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Our America

Our America: President Skunk

- By Jim Hicks

Yep. Though I probably should avoid mixed mammaliaphors, I do think I’ve belled that cat. Skunks have a certain well-earned reputation; it’s not one they earn by making friends. Few—at least outside their immediate families, which tend to be small—can stand to be around them for long. One wonders how they ever manage to reproduce, and one may well suspect that a certain amount of inbreeding is involved. One thing is clear: when this animal is nearby, you’ll know it. The stench remains and is notoriously difficult to remove. Often, when something has been thoroughly soiled, the only remedy is burning.

The power of a skunk is singular, it has to be said. All the skunk needs do is threaten to spew—which it does indeed do, we’ve seen that...

Our America

Lazarus and Liberty

- By Peter I. Rose

Extending “World Wide Welcome”

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!”
cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my...

Our America

Our America: Socialism or Barbarism

- By Jim Hicks

“If people don’t want to listen to you, what makes you think they want to hear from your sweater?” Fran Lebowitz

I want to tell the story of a T-shirt. Not material history—not the story of its cotton, possibly Egyptian, of the history of child labor in the Nile basin, or of recent efforts toward sustainable agriculture, and not of the T-shirt’s manufacture, in, say, Bangladesh, Cambodia, or India, and of the...

Our America

Cultural Memory in the Present

- By Michael Rothberg

Dear President Tessier-Lavigne and Provost Drell,

I am writing to you as a scholar of the Holocaust and as a two-time Stanford University Press author. I was distressed to read this past week in various news sources that you plan to significantly cut support for the press. According to those who work closely with SUP, this cut could lead to the demise of one of the nation’s premier outlets for academic scholarship. It is difficult for me to understand how one of the world’s richest educational institutions could be so shortsighted as to risk such a dire outcome, even in a budget year that you have described as “tight.” I am writing in the hope that you can still be convinced to reverse this misguided decision and save the reputation of your university....

Our America

Prove TINA Thought Wrong

- By Jim Hicks

So… I got the news yesterday, while listening to my car radio, and then almost drove off the road.

I immediately pulled over and checked my email: two of my friends from Hampshire College had already written, and a third would soon after. Like them, though mostly for them, I felt as if an unseen weight had suddenly lifted. I’m not by temperament pollyannish, and I do realize that the most difficult, the real work begins now. Nonetheless, the resignation of the Hampshire College president and several key members of its Board of Trustees makes that work possible, and the appointment of Ken Rosenthal as interim president seems an ideal solution. The way is now clear for Hampshire College to do what it does best: to reinvent itself, and, by doing so, to reboot liberal...

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