Between protests spilling into the streets across all fifty states and a global pandemic that has killed more than 100,000 Americans, ripping back the veil on the country’s countless inequalities, 2020 has established itself as a year that will long be taught in History and Political Science classes. This might feel like a remixed version of 1968, but there are many differences. The excellent George Packer reflects on the major ones—that start at the top. “The difference between 1968 and 2020 is the difference between a society that failed to solve its biggest problem and a society that no longer has the means to try. A year before his death, King, still insisting on nonviolent resistance, called riots ‘the language of the unheard.’ The phrase implies that someone could be made to hear, and possibly answer. What’s happening today doesn’t feel the same. The protesters aren’t speaking to leaders who might listen, or to a power structure that might yield, except perhaps the structure of white power, which is too vast and diffuse to respond. Congress isn’t preparing a bill to address root causes; Congress no longer even tries to solve problems. No president, least of all this one, could assemble a commission of respected figures from different sectors and parties to study the problem of police brutality and produce a best-selling report with a consensus for fundamental change. A responsible establishment doesn’t exist. Our president is one of the rioters.” The Atlantic: Shouting Into the Institutional Void.

+ On the night after MLK was killed, President Johnson addressed the nation: “It is the fiber and the fabric of the republic that’s being tested. If we are to have the America that we mean to have, all men of all races, all regions, all religions must stand their ground to deny violence its victory in this sorrowful time, and in all times to come. Last evening, after receiving the terrible news of Dr. King’s death, my heart went out to his family and to his people, especially to the young Americans who I know must sometimes wonder if they are to be denied a fullness of life because of the color of their skin.” Here’s Trump today, on George Floyd: “Hopefully, George is looking down right now and saying this is a great thing happening for our country. A great day for him, a great day for everybody. This is a great day for everybody. This is a great day in terms of equality.”