This week: a conversation with Rachael Rollins, the progressive district attorney of Suffolk County in Massachusetts. Listen at 2 pm today, or find it anytime at our website.
Recently in Boston, a police union criticized a prominent opponent of police brutality in a now-familiar way. The Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association wrote a statement in response to Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins, who’d tweeted: “While we are being murdered at will by the police & their proxy, privileged racists like Amy Cooper play the victim. No more apologies. No more words. Demand action. Radical change now. Nothing less.” The BPPA released its letter claiming Rollins “quickly and cavalierly” labelled “all police officers murderers,” and argued that Rollins was putting police in danger.
This week, on our show, Rollins said:
They are claiming I’m antipolice. And I said, “No, I’m anti police brutality.” I have members of my family that are law enforcement. I have a deep respect for the work that they do and the majority of the honorable men and women that do this incredibly hard job. What I will no longer tolerate, and the world and the nation is screaming this and burning our our nation in in rage because of it, is silence by good members of law enforcement as they sit and watch these known outliers and predators and violent and vile individuals engage in behavior that harms.
And so remember Chris . . . the police are the only branch of our government that can kill you without any oversight. People have no problems screaming out about the Registry of Motor Vehicles and if they said, you know, “Shut up, four hours is a perfect amount of time to wait for your license.” We would say, “Are you crazy? Our tax dollars pay for you to do this. What are you talking about? Be better.”
But for whatever reason, whenever people ask for reforms or changes with the police, these unions who are powerful (and I am a proponent of unions, not an opponent, a proponent of unions) somehow bang the drum of “You’re antipolice” if you ever talk to them about changes and reforms.
Rachael Rollins is already a historic figure: the first woman ever to serve as DA in Suffolk County, and the first woman of color ever elected DA in the history of Massachusetts. She ran as a reformer of the criminal justice system, and she has maintained her reformist efforts; recently, she released a memo calling for “progressive prosecution,” putting forth new guidelines for resolving a number of non-violent crimes prosecution.
Reflect on James Baldwin with Cornel West
On our show this week, Rachael Rollins cites James Baldwin, which reminded us of another conversation we had two years ago with Cornel West and others about Baldwin. Our friend and former producer Zach Goldhammer made a short film of it that’s always getting YouTube attention, but it’s gone viral all over again in the last couple of weeks. Check it out.
Trump is the fire this time. It’s come. It’s here. Neofascism is unfolding before our very eyes, undermining sources of opposition, be it press, be it courts, be it university. Feeling as if it’s inevitable that you have to move in a right-wing populist, a xenophobic nationalist, a neofascist direction: that’s the fire this time.
But in Baldwin, Cornel West says, there’s someone “who refused to allow his fire to be dampened by overwhelming bleakness and darkness. And that’s a beautiful thing.”
Support Us on Patreon
The easy way to support Open Source is over on Patreon, where you can also find all kinds of interviews. Lately producer Adam Colman has been interviewing writers about reading in a time of social distance. This week, he talks about climate fiction with Amy Brady, editor at the Chicago Review of Books and Guernica. They also talk about connections between climate change and the global pandemic now under way, and she has reading recommendations; hear it all at patreon.com/radioopensource.
Read: Ivy Compton-Burnett
This is a writer who commits so much of her fiction to dialogue, which is a risky maneuver because it bypasses the grand-scale overview of which novels are capable, due to which novels are often taken so seriously. But Compton-Burnett was interested in smaller but still crucial problems, in strangely warped manners. Take it from Joyce Carol Oates:
Ivy Compton-Burnett’s books will strike most American readers as quintessentially English: spare, decorticated, tightly constructed drawing-room comedies in which everyone (3-year-olds, 90-year-olds, butlers, governesses) speaks in finely honed language. They are unrelievedly arch, even campy, contrived dramas of domestic life in a fantasy England, circa 1885–1901, of country estates, down-at-the-heels gentility, family tyrants and hapless scheming victims enmeshed in plots of mock-tragic resonance — Aeschylus and Sophocles funnily reinvented by Oscar Wilde, perhaps. Informed too by a genial cynicism — antireligious, anti-“family’’ — reminiscent of Samuel Butler, whose “Note-Books’’ made a powerful impression on Ivy in 1918, the novels are written to formula yet unfailingly inventive within the confines of the genre.
Next Week: Anne Case and Angus Deaton
Two Princeton economists have some answers as to what’s causing the fraying of American life. Gloomy and gripping. Stay tuned!
This Week’s Ephemeral Library
Getting through quarantine with Wodehouse. Utah’s tech industry tried to “disrupt coronavirus testing.” A critique of “good news.” Bryan Stevenson on the George Floyd protests. Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor on How Do We Change America and The End of Black Politics. David Blight: One Week to Save Democracy. Doctors are Covid’s First Historians. Media Matters: Jay Rosen on Battleship Newspaper. Matt Taibbi thinks The American Press is Destroying Itself. Mariame Kaba writes, “Yes, We Mean Literally Abolish the Police.”
We’ll be back next week. Take care out there!
The OS team.