Cass Mude’s lecture on the 6th of February provided a very interesting insight into the rise of the far-right in Europe and in a global level. The Dutch political scientist pointed out that the rhetoric of the far-right today is characterized by populism, that generates hatred among the society and distrust for the political and economic elites. The main characteristics of the far-right today is its heterogeneity and normalization. As for the latter, far-right movements tend to adjust their ideologies in accordance to a society’s prevalent views and social norms, in order to make it more attractive. At the same time, the yearly exposure of many societies around the globe to far-right ideologies has led to viewing it merely as something unpleasant rather than unsound or illogical.
Finally, Mude makes a distinction between the extreme right and the far right. He supports that the views of the extreme right are so distant from social norms that their fallacy is widely understood. On the other hand, it is the radical right that poses a real threat, because by distorting and radicalizing values already in the core of society, its views do not seem so extreme and the attraction of an increasing portion of the population towards it is more likely.
Gerhard Richter’s “October 18, 1977” series has one consistent theme: confusion. The blurred nature of each piece conveys to the viewer a sense of disconnection from reality, as though one cannot focus on the world around them. It makes the paintings seem almost unreal, like a hallucination or a dream. Upon closer inspection, it seems that the unfocused confusion in each painting is not a disconnect from reality, but rather a reflection of the state of reality in the moment the photograph was taken. The era in Germany from which the photos arose was filled with disorder, with voices of the government presenting a story that did not align with the reality of the country. With the addition of Ulrike Meinhof and her fellow revolutionaries making waves in the news, few people knew what to believe about the world around them. The paintings represent this blurred sense of reality in Germany during this time. For instance, the photos titled “man shot down 1” and “man shot down 2” are some of the most blurred in the collection, for the death of Baader showed that the reality he fought for went unachieved and the reality presented by the government was farther from the truth than ever.
In particular, the paintings of Ulrike Meinhof’s life become increasingly blurry as her state of mind deteriorates. The paintings depicting Meinhof in her youth are only slightly fuzzy, indicating an era of stability in her life. The “confrontation” paintings, depicting Meinhof in prison, are so blurred it’s difficult to make out many details. This suggests Meinhof felt highly unsure at this point in her life, not knowing if or when she would be released from prison.
The Cake was truly an emotional journey. For long stretches it was highly comedic, but sporadic sobering interludes made me sympathize with every character on stage. This surprised me, since I thought I wouldn’t feel any sympathy for Della, the middle-aged southern baker who doesn’t want to make the cake for her young friend’s lesbian wedding. However, Della’s character was more full of inner conflict than she was full of hate, torn between a motherly love for this girl and her heteronormative idea of romantic love. Additionally, Della’s acceptance progressed throughout the play, to the point where she couldn’t bring herself to attend the wedding but put thought and effort into making their wedding cake. I was impressed by the choice of the playwright, the director, and the actor portraying Della, all of whom humanized the character as opposed to villainizing her. Painting Della as a human trying to change shows that opinions are not divided in the polar opposite way we so often imagine.
Shadows of the Summit Pointing West:
!: I didn’t know there were multiple summits of world leaders, especially 15 years after the war had been over.
?: Has NATO had significant roles in foreign policy since after the war?
Hitler Within You:
!: I had never thought about the generation growing up after World War 2 and also having to deal with the consequences of things that happened during the war.
?: Can someone uninvolved with the Third Reich but still supporting it be punished as helping with the Holocaust?
Human Dignity is Violable:
!: I think it is interesting that the text says democracy is the ONLY form of statehood that can ensure human dignity.
?: The profits of war never outweigh the losses, but does that mean it is never the right idea to declare war?
!: I’m surprised that columnists aren’t influenced by the editor when making their part of the paper.
?: How well have Germans been allowed to write what they want and how they want it? Has that been restricted in the past or now?
The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum:
!: I didn’t realize the power the officers had to be able to get into and go through someone’s house if they wanted.
?: How did a strict law enforcement effect the privacy of citizens at the time?
!: I could not believe how much crime the RAF got away with before the main leaders were thrown in jail.
?: What would the RAF have looked like if their leaders made it back out of jail and continued on with the movement?
Every Davidson College student should watch Unlikely, a film about the challenges low-income students face in college. Prior to this screening, I thought I knew about the adversities facing low income students, since the majority of students in my high school faced these struggles. My school had a graduation rate of about 60% each year – my freshman class had around 1200 students, and I graduated with a senior class of around 750 students. I naively assumed that if a student made it to college, they would be fine. Unlikely showed me that the struggles of low-income students have a firm grip in the college experience. It especially hit home because one of the students telling his story in the film graduated from a high school in my public school system. I realized many of the students from my high school who I’d assumed had a straight road to success were struggling far more than I’d realized. I’ve caught glimpses of these struggles at Davidson – every now and then, a student voices their difficulty with maintaining a job or multiple jobs, meeting scholarship requirements, and keeping their grades up all at the same time. However, I think the extent of economic privilege at Davidson creates an environment in which those who are struggling with these issues feel afraid to speak about them, which is why every Davidson student should watch this film. All students need to be aware of the struggles of low-income students on campus so we can create an environment that is more responsive to their needs.