A weekly discussion about politics, hosted by The New Yorker's executive editor, Dorothy Wickenden.
Liz Cheney’s Thought Crime
On Wednesday morning, Representative Liz Cheney, of Wyoming, was ousted from her position as the House Republican Conference chair. Cheney was one of ten House Republicans who voted to impeach Donald Trump for his role in the January 6th Capitol insurrection, and her expulsion from the chair position is seen as a move by the Republican leadership to unify the Party behind the former President. Susan B. Glasser joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss Trump’s continued stranglehold over the G.O.P. and what to expect from the immediate future of both parties.
Atul Gawande and Siddhartha Mukherjee on the State of the Pandemic
After a year of battling COVID-19, parts of the United States are celebrating a gradual turn toward normalcy, but the pandemic isn’t over—and it may never be over, exactly. Atul Gawande tells David Remnick that a hard core of vaccine resisters, along with reservoirs of the virus in domestic animals, may make herd immunity elusive. Rather, he says, the correct goal is to bring the impact of COVID-19 down to that of something like the flu. Meanwhile, India is now overwhelmed by a devastating death toll, reported at around four thousand per day but likely much higher. Siddhartha Mukherjee, who reported on the pandemic in developing nations, says that commitments from the West such as extra doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine will barely scratch the surface. A national mobilization will be required to even begin to flatten the curve.
A High-School Cheerleader, the Supreme Court, and the First Amendment
In 2017, Brandi Levy, a junior-varsity cheerleader at Mahanoy Area High School, in Pennsylvania, was denied a spot on the school’s varsity squad. That weekend, off campus, Levy posted a furious, profanity-filled photo and message about the decision on Snapchat. A student who saw the message showed a screenshot to her mother—the cheer coach. Levy was barred from cheerleading for the rest of the year. The A.C.L.U. helped Levy’s parents file suit against the school in federal court, claiming that Brandi’s First Amendment right to free speech had been curtailed. Last week, four years after that pivotal snap, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case of Mahanoy Area School District v. B.L. Jeannie Suk Gersen joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss this contentious case and what it means for free speech in the digital age.
Three Women Who Changed the World
“The Agitators” is a book about three women—three revolutionaries—who changed the world at a time when women weren’t supposed to be in public life at all. Frances Seward was a committed abolitionist who settled with her husband in the small town of Auburn, in western New York. One of their neighbors was a Quaker named Martha Coffin Wright, who helped organize the first convention for women’s rights, at Seneca Falls. Both women harbored fugitives when it was a violation of federal law. And, after they met Harriet Tubman, through the Underground Railroad, Tubman also settled in Auburn. “The Agitators,” by The New Yorker’s executive editor, Dorothy Wickenden, tells their interlocking stories. “These people were outsiders, and they were revolutionaries,” Wickenden tells David Remnick. “They were only two generations separated from the Declaration of Independence, which they believed in literally. They did not understand why women and Black Americans could not have exactly the same rights that had been promised.”
This week, W. W. Norton announced that it would take two books by the writer Blake Bailey out of print, after accusations that Bailey has had a long history of sexual misconduct and assault. The case has helped bring the struggle against sexual misconduct back into the cultural spotlight. The New Yorker staff writers Alexandra Schwartz, who wrote about Bailey, and Jane Mayer, who has reported on sexual misconduct by powerful men, join Dorothy Wickenden to discuss the state of the #MeToo movement in 2021.
The Children of Morelia
Refugees arriving at the southern border of the United States, and especially the unaccompanied children among them, are again in the headlines. A parent’s decision to send his or her chiId on an extremely perilous journey is difficult to comprehend, but war, violence, and hunger can be decisive factors. Nearly a century ago, a group of Spaniards put five hundred of their children on a boat and sent them across the ocean to find safety in Mexico. They were escaping the extraordinary brutality of the Spanish Civil War, and few ever saw their parents again. When they arrived, the conditions in the Mexican orphanage where they were placed were bleak. The youngest of those children was Rosita Daroca Martinez, just three years old; her first memory is of throwing her shoes overboard on the ship, because she thought the fish would need them. The writer and radio producer Destry Maria Sibley, who is Martinez’s granddaughter, tells her grandmother’s story and explains how the impact of the trauma she suffered resonated during her life and down through the generations.
Well researched and nicely presented