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Eph Reactions To the Death of Bin Laden

A sampling from across the political and intellectual spectrum:


Williams Couples

Given how much we complained how little dating there was at Williams when we were students, it’s fascinating how many of my classmates are married to each other.  And of those couples that formed while we were in the Purple Valley, it seems the better part survived long after those happy golden years.

As I drive now down the eastern seaboard, heading first south before turning north with the ultimate destination of Williamstown for my reunion, I have visited family members and friends, including two Williams couples.  I am now in Charlotte, North Carolina. staying in the home of a good friend from the Class of 1987 and her husband, also of that year.

They are now the second coupled classmates I have met on this journey, the others from 1984.  Pardon the double negative, but I had never not known the elder couple as anything but a couple.  What I didn’t know was that they waited until five years after Williams to marry.

I had just always assumed that they would.

As to the second couple (whose hospitality I now enjoy), well, I can still recall learning of their romance when she wrote me in Germany (where I was then living), telling me of this guy she met and had started dating.

Now, these couples met at Williams, but going through my reunion book, I found quite a number of couples who got together only after graduation.  Perhaps, some day, someone will study why it is that people who knew each other as Williams waited until after graduation to connect.  But, for now, I will just note the high percentage of people who started dating at Williams and ended up married.

From my experience at least, It seems almost that if the relationship survived Williams, it would survive into the real world.


Blatt ’85 on Coakley ’75

Dan Blatt ’85 on Martha Coakley’s ’75 loss.

Perhaps, because I was dining with my fellow Ephs (graduates of Williams College) last night that I defended our fellow alum Martha Coakley as I had on this blog just after her defeat last week. She was waging the right kind of campaign for a special election in a jurisdiction which overwhelmingly favored her party.

When, however, she began to realize she had a race on her hands, her campaign had about ten days to shift strategies before voters trooped to the polls. Now, in the wake of her defeat in that overwhelmingly Democratic jurisdiction, national Democrats are already hitting the panic button even though there are more than nine months until Election Day. While Democrats don’t have the full length of a human gestation cycle to come up with a new strategy, they have time.

National Democrats don’t have the same excuse Mrs Coakley did. In that accelerated campaign, the Massachusetts Democrat didn’t have much time to shift strategy. Where Democrats have months, she had days. They’re hitting the panic button when they should be deciphering the results, reviewing the change in the electorate and developing a strategy to respond to those results and those changes.

I think that the debate over Coakley’s loss is one of the more interesting political discussions happening right now, as we have seen at EphBlog in recent threads. Consider John Judis writing at TNR:

The senior citizen vote overlaps to some extent with the white working-class vote, but it has a special importance because these voters come out disproportionately in midterm elections. If the Democrats continue to lose the senior vote, as Coakley appears to have done in Massachusetts yesterday, they will get clobbered in November 2010. We’re not talking two or three senate seats, but as many as eight, and not 20 or 25 House seats, but maybe between 30 and 40. To avoid a calamity on that level, Democrats will have to answer a difficult question: Why have these two groups distanced themselves in the last year, and particularly in the last few months, from Obama and the party?

Read the whole thing. Much of Judis’s argument (and neither he nor TNR are notably rightwing) parallels PTC’s claims about the “Townie Vote.”

But, as always, my favorite method for settling a debate like this is to use your position to make a forecast that might, or might not, come to pass. If the Democrats are crushed in November, then you would be hard-pressed to claim that Coakley’s campaign mistakes played a major role in her loss. On the other hand, if the Democrats do OK (lose some seats but not many), then those (like me) who think that Brown’s victory highlights major public disapproval of Obama/Democrats should admit that they were wrong. Any takers?


Mrs. Schlafly Comes to Williams

The following was written by B. Dan Blatt ’85 and originally posted at GayPatriot – “the Internet home for the American gay conservative”

Of the events I organized when I was at Williams, one lecture stands out as genuine accomplishment. It made a difference in campus dialogue and so helped define the quality of the college.

Offended that when angry feminist Mary Daly spoke at the college she refused to take questions from men, I spearheaded a group of conservative students to set up the James A. Garfield Society (named in honor of the President shot on his way to his Williams reunion). We raised money from the Political Science Department, the college’s Lecture Committee, College Council and the Young America’s Foundation to bring Phyllis Schlafly to Williamstown. Mrs. Schlafly agreed to take questions from male as well as female students.

The Women’s Studies program refused to support the event while a number of left-wing faculty members, incluiding Anne Margolis who would later be denied tenure, threw a hissy fit, upset that this leader of the movement to defeat the Equal Rights Amendment would speak at our college.

While these faculty members couldn’t bear to hear an opposing point of view, students, including many left-of-center ones, were preparing for the lecture. My peers checked out all her books from the library. Some searched out her articles and public statements through the Reader’s Guide to Periodical Literature–how we tracked down news in the days before the Internet.

They were helped out by one distinguished professor. Rosemarie Tong, a feminist scholar in the Philosophy Department, who alerted them to articles by and about Mrs. Schlafly. Professor Tong joined conservative students at the dinner we held before the lecture.

Liberal students prepared themselves to “do battle” with this conservative icon by familiarizing themselves with Mrs. Schlafly’s ideas. And when she spoke to a crowd of well over 1,000 (we will never know the exact number because Chapin was filled beyond capacity), they listened. There were no cat-calls, no hissing, just a polite silence.

As soon as we opened the floor for questions, however, they start firing away, not with insults but with well thought-out questions. No one called her names, but they did challenge her ideas. Mrs. Schlafly was unflappable, keeping her cool even after numerous feminist students pressed her at a reception afterwards.

Shortly after the lecture, I approached a classmate who, after reading one of Mrs. Schlafly’s books, asked a particularly tough question. I said that I didn’t think the conservative speaker answered. “Oh, but she did,” my classmate replied and went on to explain why she felt her non-answer was an answer. She came away more convinced of the merits of her own feminist ideas.

Other women with whom I spoke reached different conclusions about the address, with one practically glowing; she had heard her worldview affirmed in front of a large audience.

Like many of our peers, she joined in the many discussions around campus sparked by Mrs. Schlafly’s lecture. Whenever I visit the college and look up my favorite Marxist Emeritus Professor of Political Science Kurt Tauber, he recalls how serious those conversations were. He wishes the college could have more such events.

The reaction to the event made me proud of my alma mater. It’s one of the many reasons I support Williams with my time (I’m president of the LA regional association) and money. There, I saw how smart people deal with differing points of view. They showed respect for an intellectual adversary, familiarize themselves with her ideas and take issue with those ideas, challenging them without insulting her.

Liberal bloggers have a lot to learn from liberal students at Williams College. And one feminist professor of Philosophy. And that Commie, my favorite Marxist. :-)


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