Category Archives: Essays

A New Genre of Civic Literature: Official Reports of Government Inquiries Into International Cases of Abuse of Institutionalized Children

By Arthur McCaffrey

This is a story about institutional crime and social justice. At times, it may seem there is too much of the former and not enough of the latter. That’s the bad news. The good news is, when the institutional crime involves the abuse and exploitation of children, a number of different governments, in different countries, in different parts of the world, are finally beginning to do something. Unfortunately, the US government is not one of them.  Continue reading

Believing is Seeing

By Afshan Jafar

As chair-elect and long-time member of a university faculty steering committee — the academic equivalent of a senate executive committee — I have been accused of many things over the years: having an “agenda”; being “aggressive”; being “strident”; being “blunt”; being “obfuscating”; looking for “special treatment”; and not being “forthright” are just a few of those. These negative responses were often prompted by what I believed to be innocuous actions, such as reading a piece of legislation to answer someone’s question (“obfuscating” and “not forthright”); pointing out that our evening faculty meeting time was not convenient for parents and especially mothers (“having an agenda” and “looking for special treatment”); trying to finish my sentence while somebody was trying to interrupt me (“strident” and “aggressive”). Continue reading

By Mail or Meals: The Cost of Human Contact Is Priceless

By Lauren Anderson

It was a handwritten letter, in clear block printing, with an unfamiliar return address. Somewhat ironically, it was from our mail carrier, Richard, who had been switched off our New Haven, Connecticut route weeks ago.

He was writing to say that he missed delivering to our neighborhood, had started a new book and watercolor class, and sometimes ate lunch nearby in case we wanted to join him. It was an unexpected but characteristically human gesture. Continue reading

Yevgeny Yevtushenko (1932-2017): An Echo Out of the Past

By Ross Kenneth Urken

In the summer of 2007, in Moscow, when I was 21, my Russian host brother, Volodya Volkov, took me to the Polytechnic Museum to see the annual birthday reading of famed poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko, who died Saturday in Oklahoma at 84. Afterwards, while drinking Baltika 4 outside with friends, we saw a black Jaguar crawling by. We rushed it and knocked on the tinted windows. The car stopped. The back window slid down and Yevtushenko gazed at us with raised eyebrows. I explained in Russian that I was an American student and journalist working in the city for the summer. Volodya noted he was “bezrabotny” (unemployed), but that we both wanted to be writers. Continue reading

Battle Fatigue: Why It’s Your Civic Duty to Get Some Rest in Trump’s America

By Amy Newlove Schroeder

We all know that life has changed since Election Day — and those changes have not solely occurred on the national stage. Trump’s election has affected the way many of us face our daily lives, causing deep and granular alterations in behavior. Instead of greeting the day with a steaming cup of joe and a casual perusal of my Facebook news feed, I now start the morning by immediately turning on CNN and pulling up the New York Times on my phone .I only read the articles about Trump, because every other piece of news seems like small potatoes. I used to get most of my news from NPR: now I subscribe to three newspapers. I used to channel surf when I got home from work. Now I go straight to MSNBC. There has been so much news, and all of it is bad: false claims of Obama wire taps; Jeff Sessions; the travel ban; Australia; Mexico; Ivanka Trump’s pumps; Russia, Russia, and more Russia. If you’re anything like me, you can’t look away. Continue reading

Glendale’s Comfort Women Memorial “Controversy” a Symbol of Passive Liberalism

By Steph Cha

Japan — as in the country — has beef with the city of Glendale.

During World War II, the Japanese government forced about 200,000* women and girls into sex slavery to service its Imperial Army, almost all of them taken from Japan’s occupied territories, including, but by no means limited to, Korea. In 2013, Glendale erected a memorial to these comfort women in its Central Park, a bronze statue of a Korean girl sitting next to an empty chair. Continue reading

Acquiring Targets

By Evan La Rue

This spring marks the 50th anniversary of a massive U.S. air campaign against the Viet Cong who were sequestered in the jungles and fighting a guerilla war against a technologically superior foe. This chapter in military history and its bitter lesson cries out to be remembered in this era of anxiety over a destabilized Syria and a potential alliance with Russia to fight ISIS from the skies. Continue reading