We are a public forum committed to collective reasoning and the imagination of a more just world. Join today to help us keep the discussion of ideas free and open to everyone, and enjoy member benefits like our quarterly books.
On Saturday, a gunman targeted Buffalo’s Black community, killing ten people in a grocery store. In the shooting’s wake, some pundits have called for the incident to be labeled as “domestic terrorism.” But several pieces from our archive caution against using such a description in response to events like this. One such argument comes from Atiya Husain, whose essay on abolishing counterterrorism is being recirculated online. “We do not need the far right’s actions to be classified as terrorism, too,” she writes, “we need to void the category of terrorism completely. It cannot be salvaged because the very thing that gives it its meaning is its racial connotations.” A 2019 essay from Mark Tseng-Putterman offers another compelling case: writing in the wake of the El Paso shooting, Tseng-Putterman argued that “the label of terrorism fails to capture that recent white supremacist violence is not ideologically opposed to the U.S. nation-state. It is less a foreign ideological strain than it is a founding DNA.”
Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz corroborates, arguing in one of our most popular essays that the origins of the United States are complicit with white nationalist ideology, while Stephen Kantrowitz explores the central role of women in building the KKK. But while it may have a long history, careful attention must be paid to white supremacy’s current manifestation too—including its international scope. As Bernard E. Harcourt commented in our pages after January 6, “white supremacy may be nothing new, but Trump’s incitement of it is unprecedented.”
The militarization of gun culture among both civilians and police reflects an increasingly energetic defense of white rule in the United States. This has been facilitated in part by an NRA-led reinterpretation of what the Second Amendment meant by “militia”.
New York State Rifle & Pistol v. Bruen may give the right—and its politics of racial resentment—a major win, but at the cost of gun control laws known to prevent shootings.
Watch our release of documentary short The Rifleman, which examines how NRA head Harlon Carter fused gun rights, immigration enforcement, and white supremacy. Then read an interview with filmmaker Sierra Pettengill and historian Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz.
Vital reading on politics, literature, and more in your inbox. Sign up for our Weekly Newsletter, Monthly Roundup, and event notifications.
…we need your help. Confronting the many challenges of COVID-19—from the medical to the economic, the social to the political—demands all the moral and deliberative clarity we can muster. In Thinking in a Pandemic, we’ve organized the latest arguments from doctors and epidemiologists, philosophers and economists, legal scholars and historians, activists and citizens, as they think not just through this moment but beyond it. While much remains uncertain, Boston Review’s responsibility to public reason is sure. That’s why you’ll never see a paywall or ads. It also means that we rely on you, our readers, for support. If you like what you read here, pledge your contribution to keep it free for everyone by making a tax-deductible donation.
As Roe is struck down by the Supreme Court, we bring together recent and archival essays to assess what is at stake—and how we might move from reproductive rights to reproductive justice.
Theorist Hil Malatino offers a compelling account of the persistent bad feelings with which trans people often struggle—but it comes with fashionable academic hang-ups that need to be reconsidered.
The systems that harm animals go hand in hand with systems that harm humans. Combating them requires inter-species solidarity.