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(M)odest (P)roposal

Although former editor of the Williams Magazine (nee The Alumni Review) Tom Bleezarde will always be first in EphBlog’s heart, current editor Amy Lovett has done a fine job. Consider this series:

Summer 2018:

The Danger of Normalization

As a proud Williams alum who was shaped by the institution’s stated values (including a commitment to diversity, equity and sustainability), I was shocked to see the Williams platform used to elevate the Heritage Foundation in the spring 2018 issue (“Election Results”). I certainly commend the effort to spotlight a variety of political actors. The danger is ending the conversation there and normalizing the Heritage Foundation’s role in the political landscape without offering a transparent and balanced account of its values, goals and impact. Heritage is considered a “massive marketing machine” for right-wing ideology and is pushing conservative policy even further from the common good. It increasingly influences policy to the detriment of human rights, healthcare access and the environment. Is Williams proud to be affiliated with something so at odds with the intellectual ethos of our community?
—Gabriel Joffe ’11, Boston, Mass.

Fall 2018:

More on Normalization

A letter to the editor highlighting the dangers of “normalizing” the Heritage Foundation specifically—and the views of Republican Ephs like Michael Needham ’04 in general—is excellent (“Letters,” summer 2018). But the writer does not go nearly far enough. Consider this modest proposal: Williams Magazine should never mention any right-of-center views or organizations. Even better: Williams itself should no longer hire Republican/conservative/libertarian faculty, nor should we admit high school seniors like Needham, who show signs of opinions inconsistent with our “stated values.”
—David Kane ’88, Newton, Mass.

Spring 2019:

Even More on Normalization

I read David Kane’s ’88 commentary (“Letters,” fall 2018) four times, at first thinking it must be parody. But he seems deadly serious. What has Williams become? What kind of illiberal college has Williams become to spawn such comments by an ’88 graduate?
—Richard Eggers ’60, Longmont, Colo.

Is a parody which generates three re-readings a success or a failure? It is not for me to say. This problem might have been averted — or maybe not!? — if “modest proposal” were capitalized, as it was in the original submission. But perhaps it is a sign of Lovett’s skill that she removed the capitalization, all the better to force readers like Eggers to think more clearly . . .

Or maybe a “Modest Proposal” is better!

Question: What letter should Kane’s father, and Eggers’ contemporary, David H.T. Kane ’58 write in response? Leave your suggestions in the comments!

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3 Comments (Open | Close)

3 Comments To "(M)odest (P)roposal"

#1 Comment By frank uible On March 18, 2019 @ 9:06 am

Should a typical EphBlogger feel comfortable currently recommending Williams to a well qualified candidate for admission?

#2 Comment By fendertweed On March 18, 2019 @ 9:11 am

That one’s written parody may be seen as real by a presumably intelligent reader may say as much about the writer…. perhaps one is not as rapier sharp as one thinks in one’s attempts at satire.

#3 Comment By John Drew On March 18, 2019 @ 3:00 pm

Ultimately, it is difficult for me to see how anyone could miss your effort at satire. I assume virtually everyone is familiar with Jonathan Swift’s book A Modest Proposal in which he recommends that the poor of Ireland sell their children to be used as food for the rich. As Swift writes:

A young healthy child well nursed, is, at a year old, a most delicious nourishing and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled; and I make no doubt that it will equally serve in a fricassee, or a ragout.

Nevertheless, if Richard Eggers ’60 genuinely thought you were being sincere, then I think it is because your comments reflect the logical consequences of the earlier complaint that Williams College should not offer a platform that “normalizes” conservative think tanks like the Heritage Foundation.

Your comments are quite reasonable if we assume, as Gabriel Joffe ’11 does, mainstream political thought is really just right wing cant, an ideology which should be properly categorized and thoroughly demeaned as a threat to humanity before it is even considered among members of the Williams College community.

In other words, your alarmed reader appreciated the extent to which leftist faculty and administrators have absolutely no tolerance for ideological diversity. Most likely Richard Eggers ’60 is old enough to remember when ideological diversity was highly valued at Williams College and the extent to which such diversity has now become extinct.