Hello loyal subscribers! This week’s issue of The Highlighter begins all doom and gloom but gets more hopeful as you progress through the articles. The first two pieces continue the conversation from last week about our divided, tribalist country. The first chronicles the transformation of a white man from Basic Neighborhood Contrarian to Crazy White Supremacist. The second explains the power of attributing evil to “them” while assigning good to “us.” After the photo break (an invite to the second Highlighter Happy Hour), you’re in for a double dose of goodness. You just can’t go wrong with Nikole Hannah-Jones and Nora the Polar Bear. Please enjoy!
Not all disaffected white men end up becoming racist white supremacists. But this profile of Mike Enoch explains how quickly some people can latch on to hateful ideologies. Author Andrew Marantz presents many layers in this piece, but what’s clear is how Mr. Enoch needed something to soothe his feelings of inadequacy. Believing that white people are superior did the trick. If you’re interested in learning more, listen to This American Life’s “White Haze” (59 mins). Bonus: Want to read a version of the article that includes my highlights and annotations? It’s your lucky day! ⏳⏳
This is a thoughtful analysis of Donald Trump’s success and allure. The secret: Aggrandize yourself and vilify your opponents. This strategy works because it is in line with Protestant tradition, all the way from early America to The Power of Positive Thinking, whose author was Mr. Trump’s pastor. Author Jeet Heer suggests that Democrats do something similar (though kinder) in 2018. ⏳
Nikole Hannah-Jones (#18, #22, #46, #47, #65, #82) is my favorite education reporter. Now she’s a MacArthur Genius! Good job, Nikole: You’ve made The Highlighter proud. This profile provides a solid history of Ms. Hannah-Jones’s career — how she got into journalism and why she cares about school segregation. Like Ta-Nehisi Coates, Ms. Hannah-Jones doesn’t believe it’s her responsibility to give white people hope. Want more? Here’s her interview with the New York Times. ⏳
Unless you are immune to all feelings, this series (5 parts in all, plus a 30-min video!) will tug at your heartstrings. Follow Nora the Polar Bear and read about all the challenges she’s faced since her birth at the Columbus Zoo. To balance out the cuteness, learn more about how humans may cause the bears’ extinction sooner rather than later. ⏳⏳⏳
This Week’s Podcast: My friend and former colleague Laura Hawkins is on this week’s episode of The Highlighter Podcast. A Math teacher in San Francisco, Laura believes in putting statistics and data sets in front of her students that will challenge their bias. On the show, we talked about Andrew Sullivan’s article from #114 and grappled with what we can do to combat our increasingly tribalist country. Please take a listen, and if you’re impressed, go ahead and subscribe!
You’ve reached the end of The Highlighter #115. Thank you for being a loyal subscriber. Let me know what you thought (thumbs are below). Also, please welcome new subscribers Maria, Nick, Karen, and Tarik! If you are moved, forward this newsletter right now to a friend and write a heartfelt message encouraging them to subscribe. You’ll be happy; they’ll be happy; I’ll be happy. Have a wonderful week, and I’ll see you again next Thursday at 9:10 am.