The two recent The New Yorker magazines (August 31st & September 7th) contain articles by George Packer (Togo 1982-84), both worth reading. In the August issue is a long, long piece entitled “The Other France” that is subtitled, Are the suburbs of Paris incubators of terrorism? The article goes onto saying that “Although the alienated, impoverished immigrant communities outside Paris are increasingly prone to anti-Semitism, the profiles of French jihadists don’t track closely with class. Many of them have come from bourgeois families.”
The second piece is a short The Talk of the Town comment entitled “The Populists” that begins with a 1910 quote from Thomas E. Watson, a populist from Georgia, who had a long demagogic career in American politics. Packer writes that Watson “ended his career, as a U.S. senator, whipping up white-Protestant enmity against blacks, Catholics, and Jews.” (Does this sound like someone we know today?) Watson began his career, however, as the leader of the People’s Party in the eighteen-nineties, he urged poor whites and blacks to join together and upend an economic order dominated by “the money power.”
Packer then writes about Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and other anti-politics politicians, i.e. Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan, as well as Trump who is currently famous for saying, “There’s no dirtier word in the lexicon of his stump speech then ‘politician’.”
It is a good piece. Look for it online.
Packer has written seven books, including The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America, for which he won the 2013 National Book Award for nonfiction. He also won the Peace Corps Writers Paul Cowan Non-Fiction Award in 2001 for Blood of the Liberals.