Comments: Week of September 27, 2021


“Ride Like Hell,” September 13–26

New York’s latest cover story, a collaboration with The Verge, reported on how 65,000 laborers are fighting back after years of mistreatment. Bloomberg’s Mark Gongloff wrote, “Ultimately this is a story of how marginalized workers we have called heroes for the past 18 months had to band together to fend for themselves against a hostile city and industry.” Journalist Edward Ongweso Jr. tweeted, “Only a handful of pieces bother centering workers this much and this long so that you see the infrastructure they cobble together to survive despite deeply exploitative & unsafe conditions.” BuzzFeed’s Melissa Segura pointed out the story “is as much about delivery workers as it is about police” and noted that “inequality of safety is a thing.” The Atlantic’s Conor Friedersdorf agreed: “Overpolicing harms the marginalized, but so does under-policing.” On Twitter, the NYC-DSA Tech Action Working Group called the piece a “must-read in-depth report on the reality of app-based food delivery in New York. Among other things it is a full on indictment of Silicon Valley solutionism that ruthlessly extracts value from its workers at any human cost.” On September 23, New York’s City Council, spurred in part by Los Deliveristas Unidos, passed sweeping legislation to improve conditions for delivery workers, including setting minimum pay standards and granting workers the right to use the bathrooms of restaurants they’re servicing.


“The U.N.’s Own Humanitarian Crisis,” September 13–26

May Jeong investigated why the world’s foremost international organization can’t stop sexual misconduct in its own ranks. Iraq Oil Report’s Lizzie Porter called it a “must-read for anyone who encounters the UN, ever.” Lawyer Danya Chaikel wrote that she’s “still processing the extent of this horrific behaviour & the snail’s pace of progress.” Journalist and filmmaker Mélanie Gouby tweeted, “These testimonies are infuriating, they’re all from UN employees. Think about what that means for women from the ‘beneficiary’ populations.” Jeong’s reporting led her to 18 U.N. employees who had experienced sexual assault during their time at the organization, and on Twitter, Sarah Pilchick said, “Hi. I’m one of those 18. There is so much I want to say, and I will in time, but to start: thank you, @mayjeong, for bringing our stories to light with such care.”


“You’ve Heard This One Before,” September 13–26

In her review of Maggie Nelson’s On Freedom, Andrea Long Chu criticized the acclaimed essayist’s academic hypocrisy. Utah’s poet laureate, Paisley Rekdal, called it “one of the most interesting reviews I’ve read. I agreed with some of it vehemently, disagreed with some more vehemently, and loved reading the whole of it. Considering how much outrage intersects with art (and social media), it’s really relevant,” and author Ian Leslie didn’t “agree with everything it says but this from Andrea Long Chu is writing and thinking of a very high calibre indeed.” Lur Alghurabi wrote, “There are very few things I love and enjoy reading more than a deeply engaged, elaborate, critical book review. tell me you didn’t enjoy something but give me profound arguments, critical thought, close readings.” Kyla Wazana Tompkins, a gender and women’s studies professor at Pomona College, noted, “Some lovely nuanced thinking in here. I would only add one thing which is that if you are a person who consistently acts out their ideas of freedom in ways that others feel harmed by then you don’t get to define your freedom as a freedom from pushback.”


“Democrats for Rent,” September 13–26

Columnist Jonathan Chait broke down why some Democrats are opting to preserve the “stepped-up basis” loophole that allows capital to be passed between generations tax-free. Representative Bill Pascrell Jr. wrote on Twitter, “It’s depressing to see some of my former colleagues shilling for billionaires and telling falsehoods about tax loopholes the super-rich use to rob the country blind.” Author and progressive strategist Erica Payne said that former North Dakota senator Heidi Heitkamp, who has lobbied for the loophole, “joins a long proud group of sell-out Democrats shilling for billionaires. No wonder the Dem. Party is losing working people. Which members of the Sabotage Caucus have already negotiated their next career as overpaid sell-out lobbyists?” And journalist Daniel Nichanian wrote, “If you had doubts about what people in public office were moved by, fueled by, drawn to public life for while they had power — what they choose to do with their platform after they leave office & are more free from -caring about optics is so informative.”

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Comments: Week of September 27, 2021