William Langewiesche, “American Ground: Unbuilding the World Trade Center” (part two, excerpts); Charles C. Mann, “Homeland Insecurity”; P. J. O'Rourke, “Letter From Egypt”; Witold Rybczynski, “The Bilbao Effect”; Caitlin Flanagan on Martha Stewart; Christopher Hitchens on Martin Amis; fiction by Roxana Robinson; and much more.
"There is a question," our correspondent writes, "that less-sophisticated Americans ask (and more-sophisticated Americans would like to): Why are people in the Middle East so crazy? Here, at the pyramids, was an answer from the earliest days of civilization: People have always been crazy."
If multiracial democracy cannot be defended in America, it will not be defended elsewhere.
The conservative intelligentsia flocked to the Ritz-Carlton in Washington, D.C., this week for the National Conservatism Conference, an opportunity for people who may never have punched a time clock to declare their eternal enmity toward elites and to attempt to offer contemporary conservative nationalism the intellectual framework that has so far proved elusive.
Yoram Hazony, the Israeli scholar who organized the conference, explicitly rejected white nationalism, barring several well-known adherents from attending, my colleague Emma Green reported. But despite Hazony’s efforts, the insistence that “nationalism” is, at its core, about defending borders, eschewing military interventions, and promoting a shared American identity did not prevent attendees from explicitly declaring that American laws should favor white immigrants.
The American flag is bleached white. But some of the boot prints could remain undisturbed for tens of thousands of years.
About 4.5 billion years ago, according to the most popular theory of the moon’s formation, a mysterious rocky world the size of Mars slammed into Earth. From the fiery impact, shards swirled and fused into a new, airless world, itself bombarded with rocky objects. In the absence of the smoothing touch of weather and tectonic activity, every dent remained. And then, one day, among craters both microscopic and miles-wide, two guys came along and stepped on the surface, carving new hollows with their boots.
Buzz Aldrin, seeing the moon from the surface for the first time, described it as “magnificent desolation.”
It was not so desolate when they departed. The Apollo 11 astronauts discarded gadgets, tools, and the clothesline contraption that moved boxes of lunar samples, one by one, from the surface into the module. They left behind commemorative objects—that resplendent American flag, mission patches and medals honoring fallen astronauts and cosmonauts, a coin-size silicon disk bearing goodwill messages from the world leaders of planet Earth. And they dumped things that weren’t really advertised to the public, for understandable reasons, such as defecation-collection devices. (Some scientists, curious to examine how gut microbes fare in low gravity, even proposed going back for these.)
America’s urban rebirth is missing something key—actual births.
A few years ago, I lived in a walkup apartment in the East Village of New York. Every so often descending the stairway, I would catch a glimpse of a particular family with young children in its Sisyphean attempts to reach the fourth floor. The mom would fold the stroller to the size of a boogie board, then drag it behind her with her right hand, while cradling the younger and typically crying child in the crook of her left arm. Meanwhile, she would shout hygiene instructions in the direction of the older child, who would slap both hands against every other grimy step to use her little arms as leverage, like an adult negotiating the bolder steps of Machu Picchu. It looked like hell—or, as I once suggested to a roommate, a carefully staged public service announcement against family formation.
The president needs the voters who approve of his record on the economy but disapprove of him overall. His racist attacks this week only hurt that cause.
Buried beneath the blustery bravado of Donald Trump’s openly racist attacks on four Democratic congresswomen of color were clear signs of electoral anxiety.
Trump insists he is producing great results for the country, especially on the economy. And yet, at the price of provoking great backlash, he moved in an unprecedented manner this week to portray four nonwhite Democratic representatives as fundamentally un-American, not only ideologically, but also racially and ethnically.
In so doing, Trump has telegraphed that, ahead of 2020, he hopes to focus at least as much on the jagged divide of “Who is a real American?” as on the traditional question incumbent presidents seeking reelection highlight during generally good economic times: “Are you better off than you were four years ago?”
When Democrats are accused of anti-Semitism, Republicans understand that coded language can be hurtful. But Trump’s racist comments get a pass.
Most of the time, conservatives and Republicans want the bar for what constitutes bigotry to be set extremely high. When President Donald Trump tweeted last weekend that four nonwhite Democrats in Congress should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came,” he offered a textbook example of racism. Trump’s own Equal Employment Opportunity Commission uses the phrase Go back to where you came from as one of its examples of discrimination based on national origin. Yet Trump insisted that “those Tweets were NOT Racist”—even as he doubled down on them by launching an attack on Representative Ilhan Omar that prompted rally-goers in North Carolina on Wednesday night to chant “Send her back!”
The classic rom-com invented the “high-maintenance” woman. Thirty years later, its reductive diagnosis lives on.
There’s a scene midway through When Harry Met Sally that finds the rom-com’s title couple, one evening, in bed—separate beds, each in their respective apartments, shown on a split screen. The will-they-or-won’t-they best friends, currently in the won’t-they stage of things, are talking on the phone as they watch Casablanca on TV. “Ingrid Bergman,” Harry muses. “Now she’s low-maintenance.”
“Low-maintenance?” Sally asks.
“There are two kinds of women,” Harry explains, anticipating her question: “high-maintenance and low-maintenance.”
“And Ingrid Bergman is low-maintenance?”
“An L-M, definitely,” Harry replies.
“Which one am I?”
Harry has anticipated this question, too—of course Sally would wonder. “You’re the worst kind,” he says, cooly. “You’re high-maintenance, but you think you’re low-maintenance.”
Amid a convulsive week in American politics, at one of the darkest rallies Donald Trump has ever held, his base showed up in force to tell the president he’s done nothing wrong.
GREENVILLE, N.C.—Before the rally began, I wanted to know why they’d come.
In the heavy, humid hours, I walked up and down the line winding through a parking lot at East Carolina University to interview some two dozen people who wanted to see the president. Many didn’t make it inside. About 90 minutes before Donald Trump took the stage, police announced that the 8,000-person basketball arena was full and those still waiting would have to watch on an oversize TV monitor set up outside. Rather than head home, they stuck around for a tailgate party of sorts.
Some cracked open beers and lit cigars, sitting on folding chairs in front of the TV. People walked by in shirts that read In Trump We Trust and Fuck Off, We’re Full. Earlier, in the 100-degree heat, a four-member family band called the Terry Train entertained the crowd with a song mocking CNN. Lying Wolf Blitzer and Lying John King. Don Lemon lies about everything … Erin Burnett, can you hear us yet? We’ll give you a story you can never forget. It built to this refrain: CNN sucks!
It’s not just this heat wave. July 2019 is likely to be the hottest month ever measured.
Basically everywhere in the U.S. east of the Rockies—in Massachusetts and in Chicago and in Texas—people seem to believe that the classic division of four seasons doesn’t apply. “Our state actually has 12 seasons,” they say. What are they? First, there’s Winter, as you might expect. But then Winter becomes Fool’s Spring and Second Winter. Then there’s the Pollening, which precedes Actual Spring. And while Summer follows, it’s only an entrée to Hell’s Front Porch.
I wouldn’t make such a strong claim, either theological or phenological, but as a climate reporter, I’ve started to think about an added season of the year. The effects of climate change are felt year-round, but there’s a heightened set of months when it seems to become omnipresent and un-ignorable.
Earlier today, the fabric of the space-time continuum stretched and rearranged itself. The Cats trailer dropped. It prompted a handful of questions.
1) There are cobbles on the street. Is this Victorian London? There’s also a lot of neon. Is this Las Vegas? There’s also a person on all fours arching her back like a cat, even though she’s obviously human. But she has a tail. I don’t know.
2) She just turned around and, holy God, she has a human face, cat ears, a white leotard the texture of coir matting, and a forehead like Krang from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. What is she? Am I high? Is she high? Is this the final glitch in The Matrix that ushers in the end times?
3) This sounds like Jennifer Hudson singing “Memory.” No one should sing “Memory,” apart from maybe Maude Apatow. There’s a neon sign in the background advertising a “milk bar,” which means we’re fully committed to the idea that these monstrosities are cats. Either that, or this is a trippier remake of A Clockwork Orange. A man in an extravagant hat just slipped through an iron gate, so I’m sensing the latter.
Where the president’s fans once called for a female opponent’s imprisonment, now they are longing for another woman to be literally banished from the country.
Lawmakers and presidential candidates know to expect a particular set of reactions after criticizing Donald Trump. He might call them a loser, or give them their own unique nickname—the provenance of which might depend on how often he thinks they lie, whether they look sleepy, or how pencil-like he finds their neck. He might go so far as to endorse their primary challengers, or even the critics themselves, if he thinks his stamp of approval might hurt them.
Only for women, though, do Trump and his supporters deploy their most sinister lines of attack. In 2016, it was not enough to call Hillary Clinton “Crooked Hillary” or criticize her vision for the country. Rather, it was necessary to call for her physical removal from public life, and her sentencing to a place where she wouldn’t be heard from again. “Lock her up!” is as identifiable with Trumpism as “Build the wall!,” and the chant continues at rallies to this day, even as Clinton, true to Trump’s wishes, has faded into the background.