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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.
“This House will in no circumstances fight for its King and Country.” That was a motion passed by the Oxford Union Society on Feb. 9, 1933. Argued by pro-Soviet students and philosopher C.E.M. Joad, the motion supported a pacifist United Kingdom, one built upon peace and tolerance. It was heartily opposed by, amongst others, Quintin Hogg, later Baron Hailsham of St. Marylebone, later a Conservative Party politician, who refused to shake his opponent’s hand at the debate’s conclusion, because he was so angered by what he saw as an unpatriotic resolution.
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.”
This weekend, I’ve seen all kinds of analyses on why President Donald Trump may have not gotten the inauguration turnout that he and his administration predicted. I’ve heard: “It was raining,” “White tarps give the illusion of having less people present,” “People have jobs” and an assortment of “alternative facts.” Whatever else may have been said, these factors unquestionably did not seem to apply the day after, when the largest organized protest in American history came to Washington, D.C. The Women’s March, which started as a small Facebook event, brought together millions people from every single continent in opposition to Trump and his sexist, racist, xenophobic, ableist and anti-science — I’m running out of breath — rhetoric and policies.
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.
Dartmouth students with Prof. Lee Berger (second from left) examining a Australopithecus sediba fossil at South Africa's Malapa excavation site.
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.
“Why isn’t Ireland racist?”
One has to wonder at the fortitude of winter’s merrymakers. From the depths of January, on evenings worn black by nights already eight hours old, you can observe something strange. Scurrying about Webster Avenue in the freezing cold are spectral lumps. These creatures mill over icy roads and through weather-biting winds, and a stench of beer incubates beneath their heavy winter layers to be released as a heady perfume upon arrival at some familiar destination … The cold air often invigorates these inebriates, and it is perhaps at this moment that one of the creatures recalls those now indelible lines from College President Phil Hanlon’s Moving Dartmouth Forward plan: “Our vision is for Dartmouth to be a place of around-the-clock learning.” The student grumbles, to no one in particular, “Around-the-clock what?” before continuing a jumbled march onward, unsure about what this sentence could mean in a world as cold and confusing as ours.