Comments on September 2017 issue

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  • Henry Clay Childs September 12, 2017 at 11:30 am

    A great big high five to our Alma Mater for making these four guys feel so comfortable.

  • Jon Saari September 9, 2017 at 8:24 am

    Steve Buck’s reflection on John Moses’ story made me think back to another marginalized reflection to a Yale experience: that of Stephen Greenblattt (class of 1964), now professor of Humanities at Harvard, who wrote his piece in The New Yorker (“If you prick us: What Shakespeare taught me about fear, loathing, and the literary imagination, July 10 & 17, 2017).

    Greenblatt was Jewish, and decidedly tested by the Yale undergraduate experience, which he described as male and ‘overwhelmingly North American and white, as well as largely Protestant.’ What is striking is not only how we react to fear and loathing but also rise above them through the angle of a humanities education.

    I wrote to Greenblatt to describe my own different experience:

    “I graduated from Yale, class of 1962. I was North American, white (of Finnish and German ethnic background), and Protestant (Lutheran). I remember an advisor telling me I was from ‘good Wisconsin stock.’ I was hardworking, conscientious, a product of public schools, not a legacy student and not overly influenced by clubbiness nor coolness. I caught fire intellectually at Yale, as a Directed Studies student, and later became a history major. I landed in Hong Kong for two years teaching in the Yale-China program, and eventually got a PhD in modern Chinese history from Harvard (1973).

    “While you seem to have distilled much of your cultural learning from Shakespeare’s world, mine came through a long encounter with Chinese civilization, especially within the history of childhood framework. I wrestled with what it meant for a child born into a Chinese world to become ‘fully human,’ and how western theories illuminated and obscured that process. …

    “[A book I wrote in 1990] speaks to how first worlds are framed by historical eras and specific cultures, and how things ‘outside’ eventually get ‘inside,’ both the beautiful and the repellent. It is my version, specific to a Chinese generation, of what you call ‘an experience shared by every thinking person in the course of a lifetime.’”

    We arrive differently from where we start, if we have that yeast of curiosity baked into our cultural makeup. I’ve ended up hybridized (largely through my wife’s Austrian ties) and Buddhist. If we are restless, few of us end up where we started, but the earliest beginnings are indelible.

    Jon Saari

  • Chris Cory September 8, 2017 at 5:26 pm

    Enlightening and lovely comments, guys. Keep ’em coming.

  • Charles Merlis September 8, 2017 at 4:47 pm

    Freshman year at Yale. I knew John casually, either from a class or Vanderbilt. I had met some townies (high school girls) who asked me to invite some Yalies to a party. I asked John, among others, if he wanted to come. He told me he was a Negro and asked if he was still invited. I said, Oh, OK (I had assumed he was white without thinking about race at all), I don’t care, if you want, you’re welcome to come. I believe he did go to the party. John, do you remember the party. I went and I don’t remember it at all, which is a pity because I wish I had something to remember.

  • Stephen Rose September 8, 2017 at 2:19 pm

    Good work, Steve and kudos to John Moses for growing through all that and emerging a gentleman in the best tradition of our university.
    How appalling our need to diminish, dominate and scapegoat others.
    When I was rushing a fraternity (that I eventually joined and enjoyed), a member opened his sport coat, as I was leaving the house, to show me his German American Bund pin https://tinyurl.com/ydf5cwfj No words were spoken. I assumed he knew I was Jewish and was telling me that I was lucky to be there.
    And I was.
    Nobody likes to “be different.” We all want to belong, and I did feel welcomed at Yale despite that one incident.
    May we all come together.

  • Henry Clay Childs September 8, 2017 at 12:32 pm

    How painful and sad that so many of us paid no attention to the sensitivity of our fellow students. How grand it is that there can be a grace note of elegance coming from one who saw discrimination for what it is – a scourge of the soul.

    • Bo Rodgers September 12, 2017 at 10:38 am

      Further to the subject of discrimination, I lived in Calhoun College while at Yale, and I think it was the right decision to rename Calhoun. Obviously, this issue has particular relevance in light of the recent debate on statues in public places. While not a simple subject, one needs some ability to think in an informed and nuanced fashion, an ability I think encouraged and fostered by a Yale education, in order to distinguish between a John Calhoun, on the one hand, as compared to a Washington or Jefferson on the other, as appropriate to be honored in a public and highly visible fashion. In a historical context, unfortunately Calhoun stands out, and perhaps primarily, for his blatant and unabashed racism, while Washington and Jefferson, while slave owners, primarily stand for values we can still respect as Americans. Also unfortunately, Donald Trump doesn’t seem to possess this informed and nuanced thinking ability to bring to bear on this and other important issues.