The Atlantic Daily: A Tenure Defined by Family Separations

Kirstjen Nielsen failed as a moderating force. Plus: the death of an adjunct professor and academia’s permanent underclass, the fall of Justin Trudeau, and more

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What We’re Following

Kirstjen Nielsen’s firing on Sunday should send a message to other members of the Trump administration: Attempting to act as a moderating force on the president is a futile act. Nielsen came into the role of Department of Homeland Security secretary 16 months ago with a decidedly un-Trumpian résumé—she’s a seasoned bureaucrat who has worked on homeland-security issues since the Bush administration, yet those bona fides didn’t lead to a particularly successful tenure. Her reputation was besmirched by the continuing chaos at DHS, capped most notoriously by its short-lived policy of family separation along the southern border.

Benjamin Netanyahu is visiting a familiar playbook as Israelis head to the polls on Tuesday. As the country’s prime minister battles for another term, he’s fashioning himself as a nationalist and populist, a mold followed by leaders such as Donald Trump or Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro. Israelis have long had a relatively tame, uplifting nationalistic self-conception, but Netanyahu has eschewed that to focus on fear, blasting adversarial reporting as a “witch hunt” and taking a hard-line stance on Palestine. There’s more to Netanyahu’s nationalism than empty rhetoric, however: He’s championed this chauvinistic bill that would enshrine Israel as a chiefly Jewish state.

Justin Trudeau seemed the perfect, liberal counterprogramming for the Trump era. But the well-coiffed, yoga-performing, Syrian-refugee-hugging Canadian prime minister now finds himself mired in a national scandal. After the engineering company SNC-Lavalin was prosecuted for paying bribes to the son of Libya’s dictator, it started a lobbying effort to mitigate the penalties. Trudeau’s attorney general staved off the lobbying effort—but then, in January, she was removed from the position, raising allegations that the prime minister was seeking to tamper with justice. Why has the scandal proven so devastating for Trudeau? David Frum explores.


A walrus falling to its death

(Sophie Lanfear)

One shocking scene from the Netflix documentary Our Planet shows walruses scaling steep cliffs—and then falling to their deaths. What were they doing there in the first place?

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Evening Read

Death of an adjunct

(Sanna Stanley / Rykoff Collection / Imran Kadir Photography / Getty / Frank Fiedler / Shutterstock / Arsh Raziuddin / The Atlantic)

The story of the historian Thea Hunter, who died over winter break at the end of 2018, is about the impossibility of adjunct life, and the unceasing hardships of being a woman of color in academia. Adam Harris writes:

Her friends told me that Hunter would wake up around 5 a.m. each day, eat her cereal, and make the hour commute from Washington Heights to Danbury, Connecticut. She would often arrive on campus early, around 7:30, for office hours. She would get settled into her office and sit down. She was a black woman in a largely empty building, and people would come by and inquire about whether she was the janitor. Then she would teach classes. Her students loved her, but their parents would call the school questioning whether she had a doctorate.

Waking up started to get more difficult. She would cry over her breakfast cereal before her commute in, her friends said. She loved her students, and her research, and teaching, but the slights built up until they became too much to handle. She knew that leaving the university and a tenure-track job meant leaving security, or at least a modestly defined path toward it. It also meant losing her health insurance. But she was principled; so, in 2006, she left.

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The Atlantic Crossword

Click here for The Atlantic's free daily crossword

(Araki Koman)

Have you tried your hand at our daily mini crossword (available on our website, here)? Monday is the perfect day to start—the puzzle gets bigger and more difficult throughout the week.

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