home Must Reads Must reads: Daesh, Saddam Hussein, race, Margaret Atwood, resistance

Must reads: Daesh, Saddam Hussein, race, Margaret Atwood, resistance


This week, we’re delving into some fascinating longreads on subjects as wide ranging as hiking while Black, guarding Saddam Hussein, and resisting Trump’s border wall. Read on for more!

If you haven’t already, subscribe to the Global Comment podcast on iTunes and Soundcloud and catch up on the first episode, a fascinating interview with Omar Saif Ghobash.

‘They Taught Us How To Decapitate a Person’‘ (Katrin Kuntz for Der Spiegel)

We know that Daesh likes to recruit children, but this article paints a chilling story of how the organisation takes over schools and turns them into propaganda networks.

For 18 months, Islamic State tried to shape the thoughts of the children in the Ben Marwan School. Its system called for a five-year elementary school education followed by four years of middle school. IS also had an Education Ministry: The so-called Diwan al-Taalim decided what Mosul’s tens of thousands of teachers had to teach their students. In addition to indoctrinating them in the classroom, IS brought children into the mosques and assembled them on the streets to show them decapitation videos.

Tuesdays With Saddam‘ (Lisa De Paolo for GQ)

This is a fascinating profile of the team who guarded Saddam Hussein while he was held prisoner by the United States, and just the sort of in-depth, but slightly off-beat, story we love reading.

They were also ordered not to tell a soul—not their families, not their parents, not even other soldiers in the company—what they were doing while they were there. And never to tell where he was being held. By all accounts, the commanding officers did everything by the book. There would be no prisoner abuse-scandal fuckups in the Pennsylvania National Guard, no sir.

Going It Alone‘ (Rahawa Haile for Outside)

If you read one thing this week (other than us, of course!), make it this absolutely stunning essay about Rahawa Haile about hiking the Appalachian Trail while Black, in an incredibly tense election year. Haile is an outstanding writer, and we hope to see much more of her!

I’m tired of this man. His from-froms and black-blacks. He wishes me good luck and leaves. He means it, too; he isn’t malicious. To him there’s nothing abnormal about our conversation. He has categorized me, and the world makes sense again. Not black-black. I hike the remaining miles back to my tent and don’t emerge for hours.

Margaret Atwood, the Prophet of Dystopia‘ (Rebecca Mead for The New Yorker)

With an adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale hitting Hulu, Margaret Atwood is having another moment — but she’s spent decades writing visions of apocalyptic worlds from ecodystopias to political nightmares. This is a fantastic profile of a complicated and eternally popular author.

Having embraced the heritage of Half-Hanged Mary—and having, at seventy-seven, reached an age at which sardonic independent-mindedness is permissible, and even expected—Atwood is winningly game to play the role of the wise elder who might have a spell up her sleeve. In January, I visited her in her home town of Toronto, and within a few hours of our meeting, while having coffee at a crowded café, she performed what friends know as a familiar party trick. After explaining that she had picked up the precepts of medieval palmistry decades ago, from an art-historian neighbor whose specialty was Hieronymus Bosch, Atwood spent several disconcerting minutes poring over my hands.

Behind the Center for Biological Diversity’s Lawsuit Against the Trump Administration‘ (Morgan Baskin for Pacific Standard)

Of the many protests against Trump’s wall, some of the most creative are actually the ones that color within the lines, from people submitting prank bids to this lawsuit challenging the administration to conduct an environmental review.

This goes way beyond wildlife and things like that. The impacts are also — what would the wall do to border communities? How does it affect people who live there? These policies have already created a lot of fear for people who live there, and disrupted the fabric of life there. It’s harmed the economy, it’s divided communities, it’s caused a lot of problems already. That’s part of the equation here.

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Photo: Master Steve Rapport/Creative Commons