I’ve written an new essay for the Bulwark on the abhorrence and menace of antisemitism in the United States, focusing on how it is rising in the form of deranged conspiracy theories, hate crimes, and threats of violence. The reaction from the media, the political left and right, and broader culture is a collective yawn. Referencing the work of the Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Committee, David Baddiel, Dara Horn, and Ben Tanzer, I examine the why and how. Read at the Bulwark.
In a new essay for the Daily Beast, I review the evidence to conclude that the United States is suffering the worst wave of homophobia in decades. Manifesting in rising hate crimes, threats of violence, book banning, and hundreds of state bills to crackdown on LGBT rights, the right wing is in a homophobic frenzy. Democrats have the right position and policies, but must fight back more aggressively.
Read at the Daily Beast.
In a new essay for CNN, I examine one of the reasons for Biden’s abysmal approval rating, and more important, the troubled state of the country – the insidious influence of what I call the “fan fiction left.” The fan fiction left is withdrawn from reality, and in the words of George Orwell, lost in political thought that is nothing more than “masturbation fantasy.”
Read my diagnosis of the fan fiction left’s delusions, and my survey of the damage that they cause at CNN.
I’ve written an essay on the last completed work of the brilliant and masterful writer, David Foster Wallace. The novella is not only a great read, but has much to teach a nation that has become one big “wastoid.” Read at CounterPunch!
I’ve written an essay for the Los Angeles Review of Books about two insightful and important new books about Donald Trump, and the dangers of the fascist American right: historian Paul Street’s, It Happened Here, and political scientist Anthony DiMaggio’s, Rising Fascism.
These books provide masterful analyses and urgent warnings regarding the extreme threat facing the American people, and our beleaguered democracy. Read at LARB.
Perfect for a rainy day: The premiere of a new episode of the outstanding podcast, Songfacts. The gracious guest host, Carl Wiser, interviewed me about John Mellencamp’s music, and all things related to the forthcoming publication of my book, Mellencamp: American Troubadour, in an updated paperback edition!
I recently had the immense pleasure of interviewing recent National Book Award winner, Martín Espada. We discussed his life and work, including poetry and radical politics, and right wing book bans, which have twice eliminated his work.
My lengthy profile of Espada is available to CounterPunch subscribers: “‘Put the Blood Back In’: Martín Espada on Poetry, Book Banning, and Radical Politics”
I have a new essay at Salon about the political writing of the recently deceased Joan Didion. It is obvious that Didion was one of the greatest literary artists in the US, but most people do not realize that she was also one the country’s most astute political analysts. Like few others, she sliced through the layers of lies in our public discourse, exposing how racism, middle class fear and complacency, and oligarchic oppression sabotage genuine democracy.
Read the essay at Salon.
For the past two months, I’ve been working on this profile of Christian Picciolini, conducting interviews and bolstering the story with supplemental research. Christian was a neo-Nazi skinhead leader in the early 1990s, and left the movement to denounce white supremacy 25 years ago. For the past two decades, he has devoted himself, full time, to fighting white hate, and disengaging members of hate organizations.
He is now shifting focus to long term prevention measures, and in doing so, sounding an urgent warning to the United States, calling everything happening right now, “The skinhead’s dream of the 1990s coming true.”
Take a moment to read Christian’s fascinating and important story. His arc demonstrates that transformation and redemption, with hard work, humility, and good intentions, are possible, and his message shows what America is currently at risk of losing and facing.
I recently gave a talk at Indiana University Northwest in Gary, IN on how multinational corporations, major media companies, and the two major political parties in the United States coalesced to create explicit bias against Jesse Jackson, and in doing so, played off the implicit bias of the audience. Citing Noam Chomsky and Edward S. Herman’s seminal, Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media, I explained how in the interest of manufacturing consent, media companies “demolish dissent,” using the work of Jesse Jackson as an emblematic example.
Listen to the lecture: