Forum, May 26: Dartmouth must consider impact of reopening

Published: 5/25/2020 10:00:08 PM
Modified: 5/25/2020 10:00:03 PM
Dartmouth must consider impact of reopening

As the Dartmouth College administration deliberates over how and when to reopen, I hope it will consider the impact of its decision on the entire Upper Valley community. Bringing hundreds of students from all over the country, possibly from all over the world, to Hanover amid this pandemic seems risky. Given the protocols in place, can we, the full-time members of the community, be assured that those people returning will self-quarantine for 14 days? How will that work? How are we to be protected?

I think the administration has an obligation to consult with the larger community — not something in its institutional DNA — and to communicate just how our health and safety is being considered. Or are we simply going to be told to “Stay away! Stay out of Hanover”?



You say ‘normalcy,’ I say ‘normality’

I’ve found I’m becoming obsessed by the ever-more-common substitution of the word “normalcy” for the correct one, “normality,” in our print media. In fact, in my obsession, I even went so far as to fantasize that it resembles the coronavirus in its inexorable expansion. So, hoping to restore a remnant of sanity, I visited Google for clarification.

What I discovered was a total surprise. Apparently, “normalcy” was used as a mathematical term as far back as 1857, and recurred in its now-current meaning in 1875 in an article in the Chicago Sunday Times. The word “normalcy,” however, gained notoriety through its use in a 1920 campaign slogan by presidential candidate Warren G. Harding. “A Return to Normalcy!” was his inelegant rallying cry to a country recovering from World War I. Harding was ridiculed and erroneously blamed for inventing the word. His truncated presidential term, riddled with scandal and corruption, likely further contaminated the term.

Watching “normalcy” spread with pandemic speed has made me alert for columnists who adamantly remain uncorrupted: Peter Behr, for example, in The Vermont Standard, who recently used both versions of the word in his weekly column, appropriately called “Middle Ground”; and gently old-fashioned Jonathan Stableford, in a recent Valley News column, correctly used “normality,” calmly ignoring the confusion about it. In fact, I had to blink and look twice: Was this really the correct version? (The Brits, I notice, are delightfully oblivious to overseas illiteracy and routinely use the word “normality” with a straight face.)

As an old-old elder, I intend to stick with “normality,” even as it sounds less and less normal, as I do with “to-mah-to” and “Ala-bah-ma,” incongruous vestiges of the distant world of my youth.



Who’s applying the ‘shock doctrine’?

The Associated Press reported that President Donald Trump used the Defense Production Act to classify meat processors as critical infrastructure (“Trump meat order raises questions,” April 30).

“Does it make sense to have meat in the markets if it takes the blood of the people who are dying to make it every day?” asked Menbere Tsegay, a worker at the Smithfield Foods plant in South Dakota, where more than 800 workers have confirmed cases of COVID-19, two employees have died and the plant has been shut down since mid-April.

Trump’s executive order was supposed to prevent supermarkets from running out, but given the current regime’s genocidal (and politically suicidal) tendencies, this may be just a continuation of Trump’s process to introduce more harm to the constituency, a follow-up of his advice to ingest disinfectants and UV rays.

Why are Trump and his toadies so mean? It’s just their nature, an attribute allowing them to apply the “shock doctrine” without batting an eye.

I expect compassion and scientific rigor from those of the political left, fiscal instinct and tradition from the right, so I’m surprised for multiple reasons with William A. Wittik’s Forum letter (“A Disgusting manipulation of the coronavirus crisis,” April 28).

If I understand him correctly, Democrats foment crises such as the climate emergency, and use shock doctrine tactics to deliver a Green New Deal. The Chicago School and its neo-liberal minions must be rolling in their graves.

Striving to be compassionate, I’d never stoop to think progressives would resort to the shock doctrine, but since all’s fair in love and war, we should act first before Sen. Mitch McConnell and the others pick up the pieces.

Important advice from Naomi Klein to help you through the pandemic and beyond: “Instead of rescuing the dirty industries of the last century, we should (bolster) the clean ones that will lead us into safety in the coming century.”


White River Junction

Trump made the pandemic worse

President Donald Trump may call former Vice President Joe Biden “Sleepy Joe,” but an afternoon nap is a much healthier activity than voluminous tweets that are mostly inane, insane and insulting.

We are now enduring a pandemic that has been made worse by Trump’s ignorance and self-serving pettiness and petulance. He has actually cost us thousands of lives and trillions of dollars by his lack of leadership.


Are you better off than you were four years ago? Four more years of this is difficult to imagine.


East Thetford

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