GUEST ROOM | Against Polarization: a Post-Trump Letter of Support from France

In the distressing times that followed election night, it seems natural that our community would feel the need to pull together, to stand as one and fight harder for the recognition of shared values. There are two purposes to this need for mobilization: the first is to provide a supportive space for the liberals among us, to build solidarity and help each other through fear, pain and uncertainty. Following this call to unity came a call to activist mobilization: we need to protest, take the streets and “fight back” against the hate crimes and the hurtful speeches that Trumpism normalized. With this call to activism comes concern: especially when it comes to values and ideals, the activism of a group may require the alienation of another. As friend unfriend friends on Facebook and as some families struggle to bridge their political divides, the temptation to “fight back” brings with it the shadow of counterproductive polarization.

LETTER TO THE EDITOR | The Election From a French Perspective

To the Editor:

There is a dreadful atmosphere here. One of my professors said he hasn’t seen the student body this disheartened since 9/11. Though I am sure that when Obama got elected in 2008, the same ambiance prevailed on university campuses in Texas. This is democracy and we need to accept it, live with it. We reap what we sow, after all.

A Kiss Is Worth a Thousand, Thousand, Thousand Words

Any film whose title is in the form of an amorous solicitation must meet certain criteria. First, it should concern the awkward physical beginnings of love: the glances, the touches, the timid approaches. Second, it must address lovers’ preliminary insecurities, the kind that lead such questions to be voiced in the first place. And, finally, and perhaps most importantly, the film must showcase the best that the art form — that is, the kiss — has to offer.

The Secret Lives of Les Francais

In all likelihood, you probably have never heard of the 2007 French film Un Secret (or “A Secret”, for all you non-French speakers out there). Not only was the film solely distributed in its native country, but it is a wholly sub-titled picture that is performed, written, and directed by an entirely French ensemble. And the film’s anonymousness with American audiences is a shame, as Secret is a poignantly heart-wrenching affair whose anguish and tenderness transcends any language barrier. Through its untraditional plot structure and intimate character storylines, Un Secret intrigues the mind and satisfies the heart with vigorous poignancy.

Sticking to Baguettes and Obama Worship

Last Tuesday in Paris, I was at last psyched and actually kind of proud to be an American. After spending nearly two weeks trying hard to cloak my accent and telling all the lecherous dudes that I was vacationing from South Africa because I wanted to experience the cold (and no, I’m really not interested in grabbing a cup of coffee with you), January 20th might have been the only day during my whole abroad experience that I am allowed — and almost encouraged — to speak in full-blown American English (i.e. pronouncing all of my R’s).

The French Obsession

A description of French President Nicholas Sarkozy as dynamic would only touch the surface of his personality. While his defeat of Jacques Chirac finally gave me a reason to like the French, L’American (as he’s called) has gone on to become a national obsession across the Atlantic Ocean according to The New York Times.

The article leads with a psychiatrist identifying a new mental illness: obsessive Sarkosis. It gets even more interesting than that, and if I read this article without knowing who it was about, I would go for a mix of the Miley Cyrus and a crazy stalker obsession.

And you thought Obamamania was bad.