Brooks School, where I teach, is a traditional elite New England boarding school with roots in the Episcopal tradition. Founded in 1926 and named after Phillips Brooks, a well-regarded Episcopal bishop of Massachusetts, the school defies tradition as it seeks to diversify its faculty and student body. This diversity extends to its spiritual life. Its faculty represents a collection of bright, dedicated, and hardworking people. Like many academic institutions, Brooks began as a single-sex male school, and was slow to become co-educational, which transpired in 1979. New England boarding schools have long held a certain mystique among the American populace, a mystique found in films such as Dead Poets Society and in books such as John Knowles's A Separate Peace.
It’s Monday, so it must be time for everyone to share last night’s main John Oliver segment and talk about how correct and funny and amazing he is. To be clear, I generally agree with this left-of-center consensus: Oliver’s longform takes on the old Daily Show template are informative, impassioned, and hilarious.
I had a mixed response, however, to last night’s segment.
No white person ever wants to think of themselves as racist. And that is precisely part of the problem, no white person ever thinks of themselves as racist. Each white person is the innocent exception to the rule, even when confronted with the realities that our society is thoroughly racialized.
Icelanders have not been happy at what they consider a tepid response by their government to the refugee crisis in Europe, many coming from war-torn Syria. After the government said it would restrict the number of refugees it would accept to 50, more than 12,000 people responded to a petition on Facebook demanding that the government be more welcoming. Many of the petitioners offered to host refugees in their own homes. The Global Peace Index recently ranked Iceland as the most peaceful country in the world and Syria the least peaceful (Guardian, September 1).