Newsletter #185: White Nationalism is Deeply American


This week’s lead article about the roots of white nationalism in the United States came to my attention the day before the horrific act of hate in Christchurch, New Zealand, which killed 50 Muslims as they met in mosques to worship and pray. My worry is that after Charleston, after Charlottesville, after Pittsburgh, we’ve become hardened, accustomed to the terrorism carried out by white men. In addition to reading this article, which I encourage, what can we do? (Note: This is not a rhetorical question.)

Also in today’s issue, you’ll find well-written articles on the power of cult-like self-help programs, the rise of fentanyl as a public health emergency, and the downfall of vegetables as a rightful category of food. Please enjoy!

+ If you like to read and discuss important topics in a safe, intimate setting, sign up for Pop-Up Article Club #3 on April 13, 2-4 pm in Oakland. You’ll join a great group of eight loyal readers who will listen with empathy and push your thinking.

White Nationalism’s Deep American Roots

When white men killed Black churchgoers in Charleston and Jewish worshipers in Pittsburgh, most Americans called these acts un-American. But in this outstanding article, Adam Serwer argues that white nationalismis deeply rooted in the American experience. One hundred years ago, the eugenics movement advocated white superiority, Congress banned immigration, and Madison Grant worried about white genocide in The Passing of the Great Race, a book Adolf Hitler loved. In fact, Mr. Serwer writes, Nazis studied American slavery and Jim Crow and marveled how the United States could construct a mirage of equality while at the same time promote white supremacy. (21 min)

Let’s talk about this article. Hit reply or leave me a voice message.

The Cult of Self-Help

If Tony Robbins told me to walk across red-hot coals, no matter how loudly he shouted, I likely would balk. But like most Americans, I’m captivated by self-help. Who doesn’t want to improve their lives? In this rollicking piece, follow Rosecrans Baldwin as he joins Mastery in Transformational Training, a New Age transformation program. In M.I.T.T., you can’t sneeze or go to the bathroom. If you do, you’ll miss a breakthrough activity, like re-enacting your childhood, or realizing you’re the reason you’ve suffered so much pain in your life. (41 min)

The Fentanyl Failure

Fentanyl, the synthetic opioid 50 times stronger than heroin, has contributed to our nation’s declining life expectancy, killing 67,000 people over the past four years. This article faults President Obama for failing to declare a public health emergency and blames Attorney General Eric Holder for scaling back law enforcement against drug dealers. The result: the deadliest drug crisis in American history. (25 min)

+ To read more on fentanyl, please see Issue #43.

Vegetables Don’t Exist

Fruit has dominated this newsletter (muskmelonsorangesbananas), so now it’s time for vegetables. Except according to botanists, most vegetables are fruits or fungi (and sometimes tubers or flowers). Really it all comes down to whether you subscribe to a prescriptivist or descriptivist view of linguistics. And how you pronounce tomato (a fruit). (9 min)   

+ Reader Annotations: Loyal reader and educator Steven made this astute point about last week’s lead article on growth mindset:

As educators looking for the “fix,” we exploit many of these theories and then don’t appropriately use them to enhance our teaching. We use them as the “pills” or a replacement for skill building. Exploring growth mindset might help to reach kids, but direct, explicit, consistent skill-building is the only clear path to learning — academically, socially, and emotionally.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Steven! (You should, too.)

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