Apple, Amazon, Alphabet (which owns Google), and Facebook—known in the tech world as the Big Four—are among the largest and most profitable companies in the world, and they’ve been accustomed to the laxest of oversight from Washington. But the climate may have shifted in a significant way. The Federal Trade Commission, the Department of Justice, and the House Judiciary Committee are all investigating different aspects of the Big Four; Elizabeth Warren has made breaking up these companies a cornerstone of her Presidential campaign. , a New Yorker contributor, sounds a cautious note about these developments. Current antitrust law doesn’t well fit the nature of these businesses, and breaking up the companies will not necessarily solve underlying issues, like the lack of privacy law. In a twist, Halpern says, the Big Four and now asking the federal government for more regulation—because, she explains to David Remnick, the companies’ lobbyists can sway Washington more easily than they can influence state governments like California, which just passed a rigorous data-privacy law similar to the European Union’s. “They’re being called to account, they have to do something,” she notes, “but they want to direct the conversation so that, ultimately, they still win.” Plus, we contemplate the dire prospect of Houston without air conditioning. Bryan Washington, a Houston native and a celebrated young fiction writer, introduces non-natives to a cherished local institution: the open-air bar and community space called an ice house.
From Stonewall to the Present, Fifty Years of L.G.B.T.Q. Rights
Masha Gessen co-hosts this episode of the New Yorker Radio Hour, guiding David Remnick through the fifty years of civil-rights gains for L.G.B.T.Q. people. From drag queens reading to children at the library to a popular gay Presidential candidate, we’ll look at how the movement for L.G.B.T.Q. rights has changed our culture and our laws. The actress and comedian Lea DeLaria takes us through five decades of queer history in five minutes. Gessen talks with a Stonewall historian named Martin Duberman about whether the movement has become too conservative, and, later, she visits with a gay asylum seeker who recently fled Russia’s state security agency.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this program misidentified the location of the 2016 Pulse night-club shooting.
Ava DuVernay on “When They See Us,” About the Boys Who Became the Central Park Five
Ava DuVernay doesn’t like using the term Central Park Five—a moniker created by the press in the aftermath of the notorious and brutal assault of a twenty-eight-year-old woman, Trisha Meili. “They’re not the Central Park Five,” she tells the New Yorker staff writer Jelani Cobb. “They’re Korey, Yusef, Antron, Kevin, and Raymond.” They were five teens who were coerced into confessing to a terrible crime by police determined to find a culprit. It was a time when “ the police, the district attorney, the prosecutors [wanted] to get a ‘win’ on the board,” DuVernay thinks, “because there were so many losses, so much going wrong.” Cobb in The New Yorker that “The reaction to Meili’s assault came as the nadir of a two-decade-long spiral of racial animosity driven by a fear of crime,” noting that, in that same week, brutal attacks on women of color failed to generate any headlines or perceptible outrage. The story has returned to public consciousness in recent years because of its role in launching Donald Trump’s political career. One of Trump’s first political acts, in 1989, was to take out a newspaper ad calling for the execution of the boys, and he stuck by his view even after they were exonerated. DuVernay’s goal was to tell the story of those five boys and the men they became.
“When They See Us” was released on Netflix on May 31st.
Emily Nussbaum on TV’s “Deluge” of #MeToo Plots
The #MeToo movement of recent years started in the entertainment industry, with revelations about moguls such as Harvey Weinstein and CBS’s Les Moonves, and, since 2017, television writers have been grappling with how to address sexual harassment for a modern audience. Emily Nussbaum, The New Yorker’s television critic, examined the issue in a . Some of the shows she thinks are doing the best job are actually comedies, from the strange animated series “Tuca and Bertie” to the deeply cynical “Veep.” “Maybe there’s been a hesitation to deal with this head-on in drama,” she tells David Remnick, “because drama does, to some extent, at least, require sincerity, and sincerity can be uncomfortable in talking about trauma and assault.” One of Nussbaum’s favorites from this “deluge” of plotlines comes on the show “High Maintenance,” where, instead of some appalling revelation of misconduct, we watch a character reassessing a seemingly minor incident with fresh eyes. “He’s clearly thought about this in a post-MeToo way, as ‘Is this the shitty thing that I did that traumatized a woman that I know? . . . How do I take responsibility for it?’ ” Plus, Ruth Franklin on the late poet Mary Oliver, whose spirituality, love of nature, and unusual directness made her one of the most beloved poets of our time.
Who Should Receive Reparations for Slavery and Discrimination?
The idea of reparations—real compensation made to the descendants of slaves or the victims of legalized discrimination—has gained traction since the publication, in 2014, of Ta-Nehisi Coates’s influential article “The Case for Reparations,” which appeared in The Atlantic . But even among proponents of the concept, the ideas about what reparations would mean vary wildly. Questions linger about the intended recipients. Should only descendants of people enslaved on American soil (rather than the Caribbean or elsewhere in the diaspora) be eligible? That is the contention of people using the hashtag ADOS, or American Descendants of Slavery, which has become controversial. How important is genealogical proof to making a claim, given that slavery often did not leave good records? What about Americans who may have had an enslaved ancestor, but have not personally identified as African-American?
Alondra Nelson, a professor of sociology at Columbia University and president of the Social Science Research Council, talked with two prominent scholars who have addressed the issue: Darrick Hamilton, the executive director of the at Ohio State University, and William A. Darity, the Samuel DuBois Cook Professor of Public Policy at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy. Then Nelson sat down with The New Yorker ’s Joshua Rothman to explain the challenges faced.