The Nov. 15 email report, “Princeton’s Campus Reacts to Israel-Hamas War,” by Mark F. Bernstein ’83, is a testimony to the important message that Princeton, now 68 years later, gave to us as undergraduates. We learned that in America’s democracy there will be factions, but real democracy demands the unifying commitment that inevitable differences can be resolved by mutual trust and the discussion it enables.
Months ago, I feared that Princeton had been politicized by the claims of Robby George, Yoram Hazony, and others, and the pride taken in graduates Samuel Alito and Ted Cruz (“Crashing the Conservative Party,” January issue).
The claimed decadent Princeton I knew as a full scholarship high schooler was not what is currently claimed. It is clearly uninformed to call “preposterous” John Locke’s life as a liberator of citizens from monarchy, political refuge, and physician; Princeton Tory conservativism seems harsh and not the democratic humanism of the Tory Lord Deben. I suggest a reading of my response to this, dedicated to Alpheus Mason, It’s a Democracy Not Just a Form of Government (Amazon Publishing 2023).
Hopefully it reinforces Princeton’s democratic, not factional Liberal or Conservative, tradition of learning how to pursue our better natures. Keep Princeton George Washington’s critical analyst of the Liberal and Conservative factions he abhorred. This tradition of democratically unifying is what the Princeton students are displaying today in these difficult divisive times. There is no place for ideologies in education.