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Annie Moore Schwein was born enslaved in Corpus Christi, Texas. (Dorothea Lange via Getty Images)

Condoleezza Rice: Juneteenth Is Our Second Independence Day. Plus. . .

‘Islamism killed my partner. Why won’t the West fight it?’ We’re all living in ‘Ren Faire.’ Israel’s Eurovision contestant talks to Suzy Weiss. And more.

On today’s Front Page from The Free Press: Carine Azzopardi on the ideology that killed her partner; an exclusive interview with Eden Golan; our Ren Faire reality; and much more. 

But first, our lead story, from former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice: 

On June 19, 1865, the last slaves in the Confederacy were freed when Major General Gordon Granger arrived with his troops in Galveston Bay, Texas, and brought the news that slavery had been abolished. A century later, I was growing up in Birmingham, Alabama, which was then the most segregated city in the country. My father couldn’t vote with reliability. We couldn’t go to the movie theater, sit at the lunch counter, or go to school with white children.

I was eight years old when, on a Sunday morning in September 1963, the 16th Street Baptist Church was bombed. I felt the blast a few blocks away in the church where my father was the pastor. Four little girls, two of whom I knew, were killed.

Mourners at a funeral for victims of 16th Street Baptist Church bombing, Birmingham, Alabama, late September 1963. (Photo by Burton McNeely/Getty Images)

But our community rallied and held close to one another. Despite the struggles of those years, we knew how far we had come from that fateful day in 1865.

Every year on Juneteenth, my parents and I talked about what our ancestors must have felt the moment they found out they were free and used it as an inspiration to keep seeking a better life here in America.

But even though my family has been celebrating Juneteenth since my childhood, it wasn’t until 2021 that Congress voted, almost unanimously, to make Juneteenth National Independence Day a federal holiday. Because many Americans are unfamiliar with its significance, some, perhaps understandably, wonder why it needed national recognition at all. After all, all Americans celebrate the Fourth of July—the ultimate celebration of our nation’s founding, of our independence and our liberty. 

To me, Juneteenth is a recognition of what I call America’s second founding. 

Read on for more from Condoleezza Rice on the meaning of Juneteenth. 

Last week, a former acting CIA director and a respected foreign policy thinker sounded the alarm on the “serious threat of a terrorist attack in the months ahead.” Michael Morell and Graham Allison argue there are echoes today of the run-up to 9/11. On Sunday, House Intelligence Committee Chair Mike Turner warned that the United States has reached the “highest level of a possible terrorist threat.” In March, Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines warned of a “generational” terrorism threat downstream from the war in Gaza. 

Time and again, people in a position to know warn of the seriousness of the threat. Time and again, no one seems to pay much attention. 

One person under no illusions about the grave threat posed by Islamist terrorism is the writer Carine Azzopardi. Carine’s partner Guillaume was murdered in the ISIS terrorist attack on the Bataclan concert hall in 2015 that left 90 people dead. As she explains in our pages today, Carine has dedicated herself to understanding why Guillaume was taken from her. But while Carine has reported on the Islamism that motivated her partner’s killers, she finds herself baffled that those living in the West are too afraid to say it out loud. 

Read Carine in full on the ideology too many dare not name.

  1. In the latest issue of Foreign Affairs—the magazine for Washington’s foreign policy establishment—two authors offer dueling visions of America’s role in the world, and a sense of the foreign policies on offer from Biden and Trump. In one essay, former Obama aide Ben Rhodes makes the case for Team Biden that is entirely preoccupied with the home front—and by that he means Donald Trump. “The most important thing that America can do in the world is detoxify its own democracy,” he concludes. (Foreign Affairs

  2. In the second essay, former Trump national security adviser Robert O’Brien promises “realism with a Jacksonian flavor” in a second Trump term. To achieve “peace through strength,” O’Brien has a number of bold suggestions, including deploying the entire Marine Corps to Asia and resuming live nuclear-weapons testing. . . which all sounds a little too Dr. Strangelove. Wasn’t Trump supposed to be an isolationist? (Foreign Affairs)

  3. China’s rich are fleeing the country at a record pace. The country saw the world’s largest outflow of high-net-worth individuals last year and is expected to see a record 15,200 leave this year, according to a new report. Their top destinations are the U.S., Canada, and Singapore. (Nikkei Asia

  4. Could Donald Trump bail on next week’s presidential debate? The loose-lipped Democratic strategist James Carville said yesterday, “If I was a gambler—and actually, I am a gambler—I’d take even money that Trump doesn’t show up.” (Mediaite

  5. Leading teen mental health researcher Jean M. Twenge reports on the alarmingly steep rise in ER admissions for self-harm among 10- to 14-year-old girls. Five times more girls in that age range were admitted to the ER for self-harm in 2022 than in 2009. Twenge points the finger at social media. U.S. surgeon general Dr. Vivek Murthy is now calling for a health warning for apps like Instagram and TikTok. (Generation Tech)  

  6. New York congressman Jamaal Bowman is fighting for his political life ahead of a primary next week. Bowman’s October 7 denialism is the latest example of a long-standing hostility toward Israel that’s soured Jewish constituents on him. One amusing detail from this profile: a 2022 text message Bowman sent a Jewish leader in Westchester County in which he asked, “Do you have pics of us? So I can show the world I’m friends with Jewish people.” (Jewish Insider

  7. Is any state more important than Pennsylvania in this election? Not according to William Galston, who explains why Biden will almost certainly lose the presidency if he loses the Keystone State. And according to the Real Clear Politics average, Trump has a three-point lead in PA. (Wall Street Journal

  8. In the UK, the Conservative Party’s election campaign is not going well. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak—famed for cringe-inducing moments like the time he told children “I’m a total coke addict!”—tried to feed a flock of sheep. Much like British voters, the creatures fled. (The Independent)

  9. In his new memoir Late Admissions, the economist Glenn Loury bluntly details his lows as well as his highs. Those lows include drug addiction, serial infidelity, and an arrest. To mark the book’s publication, Loury takes the characteristically brave step of inviting his own son on his podcast for a candid conversation about the book—and all his mistakes. (Glenn Loury Substack

  10. It’s been a decade since flight MH370 crashed into the Indian Ocean. That’s the theory, anyway. Or one of them. We still don’t actually know where the plane, and its 239 passengers and crew, ended up. But British researchers have made headlines by discovering a six-second signal picked up on underwater microphones that may offer some clues. (Daily Mail)

We don’t tend to pay much attention to Eurovision, the campy, colorful, and at times ridiculous international song competition. This year was different. 

This year—surprise, surprise—the focus was on boycotting Israel. Over 1,000 Swedish musicians, including the pop star Robyn, signed a petition calling for Israel’s exclusion. In Finland, 1,300 artists signed a similar petition. Bars here in New York announced they wouldn’t screen the competition in protest. Israel was forced to revise its song after its original entry, “October Rain,” was deemed too political. 

At the center of it all was 20-year-old Eden Golan, the Israeli contestant who faced death threats, jeers during rehearsals and her performance, and hostility from fellow competitors, one of whom pretended to fall asleep while Eden spoke during press conferences. Another told reporters how they cried upon hearing that Golan had advanced to the final round. As for Golan, she spent the competition in her hotel while the head of Israel’s Shin Bet flew in to keep her safe as mobs gathered outside. 

Despite calls for boycott, 163 million people tuned in to Eurovision this year to watch Golan and the other performers. She placed fifth, and snagged the number two spot when it came to the public vote. 

For her first in-depth interview since performing in Sweden, Golan talks to Suzy Weiss about how she handled the pressure of being the most-hated performer in Eurovision history before ever singing a note.

Watch their conversation below: 

→ RIP, SIO: The Stanford Internet Observatory—a research center tasked with rooting out “misinformation” on social media—is shutting its doors. Chances are if you’ve heard of the SIO it was in a scathing piece from Michael Shellenberger or Matt Taibbi, who have accused the center of being a key node in the censorship-industrial complex.

It was also my first employer. Like a zillion other bright-eyed Stanford undergrads, I was drawn to work at a place that promised to “learn about the abuse of the internet in real time, to develop a novel curriculum on trust and safety that is a first in computer science, and to translate our research discoveries into training and policy innovations for the public good.” To me, that meant ending internet abuse like the glamorization of anorexia on social media or financial scams that steal billions every year. But mostly I worked on the Election Integrity Partnership (EIP), which SIO ran during the 2020 and 2022 elections. The purpose of that project was to identify so-called “fake news” spreading on social media. 

In actuality, SIO hired a load of interns to scan social media for posts deemed to be mis- and disinformation. It turns out that the posts we students flagged were often sent along to moderators at Twitter (now X), Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok, which took them down in order to quash dissenting viewpoints—viewpoints that sometimes ended up being right, as in the case of Covid likely being the result of a lab leak, or Hunter Biden’s hard drive being his actual hard drive—not Russian disinformation. 

Thanks to the work of independent journalists, the SIO’s work has come under a lot of scrutiny, including in Washington. A recent House Judiciary Committee report alleges that, by cooperating with the Department of Homeland Security, the SIO’s Election Integrity Partnership “provided a way for the federal government to launder its censorship activities in hopes of bypassing both the First Amendment and public scrutiny.” 

The SIO has stated that “Stanford has not shut down or dismantled SIO as a result of outside pressure. SIO does, however, face funding challenges as its founding grants will soon be exhausted.” But on June 13, Platformer reported that much of SIO’s staff was on the way out: “Its founding director, Alex Stamos, left his position in November. Renee DiResta, its research director, left last week after her contract was not renewed. One other staff member’s contract expired this month, while others have been told to look for jobs elsewhere, sources say.”

The Supreme Court will soon rule on a case, Murthy v. Missouri, that addresses whether the U.S. government should be able to collaborate with social media companies to censor commentary. The plaintiffs, in their brief, lambast SIO for its role in abetting government censorship. We’ll be watching that case closely.
Julia Steinberg

→ A second whistleblower at Texas Children’s Hospital: Texas Children’s Hospital, and its secret gender transition program, is back in the news with another whistleblower’s account. Yesterday, we reported that surgeon Eithan Haim is facing federal charges and ten years in prison for exposing this program. In City Journal, Christopher Rufo tells the story of nurse Vanessa Sivadge, who accuses her employer of committing Medicaid fraud in its covert program to medically transition minors. Sivadge describes her growing alarm at the conveyor belt that gender-distressed children—many with significant psychological problems—were put on. More than that, she concluded that the gender doctors were likely using Medicaid to pay for some patients’ gender transitions, even though such use of taxpayer funds is prohibited by Texas law. For talking privately to Rufo, Sivadge has already been visited by FBI agents. But she told him her reason for going public now: “It made me sick that the lie called ‘gender-affirming care’ was being sold to parents and children and creating hugely lucrative profits in secret—and I was part of it.” —Emily Yoffe

→ We’re all living in Ren Faire: Lance Oppenheim’s new HBO docuseries Ren Faire focuses on “King” George Coulam, the 86-year-old owner of America’s largest Renaissance fair. It’s the most exciting succession drama since Succession. George and his brother David founded an entire town in 1974 so that they could operate the festival without interference from the authorities. The Texas Renaissance Festival now attracts half a million people every fall, and at the height of his powers, in 2021, George decided to retire—and, as the docuseries shows, his various underlings began fighting to succeed him. 

There’s general manager Jeff, a kind-hearted theater-head; Darla, a hard-nosed former elephant trainer who is Jeff’s co-manager; and Louie, an ambitious Red Bull–swigging kettle corn vendor from a rich family. As the three plot against each other, George toys with them. He sends people on pointless international business trips. He fires employees, then rehires them. He makes deals to sell the business, claiming all he wants to do is work on his art and date the young women that his Zoomer assistant finds for him on sugar daddy sites. Then, he reneges on the deals at the last minute, retreating into his mansion to listen to Enya on repeat, crown still firmly affixed. 

The truth is, George doesn’t want to retire at all. Pretending he does just allows him to continue exercising his power. Kings don’t retire—they die—and George is still kicking.

It’s difficult to watch the docuseries and not think of the upcoming election. Two men in the twilight of their lives are stubbornly refusing to relinquish power—or let the country move on. Around them, various underlings scheme: It could happen at any moment, Gavin Newsom and Matt Gaetz are perhaps telling themselves. But Biden and Trump are still kicking. —River Page

Jerry recommends NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day: Some are photos of the earth’s sky, others telescopic pictures of nebulas or galaxies, or views from the rovers on Mars, or pretty much anything about our universe. Most are beautiful and enchanting. It’s how I start my day each day.

Liam recommends The Crystals’ 1962 song “He Hit Me (And It Felt Like A Kiss)”: It’s where Lana Del Rey took the line River Page wrote about in yesterday’s Front Page, and I think it’s even darker than “Ultraviolence.” 

Send your recommendations to thefrontpage@thefp.com

Oliver Wiseman is a writer and editor for The Free Press. Follow him on X @ollywiseman

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