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May is Asian-American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month (AAPIHM) in the United States, and Dartmouth has been recognizing the month through programming over the past few weeks. The theme of this year’s AAPIHM at Dartmouth has been “Counter Currents: Beyond the Surface,” which was meant to highlight and uplift identities and narratives that are typically subsumed and homogenized within mainstream definitions of “Asian,” “Asian-American” and “Pacific Islander.” Much of the programming planned by this year’s AAPIHM committee has centered around deconstructing perceptions of identity and making new connections and solidarities with those identities, which typically do not get included in popular discourse of what being “Asian” is. This impulse toward further reflection, critique and inclusion in Asian-American and Pacific Islander communities should be lauded. In my view, Pan-Asian activists and community members should take a step further and seek to deconstruct how “Asia” emerged as a geographical unit in order to understand how and to what degree myriad people from various populations in “Asia” do and do not self-define as “Asian.”
Yes, this is actually a super big deal for me.
Despite the myriad problems and the issues I have come to see and experience over my years at Dartmouth, my academic experiences and time spent with faculty have been the highlight of my time in Hanover. The one-on-one interactions, engagement and emphasis on undergraduate teaching Dartmouth offers are features of the academic experience that I will miss. In particular, my experiences with Dartmouth’s history department and its faculty have been the most consistently eye-opening and intellectually stimulating part of my Dartmouth career. The history classes, foreign study opportunities, research and faculty engagement I have partaken in have all, in one way or another, had a significant impact on both my personal and professional development as well as the evolution of my intellectual and social concerns. A critical and subversive worldview — which revolves around a concern for inequity and emphases on complicating, contesting or interrogating existing paradigms and ways of thinking — that history professors at Dartmouth have instilled in me will continue to shape my life long after I graduate in the spring.
Like many of my peers, I was baffled at the guest column published in The Dartmouth claiming that it was implausible that this year’s First-Year Trips director and assistant director could have disproportionately selected women for the Trips directorate based on merit alone. The author of the column “You’re Not Tripping” has every right to hold his views, but I am not going to legitimize them by repeating them here.
Last year, the McDonald Centre for Theology, Ethics and Public Life at the University of Oxford announced a project titled “Ethics and Empire” to convene “a series of workshops to measure apologias and critiques of empire against historical data from antiquity to modernity across the globe.” The first colloquium took place from July 6 to 7, 2017, as the opening session of the five-year project. The project’s webpage justifies the need for such a project given the “intense public debate” surrounding issues of colonialism and its legacies in Britain and around the world. The project seeks to challenge the consensus it identifies in scholarship of colonialism that imperialism has been nothing but “wicked; and empire is therefore unethical” so “nothing of interest remains to be explored.” The webpage for the project cites the movement to topple statues of British imperialist and white supremacist Cecil Rhodes as evidence for this imagined scholarly orthodoxy that needs to be challenged, arguing that imperialism had often produced good outcomes around the world.
According to language reference publication “Ethnologue,” Hindi-Urdu (or Hindustani) is the third most spoken language worldwide. The Swedish-language encyclopedia “Nationalencyklopedin” places Hindi, not including the significant number of Urdu speakers, as the fourth most spoken language worldwide by native speakers. Beyond being a beautiful language with a unique history, hundreds of millions of speakers and two different scripts, Hindi-Urdu is a strategically important language for Americans for reasons including scholarship, trade and national security. Why, then, does Dartmouth not have a Hindi-Urdu Program?
When was the last time you sat down with pen and paper and wrote a letter to someone in your own unique and imperfect handwriting? When was the last time you sat down with a cup of coffee and a print newspaper to read about recent events?
As a senior, I now get alumni and first-years asking for my reflections on my experiences and fleeting time at Dartmouth. Like most other seniors, I generally provide advice revolving around the intimate student-faculty academic relationships I have developed and on forging my own identity and academic and professional paths amid the conformist pressures and culture of our small, wooded campus. I would wager most students and alumni are aware of the pivotal importance of these factors, probably to the point of them becoming cliché. But one aspect of the Dartmouth experience that I think gets underplayed are the resources and programs Dartmouth provides to spend time studying abroad. Individual departments and the charming Off-Campus Programs office on College Street work incredibly hard to make studying abroad at Dartmouth accessible, inclusive, seamless and culturally enriching. Statistics are thrown around about how many students study abroad and how accessible it is, but it often is not conveyed just how eye-opening and life-changing spending time outside of your normal sphere of life can be.
Ask anybody what “violence” is, and they will most likely give you a straightforward answer. A Google search returns “behavior involving physical force intended to hurt, damage, or kill someone or something.” Everybody agrees that there is no place for this definition of physical, bodily violence in public discourse and protest. Yet the ways in which perceptions of violence, barbarity and unruliness are deployed in the public sphere through protest, public engagement and policing in America do not always align with Google’s clear-cut definition.
It was announced earlier this month that Equifax, a consumer credit reporting agency, was hacked and the personal and financial information of consumers stolen. It was also recently revealed that Equifax knew about a significant breach of its network in March of 2017, five months before it was disclosed publicly. The company has stated that the hack in March was unrelated to the recently disclosed breach in which millions of American consumers’ personal information was stolen, which is questionable considering both incidents reportedly involved the same hackers.
President Donald Trump left Washington last week for his first international trip as commander in chief. He will be addressing members of all three of the world’s Abrahamic religions during stops in Saudi Arabia, Israel and the Vatican. On Saturday, May 20 he arrived in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and met with Saudi King Salman and a variety of members of the royal family and government.
Islam is whatever a practicing Muslim says it is for them. Period.
Last month, state representative Kim Hendren introduced Arkansas House Bill 1834 into the Arkansas state legislature. Its goal was to ban all of the late professor Howard Zinn’s articles and books from being used in public and open-enrollment public charter schools in Arkansas.
Last year’s Presidential election brought out the fundamental flaws in America’s two-party system. Establishment Democrats and Republicans alike were seen as being status-quo and in bed with big business, Wall Street and the military-industrial complex. The success and popularity of populist insurgent presidential candidates, including now-President Donald Trump and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), was largely an effect of their loud antagonism toward the Washington establishment, corruption and big money.
One of the deciding factors in my choice to attend Dartmouth two years ago was the intimacy of Hanover, the campus, classes and social life. Dartmouth’s “personality” is apparent from Dimensions in April, to Trips in August, to orientation in September. Coming from an impersonal suburban New York town and moving to Hanover, where I experienced the intimacy of Dartmouth was the most profound, and at times uncomfortable, part of my freshman fall.
“This is CNN breaking news.”
Western society has come a long way in redefining and refining its way of looking at Asian and Middle Eastern societies and cultures. Yet despite a reformed method of examining “Eastern” societies and cultures in scholarship, the Orientalist framework still continues to be subtly and unintentionally used on a day-to-day basis, in debates over assimilation and even in the relatively worldly and well-traveled student body at Dartmouth.
For all of its flaws and weaknesses, the United States is still an exceptional country. Despite over two hundred and thirty years of change, America is arguably the greatest country in the world now, just as it arguably was back in 1776, when it began as a democratic republic in an age of empires and kingdoms. The world looks to Washington, D.C. for leadership and strength in times of war and peace, in times of darkness and prosperity. In my opinion, Americans are the most diverse, industrious, innovative and hopeful people on earth. Our real GDP and GDP per capita are among the highest in the world, education is widespread, our economy is robust and our society is stable and secure, and Americans pride themselves on having freedom of speech, opportunity for upward mobility and welcoming immigrants from around the world throughout our history.
If this week’s reaction to last Saturday’s 2016 White House Correspondents’ Dinner is any indication, President Barack Obama was a better comedian than this year’s host, Larry Wilmore, host of Comedy Central’s “The Nightly Show.” Based on the reactions of the celebrities, political figures, pundits and journalists in the Washington Hilton ballroom last Saturday, you would think Obama was the comedian. Obama has traditionally done very well at the Correspondents’ Dinner, his success this year as a charismatic communicator and manipulator of the media is not an isolated event. Indeed, throughout his two terms as president, Obama and his administration have consistently shown themselves to be media masters. In our fast-paced 24/7 news cycle, being prepared to spin issues, frame actions and time public statements is an invaluable skill for the leader of the free world. Obama’s timing, charisma and media skills are impeccable, as evidenced by the White House Correspondents’ Dinner speech. Many conservatives would argue that the President’s media success is due to a liberal media bias. In reality, the media mastery is mostly due to a White House that has taken old tricks for shaping media coverage like friendly interviews and staged leaks and put them on steroids while adding new ones like social media, comedy, content creation and pop-culture references. Additionally, the liberal media is not the only media constituency benefiting from Obama’s savviness. Media organizations across the ideological spectrum are scrambling for access to Obama’s White House. Moreover, the American people love hearing from their president and do not hesitate to share and talk about Obama’s videos, photos, speeches and interviews on social media platforms. This has all led to a revolution in the White House-press relationship. The power balance between the White House and press has tipped toward the government. This is a development that the Obama White House — experts in digital media and no fan of the Washington press — has exploited effectively. Future presidents from both parties will copy and expand upon this approach. According to Mike McCurry, who was press secretary to former President Bill Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky scandal “the balance of power used to be much more in favor of the mainstream press.” Nowadays, sensationalism and the endless media cycle has given the White House an opportunity to develop a media persona — contrary to the restraining effect one would expect. After all, a around the clock news cycle is primed for finding and blowing up every scandal, no matter its size. Obama and his adminstration have managed to turn this idea on its head by deploying well-organized and well-timed media statements that are often immeresed in the language and humor of the moment. During Saturday night’s dinner, Obama evoked current events. He used a video chock full of pop-culture references to depict a parody of his post-presidency plans. He chose to talk about GOP dinner attendees who were asked to order steak or fish, but who instead kept choosing House Speaker Paul Ryan, saying “that’s not an option, people.” Moreover, he cleverly skewered both the mainstream press and depicted his administration’s social media prowess, showing himself embroiled in a fictional Snapchat scandal. Ex-GOP presidential candidates John Kasich and Ted Cruz along with Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton are all well-spoken politicians, but none of them have the same media savviness and charisma that Obama demonstrated during his two terms. The 2016 presidential race has been largely dominated by mogul Donald Trump, who has repeatedly shown his media savviness. Using Twitter, Trump has managed to enthrall the news cycle, keeping all eyes on him. He may not be as eloquent as Obama, but Trump’s timing and charisma are as impeccable as the President’s. He is certainly better than Clinton at limiting, shaping and manipulating the media coverage of himself. Obama’s success as a media master provides an example for whoever finds themselves sitting in the Oval Office come 2017. Future presidents need to be prepared to handle the fast-paced news and social media cycle, and as Obama has demostrated, pop culture refreneces and charisma can go a long way. The White House Correspondents’ Dinner, while not as serious as a solemn address to the country, is a lighthearted medium by which a president can develop a relationship with the public and show of their charm. The American public will certainly miss Obama’s charismatic personality — I know I will.
HBO’s critically acclaimed fantasy drama “Game of Thrones” returns this Sunday with its sixth season. The series has attracted record numbers of viewers on HBO and developed a particularly extensive and active international fan base. Based on the “A Song of Ice and Fire” series of epic fantasy novels written by George R. R. Martin, the television series is set to overtake the books with its sixth season. Without a textual basis for season six, the show’s producer and Dartmouth alumnus David Benioff ’92 and his co-producer D. B. Weiss will have broad leeway in telling Martin’s story. The show’s actors and producers have received widespread praise for their acting, storytelling, production values, scope and complex characters – winning 26 Primetime Emmy awards for their efforts. Why do millions of viewers return to the world of ice and fire year after year to watch their favorite characters get killed off? The popularity of “Game of Thrones” is partially reflective of the broader trend of increasing interest in novel big-budget, high production value television dramas, as well as a more cynical and disillusioned viewing audience.