How Police Became Paramilitaries

Michael Shank

A police officer armed with a semi-automatic carbine watching from an armored vehicle during a rally protesting the death in police custody of George Floyd, Miami, Florida, May 31, 2020

That beat cops so often look like troops is not just a problem of “optics.” There is, in fact, a “positive and statistically significant relationship between transfers [to police of military equipment] and fatalities from officer-involved shootings,” according to recent research. In other words, the more militarized we allow law enforcement agents to become, the more likely officers are to use lethal violence against citizens. The corollary of more police-involved killings, of course, is more protests in response. That sets up, for some, a convenient “law and order” pretext to occupy American streets—or “dominate” them as President Trump remarked in a recent news conference.

Viktor Orbán’s Masterplan to Make Hungary Greater Again

Kate Maltby

Mounted gendarmes moving through the city of Sopron in support of West-Hungarians protesting the Trianon Treaty that would turn over the territory to Austria, Hungary, 1921

As Versailles was to Germany, so Trianon was to the Austro-Hungarian Empire. In both treaties, the victors of World War I redrew the borders of the defeated dominions, shoring up resentments and seeding dreams of revenge. The junior partner in the then-defunct empire, Hungary lost 72 percent of its land and 64 percent of its population to newly formed neighbor states. The treaty of Trianon is known in Hungary as the békediktátum, or “dictated peace.” It should be no surprise that Hungary’s nationalists harbor grievances.

Cyprian Ekwensi’s Lagos Noir

Emmanuel Iduma

Carter bridge street scene, Lagos, Nigeria, 1950s

Around the time I decided to take writing seriously, my family moved to a new town. I remember filching a worn copy of People of the City from a bookshelf, beginning to read it: maybe it could teach me a thing or two about how to write a novel. And since I was only fifteen, I saw no error in lifting entire paragraphs of Cyprian Ekwensi’s story and, after changing the characters’ names, putting them into mine. Any Nigerian writer who has tried to write about Lagos as a city with feeling descends from Ekwensi.

Moving Backward: Hypocrisy and Human Rights

Mark Danner

Guantánamo Bay detention camp, Cuba, October 2018

The United States, even as it pursued its neo-imperial ambitions, championed the human rights revolution that began after World War II. But today, for the first time since the late Forties, Americans and their government are demonstrably headed in the opposite direction. It is not simply that assassination has become a mainstay of US foreign policy. It is that these things are the new normal: torture; cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment; indefinite detention; assassination; extra-judicial killing. This is not who we are, as President Obama was fond of saying. And yet, it is what we do.

My Quarantine: Cozy Mysteries

Sarah Manguso

Mark Williams as Father Brown in Father Brown, 2013-ongoing

I first drifted into the Father Brown and Miss Fisher television series in 2018, while under the effects of pain medication and postsurgical malaise. Even though my family and I are safely housed, and my own case of Covid-19 has been relatively mild, I see the shadow of prolonged illness all around us, and I’ve instinctively returned to my cozy mysteries. The traditional cozy is a soft-boiled whodunit featuring an amateur sleuth operating within an intimate community, mostly outside the traditional police force.

Painting a Knotty Landscape: An Interview with Yevgeniya Baras

Marisa Mazria Katz

Yevgeniya Baras: Untitled, 2019

Marisa Mazria Katz: Your paintings feel very experiential, almost like walking through a landscape. And so much of your imagery seems to have been derived from the traveling you do. Is there a sense that if that stops, so will the inspiration for your art? 
Yevgeniya Baras: I have so much mining to do because of the many chapters I’ve already lived that I’m not worried about running out of material to build meaning from. And being an immigrant ends up being a blessing in this case because I speak two languages fluently. So I’m reading in two, I’m watching in two. I’m talking on Skype with friends in two. I have this larger world.

After George Floyd, a Nation in Search of Justice

Hugh Eakin, with art by Molly Crabapple

In the worst of ironies, outrage at the system has, at least for now, made the system more terrifying than ever. Across social media, peaceful protesters have expressed unease that the police are no longer there to protect them, that—as much of the black community has sensed for years—that the police are menacing, heavily armed antagonists. For its part, the city authorities have struggled to maintain a semblance of order, without provoking yet further unrest—even as the president sends inflammatory tweets threatening more lethal force.

In the Vanguard of Trio Jazz with Micah Thomas

Adam Shatz

Micah Thomas at the piano, 2020

The piano trio has always held a special place in my experience—and imagination—of jazz clubs. And the most exciting debut on record that I’ve heard in the last year is Micah Thomas’s trio, recorded live last spring at Kitano, a small club in New York. Still very young—a twenty-two-year-old student finishing a master’s at Juilliard—and quite unassuming, Thomas isn’t trying to reinvent the piano trio so much as to offer his own gloss on it. The album, Tide, is earnest, even a little old-fashioned; a sound more evocative of the 1960s—or perhaps of a young man’s dream of 1960s jazz—than of the 2020s.

‘Don’t Look for a Soothsayer’: An Interview with Harry Enten

Matt Seaton

Harry Enten, Central Park, New York City, May 23, 2020

Matt Seaton: What is polling good for, why does it matter, and what are its limits?
Harry Enten: Election polling can be used to help understand which issues matter to people, which can in turn help us understand why someone gets elected. I personally think the horserace component is fun, and plenty of people seem to agree. But look for analysis that knows its limits. Look for someone who explains why they think what they think. Someone who clearly states what their confidence is in any given forecast. Polling itself, and polling analysis, have a margin of error—and a margin of interpretation; anyone who is too certain should not be trusted.

Who Cares? Now, All of Us Must

Ai-jen Poo

ManorCare workers gathering as people parade past the retirement facility where they work to thank them, West Reading, Pennsylvania, May 5, 2020

Amid this combined health and economic crisis, we are all struggling to take care of our families in new and unfamiliar ways. That is when it dawned on me that the pandemic had created something that we at the National Domestic Workers Alliance have sought to create for decades: mass public awareness about the importance of care work. We had not, as a nation, recognized how essential caregivers are—whether family members or professional workers—to the very fabric of our society and the infrastructure of our economy. That is, until now.