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All across the United States, tens of thousands of people are taking to the streets to protest the repeated police killings of black Americans. Images of unrest blanket mainstream and social media: militarized officers shooting demonstrators with clouds of tear gas; buildings and cars engulfed in flames; broken windows and looted storefronts that leave community facades undeniably altered. This week on “The Argument,” what role can riots play in achieving social upheaval? Ross Douthat argues that riots are a detriment to any righteous cause. Frank Bruni points out that this era of leaderless protest, it can be difficult to discern intentional disruption from random destruction. And Michelle looks to history to assert that civil disobedience is most effective when it disrupts the normal order of things.
Then, the columnists debate where the country, and its many flailing leaders, go from here. Plus, props to Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms of Atlanta and to Barack Obama’s Medium post.
I’ve been an Op-Ed columnist for The Times since 2011, but my career with the newspaper stretches back to 1995 and includes many twists and turns that reflect my embarrassingly scattered interests. I covered Congress, the White House and several political campaigns; I also spent five years in the role of chief restaurant critic. As the Rome bureau chief, I reported on the Vatican; as a staff writer for The Times’s Sunday magazine, I wrote many celebrity profiles. That jumble has informed my various books, which focus on the Roman Catholic Church, George W. Bush, my strange eating life, the college admissions process and meatloaf. Politically, I’m grief-stricken over the way President Trump has governed and I’m left of center, but I don’t think that the center is a bad place or “compromise” a dirty word. I’m Italian-American, I’m gay and I write a weekly Times newsletter in which you’ll occasionally encounter my dog, Regan, who has the run of our Manhattan apartment.
I’ve been an Op-Ed columnist since 2009, and I write about politics, religion, pop culture, sociology and the places where they all intersect. I’m a Catholic and a conservative, in that order, which means that I’m against abortion and critical of the sexual revolution, but I tend to agree with liberals that the Republican Party is too friendly to the rich. I was against Donald Trump in 2016 for reasons specific to Donald Trump, but in general I think the populist movements in Europe and America have legitimate grievances and I often prefer the populists to the “reasonable” elites. I’ve written books about Harvard, the G.O.P., American Christianity and Pope Francis, and decadence. Benedict XVI was my favorite pope. I review movies for National Review and have strong opinions about many prestige television shows. I have four small children, three girls and a boy, and I live in New Haven with my wife.
I’ve been an Op-Ed columnist at The New York Times since 2017, writing mainly about politics, ideology and gender. These days people on the right and the left both use “liberal” as an epithet, but that’s basically what I am, though the nightmare of Donald Trump’s presidency has radicalized me and pushed me leftward. I’ve written three books, including one, in 2006, about the danger of right-wing populism in its religious fundamentalist guise. (My other two were about the global battle over reproductive rights and, in a brief detour from politics, about an adventurous Russian émigré who helped bring yoga to the West.) I love to travel; a long time ago, after my husband and I eloped, we spent a year backpacking through Asia. Now we live in Brooklyn with our son and daughter.
How do I listen?
Tune in on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Stitcher or wherever you listen to podcasts. Tell us what you think at [email protected]nytimes.com. Follow Michelle Goldberg (@michelleinbklyn), Ross Douthat (@DouthatNYT) and David Leonhardt (@DLeonhardt) on Twitter.
This week’s show was produced by Transmitter Media, with help from Tyson Evans, Phoebe Lett, Brad Fisher, Paula Szuchman and Michele Teodori. Our theme is composed by Allison Leyton-Brown.