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Our America

No One Likes a Bully

- By Ward Schumaker

In 1991, during the confirmation hearing of William Barr as George H. W. Bush’s Attorney General, a lawyer named Jimmy Lohman published a piece in an obscure periodical, the Florida Flambeau. Lohman had been a classmate of Barr in high school and again later, at Columbia, and he remembered Barr well: “Billy was my very own high school tormentor.....a classic bully...a porky ninth grader who had a vicious fixation on my little Jewish ‘commie’ ass...he lived to make me miserable.” Barr had brothers who were much like him, writes Lohman, and together they picketed the school’s fund-raising Junior Carnival “because the proceeds were going to the NAACP.” At Columbia, Barr “teamed up with New York City riot police to attack anti-war...


Our America

Going Postal

- By Ward Schumaker

In 1968 I was living a half block from San Francisco’s Haight Street, I’d just lost my job, and though I didn’t consider myself a hippie, I was stoned twenty-four hours a day. My speech and the condition of my eyes made that obvious, so how was I going to support myself? Simple: go to Post Office. If you could pass the exam, no matter how you looked or acted, they had to hire you. To deal with folks like me, the administration had decided if you were visibly using drugs or an alcoholic, or exhibited mental problems, you’d be sent to work at the Fleet Post Office, the unit servicing the US war on Viet Nam. The workplace filled up with long-haired guys wearing funny glasses, girls who couldn’t stop twirling in circles, and people who talked to phantoms and...


Our America

Journey to the Border Wall

- By Sarah A. Leavitt and Marla R. Miller

Photo: The Rio Grande Valley from Mount Cristo Rey, alongside the "GoFundMe" border wall.

Almost immediately after landing at the airport, we changed all of our plans. We had a long list of museums to see and people to talk to as we embarked on our borderlands journey to West Texas, but almost as soon as we deplaned all of that seemed wrong. We were here to see the wall, and we should start by seeing the wall.

We hoped to experience, for a minute, what it was like to live in the shadow of the border wall. We wanted to feel the surveillance and think about how to translate some of that feeling into accessible content for college students and museum visitors at our respective jobs. And we had to start...


Our America

Local Life under Lockdown

- By Paul Shoul

When the Massachusetts Review approached me to do a photo essay on local life under the COVID-19 lockdown, my first thought was, How could I possibly capture the pandemic? Could I physically do this?

On March 5th, I had undergone rotator cuff surgery. Forty years of heavy cameras slung around my shoulders, the tools of the trade as a photojournalist, had taken their toll. The four to six-month recovery would be arduous and painful. I lost the use of my right arm and, after serious complications, my right hand. I couldn’t even tear a piece of paper or open a plastic bag, let alone press the shutter button. Not a bad time to quarantine, but how could I photograph, when I couldn't hold a camera? Then the death of George Floyd happened. I’d cut my...


Our America

Decency

- By Ward Schumaker

"I have here in my hand a list of two hundred and five people that were known to the Secretary of State as being members of the Communist Party and who nevertheless are still working and shaping the policy of the State Department."
-Senator Joseph R. McCarthy (Republican, Wisconsin) 09 February 1950

Having become famous for lying, constantly and needlessly, and facing a failing future as a politician, Senator Joseph McCarthy propelled himself to national prominence by making a disturbing and astounding speech in front of a small Republican women's club in West Virginia. "I have here in my hands a list..." he began.

In truth McCarthy had no such list, but an American citizenry, worried by China's recent fall into communism and the detonation...


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