Boston Bomber Condemned; Times Publishes Student's Lament on Academic Chill

Naftali Bennett at the dedication of a new building at the Amit school in Safed, Israel, Dec. 11, 2018. (Photo: David Cohen/Shutterstock)

The Israeli Path to Peace

There may be hope. Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, and Israel’s prime minister, Naftali Bennett, have been speaking on a regular basis since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24. On March 8, Zelensky personally thanked Bennett for intervening in the conflict and trying to help bring Vladimir Putin to the negotiating table. And if Bennett is not quite Talleyrand, he does appear to have brought diplomatic skills of a very high order to the table.

Press play to hear this AudioHopper Original podcast or listen on Spotify or Apple Podcasts.

An article in the Jerusalem Post on March 8 describes Bennett as an intermediary who has been “passing messages” between Russia and Ukraine without explicitly identifying himself with one side or the other.

The Jerusalem Post story presents Bennett as someone highly knowledgeable about the current state of the conflict and the chances for reconciliation as Russia grows more amenable to the demilitarization of certain parts of Ukraine rather than the entire country, and Ukraine backs down a bit from its insistence on immediate unconditional entry into NATO, a development that would only further stoke Russia’s fear and alarm about the encroachment of hostile powers around its borders.

An Artist’s Plight

A February 19 article by Ken Kurson in Fine Art Globe, “Cuban Curator Anamely Ramos Gonzalez Stranded in Miami,” details how staff at Miami International Airport, seemingly at the behest of the Cuban regime, barred Ms. Ramos from getting on an American Airlines flight bound for Cuba. Kurson’s piece cites a Miami Herald article stating that typically, when Cuban authorities deny someone entry to the island nation, it happens on the ground in Cuba, and not at a U.S. airport.

When asked whether she fears that the attention given her case might put her in danger, Ramos said that, on the contrary, she feels safer in the spotlight. For all their heinousness, Cuba’s officials are unlikely to try to strike at such a dissident in the U.S. with such a high public profile.

A memorial on Boylston Street after the bombings at the Boston Marathon. (Photo: Lane V. Erickson/Shutterstock)

A Terrorist’s Death Sentence Reimposed

On March 4, the U.S. Supreme Court decided in a 6-3 ruling to reinstate the death sentence of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the surviving member of the pair of brothers who set off two bombs at the Boston Marathon in 2013, killing three people and injuring hundreds, and then went on a rampage in the course of which they murdered a young MIT police officer and caused still more chaos, injuries, and destruction in the Boston area.

An article in National Review published shortly after the ruling details the reasoning put to use by Justice Clarence Thomas, who spoke for the majority when stating that the defendant had received a fair trial before an impartial jury as required under the Sixth Amendment.

The dissent, expressing the views of Justices Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan, and Sonia Sotomayor, supports the Court of Appeals’ earlier finding that the district court was correct to insist that the defendant had the right introduce certain evidence about his brother’s involvement in a grisly triple murder in the Boston area and that the judge in the earlier proceeding should have allowed defense lawyers to ask jurors about the prejudicial nature of pre-trail coverage of the 2013 attack.

Defending Academic Freedom, in the New York Times?

On March 7 the New York Times published a guest essay by Emma Camp, a senior at the University of Virginia, entitled “I Came to College Eager to Debate. I Found Self-Censorship Instead.” Ms. Camp is not just another conservative with an axe to grind over political correctness and cancel culture. On the contrary, she describes herself as a liberal feminist who sometimes takes a heterodox position.

Ms. Camp describes having had many hushed conversations with fellow undergraduates and even with professors on campus, undertaken in such a quiet tone out of fear that someone might hear an unacceptable opinion voiced on gender and sexuality or the merits and demerits of Thomas Jefferson. She relates how a friend shut his bedroom door when she was about to discuss a lecture she heard in defense of the third U.S. president. His roommate might overhear, the friend said. Some students are so terrified of social repercussions—and of getting a lower grade for speaking out in class—that they choose to clam up no matter how wrong they may find the viewpoint of a professor or a fellow student to be.

By Michael Washburn

Michael Washburn is a Brooklyn-based writer and journalist. He is the author of the short story collections Scenes from the Catastrophe (2016), The Uprooted and Other Stories (2018), When We're Grownups (2019), and Stranger, Stranger (2020). Michael's story "Confessions of a Spook" won Causeway Lit's 2018 fiction contest.