Early this morning our newsfeeds erupted with reports that the president and first lady of the U.S. have contracted COVID-19. Soon, news broke that other Trump administration officials had also contracted the disease. Within hours, “schadenfreude,” the German term for “enjoyment obtained from the troubles of others,” became the most searched-for term on Merriam-Webster.com.
But “enjoyment” isn’t the right word for this week in which civil discourse and the U.S. refugee resettlement quotas reached another record low — the kind of low that Sufjan Stevens sings about in The Ascension: “As the world turns, making such a mess / what’s the point of it when everything’s dispossessed?” It's often easier to turn on Netflix or doomscroll through Twitter than contemplate the magnitude of our national suffering. We echo Naomi Klein’s question: “Is it ethical to expend energy dreaming of another world when so many fires need extinguishing right now?” Here are the 10 stories our editors have been reading (and writing) this week:
As news spread that Donald and Melania Trump have contracted COVID-19, thoughts, prayers, and tweets have started pouring in from across the U.S. By Jenna Barnett via sojo.net.
Belief is tricky. One day I do. One day I don’t. There are things I believe that have never wavered, but my belief in God is not one of those. By Terry Tempest Williams via Orion.
Seven concrete steps to safeguard the integrity of the vote. By Rose Marie Berger via Sojourners.
Discipline disparities between Black and white boys have driven reform efforts for years. But Black girls are arguably the most at-risk student group in the United States. By Erica L. Green, Mark Walker, and Eliza Shapiro via The New York Times.
In the coronavirus hotspot of Pune, 47-year-old Nair is one of the few women offering last rites for the dead. By Priyadarshini Sen via sojo.net.
Can we imagine a better future? If we stop talking about what winning actually looks like, isn’t that the same as giving up? By Naomi Klein via The Intercept.
The Trump administration said on Wednesday it intends to allow only 15,000 refugees to resettle in the United States in the 2021 fiscal year, setting another record low in the history of the modern refugee program. By Kristina Cooke and Mimi Dwyer, via Reuters.
8. Many Voices
Political theorist Cristina Beltrán, who studies Latino political identity in the U.S., warns that any sentence beginning with “The Latino community thinks ...” is likely to be wrong. By Mark Leviton via The Sun.
The album is titled The Ascension, but, I’ve got to be honest, Sufjan Stevens’ latest masterwork has me feeling the lowest I’ve felt about this country since the start of quarantine. By Da’Shawn Mosley via sojo.net.
Trump and Biden sparred for a chaotic 90 minutes, devolving into personal attacks, persistent interruptions and little substantive debate on the issues plaguing a divided nation. By Errin Haines via The 19th.