Jeffrey Goldberg
Jeffrey Goldberg
Jeffrey Goldberg is the editor in chief of The Atlantic and a recipient of the National Magazine Award for Reporting. He is the author of Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror. More +
  • Sebastian Scheiner / Reuters

    Obama: ‘If Not Now, Bibi, Then When?’

    To save Israel as a Jewish state, the West Bank settlement project must be reversed.

  • Faisal Al Nasser / Reuters

    Ashton Carter: Gulf Arabs Need to Get in the Fight

    In an interview, the U.S. defense secretary says America’s Arab allies need fewer expensive weapons systems—and more will to battle ISIS and Iran on the ground.

  • Jonathan Ernst / Reuters

    Bygones: Israel and the U.S. Try to Move Beyond Iran

    Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter, in an interview, seeks to reassure an anxiety-prone Israel.

  • AMC / Paul Spella / The Atlantic

    So We Found Thousands of Zombies Trapped in a Pit

    What do we do?

  • Mahmoud Illean / AP

    The Paranoid, Supremacist Roots of the Stabbing Intifada

    Knife attacks on Jews in Jerusalem and elsewhere are not based on Palestinian frustration over settlements, but on something deeper.

  • Kevin Lamarque / Reuters

    Explaining the Toxic Obama-Netanyahu Marriage

    In a new book, the former Middle East peace negotiator Dennis Ross explores just how close Israel came to attacking Iran, and why Susan Rice accused Benjamin Netanyahu of throwing “everything but the n-word” at Barack Obama.

  • Aspen Institute / Flickr

    Interview With a Putative Genius

    The Atlantic’s Ta-Nehisi Coates answers my most difficult questions.

  • Ricardo Moraes / Reuters

    When Beheading Won’t Do the Job, the Saudis Resort to Crucifixion

    The stunning human-rights abuses of a U.S. ally

  • Eric Reichbaum / AP

    David Gregory's Public Discussion of His Private Faith

    A conversation with the journalist about his search for closeness to God, and the future of American Jewry

  • Jesus Is Preferable to Tasers

    TNC:

    You can claim that “decarcerate” is a word all you want, but Microsoft Word is telling me it’s not, and, as you know, I’m very corporate about these things.

    I wouldn’t argue with you about the necessity of the call for reparations, and I agree with you that history is filled with strange and surprising turns. I tend to think that reparations may come about, but by another name, and also, not soon. I mean, this country is still in its suppression phase; we’re not Germany, which is dealing openly with the consequences of the worst thing it ever did (or more to the point, it was forced to grapple with the worst thing it ever did as the price for re-admission into civilization).

    By the way, here’s a formula I’ve been thinking about that has pissed off the four people I’ve mentioned it to so far: The relationship between African Americans and America is in some ways less similar to the relationship between German Jews and Germany than it is to Austrian Jews and Austria. Which is to say, Jews in Austria today (all nine of them) walk the streets of Vienna knowing that most of their countrymen are still in denial about what their country did. All analogies are imperfect, maybe this one more imperfect than the norm, but the point seems salient.

    One other thing: Your observation about the possibly imminent vaporization of sympathy for the disproportionately incarcerated is right—if crime rates go back up (as they are doing in some cities already), you’ll see a quick end to the discussion about sentencing reform. We’ll be back to Democrats building more prisons. And speaking of prisons ...

    Look, Angola is complicated.

  • Are Reparations Even in the Realm of the Possible?

    Hey,

    So:

    1. That was a fun conversation for you, maybe, because you weren’t the moderator. I was busy trying to keep peoples’ heads from exploding. I mean, sometimes exploding heads are preferable in panel discussions, but this would have been outré in Aspen, I think.

    2. I agree that “decarceration” (is that an actual word yet?) is not going to be achieved by going after only low-hanging fruit, though I’d like to hear you describe your own definition of “violent crime” before I comment.

    3. Your categories sound correct. I mean, the Angola penitentiary, for instance, has a hospice. A fucking hospice. Staffed, by the way, by murderers who have been trained as hospice attendants, and who seemed like—I spent some time with them—some of the gentlest people I’ve ever met. They told me they do this work in order to repent for their crimes. Amazing people who, by the way, could not be hired in hospices in the outside world because they are convicted murderers. Not that they’re ever getting out, because murder comes with life without the possibility of parole in Louisiana. Just think about this hospice for a minute: You’ve got guys dying in prison who could, in some cases, be dying with their families. As it is, family members have to make the long drive to Angola (it’s a pretty long way from anywhere) to be with their dying relatives. Someone would have to pay for their end-of-life care, but I’m reasonably sure their care would cost less than the $25K it costs the state to house a prisoner in Angola each year. But all of this isn’t even the point: A guy with pancreatic cancer is not a threat to society. Neither is the murderer who has gone blind in prison. Seriously, I was told that Angola holds an elderly, blind murderer.

    4. One of the inmates in the film we made in Angola (the excellent team of Kasia Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg, Sam Price-Waldman and Paul Rosenfeld is responsible for this video) is a guy named George Gillam, who was convicted of murder at age 16. He’s an inmate-minister now, and has probably steered dozens, if not hundreds, of his fellow-inmates onto a straighter path. He’s an intelligent, thoughtful, charismatic person who, by all accounts has made himself into a model of repentance and redemption. The thought that he might die in Angola—he’s 40ish now—is terrible. I don’t forget that he killed someone, but I also don’t forget that he was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole as a juvenile.

    5. Burl Cain, the warden of Angola, isn’t my cousin: He’s my brother. We’re all brothers, because we’re all created in the image of God. Even atheists such as yourself.

    6. I think your last point, about the difference in the way we approach issues, is interesting, and more-or-less correct. I would say that I have more tolerance than you for politicians who are trying, imperfectly, to fix problems we both think are important. I’m not arguing that this is a good thing, necessarily. I think you know, in your heart of hearts, that America is not granting reparations to African Americans—not that you would admit this, by the way, which I understand. But by making this demand, you’re shifting the conversation toward solutions that, while imperfect and incomplete, might otherwise not even be discussed. That to me is the real value of your approach. (In my opinion, you will win the reparations argument when the U.S. makes a concerted effort to a) bring African American mortality rates into line with white mortality rates; b) desegregate housing in a comprehensive way; c) treat the homicide problem in segregated, impoverished African American neighborhoods as the crisis it is; d) institute police and penal reforms that will remove inequality from enforcement and sentencing; and so on.)  Not that I want to rehearse the gun debate again, but I think you’ve nailed it—I start from the position that there are more than 300 million guns in circulation in this country, and that any constitutional effort at gun control will be inadequate to the task of disarming people who need to be disarmed. Which sends me down the path of looking for ways to help people protect themselves. But I always wonder: Maybe I should just be working toward universal disarmament—except I then think that there is no such thing, so why waste my time? By the way, now I’m turning over this idea in my head, that you might actually believe that you’re going to convince America to grant reparations to African Americans. Is that so?
  • What Comes After Incarceration?

    TNC:

    I realized something about you earlier this summer, while we were both enjoying the scenery in that famed playground of the workingman, Aspen, Colorado. I was moderating an Ideas Festival debate discussion debate between you and Mitch Landrieu, the mayor of New Orleans. The conversation was supposed to focus on the reasons behind the high crime rates that afflict so many American cities. As you recall—unless you’ve completely blocked this from your mind—the conversation devolved into a sometimes-tense discussion about the role of “culture” in what used to be called—before conservatives weaponized (you should pardon the expression) the term—“black-on-black crime.” (We’re both old enough to remember the Stop the Violence movement’s non-racist use of the term.)

    It turned out to be an educational discussion (except for the moment when an audience member asked you to describe what exactly Jay Z and Oprah were doing to stop crime in black neighborhoods) except that I realized, about one minute into the conversation, that the two of you were tragically mismatched. I’m a great admirer of Landrieu, as you know—he’s one of the only white politicians in America, and certainly one of the only white politicians in the South, who understands the related problems of violent crime and mass incarceration for what they are: an actual national emergency. Most politicians treat the violent deaths of African American males (262,000 killed from 1980 through 2013) as a kind of unfortunate state of nature, rather than the manifestation of fixable problems whose origins lie not in cultural deficiency but in racist policy.

    But I understand why the two of you didn’t see eye-to-eye.

  • Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

    Obama, Netanyahu, and the Future of the Jewish State

    Will Israel’s prime minister recognize that his country faces more than one threat to its existence?

  • Marc Sellem / Reuters

    Netanyahu’s Victory Over Iran

    The Israeli prime minister mobilized the world to confront Tehran. But the world’s definition of success was not his.

  • William Widmer / The Atlantic

    The End of the Line: Rehabilitation and Reform in Angola Penitentiary

    In the nation’s largest maximum-security prison, a remarkable warden has turned to religion to bring morality to the inmates.

  • Angola for Life

    Rehabilitation and reform in America's largest maximum security prison

  • Susan Walsh / AP

    10 Responses to Iran-Deal Skeptics

    The top lobbyist for the agreement, along with John Kerry’s former chief of staff, answer a prominent critic’s questions for President Obama.

  • How to Write Proper Iran-Related Hate Mail

    A small note on a large issue. The Iran nuclear agreement has provoked partisans on all sides of the debate to unleash extraordinary bursts of vitriol at their adversaries. It is not merely Semites and anti-Semites who are participating in this drama, though both parties have starring roles. What is unusual about this particular moment is the intensity of internecine Jewish disputation.

    I’m often on the receiving end of anti-Semitic hate mail; this is what happens when your last name is Goldberg and you argue, for instance, that it’s a bad thing to murder Israelis en masse (these sorts of arguments generate toxic responses from many Twitter users in Pakistan, Turkey, and Oregon, among other places). Recently, though, I’ve been the recipient of hate-grams from my fellow Jews, for supporting (unenthusiastically, but, whatever) the Iran nuclear agreement.  Some of the mail is sane, of course, and acknowledges the complexity of the issue (I know I’m waving the red cape when I say this, but I actually think the deal just might be in Israel’s best interests). But so many of my interlocutors believe that any Jew who supports the Iran deal is in league with Hitler and/or Haman and/or Satan (just witness what’s happening to Rep. Jerrold Nadler now, for instance).

    This post (and, man, it’s going to be fun to be Goldblogging again, in part because I can use parentheses in wanton fashion), isn’t about the merits or flaws of the Iran nuclear agreement. This is instead a brief guide on how to write effective hate mail.  It will be very brief, in fact, because most hate-mail writers make one simple mistake, a mistake that negates the effectiveness of their screeds. I will explain the mistake by posting an excerpt from recent communication:

  • Vahid Salemi / AP

    10 Questions for President Obama About Iran

    It is not too late to strengthen the Iran deal, a prominent critic says.

  • An Inmate Reflects on Life in America's Largest Maximum-Security Prison

    Joseph Norfleet is currently serving a life sentence in the Louisiana State Penitentiary.