2019年12月20日 星期五

Let’s go away for a while

You and I, to a strange and distant land.
President Trump’s Fourth of July celebration at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.Erin Schaff/The New York Times
Author Headshot

By Jamelle Bouie

Opinion Columnist

If you’ve been reading my columns and this newsletter, then you won’t be surprised that one of my pet peeves is misuse of historical references and allusions.

I saw it this week, when Representative Tulsi Gabbard cited Abraham Lincoln to make a plea for bipartisanship as the House voted to impeach President Trump. She voted present, rejecting both sides and claiming the higher ground: “A house divided cannot stand. And today we are divided. Fragmentation and polarity are ripping our country apart. Today, I come before you to make a stand for the center, to appeal to all of you to bridge our differences and stand up for American people.”

“A house divided itself cannot stand” — which is the exact line in Lincoln’s 1858 speech — sounds like a plea for civility and cooperation, but it isn’t. The text makes that clear. The next line is this: “I believe this government cannot endure, permanently half slave and half free.”

He continues:

“I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other. Either the opponents of slavery, will arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction; or its advocates will push it forward, till it shall become alike lawful in all the States, old as well as newNorth as well as South.”

This is not about bipartisanship — this is not about coming together. It’s a warning that the compromise over slavery will not hold, that the issue is too fundamental to split the difference. Either the United States will fulfill the promise of its founding or it will capitulate to slavery’s power. Lincoln was speaking explicitly ‌against figures like Stephen Douglas, his Democratic rival in the Illinois Senate race and later his rival for the White House. Douglas sought a kind of compromise; he wanted to leave slavery to the voters and let them choose a free state or a slave state.

For Lincoln, this was folly. Liberty and slavery cannot exist together. It has to be one or the other.

To invoke Lincoln in defense of bipartisanship is to miss the point entirely. Lincoln was a polarizer. He was divisive. On the fundamental issue of his day, Lincoln said the country had to make a choice. Representative Gabbard should take that message to heart.

This is the last newsletter of the year. Thank you for reading, and I’ll be back at the start of January.

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What I Wrote

I wrote about what the next year of politics might look like in light of impeachment.

President Trump’s almost inevitable acquittal doesn’t mean impeachment wasn’t worthwhile.
Trump, and Trump alone, will be the central issue of the coming election — the core concern for most voters. He’s the reason pollsters are predicting high turnout; he’s the reason voters on both sides are deeply engaged and ready to take action. In that environment, impeachment is the loudest, clearest message Democrats could send to the electorate. They don’t just oppose him because he is a Republican and a conservative; they oppose him because he is unfit. They oppose him because he is a threat to the values and aspirations of the republic.

Now Reading

Amanda Petrusich on Darius Rucker, race and country music in The New Yorker.

Kirk Savage on reparations in Lapham’s Quarterly.

Sheldon Pearce on Dr. Dre’s “The Chronic” in Pitchfork magazine.

David Pozen and Jonathan Gould on the benefits of congressional secrecy in The Atlantic magazine.

Laura Garbes and Daniel Hirschmann sketch out an “economic sociology of race” for the Oxford Socio-Economic Review.

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Feedback

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

The Middle Eastern market on West Main Street in Charlottesville, Va.Jamelle Bouie

Charlottesville is a small town, and it’s a little hard to find new things to photograph. Instead, I’ve been trying to photograph familiar things in new ways. I almost never walk by this building when the light is good, so when I happened to be doing just that a few weekends ago, I took a photo. I like the blue of the building, I like how it’s clearly out of place, and I like the jogger I captured just moving by. The overall color palette is nice too. As I did last week, I used my Yashica medium-format camera and Kodak color film.

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Now Eating: Salted Tahini Chocolate Chip Cookies

Cookies, baked and cooled.Jamelle Bouie

I made these this week and they are delicious. The recipe is good as is, but if you want a chewier cookie, I recommend substituting half the all-purpose flour for bread flour (which has more protein) and letting the dough rest for a full day instead of just 12 hours (to encourage more gluten development). I also used semisweet chocolate wafers instead of chips. You get more chocolate per bite, and they’re a little more aesthetically pleasing. The recipe comes from The New York Times Cooking section.

Ingredients

  • 4 ounces unsalted butter at room temperature
  • ½ cup tahini, well stirred
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1¾ cups chocolate chips or chunks, bittersweet or semisweet
  • flaky salt, like fleur de sel or Maldon

Directions

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter, tahini and sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add egg, egg yolk and vanilla, and continue mixing at medium speed for another 5 minutes.

Sift flour, baking soda, baking powder and kosher salt into a large bowl and mix with a fork. Add flour mixture to butter mixture at low speed until just combined. Use a rubber spatula to fold in chocolate chips. Dough will be soft, not stiff. Refrigerate for at least 12 hours; this ensures tender cookies.

When ready to bake, heat oven to 325 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or nonstick baking mat. Use a large ice cream scoop or spoon to form dough into 12 to 18 balls.

Place the cookies on the baking sheet at least 3 inches apart to allow them to spread. Bake 13 to 16 minutes until just golden brown around the edges but still pale in the middle to make thick, soft cookies. As cookies come out of the oven, sprinkle sparsely with salt. Let cool for at least 20 minutes on a rack.

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