Lavin Weekly: Atwood on The Handmaid’s Tale, Bazelon on Threats to American Justice, & Halpern on a New Underground Railroad
The US is locked in a partisan thumb war, the media makes its own news, and systems of justice seem increasingly vulnerable to interior threat. This past week, three formidable thinkers from the Lavin roster spoke out on issues affecting us domestically and abroad.
On the cover of The New York Times, Emily Bazelon provides an insightful view of the US Department of Justice under the Trump Administration. Bazelon’s long-term assessment of how President Trump’s appointment of Steve Bannon and Jeff Sessions could undermine fundamental American values and freedoms. She writes:
“The Department of Justice is the most valuable perch from which to transform the country in the way [Sessions] and Bannon have wanted. With an exaggerated threat of disorder looming, the nation’s top law-enforcement agency could become a machine for trying to fundamentally change who gets to be an American and what rights they can enjoy.”
In the New Yorker, Jake Halpern draws a moving portrait of refugees on their oft-harsh paths to asylum. In this sprawling investigative feature on the various measures refugees take to seek asylum in the US and Canada, Halpern spends time with the inhabitants and administrators of Vive, a 30-year-old safe house in Buffalo, NY that serves as a resting spot for those hoping to find a safe home to call their own.
“Quietly, residents share strategies and spend hours studying Google Maps together. Some refugees attempt to cross the border on foot, through the forests of northern New York State. Others take closer but riskier routes, including a treacherous railroad bridge over the Niagara River. One Vive volunteer told me, ‘Not long ago, a guy showed up from Afghanistan and asked me, right away, How can I find the railroad bridge?’ ”
Finally, Margaret Atwood tells the Times why her 1984 classic The Handmaid's Tail is more relevant than ever. The word dystopia is being thrown around quite casually these days, but it’s safe to say that Atwood is an authority on the matter. As sales of her speculative masterpiece enjoy a recent uptick, Atwood shares her thoughts on why that might be. Hint: it doesn’t entirely have to do with the forthcoming Hulu series starring Elisabeth Moss.
“Back in 1984, the main premise seemed — even to me — fairly outrageous. Would I be able to persuade readers that the United States had suffered a coup that had transformed an erstwhile liberal democracy into a literal-minded theocratic dictatorship?”
Want to learn more about Emily Bazelon, Jake Halpern, and Margaret Atwood? Contact the Lavin Agency.