A Dickensian Curative

In the fall of 1843, Charles Dickens walked the empty streets of London late at night wrestling with the question: Are there answers to humanity’s indifference, negligence and lack of charity? Is there solace to be found in a holiday tale? From those solitary walks, sometimes ten to twenty miles at a time, the idea for a story grew and blossomed. Dickens completed A Christmas Carol in six weeks and published it on December 17, 1843. The first edition sold out in three days. A Christmas Carol had touched a nerve. It was an otherworldly remedy for a world-weary age, and an unsettling admonition to those who neglected the poor and destitute. It was his tribute to the “Spirits of Christmas,” and it served as a counterbalance and restorative measure against societal apathy and community disconnect. Dickens did not call for a government solution to poverty, a new program, or a symposium. He asked his readers to change how they interacted with their fellow voyagers, to be a kinder, more generous, and better version of themselves.

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Incomplete Reporting and Covington Catholic

On January 18, a short video showing a smiling white teenager in a Make America Great Again hat standing face-to-face with an elderly Native American banging a drum, while a number of other white teenagers stood behind them, was widely shared on social media and reported on by media outlets. The event, known as the Covington Catholic incident for the high school these teens attended, has added fuel to the long-running national debate about the integrity of our news media.

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The Use of History, Then and Now

During the first discussion, “History: Past and Future,” panelists at the recent AHI conference debated the ways Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson used history. For a conference organized by a history professor and a panel laden with historians, that question seemed fitting but awkwardly put. While everyone in the room knew what Steve Ely, the moderator, was asking, I chafed against the phrase “use history.”

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High Fashion and "Class Appropriation": How Much is Too Much?

While shopping in Boston over fall break, I stepped into The Frye Company and wandered around the high-end footwear store looking at various men’s boots. Stopping at a pair labeled “Prison Boot,” I could not help noticing the price. They were $378.00. I put them back and continued browsing. The next pair I found was called “The Union Worker Boot”—priced at $298.00. The irony was not lost on me. There is little chance that Frye sells these boots to their namesakes. It markets them to a wealthy clientele.

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Why So Many Brazilians Support the Far-Right Candidate

I neither support nor condone many of Jair Bolsonaro’s views, especially those related to homosexuals, people of color, minorities, and women. I believe that Brazil’s ethnic diversity and national pride in its rich cultural heritage define us as a nation. I also believe, however,  that over the past few years it has become a completely different country. After moving to Rio de Janeiro in 2013, I witnessed first-hand the rapid decline in Brazil’s economy. Facing its longest recession in history, the economy suffered eight consecutive quarters of shrinkage. The combination of economic decline, a fearful spike in crime -- with a record-high homicide count of 63,880 people in 2017 -- and corrupt politicians makes it safe to say that Brazil is in a crisis. For these reasons, Brazilian citizens are looking for a last resort, someone to change the country’s course. Many, including myself, believe that right-wing populist candidate Jair Bolsonaro is our only hope.

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Henry Ossawa Tanner and Gateway, Tangier

As the age-old adage goes, “Every painter paints himself.” Countless artists including Michelangelo, Raphael, Artemisia Gentileschi, Rembrandt, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Vincent van Gogh, Marc Chagall, Frida Kahlo, Jackson Pollock, Georgia O’Keeffe, Andy Warhol, and even Lucien Freud have revealed as much. If painters paint themselves, then paintings say something of real consequence about their biographies.

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