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VIRTUAL EVENT: Adam Serwer, The Cruelty Is the Point
July 12, 2021 @ 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm PDT
VIRTUAL EVENT: Adam Serwer, award-winning journalist at The Atlantic, will discuss The Cruelty Is the Point—his searing collection of essays which make a damning case that cruelty is not merely an unfortunate byproduct of the Trump administration but its main objective and the central theme of the American project. This event is cosponsored by Marcus Books.
“No writer better demonstrates how American dreams are so often sabotaged by American history. Adam Serwer is essential.” —Ta-Nehisi Coates
Registration for this free Crowdcast event will begin soon.
Trump summoned the most treacherous forces in American history and conducted them with the ease of a grand maestro.
Like many of us, Adam Serwer didn’t know that Donald Trump would win the 2016 election. But over the four years that followed, the Atlantic staff writer became one of our most astute analysts of the Trump presidency and the volatile powers it harnessed. The shock that greeted Trump’s victory, and the subsequent cruelty of his presidency, represented a failure to confront elements of the American past long thought vanquished.
In this searing collection, Serwer chronicles the Trump administration not as an aberration but as an outgrowth of the inequalities the United States was founded on. Serwer is less interested in the presidential spectacle than in the ideological and structural currents behind Trump’s rise—including a media that was often blindsided by the ugly realities of what the administration represented and how it came to be.
While deeply engaged with the moment, Serwer’s writing is also haunted by ghosts of an unresolved American past, a past that torments the present. In bracing new essays and previously published works, he explores white nationalism, myths about migration, the political power of police unions, and the many faces of anti-Semitism. For all the dynamics he examines, cruelty is the glue, the binding agent of a movement fueled by fear and exclusion. Serwer argues that rather than pretending these four years didn’t happen or dismissing them as a brief moment of madness, we must face what made them possible. Without acknowledging and confronting these toxic legacies, the fragile dream of American multiracial democracy will remain vulnerable to another ambitious demagogue.
“Serwer’s powerful truth-telling grabs us, shakes us, and warns us that as long as we wishfully forget the history of American cruelty, we will fail to see it coming for all that we hold dear.” —Heather McGhee, author of The Sum of Us
Adam Serwer has written for The Atlantic since 2016, focusing on contemporary politics while often viewing it through the lens of history. Serwer was a Spring Fellow at the Shorenstein Center at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University as well as the Ira Lipman Fellow at the Columbia University School of Journalism. He is the recipient of the 2019 Hillman Prize for opinion journalism. He lives in San Antonio, Texas, with his family.