1. Would seeing what the Border Patrol does change your mind about the border? Mattathias Schwartz went to McAllen, Texas, to find out (“ ‘Come On Down to the Rio Grande Valley. I’ll Show You Around,’ ” January 7–20). Former DHS official Scott Shuchart tweeted, “This … article on Border Patrol culture is superb. ‘The agents want to be the gunslinging border cops,’ and are miserable that their actual job is helping distressed women and children.” Vox’s Matthew Yglesias pointed to the fact that the Border Patrol is majority Latino by highlighting, “Important theme running through [Schwartz’s] great report on the Border Patrol is that Latino political identity is often not what Democratic Party professionals and white liberals would like it to be.” Ricky Garza, a staff attorney for the Texas Civil Rights Project, wrote, “As someone born and raised in McAllen, I know the only crisis on the border is the president’s militarization of my home. If the country saw beyond the Border Patrol’s ‘Green Line’ tunnel vision, they would find a welcoming community of over 1 million in the Rio Grande Valley longing for this manufactured crisis to stop.” And the writer Reyna Grande, who chronicled her experience as an undocumented child immigrant in her memoir, The Distance Between Us, responded, “As an immigrant, I found your recent article about the border one-sided. The topic cannot be understood without addressing why immigrants are risking their lives and what part the U.S. has played in their displacement. We have a crisis — but it isn’t at the border. It’s in the places immigrants are fleeing from. The U.S. has a long history of intervention in Latin America — military coups, unfair trade agreements, exploitation of workers and resources by U.S. corporations. Perhaps a follow-up to Schwartz’s article should be: ‘Come on Down to My Hometown. I’ll Show You Around’: I guarantee that if I took you to Iguala, Guerrero, Mexico, and you saw the U.S. factory that pays its workers $5 a day, the poppy fields that feed America’s opioid addiction, the monument to 43 college students disappeared by corrupt police, it would give you and many others a more complete picture and very different perspective on the border.”
2. Amy Larocca charted the rise of public radio’s Krista Tippett, who has become a guru for the growing set of “spiritual but not religious” Americans (“On ‘On Being,’ ” January 7–20). William B. Parsons, a professor of religion and culture at Rice University, responded, “Larocca’s beautiful, timely piece on Krista Tippett jibes perfectly with my own work in this area and made me think, What if the selfish, tribal ‘Christian’ base, chained to appearances and courted by many conservative politicians, were replaced by a new social base championing inwardness, spirituality, thoughtfulness, and interdependence? Larocca and Tippett intimate that such a move is in the offing and that soon those who proclaim being SBNR will constitute a sizable, perhaps determinative voting bloc. One can only hope that the emerging cadre of young politicians will heed Tippett’s vision and help stoke such fires.” But Linda Mercadante, a professor of theology at Methodist Theological School and the author of Belief Without Borders: Inside the Minds of the Spiritual but not Religious, pushed back: “Once Krista Tippett changed the name of her radio show from ‘Speaking of Faith’ to ‘On Being,’ she entered a new phase. She may not have set out to be another guru to the ‘spiritual but not religious,’ but the current format makes a virtue of the vague ‘feel good’ approach and lack of specificity favored by SBNRs — especially those whose privilege gives them the means to disdain organized faiths in favor of costly alternatives. Unfortunately, this approach is not adequate to seriously grapple with or change the many forms of social suffering that exist today. In fact, it actually may prevent SBNRs from thinking more deeply about the sources, authenticity, and obligations of their spiritual beliefs and experience.”
3. M. Night Shyamalan talked to New York’s Adam Sternbergh about his tumultuous filmmaking career and how it led him to his new superhero movie, Glass (“A Better Ending,” January 7–20). Mark Butler tweeted, “What a fantastic interview. He’s very honest about the ups and downs of his career (The Happening, etc.). Genuinely happy he’s seemingly back to form — and he seems to have a really great, insightful outlook on filmmaking these days.” And John Mark commented, “He’s been one of the most skewered auteurs — sometimes rightfully but other times undeservedly. Good to see pushback on the prevailing narrative.” But reader @BlackBelted wasn’t sold: “This guy is the Adlai Stevenson of moviemakers. Yes, he’s in the business; yes, he’s likable enough; and yes, there’s a quality horror niche to fill. But why does it have to be him? He always comes up short.” Find David Edelstein’s review of the new film here.
*This article appears in the January 21, 2019, issue of New York Magazine. Subscribe Now!