Unit 8 Post 1 Elizabeth Vair

Lost Honor of Katharina Blum

? Why does Katharina feel so attracted to the terrorist and why does she go through such lengths to protect him?

! Their reunion at the end makes it appear as though they have been much closer than just one night!

Baader-Meinhof Komplex

! There was a large number of the country’s population that was sympathetic to the RAF!

? What led Meinhof’s change from not wanting to leave her children to later wanting to involve them in suicide bombings?

Ulrike Meinhof readings

“New German Show”

! Fighting for peace was seen as a violation!

? Would prevention have created a better reality, or would it fuel a different version of the witch hunts and controlled papers?

“Hitler Within You”

! It was seen by some as out of place for the younger generation to involve themselves in the history of Germany’s fascism!

? Is the younger generation equally guilty if they do not question the older generation’s involvement?

“Women in the SDS: Acting on Their Own Behalf”

! Tomatoes and eggs are useful in drawing public attention and can become symbolic of a movement!

? Why did the journalist not realize the oppression facing all women was also facing his wife? Is it deniability of his own actions?

“From Protest to Resistance”

! The escalation from protest to resistance, and then from resistance to violent resistance was expected but still heavily impacted the people.

? How can violent resistance be productive if the damage is easily replaced? Would the other side need to be willing to change for anything productive to happen or is it solely relying on public pressure?

“Human Dignity is Violable”

! War was written as not being an option for the twentieth century!

?How was the Constitution not based on a perfectionists world view? Is that not what it aims to achieve even if it is for just one country?

Unit 7 Requiem Post Elizabeth Vair

In our discussion, Gabby and I saw a stark difference not between the story told in Requiem but rather how it was told. Anderson’s translation took a very personal and empathetic approach as it told the story from what read as an internally controlled environment. In more poetic terms with more vivid imagery, you read the poem from the perspective of the mother and empathize with her humanity. Anderson’s poem reads more like a novel – descriptive and story-oriented- whereas Thomas’s translation is more historical and analytical. To elaborate, while Thomas tells the same story as Anderson, it reads more as though it is from an outside perspective describing events. One reads the events but is not as drawn to empathize with them. For these reasons, we favored the Anderson translation. 

! Poetry was such a well respected and acknowledged art that poems that went against the country could be a motive for murder!

? Why did Akhmatova have a disdain for those that left despite the fact that she was tormented herself? Would she not understand their motive for leaving after this fact?

Elizabeth Vair Alvin Ailey

The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre demonstrated a striking blend of styles and stories throughout their performance. With new pieces and classics such as Revelations, they captivated the entire audience. Yet, the piece that interested me the most was En, a fairly new piece from 2018. I could not see as clearly defined as a story as I saw in the other works. In the Call, I could see the story of a mother. In Revelations, I could understand the gospel stories. In En, I understood the concept of time but not much else. It felt open to the interpretation of a concept everyone faced: the passage of time and our inability to slow it. The overwhelming ticking of the clock could be felt in your chest as you watched the performance, and the ambiguous characters allowed you to place your own storyline to the dance. It could be my bias towards simplicity that drew me to the bright lights and crisp movements or my fascination with the integration reverberating sound in the performance, but En struck me in a way that I can not quite describe.

Elizabeth Vair Event Commentary: Yamato Drummers

The Yamato drummers of Japan demonstrated an old culture that is often neglected by outsiders. When people study another country, the traditional importance of music can often be overlooked. I have heard that drumming represents the heartbeat of a country or people, and the Yamato drummers exemplify that statement. It is a shame that music is not studied more as a cultural entity. When you plan to go to a new place, and you search it up, the first things that usually come up are traditional foods, clothing, colors, and sports. Music comes up, but it is often regarded as a pleasant or enjoyable experience, not as a profoundly cultural one. We hear it, we enjoy it, and we do not give it much thought regarding its importance. Music is a way of communication that crosses language barriers. Almost every culture has its own form of music that is an act of storytelling and it is time we acknowledge that instead of treating music as simply a pleasant experience.

Elizabeth Vair Campus Event Commentary Kelley Lecture

The focus of the Kelley lecture was “The Other Slavery,” specifically, the lack of dialogue surrounding the enslavement of indigenous peoples. In the early 16th century, the combination of the silver and gold rush and Spanish laws prohibiting outsiders led Spanish settlers to turn to indigenous populations as a source of free labor. Despite 2.5 to 5 million Native Americans being enslaved between Colombus’ landing and 1900, the mental image most have when discussing slavery is the African slave trade. Why is this so? Why do we blame the disappearance of indigenous populations on smallpox epidemics, and not on the European slave trade? It is also important to note how drastically the indigenous populations dropped in regions- from 300,000 to 11,000 in the span of several decades-  especially Hispaniola. The indigenous slave trade centered heavily on women and children for labor. This demographic focus most likely contributed to the drastic population drops, yet, history does not acknowledge these atrocities and instead blames disease – something that could not have caused such a drastic drop solely by itself. History needs to acknowledge this genocide and make reparations, as our continual denial is only allowing oppression to strengthen.

Elizabeth Vair Unit 4 March 2 post

The last two panels depicting Eugene Connor uses the contrast between a sketch-like portrait and harsh text to drive emotion – possibly anger or disbelief- into the audience. This panel is placed after the attack on the freedom riders in Birmingham, and the interview atmosphere depicted makes the reader feel as though they are watching the newsreel after the events. The artist covers Connor’s eyes with his glasses, even though they are meant to be seen through and not sunglasses. A person’s eyes are often linked to their emotions, and it is said the eyes are the window to the soul. Therefore, blocking the eyes subconsciously causes the audience to associate this depiction of Connor as a person who does not have emotion, or is not impacted by the disastrous event. In the last panel, the bolded text in a black box covering the eyes is almost like a censorship bar. The text becomes unavoidable, it is impossible to look at Connor’s face – even close up – without seeing the harsh reality of his involvement in the casualties. 

This pictorial depiction creates a heightened understanding of the event as it is impossible to see it from another lens. The person who could possibly tell another story is blocked by the harsh and unforgiving truth. Showing Connor talking side by side with an image of a man beating a black man shows his association, even more so than would have been seen at the time. In the original interview, the camera would only focus on Connor, but by showing the atrocities next to him in this depiction, it becomes part of his identity. This personally disturbed me as I was bothered by the calmness with which Connor was depicted, even with the harsh truth stamped across his eyes and the bloody scene drawn next to him. The calmness seemed unnatural and offensive, explicitly showing that he was not bothered by the events, but rather was hiding his joy in them being completed.


Unit 4 Assignment 1 Elizabeth Vair

Mary Church Terrell

Ida B Wells

  • Born into slavery in Mississippi 
  • Parents became politically active in the Reconstruction Era  
  • Took a job as an educator after her parents and infant brother died of yellow fever 
  • When one of her friends was lynched, she began to investigate the reasons behind white mob violence 
  • Joined the boycott of the World’s Columbian Exposition for their lack of representation
  • Travelled internationally to shed light on lynching and confronted white women in the suffrage movement who ignored lynching 
  • Founded the National Association of Colored Women’s Club and was a founding member of the NAACP but is not credited
    • https://www.womenshistory.org/education-resources/biographies/ida-b-wells-barnett
  • Led by her religious beliefs which were grounded in Christian ideals 

Based on both women’s comments, the common roots for these expressions of violence are fear and hatred. Terrell talks about violence in the form of discrimination from jobs, while Wells focuses on more physical violence such as lynchings. Both these kinds of violence can stem from the fear of change that the white population had to face post-slavery. With this, hatred also came for the black population as whites avoided the realities of what they had done, and instead chose to oppress the others as much as they could to avoid changing the racial dynamics they had grown accustomed to. Women are the focus of both Terrell and Wells as they believe that women’s suffrage and education can help counter anti-black violence by raising their race as a whole. This is both a response and a solution. It is a response to the immediate problem, however, it can be seen as a long term solution that will not show its impact until several generations later. 

Elizabeth Vair Unit 3 Assignment 3

Gourevitch’s focus is on when the world turned its eyes to the atrocities of the Rwandan genocide while Sontag explores how and why this turning away occurs in history, despite the draw to seek out photos. The Rwandan genocide marked a time when humanity allowed over a million people to be killed, all the while denying it was, in fact, a genocide out of a lack of desire to intervene. It was not until the genocide trickled to a stop, and a massive cholera outbreak swept through the refugee camps – filled with the killers- that the world decided to actively intervene. Gourevitch focuses less on why would people not help, but more on what happened as they watched. As UN peacekeepers stayed in Rwanda, and France deployed troops, the focus was on killing stray dogs and protecting fleeing Hutus – not stopping the killings. As previously stated, Sontag’s focus is on why we turn towards pictures of atrocities, but away from helping. In the fourth chapter, she examines the censorship of photographs in conflict zones. This links with Gourevitch’s point as it almost provides the world with a sense of plausible deniability. We do not feel as though we need to intervene if we claim we do not see what is happening. With this, it is also to intervene when the situation becomes manageable, and one we do not have to hold accountability for. A genocide was something the world pledged to prevent after the horrors of World War II, yet, genocide is what they turned their eyes from. Once the genocide became a cholera outbreak, the world stepped in. After all, it was not their fault the fleeing refugees were infected with cholera, it was something they could help with, and it was something that did not weigh down on their consciousness. Sontag explores this conflict of consciousness with her statement on compassion: it is an unstable emotion, and if it is not put into action, it fades. 

Unit 3 Passport Assignment Elizabeth Vair

In the passport workshop, my table discussed the implications of statelessness. While I drew a passport from Somalia, which was ranked 87th in a passport power index – the second-lowest score – I was more concerned with statelessness. Even though my passport held almost no power, and I was from a country that was difficult to leave as borders and camps were being closed – I still had an identity. I had paperwork I could provide to other organizations or countries, yet the individual at our table who had drawn stateless had no identification. There was little to no way they could acquire any form of government paperwork from any government as their visa was expired and they had no paperwork from their country of birth to renew it or apply for other stays or jobs. Despite the fact that this was not their fault, there was nothing that could be done, and people often judge an individual for this situation without keeping in mind the harsh realities that come with an unfair government. One must always keep in mind the privilege they have that comes with their place of birth, and keep this in mind before judging others for not having the same privilege.

Unit 3 Assignment 2 Elizabeth Vair

Chapter 1

Paragraph : In Three Guineas, Virginia Woolf confronts the issue of war and why it continues in our world, despite our shared horror of the atrocities that are committed. Woolf focuses on how men see the violence in war as justified, while women tend to be more appalled by its impacts. This brings in the question of whether or not violence has a gender. However, this is overshadowed by the continuation of violence, and how photographs specifically – images that could be used to force us to confront the horrors of violence – are often spun to justify violence rather than stop it. 

Sentence: The story a photograph tells is dependent on the person who views it, not the subject.

Chapter 6

Paragraph : Human beings are often drawn to photographs depicting pain and suffering out of curiosity. This curiosity is as common to us as sympathy, creating a unique dynamic where we seek out images of the pains of others to sympathize with them, yet at the same time, numb ourselves to their suffering. We are afraid of what they endure, but, our compassion whithers into curiosity if we do not act upon it. 

Sentence: Our curiosity of suffering is not morbid, but rather a natural expression of our compassion. 

Chapter 8 

Paragraph : We cannot live our entire life in blind innocence of the atrocities willingly committed by human beings. We must confront the reality of the horrors, and embark with the delicate balance of memory. Too much memory prevents peace from ever occurring as we are overwhelmed with bitter memories. However, too little memory ventures into ignorance. With this, our feelings of helplessness drive us to turn a blind eye to the suffering of others, as we struggle to perfect the balance of memory while also addressing our frustrations of being unable to help those suffering.

Sentence: Our memory of suffering must be blurred if we are to live together.

Unit 3 Assignment 1 Elizabeth Vair

Hannah Arendt

  • “Banality of Evil”
    • “…acts of evil can mushroom into monumental tragedies, the individual human perpetrators of those acts are often marked not with the grandiosity of the demonic but with absolute mundanity.”
    • “The essence of totalitarian government, and perhaps the nature of every bureaucracy, is to make functionaries and mere cogs in the administrative machinery out of men, and thus to dehumanize them.”
  • Origins of Totalitarianism
    • “She viewed the growth of totalitarianism as the outcome of the disintegration of the traditional nation-state.”
    • She believed totalitarian regimes revolutionized the social structure and made contemporary politics impossible to predict
    • In this work, Arendt describes and analyzes Nazism and Stalinism in the early 20th century
    • Published in English in 1951 and German in 1955
    • Structured as 3 essays: Antisemitism, Imperialism, and Totalitarianism 

Adolf Eichmann

  • According to Hannah Arendt, Eichmann embodied the banality of evil
  • Hanged in the state of Israel for his role in the holocaust 
  • Became a member of Heinrich Himmler’s SS in November 1932 and joined the terrorist school of the Austrian Legion at Lechfeld, Germany in 1933
  • Sent to Vienna after the annexation of Austria in 1938 to rid the city of Jews and was also sent to Prague a year later with the same mission
  • When transferred to Berlin, he was to coordinate the details of the logistics of what the Nazis called the “final solution to the Jewish question.”
    • Organized the identification, assembly, and transportation of Jews from occupied Europe 
  • Smuggled out of Argentina by the Israeli secret service and tried in Israel 3 years after the holocaust 
  • He portrayed himself as an “obedient bureaucrat who merely carried out his assigned duties.”

Elizabeth Vair Unit 2 Assignment 3

Suppose that after finishing the reading, a student says: “Any belief, however unlikely it may appear, can be saved from refutation if you’re willing to make enough secondary elaborations.” Is the student right? Defend your answer. (For the term “secondary elaborations”, see p. 346.)

The student is right on the basis that secondary elaborations are the perception of errors in relation to the belief. Due to confirmation bias, people will be inclined to interpret any inconsistencies or faults in their belief as caused by errors whether in an experiment or caused by extenuating factors. It is easy to fault the unlikeliness of a belief to coincidental actions: an experiment was performed wrong, the weather affected the results, it was just a coincidence that it did not work right at the time. Considering this, the secondary elaborations will then save the belief from refutation as the individual or people who hold that belief will have what they deem as evidence that their belief is not false. While this evidence may not support the validity of their statement, it prevents the refutation of it, which is what will allow the belief to prevail. However, it is important to note that outsiders or those who do not share this belief may see these secondary elaborations as evidence denying the validity of the stated belief. If this is the case, then while the belief will be able to continue within the group who holds it, it may be refuted and die out in other circles who do not share it. Therefore, the belief is technically saved from refutation, but it is only guaranteed in a certain circle or level.

Option 2:

In reference to Frankfurt’s mentions of bull sessions, his specific notion of bullshit is the concept of bluffing through misrepresentation. In contemporary discourse, we claim that we value quality over quantity, but in actuality, a concise argument is sometimes viewed as weak as there is not as much evidence. Even if the evidence that is presented is strong, people often want to see all aspects of a situation or argument examined and countered or supported. Consequently, this has produced a pressure to produce ample evidence and knowledge on a topic, often to an extent that is unnecessary. It is easy to get lost in the redundant words and empty sentences, and with this, lose interest in the truth. A concise argument is a way to get people to care about the truth. The truth, or the lack of it, is clearly evident in a short point. With such blatancy, falsities will be less easily accepted. The desire for truth will become the priority, as it will become hard to turn a blind eye or be a passive reader and listener.