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2018 brought a lot of change. Here are the best of our Weekend Reads.

2018 has brought a lot of change. It was an election year; the #MeToo movement gained momentum; we saw lynching memorials go up and Confederate monuments come down.

Through it all, we’ve done our best to bring you the smartest, most timely analysis with the Weekend Read. We’ve written about topics from LGBT rights to juvenile justice, from the hate and extremism in our country’s streets to the hate and extremism in the White House.

Which Weekend Reads did you found most engaging? This week, we’re bringing you a selection of the very best of 2018 based on what you, our readers, tell us you liked best.

2019 is fast approaching, but first, let’s take a look back at some of the hottest topics of 2018.


Photograph by Carolyn Drake/Magnum for The New Yorker

1. Trump says we don’t have to let you in

At the foot of the bridge over the Rio Grande, Laura turned to Agent Garza. “When I am found dead,” she said, “it will be on your conscience.”

Hours earlier, a police officer had stopped Laura on her way home from work in a car with her cousin Elizabeth. She had no license, no registration — and no visa to be in the United States. … Elizabeth tried to tell the officer about Laura’s ex-husband, Sergio, who had continued to text her even after he was deported to Mexico. He promised he would set Laura on fire if she ever returned.

“You can’t do this,” Elizabeth told Solis. “He’ll kill her.”

It was too late. Officer Solis had already called Border Patrol, setting in motion a chain of events that would make Laura one of an untold number of undocumented immigrants whom federal agents have deported to their deaths.

2. For incels, it’s not about sex. It’s about women

The hatred these men feel stems — crucially — not from their belief that they’re entitled to sex, but from their belief that women are required to give it to them. When women don’t, incels weaponize their hate.

It cannot be women’s job to pacify men who hate them because of their gender — just like it cannot be the job of people of color to disarm white supremacists.

We began tracking male supremacy in 2012. In the wake of the 2016 election, we saw how essential male supremacist ideas were to the rise of the so-called “alt-right” and formally added male supremacist groups to our hate map the following year.

Now more than ever, it’s clear that we ignore male supremacy at our peril.

3. White nationalists who shouted “Russia is our friend” weren’t just whistling Dixie

The love affair between Russian and American extremists isn’t limited to individual relationships. Whole cultural exchanges are taking place between white nationalists in both countries, borne along by a current of swastikas, the Nazi “black sun,” and references to “88” (code for Heil Hitler) or “14” (code for the 14-word white supremacist mantra). …

The bonds between Trump-adoring American extremists and Russia are cultural, political and, apparently, strong.

It’s increasingly clear that the white nationalists who shouted “Russia is our friend” in Charlottesville last summer weren’t just whistling Dixie.

4. "He needs long-term care. Apparently we don’t have that in the state of Mississippi”

Tyler Haire was 16 when he was locked up. He was 20 before he went to trial. … Once in jail, he colored pictures of dragons and aliens for the sheriff and his deputies. Sitting in front of the television, Tyler held his feet and rocked back and forth. He misspelled his own name in two different court documents. He went without any of his prescriptions. He lost 90 pounds.

Tyler’s court-appointed lawyer told the judge it was clear Tyler didn’t have “sufficient mental capacity” to understand the charge against him. He asked that Tyler receive a psychiatric evaluation, and the judge — looking at Tyler’s history of seven different mental disorders, the first diagnosed when he was just 4 years old — agreed. …

Every month, Sheriff Greg Pollan called the state mental hospital and asked when Tyler would be admitted. …The hospital told Pollan that Tyler was third on its list and then, in the very next call, that he had inexplicably slipped to No. 10. It would admit him “in two weeks.”

It would actually take nearly four years.

5. These white Southerners changed their views on race. Your family can, too

Today, many of us will sit around tables with family members who don’t share our politics, our belief systems or even our values.

That can be difficult. Just ask the people who were interviewed by Donna Ladd earlier this fall in Mississippi: white Southerners whose views on race have changed since their racist upbringings. …

The people whom Ladd interviewed were changing beliefs, in many cases, that they’ve held for decades. And they’re people who have a lot to lose in the process — including relationships with some of the very same friends and family members with whom they might have shared a Thanksgiving meal.

Conversations around the Thanksgiving table may be hard. But we know the work doesn’t stop there. And, we know the stakes are high.

And a few of the other Weekend Reads you found most engaging:

6. “We go on electing politicians who heat kettles of hate”

7. Mark Zuckerberg’s comments about Holocaust denial are disturbing

8. "You people who’ve got gay children, don’t mess up like I did”

9. Executed for committed war crimes — then honored with a Confederate monument

10. When calling yourself a fascist is ‘edgy’

11. Long lines, broken machines, voter ID laws: Welcome to the neo-Jim Crow

12. When you don’t know the laws or the language, it’s a lot harder to say #MeToo

We’re proud to fight by your side for justice and the promise of a more progressive South.

We’ll see you in the New Year!

The Editors

P.S. Here are some other pieces we think are valuable this week:

SPLC's Weekend Reads are a weekly summary of the most important reporting and commentary from around the country on civil rights, economic and racial inequity, and hate and extremism. Sign up to receive Weekend Reads every Saturday morning.