A handwritten letter on crisp sheets of heavy stock paper is an uncommon and cherished possession in this day and age, a tangible sentiment, a time capsule. It is a substantial artifact to be kept near at hand: in a nightstand drawer, folded in a book, stored in a collection, held in a box with other pieces of a treasure trove, hidden in plain sight in one’s personal “Room of Requirement,” or under a floorboard. It is only to be brought out once in a while, to recall a poignant memory or valuable confirmation. Letters we write and receive change our story; they penetrate our surface existence and reveal our identity, what we love and what we scorn.
Last Friday, Hamilton College hosted the Model African Union Conference for the New York Six. The keynote speaker was Adama Dieng, the Special Adviser to the UN Secretary-General on Genocide Prevention. Mr. Dieng spoke about Myanmar, a country in Southeast Asia. Myanmar (formerly Burma) has a population of roughly 53 million people. While its major religion is Buddhism, there are 1.1 million Rohingya in Myanmar, according to a recent article posted by the Qatar-based news organization Al Jazeera. According to the article, the Rohingya are a Muslim-majority ethnic group who have lived in Myanmar for centuries. During his keynote address, Dieng spoke of the mass persecution of the Rohingya peoples . His message was simple: action must be taken. The world cannot stand by and let Myanmar government carry out these atrocities on its own people.
Turn on Fox News between 8 and 11 p.m. and watch for an hour. There is a good chance that you will hear the words “liberal elitism.” Occasionally, liberal elitism is referred to as “northern” or “coastal” elitism, due to the locations (the Northeast and the West Coast) of these liberal elitists. While the Oxford English Dictionary has yet to define the term, resources such as the Washington Post, National Review, the Huffington Post, and the Independent have attempted to provide a definition. The most concrete definition I’ve found is from Wikipedia, which defines liberal elitism as “a pejorative term used to describe politically leftists, whose education had traditionally opened the doors to affluence and power and form a managerial elite.”
Amid peaceful protests, Dr. Paul Gottfried discussed his book Fascism: The Career of a Concept last week with Professor Alfred Kelly’s “Nazi Germany” class and interested guests. Gottfried introduced his lecture with brief commentary about both liberals’ and conservatives’ use of the label “fascist” to condemn either side of the political spectrum. According to Gottfried, the use of “fascism” as a label for any movement that is not derivative of Benito Mussolini’s Italian fascist movement is simply inaccurate.
Few literary commentators would dispute that Wilfred Owen was one of the greatest war poets of the last hundred years. He wrote from personal experience as a British soldier in World War I. Surprisingly, these poems were written in just over a year, and of those he fought with, few knew he had such a gift.
Hamilton College is acknowledging the hundredth anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution with displays of crimson banners, books from International Publishers (a Communist organization), and visages of Lenin in the library.
This month, Austria and the Czech Republic held general elections. The results in both countries represent the latest step in right-wing populism’s march through Europe. On October 15, Austrians voted for Sebastian Kurz, a 31-year-old ex-foreign minister and head of the center-right OVP (Austrian People’s Party), to be their next chancellor. After his appointment to the OVP’s top spot last May, Kurz revitalized his stagnant and floundering party, bringing it from a dismal 20 percent support to 31.5 percent in the election. Discussion of migration dominated the campaign. Kurz capitalized on popular concerns about this issue, promising to close the Mediterranean Route, a major path African migrants take to reach Europe, and arguing that “on a European level we need to fight hard to put a stop to immigration.” Interestingly, the OVP’s embrace of nationalism did not prevent the far-right Freedom Party (FPO) from gaining ground; the FPO also climbed 5% to 26%, finishing just behind the second-place Social Democrats.
On Tuesday, October 3, the Office of the President and the Government Department hosted “Free Speech on Campus,”a panel discussion. Following opening remarks from President Wippman about the role of free speech and the First Amendment at Hamilton, Professor Rob Martin introduced the panelists.
Last month, Attorney General Jeff Sessions set off controversy with his address to Georgetown University law students warning that free speech is under attack on college campuses. He lamented the loss of “academic freedom” and criticized universities for creating a “shelter for fragile egos.”