In a shocking attack in Tucson, Arizona, U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and 17 others were shot at a public event on Saturday.
A gunman shot Giffords, federal District Judge John Roll, and others outside a Safeway supermarket where the congresswoman was meeting with constituents, according to news reports. Roll is among six dead.
As the nation reacts to this shooting, it will be parsed and explained. The alleged shooter, identified by AP sources as 22-year-old Jared Lee Loughner, was frustrated with the U.S. government, and the shooting has inevitably resonated with the dark and violent tones that have arisen in domestic politics at times over the past year and a half. Discussion is emerging over how directly this shooting is connected to politics, if at all.
See Andrew Sullivan for continuous commentary on the shooting, and the rest of The Atlantic's coverage below in reverse-chronological order (timestamps in Eastern):
The Vitriol Will Likely Return. Don't expect the Arizona shooting to change the momentum of national politics, Charlie Cook warns. 9:28 a.m. Tues. 1/11
Stop the Blame Game. The media has fallen down on the job, writes National Journal's Josh Kraushaar. 9:11 a.m. Tues. 1/11
Do We Really Need to Know Why He Did It? There will always be people like Jared Lee Loughner. The only rhetoric he seems to have been listening to came from his own head, Megan McArdle writes. 2:57 p.m. Mon. 1/10
The Tea Party Path to the Presidency Just Got Tougher. Joshua Green writes: "Whether or not it's fair to blame Jared Lee Loughner's shooting rampage against Rep. Gabrielle Giffords on overheated political rhetoric and violent imagery, the episode will probably mark a turning point in how the media cover politics." 9:59 a.m. Mon. 1/10
Rancor Inevitably Returns. Politicians came together after the shooting in Arizona, offering conciliatory words and toning down the political rhetoric. Can the somber, friendly mood survive in today's political and media culture? 6:47 p.m. Sun. 1/9
Members Call for Toned Down Rhetoric. Some members of Congress are blaming the shooting on the right's heated rhetoric. Read what they had to say about the tragedy on Sunday's political talk shows. 4:26 p.m. Sun. 1/9
The Rise of Violent Rhetoric. Heated rhetoric doesn't make people kill each other, but the right seems to relish martial rhetoric more than the left. 4:31 p.m. Sun. 1/9
A Vote to Honor Giffords. Instead of voting on health care repeal as planned, the House will vote this week to honor its fallen colleague and the other victims, Majority Leader Eric Cantor announced Sunday. 3:53 p.m. Sun. 1/9
Palinspeak and Violence. Andrew Sullivan recalls Sarah Palin's penchant for gun metaphors, with an example from her Facebook page. 3:44 p.m. Sun. 1/9
House Briefed on Giffords. 800 representatives, staff, and family members joined a conference call to hear from congressional leaders, security officials, and a House physician on Giffords, security precautions, and the House schedule for the coming week. 3:33 p.m. Sun. 1/9
Tea Party Group Blames 'Leftist.' "The
left is coming and will hit us hard on this. We need to push back
harder with the simple truth. The shooter was a liberal lunatic," says
the founder of Tea Party Nation. 1:49 p.m. Sun. 1/9
Don't Let Judge Roll Die in Vain. The federal judge had faced threats over an immigration case, and Saturday's tragedy shows that judges need more security. 1:28 p.m. Sun. 1/9
Is Arizona About Politics or Mental Illness? Jared
Loughner's politics are difficult to parse, and it's far easier to
categorize him in psychiatric terms, writes Jeffrey Goldberg. So far,
the shooting says more about mental illness and how the mentally ill
obtain guns. 12:25 p.m. Sun. 1/9
Members of Congress Advised to Contact Police. In e-mails from the Capitol Police and the House Sergeant at Arms, congressional offices were advised to take precautions, contact local police, and alert the Sergeant at Arms if they plan to hold public events. 9:06 p.m. Sat. 1/8
Was Shooting of Rep. Giffords Political? The
Atlantic Wire's Max Fisher rounds up commentary, as the media begins to
interpret the tragedy in Tucson. Some see it as a result of political
vitriol, while others warn that the left is seeking to politicize the
shooting. 8:13 p.m. Sat. 1/8
The Cloudy Logic of 'Political' Shootings.
James Fallows recounts the ambiguous motives of assassins in the modern
era. "Assassinations" are political by definition--the victims are
targeted because politics made them public figures--but motives don't
always mesh with the political issues with which those figures are
associated. 7:36 p.m. Sat. 1/8
With Giffords Shooting, a Grim Milestone.
From Alexander Hamilton to John F. Kennedy, America's political leaders
have suffered assassinations and attempts that raise questions about
politics and society. National Journal's Matthew Cooper places the
Giffords shooting in historical context. 5:59 p.m. Sat. 1/8
The Suspect: Jared Lee Loughner.
The suspected gunman, now in custody, is 22 years old. A favorite book
is "Mein Kampf"; he posted YouTube videos articulating some deranged
views three weeks ago; he maintained a MySpace page, with photos. 5:08 p.m. Sat. 1/8
Thicker ink, fewer smudges, and more strained hands: an Object Lesson
Recently, Bic launched acampaign to “save handwriting.” Named “Fight for Your Write,” it includes a pledge to “encourage the act of handwriting” in the pledge-taker’s home and community, and emphasizes putting more of the company’s ballpoints into classrooms.
As a teacher, I couldn’t help but wonder how anyone could think there’s a shortage. I find ballpoint pens all over the place: on classroom floors, behind desks. Dozens of castaways collect in cups on every teacher’s desk. They’re so ubiquitous that the word “ballpoint” is rarely used; they’re just “pens.” But despite its popularity, the ballpoint pen is relatively new in the history of handwriting, and its influence on popular handwriting is more complicated than the Bic campaign would imply.
In the name of emotional well-being, college students are increasingly demanding protection from words and ideas they don’t like. Here’s why that’s disastrous for education—and mental health.
Something strange is happening at America’s colleges and universities. A movement is arising, undirected and driven largely by students, to scrub campuses clean of words, ideas, and subjects that might cause discomfort or give offense. Last December, Jeannie Suk wrote in an online article for The New Yorker about law students asking her fellow professors at Harvard not to teach rape law—or, in one case, even use the word violate (as in “that violates the law”) lest it cause students distress. In February, Laura Kipnis, a professor at Northwestern University, wrote an essay in The Chronicle of Higher Education describing a new campus politics of sexual paranoia—and was then subjected to a long investigation after students who were offended by the article and by a tweet she’d sent filed Title IX complaints against her. In June, a professor protecting himself with a pseudonym wrote an essay for Vox describing how gingerly he now has to teach. “I’m a Liberal Professor, and My Liberal Students Terrify Me,” the headline said. A number of popular comedians, including Chris Rock, have stopped performing on college campuses (see Caitlin Flanagan’s article in this month’s issue). Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Maher have publicly condemned the oversensitivity of college students, saying too many of them can’t take a joke.
Wine snobs, string quartets, and the limits of intuition
Several months ago, this author sat at a classical music concert, trying to convince himself that wine is not bullshit.
That may seem like a strange thought to have while listening to Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 in A major. But Priceonomics had recently posted an article investigating The Price of Wine, part of which reviewed research that cast doubt on both consumers’ and wine experts’ ability to distinguish between quality wine and table wine or identify different wines and their flavors. It seemed a slippery slope to the conclusion that wine culture is nothing more than actors performing a snobbish play.
Listening to an accomplished musician while lacking any musical experience resulted in a feeling familiar to casual wine drinkers imbibing an expensive bottle: Feeling somewhat ambivalent and wondering whether you are convincing yourself that you enjoy it so as not to appear uncultured.
On the desperation behind the migrant tragedy in Austria
On Thursday, as Krishnadev Calamur has been tracking in The Atlantic’s new Notes section, Austrian authorities made a ghastly discovery: a truck abandoned in the emergency lane of a highway near the Hungarian border, packed with the decomposing bodies of 59 men, eight women, and four children. They are thoughtto be the corpses of migrants who suffocated to death, perhaps two days earlier, in the bowels of a vehicle whose back door was locked shut and refrigeration and ventilation systems weren’t functional. Stray identity documents suggest that at least some of the victims were Syrian—refugees from that country’s brutal civil war. The truck featured an image of a chicken and a slogan from the Slovakian poultry company that the lorry once belonged to: “I taste so good because they feed me so well.”
The Islamic State is no mere collection of psychopaths. It is a religious group with carefully considered beliefs, among them that it is a key agent of the coming apocalypse. Here’s what that means for its strategy—and for how to stop it.
What is the Islamic State?
Where did it come from, and what are its intentions? The simplicity of these questions can be deceiving, and few Western leaders seem to know the answers. In December, The New York Times published confidential comments by Major General Michael K. Nagata, the Special Operations commander for the United States in the Middle East, admitting that he had hardly begun figuring out the Islamic State’s appeal. “We have not defeated the idea,” he said. “We do not even understand the idea.” In the past year, President Obama has referred to the Islamic State, variously, as “not Islamic” and as al-Qaeda’s “jayvee team,” statements that reflected confusion about the group, and may have contributed to significant strategic errors.
The new drama series, which follows the Colombian kingpin’s rise to power, feels more like a well-researched documentary than the gripping saga it wants to be.
Netflix’s new series Narcos is possibly arriving at the wrong time: The doldrums of summer aren’t really the ideal moment for a narratively dense, documentary-like look at the rise and fall of the Colombian drug kingpin Pablo Escobar. Narrated in voiceover by DEA Agent Steve Murphy (Boyd Holbrook), the early hours of Narcos feel like a history lesson, though an visually sumptuous one.
As Netflix continues to expand its streaming empire, it’s making a concerted effort to appeal to worldwide audiences, and Narcos fits neatly into that plan, alongside last year’s expensive critical flop Marco Polo. Narcos was shot on location in Colombia and stars the acclaimed Brazilian actor Wagner Moura as Escobar. It takes full advantage of its setting, loaded with sweeping helicopter shots of the Colombian jungle where Escobar founded his cocaine empire, filling a power vacuum left by various political upheavals in late-’70s South America.
Trying to find clarity in a world muddied by differing opinions and too much information
The deadlock began around week 20 of my pregnancy, when my mom casually asked about when and where our son would be circumcised. I presumptuously told her we weren’t going to do that. Then I saw the surprised look on my husbands face.
“We’re not?” he asked.
Sensing an opportunity to mount an offensive, my mom backed him with the full force of the guilt-inducing tone she’d perfected over the years. “But honey, it’s not natural to leave your son uncircumcised,” she said. “You don’t want to do that to him, do you?”
Quickly realizing that I would never win a drawn-out argument, I decided to end the conversation. To do this, I summoned the petulant teenager lying dormant inside me—something that only a mom can awaken in a 33-year-old woman—and said, “Actually mom, circumcision is the exact opposite of natural. That’s the whole point, to do away with the ‘natural’.” Then I gave my husband the ‘you’d like to have sex with me again, right?’ look and said to him, “We’ll talk about this later.”
Dealing with misinformation, feeling powerless, and slowly getting better together
I thought the article would validate my husband’s experience. That’s why I emailed him the link to the decade-old New York magazine article about his alma mater, the American Boychoir School for vocal prodigies, where alumni from as late as the 1990s estimate that one in five boys were molested. Boys like Travis.
“It used to feel like an isolated incident that affected just me," Trav said.
It was the end of my workday on an October afternoon; I had just set my keys on the kitchen table. My coat was still buttoned.
“Now I know I spent nearly three years of my childhood at a boarding school not just with random pedophiles, but in a culture that allowed it.”
As his wife, how do I respond? That he survived? That he’s brave? That he’s a hero for letting me talk about it? That I will stand beside him with a personal mission and public vow that nobody will ever hurt him, physically or emotionally, again, the way they did during his 30 months as a choirboy from 1988 to 1990?.
At a time when same-sex marriage and gay equality are on the march, a new poll of LGBT Americans shows women lagging in several disheartening respects.
It’s easy to assume that queer Americans are thriving today. A year out from the Supreme Court decision striking down DOMA, 55 percent of Americans favor legalizing same-sex marriage legalization—an all-time high. State bans continue to knock around the lower courts, Wisconsin’s and Indiana’s being the ones most recently scrutinized in federal appeals courts. Queer people, research shows, are happier in their marriages than heterosexuals; in the June 2013 Atlantic cover story, Liza Mundy explored the possibility that queer unions lend themselves more readily to relationship-sustaining egalitarianism by avoiding the potential marital pitfalls of sticking too strictly with traditional gender roles.
Artificial sweeteners probably don't cause weight gain, when used strategically.
As pervasive as aspartame, sucralose, stevia, and other low-calorie sweeteners have become, understanding of their health effects is relatively basic. Not to be scary about it; most signs point to no serious concerns, and eating too much sugar does point to serious concerns, and life demands sweetness. But the scale on which low-calorie sweeteners been introduced to our diets in recent decades is massive, and they are evolutionarily novel, so it's good to keep an eye on the latest research on what these chemicals are doing to us, which is this.
The September issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition just published a meta-analysis of the existing research on artificial sweeteners and weight gain. The conclusion lands in support of artificial sweeteners in the right context, specifically when they are substituted for sugar. People tend to see "modest weight loss," suggesting that low-calorie sweeteners (LCSs) indeed "may be a useful dietary tool to improve compliance with weight-loss or weight-maintenance plans."