How Is This Possible?

by W.D. Ehrhart Where do I begin? Let’s just dive right in: Donald J. Trump claims he is the same as a veteran of military service because he went to a military academy as a schoolboy, though he avoided military service during the American War in Vietnam by obtaining a medical deferment for bone spurs from a podiatrist who was financially beholden to Trump’s father. Apparently, he learned a lot about war at the New York Military Academy because he has subsequently claimed that he knows more about war than career generals and admirals. He has considered awarding himself the Purple Heart Medal while musing …

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College Admissions: Foul & Fair

by W.D. Ehrhart I find myself fascinated by the current debate over the Supreme Court’s 6-3 decision in Students for Fair Admissions v. President and Fellows of Harvard College overturning a previous 2003 case and effectively gutting affirmative action in college admissions based on racial criteria. I recently retired from high school teaching, and I watched a lot of kids go through the college admissions ordeal. I had students who scored poorly on SATs and ACTs, but who were excellent students I was never reluctant to write college recommendations for because they were smart, savvy, hard-working, and well-grounded. And I had kids with superlative standardized …

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Lifting the Lamp Beside the Golden Door

by W. D. Ehrhart As I write this—July 4th, 2023—our nation is celebrating the 247th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.  English settlers had first arrived along the Atlantic seaboard in 1607, and were soon joined by Dutch, Swedish, French, and more English settlers.  The Spanish had already colonized Florida and what is today New Mexico.  William Penn attracted Welsh and a large number of German settlers.  Early on, others began arriving from Africa in chains. Even the people who were here when the Europeans arrived came from somewhere else, though a lot earlier.  We are indeed, as has so often been said, a nation …

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Phillis Wheatley: “the Surprising African Poetess” *

by W.D. Ehrhart In 1990, I spent a semester as the Visiting Professor of War and Social Consequences at the University of Massachusetts at Boston. My office was in a building named for Phillis Wheatley. I’d never heard of her, but discovered that she was an African-born slave whose Boston owners had brought her up as a “house servant” and allowed her to learn to read and write. She had even published a book of her poems. I tracked down some of her work, but didn’t find it very interesting. Like so much of the poetry written in English in the later 18th century on …

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Happy Birthday, Henry the K

by W.D. Ehrhart Henry Kissinger, the former U.S. National Security Advisor and Secretary of State, recently celebrated his 100th birthday.  Marking the occasion, all sorts of public figures have been praising his long lifetime of accomplishments and contributions to our nation. CNN’s David Andelman noted enthusiastically that Kissinger is “still teaching us the value of ‘Weltanschaung.’” Roughly translated, it means “how the world works,” also known as “realpolitik,” or “if you’ve got the power to do what you like, screw morality or justice or right and wrong; just freakin’ do it” (my translation). International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach called Kissinger “a great statesman” and …

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History Repeats Itself

But sooth is seyd, go sithen many yeres, That “feeld hath eyen and the wode hath eres.” – Geoffrey Chaucer, “The Knight’s Tale” The old saying goes that fields have eyes and forests ears; no secrets could be kept for long in olden times: not murders, robberies, infidelities, what have you. All came to light eventually, justice finally for the guilty, balance restored. Would that it were so in Chaucer’s day or in our own. Where should I begin? Injustice is a fact of life. Ask George Floyd, Emmett Till, Joe Hill, Little Turtle, or Rebecca Nurse. The list is endless, and keeps growing. What …

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