Start Making Sense

Sarah Posner on White Evangelicals and the Jan. 6 Insurrection, plus Joan Walsh on Sex Ed

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In understanding the January 6 insurrection, much of the focus has been on white nationalist militias like the Proud Boys. But white evangelicals also played a big part on January 6. Sarah Posner, author of Unholy: How White Christian Nationalists Powered the Trump Presidency, and the Devastating Legacy They Left Behind, joins the podcast to discuss religion’s role in the riots.

Also: Republicans have opened another front in the culture war with the slogan “parental rights.” Joan Walsh joins the podcast to explain how it’s not just about banning the teaching of Critical Race Theory, but also about a ban on comprehensive sex education.  6-23-2022

John Nichols on January 6 and Peter Dreier on Progressive Prosecutors

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The January 6 committee hearings have been powerful and devastating, explains John Nichols.

We’re also still thinking about Chesa Boudin’s recall in San Francisco. Pundits everywhere are saying it means Democrats need to abandon their commitment to reforming the police and the criminal justice system. Peter Dreier doesn’t agree, explains why this week’s on the podcast.  6-16-2022

John Nichols on Crime and the Democrats, plus Sarah Posner on Sex and the Southern Baptists

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The results of Tuesday’s primaries in L.A. and San Francisco, according to the New York Times, were “a stark warning to the Democratic Party about the potency of law and order as a political message in 2022.” John Nichols disagrees. Also: our preview of the live TV hearings of the House committee on the January 6 insurrection.

Plus: sex, politics, and the Southern Baptists: Southern Baptists have been at the center of the Trump movement, but now the denomination has been rocked to its core by a massive sex abuse scandal. Could the sex scandal change the Southern Baptists? Sarah Posner will comment.  6-9-2022

Katha Pollitt on How to Protect Abortion Rights and Kelly Lytle Hernandez on “Bad Mexicans”

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The coming repeal of constitutional protection for abortion leaves us with a lot of work to do – to protect and expand abortion rights in the states where it will remain legal, and to help women in states where it will be banned. Katha Pollitt joins the Start Making Sense podcast to explain what we need to do now – in politics, health care, and funding.

Plus: “Bad Mexicans” – that what the revolutionaries of 1910 were called as they fought on both sides of the US-Mexico border against the robber barons and their political allies. UCLA historian Kelly Lytle Hernandez tells that story, which is the subject of her new book.  6-2-2022

John Nichols on Politics in 2024; Amy Wilentz on Reparations for Haiti

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The next 6 months will be crucial in determining what happens to American democracy in 2024. Republicans are preparing to challenge the popular vote in many of the states they control by empowering state legislatures to pick electors for the electoral college rather than voters. To do that, they also need to elect Republican governors. The Nation’s national affairs correspondent, John Nichols, joins this week’s show to discuss how the most crucial battlefield for those efforts right now is in Pennsylvania.

Also: Haiti is back on the front page—at least in the New York Times— and it’s not because of what’s happening there right now. The Times has published the results of a year-long investigation into the history of Haiti’s forced payments to France following Haiti’s successful slave revolution and the establishment of the world’s first Black Republic. Nation contributor, Amy Wilentz, joins the show to discuss the findings.  5-26-2022

John Nichols on Progressives in the Primaries, plus Lynn Garafola on ‘La Nijinska’

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Tuesday’s Democratic primaries for the House were flooded with money from pro-Israel groups seeking to defeat progressive candidates. It worked in North Carolina, but not Pennsylvania, where Summer Lee won. John Nichols has our analysis.

Also in this week’s show, a discussion with Lynn Garafola about Bronislava Nijinska, the ballet dancer, choreographer, and long-neglected sister of the legendary dancer Vaslav Nijinsky. Garafola, author of the new biography, La Nijinska, Choreographer of the Modern, tells us about how this “amazon of the avant-garde” started out in revolutionary Russia, worked in wartime Kiev, and then came to Hollywood in the thirties.  5-19-2022

Amy Littlefield on the fight for Abortion Rights, plus Chesa Boudin on Progressive Prosecutors

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It’s all up to the states now, where activists are fighting to elect pro-choice candidates and strengthen laws protecting abortion rights, and grassroots groups are preparing an enormous logistics operation to move people across entire regions of the country that are about to go dark on abortion access. Amy Littlefield, The Nation’s abortion access correspondent, weighs in.

We also have the elected District Attorney of San Francisco, Chesa Boudin, on progressive prosecutors and their opponents. Progressive prosecutors have been pushing for criminal justice reform for a while now, Boudin explains, seeking to end mass incarceration and deal with police misconduct, which began with the election of Larry Krasner in 2017, followed by Boudin in 2019, and George Gascon in 2020. Of course, the defeated law and order forces pushed back. In San Francisco, opponents have collected enough signatures to force a recall vote on Boudin on June 7.  5-12-2022


Rebecca Solnit on How People Change and Why We Care; plus Eric Foner on 1776 and 2022

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Why did we stop believing that people can change? Don’t we want people who did bad things to understand the damage they caused? Don’t we want them to acknowledge it and make reparations? Bestselling author, Rebecca Solnit explains.

Also on this week’s show, Historian Eric Foner comments on the ways Republicans have made the teaching of American history a key battleground in their culture war against Democrats in the upcoming elections —especially the history of the American revolution.  5-5-2022

David Nasaw on Biden’s disgraceful Ukrainian refugee policy and Katha Pollitt on what abortion opponents are really thinking

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Biden’s “new and improved” procedure for admitting Ukrainian refugees to the U.S. is “disgraceful.” Historian and Nation contributor, David Nasaw joins us to discuss the shortcomings of the policy, and how it excludes all asylum-seekers who aren’t white and European.

Also: Abortion and its opponents. Do opponents of abortion really believe abortion providers are “baby-killers”? There’s some new research about that that found opponents help family members and friends get abortions. Katha Pollitt explains.  4-28-2022

Jane McAlevey on Amazon Workers’ Next Big Battles and Margo Jefferson on “Constructing a Nervous System”

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The Amazon workers on Staten Island have won a historic victory—but now they must prepare to strike, and to win support for their strike from the community power structure. The Nation’s Strikes Correspondent, Jane McAlevey explains why, and how

Also on this week’s show, we have a conversation with Margo Jefferson about her new memoir, “Constructing a Nervous System.” Her earlier memoir, “Negroland,” won the National Book Critics Circle Award, and before that she won a Pulitzer Prize for criticism for her work as book and arts critic for the New York Times. She’s also written for The Nation.  4-21-2022