Garry Wills is Professor of History Emeritus at Northwestern. He is the author, most recently, of The Future of the Catholic Church with Pope Francis. (March 2016)


A Hater for All Seasons

Rubber Trump masks, Ozawa Studios Inc. factory, Saitama, Japan, June 14, 2016

Trump’s use of objective correlatives lets him avoid expressing hate openly except for about things everyone is opposed to—and allows him to adjust the meaning of his hate depending on his current poll numbers. He does not hate blacks, he just questions those who hide their origins. He isn’t against all Muslims, just those from the “terror countries.” He does not oppose all women, just pigs (who likes pigs?); or all Mexicans, just rapists (who defends rapists?).

Our Moloch

The gun is not a mere tool, a bit of technology, a political issue, a point of debate. It is an object of reverence. Devotion to it precludes interruption with the sacrifices it entails. Like most gods, it does what it will, and cannot be questioned. Its acolytes think it is capable only of good things. It guarantees life and safety and freedom. It even guarantees law. Law grows from it. Then how can law question it?


My Koran Problem

A Muslim woman asking for protection from black magic inside the shrine of Abba Ruwais, a Copt saint, Cairo, Egypt, 1997
In the summer of 2015, I was asked by the directors of a university political science program to lecture about Americans’ attitudes toward Islam. I asked at the beginning how many in the audience (of about eighty students and faculty) had read the Koran. Four hands went up. Later, at …

The Triumph of the Hard Right

Carly Fiorina, Chris Christie, Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush, and Donald Trump at the Republican presidential debate in Las Vegas, December 2015

Why the Right Went Wrong: Conservatism—from Goldwater to the Tea Party and Beyond

by E.J. Dionne Jr.
Everybody told everybody early in this year’s presidential campaign (during what was called Trump Summer) that we had never seen anything so sinisterly or hilariously (take your choice) new. But Trump Summer was supposed to mellow into Sane Autumn, and it failed to—and early winter was no saner. People paid to worry in public tumbled over one another in asking what had gone wrong with our politics.


Gulping Down Shakespeare

Queen Margaret (Karen Aldridge) grieves a personal loss in the bloodshed of the Wars of the Roses in Barbara Gaines’s Chicago Shakespeare Theater production of Henry VI, Part Two, September, 2016

Shakespeare’s first audience had to take him in single plays, as they were conceived and put on. But we have his large body of work, and some plays are cross-referential, especially the plays of dynastic ups and downs around the British crown. The history plays beg for some consideration as a whole, as Barbara Gaines’s two-part day-long productions for the Chicago Shakespeare Theater show.

Shakespeare: War Is King

The crowning of Henry VI (Steven Sutcliffe) in Barbara Gaines’s Chicago Shakespeare Theater production of Henry VI, Part 1, May, 2016

Barbara Gaines, the founding director of the Chicago Shakespeare Theater, in a sequence she has called “Tug of War,” has grouped six of Shakespeare’s so-called “history plays” into two sequences, the first being performed this spring, the second in the autumn. Gaines portrays a war culture that affects everyone and everything. She does not pretend she is presenting Shakespeare’s own views, but rather looks back on the plays as cultural products to be weighed in our terms.

The Next Justice? It’s Not Up to Us

No sooner was Antonin Scalia dead than Republicans said that his seat should not be filled before the election of a new president. If the framers wanted to let the people “have a say” and “weigh in,” they would have made the appointment or confirmation of the justices come from the one directly democratic part of the system. What could be more absurd than for cultists of an originalist like Justice Scalia to call for a popular referendum on Supreme Court justices?

Boston: Truth and Complicity

Rachel McAdams as Sacha Pfeiffer, Michael Keaton as Walter 'Robby' Robinson and Mark Ruffalo as Mike Rezendes in Tom McCarthy's Spotlight, 2015

The script of Spotlight, written by the film’s director Tom McCarthy and the academic- and-showbiz marvel Josh Singer, is amazing in its mastery of complex material about predatory priests in Boston. It soon develops that even The Boston Globe itself is part of the cover-up story.



The script, written by the film’s director Tom McCarthy and the academic- and-showbiz marvel Josh Singer, is amazing in its mastery of the complex material, since many strands converged for the paper to break the hold of the hierarchy over the city.