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Syndicated stories from The Atlantic.

President Biden’s pursuit of solidarity is well intentioned. But without concrete plans to hold bad actors accountable, his efforts will be useless.

Black & white photo of a protest split into 3 parts. 1 is almost solid red, 1 has a translucent red gradient, & 1 is normal.
Black & white photo of a protest split into 3 parts. 1 is almost solid red, 1 has a translucent red gradient, & 1 is normal.
Unity requires hard work and accountability, or it risks granting unearned forgiveness for harmful transgressions. Photo illustration: The Atlantic/Getty Images

By Syreeta McFadden

On Tuesday, the eve of the presidential inauguration, then-President-elect Joe Biden stood on the perimeter of the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool to honor the more than 400,000 Americans who have died from the coronavirus. In his brief remarks, he said, “To heal, we must remember; it’s hard sometimes to remember, but that’s how we heal. It’s important to do that as a nation.” Those words set the tone for the next day’s peaceful transfer of power, which had been endangered just two weeks prior by a violent coup attempt at the U.S. …


Punishment can radicalize and further alienate people, while social policy and grassroots community building can defuse potential violence.

A line of heavily armored riot police at the US Capitol Building.
A line of heavily armored riot police at the US Capitol Building.
Photo: Shay Horse/NurPhoto via Getty Images

By Neil Gong and Heath Pearson

In response to law enforcement’s hands-off approach to the storming of the Capitol on January 6, some on the left have demanded harsher policing of right-wing extremism to match the often-brutal treatment of Black Lives Matter and leftist protest. That is, the very people who supported police reform or outright defunding over the summer seemed to want a crackdown. Skeptics of defunding were quick to point out the apparent contradiction, and they took the opportunity to dismiss the abolitionist position altogether. …


Democracy is under attack, and we need to protect it.

A small photo of a US flag flying in a blue sky, on a larger field of black with a grid of white dots.
A small photo of a US flag flying in a blue sky, on a larger field of black with a grid of white dots.
Illustration: The Atlantic/Getty Images

By Ilhan Omar

As I sat in my Capitol Hill office two weeks ago, watching a violent mob storm the symbol and seat of our democracy, I was reminded of my distant past. As a child, I saw my birth country of Somalia descend from relative stability into civil war, overnight. The spaces where people felt most secure — their homes and workplaces — suddenly became battlegrounds, torn by gunfights and bombings. Violent targeting of political leaders — once unheard-of — became commonplace.

I never expected to experience a direct assault on democracy in the United States, one of the oldest, most prosperous democracies in the world. …


The new president must not repeat Obama’s mistakes.

A picture of Barack Obama’s face split in half, each on either side of a photo of Joe Biden.
A picture of Barack Obama’s face split in half, each on either side of a photo of Joe Biden.
Photo illustration: The Atlantic/Getty Images

When Franklin D. Roosevelt became president in 1932, the nation was facing concentric crises: the immediate, house-on-fire disaster of rolling bank closures; the broader economic depression; and, beyond that, deeply entrenched problems that the depression had highlighted, including elderly poverty. Roosevelt’s first 100 days addressed the first two crises with historic directness. He reopened the banks and directly employed thousands of Americans through measures such as the Civilian Conservation Corps. …


‘The First White President,’ revisited

Collage interspersing the Capitol Building (with a crowd on its steps) with parts of Trump’s head.
Collage interspersing the Capitol Building (with a crowd on its steps) with parts of Trump’s head.
Photoillustration: Jon Key

By Ta-Nehisi Coates

I’ve been thinking about Barbara Tuchman’s medieval history, A Distant Mirror, over the past couple of weeks. The book is a masterful work of anti-romance, a cold-eyed look at how generations of aristocrats and royalty waged one of the longest wars in recorded history, all while claiming the mantle of a benevolent God. The disabusing begins early. In the introduction, Tuchman examines the ideal of chivalry and finds, beneath the poetry and codes of honor, little more than myth and delusion.

Knights “were supposed, in theory, to serve as defenders of the Faith, upholders of justice, champions of the oppressed,” Tuchman writes. “In practice, they were themselves the oppressors, and by the 14th century, the violence and lawlessness of men of the sword had become a major agency of disorder.” …


How will the GOP recover from the Trump era? Pretend it never happened.

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Image: Paul Spella / Shutterstock / The Atlantic

By McKay Coppins

As Donald Trump lurches through the disastrous final days of his presidency, Republicans are just beginning to survey the wreckage of his reign. Their party has been gutted, their leader is reviled, and after four years of excusing every presidential affront to “conservative values,” their credibility is shot. How will the GOP recover from the complicity and corruption of the Trump era? To many Republicans, the answer is simple: Pretend it never happened.

“We’re about to see a whole political party do a large-scale version of ‘New phone, who dis?’” says Sarah Isgur, a former top spokesperson for the Trump Justice Department. …


The virus is mutating as expected. We can still stop it.

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Image: The Atlantic

By James Hamblin

In the final, darkest days of the deadliest year in U.S. history, the world received ominous news of a mutation in the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. Scientists in the U.K. had identified a form of the virus that was spreading rapidly throughout the nation. Then, on January 4, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a lockdown that began almost immediately and will last until at least the middle of February. …


Quarantine is turning you into a stiff, hunched-over, itchy, sore, headachy husk.

A person bending backwards and a person lounging on their back, all on a graphic background of different-colored triangles.
A person bending backwards and a person lounging on their back, all on a graphic background of different-colored triangles.
Illustrations: Hannah R. Anderson

The first time my hips locked up, the reason was at least a little bit glamorous. It was 2018, and I was returning from vacation in Sicily, which was the fanciest thing I’d ever done by several orders of magnitude. As I went through the motions — and, perhaps more important, the lack of motion — of international flight, my gait began to stiffen, and my stride contracted to a fraction of its former self. My body, settling into its mid-30s, rebelled against the hours spent in airplane seats, the nights in unfamiliar beds, the constant, awkward physicality of travel.

The same thing happened a few more times over the next year and a half, always after long-haul flights. I began to think of it as “airplane hip,” and the condition was annoying but temporary; I don’t spend much time on planes, and a yoga move called “pigeon pose” would stretch my stiff waddle back into a walk in a day or two. …


Low wages benefit employers at the expense of both workers and taxpayers.

A construction crane creating a vertical stack of quarters.
A construction crane creating a vertical stack of quarters.
Illustration: The Atlantic; source: Getty Images

The country’s very low minimum wage comes at a high cost. And for taxpayers, it adds up to more than $100 billion a year.

That number comes from a new analysis of safety-net usage by Ken Jacobs, Ian Eve Perry, and Jenifer MacGillvary of UC Berkeley’s Labor Center. …


Delaware’s congresswoman thought she might die in the riot at the Capitol. Then her Republican colleagues mocked her for handing out masks while they sheltered together.

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Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE) pays her respects as the Representative John Lewis (D-GA) lies in state at the U.S. Capitol Rotunda in Washington, D.C. on July 27, 2020. Photo: Michael A. McCoy/Getty Images

As a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol on January 6, security guards hustled representatives into a secure location. Representative Lisa Blunt Rochester, Delaware’s sole member of the House, tried to convince several of her Republican colleagues to put on masks. They refused, and laughed at her — behavior that was captured in a viral video. In the days since, House Democrats Pramila Jayapal, Brad Schneider, and Bonnie Watson Coleman have tested positive for COVID-19. They blame their GOP colleagues’ carelessness for their diagnoses. On Tuesday, I asked Blunt Rochester to reflect on what happened, and why. She agreed to let me share the story as she told it to me, edited and condensed for clarity. …

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