Monday 25 January 2010

Research Seminar: Douglas Tallack

Alvin Langdon Coburn

At this week's research seminar - the first of the semester - Professor Douglas Tallack (University of Leicester), author of New York Sights (Berg, 2005), will be talking about: "One walked of course with one's eyes greatly open' (Henry James): London Sights in Alvin Langdon Coburn, Henry James and Joseph Pennell".

Wednesday January 27th, A2.51, 4pm. All welcome.

Joseph Pennell

Monday 18 January 2010

News: MLK Day

It's Martin Luther King day, and as The Caucus blog sagely notes, "For the first time, a black president will observe the holiday [...] President Obama and the first lady, Michelle Obama, will participate in a community service event in Washington. They will attend the annual “Let Freedom Ring!” concert at the Kennedy Center." Plenty of media outlets - like Salon - are using the event to meditate on Obama's first year as President, and to comment on the upcoming Senate race in Massachusetts.

Fox, on the other hand, leads with news of a new poll by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press:
70 percent of white Americans and 60 percent of black Americans “believe values held by blacks and white have become more similar in the past decade.” Those numbers are unprecedented. Clear majorities of black and white Americans are saying that the divide born or racial, cultural and educational divisions is closing fast.
They also complain that "the New York Times and Washington Post did not find space in their news columns to tell this uplifting story." In the Guardian, however, Lola Adesioye responds:
A more revealing place to look, certainly more so than polls or media firestorms, is at the fact and figures of minority life in America. There is the 16% African-American unemployment rate, which is expected to soon reach a 25-year high. There is the fact that while the president works on passing a healthcare reform bill, people of colour continue to die at disproportionate rates from diseases such as cancer and heart disease. There is a US education system which continues to fail minority children. While the picture is not all doom and gloom it is clear that the issues which most negatively affect the quality of life of a large number of minority citizens still persist in spite of an African-American president.

Thursday 7 January 2010

News: Pardon?

Jack Johnson; John Brown

As we begin 2010, the issue of pardoning is in the air. First, in the New York Times, David S. Reynolds called for a posthumous Presidential pardon for John Brown on the 150th anniversary of his hanging:
Justice would be served, belatedly, if President Obama and Governor Kaine found a way to pardon a man whose heroic effort to free four million enslaved blacks helped start the war that ended slavery. Once and for all, rescue John Brown from the loony bin of history.
Second, Senators John McCain and Peter King have been leading a campaign to secure a posthumous pardon for Jack Johnson:
"A posthumous pardon would represent a final vindication to Mr. Johnson's family and to the ignominious stain on our nation's history," McCain and King wrote, "and highlight the achievements of an athlete who was forced into the shadows of bigotry and prejudice" (via the Huffington Post).
But even though both houses of Congress passed resolutions urging a Presidential pardon for Johnson, the Justice Department has recently made it clear that this will be unlikely.

Indeed, the San Francisco Chronicle, has highlighted "Obama's Pardon Drought":
Obama has yet to grant a single clemency petition. He also has yet to deny one. Among past presidents, only four - George Washington, John Adams, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush - have taken longer than Obama to grant their first pardon.
Writing in the Huffington Post at the end of December, Jacob M. Appel went even further, putting out a call for mass clemency for America's incarcerated:
Our nation is long overdue for a mass clemency of non-violent felons and those unlikely to re-offend. Such a collective pardon and commutation would reunite hundreds of thousands of families, save billions of dollars in incarceration costs, and might foster a national spirit of forgiveness and reconciliation.
Is there anyone that you think should receive a pardon, posthumous or otherwise?