Editors’ Note — Volume 51, Issue 4

Dear readers,

The time? April 2015. The place? Payne Whitney Gymnasium. Dazed by the floodlights overhead and the pearly-white smiles of our high-achieving peers, we wandered the extracurricular bazaar at Bulldog Days. Ballroom dancers besieged us. We could have become stars of the polo team. Every single improv group wanted us, bad. Instead, we each ended up at a table in the back staffed by scruffy-looking representatives of an unregistered organization who had snuck their way in. The nice people at The Magazine About Yale & New Haven poured us the Kool-Aid: smart, people-centered storytelling about the place where we’d spend the next four years.

They had quite a legacy to point to. The oldest longform magazine at Yale, TNJ has been pumping out stellar journalism for fifty-one years. A few weeks ago, we put our entire archives up online: 250 issues, thousands of stories, a massive trove of Yale and New Haven history. (Read away at issuu.com/thenewjournal.)

In our latest, we’ve got some truly great reads: an investigation into alleged negligence by one of New Haven’s largest real estate companies, the madcap world of hot air balloonists, everything you need to know about Connecticut’s fiscal crisis and New Haven’s plan to fight global warming, plus a century-old hat store and literal human brains, Yalies who just want to be good people, and Yalies who just want to get drunk at Union Station.

Thank you to the members of our alumni board for their wise advice, high standards, and unfailing faith in this publication. And eternal gratitude to the members of our editorial board, who each spent 180 (!) hours of the past year locked in the living room of 216 Dwight St., feverishly inputting edits on a diet of pure coffee and carbs. Together, we’ve birthed five beautiful issues. As an independent, nonprofit magazine, TNJ is completely made up of its people –– and you guys are the best.

Finally, thank you, readers, for reading. We hope you’ll write. Can’t wait to see what’s coming down the pipes.

Signing off,
Annie and Mark
anna.rosenthal@yale.edu
mark.b.rosenberg@yale.edu


Illustration by Sam Oldshue.

Frankie Andersen-Wood stood beside a projected cartoon of a light bulb with its filament twisted into the shape of a heart. In front of her, five Yale students sat along one side of a seminar table. Upbeat pop music played in the background.

“Effective altruism isn’t something you can just learn about in two hours,” said Andersen-Wood, co-president of Yale Effective Altruism (YEA), going off-script from her presentation at YEA’s spring information session. She spoke quickly and in a soft English accent. “If that were the case, then the world would be solved.”

A social movement that emerged in the late 2000s at the University of Oxford, effective altruism aims to quantify and maximize the positive impact of individuals’ lives. In practice, this means identifying the world’s most urgent issues—those chosen by adherents include global poverty, animal suffering, climate change, and artificial intelligence—and recommending the most efficient responses. The movement recommends careers based on their social benefit and assesses charitable donations based on their impact and cost-efficiency.

The most active local effective altruism groups—YEA among them—are at elite colleges like Oxford, Harvard, Stanford, and Yale, or in large cities like London and Boston. According to Andersen-Wood, the YEA mailing list includes about seven hundred students and recent graduates, although only twenty-five are actively involved. YEA hosts speakers and career workshops, holds social events, and runs a semester-long fellowship designed to introduce Yale students to effective altruism.

A week before her presentation, I met Andersen-Wood at Blue State Coffee on York. She sat in an armchair by the window, balancing a balsamic-glazed tofu sandwich on her lap. Andersen-Wood is vegan and majoring in political science. This is not an unusual set of characteristics for Yale’s effective altruists (or, as Anderson-Wood prefers, “aspiring effective altruists”). Many follow animal-free diets; the majority study political science, philosophy, or a STEM field. Effective altruism also influences other facets of Andersen-Wood’s life: “what I buy and what I don’t buy, where I donate, if I donate, how often I donate, how much I donate, career choices.”

Aaron Gertler, who graduated in 2015, founded YEA during his senior year at Yale. Now, he works in communications at the Centre for Effective Altruism. He also keeps a personal blog, where he publishes his charitable donations; he gives ten percent of his income to charity every year, primarily to effective altruism organizations and the Against Malaria Foundation.

Joshua Monrad, the former co-president of YEA, arrived at Yale planning to study psychology. But under the influence of effective altruism, he switched majors to Ethics, Politics, and Economics, and now hopes to work in public health after college.

“I think I would have grown frustrated if I had felt like I wasn’t in the best path for helping others,” he told me over Skype. Monrad is from Denmark, but this semester he’s studying abroad at Oxford, the philosophy’s birthplace. Still, he acknowledges that being a perfect effective altruist is an ideal, not a reality.

“As an international student, I fly all over the world, which is expensive and emits a lot of carbon,” he said. “There are a lot of things that I own, that on a very extreme conception of effective altruism, I maybe didn’t have to own.” Effective altruism, he said, encourages him to think more about these issues, and to try harder to mitigate them.

The effective altruists at Yale seem wary of their public perception. In an email responding to my interview request, Monrad warned, “I have a tendency to be quite careful about how I represent effective altruism,” citing experiences with “unfortunate misconceptions about what the broader effective altruism movement is and what it involves.”

One point of controversy is effective altruism’s relationship with “earning to give,” the strategy of pursuing a high-paying job in order to donate more to charity. Especially early in its development, the effective altruism movement gained a reputation for recommending careers on Wall Street. But according to Sebastian Quaade, YEA’s strategy advisor, effective altruism has since reduced its emphasis on earning to give. An article published in 2015 on the website of 80,000 Hours—an offshoot of the Centre for Effective Altruism named for the average number of working hours in a person’s life—clarified the organization’s stance, asserting that earning to give is only one effective path among many. That attitude seems to be reflected across YEA: Quaade is interested in economic development, and none of the other five current or former YEA board members I talked to planned to pursue consulting or finance.

Shelly Kagan, a Yale ethics professor, outlined a more philosophical question the movement faces. Since governments are better than individuals at enacting change, he wrote in an email, some might argue that effective altruists should focus more on government reform than individual actions. “Roughly, politics, not charity,” he wrote.

Another criticism focuses on the fact that effective altruism attracts a disproportionate number of white men. Two thirds of the 2,607 respondents to a 2018 demographics survey on the Effective Altruism Forum were male. Seventy-eight percent were white, down from a staggering 89 percent in 2017. The 2018 survey notes that the drop was likely due to an increase in people who opted out of the question, not an increase in people from underrepresented groups.

Eui Young Kim, a board member of YEA, acknowledged this problem. The movement has historically attracted people from “quantitative subjects, like cognitive science or math or physics or artificial intelligence,” fields that are “not exactly diverse,” Kim said.

Diversity seems especially important in a movement that aims to decide which problems are most pressing—a point Monrad acknowledged. Diversity helps “avoid blind spots and reduce the risk of overlooking important causes or approaches to doing good,” he said.

Jessica McCurdy, the other co-president of YEA, said that YEA’s members are the type of people who enjoy confronting uncomfortable moral questions. She described late-night discussions about the trolley problem and outlandish moral thought experiments.

“It’s like, ‘Oh, how do I actually feel about that?” she said. “How many chickens is a human life worth?”

According to Andersen-Wood, effective altruism isn’t a philosophy or a set of answers, but a shared project. She and the other effective altruists at Yale find a unique home in YEA: a secular congregation examining the meaning of a moral life.

— Eli Mennerick is a sophomore in Ezra Stiles College.

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We?re looking at a classic match-up here, folks, and the stakes
couldn?t be higher. Think Liston-Clay but a whole lot sweeter?and
glazier. On November 19, the Milford, Connecticut, donut world will
change forever. A brand new Krispy Kreme on Boston Post Road is set to
square off against perennial favorite?and Boston Post Road
neighbor?Dunkin? Donuts. The grand opening is part of Kreme?s master
plan to usurp Dunkin?s worldwide donut hegemony. Kreme first
established itself as a major player on the Connecticut donut scene
with an October 8 opening in Newington. But with the Milford arrival,

Krispy Kreme looks to take one more geographical step toward invading
Dunkin?s birthplace of Quincy, Massachusetts. Donut aficionados will be
carefully watching the Milford battle. At stake is the eventual control
of the New England Market. I talked to a handful of nervous employees
from the two franchises, and though both sides tried to downplay the
significance of November 19, it?s clear: They?re hungry for victory.
Krispy Kreme may have Southern charm on its side, but Dunkin? Donuts
has tradition?not to mention home-field advantage. Connecticut is
Dunkin?s territory. And Bill Rosenberg is the president. Rosenberg,
Dunkin?s founder, was already peddling his tasty dough on Boston Post
Road before Krispy Kreme even thought about selling its first donut in
New Orleans in 1937. Dunkin? has been a New Haven mainstay for
generations. Some of Rosenberg?s first employees were Yale students,
and there are 54 Dunkin? Donuts within a ten mile radius of campus. The
global numbers are even more daunting: Dunkin? Donuts has more than
3,500 shops in the United States, and over 5,000 worldwide. Krispy
Kreme doesn?t even have that many employees.

Kreme may be the statistical underdog, but remember, Dunkin? had a big
head start. It wasn?t until the mid 1980s that Kreme expanded out of
the Southeast. Their fresh go-get-?em swagger gives them an outside
shot at an upset. And then there?s the secret recipe. In 1937, culinary
entrepreneur Vernon Rudolph convinced a gullible French chef to give
him the blueprints for his deliciously addictive yeast-raised donut.
Today, we call this donut the Hot Original Glazed. Just how good is it?
Krispy Kreme annually sells about the same number of doughnuts as its
rival?even though it has 4,750 fewer locations. The things just taste
better.

In terms of raw power, both franchises have a lot to offer. Dunkin?
Donuts has fifty-two varieties of deep-fried goodness, along with some
of the best coffee in town. The total mass of Donuts coffee served in a
given year is equal to more than one million African elephants. The
kids at Kreme may lack this imposing poundage, but they?re a lot
taller. In two minutes, Krispy Kreme can produce a stack of donuts as
high as the Empire State Building.

Dunkin? Donuts has nothing that compares to the Hot Original Glazed.
But Krispy Kreme isn?t overconfident. In fact, a lingering question
remains as to whether or not the Kreme can compete with the
Munchkins?Dunkin?s donut holes. The Donut?s donuts are made by hand,
and for every round donut produced, the excess middle is sold as a
Munchkin. Kreme donuts, meanwhile, are made by pneumatic machines that
mold the dough into the perfect donut shape?sans surplus. Munchkins
have been a versatile weapon for Dunkin? Donuts in the past, and
there?s no reason to think this will change. In fact, Kreme seems to
have a major hole in its game-plan unless it can address the Munchkin
issue.

Expect to see a poised Krispy Kreme coming out of the gates on November
19. At the Grand Opening, there will be magicians and clowns?and what
more can you ask for? A free giveaway? The first customer in line gets
a year?s supply of donuts; the first hundred get a t-shirt. But if
Krispy Kreme wants to be successful in the long run, they?ll have to
convert legions of loyal Dunkin?s patrons.

Tuesday isn?t just another day. It?s a battle between the old and the
new, the established and untried, the champ and the contender. On
February 25, 1964, a 22-year-old Cassius Clay became boxing?s youngest
heavyweight champion when he creamed the venerable Sonny Liston. On
November 19, history just might repeat itself.

Tom Isler is a junior in Branford College.

Framing Sacco and Vanzetti
by Sara Hirschhorn

One fall day in 1971, Neil Thomas Proto had an epiphany. It wasn?t
about God, or Vietnam, or flower power, or love. For the George
Washington University law student, studying the execution of two
Italian-American shopkeepers for robbery and murder in a Boston prison
on August 23, 1927, was an awakening. Proto recalls hearing a few
conversations about the case in a class and going to see a recently
released film on the subject (the one with the Joan Baez soundtrack, he
fondly remembers these days). Then he just knew: Nicola Sacco and
Bartolomeo Vanzetti were about to change his life. When ?Justice On
Trial: Ben Shahn?s Case For Sacco And Vanzetti,? a collection of the
modernist painter?s gouaches and tempera paintings accompanied by
historical photographs and film, opened at the Yale Art Gallery on
October 14 for a two month run, it was not only one of several events
commemorating the 75th anniversary of their deaths, but also the result
of a one-man mission to bring Sacco and Vanzetti to New Haven.

When you talk to Proto, who tends to get hysterical when addressing the
subject, it is hard not to feel like those dim memories from the annals
of high school history are going to change your life as well. Though he
now lives in Washington, dc, and works at a high profile law firm,
Proto was born and raised in New Haven and still maintains a residence
here. He has devoted the better part of his life to reading, studying,
and educating about the Sacco and Vanzetti case. In the process, he has
constructed his own revisionist history of Sacco and Vanzetti?s story,
become a collector of Sacco and Vanzetti-related folk music, and
co-adapted an operetta??The American Dream: The Story Of Sacco And
Vanzetti??which debuted at New Haven?s own Shubert Theater this April.

After that fateful day in 1971 when he first realized the spiritual,
philosophical, and historical significance of the case, Proto hit the
books. For the next two years, it got ?a little intense.? He spent
months studying the eight volumes of transcripts and reading every work
he could find on the execution. Finally, in 1996, Proto began his
magnum opus, a manifesto published in Italian America, the magazine of
the national Sons of Italy, on the significance of the trial. But after
publishing a second article in 1997 for the 70th anniversary of Sacco
and Vanzetti?s execution, Proto had a second epiphany: that the message
was not getting out. So, after 27 years of devotion, he redoubled his
efforts. ?Why was this not talked about?? he remembered. ?And what does
it mean that it wasn?t talked about??

Proto started talking to important people. He got on the phone with
Mayor John DeStefano, Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, and Yale Law School
Dean Anthony Kronman to put together a symposium that was the first
phase in a mission to bring Sacco and Vanzetti to New Haven. He played
on Yale?s historic connections to the case?countless articles in the
Yale Law Review, petition drives by the yls dean, and the advocacy of
the Supreme Court Justice and then-Professor William L. Douglas?and
wasn?t above drumming up a little Yale/Harvard rivalry over the issue
either, like calling up the Mayor to suggest, ?John, would you call the
mayor of Boston to ask him what he is going to do to commemorate the
anniversary of Sacco and Vanzetti?? Slowly, he converted them to his
idea of bringing Sacco and Vanzetti to the city.

Proto?s crusade paid off. ?I was just tickled,? he recalls, ?it was
great fun, a merry experience.? There were large turnouts at events
like the gallery exhibit, the New Haven Colony Historical Society
reading, and the ?compose-your-own-Sacco-and-Vanzetti-folksong? evening
sponsored by the Eli Whitney Folk Festival. Proto proudly remembers ?a
very bohemian crowd.? And, the operetta played the Shubert to a
sold-out crowd.

If the exhibit?s coming to New Haven started with Proto?s epiphany, it
is only appropriate: The art itself was the product of a full-blown
religious experience. The painter Ben Shahn (a Jewish immigrant who
arrived in the United States only two years before Sacco and Vanzetti)
called his series of 32 modernist, distorted gouaches (8 of which are
on display at the art gallery) and 2 tempera canvases ?The Passion Of
Sacco And Vanzetti,? in reference to the death of Jesus. Shahn
explained his political art with an epiphany of his own: ?Ever since I
could remember, I?d wished that I?d been lucky enough to be alive at a
great time?when something big was going on, like the Crucifixion. And
suddenly I realized I was. Here I was living through another
Crucifixion. Here was something to paint!?

For Proto, his own is as much a ?great time? as that of Ben Shahn.
?It?s stunning how analogous it is to what is going on today,? he
remarked. Although the anniversary celebration was planned years in
advance, the themes of anti-immigrant sentiment and criminal justice
seem especially pertinent?a connection which exhibit curator Robin
Jaffee Frank did not hesitate to acknowledge. Perhaps the yearlong
commemoration is unlikely to inspire miracles. But did it change Neil
Proto?s life? ?Absolutely.?

Mussel Man
by Meredith Angelson

At the corner of Elm and Howe, in the huddle of establishments famous
for their quick eats and cheap drinks, something has changed. There is
a strange new glow around Rudy?s Bar & Grill. It might be the new neon
signs in the window. It might be the sunlight reflecting off the new
sliver furniture outside. It might be the blinding whiteness of the
?Belgian Frites? banner above the door against the crusty sienna bricks
of the wall. One can?t quite be sure. The ineffable magnetism which
surrounds the dimly lit and cozily grimy dive draws you in to press
your nose and grubby fingers against the window and peer in with the
wonderment of a child at the window of a toy store on Christmas Eve; or
more poignantly, a college student at the window of a bar on a midweek
afternoon.

You cannot have failed to realize last year?s addition of Belgian
frites to Rudy?s menu. Even if you?ve never tasted them (for shame!)
the legend of their succulence and superiority to any fry you?ve ever
tasted has surely wafted down Elm Street and piqued your interest and
your appetite. You may even have heard of the man behind the myth, Omer
Ipek, known to those less intimately acquainted with him as ?the frites
guy.? Ipek, a Belgian native who came to the United States three years
ago, started working at Rudy?s a year ago. No mere fry jockey, he
trained as a chef at the Cuisine Belge Enseignement Internationale in
Brussels. (He also, conveniently, has a degree in Economics.) While
working in New York at ?Belgian Fries? fast food chain, he met former
Rudy?s owner Thomas Henniger. As the two discussed Henniger?s business,
Ipek says, ?I told him it was a good idea to add Belgian fries to his
menu, because in a bar you drink beer, and fries go along very well
with that.? Omer Ipek is a wise man with good taste.

He has imported from Belgium the most essential tool of his craft: the
frites machine. ?You can?t find that kind of machine here,? he
explains. Belgian frites friolators are more powerful than the machines
typically used in fast food restaurants in the United States, and they
are larger and have round frying baskets. ?With round baskets, the heat
moves all around the sides of the basket, which cooks the potatoes
faster and makes them crispier,? Ipek says. The differences between
Rudy?s plump and juicy frites and McDonald?s fries, parched and chewy
by comparison, don?t stop there. Ipek?s fries are 100% vegetarian,
cooked in soybean oil, and his potatoes are carefully hand-picked and
prepared. ?I don?t buy Idaho or some cheap potato. I try to get the
right size: 70 count potatoes??that is, 70 potatoes per 50 pounds of
potatoes??which have a better taste for fries than Idaho.? Ipek
hand-peels the potatoes and soaks them overnight. Each day he dries
them out before he ?blanches? them in the fryer for several minutes at
a low temperature. He sets them aside for at least half an hour before
cooking them a second time at a higher temperature until they are ready
to serve. Ipek then presents each customer with a silver funnel
overflowing with fries, gently glistening with soybean oil amidst the
folds of wax paper and crowned by a tiny plastic spear, plunged
whimsically into a frite. He offers his customers over 20 different
sauces with which to eat their frites, including Belgian Mayonnaise,
Curry Ketchup, Thai Peanut Butter, Andalouse, Americaine, and his
personal favorite, Samurai. He imports their ingredients from a Belgian
sauce company because, he says, ?In Belgium they are very fancy about
sauces.? We?re pretty damn fancy in New Haven too: Rudy?s now goes
through 600 pounds of potatoes a week.

Omer Ipek has certainly brought a great deal to this bar with his
frites. Before their advent, few people realized that Rudy?s even had a
menu. Now, thanks to Ipek?s European sensibility and talent in the
kitchen, Rudy?s is becoming known as a place for meals and snacks, as
well as quality brews, good conversation, and loud punk music. But the
mystique of the frites cannot wholly account for Rudy?s new appeal.
Those neon signs in the window are new. The stretched bunting set up
outside when the weather is warm welcomes customers to ?Rudy?s Bar &
Grill? and invites them to relax Parisian caf

I have butterflies in my stomach,? Charlie Pillsbury tells us, smiling
hopefully as he guides his bicycle into the street. In spite of his
silver beard, khaki shorts, and bike helmet, he speaks to the cluster
of reporters and carries himself in a way that reminds me of Gregory
Peck playing Atticus Finch in To Kill A Mockingbird. The four of us
accompanying Charlie on the ride finish stretching, eager to begin.
Swinging our legs over the bicycle frames and settling into our toe
clips, we merge with the main street traffic on our way down the
Connecticut coast.

It is a perfect fall day. We bike by small pastures and crumbling stone
walls. The leaves on the maples and oak trees are just beginning to
turn, and the shade they provide has a mottled, rosy warmth to it. We
bike for miles without word or rest. Lulled by my enjoyment of the soft
hills and scenery, I almost forget we are riding for another purpose.
With 25 days until the election, Charlie Pillsbury is campaigning to
win a seat in Congress. A victory would make him the most powerful
Green Party politician in the nation, and as a candidate, Charlie has a
unique appeal. He has worked for 30 years in New Haven, the largest
city of the congressional district, as an attorney, an advocate for the
homeless, and the director of a community mediation center. He can even
claim some degree of national name recognition: His great grandfather
founded the Pillsbury Company, and college roommate Gary Trudeau
modeled Mike Doonesbury, the lead character of the Doonesbury comic
strip, on Charlie. And yet, there is something curious about this
campaign: Every one of us riding with Charlie knows he has no chance of
winning.

Even for a candidate who is unknown, inexperienced, and outspent,
there is one last-ditch populist ploy that can turn the tide: the
campaign tour. After all, well-run campaign tours have been responsible
for some of the biggest electoral upsets in American history. In the
1948 presidential election, every poll, every journalist, and even
Harry Truman?s own wife predicted that Thomas Dewey would beat him by a
landslide. After a 22,000-mile whistlestop campaign tour with hundreds
of speeches from the back of his train, Truman eked out a victory. In
1992, a relatively unknown governor from Arkansas upset a war-hero
president after a media-frenzied bus tour across the country.

In this tradition, Charlie is setting out on a 5-day, 160-mile
listening tour through all 25 towns in the district on his royal blue
Schwinn ?Traveler? 10-speed bicycle. Seemingly unaware of how perfectly
the tour fits most people?s stereotype of the hopelessly na

A few weeks ago, I watched from a distance as an eclectic group of New
Haven residents bearing homemade signs and banners gathered on the
courthouse steps to file a war crimes indictment. Their list of alleged
war criminals included George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and
Colin Powell, and they were pressing for prosecution.

A greying, unassuming man clad in stained and faded jeans and an old
denim jacket addressed the crowd through a megaphone: ?We are resisting
and showing our protest to the ones in power!? Standing in rows on the
courthouse steps, the participants clutched their anti-war banners in
silence, staring straight ahead solemnly and purposefully. Someone
distributed copies of the indictment, with a list of the country?s most
powerful officials at the top and the Connecticut Peace Coalition of
New Haven?s email address on the bottom. In unison the group read the
entire indictment aloud. Then a few representatives stepped into the
courthouse to present the document to Connecticut?s Attorney General.
?Now we?ll see what they have to say,? someone remarked smugly. There
was applause and a hesitant chorus of ?yays.?

?Sorry people,? muttered a passerby stopping to glance up at the
protesters. I frowned at him, but I didn?t wholly disagree. Neither did
I correct a friend who referred to them as ?those crazies.? But at the
same time, their stance against attacking Iraq mirrored my own. As the
drumbeat for war had intensified over the past few weeks, I hadn?t been
able to shake the guilty feeling that students like myself had a role
to play. Hasn?t it traditionally been up to students to tilt the scales
to the left, to keep the government?s hawkish tendencies in line? And
if the protest movement was in fact my inherited duty, didn?t I share
some common ground with the protesters on the courthouse steps? A few days later, I took one of the white armbands that symbolized my
disapproval of war on Iraq. I dangled the frayed strip of cloth from a
strap on my backpack, carefully positioning it where my stance against
the war would be visible?but not too visible.

At one of the Coalition?s tri-weekly street-corner vigils, Joan Cavanagh
had taken up her usual post, solemnly distributing copies of the
group?s latest anti-war leaflet as fellow members stood behind her with
a banner. A loose tweed coat dwarfed her slender frame; a red knit
beret partly hid her shoulder-length grey hair. There was something
resolute about her silhouette, as she extended her arm every time
someone walked by. At forty-eight, Cavanagh is no stranger to the
anti-war movement. She made her debut as a protester when she was
active in her high school, then she dropped out of college after one
semester to join a collective that was working against the war. She
didn?t go back to school until she was 29. ?I actually have the pride
of saying I was in prison on my 21st birthday,? she told me. ?Most of
my friends were pretty cool with it. By that time they weren?t
surprised,? she explained. ?I had already been arrested six or seven
times and had done jail time for it. My mother wasn?t too happy; what
can you say??

About twelve people constitute what Cavanagh termed the ?core group,?
those who regularly come to the weekly coalition meetings. There are
about 50 members who attend Coalition events, and the group?s email
list has about 300 names. In four years, they haven?t missed a Sunday
on the corner of Broadway, Park, and Elm silently protesting sanctions,
and now war, on Iraq. In the face of New England winters, hateful
accusations and?perhaps worst of all?passersby who don?t even look up,
what sustains such dogged resistance vigil after vigil, week after
week? ?I can?t associate with the US government. I have to actively
dissociate myself,? Cavanagh told me. ?Silence is complicity,? she
continued, likening present-day protesters to Germans who resisted Nazi
authority. ?If everyone had capitulated at that time, what kind of hope
do we have of the human race?? I winced. That?s the kind of comparison
that leaves a bitter after-taste, that makes eyes narrow at the thought
that someone really had the nerve to say such a thing. It?s the kind of
analysis I?m quick to reject.

One-by-one, Cavanagh handed out leaflets to anybody who would take one.
She had already given out 100 leaflets in half an hour, she told me
proudly. She knows many passersby do in fact read the flyers, she told
me, because she often receives responses to them via email. Others
clearly don?t. A few people walked briskly by without looking up. ?No
thanks. Iraq. Hmmm ? See you guys later,? said a man walking by. I
wonder if those who refused the leaflet were wary of what didn?t come
from The New York Times, too wedded to the mainstream to ponder the
possibility of their own indoctrination. Maybe like me, they?ve learned
to parrot the opinions of those with the highest credentials and to
second-guess the chorus from the margins that seems to culminate in a
simple refrain: If The Government is behind it, it?s corrupt, no
questions asked.

But my faith in the system is instinctive, not intellectual.
Rationally, I realize that those cloth banners are about individual
issues more than subversion for its own sake; I believed one of the
coalition?s members, when he vouched that he doesn?t ?pick a side ahead
of time,? and I respected his and fellow protesters? willingness to
challenge what they read. But my fear of being a dissenter must die
hard, for I secretly hoped no one I knew had seen me standing beside
Cavanagh, holding a piece of the anti-war banner.

It was a Sunday afternoon, and 14 people had shown up to protest on the
corner of Broadway, Park and Elm. Cavanagh stood a few feet away,
distributing flyers. Just across the street, a man dressed in an
American flag costume and fiercely waving an enormous flag danced
across his strip of sidewalk shouting against the cacophony of honking
cars. ?Saddam Hussein! He is a poacher! Let?s kill him now!? he cried,
addressing the anti-war protesters. ?And you support him! USA!? The
anti-war protesters glanced up at him every once in a while, but didn?t
budge.

?It?s a matter of increasing numbers,? Joan said to me. ?As the numbers
increase, the impact increases.? So the government really notices?
?They hear it,? she said. ?They know it?s out there.? When it comes to
protesting, numbers make a dual statement, directed both at the
government and at the people. ?I feel there?s a lot of people [who]
unfortunately need reassurance that they?re not the only ones who are
against what George Bush is planning,? said a Coalition member named
Paula, a freelance writer and poet. She hopes to provide that
reassurance, she explained, by ?standing out in the street corner with
the signs and slogans they have in their hearts but they?re not ready
to show.? A lot of people thank her for what she?s doing, she told me.
?I say, ?why don?t you join?? They say, ?well I?m glad you?re doing
it.?? I shook my head in disapproval, at the same time fully
recognizing that she?d described me to a t. I resolved to change.

There?s something exhilarating about crowds, especially when they number
in the hundreds of thousands like the one in Washington, dc, a few
weeks after my initial encounter with the Coalition. ?There?s no power
like the power o? th? people ?cause the power o? th? people don?t stop,
say what?? I was jumping up and down as I shouted with the crowd. ?This
is what democracy looks like! That is what hypocrisy looks like!? we
cried gleefully, pointing from ourselves to the White House beside us.
It was a celebration of the First Amendment. As far as you looked, all
you could see were protesters and their signs. For a few hours, I
believed we were a force to be reckoned with; I believed in ?the power
o? th? people? and ?what democracy looks like.? We were living it.
Maybe that?s how the coalition members felt when they delivered the
indictment to the State Attorney General and sat back to wait for the
trial to begin. I wondered how I?d once mocked the cardboard signs of
the Connecticut Peace Coalition and marveled that it had taken me so
long to truly comprehend the power and the imperative of resistance.
?The people! United! Will never be defeated!? we shouted rhythmically,
and I believed it. It was my job to put that truth into action. As the
numbers increase, the impact increases. And silence is complicity.

In the middle of the day, swept up in the anti-war fervor, I removed my
white armband from its inconspicuous position on my backpack and asked
a friend to tie it around my arm.

But the magic was fleeting, and shortly after my return, the torn piece
of cloth was relegated to my desk drawer with a promise to retie it
that I have yet to fulfill. In fact, the protest at the capitol already
feels like a distant memory. A Yale student and Coalition member I
befriended on the bus to dc asked me afterward if it I would attend
more large-scale protests like it. I didn?t have to pause much to
answer in the affirmative, and I haven?t changed my mind. I guess I
have no trouble protesting when thousands of people around me are doing
it too.

Yesterday, I attended one of the Coalition?s street-corner vigils for
what might have been the last time. That day?s banner read ?No us
Military in Iraq.? I couldn?t agree more wholeheartedly. And I don?t
think they?re a bunch of ?crazies.? I respect their conviction of their
own accountability in us foreign policy, their courage in challenging
the mainstream, and their determination to display their resistance to
the people and the government person by person, week after week. I
considered volunteering to spend a few minutes holding up a corner of
their worn, cloth banner. But after hanging around for a few minutes, I
decided against it and left.

Erica Franklin is a sophomore in Jonathan Edwards College.