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Josh Kauderer ’19’s Jan. 27 guest column — published on Holocaust Remembrance Day, the very day that President Donald Trump signed an unprecedented executive order targeting Muslim refugees and immigrants — trades on the tired argument that criticism of Israel amounts to anti-Semitism and suggests that Jewish people are the religious group that most needs defending in today’s society. Kauderer so confuses and dilutes the meaning of anti-Semitism and what Jewish values ought to stand for that I struggle to decide where to spend my 800 words setting the record straight. However, two salient points stand out to me as most important.
I met an exceptionally brave Dartmouth woman. Her friends describe her as wicked smart, amicable, bubbly and generous. She knows herself as a woman of color who struggles with eating disorders and negative body image.
If it hadn’t been for an alumni interviewer, I never would have gone to Dartmouth. As a student at a rural Vermont high school with no history of Ivy League success, I simply wouldn’t have stood out among the other qualified applicants. Thanks to the efforts of my interviewer, Bill Schillhammer ’76, my application made it to the top of the pile. I never forgot what he did for me, and after graduation I wanted to do the same for other applicants who might not seem like obvious choices.
For the first time in my life, I’ve started to question what it means to be an American. Given the events of the past year or so, I’m probably not the only one. As an immigrant, my life in the United States hasn’t been all sunshine and rainbows. There have been times when a heavy looming cloud of dysphoria shrouded me in darkness. It can be hard to feel at home when your place of birth, most of your family and large parts of your identity are 5,000 miles away.
In the new Trumpian era, opinion writers everywhere — whether in The New York Times or on our Facebook news feeds — warn us not to allow the kind of rhetoric both our new president and the groups he emboldens to be normalized. To this end, millions marched on Jan. 21 to show they would not stand for attacks against women, LGBTQIA individuals and minority communities.
Cartoon of the day: Steve Bannon's White House.
“Hail to the Chief” is the worst song in the United States’ patriotic oeuvre. “America the Beautiful” tells us of “amber waves of grain” and “purple mountain majesties,” and “The Star-Spangled Banner” evokes our pride in the broad stripes and bright stars of that red, white and blue beacon of freedom. But “Hail to the Chief” implores us to pledge cooperation with and salute one person. The tune suggests blind acceptance and adoration of a man, not an ideal.
It is easy to think about the world today and be depressed. The sun rarely shines in the winters and every day you get a bit further behind in class. People continue to pour kilotons of carbon into the atmosphere and continue to ignore the millions of refugees displaced, in part, by our own actions. On Jan. 20, as the Hanover sky assumed its dull grey shade, President Donald Trump’s inauguration hung its own cloud over the future of our country.
Henry David Thoreau argued that citizens should not “resign [their conscience]” to legislation. “I think that we should be men first, and subjects afterward,” he wrote. “It is not desirable to cultivate a respect for the law, so much as for the right. The only obligation which I have … is to do at any time what I think right.”
On getting down to business with a charlatan.
The Electoral College affirmed Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States on Dec. 19, 2016. Critics of the president argued that his election would empower anti-Semitism and, unfortunately, those predictions may be correct. The Southern Poverty Law Center studied 867 hate incidents that occurred in the 10 days following Election Day and classified 100 of those as anti-Semitic. Many incidents took place on college campuses. In New York, swastikas were drawn on several suite doors in a residence hall at the New School. A swastika was also drawn in a residence hall at the State University of New York at Geneseo. Anti-Semitic graffiti, including the words “Heil Trump” appeared at a bus stop at the University of California at San Diego. Jewish faculty members have also been targeted. At Oberlin College, a professor found a note outside his home that said “Gas Jews Die” and a professor at Harvard Law School received a postcard that said, “We’re gonna drain the swamp at Harvard Law” and closed with a Nazi-era phrase, “Juden Raus,” meaning “Jews out.”
Underneath the sweat of the Malapa excavation team and Dartmouth students laid the fossilized bones of our ancestors. Kneeling with my peers, sweeping away layer after layer, we explored the earth for clues into our past. Paleoanthropologist Lee Berger paced back and forth, looming over us as we excavated the site that he and his son Matthew had found eight years before.
While it is difficult to gauge accurately the size of inauguration crowds — the National Park Service has not conducted a formal head count of crowds gathered at the National Mall since 1995 — the aerial photos published by National Public Radio show a startling difference between the turnout for former President Barack Obama’s 2009 inauguration and President Donald Trump’s inauguration last Friday. For a man who prides himself on drawing large crowds, this comparison probably did not sit well with Trump. In fact, the NPS was ordered by the White House to stop tweeting on Friday after sharing the photos comparing the crowd at Obama’s 2009 inauguration with the obviously smaller one at Trump’s.
Any discussion of flag burning must start from one critical point: it is constitutionally protected as free speech per the Supreme Court’s decision in United States v Eichman. Last Friday, Timothy Messen ’18 gathered a group of people of different views together for a discussion on flag burning — and I walked away from the Green that day, more confident in human goodness and able to rethink the way we treat those with whom we disagree.
At Dartmouth, Greek letters float across Tuck Drive and through Baker lobby on t-shirts and sweatshirts. Our affiliation has practically become a suffix to our names. Most Wednesday evenings call for a flood of text messages across campus with the words, “Are you going to meetings?” We speak Greek, we engage in Greek politics and we breathe Greek each time we enter a fraternity basement and inhale the sickly-sweet aroma of stale beer and other fluids I’d like to forget. That most of us hardly notice the stench anymore is proof of the pervasiveness of Greek culture.
Activism isn’t activism unless it has the ability to bring about political or social change. Burning the American flag is, quite literally, too incendiary to accomplish that task. It won’t breed constructive, meaningful discourse. It won’t even make a nuanced statement about how a subset of the currently disenfranchised are feeling. And perhaps most critically of all, burning the flag gives President Donald Trump’s followers evidence to support their claims that those who oppose the new administration are anti-American.
Colorblindness: a cartoon.
There is a literary motif of a line of thrones filled with carvings of kings and queens: the first rulers with wise, kind faces in a line that descends into an ending of cruel and twisted effigies. Here lies a metaphor for the sweep of history, with societies first valuing noble, gracious sovereigns, then — through strife and corruption — selecting instead those of lower moral bearing.
Even before the impending presidency of Donald Trump, American culture has seen a trend of growing isolationism. With just a computer, one can live in a personalized (albeit lonely) virtual world. Facebook conveniently filters out alternative viewpoints, providing fake news to your liking. You can use Tinder and Friendsy to mechanically swipe through faces instead of meeting people in real life.
One of my earliest memories of President Barack Obama was his speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, back when the Democratic Party still preached straightforward, persuasive ideologies. I was only a 6-year-old back then, but the memory of his message that night still lingers on with me. That eloquent message of optimism and hope, unity and patriotism, unselfish motives and unfaltering strength. It wasn’t even his election, but it certainly seemed so; Obama spoke for his party’s candidate — then-Sen. John Kerry — but it almost seemed he was offering his own story and his vision for the first time.