The Washington Monthly

An independent monthly magazine devoted to politics, government, culture, and the media in America, from a progressive perspective. Publishes investigative and opinion-based feature articles by notable authors, short news items, humorous sidebars, and boo

Articles from Vol. 45, No. 1-2, January-February

A Dedicated Life: Shirley Sherrod's Ongoing Battle for Racial Cooperation in Georgia
[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] Almost three years ago, in late March 2010, Shirley Sherrod, who was then the USDA state director of rural development for Georgia, gave a forthright speech about her life story at an NAACP banquet. She told of how a white...
A Great President for Blacks? If You Think Obama Hasn't Delivered for African Americans, Take a Closer Look at His Record
In a New York Times essay in late October 2012, Columbia University political scientist Frederick Harris wrote that Barack Obama's presidency has "marked the decline, rather than the pinnacle, of a political vision centered on challenging racial inequality."...
A House Divided: Why Do Middle-Class Blacks Have Far Less Wealth Than Whites at the Same Income Level? the Answer Is in Real Estate and History
[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] In 1973, my parents sold their modest house on Detroit's West Side to Roosevelt Smith, a Vietnam War veteran and an assembly-line worker at Ford, and his wife, Virginia (not their real names). For the Smiths--African Americans...
America's Twentieth-Century Slavery: The Horrifying, Little-Known Story of How Hundreds of Thousands of Blacks Worked in Brutal Bondage Right Up until World War II
On July 31, 1903, a letter addressed to President Theodore Roosevelt arrived at the White House. It had been mailed from the town of Bainbridge, Georgia, the prosperous seat of a cotton county perched on the Florida state line. [ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]...
An Arranged Marriage: Why Eisenhower Distrusted, but Needed, Nixon
Ike and Dick: Portrait of a Strange Political Marriage by Jeffrey Frank Simon & Schuster, 384 pp. [ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] In early 1952, New Hampshire Governor Sherman Adams sent an urgent telegram to Dwight D. Eisenhower's nascent campaign...
A New Role for Parole: African Americans Suffer from High Rates of Incarceration and Crime. Here's How to Drastically Reduce Both
[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] American crime rates, especially violent crime rates, and American incarceration rates are twin national disgraces. We have five times the homicide rate and five times the incarceration rate of other economically advanced...
A Second Emancipation: One Hundred Years after Lincoln Signed the Proclamation, Martin Luther King Jr. Tried Unsuccessfully to Get President John F. Kennedy to Issue a Second One. That Failure Changed the Course of History
In October 1961, Martin Luther King Jr. and President John F. Kennedy took an after-lunch stroll through the elegant hallways of the White House residence. Their meeting that day was not official: it was not in the White House's appointment book, and...
Class No Longer Dismissed: Why Some Conservatives Are Warming to Socioeconomic School Integration
The Diverse Schools Dilemma: A Parent's Guide to Socioconomically Mixed Public Schools by Michael J. Petrilli Thomas B. Fordham Institute, 119 pp. [ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] In the decades following the 1954 Supreme Court decision in Brown...
COIN Operated: In Iraq and Afghanistan, General David Petraeus Applied All the Lessons Learned in Vietnam-Except for the One That Mattered Most
The Insurgents: David Petraeus and the Plot to Change the American Way of War by Fred Kaplan Simon & Schuster, 448 pp. [ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] I' n late 2005, after a grueling year training Iraqi security forces, Lieutenant General David...
Color-Blind Medicine?
In 2002, the Institute of Medicine published an oft-cited and controversial report entitled Unequal Treatment: Confronting Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Care. The report concluded that members of minority groups, even when fully insured,...
Deconstructing Reconstruction: The Tumultuous Decade That Followed the Civil War Failed to Enshrine Black Voting and Civil Rights, and Instead Paved the Way for More Than a Century of Entrenched Racial Injustice
[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] Children in elementary school often come home with the idea that the purpose of the Civil War was to end slavery--but if that were true, then why did it take Abraham Lincoln so long to issue the Emancipation Proclamation,...
Did Hurricane Sandy Save Obamacare? How Disaster Relief Justifies the Welfare State
The Sympathetic State: Disaster Relief and the Origins of the American Welfare State by Michael Landis Dauber University of Chicago Press, 378 pp. [ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] Among the notable events of 2012 were Hurricane Sandy and the Supreme...
Dixie's Enemy Within: How the Ideology of White Supremacy Undermined the South's Own War Effort
Wars have often unleashed forces the warring parties hadn't expected and couldn't control. The Thirty Years' War began as a struggle between religions but gave birth to the modern system of secular states, while World War I profoundly undermined the...
Emmett and Trayvon: How Racial Prejudice in America Has Changed in the Last Sixty Years
[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] Separated by a thousand miles, two state borders, and nearly six decades, two young African American boys met tragic fates that seem remarkably similar today: both walked into a small market to buy some candy; both ended up...
Introduction: Race, History, and Obama's Second Term
[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] In the summer of 2011, under siege from both the left and the right for his efforts to broker a budget deal to avoid a debt default, Barack Obama defended his leadership with a telling historical analogy. He noted that the...
Is Inequality Shortening Your Life Span? White, Black, or Brown, We'd All Live Longer in a More Equal, Less Status-Driven Society
Imagine you got to choose whether to be born black or born white in America. Here are a few health statistics that might inform your decision: If you chose to be born white, your chances of dying of Parkinson's disease would be twice as likely as...
Lincoln Died for Our Sins: The Greatest Impediment to Achieving Racial Equality Is the Narcotic Belief That We Already Have
[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] The opening scene of Steven Spielberg's cinemythic portrait of the sixteenth president features President Abraham Lincoln seated on a stage, half cloaked in darkness, and observing the Union forces he is sending into battle....
Lincoln: No Hero to Native Americans
The Emancipation Proclamation was in many ways a tremendous step forward for human rights, but it didn't bring any new rights to Native Americans. In fact, Abraham Lincoln is not seen as much of a hero at all among many American Indian tribes and...
Prison's Dilemma: Even If Every Convict Were Rightly Sentenced, America's Vast, Racially Skewed Incarceration System Would Still Be Morally Indefensible
Over the past four decades, the United States has become a vastly punitive nation, without historical precedent or international parallel. With roughly 5 percent of the world's population, the U.S. currently confines about one-quarter of the world's...
Red, White, and Black: Three Generations of African American Politicians
Ten years after Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, Frederick Douglass found himself in a fight with fellow Republicans over the extent to which the party of Lincoln should demand the enforcement of the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and...
Reflections on Race in America
"Certainly this is a country that was founded on slavery, genocide, land stealing, and policy marked by racism. But at the same time there are struggles to find our better angels, there are the struggles against slavery, for emancipation, civil rights,...
Rumors of Land: The Unfulfilled Dream of "Forty Acres and a Mule."
In January 1865, the famous General William Sherman met with Edwin Stanton, Abraham Lincoln's secretary of war, and twenty black church leaders in his quarters in Savannah, Georgia. The purpose of the meeting was to decide how to provide for the thousands...
The American Dream, Redeemed: How to Make Homeownership a Safe Bet for Minority Borrowers
Is the pursuit of the American Dream through homeownership just an elaborate bait and switch? It's understandable why many might now think so. The collapse of the housing bubble has particularly devastated minority families who, after generations of...
Thenceforward and Forever Free, Mostly: Deserving of Neither Blanket Condemnation nor Blind Exaltation, Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation Was a Brave Compromise
[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] A couple of years ago, speaking to a bipartisan group of college students about the Emancipation Proclamation, President Barack Obama commented, half jokingly, that if the executive order were signed today, headlines would...
The New White Negro: What It Means That Family Breakdown Is Now Biracial
[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] In 1965, Daniel Patrick Moynihan released a controversial report written for his then boss, President Lyndon Johnson. Entitled "The Negro Family: The Case for National Action," it described the condition of lower-income African...
The Next Affirmative Action: Want to Help Minority College Students? Make the Entire Higher Education System More Accountable
Affirmative action as we know it is dying. A growing number of states have moved to prohibit public universities from considering race in admissions, and the U.S. Supreme Court recently heard arguments in an anti-affirmative action lawsuit that left...
Tilting at Windmills
Langley's Bartlebys I'm sure you're sick of hearing about "the talking points," but it's fascinating to discover that the real culprit was not Susan Rice or a sinister White House plot, but, according to Siobhan Gorman and Adam Entous of the Wall...
To Live Longer, Move to a New Zip Code
Michelle Obama's "Let's Move" campaign emphasizes the importance of physical activity for combating obesity, a point she has driven home by dancing alongside school kids to Beyonce's workout video. But another kind of movement may also be important...