Root and branch

I’m sure most of you have heard the legend that Scipio Aemilianus sowed the fields of Carthage with salt at the end of the Third Punic War (c. 146 BC) to ensure that nothing would ever grow there again. This is, as you probably also knew, fiction, a legend invented in the 19th century as… Continue reading Root and branch

A good place to start

I don’t want to convey the impression that I have literally had nothing to say about Freddie Gray’s death (murder, really, though maybe it’s premature to call it that) and the subsequent protests/riots that have gripped Baltimore because I don’t care about that story. I simply can’t figure out what to say about this case,… Continue reading A good place to start

Who’s tear-gassing schoolchildren this week?

Look, I’m not about to suggest that the state of America’s policing is any better right now, but seriously, Kenya? Around 100 primary school children and a small group of activists pushed over a newly built wall that separated playing fields and the school buildings, close to the capital Nairobi’s main domestic airport on Monday.… Continue reading Who’s tear-gassing schoolchildren this week?

Not even worth a trial?

My daughter loves the police. When we lived in Chicago she saw them all the time, including at least one occasion when a couple of them came to give a talk to her preschool. She’s learned, partly (and probably unfortunately, I now realize) from her mother and me that the police are “the good guys,”… Continue reading Not even worth a trial?

Good reads about Ferguson

I haven’t commented on the terrible events unfolding in Ferguson because I think I’m self-aware enough to know when my own life experiences leave me unable to really understand the deeper issues at play. I have deep concerns about the militarization of local police forces in this country, about America’s ongoing problem with respect to… Continue reading Good reads about Ferguson