Oberlin Alumni Magazine

Winter 2007 Vol. 102 No. 3 OAM Home | Oberlin Online


Return of the OC Republicans

Three cheers for Barry Garrett! Oberlin is truly a liberal institution (in the best sense of the word) if politically incorrect viewpoints are accorded as respectful a hearing as conventional liberal (in the worst sense) wisdom. It is a bit dismaying, however, to find Libertarian ideas packaged indiscriminately under the “conservative” label. Some of us find Libertarianism the only source of radical politics. As Jesse Walker, managing editor of Reason magazine, said, “There is no party of tolerance in Washington—just a party that wages its crusades in the name of Christ and a party that wages its crusades in the name of “Four out of Five Experts Agree.” Or, as H. L. Mencken had it, “The urge to save humanity is almost always only a false-face for the urge to rule it.” There will never be a Libertarian in high office—nobody can be elected on a platform of government doing less for you. But it’s well to remember that the real political divide in America is not between different statist brands such as Depublican or Remocrat, but between reactionary statists and studiously ignored Libertarians.

John M. Rathbun ’68
Mills River, N.C.

Many of us feel Oberlin has a special place in a world gone nuts. So imagine my reaction reading about young Republicans on campus! I wasted no time reading the article. Their inviolate agenda is so clear as to be absurd: to concoct a cartoon of the traditional values that make Oberlin a bastion of tolerance, such as open discourse and an eagerness to accept new and different ideas. Simply put, ideological weapons of mass destruction have no place on campus. By introducing detritus into the pristine intellectual wilderness that is Oberlin, Republicans inflict early trauma on students who may fail to understand what’s at stake: the beauty of peace and respect for all humanoids. Like people who are the products of single-nanny households, young Republicans fail to embrace the wondrous diversity that distinguishes, say, an Arab Sunni from a jihadist Shiite. Nothing is worse than an elite that demands egalitarianism for others while ensuing privilege for itself. It’s not enough to just say no; we need to rise up and challenge them with all manner of retrograde forces. The disabled, the down-trodden, the ne’er-do-well, and other minority voices must all oppose willful adaptation to environmental changes. Just as young Republicans decry the legality of spontaneous genetic mutations, we must staunchly resist outside efforts to diversify the Oberlin community. Finally, a Google search reveals that the covert financier behind the Republicans’ lecture series is Steve Shapiro ’83, president of Intrepid Capital Management … a financial organization that funds the USS Intrepid and other military battleships? Is blood money funding a campus organization? We want answers. Meantime, let’s backlash against the campus Republicans’ exploitation of reality with a contrarian message: When it comes to values, Oberlin doesn’t cut and run.

Remi Barbier ’83
San Francisco, Calif.

Ford Scholars Weigh In

I read with great interest and nostalgia your article regarding my fellow Ford Scholars, especially those in the Class of ’58. I arrived at Oberlin a few weeks after turning 16 and having completed one year in high school (10th grade). I thought my purpose at Oberlin was to learn for learning’s sake, and so I majored in philosophy because it intrigued me and was a “major” challenge. The whole concept of preparing to make a living was still off in the opaque future. I am happy to say, however, that the critical thinking skills I acquired at Oberlin have served me well throughout several occupations. I have spent the last 20 years mediating and arbitrating disputes, most notably in the area of discrimination, and in the securities industry (quite different arenas!). I have been a lifelong community activist and have served in various voluntary, appointed, and elected capacities on boards and committees. I maintain my musical interests as well, having sung with the Mendelssohn Choir, which is the choral adjunct of the Pittsburgh Symphony, and as the current musical director and organist at my church. I live in Beaver, Pennsylvania, after living for many years in New Jersey, where I raised my children. I am greatly looking forward to seeing all my classmates at our upcoming 50th reunion.

Beth Rackley Hesselson ’58
Beaver, Pa.

Editor’s note: Several Ford Scholars reacted to our article with wonderful stories of their days on campus. Take a look at http://www.oberlin.edu/alummag/fall2006/notes.html.