Shuja Haider

is a writer and musician based in Brooklyn.

The Safety Pin and the Swastika

The Safety Pin and the Swastika

If you had read in early 2016 about a National Pol­icy Insti­tute con­fer­ence on the theme of “Iden­tity Pol­i­tics,” you might have assumed it was an inno­cent gath­er­ing of pro­gres­sives. If you had attended, you would have been in for an unpleas­ant sur­prise. The National Pol­icy Insti­tute is an orga­ni­za­tion of white nation­al­ists, over­seen by neo-Nazi media dar­ling Richard Spencer.

A Butterfly Reads History

A Butterfly Reads History

While Adorno claimed that to write poetry after Auschwitz was bar­baric, hip-hop claims that it is nec­es­sary to write poetry after the bar­barism of slav­ery. Its his­tory, and its his­tor­i­cal con­se­quences, must be recorded.

The Singer in the Subway: Damon C. Scott and Storm Queen

The Singer in the Subway: Damon C. Scott and Storm Queen

In 2007, Wash­ing­ton Post colum­nist Gene Wein­garten and Grammy Award-win­ning clas­si­cal vio­lin­ist Joshua Bell teamed up to play a prank on com­muters in Wash­ing­ton, DC’s pub­lic trans­porta­tion sys­tem. Weingarten’s account of what he called “an exper­i­ment in con­text, per­cep­tion and priorities—as well as an unblink­ing assess­ment of pub­lic taste” appeared in a Post arti­cle called “Pearls Before Break­fast.” It describes how Bell stood in the L’Enfant Plaza Sta­tion pos­ing as a sub­way busker, and per­formed a selec­tion of clas­si­cal pieces typ­i­cal of his con­certs. He played them on his Gib­son ex Huber­man Stradivarius—a 300-year-old piece of wood that is val­ued at $3.5 mil­lion.

No One Famous Ever Came From Here: Joe Paterno in State College

No One Famous Ever Came From Here: Joe Paterno in State College

Novem­ber 8, 2011. I was shoot­ing pool at State College’s best dive bar when the bouncer came run­ning in, his face flushed with excite­ment. Accord­ing to TV news, he told us, the Penn State Board of Trustees had just fired foot­ball coach Joe Paterno. Though Paterno had already declared his inten­tion to retire at the end of the sea­son, after alle­ga­tions that he had con­doned an ongo­ing pat­tern of child molesta­tion by assis­tant coach Jerry San­dusky, the trustees decided they couldn’t wait. Paterno would not be coach­ing that Saturday’s home game.