Adam Serwer

Adam Serwer is a writing fellow at The American Prospect and a graduate of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. He also blogs at Jack and Jill Politics and has written for The Village Voice, The Washington Post, The Root, and the Daily News.

Recent Articles

Wrenching Experiences

A few days ago National Review published a silly piece by Tevi Troy criticizing President Obama's vacation reading list because it was light on Jonah Goldberg books. He seemed to think this argument from Mickey Kaus, that Obama's reading list was "heavy on the wrenching stories of immigrant experiences, something the President already knows quite a bit about," was clever enough to be worth quoting. You have to admire the pseudo-birtherism of Kaus' formulation--you can practically see little Barack clutching his Kenyan birth certificate as he steps off the plane. Only one of the books on Obama's list counts as a story about "immigrants," namely Abraham Verghese's novel on Ethiopian immigration to the U.S. The other is not a novel, but a history book by Isabel Wilkerson about the great migration of black Americans out of the South during the 20th Century. What they have to do with one another is entirely unknown, except perhaps that they're both about black people, and Obama, being...


Alyssa Rosenberg has some further thoughts on the Manic Pixie Dream Girl character archetype: He and I were talking about this a little bit a couple of days ago, and while I think it’s pretty clear why MPDGs are a fantasy for men, I also think the archetype has some utility for women. After decades of makeover scenes and unrealistic physical and behavioral expectations, there’s something kind of appealing about being told that the fantasy isn’t the Herve Leger bandage dress and the body that goes with it, it’s the quirky cardigan; that it’s not about having to fix yourself, it’s about someone else has to do the transformative work and all you have to do is help. I don’t necessarily think it’s a good trade, and I don’t actually think it makes for fully fleshed-out characters or exceptionally interesting movies, but I understand why it might feel worth it. I think this is one of the key differences between the Magic Negro and the...

A Dance With Dragons And The Return To Fantasy

So this is going to be a massively spoiler-heavy post, so those of you who haven't read A Dance With Dragons yet or are fans of the TV series Game of Thrones and don't want some major things to be revealed should stop. Reading. Now.

Oregon Man Charged With Setting Fire To A Mosque

The Civil Rights Division has announced that it's charging an Oregon man with allegedly setting a mosque in Corvallis on fire. The larger context here is that the mosque was attended by Mohamud Osman Mohamud, the 19-year old who was arrested in a plot to bomb a Portland Christmas tree that was in actuality a sting set up by the FBI. In response to a fake terror plot that was never going to take place, someone decided it was time to execute a real one. UPDATE: The suspect, Cody Crawford, reportedly said this: "You look like Obama. You are a Muslim like him. Jihad goes both ways. Christians can jihad too," a court document quotes Crawford as telling a McMinnville officer after his Dec. 14 arrest on a charge unrelated to the firebombing." So not just a mere hate crime, but possibly another anti-Muslim ideologue who, like alleged Oslo terrorist Anders Breivik, embraces the concept of holy war between Christians and Muslims. Just from the "Christian" side.

West On Black Intellectuals And Liberal Magazines

My profile of Cornel West and Tavis Smiley's Poverty Tour will be in the print edition of next month's print edition Prospect , but I was having a conversation with Jamelle yesterday that reminded me of a portion of the interview with West I thought was interesting but didn't make it into the final piece. Prominently white, liberal and progressive magazines, like your magazine, I love brother Paul Starr and Kuttner, very close. But predominatly white magazines, the relation to black intellectuals has always been one of trying to get more, embrace more and so forth, but not always successful. The Nation magazine with sister Katrina, same way. And you end up sometimes recruiting certain black intellectuals who themselves are much less focused the things that Kuttner's concerned about, and more concerned with their careers in the white context that allows them to be more visible. So they come at highly visible black folk who have already paid their dues, who have already gone through...