I’ve debated with myself whether I should venture to comment on Walter’s piece on conservatism at Princeton. After all, I am not an alumna, (educated at Harvard-Radcliffe and Columbia) and I am currently Professor Emeritus at Princeton in Classics and Comparative Literature (1976-2010 with sporadic teaching until 2019). But I cannot contain my consternation and dismay at how this piece airbrushed out the desperate peril this country is facing by lauding the smug, nostalgic, good old days when everyone voted Republican. When I read approval of Ted Cruz, Texan protégé of Robby George who voted against certifying the presidential vote, among other sordid stuff, and Samuel Alito and his unprofessional behavior on the Supreme Court (to say nothing of the current tattered reputation of the court itself); when the author seems to celebrate the overturning of Roe v. Wade, which the results of the 2022 elections showed how the attack on women’s bodies brought unexpected victories; and when I read that Matt Schmitz supports Trump’s 2024 re-bid for president, I wonder at the audacity of the ideological complaints about their alma mater.

Not getting into whataboutism (of which there are also extremes), please compare the recent fiasco in the House vs. Hakeem Jeffries’ alphabetical list of what really counts for the people of this country. “House Democrats,” he said, “will always put American values over autocracy, benevolence over bigotry, the Constitution over the cult, democracy over demagogues, economic opportunity over extremism, freedom over fascism, governing over gaslighting, hopefulness over hatred, inclusion over isolation, justice over judicial overreach, knowledge over kangaroo courts, liberty over limitation, maturity over Mar-a-Lago, normalcy over negativity, opportunity over obstruction, people over politics, quality of life issues over QAnon, reason over racism, substance over slander, triumph over tyranny, understanding over ugliness, voting rights over voter suppression, working families over the well-connected, xenial over xenophobia, ‘yes, we can’ over ‘you can do it,’ and zealous representation over zero-sum confrontation.”

Froma Zeitlin
Princeton, N.J.