Over the summer I commuted almost an hour and half every day to Burbank, California. As a Los Angeles native, I’m familiar with the cathartic process of driving. I relish the time spent alone in my car — one of the only times I know I can’t be doing other things. My parents, as liberal Jews, spent much of my childhood listening to NPR. When I was younger I was always bored by talk radio, and even today many parts of the more traditional news stories still make me a little sleepy. But I made a commitment myself to be more culturally aware last summer and made an effort to listen to NPR at least once a day.
As a self-identifying Jew, many of this summer’s top news stories troubled me immensely. I spent my commute listening intently to Israeli and other Jewish correspondents analyze how anti-Semitism has lay dormant for generations after World War II, only to be reawakened by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. My parents were shocked by my constant desire to talk about the anti-Semitic incidents that occurred in Europe. I, on the other hand, was shocked that these events could actually have occurred. From a shooting in a Jewish museum in Belgium to the “heil Hitler” used by followers of French comedian Dieudonne, the fact that our society could possibly have regressed to the views we held prior to World War II mesmerized me. I have considered these events in conjunction with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and recent anti-Semitic occurrences on college campuses. For that reason, this week’s centerfold hits very close to home for me. In fact, all of the rather serious pieces this week relate to my identity as a Jew, anthropology student and Dartmouth community member.
In the past few weeks, it’s been hard not to question some of those aspects of my identity that I used to consider givens. At the same time, this self-reflection has enabled me to understand what parts of me I’d like to keep and what parts I’d like to throw away. Sometimes at Dartmouth it’s easy to feel unhinged, and I find myself returning to bad habits and mentalities I thought I’d abandoned freshman year. As our back page writer posits, I need to dig deeper into my tool kit and recognize that the fluidity of my identity as a college senior is completely understandable.