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Forum, June 26: Contemplating changes to Dartmouth’s weather vane

Published: 6/25/2020 10:00:16 PM
Modified: 6/25/2020 10:00:10 PM
Contemplating changes to Dartmouth’s weather vane

I want to pass along ideas regarding the disposition of the Baker Library weather vane.

I suggest keeping the vane but modifying it by removing the figures of the Native American and Eleazar Wheelock and replacing them with modern, appropriate figures selected by committee. The pine tree would thus remain as a vestige of the original vane, with added value by virtue of its having recently become a more significant Dartmouth branding symbol.

An alternative I favor would be to leave the pine tree and not replace the figures, with the compositional imbalance living on as a reminder of an enlightened decision. As The Washington Post’s Philip Kennicott reminded us (“Leave the statues’ pedestals empty,” June 21): “vacant plinths can mean anything, which empowers those who contemplate them.”



Ballad of inclusion from ’39

On Nov. 5, 1939, the magnificent African American bass-baritone Paul Robeson stunned a CBS radio audience with the opening words of Ballad for Americans: “In seventy-six the sky was red/thunder rumbling overhead. ...”

By election year 1940, when Robeson first recorded it, the John LaTouche-Earl Robinson composition was so popular that it was performed at both the Republican Party and Communist Party nominating conventions.

Ballad for Americans, originally called The Ballad for Uncle Sam, embraces humankind of every occupation, every religion and every skin color. But it doesn’t stop there. Responding to a question from the chorus, “Are you an American?” the soloist counters (in one of several versions of the lyrics), “I’m just an Irish, Negro, Jewish, Italian, French and English, Spanish, Russian, Chinese, Polish, Scotch, Hungarian, Litwak, Swedish, Finnish, Canadian, Greek and Turk and Czech and double-check American.”

Timely? As the number builds toward its dramatic conclusion, the chorus and soloist join to sing:

“Out of the cheating, out of the shouting,

Out of the murders and lynching,

Out of the windbags, the patriotic spouting, ...

Our marching song will come again!

America! America!”

Timely? Emphatically and resolutely so.


West Fairlee

A worrying election scenario

We have been forewarned. The Brookings Institution’s Robert Kagan poses a disturbing scenario, with President Donald Trump declaring the 2020 election ” ‘rigged’ due to alleged foreign meddling or some alleged domestic fraud” (“Democracy and the Battle of Lafayette Square,” June 4). He notes that Trump’s Cabinet, the Republican Senate and the Supreme Court are unlikely to object. If this were to happen, the recent protests in response to George Floyd’s killing will pale in comparison to the ensuing virulent citizen resistance.

How likely is Kagan’s scenario? A review of newspapers and books underscore three factors that cause me to worry: Trump’s self-concept, his obsession with reelection and potential problems with the election process.

In accepting the Republican presidential nomination, Trump proclaimed, “Nobody knows the system better than me, which is why I alone can fix it,” In November 2019, Energy Secretary Rick Perry told Trump that he was “the chosen one.” With such an ego, Trump is unlikely to accept election defeat.

Trump is obsessed with his reelection. To enhance his chances, he allegedly tried to obtain cooperation from Volodymyr Zelensky, president of Ukraine, to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter as a precondition for payment of a $400 million military aid package.

In his recently published book, John Bolton, Trump’s former national security adviser, reportedly said Trump put his re-election and his family’s well-being ahead of the national interest and urged Chinese President Xi Jinping to buy American farm products to boost his re-election chances.

As for problems with the election process, there are many. Edward-Isaac Dovere provides a list in The Atlantic. Some examples: Russian interference, claims of supposed fraud and a history of voter suppression. In addition, Dovere cites new worries because of the coronavirus pandemic: long lines, unsafe sites, closed voting locations, absentee ballots faked or claimed to be faked, and a collapse of the voting infrastructure.

Citizens need to act. Contact your senators and representatives about your concerns and ask to be updated. Follow the news closely, engage in letter writing and polling activities, and demonstrate.


West Lebanon

Honoring our graduates

The graduates of Hanover High School, like every other senior class this year, missed out on many fun memories and experiences from their last few months of school. On June 12, they rallied to celebrate their graduation in the “Marauder Motorcade” through Norwich. Our kids came out — in decorated trucks and cars, with balloons, banners and even some squirt guns. I’ve heard feedback from graduates and parents that the motorcade was so fun and celebratory that they’d love to continue it as an annual tradition.

This motorcade was only possible because of a group of dedicated Hanover High School parents, the endorsement of the school administration, and the vision and support of Norwich Police Chief Jen Frank and Mike Hinsley, the Hanover deputy fire chief.

It was made even more special because of the generosity of Dan Fraser, the Norwich community and local businesses. And to top it off, we were blessed with spectacular weather.

It takes a village to celebrate graduates during a pandemic, and I’m grateful we live in such a wonderful community.



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