The Angle

The Angle: Liberty, Equality, Fraternity Edition

Slate’s daily newsletter on Jerry Falwell Jr. and Liberty University, unsafe conditions at the border, the Movie Club, and “plantation Christmas” celebrations.

The buffer: There have been rumblings of student dissent at Liberty University since its president, Jerry Falwell Jr., publicly endorsed Donald Trump in early 2016—and again after reports of Falwell’s financial and moral misconduct surfaced earlier this year. Fortunately for Falwell, David Nasser runs interference between him and the students. Nasser, the school’s senior vice president for spiritual development, has become a master of deflecting student criticism, in a way one alum described as “spiritual gaslighting.” Ruth Graham has this week’s cover story on the Iranian immigrant who became one of the most influential evangelical leaders in America.

Madness in Matamoros: Dahlia Lithwick talked with attorney and volunteer Kristin Clarens about the gruesome details of the dangerous and unsanitary situation in the tent cities at the Southern border, all caused by the United States’ “Remain in Mexico” policy. “It’s just kind of a recipe for humanitarian crisis, within 100 feet of an American city,” says Clarens.

Movie magic: We launched our final club of the year today: the Movie Club. Our film critic Dana Stevens kicked things off by reflecting on the gasps and giggles, big comebacks, and strong showings in the cinema this year. While Bilge Ebiri pointed out the “hallucinatory, drug-fueled dance party that exemplified 2019,” Karen Han looked at the funniest horror movies of the year, and Alison Willmore despaired at the snubbing of Little Women. Stay tuned for the rest of the discussion.

Christmas past: It’s finally becoming socially unacceptable to hold a wedding at a historic plantation. The next front, writes Rebecca Onion, is “plantation Christmas” celebrations. The events, Onion writes, are held each year at plantations across the South, using the “trappings of the holiday—family! decorations! childhood!—to separate the violence of these places from their beauty.” Onion looks at the history these events are supposedly based on and pulls out the truth beneath the garlands.

For fun: Why you should ditch streaming for good old-fashioned DVDs.

The frisson of TV FOMO will pass,

The Angle will be back on Thursday.