The Dartmouth Observer
Monday, September 30, 2002
Good Ole Racism
Besides the amount of racist speech on though prevalent on campus this term, included but not limited to the upcoming visits of Evelyn and Cornel and the President's Convocation Speech, the Wall Street Journal found some more interesting racist tidbits for us.
Editor's Note: Taken from the WSJ
From Bad to Verse
Did you know New Jersey has a poet laureate? Hell, we didn't know New Jersey had a poet, unless the overrated Bruce Springsteen counts. But indeed, the Garden State has a statute establishing the position, to which a group of arts bureaucrats are supposed to appoint "a distinguished poet from New Jersey." The current poet laureate is one Amiri Baraka, and here's a sample of his work:
*** QUOTE ***
Who do Tom Ass Clarence Work for
Who doo doo come out the Colon's mouth
Who know what kind of Skeeza is a Condoleeza
Who pay Connelly to be a wooden negro
Who give Genius Awards to Homo Locus
*** END QUOTE ***
This "poem," titled "Somebody Blew Up America," carries a 2001 copyright and was obviously written in the aftermath of Sept. 11. It's a puerile, racist, semiliterate rant, but it does have a New Jersey angle: It mentions Bret Schundler, last year's unsuccessful Republican nominee for governor, including him in a list with Trent Lott, Jesse Helms, Rudy Giuliani--and David Duke. This is derivative of the work of Tyrone Green, the satirical jailhouse poet played by Eddie Murphy on "Saturday Night Live" two decades ago, who once said: "I hate white people because they W-I-T-E."
The Newark Star-Ledger reports that Gov. Jim McGreevey is asking Baraka to resign, notwithstanding the boisterous bard's denunciation of the governor's erstwhile opponent. McGreevey objects to a passage that repeats an anti-Semitic lie:
*** QUOTE ***
Who knew the World Trade Center was gonna get bombed
Who told 4000 Israeli workers at the Twin Towers
To stay home that day
Why did Sharon stay away?
*** END QUOTE ***
Baraka refuses to quit, and it appears neither McGreevey nor the panel of arts bureaucrats who selected him a month ago has the power to fire him. His term lasts for two years, during which time the law stipulates that he is to "promote and encourage poetry within the State and shall give no fewer than two public readings within the State each year." What a huge embarrassment to poor New Jersey, a state that has enough trouble getting any respect as it is. What to do?
We never thought we'd say this--about anything--but the Saudi model is instructive. As we noted Sept. 17, after Ghazi Algosaibi, Riyadh's ambassador to London, disgraced his country by publishing a poem glorifying suicide terrorists, Crown Prince Abdullah recalled him from the embassy and put him in charge of Saudi sewers. McGreevey should find a similar position in Trenton for Baraka, so that he can put his expertise in "doo doo" to work for the benefit of New Jerseyites.
(I'm having trouble making web-links, so please bear with the parenthetics)
The Middle East Forum (President: Daniel Pipes) recently started Campus Watch (www.campus-watch.org), an online project dedicated to monitoring and exposing some of the left-wing lunacy found in Middle East Studies departments across the country, and in the Academy in general with respect to Middle East issues. The San Fransisco Chronicle is not very generous in its description of the new website (http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2002/09/28/MN227890.DTL). Among other things, the Chronicle calls the website "McCarthyesque" and records Judith Butler (longtime friend of the Observer) as saying that this is a new "chilling impact on academic freedom."
So what exactly is going on at Campus Watch? Well, the latest story on their site is this one (http://www.campus-watch.org/article/id/174) about the Second National Student Conference on the Palestine Solidarity Movement which will be held at the University of Michigan in October (you guys think the Race Matters conference coming to Dartmouth is bad?). As Campus Watch reports, "The goal of the conference is to prod universities and corporations to pull their money out of Israel." This ridiculous "divestment" movement borders on being anti-Semitic and Campus Watch is doing us a great service by reporting these events. It is time that someone exposed what is actually going on in America's Universities.
Friday, September 27, 2002
Christopher Hitchens is leaving The Nation. Andrew Sullivan says, "Now there really is no reason to read it any more."
Tim, any comments?
Hitchens's departure makes me think about the phenomenon of people switching their political allegiances (I'm not suggesting that Hitchens has done that, although you certainly can't call him a typical leftist). I'm not terribly well-informed on this, but it seems to me that more people move from left to right than vice-versa. One thinks of Norman Podhoretz, David Horowitz, Reagan, and other neoconservatives. You might even put me in this category. But the other way? Michael Lind is one name that comes to mind; I don't know any others.
I would also be interested in hearing from my fellow observers on how they arrived at their political, social, and cultural outlooks. Also, how assured are we in these outlooks? That is, is it conceivable that they might change, even radically, subject to future events?
Wednesday, September 25, 2002
Three cheers for Tom Daschle, who finally told George W. to choke on it like it was a pretzel.
Oops, We Did It Again...US Foreign Policy in Iraq
Welcome back to a new term at Dartmouth, fellow observers. I very much look forward to arguing with you all in the coming year. I wanted to bring everyone's attention to this article, in the British paper The Independent, regarding the recently disclosed Blair "dossier" on the Iraq sanctions situation. It is a compelling description of the wrongheadedness of US and British foreign policy in Iraq in the past 10 years. I think Jon's point regarding the UN is instructive here: while the other nations in the UN may not be saints, neither, by any means, are we. We screwed up in Iraq and right now we are on our way to screwing up again. We have an obligation to support the UN, and to listen to our fellow nations. They may not be perfect, but neither are we.
Sunday, September 22, 2002
And from the left, I'm Tim Waligore...
After talking about the situation in Palestine, John Stevenson says in this earlier post:
"The pro-Palestinians, just like the people they were defending, were not able to argue with him so they turned to what they, and their patron saints, are good at: terrorism and brute force to end the argument. Another group of thugs used force to settle and argument: the radical Black students under Amri [sic] Barksdale here at College."
This posting shows the true mark of idiocy. Stevenson is referring to an incident 9 years ago, when Amiri Barksdale '96 and several other people picked up issues of The Dartmouth Review distrubted in dorms. Maybe you disagree Amiri's rationale, but how in the world can Stevenson put these actions in the same category as suicide bombing? I don't think we should trivialize the lives of Isrealis by putting them on par with innocent issues of The Review. We could get into the details of that incident in 1993, if anyone really, really, really wants to. In one of my many conversations with Amiri, he told me that when someone would not let him by until he redistributed all the papers he had picked up, he moved them aside. If that is properly referred to as "force" on the level of bombing dance halls, we have lost all sense of moral perspective.
But in the spirit of Stevenson's often patronizing posts towards liberals, I will say, please John, I know you're more reasonable than this! Indeed, John can heed quality arguments on the other side, such as in this post: "I encourage all to read the Freshman Issue of the Free Press. The layout is beautiful and some of the writers on this blog (Laura, Karsten, Tim Waligore) have contributed articles (opening letter and one about women,the year in review and professor page, the history of review, respectively) to the edition." This comment brings up another point: I would not call myself a "writer" for this blog, who "contributed" to the Free Press first year issue. I would think the identification would go the other way around. I suspect it would too for Laura and Karsten, who did more than contribute to the Free Press: they were the co-editors of the first year issue and have been with the Free Press since its founding two years ago.
Finally, Stevenson refers to "the public intellectuals on this site." Although I admire John's optimism, this comment goes too far. Yes, we've had interesting discussion on this web log. But let's not be pretentious: we are a group of intelligent and curious current and recent undergrads, and a far cry from true public intellectuals, you know, the ones on Crossfire.
Thursday, September 19, 2002
I'm Sorry Mama
John, I was kidding, relax (concerning fishing for a nomination).
Concerning the UN:
1) We are members of the UN by a contract. If we ignore the UN, we are, in fact, "joining other nations in their lawlessness."
2) We are not "one Nation under God," despite the rhetoric that surfaced in the 1950s and, unfortunately, can't be shaken. We are, as the rhetoric that emerged in the 1860s, a nation "for the people, by the people, and of the people." As a republic, we entered into a treaty requiring us to adhere to regulations promulgated as the UN Charter. According to the paper we signed, we have given the UN "a legitimate monopoly of force," and left more than enough room for us to defend ourselves in the event of emergency.
3) There have been times in this nation's history where we have proven our "cruelty and inhumanity." I am not saying that, on the whole, we are not a "better" nation than someplace like Cambodia, but that by entering into the UN we have "leveled the playing field" with these other nations through a series of laws. These laws bind us, no matter what the other supposed adherents to the law do. To imply that we should ignore the rule of law that we birthed onto the world because others have is about as compelling an argument as if you cry to mommy that you peed on her prize rose bush just because the dog peed on it. Doesn't pass muster. Mama gonna test that ass.
Wednesday, September 18, 2002
Dartmouth gets a shout-out from Wired Magazine as a blend of tradition and techonology!
Jon, I won't beg for a nomination in public but I do think that all the public intellectuals on this site should cosider the plethera of talent here. Karsten, Laura, me, Anthony, CheinWen, Vijay at least like to debate diversity. Frank Webb has also stepped to the plate so to speak.
Also, I wasn't suggesting that we join the nations in their lawlessness. I was suggesting that we ignore the UN. Since a democratic government does not exist over the entire world, and since we are "one nation under God" and not "one nation under the UN", one can not argue that like the "racists, bigots, neo-Nazis, homophobes, and other assorted bozos" the perpetrator nations and assorted collections of crackpot thugocracies should be tolerated as part of the rift raft. The whole point is this: in the international realm, there is no government, no one with a legitimate monopoly of force. Some argue that is should be the UN, and I contend that a monopoly of force should not be given to regimes that have, unlike the "racists, bigots, neo-Nazis, et al.", proved their cruelty and inhumanity.
"RACE MATTERS" CONFERENCE AT DARTMOUTH
The Tucker Foundation is in the process of accepting nominations for student
participants for a conference that will take place here at Dartmouth on October
4th and 5th. The conference is entitled "Race Matters in the University of the
21st Century," and is the inaugural event of the Dartmouth College Committee on
Race in the Academy. Committee activities are designed to catalyze a national
debate on issues of whiteness and privilege in the Academy.
I write to request that you nominate one to two students whom you feel have
interest in participating in this conference and will add value to the
discussions. The expectation from student participants is that each will attend
at least one case study report on Friday, October 4th and the Town Meeting on
Saturday, October 5th.
We have reserved space available for 25 student participants. Participants may
be nominated by individuals or organizations, and will be selected on a
first-come first-served basis, with consideration for broad representation from
all class years and gender balance. It is our intention to have diverse
representation within the program participants and hope that you will consider
all racial, ethnic, gender, sexual orientation, and socio-economic backgrounds
as you make your nominations.
The set of criteria through which we hope to select participants is as follows:
* Demonstrated interest in issues of diversity
* Demonstrated leadership experience or potential for leadership in campus life
* Demonstrated ability to think critically and clearly, specifically in
relation to issues in higher education policy and/or campus community life
Please forward the name(s) of your student nominee(s) to Michael Ricci by
Friday, September 20th, along with one or two sentences describing each nominee.
An example of this description is:
Eleazar Wheelock '04 is a member of the XXXX organization, and has held
leadership positions of YYYY and ZZZZ (or has been a de facto leader in the
following non-traditional ways). Eleazar has demonstrated commitment to a
pluralistic campus and academy through his work with WWWWW.
Nominated students will receive invitations to participate in the conference
early next week.
The following is some basic information on the conference. For more
information, please visit the website at
A focus of this conference will be on ways whiteness and privilege shape
scholarship, curriculum, and selection of faculty within higher education. The
goal of the conference is to develop a set of recommendations to guide
institutional diversity plans, curriculum reform, and faculty hiring nationally.
Friday, October 4, 2002 - Collis Center Common Ground
8:30am Case Study #1: The place of African-American Studies in the
1:30 pm Case Study #2: How Race Matters Enter the Curriculum.
3:30 pm. Case Study # 3: Minority Scholars in the Academy
Saturday morning, October 5, 2002 - Alumni Hall, Hopkins Center
9 am - noon: Town Meeting to discuss crosscutting issues raised by the case
We thank you for your time and consideration in helping us involve Dartmouth
undergraduates in what we hope to be a catalyst for meaningful debate on this
important issue in higher education.
Oh, come on already
John Stevenson writes:
This is a post for all those who think that the US should listen to the UN. I will ask now, and continue to ask, why should we listen to a group of slave-owning thugs and crackpot dictators about how to conduct our international affairs.
I ask myself (and John) - is this really a sound argument? Self says "not a chance in hell." I hope John thinks so, too. The reason being, very simply, that just because other nations fail to live up to the international laws (and yes, sometimes even common morality) promulgated by the United Nations is no reason that we should join them in their lawlessness. It is our mistake to embrace states like Syria, yes, and it shows how this country sometimes does not practice what it preaches. That is no excuse for us to throw out our norms altogether, rather it is an example of why we should push harder to live up to them - starting by not defying the United Nations and essentially breaking the treaty we signed (aka, the UN Charter). If Iraq defies the UN inspectors again, we will have a legitimate grievance. As long as the inspectors have unfettered access, we have no grounds for war. If you wish to argue our grounds are to liberate the Iraqi people, we can start by liberating any number of other countries that are in equally dire straits and do not pose such a foreign relations problem at this time. In the meantime, our military has better things to do. They can start by buttressing Afghanistan so we have a strong ally and example of the good will the US can bring to other nations, rather than the cowboy style of government this administration so enjoys.
Of course, one could confront the statement in a more facile way by asking why we allow racists, bigots, neo-Nazis, homophobes, and other assorted bozos to be enfranchised in this country, helping to decide how we conduct ALL our affairs. A democratic system is a democratic system, bad with good.
(On Not) Fighting Terror- Syrian Style
This is a post for all those who think that the US should listen to the UN. I will ask now, and continue to ask, why should we listen to a group of slave-owning thugs and crackpot dictators about how to conduct our international affairs. Why should the pretenders and backward, barbarous nations of the Near East and Africa compell our attention? A harsh judgement, you say?
Consider the current head of the security council, Syria. (Let's not talk about the head of the "Human Rights" Commission, Libya) They were having a terrorist problem in the 80s. Here is how they dealt with it: "Another example of this double standard occurred in the Syrian city of Hama and in refugee camps in Sabra and Shatila. The troubles in Hama began with an uprising headed by the radical group the Muslim Brothers in 1982. The government responded swiftly. Troops were sent, supported by armor, artillery, and aircraft, and within a very short time they had reduced a large part of the city to rubble. The number killed was estimated, by Amnesty International, at somewhere between ten thousand and twenty-five thousand. The action, which was ordered and supervised by the Syrian President, Hafiz al-Assad, attracted little attention at the time, and did not prevent the United States from subsequently courting Assad, who received a long succession of visits from American Secretaries of State James Baker, Warren Christopher, and Madeleine Albright, and even from President Clinton. It is hardly likely that Americans would have been so eager to propitiate a ruler who had perpetrated such crimes on Western soil, with Western victims."
A comparison to the way Israel, Ameirca, or (post-colonial) Britian fights terrrorism? I think not!
I just found a great article by Bernard Lewis, a pre-eminent Oreintalist.
Here's an piece that demonstrates how accurately he situtates the region within a large historical and global context. Anyone interested in Middle Eastern history as a whole should read the article.
"As the Western European empires faded, Middle Eastern anti-Americanism was attributed more and more to another cause: American support for Israel, first in its conflict with the Palestinian Arabs, then in its conflict with the neighboring Arab states and the larger Islamic world. There is certainly support for this hypothesis in Arab statements on the subject. But there are incongruities, too. In the nineteen-thirties, Nazi Germany's policies were the main cause of Jewish migration to Palestine, then a British mandate, and the consequent reinforcement of the Jewish community there. The Nazis not only permitted this migration; they facilitated it until the outbreak of the war, while the British, in the somewhat forlorn hope of winning Arab good will, imposed and enforced restrictions. Nevertheless, the Palestinian leadership of the time, and many other Arab leaders, supported the Germans, who sent the Jews to Palestine, rather than the British, who tried to keep them out.
The same kind of discrepancy can be seen in the events leading to and following the establishment of the State of Israel, in 1948. The Soviet Union played a significant role in procuring the majority by which the General Assembly of the United Nations voted to establish a Jewish state in Palestine, and then gave Israel immediate de-jure recognition. The United States, however, gave only de-facto recognition. More important, the American government maintained a partial arms embargo on Israel, while Czechoslovakia, at Moscow's direction, immediately sent a supply of weaponry, which enabled the new state to survive the attempts to strangle it at birth. As late as the war of 1967, Israel still relied for its arms on European, mainly French, suppliers, not on the United States.
The Soviet Union had been one of Israel's biggest supporters. Yet, when Egypt announced an arms deal with Russia, in September of 1955, there was an overwhelmingly enthusiastic response in the Arab press. The Chambers of Deputies in Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan met immediately and voted resolutions of congratulation to President Nasser; even Nuri Said, the pro-Western ruler of Iraq, felt obliged to congratulate his Egyptian colleague—this despite the fact that the Arabs had no special love of Russia, nor did Muslims in the Arab world or elsewhere wish to invite either Communist ideology or Soviet power to their lands. What delighted them was that they saw the arms deal—no doubt correctly—as a slap in the face for the West. The slap, and the agitated Western response, reinforced the mood of hatred and spite toward the West and encouraged its exponents. It also encouraged the United States to look more favorably on Israel, now seen as a reliable and potentially useful ally in a largely hostile region. Today, it is often forgotten that the strategic relationship between the United States and Israel was a consequence, not a cause, of Soviet penetration.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is only one of many struggles between the Islamic and non-Islamic worlds—on a list that includes Nigeria, Sudan, Bosnia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Chechnya, Sinkiang, Kashmir, and Mindanao—but it has attracted far more attention than any of the others. There are several reasons for this. First, since Israel is a democracy and an open society, it is much easier to report—and misreport—what is going on. Second, Jews are involved, and this can usually secure the attention of those who, for one reason or another, are for or against them. Third, and most important, resentment of Israel is the only grievance that can be freely and safely expressed in those Muslim countries where the media are either wholly owned or strictly overseen by the government. Indeed, Israel serves as a useful stand-in for complaints about the economic privation and political repression under which most Muslim people live, and as a way of deflecting the resulting anger."
Yemen and Saudi Arabia: Loonies and War Criminals
Has anyone paid attention to Yemen lately? SecDef Rumsfield has. This article talks about this new global war on Al Qaieda moving to Yemen.
"A potential target is the uncharted area along Yemen's porous border with Saudi Arabia, officials said. The lawless region has long been a concern of American intelligence as a haven for Al Qaeda."
People have long wondered why besides Israel and the United States, Saudi Arabia is on Osama's top attack list. Could it be that his father was from Yemen and that Yemen and Saudi Arabia have had a troubled relationship? The article mentions a pourous borders; this is quite an understatement. Yemen has no agreed upon border with SA, which is in as much dispute as the border between Palestine and Israel. Back in 1990-1, during the Gulf War, Yemin also joined forces with Sadaam and allow their airfields to be used to strike at SA. To punish Yemin, SA kicked out 800,000 or so workers from Yemen and sent them to refugee camps. Because SA was so important to the "coalition" and the war nothing was said about this. Wonder if Osama is still mad? (Expelling seems to be a popular tactic among the Arabs, as they also, during the 1948 War of Independece, expelled hundreds of thousands of Jews also. Now there are no Jews in the Arab world. And Israel is the racist state?)
Imagine if Israel had kicked at 800, 000 Arabs from Israel and the territories, because they too supported Sadaam. Imagine the speeches in the UN, the op/eds on the pages of the NYTimes and the International Herald Tribune. Imagine the academics screeching that this is proof that "Zionism is racism." I could see the headlines "ISRAEL FORFEITS RIGHTS TO EXIST AS A STATE", with every "pro-human rights" advocate advocating divestment from Israel. SA kicks out some 800 thousand odd Arabs and not a peep from the left. Can you say double standard?
The Empire Strikes Back
Did anyone see the horrible op/ed in the NYTimes today by Maureen Dowd, who never misses an oppurtunity to slight the president? I groaned after having finished it.
She rants: "Contain the wild man, the leader with the messianic and relentless glint who is scaring the world. Surround him, throw Lilliputian nets on him, tie him up with a lot of U.N. inspection demands, humor him long enough to stop him from using his weapons and blowing up the Middle East. But this time, the object of the containment strategy is not Saddam Hussein, but George W. Bush, the president with real bombs, not the predator with plans to make them."
She then goes to accuse the War Cabinet, after mentioning they were CEOs and taking a slight at America's businessmen, of scheming to rebuild an empire. "the allies — and especially Mr. Aziz — should not underestimate the zeal of the Bush warriors...the Bushies have gotten a taste of empire building in Afghanistan and they like it. Karl Rove is building a Republican empire. Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz and Scooter Libby are building an ideological empire. Dick Cheney is building a unilateral empire. And Donald Rumsfeld is building a military empire. Besides, why should former C.E.O.'s Cheney and Rummy settle for mere Jack Welch-style perks when they can have the perks of empire?"
This ugly illogic is appalling. They are good reason to attack Iraq if it doesn't comply with UN resolutions, (and even if it does because the UN doesn't really matter) to wipe this dictator off the face of the map. Since 1978 he has been obsessive in his drive for nuclear weapons, in order that the shamed Arab world, who according to modern myths are this ancient people with an ancient and noble civilization, can have parity with the Israelis, who theorectically have only been there for 50+ years.
Tuesday, September 17, 2002
From Janos Marton:
Correct me if I'm mistaken, but the Dartmouth Free Press used to publish well-written, well-researched articles that presented cogentarguments, not self-righteous diatribes. In her article "Left Out! Liberals and the Greek System", Katie Greenwood uses tired, flimsy attacks to condemn the 40% of males and 25% of females at Dartmouth who are in the Greek System, as well as the females who frequent Greek houses. Her rambling article does actually start until the FIFTH paragraph of her article, in which she point to the historic male whiteness of the fraternities, as reflected by the location/ existence of the physical plants themselves. Her statement that the twelve fraternities are clustered in the main part of campus while the six sororities are on the periphery is simply innaccurate. In addition to the co-ed Tabard, there are currently six recognized fraternities on Webster Avenue, plus three sororities. A fourth sorority, Tri Delt, is adjacent to Webster Avenue. A fifth, Sigma Delt, is about as on the periphery as Theta Delt and Psi U, and has a very vibrant social life. The Latino fraternity consisted of one graduating member as of this past year, which seems like a valid reason to dispossess it of a permanent residence.
Katie goes on astutely note that freshmen females get into frat parties and freshmen males do not. This was once true, back when fall freshmen were not permitted at parties, and girls could sneak in more easily than boys. But if she had gone to frat parties this year, Katie would be aware of the new policy that allows all freshmen to get into parties, regardless of gender.
In any case, this point was supposed to illustrate why women and people of color are the ones calling for the end of the Greek System. It is worth noting that women and men of color account for over 60% of this campus. If this many people were really calling for the end of the Greek system, instead of a few dozen, maybe the cause would have some momentum. Almost all of the members of Panarchy, cited first as an "existing alternative", either actively or ambivilently support the existence of the Greek system. Incidentally, I wonder what Katie's article title is supposed to mean. There seems little connection between liberal politics and fraternities in her article or Dartmouth. I have personally seen over three quarters of the Campus Greens at fraternity parties, and they have as good a time as anyone. The DFP's former Executive Editor is now an officer at AXA. In the last year there have been four people, myself included, to live in Panarchy while part of the Greek system.
Oh yes, and then Katie blames the absence of sophomores and juniors from student organizations on account of their "pong chair" status. The real reason, as Katie well knows (where were you when the Greens were trying to start up last fall, Katie?) is that sophomores and juniors are off for at least one, often two or three terms during sophomore and junior year because of the D-Plan. Where was DFP editor Laura Dellatorre when the Free Press needed writers this winter? Serving as pong chair, or perhaps doing something productive with her off-term? And just for the record, almost all fraternity officers don't take over till the spring of their junior year.
Katie attacks "discussions over alcohol policy", as if people were forced to go to them, even though they probably all should since alcohol problems are rampant at every college in the country, with or without fraternities. She attacks the money that fraternity brothers put into their own houses to repair them, as if she is being taxed for it. She attacks the people in ORL who the College pay to improve the quality of life in the Greek system. Granted, this is money spent, but if these 'rotting houses' with very high property values were turned into coed living spaces, as the more rational opponents of the Greek system suggest (I'm scanning the article now for Katie's plan for what to do with these buildings), then I'm sure the College would still keep these people at ORL. After all, fraternities or not, they are residencies for lots of people, and thus fall under the guise of ORL.
Wow, the article's winding down. Oh yeah, 'girls who are icky.' I know a lot of sorority girls, and though the rush process needs serious revision (i think most people support that), the people who don't get in anywhere are a tiny minority. I wouldn't mind if they could all get in, but to blame the oppression of the fraternities on the fact that the College will not recognize any new sororities to accomodate the high rush class is misguided.
Katie ends her article by listing some alternatives to the Greek system, such as the Foley House, where a written application is required to live there. Don't get me wrong, I support almost of the alternatives Katie has listed. And yes, the Greek System could stand to improve in some areas, but if the discussion is to move forward, and not in circles for years on end, it is neccesary to proceed using real facts, and not emotionally forced rants, as the basis for the debate.
No Spin Zone- First Year Editions of Various Publications
I encourage all to read the Freshman Issue of the Free Press. The layout is beautiful and some of the writers on this blog (Laura, Karsten, Tim Waligore) have contributed articles (opening letter and one about women, the year in review and proffessor page, the history of review, respectively) to the edition.
There is more of Katie Greenwood on the Greek system, and for the record, I find her style mesmerizing: not in the sense of good prose, but in the Ayn Rand style of repition and beating an idea into your head. Full frontal assualt on the Greek system. Of course, I was not able to write a piece for the 'schmen issue of the Dartmouth or the Free Press because I was writing op/eds for the summer. I encourage all of you to begin writing op/eds for the fall in advice to rebutt or strenghten the idea found in the Freshman Issue. Nor have I seen, or heard anything from the Dartmouth Review in terms of a Freshman Issue, which is very disappointing because when I was a 'schman one year ago, I had copies of all three newspapers in my hand to compare. This class will only hear the deafning voices of the left and the center-left.
Bad Writing Ahead
The D's 06' Freshman Issue has come out. It contains all the usual articles about housing, the DOC, multiculturalism, as well as a bunch of op-eds by everyone from Janos to Katie Greenwood. By far the best op-ed is Chris Curran's: it is clear, concise, and vigorously-written; I applaud him for criticizing the administration in a spirit of principled dissent. Let me quote you a few sentences:
"Few would challenge that this greatness stems from our departure from the typical notions of what a university should be. We call ourselves a College in part because of a community spirit we enjoy that is not present in our peer institutions."
"Dartmouth's uniqueness is an asset, not a problem waiting to be remedied."
"I apologize for the negative tone of this piece. I love Dartmouth -- at least what's left of it -- and I write with a highly critical pen because it saddens me to see far-removed Trustees dictate change in our lives with little meaningful student input."
Now contrast Mr. Curran's piece with Ms. Greenwood's. Her op-ed opens with the following paragraph:
"So it's the third week of freshman fall and all the kids on your floor are once again going to frat row, and you're tagging along because you like to get your dance on or you want to roll with the nightlife or maybe you just really like warm cheap beer with a mysterious bouquet of bodily fluids, and you're trying to forget about the paper that's due next week and the fact that you're paying over $10 per waking hour to be at this college. You get to the dance floor, but it's crammed with arrhythmic intoxicated government majors, so you go to the pong table, but seeing the ball roll into a puddle of beer and dog hair and Lord knows what else sets off some alarm bells from Bio 101, so you finally decide to leave and maybe try the next house down and as you pass some random guy on the sidewalk he suddenly pukes all over your shirt and then staggers back and laughs and you're standing there thinking, Um, ew."
This is a hideous piece of writing: my reaction to it is summed up in its last two words. An op-ed is not the place for stream-of-consciousness prose, and bad stream-of-consciousness prose at that. To make matters worse, she drags her readers through four paragraphs of similarly turgid stuff before finally arriving at her main point: that the Dartmyth isn't real. Erm, isn't that why the suffix "-myth" is there? In any case, this is the first time I've heard the term "Dartmyth" mentioned - this is probably my fault. Her piece concludes with the rather banal point that we should change the Dartmyth in order to change Dartmouth. My main problem with her piece is this: just what is wrong about being "blond and Anglo and fifth-generation legacy and athletic and confident and rigidly heterosexual and drive a Grand Cherokee and pound 20 beers a night?" She explicitly accuses such types of taking Dartmouth's resources for granted, and insinuates throughout that they somehow make minorities feel less welcome. Here we go again: stereotyping and then bashing the white male. Speaking as an international student, I can only say that her insinuation was untrue for me. Furthermore, her exhortation to the 06s, "Find your base, grow strong -- and make new homes here, for yourself and others," seems hypocritical, or at least deliberately forgetful. The "homes" she mentions include the Latino and Caribbean House, Main Street magazine, the Dartmouth Rainbow Alliance, and the Education Department. What about the Greek system?
Alli Giordano's piece is scarcely any better. Perhaps it's me being punctilicious - perhaps it's T.S. Eliot - but op-eds really aren't the place for extended personal anecdotes of any kind, least of all poorly-written personal anecdotes. The result is something straight out of high school, or a college admissions essay. Like Ms. Greenwood's essay, hers concludes with a cliche: "The surprising part is that you can pick the parts of this institution that you value, the parts that you dwell on, and the parts that you take away." Again, perhaps it's just the junior (arrgh - I'm a junior!!) in me waxing cynical about such whole-hearted efforts. I would be interested to know what freshmen have to say about such efforts. Do they lead to what Robert Frost called a "clarification of life," or do they simply recycle the brochures and administrative banalities?
See you all soon.
Monday, September 16, 2002
Re: The Emporer has no clothes on
Summary of Article and Response
The wonderful article to which I am responding contends that the greedy capitalist CEO was a better humanitarian because his business eventually succeeded and thereby created more wealth and jobs, while the socially-conscious CEO was a lesser humanitarian because his business eventually failed, presumably because of his good-will. What the article fails to consider is that these corporations did not operate in a vacuum, but instead competed against other companies, and their effect on other companies must also be considered in assessing how humanitarian each is.
To see how competition plays a role, consider two companies in the same market, one greedy and the other worker-friendly. If each are otherwise identical, the greedy company may be able to cut costs by treating workers poorly and undercut its worker-friendly rival. In the article's rhetoric, the greedy company has "created" 100 jobs (for example), while the worker-friendly company has "lost" 1000 jobs. What has in fact happened, is that quality positions at one company have been shifted in the economy to low quality positions at its greedy rival.
Obviously, I do not care to nor have the background to go into detail about the companies analyzed by the article, nor do I have any evidence that 1000 good jobs will translate into an equal number of bad jobs. I am simply saying that the article's logic is completely wrong, as the example demonstrates.
As a brief side-note, I would say that greed is not the primary force driving our economy, but a strong work ethic, taking pride in one's work, and other cheesy motivations. Of course, that's just my personal opinion, but then again the article I am responding to is much more an opinion piece than the in-depth case study it would like to be.
The Emporer has No Clothes on- Piercing the Fog of Lies
I found a particularly wonderful article today that I sent out to my mailing list.
There was a particularly cheesy op/ed in the NY Times today lying about minimun wage and such. It took its inspiration from Nickel and Dimed written by that woman Barbara Ehrenreich, who is, I beleive, a medical doctor and a columnist, not a trained economist nor a poor person. More clueless harpies opining about things outside of their expertise in the name of good intentions.
"Most of the harm in the world is done by good people, and not by accident, lapse or omission . . . Innumerable speculative thinkers, inventors and organizers, have contributed to the comfort, health and happiness of their fellow men - because that was not their intention."
--Isabel Paterson, The God of the Machine
If after reading this article, you question whether greedy capitalist can make things better, I encourage to read Smith's Wealth of Nations or listen to this pre-eminent economist on Real Player or read the transcript.
Brent asked why do the pundits and "experts" who supported the attack on Kosovo oppose the war on Iraq? The reason is actually rather simple: as far as the pre-war planning for Iraq has gone they allege that it would be a US only attack (Blair doesn't seem to count) whereas the Kosovo War was a US-led attack.
America is being lambasted for the same sin that Dr. Ron Edsforth mentioned in SSOC 1: Reganesque cowboy-diplomacy (the stuff that "war-crimes" are made of). Unfortunately, this has become an age of groupthink and groupact whereas the US was founded on going at it alone. Our founders gave the diplomatic finger to Britain and did what they thought was best. Last week some loopies were opining in the Washington Post and the NY Times about Kennedy compared to Bush. They suggested that former President Kennedy would have consulted with the UN and would not have dared to go in by himself. Clearly, these people either are talking about Robert Kenney, who never became president, or do not history. Bay of Pigs, anyone? Or maybe Profiles in Courage? (which probably should be retitled Profiles in Collaboration and Multilateralism to make appropriate for our history moment. Soon, however, Bush, having outsmarted the multilateralists, will invade Iraq through weapons inspectors over the objections of Kofi Annan, who has become a lot less important since Clinton left office. (I suggested as much last year on the World Affairs Council after Aly Rahim, the Chair, called me bloodthirsty for suggesting an attack on Iraq after Afghanistan.)
On another note, the representative of the Arab League, an exclusive dictator's club, suggested that all hell would be unleashed if the US attacked Iraq. Either he is suggesting that the Arab League is in league with the Devil or that the Arab world is surrounded by the gates of hell to prevent the demons of the Middle East from roaming the erstwhile Free world. To borrow from the same imagery that suggest that the US was a "city on hill", I suggest that the gates of hell will not prevail againt US.
Sunday, September 15, 2002
On of the benefits that we have in Canada is a freedom from very packaged US media. I was watching a CTV show called "Round Table." They were discussing Iraq, the US, our primeminister's comments (totally misconstrued as a blame on the US for September 11, something he DID NOT say), and US motivation for attacking Iraq. Many are worried about a vacuum that will be created with the overthrow of Saddam. As we know, the new government in Afghanistan controls little more than a couple of blocks outside the state capital, and it seems as though the US, without the UN, is utterly incapable of establishing a new regime (because we should definitely not let popular support for Saddam get in the way of "democracy"). One astute participant on the show asked whether the US does not in fact intent to destabilise the Middle East. After all, all this stability in the Arab world is allowing the majority of its population to go on hating the US and Israel, because we do know that though most Arab states support the US, the general population does not in any way. Any comments?
Saturday, September 14, 2002
(First off, so there's no confusion, I'm actually pretty ambivalent about war on Iraq. So I got that part out of the way.)
Why all of the sudden are we concerned with an invasion of Iraq as a "pre-emptive" attack?
We have pundits and politicos opposing the war on Iraq as a "pre-emptive attack." I have only one question: where were these people during Kosovo?
I opposed the 1998 NATO bombing of Yugoslavia virtually alone. No one helped me back up my arguments, and often people would tell me I was (sigh) "just wrong," despite whatever facts I had to offer. A minority of conservatives and libertarians also opposed NATO action in Kosovo. That NATO bombing was a so-called pre-emptive attack. For those of you who don't remember Clinton's speech to the nation when the bombs started falling, his reason was not the alleged war crimes of the Serbs or Slobodan Milosevic. Instead, he claimed that instability in the Balkans led to the two World Wars, and so other nations must intervene for the stability of all of Europe. Nevermind that foreign nations meddling in the Balkans started the World Wars, so his analogy falls apart. Also, Yugoslav forces were operating in Yugoslavia--no foreign nation had been attacked. So, NATO and US action in Kosovo is similar to what action we may soon take against Iraq: pre-emptive.
The similaritys do not end there. One may counter that we responded to the humanitarian crisis in Kosovo. However, a big issue of that debate was that such atrocitys occur all around the world, and that Kosovo was nothing special. I used that argument myself until someone pointed out that just because we don't choose to seek justice in other parts of the world, it does not mean that choosing to do so in Kosovo was wrong. Point taken. But if that justifies NATO's pre-emptive attack in Kosovo, it also justifies a pre-emptive attack against Iraq.
One may also counter that Milosevic's actions during Bosnia gave us a reasonable cause to believe that the Kosovo situation could erupt into a real regional threat--plus national boundarys were violated. Don't Saddam's invasion of Kuwait and his excursions against the Kurds in northern Iraq also count as such reasonable cause? What about his policys on Israel?
Why do some of the same people who supported pre-emptive action in Kosovo, now suddenly oppose it in Iraq? Why do the media, which reported the Clinton's administration's statements on Kosovo without critical inquiry, now cast a critical eye over the Bush administration's plans for Iraq?
I don't care that they oppose the proposed war on Iraq. There are good reasons to oppose it, and they need to be brought out. But during Kosovo, which has many parallels to Iraq, I used these same arguments, and I was hung out to dry, and even publicly denounced as an apologist for genocide. My arguments were simply ignored. Now they're using my arguments without shame, and I want to know why.
From Canada: We in American shoud borrow this jurisprudence or appoint more Scalia's and Thomas's to the Supreme Court.
By OLIVER MOORE
Globe and Mail Update
The Ontario Court of Appeal has ruled that the federal government should not be forced to pay reparations for a discriminatory tax that once sought to keep Chinese migrants from entering the country.
Established in 1885, the head-tax initially levied $50 from each Chinese person entering Canada. By 1903 it had increased to $500, which the court conceded was "prohibitive" and stopped almost all Chinese immigration.
The judges did not hesitate to call the head-tax "one of the more notable stains on our minority rights tapestry," but they also ruled that the laws were "constitutional in domestic law terms and [that] they did not violate any principles of customary international law."
Lobby groups, led by the Chinese Canadian National Council, have long sought redress for the tax, demanding more than $1-billion in reparations.
The court sympathized with the appellants, and conceded that some Japanese citizens had already been compensated for internment during the Second World War, but said also that the cases must be assessed independently.
"Even the broad purview of equity does not provide courts with the jurisdiction to use current Canadian constitutional law and international law to reach back almost a century and remedy the consequences of laws enacted by a democratic government that were valid at the time," they wrote in their decision.
A trickle of Chinese migrants continued to enter the country, even under the higher tax, causing the government of the day to repeal the tax in 1923 and pass laws specifically designed to keep Chinese people out of Canada. That legislation was repealed in 1947.
On War and Democracy
As the war with Iraq begins to gather steam and level domestic and international opponents, I must applaud the Bush administration for its clever use of strategy and tactics to make the UN look foolish, bring the British on board, and heed Barak's call (last Spring and in recent op/eds) to end terrorism before it starts. The more I read about the war, the more enthusistaic I become about getting it over and done, due to the massive American amounts of military and civilian casualities that will be incurred. It is also good to see the Right debating the merits of the war and for President Bush to respond to his rightist critics by building a platform that they could support.
Unforturnately we are not old enough to be in the Adminstration at this point to begin drawing up plans for the Civil Adminstration (read: American Occupation) that will govern Iraq after the regime change. Even Ariel Sharon and his Foreign Minister Shimon Peres have vowed to help the American(-UN) attack on Iraq. (Israel is perhaps our best ally now; Sharon has quieted the territories for about 4-6 weeks now with mostly military casualties only. Even in the midst of his own war, they have pledge to help us. A tear comes to my eye at a democratic ally that I can finally be proud of unlike say the French, the South Africans (who called the upcoming attack on Iraq 'racist') or the Germans.)
I encourage all of you to listen to President's Speech and read some articles:
1."My FellowLefties" by Micheal Shuman (a much better leftist argument that the Chomsky-type rhetoric) and a piece from the Nation by Adam Shantz, which gives me hope that my beloved leftists will moderate their views.
2. The US is working the UN with some good commentary about the UN too. (Tho' there are much better reasons to hate it)
3. And Old favorite: "Can There be a decent Left?" from Dissent and a response
4. Charles Krauthhammer survey's the Republican split on the war
Friday, September 13, 2002
Re: What's wrong with the following?
Doesn't look much like a problem. Looks more like a confusion of terms. There are different types of conservatives. A social conservative, whose extreme is often termed the puritan in England and the US, differs greatly from the fiscal conservative. Pinning down the libertarian is a task of recognising the socially liberal with the personal enterprising of the "puritanical" American work ethic.
Thursday, September 12, 2002
What's wrong with the following?
"I appreciate your input regarding ideological and polititcal diversity in the nominees. As you know, assessing political ideology as either liberal or conservative can be rather subjective territory. We identify and evaluate nominees based on how well they might complement our work to end sexism and other forms of discrimination on campus. Conservative perspectives on issues of gender tend to have the preservation or recentering of traditional family values at their core in ways which directly (or indirectly) bolster sexist attitudes and behaviors. For this reason we seldom find a good Visionary candidate who one might label "conservative" to be appropriate as a nominee." [sic]
Our Dumb Nation: A Canadian Perspective
Most people I know up here are sick and tired of the rehashing of September 11. Even Albertans feel this way, for the most part. Don't get me wrong. Canadians do feel for New Yorkers and all those who had a friend or family member killed in the terrorist attacks. In fact, 28 Canadians were killed in the attack, not to mention American relatives. But things have gone too far.
The benefit of living in Montreal is that we have an international perspective extraordinaire. We have massive numbers of immigrants who hail from countries that experience real terrorism. Why do I say "real terrorism?" To quote one of my mom's students from Indonesia, "Americans don't know what terrorism is. If the rest of humanity behaved as Americans do on the occasion of Septmeber 11, the world would cease to turn."
Who can disagree? This Dianafication of September 11 is despicable. It has taken extreme personal sorrow of a few thousand families and made it into a mish-mash of false patriotism and commercial opportunity, not to mention a chance at puppeteering around in the Middle-East--it's high-time that the U.S. support a new dictator in Iraq because Saddam is no spring chicken. And what's with all the fear of new attacks on September 11 itself? Do Americans really believe that the terrorist world cares that much about the date on which they make their point? For crying out loud, don't be so ego-centric!
But what gets me more, aside from the disgusting way in which the media remember september 11, with all the really cool shots they got of people falling out of buildings, is all the speech making and the gullible massses who swallow the saccharine words. Bush talks about terrorists who hate freedom and human rights, qualities so dear to America. Wake-up, America! Maybe terrorist attacked America because of its blatant failure to live-up to its loft ideals. Bush says that America is peace-loving, though it has supported and continues to support violent and oppressive regimes (Israel will always be a tough call on this one), not to mention its own terrassing around South America. Bush says that America values women, though prostitution is as healthy as ever (try finding a prostitutional night-life in most Islamic cities). If America were to truly live-up to its ideals, I don't think terrorists would have any motivation to attack it.
All of this is not to say that there is an excuse for the terrorist attacks of September 11 that killed approximately 6, 000 people. Indeed, there is no excuse. Neither is there an excuse for the 20, 000 children who die prentable deaths due to malnutrition, while the world spends US$15, 000/sec. on military, over half of which is spent by the United States. Shame on all.
The Dartmouth College Greens have posted the following bulletin: "If you're not going to DC for protests, or tabling here on campus, you might want to check out...
We the People Summit For Peace. Dum da dummm!
(in burlington on a saturday at a time when you could get there by bus easily- this is very convenient)
Sept 28: We the People Summit for Peace
Ira Allen Chapel, UVM Campus, noon-6:30pm. speakers include Rep Bernie Sanders, Rep Dennis Kucinich (Department of Peace), Dr. Steven Rockerfeller (Earth Charter), Comm Ray McNulty and Nina Meyerhof (Peace Academy), and many others."
After reading the report by the London-based thinktank, the IISS, which in a report suggested that Iraq was only a fissile away from nuclear weapons, my opinion on the need for war changed from "Do we have to?" to "get it over with quick...". Given that Israel's survival is our number one Middle East priority after oil, it would clearly be in our best interest to invade Iraq (before Winter term because I may not be here..) soon. The only question is, and I say this a pro-peace activist, can the US sucessfully, effectively and efficciently rid the world of Sadaam while maintaining all the military forces and manuevers that we are doing now? Bobby Novack thinks we're too stretched. Larry Kudlow thinks that we have more than enough elite commandos postioned, and enough powerful airstrikes going, that we can take him out no problem. Any thoughts on this?
Robert Novack wrote a great op/ed (in the Washington Post I beleive) the other day about the difference between democracies and barbarians. He said that barbarians resort to force to persuade their opponents of their arguments whereas democracy places a high value of pulbic deliberation-- the rational presentation of a case and its facts. He also said that 9/11 showed us just how shallow our cultural and value relativism was when true evil was not a matter of preference, but of matters of life-- and death.
How intriguing that he would take about the civilised and the barbarous the day the pro-PLO demonstrators in Canada attacked the building where Netanyahu was going to give a speech. I am no fan of Bibi's but at least he is pro-Israel and not on the left. Moreover, he is generally a good speaker and sometimes has something useful to say. The pro-Palestinians, just like the people they were defending, were not able to argue with him so they turned to what they, and their patron saints, are good at: terrorism and brute force to end the argument.
However, we cannot blame Canada for this alone. Another group of thugs used force to settle and argument: the radical Black students under Amri Barksdale here at College.
"Freedom of speech is not our issue with The Dartmouth Review...They are not within their rights nor freedoms in printing what they do. The Constitution is interpreted to mean that the way one chooses to exercise one's freedom cannot interfere with another's freedom...In light of this perplexing problem, my associates and I decided we would exercise what power we had. Manpower." Funny the correlation between radical activist against the Dartmouth Review and for Arafat's tyranny, and expoltation, of the Palestinian people. They both support freedom of speech by using "manpower" (read: excessive force; forget excessive, just force) to settle and argument due to their barbarous state of nature, which prevents them from employing the tools of civilization: reason and discourse. Freedom of speech through force!
Did you know that most of the faculty dissented and boycotted the Ehud Barak lecture last Spring? They complained that given the crisis in the Middle East, Rocky should have brought someone from the Arab world to balance Barak's opinion. The question that no one asked, or even bother to consider is, where in the Arab world can you find a former Prime Minister? I think that Sadaam Hussein was prime minister of Iraq once...
However, on that note, Steve Chapman has a great piece about the Pakastani dictator who is "buidling democracy" through randomly, and whimsically, admending the constituion. Which intellectual lied to Musharraff and said that democracy was merely about voting? Except in Jimmy Carter's world, there is a liberal, that is respect for the individual, component of democracy also.
Question that I received from someone that I need help with: "Does the school (not just Dartmouth but any you are familiar with) attempt to strengthen the student's moral and ethical character? What is the attitude towards religion among students and staff? Are you happy with the education you are receiving?"
Wednesday, September 11, 2002
Our Dumb Nation
Chien Wen wrote:
September 11, 2001.
How many Americans can tell you the date on which Pearl Harbor occurred? Probably considerably fewer than could tell you when the World Trade Center collapsed. Why? Because, to my consternation, the media is milking this for all it's worth. And come on, can anyone tell me they never heard the words "let's roll" before? I agree, never forget. If we're true to history, though, we will. Either that, or all our memories will be vis-a-vis Paula Zahn. It's a sick, sad world.
Tuesday, September 10, 2002
In Reply to Frank:
Frank Webb wrote:
I am told that in 1942, thousands of American Japanese lined up out the streets to sign up for military service. Has there been any major movement by American Muslims to offer a reply, defence or statement other than "we didn't do it and Islam teaches peace?"
To respond briefly, yes. Many people with the linguistic skills necessary to aid in the execution of our conflict (Urdu, Pashto, Arabic, etc.) who happen to be Muslims contracted with the FBI (and presumably other government organizations) to help translate relevant materials. In addition, Muslims of all nationalities, as well as many many other immigrants, rushed to join the military immediately following the attacks. The difference between WWII and now is that we already have a professional volunteer military, and so it isn't as if people are being drafted to fill its ranks. More people enlist than the military will use in this conflict. Anyway, it doesn't really matter what American Muslims do, they aren't the ones perpetrating these attacks. Likewise, for the Japanese to join our military was not some exonerating behavior; they did so because they wanted to prove their patriotism. Many American Muslims did the same, although Frank seems to be saying they should feel more compelled to do so. Is the suggestion, then, that people should be forced to prove their patriotism? If they do not take this pre-emptive action, are they then guilty of being unpatriotic? Why should American Muslims be offering a reply, defense, or statement? As an American Jew (nominally) I would laugh at you if you told me I had to argue for Israel's actions. You want a response from Muslims, demand it from the Muslims that are cheering "Allah akbar" in the streets of our "allies" while the people that broker the oil deals that keep those pits of squalor in the Middle East afloat are dying in their collapsing office buildings.
Remember the 11th with George W. Bush
As I prepare with some trepidation to head off to work in the center of a giant bullseye tomorrow, it brings me no great pleasure to see that George W. Bush has written a letter in today's New York Times [LINK]. I've excerpted the last paragraph because to me it underlines, with no small bit of irony, the root of the criticism that I've been piling on this administration since it took office, September 11 aside.
Throughout history, freedom has been threatened by war and terror; it has been challenged by the clashing wills of powerful states and the designs of tyrants; and it has been tested by widespread poverty and disease. What has changed since Sept. 11 is our nation's appreciation of the urgency of these issues — and the new opportunities we have for progress. Today, humanity holds in its hands the opportunity to further freedom's triumph over all its age-old foes. The United States welcomes its responsibility to lead in this great mission.
WE AREN'T REALLY DOING ANYTHING. WE'VE BARELY MADE OUR OWN NATION MORE SECURE. If this man fails as a leader now, he isn't just hurting the economy or whatever other mundane First World luxury we take for granted on a daily basis. People can now die in their homes and workplaces, en masse, and I sure as hell don't feel good knowing I could be one of them. The letter is entitled "Securing Freedom's Triumph." A blustery, meaningless title, at the head of a blustery, meaningless letter. To hell with partisanship, people, open your eyes and see that this man is not up to the task of leading a country to do anything effective.
Does anyone else believe for just a generation that if we removed racial labels from our everyday speech, policy, and consideration (especially in our enlightened campus and departments) that race as a socialized concept would cease to exist? Am I being really, really niave? Can we not reverse-socialize? Don't we perpetuate the systems of bigotry and privilege (by either side of the color spectrum) if we condone skin color as an actual, and actionable difference among people? Who is with me in abolishing race categories and thought? I am willing to forget that I was ever considered or did I consider myself "of color." Will both color and not color join me?
Put more concretely, if the Johnson family of Detroit and the Brown family of Cambridge are socio-economically identical and are not from any heritage of recent immigration, why do we still think they're different and not just simply Americans? If the answer is "because everyone will perceive and be biased towards them differently", can't we be the first to put a stop to that? Why do we have to use band-aids instead of curing the problem?
Just a Question
1. We are willing to blame Western Civilization (more recently the United States) for the plundering of the Earth's natural resources, the malcontents of the Lesser-Developed World, the oppression of millions and general evil Imperialism.
2. We are willing to blame Soviet Communism for the economic and social disaster of the former Soviet Republics.
3. Is anyone on this blog willing to blame Middle-Eastern Islamic culture for the attack on the United States a year ago? Anthony? Vijay? Does anyone think them blameless?
I am probably willing to conceed that our culture teaches consumerism and spreads like a virus eating up others, would anyone disagree that the Islam of the Mid-East we've been exposed to teaches violence and hatred of all others who aren't Muslim? I am told that in 1942, thousands of American Japanese lined up out the streets to sign up for military service. Has there been any major movement by American Muslims to offer a reply, defence or statement other than "we didn't do it and Islam teaches peace"?
In response to Diversity
I responded to the WRC with these words:
"I would like to vote for visionary in residence in order of preference:
1. Mary Robinson
3. Ms. Shiva
Whatever you do, please do not invite Hilary Clinton. I have a feeling that like Ehud Barak, she will not offer much vision. Also for 2004, please consider either Caroline Hoxby of Harvard Economics, Catherine Mackinnon, Phylis Schafly, Shanta Driver, or Miranda Massie. I am sure that none of these women need introductions: Hoxby is during research on distribution of resources within education while focusing on methods to strengthen the education of blacks, Catherine Mackinnon and Phyllis Schafly have been on the forefront of social and political activism through legal studies (forces of nature, I might add); Shanta Driver and Miranda Massie have been heavily involved in the Grutter v. Bolinger affirmative action cases out in the sixth district. All of these women would add to the vision and caliber of Dartmouth Students."
I would also like to encourage my peers in this blog to have pen and paper ready in October for the pundits who will descend, like ravens on a carcass, onto the campus to engage in moralistic, poius hand-wringing against the white malovence and structures of power, which hold academia captive. Without ever naming names, the guilt-ridden administrators will lie postrate at the feet of the persecuted minorites, like Dr. West and Dr. Hu DuHart, and beg for some atonement as they recite the PC platitudes of the academic left: "Forgive me Father, for I am prejudiced; Forgive me Mother, for I am a sexist; Forgive me, gender-free entity, for I have not deconstructed enough socially construed stereotypes; Forgive me Son, for your sexism grows because of me; Forgive me daughter, the whole world is against you."
(And now a little punditry)
I must say that I agree with Chien's selection of visionaries (I would prefer to call them the cult of the least blind); only the order of the preference is misguided. I also would like to announce that we are working on a huge project for 2004 and I would like all of you, who are on, to stop by and discuss it with me when you return. I would like it even more if you were to help me formulate the project but I realize that we are very busy people. Let me assure you that this conservative progressive will show the campus what true poltical, social and civic activism is while ensuring diveristy and truth. No more jellyfish liberalism, with its spurious claims of truth on both sides; we will forsake the middle ground between right and wrong and move solidly in the direction of right.
Dartmouth's Center for Women and Gender (formerly known as the Women's Resource Center) sent out a blitz today asking students to vote for their preferred "Visionary-in-Residence" for 2003. Let's take a closer look at the nominees, all of which - surprise, surprise - are women (this information comes from the attachment to the blitz). Everything here, unless indicated, is from the CWG:
1) Julia Alvarez, Writer-in-Residence, Middlebury College. "Her main goal in writing is to make meaning through the telling of stories and to 'remind us.' She crosses class, race, and gender gaps by creating meaning and 'remembering' for all of her readers."
2) Hillary Clinton. [CW: no comments required]
3) Johnetta Cole, Former President, Spelman College. "An advocate for people of color and women everywhere, Cole was named one of America's most outstanding African Americans in the 20th anniversary issues of both Essence magazine and Black Enterprise magazine." [CW: the Review has an article on the occasion of her receiving an honorary Dartmouth degree a few years back]
4) Marcia Ann Gillespie, Editor, Ms. Magazine. "Time Magazine named her 'One of the Fifty Faces for America’s future' and she was voted the March of Dimes’ 'Outstanding Women in Publishing' for her efforts in inspiring all humankind to combat hatred and violence. She has written extensively on issues of gender and race."
5) Amy Goodman, Award-winning Radio Journalist and News Director. "Goodman’s approach to journalism is a type of political activism as she brings awareness to issues that the mainstream corporate media largely ignores and asks the question 'who owns our news?'"
6) Peggy McIntosh, Associate Director, Wellesley College Center for Research on Women. "McIntosh authored the groundbreaking 'White Privilege and Male Privilege: A Personal Account of Coming to see Correspondences through Work in Women’s Studies.' This analysis and its shorter form, 'White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack,' have been instrumental in putting the dimension of privilege into discussions of gender, race and sexuality."
7) Cherríe Moraga, Writer. "Speaking from her commitment and experiences as a Chicana feminist lesbian, she has broken the silences surrounding taboo topics such as sexuality and lesbianism, sexism and homophobia in Chicano culture, and racism and classism in the white women’s movement."
8) Mary Robinson, High Commissioner For Human Rights, United Nations. "Her experience as the first woman president of Ireland (1990-1997) has prepared her well for the role as she placed special emphasis during her presidency on the needs of developing countries, linking the history of the Great Irish Famine to today’s nutrition, poverty, and policy issues." [CW: this article on NRO seems relevant...]
9) Loretta Ross, Executive Director, Center for Human Rights Education. "She is an expert on human rights, women’s issues, diversity, hate groups and bias crimes."
10) Sonia Sanchez, Poet and Professor, Temple University. "An activist trained in the Civil Rights Movement, Sanchez was influenced by the dynamism and the oratory talent of Malcolm X. From him she learned about language and delivery and applied it to her poetry discovering that her words and political activism were to be forever joined."
11) Vandana Shiva, Writer and Activist, Third World Network. "Shiva writes: 'Globalisation is threatening to the ecological gains of the past few decades. It is therefore the defining context of our new engagements.'"
12) Terry Tempest Williams, Writer, Naturalist and Environmental Activist. "She says simply, 'I write through my biases of gender, geography, and culture. I am a woman whose ideas have been shaped by the Great Basin and Colorado Plateau, these ideas are then filtered through the prism of my culture and my culture is Mormon. The tenets of family and community which I see at the heart of that culture are then articulated through story.'"
We have 12 women, all of which may be described as left-leaning, some exceedingly so (that Chicana lesbian feminist, for instance!). That's Dartmouth Diversity (tm) for you. Since I do not wish to sound "close-minded," I am going ahead to vote Ms. Shiva, the Indian physicist and anti-globalization activist, as my first choice, with Amy Goodman and Mary Robinson second and third respectively. However, I have a feeling Dartmouth students will go for Hillary Clinton as their first choice.
More on Butler, Bhabha, the Literary Profession, etc.
1) D.G. Myers takes apart Judith Butler and reveals some disturbing facts about the literary profession today. I am especially disturbed by the following quote:
In the last two years, at least five young scholars have submitted entries, asking that their names not be released if they should win. In an unsigned June 1997 letter, one entrant confessed that he was "loathe to upset senior scholars in my field," since alienating them could do "significant damage" to his career.
"I share this information not merely "to expose" the folly of current writing—there’s enough bad writing going around that adding one more sentence won’t really change much—but to let you know the terror under which many graduate students and junior faculty live. In the current crisis of hiring freezes and intense pressure for tenure, the need to publish is perhaps greater than any time before. Yet to publish in most journals means flinging the jargon, toeing the party line (which is somewhere to the left of gibberish), and quoting the usual suspects (Benjamin, Foucault, Derrida, Said, Jameson, Butler, etc.). I’m often appalled at my own writing, but since jargon, rather than substance, gains a publication, I succumb to verbiage."
Myers's webpage has some great articles on the canon and the teaching of literary theory.
2) My second article is on postcolonialist guru Homi Bhabha. I am impressed by the author's ability to criticize both Bhabha and neoconservative polemicist Roger Kimball at the same time.
Monday, September 09, 2002
I was on a road trip down the east coast this past week. I just got back in to Dartmouth this evening, and got down to some long-needed web-browsing. I found this fabulous article by Mark Steyn in this week's London Spectator. It pretty much sums up the first year since the terrorists waged war on us.
Sunday, September 08, 2002
If the Past serves as reference, then certainly not the United States
In late 1942, Japan's growing web of control over the Pacific Rim was at its peak, but it faced the threat of its ships, war machine, industry and homeland coming to a grinding halt if it didn't get access to more oil and soon. Risking war with nearby Russia might seem a possiblility, but the danger to the home islands too close. The only other answers were strike at the United States and its oil embargo or simply run out of gas and watch the newly created Empire collapse. American foreign policy aimed directly at Japan forced this ultimatum. They resorted to their naval and air attack on American military and naval assets in Pearl Harbor, their strategy being a swift blow would destroy any American spirit of war and end the embargo. Japan attacked military targets to a strategic end.
Before the attacks on September 11th, the links between American foreign policy aimed directly at Islamic states did not so clearly threaten the very survival of their nations or people. American military installations in Saudi Arabia are intended to protect the Saudi's greatest source of income from their aggressive neighbor to the east. The United States was/is the greatest contributor of humanitarian aid to Egypt (and if my memory is correct a few other Mid-East countries). America's greatest sin seems to be the support of the bastard child of World War II, Israel. However confused this position always seems to be, since the early 1990s it has been mostly as attempted peace-maker, and restrainer of Israeli hard-liners.
So, while I think it is certainly arguable that the United States forced the hand of Japan in 1942, I do not believe this was the case with Al Qaeda in 2001. And of course, that is before one remembers that in no way are terrorist means considered anything close to being a legitimate course of action. This was not an act by rouges intended to compliment civil disobediance during a struggle for freedom. Terrorism, according to all civilized national and international law, is never justified. Al Qaeda sought to create the greatest amount of economic havoc on the United States (and by extention the global economy, Europe, South America---ie human civilization) and the loss of as many civilian lives as possible. Understanding their position though intellectually fascinating does not justify the actions of madmen---nor does it place the blame at the feet of the victim. It is a delicate link trying to attach the grievances of Islamic fundamentalists to American foreign policy. Trying to blame the United States for the terrorist attacks on September 11th is logically out of reach and an outrage.
Friday, September 06, 2002
As the 1st anniversary of the terrorist attacks in the US on September 11, 2001, roll around, the looming possibility of US led war in Iraq, frightening evidence suggesting increased racial and religious prejudice in the West, and the present civil turmoil in Afghanistan, Ipsos-Reid, a Canadian research polling institute conducted a survey of Canadians:
Category: Reaction to Major Crises or Events
Public Release Date: September 6, 2002
84% Of Canadians Think That The U. S. Bears Some (69%) Or All (15%) Responsibility For Terrorist Attacks On Them Because Of Its Policies, Actions In Middle East, Other Parts Of World
82% Believe that Osama Bin Ladin is Still Alive
While 61% of Canadians say Federal Government has Done Enough to Support U.S. and its War on Terrorism, 24% say Not Enough, 14% Too Much
Toronto, ONTARIO – A new Ipsos-Reid/CTV/Globe and Mail poll released tonight indicates that 84% of Canadians believe that the United States, because of its policies and actions in the Middle East and other parts of the world, bears some of the responsibility (69%) or all of the responsibility (15%) for the terrorist attacks on them. Fourteen percent (14%) believe that the United States bears none of the responsibility for the terrorist attacks on them.
Further, while 82% of Canadians believe that Osama Bin Ladin is still alive, 61% indicate that the Federal Government has done enough to support the United States and its war on terrorism -- almost identical (62%) to the findings on the exact question in December, 2001. One quarter (24%) of Canadians indicate that the Federal Government has not done enough to support the U.S. and its war on terrorism (23% in December, 2001) and 14% indicate that it has done “too much” (also 14% in December, 2001).
These are the findings of an Ipsos-Reid/CTV/Globe and Mail poll conducted between August 27th and August 29th, 2002. The poll is based on a randomly selected sample of 1,000 adult Canadians. With a sample of this size, the results are considered accurate to within ± 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, of what they would have been had the entire adult Canadian population been polled. The margin of error will be larger within regions and for other sub-groupings of the survey population. These data were statistically weighted to ensure the sample's regional and age/sex composition reflects that of the actual Canadian population according to the 1996 Census data.
Seven in ten (69%) Canadians think that the United States, because of its policies and actions in the Middle East and other parts of the world, bear some of the responsibility for the terrorist attacks on them, while 15% indicate that they believe that the U.S. bears all of the responsibility.
Those most likely to believe that the U.S. bears all of the responsibility are in the province of Quebec (19%).
With 84% believing that the United States bears some or all of the responsibility, the highest levels of sentiment in this regard are reported in British Columbia (89%), Saskatchewan and Manitoba (88%), Alberta (86%), Quebec (85%) and Ontario (83%). The Atlantic provinces are least likely to share this view (74%).
As well, younger Canadians (87%) are most likely to express this view.
As for those who view the U.S. as having “none of the responsibility” for the terrorist attacks made on them, the highest levels of support for this point of view are from Atlantic Canada (20%), Ontario (16%) and those aged 35-54 (16%).
Is Osama Bin Ladin alive? Eight in ten (82%) agree (45% strongly / 37% somewhat) while 10% disagree (6% somewhat / 4% strongly), and 7% indicate that they “don’t know”.
Those who hold the strongest view that Osama Bin Ladin is still alive are in Saskatchewan/Manitoba (87%) and British Columbia (86%) with lowest levels of agreement in Alberta (81%) and Quebec (81%).
Those who are younger (86%) are more likely to believe that he is alive than progressively older generations (81%).
In a follow-up tracking question from December, 2001, Canadians were asked whether the Federal Government has done “too much”, “not enough”, or “enough” in supporting the United States and its war on terrorism. The results indicate virtually identical responses even though the polls were taken eight months apart with 61% indicating the Federal Government has done enough (62% in December, 2001), 24% indicating they have not done enough (23% previously) and 14% indicate they have done too much (14% previously).
Those most likely to indicate that the Federal Government has done enough are from Saskatchewan/Manitoba (73%) and are younger-aged (64%) and women (64%).
Those who are most likely to indicate that the Federal Government has not done enough are from Ontario and Alberta (both at 30%).
Those most likely to believe that too much has been done are from British Columbia (21%).
What do you think of this? What do you think was the US government's roll in the attacks of September 11th? I would like to hear some of your opinions.
Don’t Take It So Seriously
Literary criticism is something of a sensation. It’s the academic literature and writings that many love and many others love to hate. It seems to me, however, that so much serious criticism of literary theory is misguided and that many of us should reconsider how we approach literary theory.
I used to regard most literary theory, along with psychoanalytic theory, and sociological theory, with extreme suspicion. So much of the time, I find the stuff biased, often convoluted, and directionless. I would throw up my hands in desperation and lament saying to myself “is this where academia is headed?”
After talking some with others, I realized that literary theory too often is read seriously. The truth is that literary theory is not and cannot be canonical. It is an ongoing dialogue, not by masters of literature, but by “more senior” scholars. Literary theory is intended to throw around ideas, not to be dogmatic. Unfortunately, both those who love it and those who hate it too often see literary theory as definitive.
Literary theory is here and here to stay. Yes, it’s often political and much of it is published for the sake of keeping professors on tenure track. To treat literary theory fairly, however, we must view it as nothing but an attempt at understanding an author’s words. We must remember that non-academics have as much authority to reject a piece of literary theory as academics, but should not move to condemn literary theory as a whole.
Laura, just as I criticized the Dartmouth administration for getting its "diversity" priorities mixed up, I'm going to take objection to the title of your previous piece, "Why I Love Literary Theory." You should have called it, "Why I Love Literature." I hope you love literature more than you love Theory (and I think you do).
You write, "the fact remains that literary theory is a powerful body of knowledge that has attracted the greatest minds in literary studies in the past twenty to thirty years." The same might be said about Marxism (as a socio-political theory, not just a "literary" one): just because a lot of prominent intellectuals are attracted to something doesn't mean it's true. Besides, there have been plenty of distinguished and principled dissenters as well: Roger Shattuck, Andrew Delbanco, Frank Kermode (widely regarded as this century's greatest critic), Camille Paglia, Helen Vendler, John Ellis, Jeffrey Hart, and Allan Bloom, to name a few. Many ex-Theorists, Frank Lentricchia being a prominent example, have turned their backs on Theory. Consider also that the rise of Theory had a lot to do with the growing professionalization of literary studies and the pressure on scholars to churn out articles on a regular basis, regardless of merit.
The words "powerful body of knowledge" is more equivocal than you think. Powerful yes - but true? It is difficult to place your trust completely in the hands of people who write badly and don't even refer closely to the text in the formulation of their views, which they then proceed to pass off as absolute truth ("Humanism is everything in Western civilization that restricts the desire for power" - Foucault). And what happens when the person happens to be a complete crackpot? I'm speaking here not of any minor theorist, but the great omnipotent Michel Foucault himself. Here is a person who, in 1978, argued for abolishing the age of consent for all sex acts, heterosexual and homosexual, because "It could be that the child, with his own sexuality, may have desired that adult." He also said that "If sex with a boy gives me pleasure - why renounce such pleasure?" [All this comes from the book, The Passion of Michel Foucault, by James Miller.] Normally one tries to make a distinction between a person's writings and his personal life. In Foucault's case, it is impossible.
Laura, you claim that the damage inflicted by Theory really isn't that bad, based on your "English classes and my conversations with other students." But your experiences are pretty narrow. Andrew Delbanco, on the other hand, is a very well-respected scholar with decades of experience in literary studies, and you're calling him sensationalistic and wrong-headed? He's not the only one saying these things, you know.
Stop criticizing Allan Bloom, Harold Bloom, and Jeffrey Hart. Have you read anything these distinguished scholars have written? The Closing of the American Mind, which I just re-read, is a profound and beautifully-written book. And by the way, Allan Bloom regarded Franklin Roosevelt as this century's greatest defender of democracy (so much for him being an "arch-conservative"). He was also a homosexual (as Saul Bellow documents in Ravelstein), but that in no way distorted the vision of education he held. Harold Bloom, like Lentricchia after him, turned away from theory in his later years having grown tired of its excesses. Finally, in what way is Jeffrey Hart "rancourous and ridiculous"? Smiling through the Cultural Catastrophe, despite its title, contains almost no polemics against multiculturalism. It is a learned and passionate defense of the Great Books, and is more well-written than The Western Canon. As for his articles in the Review, well, I think they're very good. Just because you disagree with them doesn't mean that they're "rancourous and ridiculous," yes? My favorite is this one on his strange friendship with...Allen Ginsberg. Another good read is "How to get a College Education."
"[T]he reality is that the intelligent and fascinating analysis of literature today is theoretical." I'm not so sure. I hope you're not implying that non-theoretical analysis is not and/or cannot be intelligent and fascinating. I've read plenty of non-theoretical stuff written during the days of theory that is really quite good. In fact, I regard such efforts even more highly because they're well-written, resist trendiness, and enhance my enjoyment of the poem or novel. Reading Judith Butler is not my idea of a good time.
In truth, Laura, your piece was very sensible. Now if only more people, including some professors here at Dartmouth, shared your views, the literary world would be a better place.
Thoughts on Dartmouth College: Forever New - A Strategic Vision for Tomorrow by President James Wright
The section I would like to focus on is the one entitled "Diversity:"
1. "Diversity, in all its variations, is central to the Dartmouth experience." In all its variations? You sure? How many times is anything but racial diversity referred to explicitly in the lines that follow? Also, does diversity include people who don't think diversity is central to the Dartmouth experience? What about academic excellence?
2. "We must encourage and sustain an environment that welcomes and embraces all students, faculty, and staff." Is it just me, or does this state the obvious? Also, if an environment is all warm and welcoming, is it diverse?
3. "Dartmouth’s commitment to diversity goes back to our founding charter." A clever but ultimately futile attempt at linking social engineering to tradition? I'm not familiar with our founding charter, but I highly doubt the term "diversity" was used anywhere in it - definitely not in the contemporary sense. I wonder what Eleazar Wheelock would have said. Or Daniel Webster. Or Dr. Seuss...
4. "The Class of 2006 is the most diverse class in Dartmouth history." How praiseworthy is this? I would be more gratified to hear about the actual academic and non-academic accomplishments of the class. What are the actual figures, and more importantly, how were they achieved?
5. "We are also gratified by significant recent gains in the hiring and retention of faculty and staff of color." Why should the College be gratified simply because it is hiring more colored people? How capable are these new recruits? And doesn't this come across as rather shallow and patronizing?
6. "A diverse campus is about more than admitting students of color or recruiting a diverse faculty and administration. It is about creating a climate on campus that is welcoming to all and that encourages our students to respect difference and to learn from each other." The words that would be welcome here are "free" and "speech." Does "creating a climate" sound Orwellian or what? Also, how important is respecting difference relative to say, learning how to write well? The two are not necessarily mutually inclusive. Where does sound criticism become disrespecting difference?
7. "The more diverse the student body, the richer the learning environment." A statement that everyone seems to be taking as gospel truth. Has it become dogma? If what we are talking about here is real diversity - Republicans, pro-lifers, Zionists, dead white males included - then the statement gains more credibility. But I have no sign so far of Dartmouth's administration acknowledging these marginalized, oppressed groups. Finally, consider replacing "diverse" with "intelligent" or "intellectual"...
8. "We must continually assess our hiring and retention of minority faculty and staff..." Why minority faculty/staff and not all faculty/staff? Does being a minority grant one special privileges? I thought we were supposed to welcome and embrace all people (regardless of race, religion, gender, etc.)?
9. "We must consider more aggressive recruitment of senior level scholars of diverse backgrounds..." Does "diverse backgrounds" mean even less than "diversity"? If a person's a great teacher and scholar, who cares if he's from New York or Idaho?
10. "We must support faculty efforts to assess the ways in which issues relating to diversity can be more fully integrated into the curriculum and their teaching." Vague, nebulous. Should the Biology department diversify its curriculum (e.g. "The Biology of Race," "Famous Latino Biologists," etc.), or should it seek to improve its standards of teaching? I'm all for more diversity in the English departments, if that means studying writers in English alongside writers who didn't write in English but whose influence on English Literature is immense (Homer, Plato, Dante, Kafka, Flaubert, to name a few).
I'll stop here.