“Who are you essential to?” yelled a New York Police Department officer on June 2 as he confronted badged Associated Press (AP) videographer Robert Bumsted and AP photographer Maye-E Wong as they sought to report on a protest.
The novel coronavirus pandemic poses a stress test for societies – wrenching people out of ordinary routines and exposing them to death and dislocation, bringing forth acts of solidarity and courage as well as scapegoating.
Ruth Ben-Ghiat is a historian and political commentator on fascism, authoritarian leaders, and propaganda. Her latest book, Strongmen: From Mussolini to The Present, will be published by W.W. Norton & Company in November 2020. She is Professor of History and Italian Studies at New York University, and Advisor to Protect Democracy.