2021年6月4日 星期五

The Daily: What Does Justice Look Like?

Our producer reflects. Plus, behind the making of Day X.

Hi everyone, welcome to Friday and welcome to summer. Tell us: What do you want to listen to on your summer road trip, or while you're on a hike or lying on the beach? We're open to show requests (no promises, but we always love to hear what you're curious about).

This week in the newsletter, our producer Neena Pathak shares how our team thought about Tuesday's episode. Then, we go behind the scenes on the making of Day X with Katrin Bennhold, The Times's Berlin bureau chief.

Crowds of people watching fires during the June 1, 1921, Tulsa Race Massacre in Tulsa, Okla. A violent white mob entered the prosperous Black community, burning homes and businesses and killing hundreds.Department of Special Collections, McFarlin Library, The University of Tulsa, via Associated Press

By Neena Pathak

For years, few Americans knew what had happened in Tulsa, Okla., in 1921: one of the worst racial terror attacks in our nation's history. A white mob killed hundreds of residents, burned more than 1,250 homes and erased years of Black success in Greenwood, a prosperous Black neighborhood in Tulsa. After the attack, both victims and perpetrators were silenced by fear — the former of retaliation if they spoke out and the latter of advertising their crimes. But silence can be hard to work with in our medium. So we knew we had to resurrect this history in the voices of those who lived it and those who had studied it, documenting what exactly happened, how the history seemed to disappear, and why that history matters.

We decided to open and close the episode with the voice of Viola Ford Fletcher, one of the three known survivors of the massacre, who testified in Congress last month. Ms. Fletcher, 107, was 7 years old when a white mob burned Greenwood. When my colleagues Liz O. Baylen, Soraya Shockley and I listened to her testimony, we were moved not only by her memories of that day, but also by her poignant depiction of the lasting impact this massacre has had on her life. She captured what Chief Egunwale Amusan, President of the African Ancestral Society in Tulsa, later said in the hearing: "This is not a matter of past trauma, but it is concurrent." While we weren't able to incorporate the testimonies of all three survivors into one short episode, listening helped us understand what recurring themes to highlight, including the import of this event, and what justice might look like a century later.


To do this, we turned to Brent Staples, one of our editorial board members. Brent's breadth of knowledge on this subject posed a challenge to our production team: How do we distill so much information into one podcast episode? He knew so much about the Tulsa massacre — the makeup of Greenwood, the testimonies of Black Tulsans who survived the violence and destruction perpetrated by deputized white mobs, and the labor involved in resurfacing this history years after the attacks. Every question we had yielded more stories — and additional questions. It was hard to know where to begin.

Brent joined us for five expansive recording sessions (each up to three hours long), and through our conversations, we were able to create a show structure to both explain this history and its significance for America's ongoing reckoning with systemic racism.

We ended the show on a question: What does justice look like? It's a question that's present in our national discourse as Americans wrestle with centuries of slavery, Jim Crow and, in the case of Greenwood, the eradication of a thriving Black community. And after Ms. Fletcher's testimony, lawmakers must contend with another, related, question: Does justice require reparations?

Follow Neena on Twitter: @neenpathak.


Behind the making of Day X

A photo of Franco A. at a ceremony at the Saint-Cyr military academy in France. Laetitia Vancon for The New York Times

In the spring of 2019, the Daily producers Lynsea Garrison and Clare Toeniskoetter worked with Katrin Bennhold, the Berlin bureau chief, to create a series on European populism. They knew they wanted to work together again, and at the time Katrin was just starting to think about embarking on a big project: reporting on the infiltration of the military and the police by far-right extremists planning for the end of liberal democracy in Germany. "We wanted to get in on the ground floor and make this a true audio project," Clare said. Our colleague Terence McGinley spoke with Katrin and Clare about the making of the series, and below is an excerpt from his conversation with Katrin.

Katrin, you have been covering the far right in Germany for several years. How did you arrive at this series?


This has been an important reporting theme in my time in Germany. The rise of a far-right party, the Alternative for Germany, which was able to make it into the German Parliament and is the biggest opposition party there, is a big deal. And then this case of Franco A. came back toward the end of 2018, when German news media reported that there was this whole network of soldiers and police officers and like-minded civilians who were planning for the day democracy dies: Day X. Some reports even called this network a shadow army. "Shadow army" is a term that has a lot of historical baggage for anyone in Germany. They were these paramilitary groups in the 1920s that assassinated politicians and plotted coups. That's really what got me started.

Franco A. is the special focus of one episode. He is somebody with racist, absolutist ideas. Why was it important to tell his story?

To me, one of the most frightening and most important features of the new right, as they call themselves — the old right being neo-Nazis and even Nazis — is that the new right believes in the same ideology, but they look different and they talk differently. They often don't use crude racist slurs.

We have this image of neo-Nazi skinheads in bomber jackets and tattoos. But a lot of these guys blend in much more — and what the German authorities are now realizing is that some of them are wearing police or military uniforms.

I feel we do need to show them for what they are. The more we learn about how they act and disguise their ideology to make it more socially acceptable, the more we can unpack real grievances from fakes ones, the better equipped we are to understand our world today. I know it's a really fine line, and I think The New York Times and all of us need to be careful not to give people like that a platform; it's a thing that constantly has to be on our minds as we do these stories.

On The Daily this week

Tuesday: A recounting of what happened during the Tulsa Race Massacre and an exploration of what justice could look like 100 years on.

Wednesday: A look inside the mind of Senator Joe Manchin, the make-or-break legislator of the Biden era.

Thursday: How and why did the Texas state legislature just have the most ultraconservative legislative session in modern memory?

Celebrate graduation with the Odessa team

And this coming week, we have a special live event with Michael Barbaro and the team behind Odessa, following up with our sources to hear how they have been since the show aired — and to celebrate their graduation. We'll also hear from the Odessa High School marching band and La'Darius Marshall from the Netflix series "Cheer." We hope you'll join us.

That's it for The Daily newsletter. See you next week.

Have thoughts about the show? Tell us what you think at thedaily@nytimes.com.

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