What made Silicon Valley happen? As a historian of the region, I am often asked this question, and I thought I would use this space to begin to answer it.
I am often asked, is the West red or blue? Republican or Democrat? The answer is neither. Even as the rest of the nation aligns by region into red, Republican South and blue, Democratic North, western states continue their maverick ways, switching from one color to the other.
When I received the invitation to participate in Chautauqua’s focus on the American West, I anticipated speaking about the demands that climate change has placed on local, regional, state and federal actors across the West to overcome barriers to the integrated management of water and energy.
What does the frontier mean for America? We have been told for generations that understanding it is fundamental for coming to terms with white American identity. It helped foster certain sensibilities that can explain individualism, relations to the state, and understandings of other groups.
What do you say to a friend who tells you that your job loss is part of God’s special plan for your life? Or, if it is stage three cervical cancer that is causing you to lie awake worrying at night, how do you respond to that well-intentioned soul who wants you to believe that God has a reason for everything?
When I started to think about the theme for this week at Chautauqua — privacy — I kept bumping into a couple issues which claimed priority. Before you can talk about “privacy” you have to have some understanding of not only freedom, but also of what manner of creature a human being is. I thought of the cartoon — a flashing highway sign with the message, “Welcome to Las Vegas! A faith-based community!” It expresses the fact that we all live in some sort of “faith” community, which makes assumptions about what the human enterprise is about.
“There will be no peace among the nations without peace among the religions and no peace among the religions without dialogue.” — Hans Kung
Guest Column by Kemal Kirişci. Kirişci will give Friday’s Morning Lecture in the Amphitheater at 10:45 a.m.
As the Arab Spring spread from Tunisia to the rest of the Middle East early in 2011, the longtime opposition figure Rashid al-Gannouchi, also the co-founder and leader of Tunisia’s an-Nahda party, was among the many leaders who pointed to Justice and Development Party (AKP)-led Turkey as a model for guiding the transformation of the Middle East. Gannouchi maintained close relations with AKP and its leadership, which later became closely involved in Tunisia’s transformation efforts. Yet, after a May 2013 talk on “Tunisia’s Democratic Future” at The Brookings Institution, Gannouchi’s response to a question asking him which countries he thought constituted a model for Tunisia was striking because he did not mention Turkey. It is probably not a coincidence that he responded the way he did because the news about the harsh police response to the initial stages of the anti-government protests in Turkey was just breaking out. Subsequently, in an interview he gave to Jackson Diehl of The Washington Post early in June, he also took a critical view of both Mohammed Morsi and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for their majoritarian understanding of democracy, a view that he said an-Nahda renounces. So what happened to Turkey’s model credentials? What might have led Gannouchi to change his views so dramatically? Are there any prospects for Turkey to reclaim these credentials?
Guest Column by Michael Rubin
Standing beside Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan at the White House on May 16, 2013, President Barack Obama hailed Turkey.
“This visit reflects the importance that the United States places on our relationship with our ally, Turkey,” he said.
Today, I will be speaking on “Mass Incarceration and American Exceptionalism.” I will address the enormity of our “imprisonment problem,” our love affair with incarceration, how we got there, and how inadequate our criminal justice system has been in addressing it. Recent developments have made the latter point all the more clear. We have a much-vaunted adversary system — but one of the important adversaries, the federal public defender, is about to enter the ring underfunded, understaffed and demoralized, all because of the “sequester.” Its opponent — the United States Attorneys’ office — has emerged unscathed. Indeed, in Boston, and I suspect other jurisdictions, the United States Attorneys’ office is hiring new assistants.