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Latterly
Letter sent on Jan 25

The day America’s beacon went dark

There’s no other way to put this: The U.S. will be a different kind of country after today. It’s a country with walls, and it’s a country that only wants the tired, the poor and the hungry so long as they aren’t Muslim.

As a journalist, I used to practice objectivity. I’m even registered to vote with no party affiliation because I didn’t want to create a perception of bias. Many American journalists will maintain the inscrutability they’ve cultivated over the years, and that’s good and necessary. I’m not going to do that. To me, American governance today isn’t about Republican or Democrat anymore. It’s about: Should America grant asylum based on religion instead of need? Should Central American refugees be forced to find more dangerous routes to safety around a wall? Should more women have to die in childbirth because of religious zealots? Should the health of the planet and the viability of our species take a back seat to the petroleum industry?

Latterly will continue to report objectively. Last night, for example, we actually broke the story about the Muslim ban, thanks to contributing editor Shilpa Jindia’s reporting. (Reuters didn’t have the same details we had until several hours later.) We reported that story straight. But I’m not going to be neutral on human rights and dignity. Even if a majority of Americans had elected Donald Trump, I would still oppose his authority to trample the spirit of the Enlightenment and our nation’s founding. Democrats and Republicans can argue about how to create a just society—the joy of journalism is helping to referee that debate—but we can’t let them waver on whether they should.

Aside from Shilpa’s big scoop, here’s what else we’ve published in the last week:

  • If you want, you can read more of my reflections on today’s anticipated events.
  • Lawyers for suspected terrorist Abu Zubaydah released his testimony on what it felt like to be tortured by the CIA. (Trump is expected to order a review today that could bring back torture and black sites.)
  • In Gambia, a presidential transition went much less smoothly than it did in Washington. Three other African nations could be in for a similar agony this year.
  • Be sure to keep a tab open to Shilpa’s Trumpocalypse Now blog, where she’s keeping track of all the new policies coming out of Congress and the Trump administration. With so much happening, we want to give you an easy, daily record.

Stay tuned. And if this reporting is valuable to you, consider supporting it.

Ben