In a refreshing break from its recent streak of awful opinion page hires—one that included neoconservative climate-denier Bret Stephens and Bari Weiss, a reliable apologist for Israeli atrocities—the New York Times announced on Thursday that it has hired author, civil rights lawyer, and criminal justice reform advocate Michelle Alexander as a full-time columnist.
In addition to becoming the first woman of color to hold the position, Alexander will also be the only Times columnist who backed Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in the 2016 presidential election, providing the so-called paper of record with a genuine left-wing voice to at least partially counter conservatives like Stephens and David Brooks and Ross Douthat and Tom Friedman.
“Michelle is the author of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, the book that changed the way many of us think about criminal justice and about the persistence and adaptation of forms of racial control in the United States,” Times opinion page editor James Bennet said in a statement on Thursday. “She is a powerful writer, a fierce advocate for a more just world, and a deep believer in open-minded, searching debate over how to achieve it.”
The Times’ decision to hire Alexander was met with applause by progressives, who argued her “prophetic voice is badly needed” in the midst of worsening racial injustice, mass incarceration, and economic inequality.