Select Page

Author: Heather Cox Richardson

A small measure of Justice: The Derek Chauvin verdict brings a moment of relief to people of color

A jury in Minneapolis, Minnesota, convicted former police officer Derek Chauvin on April 20 of all criminal counts in the death of George Floyd. On May 25, 2020, Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck for 9 minutes and 29 seconds after arresting him for allegedly trying to pass a counterfeit $20 bill. The jury found Chauvin guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter. He faces up to 75 years in prison, and will be sentenced in two months. As we heard this verdict today, it was striking how many Americans breathed a sigh of relief. It stands out...

Read More

Elite Rule: The idea of allowing only “better” people to vote was first proposed by wealthy slaveholders

Commentator Kevin Williamson published a piece in National Review on April 7 justifying voter suppression by suggesting that “the republic would be better served by having fewer, but better, voters.” Representatives, he says, “are people who act in other people’s interests,” which is different from doing what voters want. This is the same argument elite slaveholder James Henry Hammond made before the Senate in 1858, when he defended the idea that Congress should recognize the spread of human enslavement into Kansas despite the fact that the people living in that territory wanted to abolish slavery. Our Constitution, Hammond said,...

Read More

A “White America” First Caucus: When the party of Abraham Lincoln becomes the party of Jefferson Davis

News broke on April 16 that a number of pro-Trump House Republicans, including Representatives Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), Matt Gaetz (R-FL), and Paul Gosar (R-AZ), are organizing the “America First Caucus,” which calls for “a degree of ideological flexibility, a certain intellectual boldness… to follow in President Trump’s footsteps, and potentially step on some toes and sacrifice sacred cows for the good of the American nation.” The seven-page document outlining their ideas, obtained by Punchbowl News, is a list of the grievances popular in right-wing media. It calls for regulation of “Big Tech,” which right-wing commentators claim is biased...

Read More

Seeking racial justice in court: On trial is also our fundamental principle of equality before the law

At about 2:00 in the afternoon on April 11, a white police officer in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, shot and killed 20-year-old Daunte Wright, a Black man, after what seems to have been a routine traffic stop turned up an arrest warrant. The following day, on April 12, the Brooklyn Center police chief told reporters that the arresting officer intended to fire her Taser at Wright, but instead fired her gun. Wright’s death took place about ten miles from where Derek Chauvin is on trial for killing George Floyd in Minneapolis last May. Then a police officer, Chauvin knelt on...

Read More

When lawmakers fall weirdly out of step with their party’s history and the will of the country

I spent much of April 5 thinking about the Republican Party. Its roots lie in the immediate aftermath of the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act in spring 1854, when it became clear that elite southern slaveholders had taken control of the federal government and were using their power to spread their system of human enslavement across the continent. At first, members of the new party knew only what they stood against: an economic system that concentrated wealth upward and made it impossible for ordinary men to prosper. But in 1859, their new spokesman, Illinois lawyer Abraham Lincoln, articulated a...

Read More

A tragic cost of failure: Proof that the federal government has a role in combatting the pandemic

The 1918 influenza pandemic killed at least 50 million people across the world, including about 675,000 people in the United States. And yet, until recently, it has been elusive in our popular memory. America’s curious amnesia about the 1918 pandemic has come to mind lately as the United States appears to be shifting into a post-pandemic era of job growth and optimism. A year ago, I noted that we were approaching 17,000 deaths from Covid-19. Now our official death count is over 560,000. If anyone had told us a year ago that we would lose more than a half...

Read More