Politics/Current Events

Secretary Clinton’s Speech in Recognition of Intl. Human Rights Day

On Tuesday, December 6, 2011, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave a historic speech at the United Nations in Geneva, discussing the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  While applauding the forging of such a document (in 1948) and its success in helping to achieve equality and dignity for many minority groups across the globe, she acknowledged that there is still one minority that is consistently left out of the push for equality:  the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender community.

This address focuses on the LGBT community in particular, but so many things she says apply to all human beings on this Earth.  Indeed, Secretary Clinton proclaimed that, “Gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights.”

Her message was powerful, succinct and clear.  Take the time to watch all 30 minutes of the speech.   Some of my favorite lines are below, but then I will also provide the transcript of her whole speech.

“No practice or tradition trumps the human rights that belong to all of us.  Rarely are cultural and religious traditions and teachings actually in conflict with the protection of human rights.  Indeed our religion and our culture are sources of compassion and inspiration toward our fellow human beings.  

Minorities can never achieve the majorities necessary for political change.  So when any part of humanity is sidelined, the rest of us cannot sit on the sidelines.  When we see denials and abuses of human rights and fail to act, that sends the message to these deniers and abusers that they won’t suffer any consequences for their actions.  But when we do act, we send a powerful moral message.”  

That made me think of a couple of different quotes:

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr

and

“Sometimes we must interfere.  When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Whenever men or women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must – at that moment – become the center of the universe.”  – Elie Wiesel

 

Full text of the speech (thanks to the U.S. Department of State’s website): 

“Remarks in Recognition of International Human Rights Day”

Good evening, and let me express my deep honor and pleasure at being here. I want to thank Director General Tokayev and Ms. Wyden along with other ministers, ambassadors, excellencies, and UN partners. This weekend, we will celebrate Human Rights Day, the anniversary of one of the great accomplishments of the last century.

 

Beginning in 1947, delegates from six continents devoted themselves to drafting a declaration that would enshrine the fundamental rights and freedoms of people everywhere. In the aftermath of World War II, many nations pressed for a statement of this kind to help ensure that we would prevent future atrocities and protect the inherent humanity and dignity of all people. And so the delegates went to work. They discussed, they wrote, they revisited, revised, rewrote, for thousands of hours. And they incorporated suggestions and revisions from governments, organizations, and individuals around the world.

At three o’clock in the morning on December 10th, 1948, after nearly two years of drafting and one last long night of debate, the president of the UN General Assembly called for a vote on the final text. Forty-eight nations voted in favor; eight abstained; none dissented. And the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted. It proclaims a simple, powerful idea: All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. And with the declaration, it was made clear that rights are not conferred by government; they are the birthright of all people. It does not matter what country we live in, who our leaders are, or even who we are. Because we are human, we therefore have rights. And because we have rights, governments are bound to protect them.

In the 63 years since the declaration was adopted, many nations have made great progress in making human rights a human reality. Step by step, barriers that once prevented people from enjoying the full measure of liberty, the full experience of dignity, and the full benefits of humanity have fallen away. In many places, racist laws have been repealed, legal and social practices that relegated women to second-class status have been abolished, the ability of religious minorities to practice their faith freely has been secured.

In most cases, this progress was not easily won. People fought and organized and campaigned in public squares and private spaces to change not only laws, but hearts and minds. And thanks to that work of generations, for millions of individuals whose lives were once narrowed by injustice, they are now able to live more freely and to participate more fully in the political, economic, and social lives of their communities.

Now, there is still, as you all know, much more to be done to secure that commitment, that reality, and progress for all people. Today, I want to talk about the work we have left to do to protect one group of people whose human rights are still denied in too many parts of the world today. In many ways, they are an invisible minority. They are arrested, beaten, terrorized, even executed. Many are treated with contempt and violence by their fellow citizens while authorities empowered to protect them look the other way or, too often, even join in the abuse. They are denied opportunities to work and learn, driven from their homes and countries, and forced to suppress or deny who they are to protect themselves from harm.

I am talking about gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people, human beings born free and given bestowed equality and dignity, who have a right to claim that, which is now one of the remaining human rights challenges of our time. I speak about this subject knowing that my own country’s record on human rights for gay people is far from perfect. Until 2003, it was still a crime in parts of our country. Many LGBT Americans have endured violence and harassment in their own lives, and for some, including many young people, bullying and exclusion are daily experiences. So we, like all nations, have more work to do to protect human rights at home.

Now, raising this issue, I know, is sensitive for many people and that the obstacles standing in the way of protecting the human rights of LGBT people rest on deeply held personal, political, cultural, and religious beliefs. So I come here before you with respect, understanding, and humility. Even though progress on this front is not easy, we cannot delay acting. So in that spirit, I want to talk about the difficult and important issues we must address together to reach a global consensus that recognizes the human rights of LGBT citizens everywhere.

The first issue goes to the heart of the matter. Some have suggested that gay rights and human rights are separate and distinct; but, in fact, they are one and the same. Now, of course, 60 years ago, the governments that drafted and passed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights were not thinking about how it applied to the LGBT community. They also weren’t thinking about how it applied to indigenous people or children or people with disabilities or other marginalized groups. Yet in the past 60 years, we have come to recognize that members of these groups are entitled to the full measure of dignity and rights, because, like all people, they share a common humanity.

This recognition did not occur all at once. It evolved over time. And as it did, we understood that we were honoring rights that people always had, rather than creating new or special rights for them. Like being a woman, like being a racial, religious, tribal, or ethnic minority, being LGBT does not make you less human. And that is why gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights.

It is violation of human rights when people are beaten or killed because of their sexual orientation, or because they do not conform to cultural norms about how men and women should look or behave. It is a violation of human rights when governments declare it illegal to be gay, or allow those who harm gay people to go unpunished. It is a violation of human rights when lesbian or transgendered women are subjected to so-called corrective rape, or forcibly subjected to hormone treatments, or when people are murdered after public calls for violence toward gays, or when they are forced to flee their nations and seek asylum in other lands to save their lives. And it is a violation of human rights when life-saving care is withheld from people because they are gay, or equal access to justice is denied to people because they are gay, or public spaces are out of bounds to people because they are gay. No matter what we look like, where we come from, or who we are, we are all equally entitled to our human rights and dignity.

The second issue is a question of whether homosexuality arises from a particular part of the world. Some seem to believe it is a Western phenomenon, and therefore people outside the West have grounds to reject it. Well, in reality, gay people are born into and belong to every society in the world. They are all ages, all races, all faiths; they are doctors and teachers, farmers and bankers, soldiers and athletes; and whether we know it, or whether we acknowledge it, they are our family, our friends, and our neighbors.

Being gay is not a Western invention; it is a human reality. And protecting the human rights of all people, gay or straight, is not something that only Western governments do. South Africa’s constitution, written in the aftermath of Apartheid, protects the equality of all citizens, including gay people. In Colombia and Argentina, the rights of gays are also legally protected. In Nepal, the supreme court has ruled that equal rights apply to LGBT citizens. The Government of Mongolia has committed to pursue new legislation that will tackle anti-gay discrimination.

Now, some worry that protecting the human rights of the LGBT community is a luxury that only wealthy nations can afford. But in fact, in all countries, there are costs to not protecting these rights, in both gay and straight lives lost to disease and violence, and the silencing of voices and views that would strengthen communities, in ideas never pursued by entrepreneurs who happen to be gay. Costs are incurred whenever any group is treated as lesser or the other, whether they are women, racial, or religious minorities, or the LGBT. Former President Mogae of Botswana pointed out recently that for as long as LGBT people are kept in the shadows, there cannot be an effective public health program to tackle HIV and AIDS. Well, that holds true for other challenges as well.

The third, and perhaps most challenging, issue arises when people cite religious or cultural values as a reason to violate or not to protect the human rights of LGBT citizens. This is not unlike the justification offered for violent practices towards women like honor killings, widow burning, or female genital mutilation. Some people still defend those practices as part of a cultural tradition. But violence toward women isn’t cultural; it’s criminal. Likewise with slavery, what was once justified as sanctioned by God is now properly reviled as an unconscionable violation of human rights.

In each of these cases, we came to learn that no practice or tradition trumps the human rights that belong to all of us. And this holds true for inflicting violence on LGBT people, criminalizing their status or behavior, expelling them from their families and communities, or tacitly or explicitly accepting their killing.

Of course, it bears noting that rarely are cultural and religious traditions and teachings actually in conflict with the protection of human rights. Indeed, our religion and our culture are sources of compassion and inspiration toward our fellow human beings. It was not only those who’ve justified slavery who leaned on religion, it was also those who sought to abolish it. And let us keep in mind that our commitments to protect the freedom of religion and to defend the dignity of LGBT people emanate from a common source. For many of us, religious belief and practice is a vital source of meaning and identity, and fundamental to who we are as people. And likewise, for most of us, the bonds of love and family that we forge are also vital sources of meaning and identity. And caring for others is an expression of what it means to be fully human. It is because the human experience is universal that human rights are universal and cut across all religions and cultures.

The fourth issue is what history teaches us about how we make progress towards rights for all. Progress starts with honest discussion. Now, there are some who say and believe that all gay people are pedophiles, that homosexuality is a disease that can be caught or cured, or that gays recruit others to become gay. Well, these notions are simply not true. They are also unlikely to disappear if those who promote or accept them are dismissed out of hand rather than invited to share their fears and concerns. No one has ever abandoned a belief because he was forced to do so.

Universal human rights include freedom of expression and freedom of belief, even if our words or beliefs denigrate the humanity of others. Yet, while we are each free to believe whatever we choose, we cannot do whatever we choose, not in a world where we protect the human rights of all.

Reaching understanding of these issues takes more than speech. It does take a conversation. In fact, it takes a constellation of conversations in places big and small. And it takes a willingness to see stark differences in belief as a reason to begin the conversation, not to avoid it.

But progress comes from changes in laws. In many places, including my own country, legal protections have preceded, not followed, broader recognition of rights. Laws have a teaching effect. Laws that discriminate validate other kinds of discrimination. Laws that require equal protections reinforce the moral imperative of equality. And practically speaking, it is often the case that laws must change before fears about change dissipate.

Many in my country thought that President Truman was making a grave error when he ordered the racial desegregation of our military. They argued that it would undermine unit cohesion. And it wasn’t until he went ahead and did it that we saw how it strengthened our social fabric in ways even the supporters of the policy could not foresee. Likewise, some worried in my country that the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” would have a negative effect on our armed forces. Now, the Marine Corps Commandant, who was one of the strongest voices against the repeal, says that his concerns were unfounded and that the Marines have embraced the change.

Finally, progress comes from being willing to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. We need to ask ourselves, “How would it feel if it were a crime to love the person I love? How would it feel to be discriminated against for something about myself that I cannot change?” This challenge applies to all of us as we reflect upon deeply held beliefs, as we work to embrace tolerance and respect for the dignity of all persons, and as we engage humbly with those with whom we disagree in the hope of creating greater understanding.

A fifth and final question is how we do our part to bring the world to embrace human rights for all people including LGBT people. Yes, LGBT people must help lead this effort, as so many of you are. Their knowledge and experiences are invaluable and their courage inspirational. We know the names of brave LGBT activists who have literally given their lives for this cause, and there are many more whose names we will never know. But often those who are denied rights are least empowered to bring about the changes they seek. Acting alone, minorities can never achieve the majorities necessary for political change.

So when any part of humanity is sidelined, the rest of us cannot sit on the sidelines. Every time a barrier to progress has fallen, it has taken a cooperative effort from those on both sides of the barrier. In the fight for women’s rights, the support of men remains crucial. The fight for racial equality has relied on contributions from people of all races. Combating Islamaphobia or anti-Semitism is a task for people of all faiths. And the same is true with this struggle for equality.

Conversely, when we see denials and abuses of human rights and fail to act, that sends the message to those deniers and abusers that they won’t suffer any consequences for their actions, and so they carry on. But when we do act, we send a powerful moral message. Right here in Geneva, the international community acted this year to strengthen a global consensus around the human rights of LGBT people. At the Human Rights Council in March, 85 countries from all regions supported a statement calling for an end to criminalization and violence against people because of their sexual orientation and gender identity.

At the following session of the Council in June, South Africa took the lead on a resolution about violence against LGBT people. The delegation from South Africa spoke eloquently about their own experience and struggle for human equality and its indivisibility. When the measure passed, it became the first-ever UN resolution recognizing the human rights of gay people worldwide. In the Organization of American States this year, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights created a unit on the rights of LGBT people, a step toward what we hope will be the creation of a special rapporteur.

Now, we must go further and work here and in every region of the world to galvanize more support for the human rights of the LGBT community. To the leaders of those countries where people are jailed, beaten, or executed for being gay, I ask you to consider this: Leadership, by definition, means being out in front of your people when it is called for. It means standing up for the dignity of all your citizens and persuading your people to do the same. It also means ensuring that all citizens are treated as equals under your laws, because let me be clear – I am not saying that gay people can’t or don’t commit crimes. They can and they do, just like straight people. And when they do, they should be held accountable, but it should never be a crime to be gay.

And to people of all nations, I say supporting human rights is your responsibility too. The lives of gay people are shaped not only by laws, but by the treatment they receive every day from their families, from their neighbors. Eleanor Roosevelt, who did so much to advance human rights worldwide, said that these rights begin in the small places close to home – the streets where people live, the schools they attend, the factories, farms, and offices where they work. These places are your domain. The actions you take, the ideals that you advocate, can determine whether human rights flourish where you are.

And finally, to LGBT men and women worldwide, let me say this: Wherever you live and whatever the circumstances of your life, whether you are connected to a network of support or feel isolated and vulnerable, please know that you are not alone. People around the globe are working hard to support you and to bring an end to the injustices and dangers you face. That is certainly true for my country. And you have an ally in the United States of America and you have millions of friends among the American people.

The Obama Administration defends the human rights of LGBT people as part of our comprehensive human rights policy and as a priority of our foreign policy. In our embassies, our diplomats are raising concerns about specific cases and laws, and working with a range of partners to strengthen human rights protections for all. In Washington, we have created a task force at the State Department to support and coordinate this work. And in the coming months, we will provide every embassy with a toolkit to help improve their efforts. And we have created a program that offers emergency support to defenders of human rights for LGBT people.

This morning, back in Washington, President Obama put into place the first U.S. Government strategy dedicated to combating human rights abuses against LGBT persons abroad. Building on efforts already underway at the State Department and across the government, the President has directed all U.S. Government agencies engaged overseas to combat the criminalization of LGBT status and conduct, to enhance efforts to protect vulnerable LGBT refugees and asylum seekers, to ensure that our foreign assistance promotes the protection of LGBT rights, to enlist international organizations in the fight against discrimination, and to respond swiftly to abuses against LGBT persons.

I am also pleased to announce that we are launching a new Global Equality Fund that will support the work of civil society organizations working on these issues around the world. This fund will help them record facts so they can target their advocacy, learn how to use the law as a tool, manage their budgets, train their staffs, and forge partnerships with women’s organizations and other human rights groups. We have committed more than $3 million to start this fund, and we have hope that others will join us in supporting it.

The women and men who advocate for human rights for the LGBT community in hostile places, some of whom are here today with us, are brave and dedicated, and deserve all the help we can give them. We know the road ahead will not be easy. A great deal of work lies before us. But many of us have seen firsthand how quickly change can come. In our lifetimes, attitudes toward gay people in many places have been transformed. Many people, including myself, have experienced a deepening of our own convictions on this topic over the years, as we have devoted more thought to it, engaged in dialogues and debates, and established personal and professional relationships with people who are gay.

This evolution is evident in many places. To highlight one example, the Delhi High Court decriminalized homosexuality in India two years ago, writing, and I quote, “If there is one tenet that can be said to be an underlying theme of the Indian constitution, it is inclusiveness.” There is little doubt in my mind that support for LGBT human rights will continue to climb. Because for many young people, this is simple: All people deserve to be treated with dignity and have their human rights respected, no matter who they are or whom they love.

There is a phrase that people in the United States invoke when urging others to support human rights: “Be on the right side of history.” The story of the United States is the story of a nation that has repeatedly grappled with intolerance and inequality. We fought a brutal civil war over slavery. People from coast to coast joined in campaigns to recognize the rights of women, indigenous peoples, racial minorities, children, people with disabilities, immigrants, workers, and on and on. And the march toward equality and justice has continued. Those who advocate for expanding the circle of human rights were and are on the right side of history, and history honors them. Those who tried to constrict human rights were wrong, and history reflects that as well.

I know that the thoughts I’ve shared today involve questions on which opinions are still evolving. As it has happened so many times before, opinion will converge once again with the truth, the immutable truth, that all persons are created free and equal in dignity and rights. We are called once more to make real the words of the Universal Declaration. Let us answer that call. Let us be on the right side of history, for our people, our nations, and future generations, whose lives will be shaped by the work we do today. I come before you with great hope and confidence that no matter how long the road ahead, we will travel it successfully together. Thank you very much.

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Breaking News

The Wall Street Pentagon Papers: Biggest Scam In World History Exposed: Are The Federal Reserve’s Crimes Too Big To Comprehend?

By  
The Public Record
Dec 10th, 2010

David DeGraw, a regular contributor to The Public Record, is an investigative journalist whose work has been featured in numerous publications and websites. He is the founder and editor of AmpedStatus.com, editorial director ofMediaChannel.org and author of The Economic Elite Vs. The People of the United States.

Ben Bernanke, Chairmen of the Federal Reserve

To read the original article at The Public Record, click here.

What if the greatest scam ever perpetrated was blatantly exposed, and the US media didn’t cover it? Does that mean the scam could keep going? That’s what we are about to find out.

I understand the importance of the new WikiLeaks documents. However, we must not let them distract us from the new information the Federal Reserve was forced to release. Even if WikiLeaks reveals documents from inside a large American bank, as huge as that could be, it will most likely pale in comparison to what we just found out from the one-time peek we got into the inner-workings of the Federal Reserve. This is the Wall Street equivalent of the Pentagon Papers.

I’ve written many reports detailing the crimes of Wall Street during this crisis. The level of fraud, from top to bottom, has been staggering. The lack of accountability and the complete disregard for the rule of law have made me and many of my colleagues extremely cynical and jaded when it comes to new evidence to pile on top of the mountain that we have already gathered. But we must not let our cynicism cloud our vision on the details within this new information.

Just when I thought the banksters couldn’t possibly shock me anymore… they did.

We were finally granted the honor and privilege of finding out the specifics, a limited one-time Federal Reserve view, of a secret taxpayer funded “backdoor bailout” by a small group of unelected bankers. This data release reveals “emergency lending programs” that doled out $12.3 TRILLION in taxpayer money – $3.3 trillion in liquidity, $9 trillion in “other financial arrangements.”

Wait, what? Did you say $12.3 TRILLION tax dollars were thrown around in secrecy by unelected bankers… and Congress didn’t know any of the details?

Yes. The Founding Fathers are rolling over in their graves. The original copy of the Constitution spontaneously burst into flames. The ghost of Tom Paine went running, stark raving mad screaming through the halls of Congress.

The Federal Reserve was secretly throwing around our money in unprecedented fashion, and it wasn’t just to the usual suspects like Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Citigroup, Bank of America, etc.; it was to the entire Global Banking Cartel. To central banks throughout the world: Australia, Denmark, Japan, Mexico, Norway, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, England… To the Fed’s foreign primary dealers like Credit Suisse (Switzerland), Deutsche Bank (Germany), Royal Bank of Scotland (U.K.), Barclays (U.K.), BNP Paribas (France)… All their Ponzi players were “gifted.” All the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations got their cut.

Talk about the ransacking and burning of Rome! Sayonara American middle class…

If you still had any question as to whether or not the United States is now the world’s preeminent banana republic, the final verdict was just delivered and the decision was unanimous. The ayes have it.

Any fairytale notions that we are living in a nation built on the rule of law and of the global economy being based on free market principles has now been exposed as just that, a fairytale. This moment is equivalent to everyone in Vatican City being told, by the Pope, that God is dead.

I’ve been arguing for years that the market is rigged and that the major Wall Street firms are elaborate Ponzi schemes, as have many other people who built their beliefs on rational thought, reasoned logic and evidence. We already came to this conclusion by doing the research and connecting the dots. But now, even our strongest skeptics and the most ardent Wall Street supporters have it all laid out in front of them, on FEDERAL RESERVE SPREADSHEETS.

Even the Financial Times, which named Lloyd Blankfein its 2009 person of the year, reacted by reporting this: “The initial reactions were shock at the breadth of lending, particularly to foreign firms. But the details paint a bleaker and even more disturbing picture.”

Yes, the emperor doesn’t have any clothes. God is, indeed, dead. But, for the moment at least, the illusion continues to hold power. How is this possible?

To start with, as always, the US television “news” media (propaganda) networks just glossed over the whole thing – nothing to see here, just move along, back after a message from our sponsors… Other than that obvious reason, I’ve come to the realization that the Federal Reserve’s crimes are so big, so huge in scale, it is very hard for people to even wrap their head around it and comprehend what has happened here.

Think about it. In just this one peek we got at its operations, we learned that the Fed doled out $12.3 trillion in near-zero interest loans, without Congressional input.

The audacity and absurdity of it all is mind boggling…

Based on many conversations I’ve had with people, it seems that the average person doesn’t comprehend how much a trillion dollars is, let alone 12.3 trillion. You might as well just say 12.3 gazillion, because people don’t grasp a number that large, nor do they understand what would be possible if that money was used in other ways.

Can you imagine what we could do to restructure society with $12.3 trillion? Think about that…

People also can’t grasp the colossal crime committed because they keep hearing the word “loans.” People think of the loans they get. You borrow money, you pay it back with interest, no big deal.

That’s not what happened here. The Fed doled out $12.3 trillion in near-zero interest loans, using the American people as collateral, demanding nothing in return, other than a bunch of toxic assets in some cases. They only gave this money to a select group of insiders, at a time when very few had any money because all these same insiders and speculators crashed the system.

Do you get that? The very people most responsible for crashing the system, were then rewarded with trillions of our dollars. This gave that select group of insiders unlimited power to seize control of assets and have unprecedented leverage over almost everything within their economies – crony capitalism on steroids.

This was a hostile world takeover orchestrated through economic attacks by a very small group of unelected global bankers. They paralyzed the system, then were given the power to recreate it according to their own desires. No free market, no democracy of any kind. All done in secrecy. In the process, they gave themselves all-time record-breaking bonuses and impoverished tens of millions of people – they have put into motion a system that will inevitably collapse again and utterly destroy the very existence of what is left of an economic middle class.

That is not hyperbole. That is what happened.

We are talking about trillions of dollars secretly pumped into global banks, handpicked by a small select group of bankers themselves. All for the benefit of those bankers, and at the expense of everyone else. People can’t even comprehend what that means and the severe consequences that it entails, which we have only just begun to experience.

Let me sum it up for you: The American Dream is O-V-E-R.

Welcome to the neo-feudal-fascist state.

People throughout the world who keep using the dollar are either A) Part of the scam; B) Oblivious to reality; C) Believe that US military power will be able to maintain the value of an otherwise worthless currency; D) All of the above.

No matter which way you look at it, we are all in serious trouble!

If you are an elected official, (I know at least 17 of you subscribe to my newsletter) and you believe in the oath you took upon taking office, you must immediately demand a full audit of the Federal Reserve and have Ben Bernanke and the entire Federal Reserve Board detained. If you are not going to do that, you deserve to have the words “Irrelevant Puppet” tattooed across your forehead.

Yes, those are obviously strong words, but they are the truth.

The Global Banking Cartel has now been so blatantly exposed, you cannot possibly get away with pretending that we live in a nation of law based on the Constitution. The jig is up.

It’s been over two years now; does anyone still seriously not understand why we are in this crisis? Our economy has been looted and burnt to the ground due to the strategic, deliberate decisions made by a small group of unelected global bankers at the Federal Reserve. Do people really not get the connection here? I mean, H.E.L.L.O. Our country is run by an unelected Global Banking Cartel.

I am constantly haunted by a quote from Harry Overstreet, who wrote the following in his 1925 groundbreaking study Influencing Human Behavior: “Giving people the facts as a strategy of influence” has been a failure, “an enterprise fraught with a surprising amount of disappointment.”

This crisis overwhelmingly proves Overstreet’s thesis to be true. Nonetheless, we solider on…

Here’s a roundup of reports on this BernankeLeaks:

Prepare to enter the theater of the absurd…

I’ll start with Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont). He was the senator who Bernanke blew off when he was asked for information on this heist during a congressional hearing. Sanders fought to get the amendment written into the financial “reform” bill that gave us this one-time peek into the Fed’s secret operations. (Remember, remember the 6th of May, HFT, flash crash and terrorism. “Hey, David, Homeland Security is on the phone! They want to ask you questions about some NYSE SLP program.”)

In an article entitled, “A Real Jaw-Dropper at the Federal Reserve,” Senator Sanders reveals some of the details:

At a Senate Budget Committee hearing in 2009, I asked Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke to tell the American people the names of the financial institutions that received an unprecedented backdoor bailout from the Federal Reserve, how much they received, and the exact terms of this assistance. He refused. A year and a half later… we have begun to lift the veil of secrecy at the Fed…

After years of stonewalling by the Fed, the American people are finally learning the incredible and jaw-dropping details of the Fed’s multi-trillion-dollar bailout of Wall Street and corporate America….

We have learned that the $700 billion Wall Street bailout… turned out to be pocket change compared to the trillions and trillions of dollars in near-zero interest loans and other financial arrangements the Federal Reserve doled out to every major financial institution in this country.…

Perhaps most surprising is the huge sum that went to bail out foreign private banks and corporations including two European megabanks — Deutsche Bank and Credit Suisse — which were the largest beneficiaries of the Fed’s purchase of mortgage-backed securities….

Has the Federal Reserve of the United States become the central bank of the world?… [read Global Banking Cartel]

What this disclosure tells us, among many other things, is that despite this huge taxpayer bailout, the Fed did not make the appropriate demands on these institutions necessary to rebuild our economy and protect the needs of ordinary Americans….

What we are seeing is the incredible power of a small number of people who have incredible conflicts of interest getting incredible help from the taxpayers of this country while ignoring the needs of the people. [read more]

In an article entitled, “The Fed Lied About Wall Street,” Zach Carter sums it up this way:

The Federal Reserve audit is full of frightening revelations about U.S. economic policy and those who implement it… By denying the solvency crisis, major bank executives who had run their companies into the ground were allowed to keep their jobs, and shareholders who had placed bad bets on their firms were allowed to collect government largesse, as bloated bonuses began paying out soon after.

But the banks themselves still faced a capital shortage, and were only kept above those critical capital thresholds because federal regulators were willing to look the other way, letting banks account for obvious losses as if they were profitable assets.

So based on the Fed audit data, it’s hard to conclude that Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke was telling the truth when he told Congress on March 3, 2009, that there were no zombie banks in the United States.

“I don’t think that any major U.S. bank is currently a zombie institution,” Bernanke said.

As Bernanke spoke those words banks had been pledging junk bonds as collateral under Fed facilities for several months…

This is the heart of today’s foreclosure fraud crisis. Banks are foreclosing on untold numbers of families who have never missed a payment, because rushing to foreclosure generates lucrative fees for the banks, whatever the costs to families and investors. This is, in fact, far worse than what Paul Krugman predicted. Not only are zombie banks failing to support the economy, they are actively sabotaging it with fraud in order to make up for their capital shortages. Meanwhile, regulators are aggressively looking the other way.

The Fed had to fix liquidity in 2008. That was its job. But as major banks went insolvent, the Fed and Treasury had a responsibility to fix that solvency issue—even though that meant requiring shareholders and executives to live up to losses. Instead, as the Fed audit tells us, policymakers knowingly ignored the real problem, pushing losses onto the American middle class in the process.” [read more]

Even the Financial Times is jumping ship:

Sunlight Shows Cracks in Fed’s Rescue Story

It took two years, a hard-fought lawsuit, and an act of Congress, but finally… the Federal Reserve disclosed the details of its financial crisis lending programs. The initial reactions were shock at the breadth of lending, particularly to foreign firms. But the details paint a bleaker, earlier, and even more disturbing picture…. An even more troubling conclusion from the data is that… it is now apparent that the Fed took on far more risk, on less favorable terms, than most people have realized. [read more]

In true Fed fashion, they didn’t even fully comply with Congress. In a report entitled, “Fed Withholds Collateral Data for $885 Billion in Financial-Crisis Loans,” Bloomberg puts some icing on the cake:

For three of the Fed’s six emergency facilities, the central bank released information on groups of collateral it accepted by asset type and rating, without specifying individual securities. Among them was the Primary Dealer Credit Facility, created in March 2008 to provide loans to brokers as Bear Stearns Cos. collapsed.

“This is a half-step,” said former Atlanta Fed research director Robert Eisenbeis, chief monetary economist at Cumberland Advisors Inc. in Sarasota, Florida. “If you were going to audit the facilities, then would this enable you to do an audit? The answer is ‘No,’ you would have to go in and look at the individual amounts of collateral and how it was broken down to do that. And that is the spirit of what the requirements were in Dodd-Frank.” [read more]

See also:

TO VIEW NEWS CLIPS PERTAINING TO THIS ISSUE, CLICK HERE AND SCROLL TO THE END OF THE ARTICLE.  

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Occupying for Handouts?

Following is a note written by a colleague who’s currently doing  research in London.  The note is his response to his interaction with the Occupy London movement (inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement across the Big Pond).  He addresses an issue that I think’s pretty important:  many of the people who sympathize with the Occupy movements aren’t looking for handouts – all they want is the chance to work for their family, for the chance to make a living on their own.  I won’t say any more, because I feel that this note captures the sentiments better than I could.

Today I visited St. Paul’s in London to see the “Occupy London” encampment. While on the steps, I heard an American in a business suit describing the protesters with mockery and scorn, and he said “I am one of the 1 percent. What these people don’t understand is that they need me to give them a job.”

The statement immediately struck me as vulgar, but I couldn’t fully put into words why. It took most of my walk home to fully put my thoughts into a coherent form.

His statement ultimately underlines the fact that he doesn’t understand the protesters.

Dear Sir,

They don’t want the 1 percent to “give them a job.” They want to earn a job on their own merits, independent of your whims. These are people with university degrees; they are trained engineers, architects, computer programers – jobs that you have shipped over seas so that your own fortune could become a bit larger. Those jobs you have not shipped overseas are now underpaid due to the high applicant pool, again to make your fortune slightly larger. The protesters are people who want to be teachers, social workers, civil servants, conservationists – all state-employed positions you work to destroy so that you can pay a bit less in taxes, once again to make your fortune a bit larger.  They aren’t looking for you to “give” them a job, but they do want you to stop destroying public services. They want you to stop exploiting workers. They want you to stop controlling the legislative process.

This isn’t an issue of “class warfare.” They aren’t angry because you’re rich, nor because you own a company, nor even necessarily because you are friends with senators, parliamentarians, and heads of state. The anger stems from the inequalities of the current political and economic system, which allows an extreme minority of the population to have a life-shaping and ultimately detrimental impact upon lives of the rest of the population.

The protests may not have a single coherent message, but don’t write off their complaints as baseless. Just because their goals and motives don’t fit onto a bumper sticker doesn’t mean they don’t have legitimate concerns. In fact, it’s high time we had political movements that aren’t so simplistic that their aims, complaints and general ideology can be fully described on a bumper sticker.

 

And I’ll just end with a couple of graphs for you to chew on: 

Fair Tax Cuts? 

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Scorn in the USA

Jon Stewart calling out the Republicans on another inconsistency of their arguments:  When it’s for their goal (say, to block or repeal Obama’s healthcare law), then they call upon Americans to stand up and fight; make their voices heard!  But when the shoe’s on the other foot?  When the American people are protesting them and their constituents?  Then it’s class warfare, and then it’s going to divide America.  

Oh jeez.

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From Zzzzzz’s to $$$$$$’s

For some reason I woke up thinking about finances…So, here are a couple of things that caught my attention this AM:

I can’t remember where I got the following cartoon (NY Times, maybe?  NPR? – either way, I’m not claiming to have drawn it and I wish I could give credit to the artist now) – but I posted it on Facebook and a colleague made a very observant comment on it.  You can see his observation below the picture.

“The biggest flaw with the entire argument in general is that it’s contradictory: “a smart consumer saves for the future; a good consumer spends to stimulate the economy.” So people are, on the one hand, told not to “hoard” money and to spend it to help the economy. Actively encouraged to spend, in fact. Then when things go to hell, they are scorned for having not saved any money.”

Wise words.

Since we’re in the economic mood, I stumbled across a preview for a new movie that’s based on the true events in 2008 that triggered the current economic disaster.  The movie, “Margin Call” is directed by J. C. Chandor, and starring Demi Moore, Stanley Tucci, Kevin Spacey (and several other good actors), is due out soon.

To read the NY Times review of the movie, click here.

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Academe: Strangers on a Train

Yesterday, I read this article from the most recent edition of Academe, the magazine of the American Association of University Professors. It’s about a lesson in complicity in the crisis of the humanities.  I’m not going to add any commentary of my own; I’ll let Dr. Davidson do the talking herself.

Cathy N. Davidson holds distinguished chairs in English and interdisciplinary studies at Duke University; is cofounder of the Humanities, Arts, Sciences, and Technology Advanced Collaboratory (HASTAC); and codirects the HASTAC/MacArthur Foundation Digital Media and Learning Competition. She is a member of the National Council on the Humanities, and her most recent book is Now You See It: How the Brain Science of Attention Will Transform the Way We Live, Work, and Learn.

Strangers on a Train

Early on in my first tenure-track job at Michigan State University, in the late 1970s, I happened to be riding the same train from Lansing, Michigan, to Chicago as the department chair who hired me, Alan Hollingsworth, who had since become dean of our College of Arts and Sciences. It had taken me three years to land a tenure-track position, and I was a second-round pick at that, after the original candidate failed to pan out. According to Modern Language Association statistics, it was the worst time for new PhDs (until the present one). It was the tail end of a baby boom, with too few students coming in to undergraduate colleges and universities and too many overblown humanities programs continuing to churn out new PhDs as if the demographics had never changed. There were more than six hundred applications for my job, and I felt like I was hanging on to the profession by my fingernails. And there was my chair-turned-dean standing over me, nodding to an empty seat and asking, “Is this seat free?” I thought about the five-hour ride from Lansing to Chicago as I moved my book bag and tried to make it seem sincere when I smiled and replied, “Of course! Please join me.”

It was one of those “strangers on a train” encounters that changes you forever, in this case in a good way. For those familiar with Patricia Highsmith’s 1950 detective novel of that name, I hasten to assure you that no one was murdered in my untenured-prof-trapped-with-dean-in-a-railway-car version of noir.

Al Hollingsworth passed away in 1991, but I’ve never forgotten that train ride. I still keep close two lessons from it. The first unforgettable moment was Al ranting (he liked high rhetorical mode) that he was sick of humanists complaining about the “crisis in the humanities” and not doing anything about it. He was convinced that if humanists were more assertive about their value to society and created programs that underscored that value, theirs would be among the highest-stature fields in academe. “Everyone knows the big three of learning are reading, writing, and arithmetic—and English departments have their stake in two out of three. But English department meetings are spent trying to dump reading and writing programs and are devoted to battles over who will hire the second Victorianist or medievalist or some other subfield where enrollment is already negligible. Then they wonder why deans want to cut their positions.”

That’s a rough reconstruction from memory many years later, but you get the drift. Al was sure that the humanities had become hyperspecialized to ape the hyperspecialization of the sciences and had abandoned creative writing and rhetoric, defining them as peripheral, low-status programs rather than championing them. He also believed critical thinking, historical perspective, languages and linguistics, and other components of cross-cultural literacy (though he would have used a different term in the late 1970s) should be trumpeted by every humanist as necessities in the complex world. In addition, he valued the “real-world” humanistic skills of being able to analyze the meaning of complicated texts and synthesize abstract or theoretical information from multiple (even contradictory) sources.

Al believed humanities teachers should present our mission as career preparation, even job training, for undergraduates. Instead, we fueled the crisis by our emphasis on preparing students for graduate schools that were already pumping out far too many graduates. Ninety percent of the battles within the humanities faced inward, like the disputes between Englishers and Americanists in English departments and the vicious wars between different theoretical schools that few outside the humanities understood. No one was attending to the real dynamics, dimensions, and demographics of the “crisis in the humanities.”

I didn’t agree with all of his positions, but most of what he said made sense then and makes sense now. If you look at the curriculum in most humanities departments, you would barely notice that there is a crisis and there has been one for decades. At most colleges and universities, humanities departments continue to have a hierarchy of requirements and teaching assignments that imply that the department’s chief mission is to train students for professional careers in the humanities. Most humanities departments do not seem designed to prepare students for any and all careers, including in the sciences, even though all careers require reading, writing, critical thinking, theoretical analysis, historical perspective, and cross-cultural knowledge.

Al’s comments resonated on that train ride partly because I was in hot water at the time. As a new assistant professor, I was, of course, relegated to teaching first-year composition. I was already running afoul of our university writing program directors by emphasizing “real” writing instead of the “research paper,” that strange collegiate form of writing—I call it “researchese”—that one rarely uses outside of college or graduate school and that, if one succeeds as a humanities scholar, editors later attempt to eradicate. The final assignment I gave my expository writing students was to write their own résumés and job letters for dream internships. Other students in the class read the letters and gave feedback, and then the students sent off the letters for real internships or summer employers and reported back the results. This was Michigan, with the auto industry tanking. I felt it was important to help my students, many first-generation college students, in the formidable task of finding jobs. The director of our program reprimanded me more than once for deviating from the prescribed syllabus of first-year comp. What Al said on that train that day spoke to me then and continues to now.

The Humanities’ Contribution to the Crisis

The second “strangers on a train” moment came with a question Al asked a few hours into the trip. “Tell me, what do people think about my deanship?” he asked. “What do you think?” I gave him my sense of what people liked and what they didn’t, what I liked and what I didn’t.

I was too naive back then and too foolhardy to realize he had been testing me.

“You’re being more candid than most academics would be when talking to a dean,” he warned. “Most academics pretend they stand up to administrators, they bluster and posture about ‘I told him thus and so,’ but, in my office, with the door closed and no one else around, they usually tell me what they think I want to hear. Then they go back to their friends and go on and on about how ‘these administrators never listen.’ They rarely acknowledge their own complicity.” I must admit that I was surprised at that statement, and I was even more taken aback when he warned that I needed to think about my own career and whether I wanted to continue to speak candidly to my academic superiors. He wasn’t telling me not to, only to be aware when I did that most people do not. “Never forget you are doing it at your own risk,” he said, or something like that. I’ve chosen most of my career to take the risks, but, whenever I do, I remember those long-ago words of caution.

I repeat them now because I’m about to take a risk. And the risk here (I now have tenure) is that my words will be misread. So this is just a reminder that I’ve spent a career talking back to the status quo. In this case, the status quo is twofold: first, administrators who hack away at humanities programs in order to make a budget; and second, humanities departments that have still not gotten the message that we could and would be central to higher education if we took our role in society and as educators more seriously. In other words, there is something in the prescriptions that follow that should offend just about everyone. If you don’t want to be offended, stop reading now.

Here’s the sequence:

NUMBER 1: Unfair, thoughtless, and sometimes downright ineffectual and stupid cutbacks are being made to humanities programs around the country and abroad. Programs are being cut, often without a plan or consensus and often without reason, strategy, or clear thinking. Any administrator, anywhere, who lops off this or that humanities program or funding stream without a comprehensive plan or logical justification is pursuing the neoliberal policy of scapegoating. He or she places the burden of a large failure in education funding on the least accountable, least powerful, and often even least financially significant parties. Taking cost cuts out of the hide of the humanities breeds greater and greater inequality but does not solve the problem. In fact, it rarely saves more than a pittance, and its symbolism merely justifies power imbalances and the status quo without rectifying the underlying structural problems that led to a deficit in the first place. It has been demonstrated many times (most notably by Christopher Newfield) that when salary, buildings, labs, and technology costs are factored into the equation, humanities programs typically turn out to be cost-effective, especially at tuition-driven institutions. Cutting them without an overall plan for the entire university is classic bad management, start to finish.

NUMBER 2: Nevertheless, some humanities programs deserve to be cut or closed, and just about every humanities program needs to rethink its role in educating students in the information age. Every survey of employers says students graduating today, in any field, lack skills that humanists should be claiming as our mission to teach. If we are fulfilling our mission, saving the liberal arts should be a top priority for any thoughtful, wise university planning commission. (See number one above about feckless and unwise administrators.) Many non-humanities programs are in the same boat; they aren’t rethinking their missions either, but because that isn’t what this forum is about, I’m not going to address that larger issue of university failure here. Our focus is the crisis in the humanities, and I’m sick of having had to address that crisis every year, year in and year out, for my entire career. Until we admit our complicity, we don’t even have a chance of addressing the crisis.

NUMBER 3: My own opinion is that only some portion of any humanities program should be devoted to preparing potential professional humanists. Producing PhDs trained to produce PhDs is, like all inbreeding, a way to guarantee decline and eventual extinction. Most students attend college because they are on a journey to independent adulthood. Translation: they need jobs, a career, a way to support themselves. Whether you are a vulgar Marxist or a raging capitalist, you have to support yourself somehow, and you have to do so in a given historical moment and cultural context. This particular historical moment, with all of its glaring inequalities, is terrible for anyone trying to be a self-sustaining adult in the United States. No one envies the twenty-two-year-old facing the job market. Students have a right to a college education that helps prepare them for an economically challenging, complex, global, fast-paced, Internet-driven future. Right now, for-profit colleges are subsidized to the tune of billions of dollars a year from taxpayer-supported Pell Grants, according to statistics from the Department of Education. Some for-profits have graduation rates as low as 25 percent. Yet they appeal to students because they promise job training. At the same time, most legitimate nonprofit colleges and universities boast loftier, and to my mind, indefensible, goals. Over a million students this year are turning to for-profit institutions, many of them out of despair at the lack of alternatives. We educators must change our focus. For our sake, for the sake of students, why not have humanists lead a necessary transformation throughout the entire university?

NUMBER 4: Al Hollingsworth was right that the world wants good readers and good writers, and that these are fundamental, foundational, indispensable job skills. Any survey of employers ranks reading and writing as the skills most coveted and most often lacking in new employees. Other missing skills include collaborative abilities, abilities to translate complex and incommensurate information into conclusions, critical thinking, persuasive skills, and project-management skills, plus global awareness and an understanding of culture and context for facilitating interactions in distributed, globalized workplaces. Sounds pretty “soft” (as scientists like to say). Sounds pretty humanistic. Instead of declining, our undergraduate enrollments should be soaring. If they are not in your department, you are missing the boat. I’ve said it before, and I’ll repeat it. We are living in the information age, for Pete’s sake. If humanists can’t make what we do central in an information age, we never can. Still, most humanities departments act as if the Internet had not yet been invented. As I noted on my blog at www.hastac.org, the information age without the humanities is like the industrial age without the steam engine. But few humanities departments could pass the essential litmus test to make that a concrete analogy rather than just a witticism.

NUMBER 5: Al was wrong about one thing. He said humanities departments could, if they had the will, lay claim to only two of the three foundational human skills—reading and writing. I believe we can lay claim to the third, arithmetic, now too. Given the importance of digital humanities, and all the ways the digitization of texts has an impact on our lives, given ways that data scraping and mining and extracting and analyzing can help us understand information flows now and in the past, we could be teaching students not only how to extract data but also how to analyze, interpret, and apply it in meaningful, paradigm-changing ways. Humanists have to get past the tired binary of “qualitative” and “quantitative” thinking—the former so often dismissed by number-crunchers as a “soft” skill and the latter so often dismissed by humanists as “positivism.”
To reimagine a global humanism with relevance to the contemporary world means understanding, using, and contributing to new computational tools and methods. There are many fascinating examples of digital humanities projects that use newly digitized resources to change our often Eurocentric ideas of human interactions and contributions. Even a few examples show how being open to digital possibilities changes paradigms and brings new ways of reimagining the humanities into the world. Mappamundi, a digital and web-based initiative that studies the global Middle Ages, is a partnership of medievalists and supercomputer scientists from Texas to Istanbul to Hangchow and even Timbuktu. Together, humanists, computer scientists, and engineers are building a virtual world where avatars can tour an ancient city, hear its music, walk around its architecture, read its texts, and see its carvings and statuary. The project requires global, cross-disciplinary partnerships that break boundaries and help students collaborate on project management and technical training along with new, multilingual, multinational, multireligious humanistic paradigms (“medieval” no longer implies “Christian” in the Mappamundi project).

Similarly, the Law in Slavery and Freedom Project brings together a worldwide cohort of faculty and students, often in seminars taught simultaneously with research collaborators at the University of Michigan and in Brazil, Canada, Cuba, France, Germany, and Senegal. In some classes, students mine local archives, create new databases, and exchange information and ideas to help inform our understanding of the institutions of slavery, abolitionism, and emancipation while, again, using interpretive and narrative skills once seen as outside the purview of the humanities. Last year, at my own university, the Haiti Lab in Duke’s John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute analyzed more than a hundred years of computerized ship records to prove that the recent Haitian cholera epidemic must have been imported from outside the country in the wake of the devastating 2009 earthquake. Crunching all the data now available in digitized records, the Haiti Lab participants (historians, literary scholars, computer scientists, visualization experts, and global health practitioners) proved that Haiti never before suffered from cholera even though other Caribbean countries did. This research helped inform the Centers for Disease Control’s response to the outbreak. Numbers matter to the humanities. Humanistic interpretive skills matter to a data-rich world. The world needs skillful, critical, creative interpreters of data now being produced at the click of a mouse: reading, writing, and arithmetic. Together again, at last. The humanities need to claim all three.

NUMBER 6: So what does this all add up to? A crisis, yes, but one that needs to be addressed (a) by protesting administrative stupidity (see number one above) and (b) by employing an equal amount of introspective activism about what we do, for whom we do it, and how we contribute to our own precarious state within the larger university. If I am a student already facing economic crisis, do I want to specialize in a discipline synonymous with “crisis”? We humanists need to change our mission and forever disown our self-defeating posturing.

C. P. Snow wrote about the “two cultures” in 1959. Looking backward thirty years, he noted that the two cultures came about largely because of the stature of the humanities being “on the decline,” while science was on the rise. Really. We’re eighty-two years old and still feeling one down? Enough. Acknowledge the crisis, but also acknowledge that the two-cultures argument is a product of the industrial era. So is overspecialization. We live in a new era, where work and life are blended, where multimedia arts are part of science, where computation is sociality, where Eurocentrism is outmoded, and where globalization touches us all. We have a new opportunity and, fifteen years into the commercialization of the Internet, now is just about the right time to be reforming institutions. Industrial Taylorism transformed the institution of the medieval university into the modern research university in which the humanities and the liberal arts more generally were already being rendered structurally and conceptually peripheral to “real,” specialized advanced training.

We now live in an age that requires synthesis and reconnection across isolated and overly specialized fields throughout the university (by no means just in the humanities). If the university is in intellectual crisis (in addition to economic crisis), it is the consequence of a mismatch between the educational needs of our era and the antiquated design of our educational systems. In short, we need a wholesale reconceptualization and transformation of the industrial-age university for a global, interactive, interdisciplinary digital age. The humanities have the skills to put the present university in historical perspective and to lead its reformation, to turn a crisis into an opportunity. First we must acknowledge our complicity in the current crisis. Until we acknowledge our complicity, we will change nothing—but others will change us, whether we like it or not. There seems to be no third alternative in this version of the “crisis in the humanities.”

NUMBER 7: I don’t like finger-wagging, and I’ve done a lot in this piece. So I will end by pointing toward one modest program we’re exploring at Duke University to create a prototype of what a new and essential humanities for a digital age might look like. In December 2009, David Bell, senior associate dean of the graduate school, asked me to gather together faculty to brainstorm ideas. We did this in an open fashion by posting ideas online, on a Commentpress blog, and holding open forums. We compiled about three hundred responses into a program that we turned this way and that to come up with what is, at the time of this publication, still a proposed draft (making its way now through various committees) for what will probably be a master’s degree, a “bachelor’s plus,” or a “PhD plus” (or all three) in what we are currently calling “knowledge networks.” Whatever specific institutional or degree form this takes, the new program’s hallmarks are deep critical thinking about the information age, about how concepts and ideologies change in response to technology, about historical process and critical thinking, combined with new modes of assessment and data analysis, technology training and requirements, peer learning, project management, and real-world application in year-long internships. It’s only one version and, as I’ve said, it’s still being drafted, but we hope to have students participate in this new program in fall 2013.

A program in knowledge networks is hardly a full solution, but it crosses some new boundaries and might offer ideas to other humanities faculty. I, for one, would much rather set a new standard for our profession than let ourselves be dismembered by those whose motives might be unsavory or even deadly to the goals of productive, creative, intellectual, social, and economic futures—our students’ and our own.

Highsmith, Complicity, and and Crisis

Now back to those strangers on a train. In Patricia Highsmith’s brilliant, grim tale of complicity, the architect Guy Haines encounters a stranger, Charles Anthony Bruno, a playboy and sociopath, and they exchange secrets: Haines would love to divorce his unfaithful wife and marry the woman he loves; Bruno would like to kill his father and inherit his fortune. Bruno suggests the two make a pact to each murder the inconvenient person in the other’s life. Because they met randomly, neither will have a motive. Theirs will be the perfect set of crimes, and they can then go off independently and unencumbered to lead happy lives.

Complicity never quite works so easily. Haines sees the scheme as a fantasy until he returns from a trip to find his wife murdered. He knows Bruno did the deed but is afraid to go to the police for fear that he will be implicated and charged as an accessory in a conspiracy to kill his wife. He is consumed by guilt, of course, and also fear. Bruno keeps turning up at inconvenient times and places (such as at Haines’s wedding), and, this being a noir mystery, a detective sleuths about trying to figure it all out. In the process, Haines finds himself more and more in thrall to Bruno, more and more powerless to lead an independent life. Haines can scarcely believe the person he has become because of that one brief encounter, because of his own cowardice and complicity.

As Highsmith knew, that’s how complicity works. Once you give up your independent judgment to another, it’s hard ever again to live free and clear of the desires of the person you most fear—or to be able to fulfill your own.
I’m not being entirely glib when I say the “crisis in the humanities” is a bit like an arranged murder interlaced with the complicities of all parties, and no one is completely innocent. It’s a terrible cycle. We have to break it. As humanists, we need to find our independent way and lead higher education, not simply follow in its own self-destruction and our own.

Right now, virtually all nonprofit higher education is institutionalized for the swiftly departing industrial age. It needs to be reformed, at every level and in all fields, for the digital future. Why can’t humanists lead the way instead of wringing our hands over how we are being mistreated by those whose values we probably find questionable in the first place? Educational and institutional leadership must begin with the radical reformation of our own disciplines and our own mission. If we do it right, we will have the public on our side because most people outside of academe are all too painfully aware that education (kindergarten through college) is not yet fulfilling its obligations to this new age. Students would not be turning to for-profit institutions if we were doing our jobs.
Higher education today is training students for the twentieth century, not for the one in which we live. The humanities could bring higher education into the twenty-first century. We need to find our independent way to our own radical reformation, and then we need to start on the rest of the university too. There is no other choice. We must reform ourselves before we are deformed by more powerful forces (those administrators!) into beings that we can scarcely recognize as ourselves.

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How 9/11 Changed Us: Mike Spann

On this 10th Anniversary of the September 11th attacks, I want to share this USA Today with you.  It’s from the same article as the three I’ve shared earlier this week.  However, this ones follows the story of Mike Spann, the first American casualty in Afghanistan.  

Mike Spann poses with his children Allison, 9, right, Emily, 3, left and Jake, 6 months, taken at their home in Manassas, Va., the day he left for Afghanistan in October 2001.

Mike Spann: First to fall in Afghanistan

A 32-year-old CIA paramilitary officer, Johnny “Mike” Spann goes to Afghanistan after 9/11 to fight the Taliban, the Islamist regime that provided al-Qaeda with a base from which to attack the U.S. He’s at one of the crucial battles of the war, then becomes its first American combat fatality — and an inspiration to his Alabama hometown.

By Rick Hampson USA TODAY

9.11.2001: More than most Americans, Mike Spann, a CIA paramilitary officer and former Marine officer, realizes life has been changed by the terror attacks. He knows the hunt for Osama bin Laden and the fight against those who sheltered him in Afghanistan will demand the skills of people like him.

9.19.2001: Spann e-mails his father, Johnny, in Winfield, Ala., his feelings about the coming war: “Support your government and military, especially when bodies start coming home. Our way of life is at stake. We must fight for it. … What everyone needs to understand is these fellows hate you. They hate you because you are an American.”

10.1.2001: Spann prepares to go to Afghanistan to fight alongside the anti-TalibanNorthern Alliance. He has decided to volunteer even though he is married (to a fellow CIA employee) and the father of three young children. He tells his father that after the attacks by al-Qaeda, which operated from Afghanistan with the consent of the Taliban regime, he owes it not just to his nation, but to his family.

10.18.2001: Shannon Spann, Mike’s wife, spends a typical night at home in Northern Virginia with the children. She helps one child with homework, reads the Bible and thinks about Mike’s safe return, writing in her journal, “I can’t wait until we’re all together.” She is caring for Mike’s two daughters from his first marriage — Alison, 9, and Emily, 4 — as well as her son with Mike, 6-month-old Jake.

11.24.2001: For weeks, Spann has been with the Northern Alliance, traveling through rugged and dangerous terrain, sometimes on horseback. With their military situation in northern Afghanistan becoming critical, hundreds of pro-Taliban fighters — most of them non-Afghans — surrender near the city of Mazar-e-Sharif.

11.25.2001: Mike Spann is interrogating POWs at a makeshift jail. He tries without success to question an English-speaking prisoner whom he does not realize is a fellow American: John Walker Lindh.

Moments later, a riot breaks out. Spann is killed in the fighting, becoming the war’s first U.S. combat fatality.

12.1.2001: Winfield, a Bible Belt town of about 5,000, mourns the loss of a local hero. Spann is remembered as an all-American kid who got good grades in school, went to church and on weekends drank a little beer and raised a little hell. Once distant, “the conflict has become very personal,” writes editor Tracy Estes in the local Journal Record.

12.6.2001: Spann is remembered at a church memorial service in Winfield. His daughter Alison is accompanied by her grandfather to the altar, where he reads a letter she’s written: “Daddy, I will miss you dearly. I will miss you, but I know you’re going to a better place. Thank you for making the world a better place. Love, your dear daughter Alison.” Later, she places the letter in her father’s casket.

12.10.2001: Spann is buried in Section 34, site 2359, at Arlington National Cemetery. Wife Shannon tells mourners that after the 9/11 attacks “he didn’t separate serving his country from serving his family. When Mike took the oath to defend the Constitution … he took that oath to our family as well. He just really thought it was his duty as a father to protect his children from terrorists.”

2.13.2002: The father of accused Taliban member John Walker Lindh is rebuffed when he tries to shake hands with Mike Spann’s father, Johnny. After his son’s arraignment in Alexandria, Va., Frank Lindh approaches Spann. But Spann does not shake his hand. Spann and Mike’s mother later tell reporters the defendant is a traitor. They believe their son died as the result of a prisoners’ plot of which Lindh must have been aware. A news video has surfaced that shows Spann talking to Lindh shortly before the riot.

7.15.2002: Lindh pleads guilty to charges with maximum penalties of 20 years. The plea bargain, which stuns a packed courtroom, averts a trial on 10 counts that could have brought life in prison. Lindh, 21, admits to U.S. District Court Judge T.S. Ellis III that he illegally supported the Taliban as an infantryman. Shannon Spann says that in pleading guilty, Lindh “agreed with the government that his conduct was terrorist activity.” But Spann’s father says his son and other Americans battling terrorists “have been let down.”

10.4.2002: At Lindh’s sentencing, Johnny Spann says Lindh bears some responsibility for his son’s death: “My grandchildren would love to know their dad would be back in 20 years. The punishment doesn’t fit the crime.” Ellis says he wouldn’t have approved the plea bargain if the government showed any evidence of his culpability in Spann’s death. A teary Lindh tells Ellis he had “no role” in it.

9.14.2003: A new biography of Lindh questions whether he was really unaware of plans for the prison rebellion in which Spann was killed. Mark Kukis writes in My Heart Became Attached: The Strange Journey of John Walker Lindh: “It seems impossible that (Lindh) would not have known people in the (prison) basement were armed and plotting a revolt when he sat before Spann, saying nothing that might warn Spann.”

12.18.2007: Mike Spann’s father says he opposes an attempt by Lindh’s parents to getPresident Bush to commute their son’s 20-year sentence and set him free.

5.28.2010: Alison Spann graduates from high school in Winfield, where she lives with her grandparents. People remember the words Alison wrote for her father’s memorial service, and that his death was not her last tragedy. Shortly after he was killed, her mother, Johnny’s ex-wife, died of cancer.

6.7.2010: Afghanistan passes Vietnam as America’s longest continuous war. In Winfield, people remember the war’s first U.S. fatality. Almost everyone appreciates Mike Spann’s sacrifice, but they disagree on whether the war should continue.

Spann’s father says it’s imperative to keep the Taliban, which ruled Afghanistan before 9/11, out of power. Dale Weeks, one of Mike’s boyhood friends, isn’t so sure: “It’s time to start bringing people home. We’ve done about all we can do.”

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How 9/11 Changed Us: Matthew Ridout

A third of USA Today‘s stories of individuals since 9/11.  

Matthew Ridout watched the 9/11 attacks at his high school in southern Virginia.

Matthew Ridout: A conversion and a calling

A young man watches the 9/11 attacks on TV at his high school in southern Virginia and is determined afterward to serve in the military and to learn more about the attackers’ culture and creed. Those impulses propel him through the decade, taking him in unexpected vocational and spiritual directions.

By Rick Hampson, USA TODAY

9.11.2001: Matthew Ridout, a junior at Thomas DaleHigh School in Chester, Va., watches the 9/11 attacks on TV. Students in his classroom, which lacks cable, take apart a spiral notebook and make an antenna.

9.14.2001: Thomas Dale students observe a moment of silence for the victims of the attacks. Teachers and students weep openly as God Bless America plays over the public address system. Ridout, who has always dreamed of a military career, is both appalled and intrigued by the attacks. He wants to learn more about why those men committed such a crime, and what they believe.

10.5.2001: Ridout is at football practice two days before the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan. His teammates are confident the U.S. will “kick ass” and be done in a few months. Ridout hopes they’re right.

1.30.2002: Ridout has visited a Marines recruiter to discuss enlisting after graduation. Although his family wants Ridout to go to college, the 9/11 attacks have made him feel it’s more important than ever to participate in the national defense. The attacks also have aroused his interest in Arab culture and Islam — in part because he wants to be an intelligence officer.

3.13.2003: Ridout worries about the impending invasion of Iraq. He believes Americans are blindly following the president into an unnecessary war in the name of patriotism. “Iraq will be our next Vietnam,” he tells a friend at track practice. His pal disagrees: “We’re going to be in and out.” After the invasion, Ridout decides to put off joining the military. He enters Roanoke College in Salem, Va., where he hopes to learn more about Islam.

1.12.2004: Start of second semester at Roanoke College. Ridout is enrolled inIntroduction to Islam.” As a Christian growing up in the Bible Belt, he knows almost nothing about Islam. But he thinks it might prepare him for a career as an intelligence officer.

4.19.2004: Last day of classes. Ridout completes course work for “Intro to Islam,” which has been a revelation. He’s attracted to what he sees as Islam’s focus on peace, tolerance and justice. He’s surprised by how much Islam has in common with Christianity, yet finds it free of some Christian doctrines he can’t accept. He wants to learn more.

10.4.2005: The beginning of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, Ridout’s first as a Muslim. He formally converted in his dorm room one day in March, reciting the Islamic profession of faith: “There is no god but Allah, and Mohammed is his messenger.”

9.13.2006: Ridout is disappointed by his campus’s tepid response to the fifth anniversary of 9/11. He helped organize remembrance ceremonies, but only a few people showed up.

5.5.2007: Ridout graduates with plans to work for Habitat for Humanity in Columbia, S.C. There, for the first time, he’ll begin attending Friday prayers at a mosque.

12.1.2008: On his 24th birthday, Ridout reports for boot camp at the Navy’s Great Lakes training center near Chicago. He has joined the Navy Reserve, realizing a longtime goal of serving in the military. He hopes the flexibility of the Reserve will allow him to continue his study of religion.

9.13.2010: Ridout begins classes at Hartford Seminary in Connecticut. He is pursuing a master’s degree in religious studies and hopes eventually to get his doctorate and teach college. He feels his conversion to Islam led to a deeper curiosity about religion.

10.15.2010: Ridout learns from a fellow Navy reservist that another unit will go to Afghanistan next year. He is asked whether he knows anyone in his own unit who would want to volunteer. He says yes: “Me!” Although he opposed the U.S. invasion of Iraq, he thinks intervention in Afghanistan — where Osama bin Laden was based — is justified. Ridout has been in the Reserve for two years and hasn’t experienced discrimination because of his Muslim faith. But most who meet him — a white man from the Bible Belt — don’t suspect what his religion is.

5.5.2011: End of second semester at Hartford Seminary, where Ridout has completed a year’s work toward his master’s in religious studies. He hopes to return in 2012 to finish work toward his degree. But he’ll spend the next year with his Navy Reserve military police unit in Afghanistan, where as a petty officer 3rd class he’ll guard detainees — many of them Muslims like himself. He remembers the harm done by U.S. military jailers who abused prisoners at Abu Ghraib in Iraq; he says that can’t happen again.

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How 9/11 Changed Us: Welles Crowther

A 2nd of USA Today‘s personal snapshots of life after 9/11.  This one follows the family of a young man who helped many people escape the North Tower before its collapse.  

Welles Crowther: Man with the red bandanna

The family of a man lost in the 9/11 terror attacks wonders how he died, and what he was doing at the end.A red bandanna, which gives rise to a legend, helps answer those questions.

By Rick Hampson, USA TODAY (<= click for full article)

9.11.2001: Welles Crowther, a 24-year-old equities trader, is working on the 104th floor of the south tower of the World Trade Center when the first hijacked airliner hits the building’s twin. He leaves a reassuring phone message for his mother at home in Nyack, N.Y. After that, nothing. His parents are left to wonder: How did he die? What was he doing at the end?

11.1.2001:Ladies’ Home Journal publishes a first-person account by Judy Wein, an AON Corp. vice president who was injured and narrowly escaped from the south tower on Sept. 11. She writes: “A man with a red handkerchief over his face seemed to appear out of nowhere and pointed to the stairs. ‘Anyone who can get up and walk, get up now,’ he urged the other people on the floor.” But she cannot identify the man. Crowther was a volunteer fireman who always carried a red-print bandanna in his back pocket. But his family and friends, who’d have made the connection, don’t see the article.

3.19.2002: Crowther’s remains are found near firefighters and emergency workers killed at a command center in the lobby of the south tower. Notified three days later, his family will note the significance of the date he was found: 19 was his lucky number — the one he wore playing varsity hockey at Nyack High School and lacrosse at Boston College.

5.25.2002: A New York Times article about the upper floors of the Trade Center on Sept. 11 says a “mysterious man appeared at one point, his mouth and nose covered with a red handkerchief” to help rescue several women from a dark, smoky stairway. One, Ling Young, says that she was steered toward safety by the man; that he called, “This way to the stairs!”; that he followed her down the stairs, carrying a woman on his back; that when they reached clearer air, he put the woman down and went back up the smoky stairs. But no one can identify the man.

5.26.2002: “Oh my God, Welles, there you are!” Alison Crowther reads the Times story and realizes the unidentified hero was her son, who since elementary school had carried a bandanna — a habit he picked up from his father, Jefferson. She overnights Ling Young, who’s mentioned in the story, a photo of her son. Young confirms that the man, who’d taken off the bandanna to speak to her, was Crowther. “You don’t forget a face like that,” she tells Alison. Two weeks later, the TheJournal News of Rockland County, N.Y., identifies the man in the red bandanna as Crowther. It quotes Young as saying that although he saved others, “he didn’t save himself.”

Spreading word: Jefferson Crowther holds a photo he took of his son, Welles. He says his job is to tell as many people as he can of his son's bravery on Sept. 11.

6.23.2002: Alison and Jefferson Crowther have lunch at home with two women Welles helped, Judy Wein and Ling Young. Young is still in a wheelchair, recovering from burns. They drink water from Lourdes, the pilgrimage site in France, which Alison says helped her deal with despair over the loss of her son.

6.8.2003: Crowther’s parents remove a red bandanna to unveil a bronze plaque dedicated to their son at Empire Hook & Ladder Company No. 1 in Nyack. Crowther joined his father as a volunteer at the fire company when he was 16. Ling Young attends the ceremony. “This brings back memories,” she says. “I’m glad I found him and know who he is.”

12.15.2006: Crowther becomes the first person to be posthumously made an honorary member of the New York Fire Department. “Under the most hellish of situations, he … saved all those lives,” Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta says.

10.20.2007: The annual Red Bandanna Run, a 5K run around the campus of Boston College and the Chestnut Hill Reservoir, raises funds for the Welles Crowther Memorial Trust. Crowther graduated from BC in 1999. There’s also an annual Red Bandanna Skate in his hometown. “When children and adults hear Welles’ story, it changes them,” says his mother, Alison. “It brings such a light into their soul — it’s a beautiful thing for us.”

8.8.2010: The Welles Crowther Memorial Trust gives $1,000 to send Joshua Colas, a seventh-grader from White Plains, N.Y., to the World Youth Chess Championships in Greece. On Dec. 15, Joshua will take the national seventh-grade title in Orlando. Two days later, he will become the youngest African-American chess grandmaster by defeating Leonardo Martinez at the Marshall Chess Club in New York.

9.12.2010: Musicians from some of New York’s greatest orchestras take the stage at Grace Episcopal Church in Nyack with red bandannas tied around their arms or tucked under their instruments and perform a concert in memory of Crowther. The concert, in its ninth year, aims to help heal painful memories with Bach, Debussy and Schumann … “music with a message of hope,” Alison says.

2.25.2011: Alison and Jefferson Crowther visit a new exhibit in their son’s honor at the preview site for the 9/11 memorial museum in New York. The exhibit features photos of Crowther, a recorded interview with his parents … and one of his signature red-print bandannas.

WATCH A VIDEO ABOUT WELLES CROWTHER, HERE.  

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How 9/11 Changed Us: Mychal Judge

We’re nearing the 10 year anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks.  I know that it’s hard for many of us to grasp that an entire decade has passed since we stood frozen in front of TVs, watching the horrible events happen over and over on relentless news clips.  When I asked my students last year if they remembered where they were when the attacks happened, I was shocked when a couple answered, “Yeah, but it’s kind of hazy.  I was only 8.”  Even more significantly, my youngest brother was born in a post-9/11 world.  Just as many of my generation will never know what it was like two live during the Cold War, when the geo-political order of the world was one of two super-powers at opposite poles, my brother will never know a world in which we’re not encouraged to live in constant fear, and where the one sole superpower takes a drastic step and implements a policy of preemptive warfare as a defense.   

…But enough of my own blabbing.  The main thing that I wanted to share is a USA Today article that offers an interesting perspective on the look back at the past ten years.  It tells the story of the last decade through the lens of about 15 individuals.  For the next five days I will post one of those stories.  

The first that I would like to share is fittingly enough about Victim 0001.

HOW 9/11 CHANGED US:  PERSON BY PERSON

By Rick Hampton and Martha T. Moore, USA Today

The terrorist attack on America 10 years ago is one of the few events in U.S. history big enough to claim its date as its name. But Sept. 11, 2001, did not change the nation as abruptly as Dec. 7, 1941, or as dramatically as July 4, 1776. This time, there was no declaration of war or independence, just a warning that if we altered our ways, the terrorists would have won.

And so we entered a new era slowly, incrementally. Day by day. Person by person.

A decade later, we can see the changes in our nation by looking at the changes in our people — some who were close to the cataclysm, some far from it.

What follows are the stories of 20 such Americans. They suggest 9/11 was like a rock thrown in a pond, its impact rippling out until all the water is roiled.

Told as a series of snapshots in time, these 20 stories form a pointillist narrative of how America got from then to now, through invasion and investigation, reconstruction, rehabilitation and revival, tightening security at home and constant warfare abroad.

In their tales, we hear an echo of our own concerns about the next terrorist attack, the struggle between liberty and security, the pat-down at the gate.

When the stories begin on 9/11, two of the subjects are still in high school. Another, in his sixth decade, is carried dead from the World Trade Center. In the years that follow, we come to understand a bit of the orphan’s grief, the warrior’s courage, the priest’s faith, the convert’s curiosity, the zealot’s recklessness.

We go on a widow’s first date and share a bereft couple’s surprise that, against all odds, they have something to bury of a lost son.

We learn what motivated the first American to be awarded the Medal of Honor in the Afghanistan War, how a fireman who survived Ground Zero enlisted to fight in Iraq and what happened once he got there.

A daughter, in losing her mother, discovers her true calling. One mother fights to clear her son’s name; another discovers that hers was the mysterious “man in the red bandanna” who led fellow office workers to safety at the Trade Center.

The ripples of 9/11 spread far from where the four hijacked planes crashed in New York City and Arlington, Va., and near Shanksville, Pa. They affect the post of poet laureate of the state of New Jersey; the right of a public worker to burn a sacred book; and possibly even the movement to legalize gay marriage.

A photo of a spontaneous hug helps decide the 2004 presidential election. A former captive of Muslim terrorists in a distant land lives to see most of her captors destroyed — and to help some of those who survived.

In such a decade, plans often come to naught. A patriotic teenager who wants to learn more about his nation’s attackers ends up accepting their religion. A young woman, moved by 9/11 to enlist in the Army and discover herself, suffers debilitating wounds that make her wonder who she really is.

A Pentagon worker looking forward to an active retirement is so seriously burned that she can neither climb stairs nor lift her 12-pound bowling ball.

This is what it was like in the decade after Sept. 11, the date claimed by catastrophe, the door from then to now.

The Rev. Mychal Judge: Victim 0001

A photographer documents firemen carrying the Rev. Mychal Judge’s body from Ground Zero on 9/11, producing an image that some will call an American Pietà. In death, Judge’s legend grows, new facets of his life emerge, and some call him a saint.

By Rick Hampson, USA TODAY

9.11.2001: The Rev. Mychal Judge, a Franciscan priest and New York Fire Department chaplain, rushes to the World Trade Center, where he dies amid falling debris after administrating last rites to a fallen firefighter. He’s listed as Victim 0001, the first recorded fatality in the attacks. A photographer snaps a shot of ash-covered firemen carrying the priest’s body from the wreckage, producing what will prove to be one of the tragedy’s most enduring images.

9.15.2001: Judge’s funeral is held at the Church of St. Francis of Assisi , across the street from a firehouse that lost seven firefighters. Mayor Rudy Giuliani calls Judge a saint. The eulogist, the Rev. Michael Duffy, says Judge used to tell him to ask him what he needed. When Duffy did, he’d reply, “Absolutely nothing. … I am the happiest man on the face of the Earth.”

11.12.2001:New York magazine reports that Judge was gay, although apparently — as a Roman Catholic priest — celibate. New York Fire Commissioner Thomas Von Essen says, “I actually knew about his homosexuality when I was in the Uniformed Firefighters Association. I kept the secret, but then he told me when I became commissioner five years ago. He and I often laughed about it, because we knew how difficult it would have been for the other firefighters to accept it as easily as I had. I just thought he was a phenomenal, warm, sincere man, and the fact that he was gay just had nothing to do with anything.”

3.16.2002: Judge is grand marshal of the Chicago St. Patrick’s Day Parade, the first time the honor has been bestowed posthumously. When the lead float honoring Judge arrives at the reviewing stand, President Bush and Mayor Richard Daley stand at attention as a bagpipe band plays Amazing Grace. The crowd then chants, “USA, USA!”

4.15.2002: Burt Kearns, a former tabloid TV producer for A Current Affair and Hard Copy, created a website to advocate for the canonization of Judge. “He died a martyr,” Kearns says. “Everyone I talk to thinks he’s a saint.”

4.26.2002: Speaking at St. Bonaventure University in southwestern New York, a leader of the Franciscan religious community criticizes the “rush to canonize” Judge. The Rev.John Felice, who accepts a medal awarded to Judge, says: “There is a rush to canonize Mychal these days, and I think it is a mistake. In making saints out of people, we often shove them away from our experience and place them on a pedestal. He was a very human, flawed, complex person, just like the rest of us. His real legacy is to teach us that such is the stuff of greatness.”

6.26.2002: President Bush signs The Mychal Judge Act, marking the first time the federal government has extended equal benefits for same-sex couples. It allows domestic partners of fire and police force members, including chaplains, who are killed in the line of duty to collect their federal death benefit.

2.20.2003: The father of an autistic child says the boy’s condition improved after his parents prayed to Judge. Scott Brown says his 4-year-old son, Matthew, did not speak well, wouldn’t respond to certain noises and could hardly look people in the eye. After the family prayed to Judge that God loosen Matt’s tongue, “the positive outcome … was almost instantaneous,” says Brown, a Newport, R.I., firefighter. “For someone who was so silent and would never make eye contact with you, he’s like a different child. … I can’t help but to say that it is miraculous.”

2.24.2003: Critics of a gay-organized St. Patrick’s Day parade in Queens object to organizers claiming Judge as one of their own. Pat Hurley, a Queens resident, tellsNewsday, “I knew a lot of people that knew Father Mychal Judge and they never saw any inkling of his being gay.” Judge was a member of Dignity, an organization of gay Catholics that is not recognized by the church hierarchy.

4.17.2006: The documentary Saint of 9/11, narrated by actor Ian McKellen, premieres at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City. The subject is Judge. The film begins with an interview in which Judge said, “You wonder what your last hour of life could be. Will I be doing something for someone, trying to save a life?” Shortly before he was killed, Judge administered the church’s last rites to a firefighter. A fellow Franciscan says, “This is how Mychal would have prayed to have the last minutes of his life transpire.”

9.2.2008: A new biography of Judge says he did not reveal his homosexual orientation to firefighters because he felt he had to be whom they needed him to be. “The very fact he could inspire them to believe (in Christ) caused him to fear that if he broke that spell (by revealing his sexual orientation) they would feel betrayed and lose their faith,” writes author Michael Daly, a friend of Judge’s. The book says that in his later years, Judge had a romantic relationship with a male Filipino nurse 30 years his junior. The book also describes Judge’s tense relationship with, and disdain for, New York Cardinal John O’Connor.

4.15.2009: New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan, in his first homily after assuming office, mentions Judge in the same sentence as two American saints, Elizabeth Ann Seton and Frances Xavier Cabrini. He says that Christ is alive in the church’s “consecrated religious women and men,” such as Seton, Cabrini and Judge.

5.11.2011: Judge’s 78th birthday. His resting place at Holy Sepulcher Cemetery in Totowa, N.J., has only a simple horizontal marker, but the grave site stands out from the others in the Franciscan order’s plot. It’s adorned with figurines of fat friars and firemen; rosary beads; flowers real and artificial; and various pins, including one that reads, “Brothers in Faith Shall Do Great Deeds.” The plot is near the cemetery gate on Union Avenue. Less than a mile away, at 486 Union, is the apartment where two of the 9/11 hijackers lived. Their visitors included Mohammed Atta, who piloted a jetliner into the north tower, where Judge died.

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