Saturday, May 13, 2017

On The Road Again - Taking The Blue Highway Route. Nemacolin! Netanyahu's Fears From A Trump Visit. Opening The Liberal Mind.


The first part of this memo is a recap and observations of our recent drive from Athens to Pittsburgh by way of  Greenville S.C , Winston Salem N.C and a return by way of  Fairmont, Pa. (Nemacolin Resort. ) (See 1 below.)

This from a dear relative and fellow memo reader in response to my previous memo regarding my concerns about Trump's impending visit to Israel and why no agreement is likely unless  Trump forces Israel into a survival jeopardy deal which I doubt he will nor would Netanyahu/Israeli's accept.

You have always warned people about Kool Aid. good advice for all of us.
Ron Lauder is not a Leader or a businessman he has no power.
Abbas is no leader and also has no power. What makes anyone think the 
Palestinians will follow him. Hamas will not allow him to exist.
They have the power and the will. They want to be the leaders of that state if the Genie ever pops the cork on the bottle which is full of sand.

What country will defend the existence of this mirage, Western
NATO? Arabs? America? The U.N.? They have no education to
become leaders. I compare them to Nomads existing on Welfare 
as we know it...

My suggestion for a solution is a group of Arab nations Like 
Jordan, Egypt, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and others  (hopefully a total of seven or eight , the more the better for everyone.) agree to absorb the Palestinian population.

The cost should be borne by a newly created offshoot of the UN  for a dedicated period of time maybe five years with a specific goal of resettlement. The .U.N. would manage and staff this special stand alone organization. Its vision and
goal would be to put together a few think tanks each with special
knowledge to accomplish the stated goal. The financial support would come from
governments. large private companies, foundations etc. 

Theoretically The U. N. was established to operated, in part,  as a non-profit Human Relocation Group for world stability to enhance humanity.

With the world in disarray, with millions of people homeless there is a lot that needs to be done. A....."

I e mailed back that; "Your idea is sound but  too logical to make it impossible to accomplish because of the need for all the moving parts to become amenable and there is too much hate, prejudice and fear. "

I believe more wars are required to force the issue.

His response: "Don't confuse Reason And Logic.  Is your glass half full or Half empty? A....."

My response: "Mine is always both depending on the subject and prospects.Me"
This will be followed by some random postings pertaining to Trump's forthcoming visit to The Middle East and specifically to Israel and a few other observations.(See 2 below.)

Some thoughts regarding why a peace deal is impractical and illogical at this time:

a) In view of the destruction by radical Islamist's of precious historical objects, buildings, churches can you envision Israel relinquishing protection of Jewish history?

b) The attack on Coptic Christians by radical Islamist's serves as  a cold warning  to Israelis.

c)  Nations refusing to locate their embassies in Jerusalem is a denial of the historical fact that Israel's capital should be of their choosing and an unwillingness to do so is a denial of Israel's legitimacy.

d) The existential threat to Israel from Obama's Iran Deal cannot be denied nor given short shrift consideration.

e) Recent mouthing's by Abbas and  Hamas of a willingness to extend a hand of friendship flies in the face of their continued education of an entire generation of Palestinians still fed a diet of hate and desire to rid The Middle East of Israel and Israelis etc.

f) The best Trump should hope for and seek to achieve, at this time, is laying a solid foundation which could lead to further opportunities to justify increased faith building based on positive actions on the part of Palestinian leadership. Anything less would require Israelis to assume needless risks based on previous worthless Palestinian promises that were never followed by changes.

Cracking and placing raw eggs in flour does not make for a tasty well baked cake.

Meanwhile, save Israel from the do gooder who interferes where he should not. (See 2a below.)

Perhaps recent fascist type resistance and outbursts preventing free speech and disrupting speakers on college campuses has alarmed enough academicians and university administrators to speak out and begin a collective counter voice.

It often takes a while for Americans to react to what they do not like but, in time, they generally get it right and I suspect a reaction to all of this dangerous nonsense is beginning to build.

The Black Lives Matter episode  turned out to be a few weeks of flash in the pan nonsense.

Radical protests generally attract a cadre of scab like hangers on ending in distasteful and destructive behaviour and this goes a long way towards turning off the support of the general public. And so it goes in Dunceville. (See 3 below.)
Now for some humor.

Graphic Picture of Boating Death - Just Seconds Before the Owner Dies!
   Not for the squeamish!!


1) The purpose of our recent trip was five fold:

a)  First, I needed to be in Athens for a GMOA meeting.

b) Second, it was Stella's fifth birthday and we wanted to be there for her party..

c)  Third, while in Pittsburgh we wanted to view the progress of our son's company, Atlas Development Inc., which is rehabilitating an old Pittsburgh community named Beechview and attend a community opening of a new neighborhood park created by local students with funding assistance from various green organizations etc.

d) Fourth but not least, we wanted to spend time with our daughter in law.

e) Fifth we wanted to take in some art museums  and take the back roads (blue highways) and traverse what I believe is "real America."

Greenvile South Carolina (hway 29) has made an amazing transformation due mainly to the vision of its former mayor, a refugee who escaped Europe and The Nazis.  Formerly a city dependent upon textiles, Greenville is now a modest banking city with a beautiful tree lined bustling down town with plenty of diverse restaurants, art galleries etc. Brooks Brothers even has a downtown location.

Greenvile is also home of Furman and Bob Jones Universities.  Nearby is the Michelin Tire Plant and various businesses that supply Michelin.

From Greenville we drove to Winston Salem (I - 85 and 77.) There is no way to get there through back roads.

North Carolina is a rich state compared to South Carolina but the latter is on its way and the communities from Savannah to Hilton Head are exploding.

One cannot help noticing that America's many shuttered manufacturing plants have been replaced by medical facilities which validates the fact that we are an aging nation.

In the case of North Carlina, peaches and other agricultural products have replaced tobacco as a cash crop which , of course, was the basis for Winston Salem's growth and wealth.

Again, banking and education ( Wake Forrest) form a strong foundation on which Winston Salem's future is based. W.S is a beautiful city with a thriving downtown full of modern and tall buildings, also an active antique and art community and a host of magnificent homes and treed neighborhoods.

We stayed in a very contemporary downtown hotel and dined at a good restaurant. The next morning we went to Reynolda, the former home of the Reynold's Tobacco family,  Reynolda was envisioned by the wife of the founder of
the family tobacco company and is located some ten miles from downtown on many hundreds of acres.

The home itself is  architecturally unique in that it is shaped as a lengthy lodge type structure with a two story central living room.  The family's art collection is extensive and of the finest quality and most representative of the various artist's My favorite was a Sheeler oil The furnishings are understated but elegant and the basement houses an art deco bar area, flanked by a bowling alley, shooting gallery and an indoor pool.

Reynolda is surrounded by beautiful English gardens and a self-contained village which housed staff. We had a delicious lunch at one of the cafes and some of the other buildings house an investment group, the Reynold's Foundation and various clothing shops etc.

The family wanted Wake Forest to re-locate nearby and offered them a sufficient number of acreage and structures (the library for instance) that they could not resist.

We happened to arrive on the day students were packing to go home.  The campus is beautiful, the buildings predominantly of brick and the campus is very self-contained.  Wake Forrest is a good liberal arts university and is also known for its medical school and is a competitor to Duke.

From Winston Salem we devoted two days  on our way to Pittsburgh and traversed mainly through West Virginia which we have been through many times.
West Virginia is a beautiful , hilly/mountainous state and is noted for White Water Rafting , coal mining and contempt for Hillary Clinton. Pro Trump Signs still dot the landscape.

I also noted a lot of "Hot Spot's" and "total nudity" Gentlemen Clubs which are where the wives of miners earn a living in order to put food on the table and hold their families' together.  During the hey day a coal miner could earn upward to $90,000 and the mining union was one of the most powerful in the nation thanks to John L Lewis.

Senator Byrd is also credited with bringing enormous federal dollars to his state and the FBI has several extensive activities and critical facilities (fingerprinting) located throughout W.V.  As you drive towards Pittsburgh you pass Bluefield, Charleston, Petersburgh and technology centers dot the landscape suggesting W.V is seeking to reduce its reliance upon mining etc.(In previous trips we have gone on several of the largest State University campuses.)

Pittsburgh is one of America's great cities and is continuing to redevelop and redefine itself. U.S. Steel, PPG, ALCOA and PNC are headquartered there along with some of our nation's best universities ( Carnegie Mellon, Univ. Of Pittsburgh,Duquesne University and more than 10 other colleges in the general area.)

Downtown Pittsburgh is undergoing a major redevelopment and there are an abundant number of new hotels,  apartments and condos, restaurants etc. replacing warehousing/wholesale buildings etc.

The city's neighborhoods are numerous and ethnic and the town is becoming very foodie.

At one time Buffalo and Pittsburgh were among the wealthiest cities in America and Pittsburgh owes so much to the Mellon, Heinz, Frick, Hillman families whose various foundations are responsible for the maintenance of their fabulous park and zoo systems, museums  (Carnegie, Andy Warhol) and other public operations.

Our son has established a group that is actively purchasing older homes (Archie Bunker types) as well as commercial properties in a community that overlooks Pittsburgh called Beechview.  Beechview is as hilly as San Francisco and a 5K race has been established that has achieved Guinness recognition.

We left Pittsburgh this past Monday and drove some 70 miles to Fairmont, Pa. where the Hardy Family (founder of the 84 Lumber Company) has built one of the most beautiful resorts we have ever had the pleasure of visiting called Nemacolin.

To get there you drive through some of the beautiful part of Western Pa. bordering on West Va. . Here again the area abounds with White Water and Rafting facilities and a variety of mountain activities and is the home of some of the oldest Hotels which have been frequented by  President Truman, The Firestone Family, Bill Clinton to name a few. (We had lunch there,)

Nemacolin is now owned and run by Mr. Hardy's (96) middle daughter (56). Three hotels are located on thousands of woodland developed acres (The Lodge, Chateau Lafayette and the latest, Falling Rock.  On the property are:
a museum housing Mr. Hardy's extensive antique car collection, an Art Studio, a Golf Academy (a  $25 million second Pete Dye golf course is due to open in June).

They have a zoo housed with bears, lions, tigers, bison, wolves, etc., a variety of family type lodgings and private homes (Mr Hardy and his daughter have two magnificent homes located on the property), a gambling casino, a 3000 foot runway for private plane guests and a hangar housing several antique but working planes. The Woodland Spa (one of the most beautiful and professional we have ever been to), full gym, tennis, badminton, croquet and squash courts, a ski area with a climbing wall, a meditation chapel, and entire veterinarian facility which is also open to the public, a variety of pools (in and out door), an unbelievable miniature golf location, a Carousel, holistic garden and an off-road Jeep academy and a variety of cross country ski trails and more. They also have an old fashioned ice cream shoppe for kids

The restaurants are among the finest in the world and the Sequoia is one of the most beautiful restaurants, including an extensive view, serving the finest food featuring  Frank Lloyd Wright designed furniture found in Kaufman's Falling Rock located nearby as well as Wright's Kentuck Nob home which we visited,Remaining restaurants ranged from Caddy Shack ( barbecue,) Tavern, Autumn (fine dining) and Lautrec (world class fixe pre), even a Starbuck's location in The Lodge Hotel.

The grounds are beautifully flowered, sh-rubbed and professionally manicured by a uniformed staff.  Speaking of the staff.  We have never experienced such service and friendliness.  It reminded us of the land equivalent of a Seaborn Ship. We were having dinner one evening and Lynn asked for a decaffeinated Coke which they did not have. They actually had one of the staff drive to a store outside the property and bring back a huge bottle at no charge because we had to wait 30 minutes.  Lynn was totally embarrassed. Many of the staff are foreign and are there during the summer season and are housed in dormitories on site.

Nemacolin is known for its art collection.  The Rockwell prints, Calders and Hermes scarf collections is first class. Even the Botero oils are interesting.The Kluge paintings and similar type art is disappointing and not to my liking because it is too glitzy.  That said the Tiffany lamps are  beautiful, some of the silver objects and sculpture is outstanding.  They even have stock certificates of famous companies like Std. of New Jersey, Morgan Bank etc.

The shop arcade is very much like a beautiful indoor mall and scattered throughout the connecting walkway (The Lodge and The Chateau) is a Hardy Jewelry Store and some fine clothing stores etc.

The price for rooms vary as well as the restaurants.  Our room was in The Lodge, was "uge" and everything furniture-wise was comfortable and first class.  The bathroom was also "uge," plenty of large towels, separate shower and tub, double sink and all those fancy conditioners/shmapoos from England etc.

There is so much to do that is free and very family oriented that it is difficult to believe even grouches would not have a nice visit.

Nemacolin is a must.

As I noted above, we also visited Kentuck Nob, a home designed by Frank Lloyd Wright for the Hagan family who owned a local ice cream company and who sold to an English real estate developed for 10 times the original cost of some $60,000.

The home was some 2500 sq feet and designed in accord with Wright's desire to build homes for the mass market.  It was full of angles, very compact and exquisitely sited and internally very comfortable and livable.

The present owners are obviously well off and throughout the home were pictures of them with members of the Royal Family, Obama (ugh) etc.

From Nemacolin we drove south on 19,52, 601 until we came to I-95 and then home. In doing so, we drove over winding roads and went through Wytheville, Mockville, Salisbury, purposely avoiding Charlotte, preferring to drive through Columbia, St Matthews, Santee and  Orangeburg. Going this way added a few miles and took about an hour longer but it was well worth it because the drive is far more pleasant (I hardly braked.)

America is a beautiful land, citizined by some of the most down to earth people and what we have allowed our politicians and various leaders to do, as they strayed from our constitution and capitalistic system, is tragic. I am not against progress but I am opposed to those who would have us believe their progressive nonsense is an improvement over what they seek to change.  Our Constitution and economic system allow for our ability to rectify our failures and mistakes without going bizarre like the pitiful failing paths demanded  by Obama, Sanders, Pocahontas Warren, Maxine Walters and their ilk. I am fast coming to the conclusion even McCain has outlived his political life.

I have many friends who hate driving, want to get to where they are going quickly and prefer concrete over trees, cows and miles of green. They seem to prefer, what I call, plastic America. I prefer blue highways.

Donald Trump will arrive in Israel on May 22 as part of his first trip overseas as president. The trip has Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on edge. Here are the top five reasons why:

1) Trump is expected to ask Netanyahu to renew peace negotiations with the Palestinians and to give the talks a time frame. Since returning to the premiership in 2009, Netanyahu has shied away from making his plan for peace public. If full-fledged peace talks start, he will be compelled to reveal his plan, including the borders he envisions for a future Palestinian state.

2) To get peace talks resumed, Trump might ask Netanyahu to make concessions even before the talks start. This could be a freeze in settlement construction or a release of prisoners as happened in 2013, the last time Netanyahu’s government was under pressure by the Obama administration to renew talks with the Palestinians. Netanyahu has stated in recent years that he will no longer agree to pre-conditions. Trump, he fears, might force his hand this time.

3) All of the above would spell political trouble for Netanyahu. Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett is unlikely to pull out of the coalition just because peace talks are resumed but he would likely bolt if Netanyahu decides to make concessions. Bennett has been seeking a way to distinguish himself from Netanyahu and to outflank the prime minister from the Right and declare himself the leader of Israel’s right-wing camp. The best way to do that would be by pulling out of the government over concessions to the Palestinians.

4) While the general consensus in Israel is that a peace deal with the Palestinians is unlikely, Netanyahu is afraid to be perceived as being the man responsible for its failure. After everything is over, he wants Israel to be viewed by Trump as the side that was willing to make peace and the Palestinians as the intransigent one. He will have to maneuver carefully not to upset the president who has already proven to be highly unpredictable.

5) Finally, Netanyahu fears having to face the ultimate dilemma – signing a peace deal and going down in history as the prime minister who enabled the establishment of a Palestinian state. According to some ministers in his cabinet, he really opposes the idea. But if negotiations succeed and a deal is put on the table, Netanyahu will have to make the most difficult decision of his life. That is his biggest fear.

2a) Lauder promoting Abbas as respectable moderate fraught with danger
By Isi Liebler

Last week, World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder released a series of statements confirming that he had encouraged U.S. President Donald Trump to recognize that peace between Israelis and Palestinians was now attainable. He also stressed that he considers PA President Mahmoud Abbas to be a moderate committed to peace.

Implicit in his narrative is that the Israeli government and especially Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had previously been insufficiently flexible but that Trump could succeed in his efforts.

We have just celebrated Independence Day and are approaching commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Six-Day War and reunification of Jerusalem. The country is in great shape; the economy is booming and we have emerged as a formidable military power.
With a U.S. administration that pulls no punches about its support and alliance with us, Israel is well-placed to achieve many of its long-term strategic goals, including resolution of borders, agreed parameters of settlement activity and ultimately, formal annexation of the major settlement blocs and Golan Heights.

But these require skillful diplomacy and sensitivity to Trump’s belief that he can negotiate a peace settlement with Abbas even though his predecessors have failed.

What has recently transpired among American Jews is somewhat surreal. Leaders of the progressive religious denominations are behaving as though possessed by a dybbuk.

But the situation has now become far more disconcerting. Lauder, who over the years has conducted private meetings with Abbas, is seeking to persuade Trump, with whom he has enjoyed a close relationship for many years, that Abbas is sincere and genuinely willing to make peace.
I have personally known Lauder for over 20 years and can testify that since his tenure as U.S. ambassador to Austria, he has devoted himself to the Jewish people and the welfare of Israel, to which he has made major contributions, both philanthropically and by direct investment. Lauder’s generous philanthropic contributions were largely responsible for the revival of the decimated remnants of Jewish life in Central and Eastern Europe.

Last month, he was elected for a third term as president of the WJC, the international Jewish umbrella body. He successfully reinvigorated the organization after its total collapse in the wake of the corruption scandal that engulfed it following discovery by the New York attorney general of severe financial malpractices. Over the last decade, Lauder succeeded in recruiting top professionals, restructuring the organization, and restoring its status as the premier body representing Diaspora Jewry.

Lauder had a close, almost intimate relationship with Netanyahu and loyally supported him during his years of isolation after his 1999 defeat by Ehud Barak.

But the relationship ended some five years ago when, as a major, Lauder was unable to prevent Channel 10 from broadcasting a vicious campaign to demonizing Netanyahu’s family. Since that time, Netanyahu has distanced himself from Lauder and the WJC.

Lauder has always dreamed that he would one day emerge as the Jewish leader to facilitate a genuine peace settlement. To this end, he has repeatedly insisted that Abbas genuinely seeks peace. He now claims that he has persuaded Abbas to make “major concessions.”

In a lengthy conversation with Lauder, I failed to dissuade him and convince him of the realities of the situation. He spoke with an almost messianic fervor about the peace which we could now grasp. Setting aside the issues, I reminded him that he was breaching an iron law governing Diaspora Jewish leaders: Those not resident in Israel cross lines when they canvass foreign governments to intervene in the security policies of the elected Israeli government. I also emphasized that on these issues, Netanyahu was implementing policies supported by the clear majority of Israelis.

What makes his behavior even more outrageous is that Lauder confirmed that he had never discussed his plans with the prime minister. So, on whose behalf was he acting? He did claim that three formal efforts to engage in dialogue were initiated but Netanyahu had adamantly refused to meet him.

When I spoke to the prime minister, it was clear that Lauder’s intervention with Trump angered and distressed him. He referred to Lauder as “my biggest challenge to overcome” because he has immense influence on Trump and is promoting a peace program that had been rejected by Israel but was attractive to an American president possibly easily seduced into believing that a quick peace could be achieved.

I warned Lauder repeatedly that that he was being conned by the duplicitous Abbas who is an inveterate anti-Semite but speaks with a forked tongue, portraying himself as a man of peace and moderation to the outside world while continuing to encourage religious hatred and anti-Semitism among his own people.

I asked him whether he could visualize the “moderate” Abbas:
  • Coexisting with Israel as a Jewish state.
  • Agreeing to Israel implementing whatever security is required to ensure that a Palestinian entity is demilitarized and prevent the Iranians from approaching.
  • Accepting that the major settlement blocs will be incorporated into Israel.
  • Bringing an end to the foul exhortations of hatred emanating from the mosques, schools and media depicting Jews as subhuman, calling for the destruction of Israel and inciting to murdering Israelis.
  • Relinquishing the Palestinian “right of return” to Israel.
  • Terminating weekly payments to murderers of Jews and pensions to their survivors.
  • Ending the sanctification of mass-murderers by naming schools, city squares and even football clubs to commemorate them.
I predict that Abbas would not concede to any of the above. All he seeks is to persuade Trump to carry on the negotiations -- while ceding nothing but making false gestures and undermining Israel internationally.

Abbas, who has avoided democratic elections, is now despised by his people for his corruption, and has imbued them with such hatred of Israel that, even if he wanted to make concessions, he wouldn’t be able to do so without being toppled or assassinated.

I also asked Lauder, if Israel and the PA were to reach an agreement involving more territorial concessions, what would prevent Hamas from moving in on areas no longer protected by Israel?

However, I failed to move Lauder. He told me he is being flooded with letters of support including many from former critics. I responded that this should not be perceived as positive, and that most responsible Jewish leaders were reluctant to offend him by telling him what they thought.
Although, like most Israelis, I pray for a genuine peace, I am fearful that despite his good intentions, Lauder may be inadvertently undermining one of the best opportunities we have ever had with the U.S. as a genuine ally. Because of his proximity to Trump, the result of his intervention may be even more damaging than J Street’s campaign to undermine Israel. He insists that if his efforts fail, we will have tried, nothing will have been lost and we will simply return to the status quo.
There is no certainty that Trump will continue to be influenced by Lauder. Should he do so, it may be well-nigh impossible to retract and relations could be permanently affected by any fallout.

Lauder is a loyal and devoted friend of Israel. He has no second agenda. He is dedicated to the interests of the Jewish people and his good intentions are not in question.

But he should take a step back and recognize the possible dire consequences if, as most of us fear, his well-meaning but seriously misplaced personal intervention could backfire.

He should immediately come to Israel and meet with the prime minister, who must set aside their past differences, engage him in dialogue and seek to persuade him to back down before Trump makes his final moves and visits the region.

3) The Opening of the Liberal Mind

Wesleyan president Michael S. Roth on why universities need affirmative action for the study of conservative, libertarian and religious ideas

There is no denying the left-leaning political bias on American college campuses. As data from UCLA’s Higher Education Institute show, the professoriate has moved considerably leftward since the late 1980s, especially in the arts and humanities. In New England, where my own university is located, liberal professors outnumber their conservative colleagues by a ratio of 28:1.
How does this bias affect the education we offer? I’d like to think that we left-leaning professors are able to teach the works of conservative thinkers with the same seriousness and attention that we devote to works on our own side of the political spectrum—but do we?
It is hard to be optimistic about this challenge in the wake of recent episodes of campus intolerance for views on the right. Would-be social-justice warriors at Middlebury College transformed the mild-mannered political scientist Charles Murray into a free-speech hero, and campus appearances by the Manhattan Institute’s Heather Mac Donald and the right-wing provocateur Ann Coulter have been handled badly, turning both women into media martyrs.
Academics worried about attacks on free speech have felt the need to respond, and they have articulated sound principles. Princeton professors Robert P. George and Cornel West recently attracted lots of supporters for a statement underscoring that “all of us should seek respectfully to engage with people who challenge our views” and that “we should oppose efforts to silence those with whom we disagree—especially on college and university campuses.”
The issue, however, isn’t whether the occasional conservative, libertarian or religious speaker gets a chance to speak. That is tolerance, an appeal to civility and fairness, but it doesn’t take us far enough. To create deeper intellectual and political diversity, we need an affirmative-action program for the full range of conservative ideas and traditions, because on too many of our campuses they seldom get the sustained, scholarly attention that they deserve.
Such an effort can take many different forms. In 2013, Wesleyan decided to join Vassar College in working with the Posse Foundation to bring cohorts of military veterans to campus on full scholarships. These students with military backgrounds are older than our other undergraduates and have very different life experiences; more of them also hold conservative political views.
One notable episode illustrates how this program has contributed to broadening discussion on campus. A student named Bryan Stascavage, who had served almost six years as a U.S. Army military intelligence analyst in Iraq and Haiti, came to Wesleyan to study social sciences. In the fall of 2015, he published an op-ed in the student newspaper questioning the Black Lives Matter movement, which enjoys widespread support here. He asked whether the protests were “actually achieving anything positive” because of the damage done by the extremists in their ranks.
The essay caused an uproar, including demands by activists to cut funding to the school newspaper. Most students, faculty and administrators recognized that free speech needed to be defended, especially for unpopular views. They rose to the challenge of responding substantively (if sometimes heatedly) to Bryan’s argument.
As for Bryan himself, he felt that he had “field-tested” his ideas. As he told the PBS NewsHour in an interview about his experience at Wesleyan, “I don’t want to be in an environment where everybody thinks the same as me, because you just don’t learn that way.”
At Wesleyan, we now plan to deepen our engagement with the military. We have been working with the U.S. Army to bring senior military officers to campus, and starting next year, the first of them will arrive to teach classes on the relationship between military institutions and civil society.
Another new initiative for intellectual diversity, launched with the support of one our trustees, has created an endowment of more than $3 million for exposing students at Wesleyan to ideas outside the liberal consensus. This fall, our own academic departments and centers will begin offering courses and programs to cover topics such as “the philosophical and economic foundations of private property, free enterprise and market economies” and “the relationship of tolerance to individual rights, freedom and voluntary association.”
We are not interested in bringing in ideologues or shallow provocateurs intent on outraging students and winning the spotlight. We want to welcome scholars with a deep understanding of traditions currently underrepresented on our campus (and on many others) and look forward to the vigorous conversations they will inspire.
Many of our undergraduates already have a strong desire to break out of their ideological bubbles. Recently, the student Republican and Democratic clubs began jointly hosting lunchtime lectures and discussions. Catherine Cervone, a member of the Wesleyan Republicans and an organizer of the series, put it this way: “We recognized the necessity on this campus for dialogue and communication. We decided to reach across the divide to team up with WesDems in hosting this speaker series, a discussion forum with the purpose of really understanding what the other side thinks.”
Trying to understand the logic of someone else’s arguments is a core skill that schools should be paying more attention to, and it doesn’t always require elaborate new programs. The group Heterodox Academy, which includes faculty from many universities and from across the political spectrum, has recently launched the “Viewpoint Diversity Experience,” an online effort to combat “the destructive power of ideological tribalism.” The aim is “to prepare students for democratic citizenship and success in the political diverse workplaces they will soon inhabit.”
Such efforts are sorely needed, but they can succeed only if we do a better job of bringing underrepresented points of view into the mix. Simply relying on the marketplace of ideas isn’t enough. We need an affirmative-action program for conservative, libertarian and religious modes of thinking.
As someone who identifies with the political left, I welcome this intellectual diversity—and as a teacher, I know that education requires it. If you are on the right, you might call this a remedy for political correctness; if you are on the left, you might prefer to call it the “new intersectionality.” Whatever the label, the result will be a fuller, more meaningful educational experience for everyone.

No comments: