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Author: Heather Cox Richardson

Remembering John Lewis: An icon of the social justice movement with a legacy of community service

Just before midnight on July 17, we heard the news that 80-year-old Georgia Representative John Lewis has passed away from pancreatic cancer. As a young adult, Lewis was a “troublemaker,” breaking the laws of his state: he broke the laws upholding racial segregation. He organized voting registration drives and in 1960 was one of the thirteen original Freedom Riders, white and black students traveling together from Washington DC to New Orleans to challenge segregation. “It was very violent. I thought I was going to die. I was left lying at the Greyhound bus station in Montgomery unconscious,” Lewis later...

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Assault on public schools: Why Betsy DeVos is using the pandemic to privatize education across the nation

Photo by Gage Skidmore and licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 The administration escalated its insistence on July 12 that our public schools must reopen on schedule for the fall. On “Fox News Sunday,” Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos told Chris Wallace – who is one of the Fox News Channel’s actual reporters, “We know that children contract and have the virus at far lower incidence than any other part of the population, and we know that other countries around the world have reopened their schools and have done so successfully and safely.” Wallace asked her if it was fair...

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You’ll get used to it: Trump supporters embrace an alternate reality on his failed response to COVID-19

It is becoming clearer that there are currently two different versions of America. The White House and Trump supporters are trying to pretend that the world Trump continually tweets about is real, while the rest of the country is proving that reality doesn’t much care about the fictions Trump is peddling. July 6 began with Trump frantic-tweeting, and those tweets were an impressionistic picture of how he hopes to win voters. He defended his performance in combatting what he called “new China Virus” cases, touted the strong stock market, and warned that “if you want your 401k’s and Stocks,...

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“Leader of a Culture War” stands on stolen Lakota land to deliver a message of hate on Independence Day

On a day that presidents traditionally use to avoid politics and reinforce Americans’ shared values – July 4, Trump gave a speech dividing Americans into two groups: his supporters and “the radical left, the Marxists, the anarchists, the agitators, the looters, and people who in many instances have absolutely no clue what they are doing.” Trying to get people to look away from the devastating toll of coronavirus on this country— our official death toll is approaching 130,000 — Trump is staking out a position as the leader of a culture war. The July 4th speech was an echo...

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Milwaukee residents hold peaceful rally seeking end to state-sponsored violence against people of color

America feels completely chaotic today. Protesters are marching in major cities, sometimes looting; police appear to be attacking them and the journalists covering the protests. Rather than calming the situation, the president has thrown gasoline on the fire, which escalated a fight with Twitter. George Floyd is dead. So is Breonna Taylor. And so are more than 100,000 victims of a deadly pandemic. The news is overwhelming. It is designed to be overwhelming. This sort of chaos and confusion destabilizes society. In that confusion, as tempers run hot, people who are desperate for certainty return to old patterns and...

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The screaming “American Patriot” is a portrait of how the individualist movement has failed

Jeff Kowalsky’s photograph of the “American Patriot Rally” at the Michigan statehouse on April 30 shows a large, bearded man, leaning forward, mouth open, screaming. Positioned between two police officers who are staring blankly ahead above their masks, he is focused on something they are preventing him from reaching: the legislature. His fury is palpable. The idea that such a man is an “American Patriot” is the perverted outcome of a generations of political rhetoric that has celebrated a cartoon version of “individualism.” That rhetoric has served a purpose: to convince voters that an active government that regulates business,...

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