Read my column in the Tampa Bay Times about what’s next for Floridians after the election.
Now is a time for healing, but healing does not mean we can forget the lessons of the past or the high price courageous individuals have paid for progress. And healing is not possible if we ignore the manifold injustices that continue to affect marginalized Americans or minimize the pain this election has caused.
Experts estimate that there are more than 15,000 nuclear weapons in the world today—thousands of potential Hiroshimas and Nagasakis enclosed in fortified facilities and crisscrossing the globe in the bays of nuclear submarines. But discussions over strategic arms reduction have reached an impasse. And instead of reducing their arsenals, the nine nuclear powers have modernized, and in some cases, even augmented their existing stockpiles. In the face of frustrating paralysis, some experts and activists are turning to the symbolic potential of Hiroshima. They hope that bringing people to the city might infuse theoretical discussions with human urgency.
“The basic danger of nuclear weapons is on the humanitarian impact, and Hiroshima and Nagasaki are the only two places where you can actually feel it, so the venue or place is very important,” explained Hidehiko Yuzaki, the governor of Hiroshima prefecture.
“Living in Oxford in the lead up to the referendum, I had not experienced Brexit as a contentious topic of debate — Remain won the city by an overwhelming majority, a consensus reflected in the popular discourse. When the Oxford Union debating society brought in political leaders including UKIP’s Nigel Farage and former Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg to make both cases to students, the ‘leave’ motion mustered only 73 votes, compared to nearly 300 in favor of remain. And the Union debate was one of the only times I encountered the issue framed as a binary choice. While Brexit featured prominently in both casual conversations and University lecture series, the question was intellectualized and abstracted: ‘how did we get to this point,’ ‘what does this say about British politics today,’ ‘what’s next for the Conservative party.’ The implicit assumption was that Brexit was a bout of temporary insanity and sentimentality run amuck — while the vote might be close, there was never any serious doubt as to what side would prevail.
When I talked about Brexit with my friends, we were throwing opinions into an echo chamber. Within this bubble we failed to anticipate the consensus within our own social and academic circles could so sharply diverge from sentiments elsewhere in the country.”
“Gallup’s annual institutional confidence survey reports that the military is now the most trusted institution in the United States. It handily beats out the church, the medical system, the Supreme Court and the presidency. But the topic of the YVA summit—the civilian-military divide—suggests that rebuilding a relationship within the academe may not be easy. The bridge the University has chosen is an élite one, with illustrious faculty, officer-track students, and only a handful of veterans to inform classroom debates with first-hand experience. For the modern liberal arts university, the frontlines still seem far away.
“I think there’s a little bit of responsibility for me and other veterans to bring the perspective of combat to the table and to help enlighten undergrads and grads and faculty members as to what the reality on the ground is like,” said Chris Harnisch, a master’s student at the School of Management and the President of the Yale Student Veteran’s council.
Students like him are facing a large swath of the Yale population that has set foot on campus without ever having met a member of the U.S. armed forces, even though the country has been at war for the majority of their lifetimes.
“On the day before the 70th anniversary of the first atomic bombing, the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park is crawling with people. Tour groups — identifiable by matching multicolored lanyards — rove about the shady walkways, trying to ward off the sweltering heat with paper fans purchased at a nearby convenience store. Against the background of buzzing cicadas, languages blend together in an incomprehensible cacophony — Japanese, English, German, French, Czech, Chinese. The crane-shaped bell on the Children’s Peace Monument tolls in the background like a distant metronome.”