Commentary

Commentary — May 4, 2015, 12:53 pm

A Legitimate Distinction

In defense of the PEN America Center’s decision to give Charlie Hebdo its Freedom of Expression Courage Award

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Commentary — December 18, 2013, 4:22 pm

Proxy Syndrome

Afghanistan fights fire with fire in its war against the Taliban

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Commentary — December 12, 2012, 4:33 pm

New Power Generation

Why I write about Prince

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Commentary — October 22, 2012, 2:27 pm

An Excerpt From “How to Rig an Election”

Why the Help America Vote Act has done anything but.

Illustration (detail) by John Ritter

Commentary — October 10, 2012, 8:46 am

The Democratic Argument for Compulsory Voting

Mandatory voting would greatly expand American electoral participation—and help the Democrats.

Commentary — September 14, 2012, 10:27 pm

Syria’s Summer of Stalemate

Looking back on Taftanaz and the slowly shifting course of Syria’s revolution.

Commentary — September 6, 2012, 11:03 am

Samuel James’s Scenes From Nigerian Oil-Refining Communities

This month’s issue of Harper’s Magazine features ”The Water of My Land,” a portfolio of photographs by Samuel James, who spent two months this past February photographing life in the riverine communities of the Niger Delta. Nigeria is the largest oil producer in Africa and the fifth-largest supplier of oil to the United States, but many delta residents have been shut out from this multibillion-dollar industry, and so have resorted to the clandestine trade of bunkering crude oil and refining it themselves. Through his photographs, James hopes to convey how communities engaged in this relentless and destructive practice are risking …

Commentary — September 4, 2012, 9:01 am

Christopher Hitchens’s Very Personal Handbook on Cancer Etiquette

It is strangely humbling to read the last writings of a dying atheist whose opinions seemed of near-stratospheric condescension, and who stood among a group of modern anticlerics who consider empiricism a virtue, disparage religion without consulting theological texts, and in general exercise the same merciless rigidity they despise in their opponents. Humbling because these are the words of a man who was dying. To gripe with his ideas seems petty, irreverent even. And there is, after all, a difference between a man and his beliefs. Christopher Hitchens, who died on December 11, 2011, is the author of the posthumous …

Commentary — August 21, 2012, 9:23 am

The Citizen Kane Era Returns

David Sirota is a Denver-based syndicated newspaper columnist, radio host, and the author of three books, including Back to Our Future: How the 1980s Explain the World We Live in Now. His article “The Only Game in Town: An unlikely comeback for dying newspapers” appears in the September 2012 issue of Harper’s Magazine. Last month, the Denver Business Journal showed that international banking scandals can be a major focus of local reporting. In its article “LIBOR scandal may cost Denver schools money,” the low-circulation trade magazine documented how the interest-rate scandal, which originated in the United Kingdom, could end up …

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Last month, the PEN America Center announced its intention to honor Charlie Hebdo with its Freedom of Expression Courage Award at a gala on May 5. Six members of the organization have withdrawn from the gala in protest. In "The Joke," Justin E. H. Smith addressed the Anglo-American left's response to the killings.
Photo of a Charlie Hebdo editorial meeting in 2006 by Jean-Francois/DEROUBAIX
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In Search of a Stolen Fiddle·

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“To lose an instrument is to lose an essential piece of one’s identity. It brings its own solitary form of grief.”
Violin © Serge Picard/Agence VU
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“Don sucked the last of his drink through his straw and licked his lips. 'The coast, to me, is more interesting than the valley.'”
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Othello’s Son·

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Fred Morton, who died this week in Vienna, at the age of 90, was a longtime contributor to Harper's Magazine and a good friend. "Othello's Son," which was listed as a Notable Essay in Best American Essays 2013, appeared in our September 2013 issue.
Photograph © Alex Gotfryd/CORBIS
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Beyond the Broken Window·

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“By the time Bratton left the department, in 2009, Los Angeles had quietly become the most spied-on city in America.”
Illustration by Taylor Callery

Weeks after the peso collapsed that former Mexican President Carlos Salinas de Gortari joined the board of Dow Jones:

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A Disney behavioral ecologist announced that elephants’ long-range low-frequency vocal rumblings draw elephant friends together and drive elephant enemies apart.

A robot known as Random Darknet Shopper that was confiscated by Swiss police for purchasing ten ecstasy pills online was cleared of charges.

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