Oct. 29-Nov. 4, 1999
Vol. 29, Issue 35
Inside UVA Online
the Newsletter for Faculty & Staff at the University of Virginia
Back Issues
Holden calls for renewed seriousness in politics to solve racial problems
U.Va. to host public forum with alumni about the future of the Internet age
Former dean Raymond J. Nelson receives U.Va.'s Thomas Jefferson Award
U.Va.'s foster families fill the breach for children in need

Conference explores ways to internationalize universities

Winston, Weaver 'rapt' up Film Festival
Sigourney Weaver on motherhood and other roles
Sharing digital resources to help teachers use technology in class
Hot Links - President's Office
Film, panelists explore 'digital divide' in computer access
After Hours - arborist Jerry Brown
U.Va. well on its way to ringing in the Year 2000 without a systems glitch
Off the Shelf - recently published books
Digital prints on display Nov. 1-29
CEO of Pew Trusts to give talk Nov. 3


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Holden calls for renewed seriousness in politics to solve racial problems

Jim Carpenter
Matthew Holden (left), the Henry L. and Grace Doherty Professor of Government and Foreign Affairs, and President John T. Casteen III walk down the Lawn for Fall Convocation Oct. 22.

By Anne Bromley

The 688 U.Va. students who received Intermediate Honors at Fall Convocation Oct. 22 "become automatic candidates for this country's leadership class ... an enormous responsibility," said keynote speaker Matthew Holden Jr., the Henry L. and Grace Doherty Professor of Government and Foreign Affairs.

Students who achieved a cumulative grade-point average of 3.4 or better after their first and second years at U.Va. were recognized at the annual ceremony after processing down the Lawn on a temperate afternoon, with the autumn leaves standing out against the clear, blue sky.

In addition to the awarding of Intermediate Honors and Holden's address, President John T. Casteen III presented the University's highest honor, the Thomas Jefferson Award, to former Arts & Sciences Dean Raymond J. Nelson. See article, pg. 2.

Holden addressed the students and their visiting families, U.Va. faculty and administrators, in a way he meant to be challenging but not threatening -- on "the unhappy subject" of race in America. A distinguished political scientist who has studied the politics of race and ethnicity, as well as public administration, Holden said everyone must think more seriously about how to reach what he called the aspiration in the Pledge of Allegiance -- for "an indivisible republic."

This is our peculiar condition: of being two nations, black and white, instead of one. It is "the most important single impediment" to a unified nation. "Thirty years ago, there was some prospect that the private and public leadership of the United States might have taken the problem of divisibility very seriously. ... [but] the resources that might once have been mustered have largely been wasted," he said.

"Political integration will not take place unless white and African-American transactions can display a higher level of reciprocity," Holden said.

Legitimate political and administrative work to eliminate racial discrimination has been replaced by "collective psychiatry" and counterattacks, he said. When the public focuses on some event it considers racial, a flurry of commentary gets aired. He sees this kind of dialogue not as constructive but as "psychiatric."

"It helps individuals express themselves as members of a group, whether the group is 'white' or 'black'. ... but politics that relies entirely on collective psychiatry ... ultimately serves them ill. For in the end, it becomes a self-defeating morality play in which none of the more mundane but terribly real problems are managed," Holden said.

Although politics doesn't work exactly like physics, Holden said "to every revolution there is a potential counter-revolution," and we should not be surprised that counterattacks have been mounted against the changes resulting from the Civil Rights Movement. "The basic core of opposition remains substantially what it was."

He reminded the students honored at Convocation that they have grown up during a time when counterattacks -- even some using the same language and arguments from Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights activists -- abound in politics and in popular culture, as well as in the judicial arena. The state of the law regarding minority scholarship programs is "scandalous," he said, adding that the outcome of recent cases has made it uncertain.

Holden called for Americans to look to politics as a serious way of closing the racial gap. "Sooner or later, serious deliberation depends upon reciprocity [and that] will not take place under any circumstance where one group persistently refuses to accept the need to cooperate with others," he said. Racial controversies need to be addressed in order to make the political system work, in order to create an indivisible republic.

No country has ever possessed all the same elements that exist in the U.S. and achieved a multi-racial, large-scale, constitutional democracy. It's a great experiment. It's not easy. But it's important to try to make it work, he said.

U.Va. to host public forum with alumni about the future of the Internet age

By Fariss Samarrai

How does technology go to the heart of human experience? Through the stream of the Internet. To some, the Internet is an untrained river of commerce and pornography. To others it is a conduit of inspiration and democracy that unites the common experience of people across cultures and international boundaries.

To all, it is revolutionary. This technology, which is changing the world, will be the subject of debate at U.Va. Nov. 12 and 13, when 33 Internet industry pioneers and visionaries convene for e-summit@virginia, a free public forum about the Internet, that will be broadcast online. This group of leading executives share one common trait: they are all University alumni who believe in the Jeffersonian principle of wise revolution. Full story.

© Copyright 1999 by the Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia

Managing Editor
Anne Bromley

Online Web Editor
Karen Asher

Staff Writers
Rebecca Arrington
Dan Heuchert
Nancy Hurrelbrinck

Katherine Jackson
Fariss Samarrai
Jill Johnson
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