As we prepare this issue, Iranian missiles are thundering down on Iraqi bases where American troops are stationed. It is what we have feared since November 9, 2016: if you pray, pray for the people, American and Iraqi, who the lunatic President of the United States has now put in mortal danger.
There are days when it seems like we have been living in a state of emergency since September 11, 2011. Maybe it started even before that: on August 20, 1998, President William Jefferson Clinton, in the middle of an investigation into his relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky, initiated something called “Operation Infinite Reach.” This involved launching missiles against alleged al-Qaeda bases in Khost, Afghanistan and, mysteriously to some of us, the Al-Shifa pharmaceutical factory in Khartoum, Sudan. Or maybe it started on the afternoon of February 26, 1993, when we were returning to New York from Connecticut, and noticed emergency vehicles screaming past our car on the West Side highway. A tower of smoke billowing up from Lower Manhattan, where an al-Qaeda truck bomb had exploded in the parking garage of the World Trade Center. Or maybe….
We don’t even know where to begin anymore. But what we do know is that our erratic, paranoid and corrupt President, Donald J. Trump, has assassinated Qassem Soleimani, the commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Quds force. It is not only an act of war, it is an event that our analyst, Hussein Banai, calls “one of the most significant events in the turbulent history of U.S.-Iran relations. As Never-Trumpers and squishy liberals applaud this illegal and reckless move, Public Seminar senior editor Jeremy Varon implores us to get into the streets and say no to war this time. We close this section with a look at the situation in contested state of Kashmir, a developing humanitarian crisis which our correspondent Shubh Mathur as a “state of total war against the civilian population” by India’s Modi regime.
Meanwhile, here in
the United States, we are busy: the primary season that
President Trump is trying to distract us from officially kicks off in less than
a month. In the latest addition to our Election 2020 series, political
scientist Bernard Avishai explains why a vote for Bernie Sanders is a vote, not
for policy fixes, but
for the kind of long term change this country needs. Troy Mosley addresses
one kind of change we might see in a Sanders administration: a
serious conversation about reparations for American chattel slavery.
Finally, photojournalist and political scientist Jo Freeman accompanied actress
Jane Fonda on a “Firedrill Friday” in the nation’s Capital – and she’s got
the pictures to prove it.
We close with a cluster of articles about Culture: yes, here at Public Seminar we do serious politics, but we want you to have roses too. Media Studies scholar Elana Levine leads us off with a fiftieth anniversary retrospective of an iconic soap opera, “All My Children,” an ABC classic created by Agnes Nixon. Next, Jake Pitre tells us how Disney became the biggest player in Hollywood – and what that reveals about the state of anti-trust law in the United States. Finally, intellectual historian L.D. Burnett why the popular histories of civilization by Will and Ariel Durant give general readers and scholars alike so much pleasure.
Claire Potter is co-executive editor of Public Seminar and Professor of History at The new School for Social Research. You can tweet with her @TenuredRadical.