Review of the book ‘American Dirt’ by Jeanine Cummins (a novel about migration)

Cover art

I just came across this book review I drafted in early March of this year, which I was going to publish in a local NYC literary journal — and then the pandemic hit with a vengeance, and it didn’t seem that relevant anymore, so I put it aside. I also felt a little bad about piling on criticism against the author, who already suffered more than her fair share of criticism, some of which was deserved, but much of which was really less about her than it was about the U.S. book publishing industry, and its penchant for paying multi-million dollar advances to white authors while barely giving authors of color a platform for their work.

Then Trump told lie after lie about immigration in last week’s debate — including his assertion that the U.S. government is doing everything possible to reunite separated children with the parents from whom the government snatched them, which we know simply isn’t true. Since I wrote this review, the Trump administration has managed to use the COVID-19 pandemic to virtually shut down the U.S.-Mexico border, even to refugees suffering terrible harm while being forced to wait on the Mexican side of the border for months while awaiting a chance to plead their case before a U.S. immigration judge.  

So when I stumbled upon a draft of this review when doing some household decluttering this weekend, I decided it was worth dusting it off and putting it out into the world. 

The story of the journey Mexican and Central American asylum seekers have been making (and are still making, despite the dangers facing them at the border) in search of safety still needs to be told. This particular book is a flawed vehicle for telling this story, but it did raise the profile of the migrant’s journey among some Americans who might not have been inclined to learn about it otherwise.

Read my review and decide for yourself:

American Dirt: The Right Story Told the Wrong Way by the Wrong Author

NYT: ‘Trump is Unfit to Lead the Nation’

The New York Times has a lot to answer for regarding how it covered the 2016 presidential election. Its coverage of Benghazi, and especially of Hillary’s frigging emails, did a lot to sour voters on Hillary Clinton. (Case in point: according to the Columbia Journalism Review, “In just six days, The New York Times ran as many cover stories about Hillary Clinton’s emails as they did about all policy issues combined in the 69 days leading up to the election.”) If this weekend’s editorial extravaganza is a bit too late as a mea culpa, at least the NYT editorial board gave it the old college try.

The New York Times of Sunday, October 19, 2020 included a special editorial section consisting of thirteen separate essays explaining why Trump “is unfit to lead the nation.” Even if you don’t take the time to read every essay, the introductory editorial itself — which begins by saying, “Donald Trump’s re-election campaign poses the greatest threat to American democracy since World War II” — is worth reading in its entirety. It concludes with this: “Mr. Trump is a man of no integrity. He has repeatedly violated his oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States…. Now, in this moment of peril, it falls to the American people — even those who would prefer a Republican president — to preserve, protect and defend the United States by voting.”

Of course, those among his “base” who could learn the most from this won’t ever read it. Indeed, they have been thoroughly brainwashed into thinking that the press is the enemy of the people, and that the New York Times in particular is some kind of radical, left-wing propaganda machine (spoiler alert: it’s not), run by Antifa, Inc. (which doesn’t exist) or by satanic pedophiles and cannibals (no parenthetical disclaimer needed here, methinks). These are the same people who believed the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign was running a child-trafficking ring out of the back room of a pizza shop.

But the Republican elites are probably ready to accept the truth of what the Times lays out here. They got their tax cuts and their federal judges, but the rest of what Trump has to offer isn’t good for them, either, if it brings down the entire American experiment.

Here’s hoping that many Republicans, when they get into the privacy of the voting booth, will fill in the little bubble next to JOSEPH R. BIDEN, JR.