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Comments: Week of May 14, 2018

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1. Frank Rich reminded New York readers that before the city’s Establishment aided and abetted Donald Trump, it enabled the misdeeds of his mentor and onetime lawyer Roy Cohn (“The Original Donald Trump,” April 30–May 13). Among those praising the story was Yoko Ono, who wrote, “Thank you Frank Rich for your courageous writing. We have all benefited from it.” Ellen Schrecker, a prominent historian of McCarthyism in America, wrote, “Frank Rich’s chilling piece about how the Big Apple’s bigwigs facilitated the rise of Donald Trump recalls the similar service the Establishment performed for Joe McCarthy, the sleaziest of Roy Cohn’s early employers. Though the Wisconsin senator’s lies were as flagrant as those of our current president, he was encouraged by the most respectable politicians in the U.S. Meanwhile, liberals cowered, like today’s Republicans, terrified that a disreputable senator might destroy their careers. But by focusing on McCarthy’s antics, his critics diverted attention from the more serious damage that his movement was doing to the American political system. Similarly, we can’t let the daily drumbeat about porn stars and Russian fixers distract us from resisting the Trump regime’s broader assault on democracy and human values.” Edward Alwood, a University of Maryland journalism instructor and author of Dark Days in the Newsroom, wrote: “Donald Trump shares with Joseph McCarthy and Roy Cohn almost laser precision in media manipulation, as Frank Rich studiously demonstrates. But media that helped build them up eventually helped take them down. The question is, will new media ultimately serve as an antidote for the ‘political evil’ that Rich describes, or will it cause a cancer to metastasize?” And Landon R.Y. Storrs, author of The Second Red Scare, added, “Rich’s impulse to move us beyond reductive conspiracy theories is laudable. But the fact remains that the opportunistic, ideologically flexible Mr. Trump, like Cohn before him, abets the profoundly ideological agenda of those who seek to destroy popular trust in the integrity and competence of government officials. Like Cohn and McCarthy, Trump survives because he is useful to anti-democratic forces that are redirecting government policy to promote private gains rather than the public interest.”


2. “If there’s a blue wave sweeping the nation, is it going to wash over Georgia, or will it skip the state?” Lisa Chase asked in her profile of the two Staceys vying to win the Democratic primary and become the next governor of Georgia (“Stacey vs. Stacey,” April 30–May 13). Reader @lappinmichael tweeted, “A really great piece on the Governor’s Race. Two great candidates. I’m #teamabrams.” Some, though, felt that Chase was more skeptical of Abrams than of Evans, including Connie Cole, who wrote, “I thought the author was going to point out something historic and positive about this race. Instead she spent the majority of the piece faulting everything Stacey Abrams did or said. She seems biased in favor of the other Stacey. As an African-American and a Georgia voter, I was disgusted.” Sarah Lerner added, “It’s bullshit that a candidate like Stacey Abrams is subjected to these kinds of questions [about her sexuality]. Kudos to Abrams for her answer.” But many readers from south of the Mason-Dixon Line praised the story, with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Pete Corson writing, “This is the best gov-race article I’ve read from outside Georgia. Very fine carpet bagging @lizziechase!” And @StefanTurk tweeted, “This is not the worst article you’ll read about the Georgia Governor’s race from a New York publication. In fact, it might be the best.”

3. New York excerpted the heretofore-unpublished Barracoon, Zora Neale Hurston’s nonfiction work on Cudjo Lewis, a survivor of the last slave ship to America (“The Last Slave,” April 30–May 13). @DandaraQueen tweeted, “Zora was not only a great author, she was a brilliant anthropologist and sociologist. Her interviews are historical gems.” Britni Danielle added, “It’s never lost on me that Zora Neale Hurston, one of the preeminent writers and researchers of the 20th century, died penniless because she would not compromise the integrity of her work, which centered Black people in all of our humanity.” In an accompanying story on nymag.com, Nick Tabor reported on conditions in Africatown today, where Cudjo’s descendants are fighting for environmental justice after a paper mill and chemical refinery created life-threatening pollution.


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