Each week, the Sunday Post highlights just a few pieces of longform writing that we loved reading. Settle in with a cup of coffee, or tea, if that's your pleasure — we saved you a seat! Read an essay or an article online that you loved? Let us know at email@example.com. Need more browse? You can also look through the archives.
It doesn’t take long to get to the creepy bits in Brendan O’Connor’s coverage of the 2019 Border Security Expo. There’s something inherently creepy about trade shows and conventions, I think. Compress any industry into a few thousand square feet (not good with spatial relations! readily admit it!), and you see all the sameness, all the bubble-ness of it. You also free it of its inhibitions.
Do that for border security and you get to the ugly pretty fast. O’Connor does a great job of telling the story of that ugliness — and calling out the stories that are used to hide it.
The vision of a hermetically sealed border being sold, in different ways, by Trump and his allies, by Democrats, and by the Border Security Expo is in reality a selectively permeable one that strictly regulates the movement of migrant labor while allowing for the unimpeded flow of capital. Immigrants in the United States, regardless of their legal status, are caught between two factions of the capitalist class, each of which seek their immiseration: the citrus farmers, construction firms, and meat packing plants that benefit from an underclass of unorganized and impoverished workers, and the defense and security firms that keep them in a state of constant criminality and deportability.
You could even argue that nobody in a position of power really wants a literal wall.
What matters most in a presidential election? What American voters value, or what institutional journalism does? (Yeah, I know, "who buys the most semi-legal Facebook ads, but work with me here.) Rebecca Traister on the reluctance of yesterday’s talking heads to catch up to today.
This is the suffocatingly grim reality: Even after the peeling off of a layer of the political media’s most prominent interlocutors during #MeToo — including Charlie Rose, Mark Halperin, Bill O’Reilly and Matt Lauer —television coverage of the 2020 election is still being led by men who have sketchy histories around gender and power. Even after a midterm season in which women — many of them women of color, some of them very progressive — won elections in historic numbers; even in the midst of a presidential crisis during which poor, black, brown, and immigrant communities have been made more vulnerable than ever, and have been brought closer to the center — finally — of left political engagement and activism; even given all of this, so many of the voices interpreting the events around us still belong to the guys who’ve been clumsily telling us what to think about politics for ages.
See also Rebecca Solnit, “Unconscious bias is running for president”: “I’ve just spent a month watching white male people in particular arguing about who has charisma or relatability or electability. They speak as if these were objective qualities, and as if their own particular take on them was truth or fact rather than taste, and as if what white men like is what everyone likes or white men are who matters.”
Do we need another takedown of Jordan Peterson? We do, if it comes from a one-time Peterson “addict.” Omer Aziz dissects his journey from respect to fascination to disgust, and how the narrative of who Jordan Peterson is, and who his followers are, altered along the way.
Maybe that’s today’s accidental theme: The owners of our cultural stories are shifting, and it’s terrifying for those who have told that story unchallenged for so long. It’s a battle of much more than words.
In the private whisperings of men across race and age, I have often detected a nervousness about past indiscretions which, in the cold light of the egalitarian morning, might be perceived as predatory from the women’s perspective. Rather than deal with its own issues, this male hysteria, in typically masculine fashion, externalizes them onto feminism, and has found its chief intellectual proponents in figures like Peterson. But the fear of reprisal is real and arises out of the revolutionary moment we are witnessing, one that is reconfiguring whose narrative lens is dominant, and from whose perspective we understand the story.