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Monday, June 28, 2004
So What's interesting in This Wide World

I will tell you. Pride before Patriotism. And if you think that I am coming up with some sort of cliche, I'm not. Since I am down in Princeton, we get the news of NYC a little more readily.

Last weekend, there were the Pride Marches all over NYC. A group of us here were watching the Fox New's coverage of pride (it was, sadly enough, limited to the normal-looking people and banners on gay marriage). Rumor has it that Prof. Butler has a piece in the Nation on what the gay civil rights movement should, and shouldn't be, focusing on. Her argument is, from what I've heard, is that gay marriage isn't it. I'll read it and get back to you with some 'expert' commentary. But did any of our readers out there go to pride? I'd love to hear about it.

This weekend is the 4th of July. This is the weekend where we get to reflect on where we have come from as a nation and where we are going. From those ancient founding, the noble and problematic political constitution began in the aftermath of a war of independence and a failed confederation. Through many trials, tribulations and triumphs we arrive today (the shortest history lesson ever) emerged in multiple struggles for recognitions, rights, and access. International capitalism and transnational market society has shrunk the borders of the world, bringing all the peoples of the worlds, with their cultures, problematics and concerns into the realm of the immediate world through immigration and asylum. The main question that we should have for ourselves, as participants and shapers of this modern democracy, is: are the policies, attitudes, and values of this nation (from the behavior of tourists to the policies of the current administration) consistent with *both* the inchoate universalism of the founding and the enlightenment that came from the various social, legal, and political projects to realize this inchoate inclusivity? If your answer to that is "no", then what can you do, in the now, to make a step in that direction?

Pride before Patriotism

Monday, June 14, 2004
Putting my AB in perspective

A fellow countryman of mine who entered MIT four years ago -- the same time I matriculated at Dartmouth -- as a college freshman has just graduated with a PhD in Economics. At the age of 23. I am positively flabbergasted.

Saturday, June 12, 2004

A hearty congratulations to my friend and fellow Alpha Thetian Savina Rizova for becoming the class of 2004 valedictorian. She's the second Bulgarian in two years to win the award.

Melissa Sheiko, the salutatorian, was on my DOC Trip. She's cool too.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004
P. J. O'Rourke on conservative talk radio

A must-read piece in the Atlantic by the typically hilarious P. J. on Ann Coulter, Bill O'Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, Al Franken, and the rest of that sorry bunch of loudmouths.

I tried watching The O'Reilly Factor. I tried watching Hannity shout about Colmes. I tried listening to conservative talk radio. But my frustration at concurrence would build, mounting from exasperation with like-mindedness to a fury of accord, and I'd hit the OFF button.

I resorted to books. You can slam a book shut in irritation and then go back to the irritant without having to plumb the mysteries of TiVo.
Andrew Sullivan, commenting on the same article, says that O'Reilly reminds him of "a drunk Irish uncle at Christmas, who can't shut up and cannot be argued with."

Have the Saudis hired this man to be their new PR guy?

The Saudi information office, in response to one of Daniel Pipes's correspondents:

Wahhabism is a term coined by an element of the western media. No Saudi identifies himself/herself as a Wahhabi. Wahhabism is a myth. There is no Wahhabi sect. There is only one form of Islam, and it is the same Islam practiced by al 1.5 billion Muslims all over the world.

Read the entire letter. It's a masterpiece of duplicity and double-speak.

The Practical Humanities

Here's an idea you don't hear about too often. Earl Shorris, founder and chairman of the Clemente Course in the Humanities, a college-level course in the humanities for people living in poverty, thinks that poor people should be reading Shakespeare and Plato. Says Shorris:

If one has been "trained" in the ways of poverty, left no opportunity to do other than react to his or her environment, what is needed is a beginning, not repetition. The humanities teach us to think reflectively, to begin, to deal with the new as it occurs to us, to dare. If the multi-generational poor are to make the leap out of poverty, it will require a new kind of thinking — reflection.
Reflection for Shorris, thank goodness, doesn't involve pandering to political correctness:

The course places great emphasis on the Greeks, as it should. Their work has lasted and influenced all the world that followed simply because of its quality. It did not endure for reasons of the race or gender of its authors. Moreover, those dead white European males, especially the Greeks, were not the Establishment, they were the great troublemakers of history. Their art spurred people to think reflectively, to question the status quo. Our students deserve nothing less. If we were to deny them these conversations with the great ideas and give them instead a curriculum based on race or gender, we would be cheating them. And they have already been cheated. Society has already denied them access to the very works and ideas that bring people legitimate power in a democracy. That is why they are poor, why their parents were poor.
Read the whole interview here. (Link courtesy of the Straussian News Blog.)

Strange bedfellows

Ralph Nader appears on Pat Buchanan's American Conservative magazine and "makes a pitch for the disenfranchised right." More evidence that the far left and far right are not quite as far apart as they may seem.

Update: Dartmouth government professor Daryl Press has a co-authored piece, "Come Home, America," in that same issue of TAC. Unfortunately, it's unavailable on the web.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004
Buruma on Lewis

Ian Buruma has a thoughtful review of Bernard Lewis's From Babel to Dragomans in the latest New Yorker.

I should add that Buruma's latest book Occidentalism (co-authored with Avishai Margalit) is a quick and excellent read.

Monday, June 07, 2004
Intolerance Watch

The Village Voice's theater critic Michael Feingold has gone crazy:

No U.S. president, I expect, will ever appoint a Secretary of the Imagination. But if such a cabinet post ever were created, and Richard Foreman weren't immediately appointed to it, you'd know that the Republicans were in power. Republicans don't believe in the imagination, partly because so few of them have one, but mostly because it gets in the way of their chosen work, which is to destroy the human race and the planet. Human beings, who have imaginations, can see a recipe for disaster in the making; Republicans, whose goal in life is to profit from disaster and who don't give a hoot about human beings, either can't or won't. Which is why I personally think they should be exterminated before they cause any more harm.
I thought at first these comments might have been tongue-in-cheek. But re-reading the article again, I can't help but conclude that they were in earnest. Outrageous.

Well, that's it then. With "Answering the Oven Bird: Frost's Metaphors of Modernity" done and dusted, I can now look forward to Sunday and look backward to four great years here at Dartmouth. I'll post more closer to Sunday.

Saturday, June 05, 2004
Ronald Reagan has passed away

Friday, June 04, 2004
A belated response to Prof. Vernon Takeshita

This comes by way of my old friend Vijay Rao '03, NOT ME. Please direct all comments to him.

I must take issue with Prof. Takeshita's attack of Trustee Rodgers' intentions. The issue is Dartmouth's definition of diversity, and it's clear that these two men disagree. However, Prof. Takeshita chooses to play the man, and not the ball, and attacks Rodgers and his company Cypress Semiconductor, charging both of racism. This is a serious charge, and Prof. Takeshita needs more than just innuendo and tales about "old Asian American guys" to justify it. Rodgers has defended himself against these charges elsewhere, and it makes no sense for me to go over them.

However, I do have something to add to this discussion, and it's in response to Prof. Takeshita's mischaracterization of what goes on with regards to temporary work visas like the H1-B program and the outsourcing of technical work to other countries. Prof. Takeshita is just plain wrong about these two phenomena. He says, "Getting special quotas for foreign workers, outsourcing jobs during times of rising American unemployment –-- what sort of example is set by Cypress Semiconductor?" This is shameful, especially for someone who's a professor. Professors and researchers at Dartmouth (and Tuck) have done studies and concluded that outsourcing services will be a long-term plus for our economy and will actually contribute to creating more and better jobs for Americans. I would encourage Prof. Takeshita to have a chat with Prof. Douglas Irwin of the Economics department who has written about the outsourcing issue. I have a feeling Prof. Irwin has spoken to more people about this than just a few "old Asian American guys."

And what about H1-Bs? Attracting highly-skilled people to the U.S. has long been accepted practice in the American corporate and academic worlds. How can a Dartmouth professor lament the influx of skilled foreign workers and not at the same time condemn the influx of talented foreign students to colleges like Dartmouth? After all, aren't these foreign students taking up spaces otherwise meant for American students. Oh wait, I'm sorry - Colleges know what's up with diversity and so it's ok for them to look outside the country. But the corporate world? We all know they're the bad guys are, right?

What gets my goat about all this is a very simple issue. Beneficiaries of welcoming work visa programs and services outsourcing initiatives are highly educated, motivated and enterprising young individuals from third-world countries trying to improve their lives and hitch a ride to the American dream. What business is it of Prof. Takeshita's or any other arm-chair intellectual to suggest, without basis, that this is hurting Americans, and then to somehow suggest that such practices are in fact racist? Such protectionist talk only hurts the poorest nations in the world, and continues a cycle of poverty and depravity. Is this what Prof. Takeshita really wants? If I were looking to affix the label of racist based just on suggestion and innuendo, I wouldn't need to say much else. Having met Prof. Takeshita and taken multiple classes with him as an undergrad, I know better. He should too.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004
Rodgers responds...again

New Dartmouth trustee T. J. Rodgers is quite clearly fed up with being constantly called a racist. Read his response to History professor Vernon Takeshita here.