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Our America

Preaching to the Choir

- By Jim Hicks

(Photo: "Because I have company." Carl Hancock Rux, in an interview about activism, conducted by Carrie Mae Weems)

The poet, playwright, director, musician, actor, and activist Carl Hancock Rux grew up in foster care. His older brother Ralph owned a restaurant in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, and Ralph managed to locate Carl, who was still living with his foster parents. And then, as Rux puts it, they “had a brief, wonderful, beautiful time together.” One day, though, Ralph disappeared; when Carl chanced upon him, months later, he was almost unrecognizable, suffering from dementia, and dying of AIDS.

The younger brother cared for the older, at a time when AIDS patients were feared and shunned even by the hospital workers entrusted with their care. On the day...

Our America

For the Record

- By Jim Hicks

Though we rarely think of them in this light, writers and professors of literature have training and skills with policy implications. They even, at times, feel called upon to weigh in on matters of national and international importance. In this country, however, I would be shocked if they were actually called upon, much less listened to. The one counterexample I can think of comes from abroad, and it has always appeared to me both memorable and laudable. When the Republic of Argentina formed a national commission to investigate, assemble evidence, and publish a public record after years of kidnapping, torturing, and murdering its citizens, they appointed a novelist, Ernesto Sabato, to head that commission. The introduction to its final report remains a model of clarity and...

Our America

Wounded in Hatred, Part One

- By Joseph Keady


Following Fascism from Charlottesville to the Capitol

(Screenshots of Facebook posts, taken 12 August 2017. William Fears is currently serving a five-year prison sentence for choking his girlfriend. Alex McNabb is co-host of the neo-Nazi podcast The Daily Shoah.)

If you’ve never experienced it firsthand, let me assure you: the sight and sound of hundreds of men moving as a unit while loudly chanting the...

Our America

Flying Home

- By Marya Zilberberg

I remember flying over the Atlantic Ocean in a plane full of Russian speech and tentative hope, with children craning their necks to catch glimpses of the clouds below. I remember landing at JFK International, after winter had already dropped its early drape of darkness. While we waited for our luggage, massive cars crawled by outside, their lights splashing behind the scratched glass of sliding doors. I remember spending the night at some airport hotel, having a forgettable dinner at the hotel restaurant. What I remember most is darkness, oily and dense, and the airport lights twinkling like tiny distant stars.

This happened mid-January 1977, a week before Jimmy Carter’s inauguration. Almost a half year earlier, we had left our home in Odessa, Ukraine and then spent five...

Our America

So Disgraceful to Our Country

- By Benjamin Franklin

(Portrait of Benjamin Franklin, 1778. Joseph Siffred Duplessis. Metropolitan Museum of Art)

Over the last four years or so, events in the United States of America—a country in which, as you know, I myself have no small interest—have made it difficult for those of us who are, shall we say, permanently retired from active duty, to remain so.

The recent controversy regarding a book contract, proffered to a certain notorious abuser of the public good and trust, has made it impossible for me, as a dedicated public servant, to remain silent any longer. On this issue, I long ago made my own sentiments and my own practice, clear, so let me indulge myself here by simply citing from my...

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