symbolism goes, it’s laid on pretty thick. (It’s literally something that you put on your face into order to stop yourself from spraying germs onto other people, and therefore suppress your own guilt of being part of a pandemic!) The minute masks became about suppressing yourself to protect others, the narrative became: The Elites want you to feel guilty about not wearing a mask, just like they want you to feel guilty about driving a car, or eating a burger, or anything else you love. Don’t let them!

Unfortunately, there is a right answer. Wear the stupid mask.


There are so many incredible, genuine entrepreneurs and small business owners. Then there are the corrupt, worse-than-you-can-imagine plutocrats that Trump’s helping exploit the pandemic.

Mountaire’s official creed says, “Good stewards of all the assets that God has entrusted to us.” Cameron increasingly began using his share of the company’s assets to influence American policy and politics by funding socially conservative and business-friendly candidates and advocacy groups. Low-level poultry workers have been described as cogs in a perpetual-motion machine, but big-donor politics can also be a kind of perpetual-motion machine—one that recycles profits to perpetuate profits.

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