On the bus from DC to NYC back in April, it occurred to me, as it has many times over the last thirteen years, how lucky I am to have this job. Producing the Humanist magazine has always been a creative and intellectual adventure, in large part due to the thousands of writers I've had the privilege of working with over the years. (And the many thousands whose submissions I've read--all you deep, quizzical, humorous, humorless, thoughtful, bloated, brave, and ornery minds, you've made it fun too!) And here I was on a beautiful spring morning, equipped with a dog-eared copy of Midnights Children and my interview notes, on my way to present the Humanist of the Year Award to the inimitable Salman Rushdie.
Talking humanism, Rushdie told me he's not interested in saints--because we're all both good and bad--but thinks that we do have a moral instinct, that our ethics have evolved, and that we have an interest in the good: "That's the heart of humanism, I think." It's also what his fellow American Humanist Association awardees are getting at in each of their unique contributions herein--the heart of what humanism is, what it stands for, and what it aspires to be. Their remarks (and Rushdie's videotaped acceptance) were delivered in June at the AHA's annual conference, which in 2019 took on the novel and environmentally conscious challenge to unfold in rolling segments over the course of a weekend, presented live from five university locations zigzagging from Pittsburgh to Houston to Brooklyn to Los Angeles to Miami. The entire thing was livestreamed free for online audiences, including at viewing parties nationwide. (If you're tired just thinking about it, imagine how the dedicated AHA staff felt when it was over!)
Back in Washington, DC, things heated up this fall as House Democrats launched an impeachment inquiry following a whistleblower complaint over President Trump's overtures to the leader of Ukraine. Did Trump commit an impeachable offense in a July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky when he suggested military aid to that country would cease being held up if Zelensky reopened an investigation into presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son Hunter's connections to a Ukrainian energy company?
As a magazine of critical inquiry and social concern, it's a question we'd like to explore, along with related activity by Trump's inner circle that suggests concerted and felonius efforts to sway the 2020 election. However, our...