• Essay

    What Asteroids Can Teach Us About Climate Change

    Scientists Are Aware of the Perils of Near-Earth Objects and Rising Temperatures. Humanity Can’t Come Together to Deal With Them

    by Andy Bruno

    On June 30, 1908, a sudden blast knocked down over 2,000 square kilometers of forest in a sparsely inhabited ...

  • Poetry

    by Anna Loughran

    Milling about before the clinic
    opened for a routine blood test ...


A Mid-Century Playbook for Saving Progressive American Education

Fifty Years Ago, Parents United to Get the Far-Right John Birch Society Out of Their Schools

by Matthew Dallek

This May, an email landed in my inbox. The correspondent, who’d come across my new book on the John Birch Society, wanted to share how members of this far-right anticommunist group won control of his local Parent Teacher Association when he was in kindergarten at San Rafael Elementary.
  This was early 1960s Pasadena, California, during the rise of the Birchers. What happened then and there was a story unfolding in many communities around the country.
  In one way, the story was similar to the pressures that schools are seeing now. In recent years, parents and activists—who, in many cases, are the ideological inheritors of the Birchers—have succeeded in getting large swathes of the country to vet what is taught and read in classrooms, to decide which students can use which ...

Democracy Local

My Ride in a German Time Machine

Virtual Reality Took Me to 1926 Cologne. I Found What a City Had Lost—And What Our Democratic Future Needs

by Joe Mathews

I was more than a little startled when Konrad Adenauer approached me in the Old Market.
  Sure, I was visiting Cologne, Germany, Adenauer’s hometown. But I had never imagined I’d lay eyes on the famous statesman who served as the German republic’s first post-war chancellor—much less get a wave from him.
  Not least because he died six years before I was born.
  But I had traveled back to 1926, when Adenauer was Cologne’s mayor, courtesy of TimeRide, a virtual reality tour.
  I’m not much for tourist attractions, which TimeRide—which also operates in Dresden, Munich, Berlin, and Frankfurt—most certainly is. I took the tour, which involves entering a storefront on Cologne’s Old Market and sitting in a streetcar inside, after my colleagues at a Cologne-based democracy NGO suggested I try it. I’m glad I did ...

  • How History Takes on Healing Power 

    Discussing Reparations and Repair at Memphis' Lorraine Motel

    by Jackie Mansky

    The Lorraine Motel in downtown Memphis, just blocks away from Beale Street, the city’s historic African American commercial center, first opened as a whites-only establishment in the 1920s. But just two decades later, when it was bought and repurposed by Black business owners, it went from an institution that banned African American patrons to one that was embraced as a safe haven by those very same travelers seeking dignified lodgings in the …