News & Politics
Harper's Magazine

Harper's Magazine

November 2020

HARPER’S MAGAZINE, the oldest general interest monthly in America, explores the issues that drive our national conversation through such celebrated features as Readings, Annotation, and Findings, as well as the iconic Harper’s Index.

United States
Harper's Magazine Foundation
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$25.20(Incl. tax)
12 Issues

in this issue

4 min.

Bitter Pill Naomi Jackson’s essay [“A Litany for Survival,” Memoir, September] humanizes the disconcerting but clear evidence of health disparities based on race. These statistics, established in the medical literature for decades, have only recently reached the public’s attention. But statistics are merely data. Until we can associate them with human faces, they will continue to be largely intangible. If the medical profession is to regain the trust of patients of color, it should learn from the tenets of restorative justice and engage with those who have been harmed. This might mean directly involving community members to create institutional-care algorithms, educate the next generation of physicians, or serve on hospital quality review committees. In the meantime, complementing epidemiological data with patient Harper’s Magazine welcomes reader response. Please address mail to Letters, Harper’s Magazine,…

9 min.
easy chair

Morality is often reduced to choices, and imperfect choices at that. This is the human condition; to accept it and do the best we can is a brave thing, and often the only way to avoid tragedy. Many on the left say they cannot bring themselves to vote for a candidate or a party they blame for making the rise of Donald Trump possible in the first place. I understand this argument, and I acknowledge the shortcomings of the Democratic candidate: his years spent carrying water for Wall Street and credit card companies, his past willingness to contemplate cuts to Social Security and Medicare in the interest of balancing the budget, his opposition to busing as a means of integrating schools. I am aware that Joe Biden hails from a Democratic…

1 min.
gobble without a cause

From news reports of behaviors by wild turkeys across the United States between 2015 and 2019. Tearing up gardensBreaking off tree branchesChasing dogsBlocking traffic by gathering into a group andmarching in circles around a dead catFlying into the windshields of moving vehiclesAttacking postal workersChasing police officersTackling pedestriansChasing octogenarians at a nursing homePecking the backs of a pregnant woman’s legsand forcing her into oncoming trafficChasing children disembarking school busesRipping down power linesGathering on rooftopsRipping shingles off a roofJumping off a roof and diving through thekitchen window of an adjacent homeKnocking on doorsRipping apart screen doors Breaking the window of a village hallBreaking into a house and staring into a mirrorSmashing through a fifth-floor office window,walking across the room, smashing throughanother window, and then falling to its deathin the parking lot below…

37 min.
what’s in a vote?

On Tuesday, November 3, Americans will cast their votes for president for the fifty-ninth time in our nation’s his tory. Republican efforts at voter suppression have long undermined the notion of free and fair elections, but Donald Trump has diminished the integrity of our electoral system even more profoundly—by sabotaging the Postal Service, disregarding the Hatch Act, and leveling false charges of voter fraud, while doing nothing to prevent interference by foreign governments. These threats demand urgent action on the part of political leaders, but they also raise difficult questions about what it means to be a citizen in a democracy, particularly one that is failing to live up to its ideals. Do we have a moral obligation to vote even if the electoral system is corrupt or unfair? Who…

3 min.
the sultan of sewers

I never wanted to be President. This innate decision was confirmed when I became literate and saw the President pawing babies and spouting bullshit. I attended Los Alamos Ranch School, where they later made the atom bomb, and bombs bursting in air over Hiroshima gave proof through the night that our flag was already there. Then came the Teapot Dome scandal under President Harding, and I remember the unspeakable Gaston Means, infamous private eye and go-between in that miasma of graft, walking into a hotel room full of bourbon-drinking, cigar-smoking lobbyists and fixers, with a laundry hamper. “Fill it up boys, and we talk business.” I do not mean to imply that my youthful idealism was repelled by this spectacle. I had by then learned to take a broad, general view…

23 min.
state of exception

On August 4, a blast with the force of a tactical nuclear bomb tore through the port of Beirut. A red pillar of smoke and chemicals shot into the sky as a pressure wave swept across the city at more than 600 miles per hour. The explosion, registering at 3.3 on the Richter scale, could be heard as far away as Cyprus. When the dust cleared, nearly two hundred people had died, thousands had been wounded, and hundreds of thousands had lost their homes. My old apartment building in the eastern neighborhood of Achrafieh was gutted, as were many of the bars, restaurants, and cafés I frequented during the years I lived in Beirut as a foreign correspondent. Lebanon’s largest grain silo and its biggest container terminal—vital in a country…