2019年11月1日 星期五

The time to rise has been engaged

you'd better best to rearrange.
A map disputing the globe theory of the earth from 1893.Library of Congress
Author Headshot

By Jamelle Bouie

Opinion Columnist

I recently watched a documentary on the rise of modern "flat-earthers" — people who sincerely believe that the world is flat. The documentary, "Behind the Curve," is fine, a by-the-book look at a strange, obscure subculture. To the extent that it's interesting, it's because the filmmakers attempt to explain why it's wrong to describe flat-earth views as a form of "skepticism."

Skepticism implies a willingness to question and re-evaluate one's own views and to adjust or even abandon them if the evidence points in a different direction. Flat-earthers are skeptical of mainstream views, but they refuse to question their own. Opposing evidence must be questioned, but tests that prove the null-hypothesis — that the earth is round — must be wrong.

Flat-earthism isn't some radical skepticism; it's a radical solipsism. Flat-earthers are people who can't actually imagine a world that exists outside themselves. If they cannot reconcile something in their minds, then it must not be true. They've essentially rejected the idea that the world is independent of their perceptions.

What's striking is this worldview isn't restricted to fringe beliefs like flat-earthism. You can see something similar among Americans who have embraced any number of conspiracy theories about our government and politics. You can even see it with the president, who seems to understand the entire world in terms of his own ego.

Again, the documentary isn't anything special. But it has given me an idea to think about, something that might make its way to a future column.


What I Wrote

I challenged the idea that President Trump represents the "will of the people" in any coherent way and argued for dismissing that claim as just propaganda.

Trump is president despite the wishes of the public. Voters did not want him in the White House, but our state-based system for choosing presidents — where the geographic distribution of your supporters is more important than the number you have — gave him a victory. As president, he has yet to earn a majority of the public's support and in the last national election, his party suffered a decisive defeat, losing the lower chamber of Congress. At this moment, a majority of Americans support the impeachment inquiry. Trump is the legitimate president of the United States, but the idea that he represents "the people" — and that the investigation is an assault on their will — is untenable.

I also did a Twitter chat about the column, which you can watch here.

Now Reading

Olivia Nuzzi on Joe Biden's campaign for president in New York magazine.

Michael Gorra on the legacy of Confederate memorialization in the New York Review of Books.

Randall Kennedy on Clarence Thomas in The Nation.

Osita Nwanevu on Pete Buttigieg for The New Republic.

Dahlia Lithwick on Brett Kavanaugh and covering the Supreme Court in Slate magazine.



If you're enjoying what you're reading, please consider recommending it to friends. They can sign up here. If you want to share your thoughts on an item in this week's newsletter or on the newsletter in general, please email me at jamelle-newsletter@nytimes.com.

Photo of the Week

Presidents Park near Williamsburg, Va.Jamelle Bouie

About 15 years ago, a landowner in the Williamsburg, Va., area and a Houston-based sculptor opened an attraction called Presidents Park near the city, where you could walk among 18-to-20-foot busts of the presidents. It failed for lack of interest, but the busts weren't destroyed. Instead, a local farmer spent $50,000 to move them to his land, where they remain. You can visit them if you know who to ask, and in October, I did just that, shooting a roll of film while I was there. This is my favorite of the photos, a somewhat playful frame of a president I can't actually identify. I took it with a 1970s-era Yashica twin-lens reflex camera and Kodak color film.


You can read more about the remains of Presidents Park at Smithsonian.com and The New York Times Magazine.

Now Eating: Baked Ziti

I have a couple of containers of homemade marinara sauce in the freezer, so I'm making baked ziti this weekend. This is my go-to recipe, and I make just a few adjustments — I add sautéed spinach and cooked Italian sausage (procured from the butcher down the street). You can also try to make your own ricotta cheese if you're feeling ambitious. If you are a wine drinker, I think something bright and light like a Sangiovese is the right way to go.


  • 1 pound ziti, penne or other thick tubular pasta
  • 6 cups homemade or high-quality store-bought red sauce (such as Rao's)
  • 12 ounces whole-milk homemade or high-quality ricotta cheese
  • 3 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano, finely grated (about 1½ cups)
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh basil
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound whole-milk mozzarella cheese, cut into rough ¼-inch cubes


Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 400°F. Place the ziti in a large bowl and cover with hot salted water by 3 or 4 inches. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes, stirring it after the first 5 minutes to prevent sticking. Drain.

Pour half of the marinara into a large pot, add the ricotta, half of the Parmigiano, the eggs, the cream, and half of the parsley and basil, and stir to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the soaked ziti, along with half of the cheese cubes, and stir until well combined. Transfer to a 13-by-9-inch baking dish and top with the remaining marinara sauce and mozzarella.

Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and bake until the cheese is beginning to brown, about 15 minutes longer. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the remaining Parmigiano, then let cool for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with the remaining parsley and basil, and serve.

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