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When I read the quote from the student saying that when Barack Obama was elected president, "It was the first time in our lives we felt proud to be American," I was overcome with so much disappointment in both my university and at least some members of today's student body that I was ashamed to call myself a Brown alumnus ("Promised Land," Elms, January/February).

Regardless of one's political affiliation, to quote students who had never before been proud to be American and to imply in the article's sub- title— "Has Barack Obama brought patriotism back to campus?"— that there had previously been no sense of patriotism on campus is an embarrassment to the students, to Brown, and to the BAM.

Please remove me from the BAM's mailing list.

Brian Marchetti '93
Basking Ridge, N.J.

 

Is anyone else struck by the irony of twentysomethings who occupy some of the most privileged seats in this country bemoaning how destructive the United States is and deciding that at long last they can start feeling patriotic?

Richard Schlenger '74
Summit, N.J.
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Let me see if I understand this: The election of a man with a black father and a white mother, with virtually no executive experience, with no significant legislative accomplishments, and who makes grandiose statements filled with hope and hype, is the singular event that finally brings a sense of pride and patriotism to these students at Brown?

How dare Sarah Schoenbrun '09 say that for the first time she is proud to be American. What was so awful with the country before the election? How dare Robert Smith '09 say that now he hopes America lives up to its promise. Has it not lived up to its promise so far? And how dare Alexandra Chemla '09 say that her faith has been restored. How horrible was this country before? And somehow this all magically changed on January 20, 2009?

It is disingenuous and sad that these kids have no sense of what they have received in their lives so far, and what they will be afforded throughout the rest of their lives. This country, the greatest ever on earth, is not great because of one person.

Bud Brooks '83
Dallas

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Comments (5)
04/01/09
 
I am one of Sarah's friends. I think her comments have been taken slightly out of context. Below is something I wrote at 11:54pm on November 4th, 2008. 
_______ 
 
As children, we all read stories and myths of America past. We read of national heroes and national tragedy. We read of events which have the same urgency and critical nature one hundred years later. 
 
Unfortunately, in my life time, the only moment that I recall which seemed to transcend and cement itself instantly into the American story were the events of September 11th. As a New Yorker, 9/11 was the only moment of history I had ever felt like I lived personally. While I did not lose anyone close to me, my town was hit hard. I had friends whose fathers were firemen and policemen. I had friends whose parents miraculously survived. Members of my community were affected. My city's skyline was forever altered. 
 
Tonight I feel relief. This connection may seem distant, but for me, I feel as though there was a tightness I carried leading up to the election, feeling as though I lived in desperate and dark times marked by horrific history. That tightness has now been relieved. Tonight something which rises above and instantly becomes a moment of critical importance and of reflection happened, and this time the event is magical. Tonight is the antithesis of the atrocities which have marked my personal memory of history. 
 
We were part of something beautiful. We have created a better world. Regardless of your political leanings, regardless of your feelings on policy, the symbol of tonight matters and that symbol is as beautiful as any flag which dares wave in this great nation. 
 
 
I have felt for the last seven years that my children would ask me where I was and what I did in response to 9/11. My heart swells with pride as I now know my children will ask me what it was like to elect the first black president. 
 
I can't find the words to describe how fortunate I feel to be alive and a part of this new history, and not an old history of tragedy. 
 
 
Hope was not a message I clung to, but maybe right now, maybe watching the response in Grant Park tonight, maybe now that I am reflecting on my life and the history to which I will bear witness, maybe now I understand. 
____ 
 
Since we have been old enough and conscious enough to experience history, there have been few moments when we took pride in our country, and there have been too many when we experienced fear, confusion, and even shame -- when our president refused to sign the Kyoto protocol, when No Child Left behind failed millions of students, and when the first bombs were dropped on Iraq. It is critical to understand that we were just 13-years old when the World Trade Center fell, leaving it its wake a world we felt prematurely responsible to repair as young adults. 9/11 brandished itself into my generation's memory as the first marker of our living history, and that memory has damaged our collective ability to find pride in our country beyond its capacity to achieve empty military revenge. Since tragedy struck America and caught our attention, Brown's Class of 2009 was barely old enough to vote while we witnessed prisoner torture, disregard for the global community, non-existent disaster recovery for the socio-economically disadvantaged, and an institutionalized culture and language of fear. The historical election of Barack Obama now stands in stark contrast to the events that have thus far shaped our vision of history. A new story now weaves itself before our eyes.
 
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04/02/09
 
Mr. Brooks, before this January, we had leaders who saw nothing wrong with torturing enemy combatants. We had a major party candidate, who had been tortured himself, who saw nothing wrong with torturing enemy combatants. 
 
Tell us again that nothing was wrong with this country before the election.
 
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04/02/09
 
Class of '90, by the way.
 
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04/09/09
 
Garrett: OK, so now that torture has been eliminated, then I guess everything is OK with the country? Are you so naive as to think that torture of terrorists is bad and makes us an awful place? I am all for torture of these "people." 
 
And I never said that "nothing was wrong," I said "What was so awful with the country...?" I do know that there is far more that's good about this country than what's bad, and torture at the right time and place is perfectly good. You don't suppose that the terrorists don't torture people, do you?
 
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04/09/09
 
Jason, I am so relieved that you are relieved. Now, I can finally sleep better knowing you are relieved. 
 
As for the rest of your comments, please study your history a little more, so that you can put your comments into context, rather than the youth-induced myopic view that you maintain. Then maybe you can learn the truth about history and the phony-baloney, liberal revisionist history that you are "learning" at Brown.
 
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