Updates for Sunday, February 20th [2005]

A Letter to Natalie

2/20/2005

(I forward to you my dear friends, a letter recently sent to Miss Natalie Cato, to be saved with the rest of my letters in this journal, safeguard it well as you have our communications in the past)

You conclude, Madam, from my long silence that I am gone to the other world. Nothing else would have prevented my writing to you so long. I have not thought of you the less, but I took a peep only into Elysium, in the form of a return to a place very special to me, Williamsburg.

My trip to Williamsburg was lovely but mysterious, as I graced the halls I had visited in my youth, I felt as though a phantom, or a ghost, cold and dead to the air around me. The city, very Colonial, but also modern, with it's tourists and onlookers, certainly did change the atmosphere, I wish you were there with me. I would love again a companion to warm my days, but I am born to lose every thing I love. Unfortunately, our return home from the trip was very short.

Ludwig received another clue from his missing friend, Julius, presumably who is on the run from unforeseen forces. We were told to research the history behind a man named St. George Tucker, as there appears to be some kind of crisis at hand which has resulted in investigation against all of us. I will explain more to you, my dear, once I believe it can be said clearly and without harm. Nevertheless, a cypher passed to us during our visit in Williamsburg lead us next to Harvard University, another college campus I am familiar with, although always saw as being too Puritan. We were told to seek Prof. Benjamin M. Friedman there, a professor of economics.

Harvard is definitely a grand campus, we entered through Massachusetts avenue, and parked just outside campus to find a directory and hopefully locate Professor Friedman. Looking at a directory, we walked into the heart of Harvard, right through Harvard yard and up the street through the division between the Old Yard and the General School of Education. Everywhere there were students, and a variety of beautiful buildings, a grand architecture I envy for I too once had a hand as an architect at a grand college of my own. As we began to walk to Peabody street, we passed by Massachusetts Hall, where there was a gathering of women protesting on the scene.

Daniel: Oh no, bull-dykes.

Me: What?

Daniel: You know, feminists.

Ludwig: Herr Thomas, we should continue, Professor Friedman shouldn't be here much longer today according to his schedule.

Me: Let me inquire briefly what the issue is. Excuse me, miss?

NOW Protestor: Miss? Is that some kind of condescending male chauvinism?

Daniel: Yes.

Me: No, most certainly not! Daniel, don't be impolite. I was simply going to inquire as to the nature of this gathering.

NOW Protestor: We're here to call for the resignation of Lawrence Summers and his male-biased agenda! Enrollment of women has been pathetic here at Harvard, and it's all the fault of the bigot Lawrence Summers.

Me: I always thought of Harvard as a Puritan boy's academy.

NOW Protestor: Exactly!

Me: So I don't get it, what's the issue? What self-respecting woman would want to be taught at a Puritan boys academy?

NOW Protestor: What did you just say?

Daniel: You did it now, Tommy.

Me: I was merely asking,

NOW Protestor: Listen here, you misogynistic penis-worshipping sexist pig, the bigotry you show today by defending the ignorant comments of Lawrence Summers is the same bigotry that leads closed-minded men to believe that women are genetically inferior to men, and that they don't deserve to be treated equally.

Me: I'm sorry madam, I wasn't defending Mr. Summers as I am not familiar with the gentleman. However, as the President of this grand University, I cannot understand how any speculation towards the efficiency of women in academic studies can create such great controversy, or trigger the propensities behind the call here for his expulsion. I am a careful judge, as I am unfamiliar with the terms that Mr. Summers used that seems to have offended you.

Daniel: Tommy, you're talking yourself into a hole here.

Ludwig: I'm afraid that your friend Danny is right. Let's get out of here.

Me: It's simply something I am trying to understand...

NOW Protestor: Maybe what you don't understand is that women have progressed throughout history. We can vote, we aren't treated as property, and we won't tolerate someone telling us genetic differences hold us back.

Me: Which is a point I see now is entirely true. But what I would insist is, if it's not genetic differences that hold you back, then what does? I ensure you the only remaining cause could be a social one, an element where it is difficult to generate change. I believe that Mr. Summers may perhaps hold a biased regard towards women, but not any less so because of today's protest, instead the regrets he should be met with should be in the manner of open debate. Only then could one truly strive to both understand his position, but to change it as well. Men truly are amongst the most obstinate of the sexes, and open calls for his resignation would probably not make Mr. Summers any less so. Uh... (it was at this point I realized my speech attracted the attention of the entire crowd)

Daniel: Uh oh, it looks like they're charging...

Ludwig: Rückzug!

I perhaps learned many lessons from the encounter, maybe I did underestimate the female species, and out of fear of the encounters like the kind I had that day, I will probably wind up continuing to do so. Understanding the beautiful nature of women has been one of my greatest, but least successful, pursuits in life.

So we approached the offices of Benjamin M. Friedman, who office hours are not open that day but who we were informed would be in for a brief period of time, as he is clearing away of his duties to prepare for a Spring leave. We caught him after a brief lecture in the hall right outside classroom 127 in the Littauer building.

Ludwig: Professor Friedman, I presume?

Prof. Friedman: Yes, how can I help you? Are you here for the 4 o'clock interview for my upcoming work, "The Moral Consequences of Economic Growth"?

Me: That most certainly seems to be a fascinating subject, but it appears we were sent here to seek your counsel. This is Mr. Ludwig Meises, my name is Thomas, and this is my friend Daniel. We are researching a man named St. George Tucker, who lived in the late 1700's. Do you have any information we could use?

Prof. Friedman: Oh, a Phi-Beta-Kappa question. I've heard of the name before as amongst a group speculated to have contributed to the founding of Phi-Beta-Kappa in 1776. If you're a serious researcher, perhaps you should consult our headquarters in Washington D.C., where we have several leading members who excel in history. I'm afraid my department is economic and overseeing the chapter here at Harvard, a difficult duty with so many exceptional students.

Daniel: What the heck is Phi-Beta-Kappa?

Prof. Friedman: It's a scholarly organization fostering and recognizing excellence in the liberal arts and sciences, it's over 200 years old.

Me: Yes Daniel, I'm afraid I knew about this organization too. The University of Virginia had it's own chapter, although I remember it being more secretive.

Prof. Friedman: Oh, Phi-Beta-Kappa isn't secretive in the least, it's purely an honorary society, has been for over 150 years. I'm sorry, my expertise isn't history, but another place to look besides the headquarters at D.C. might be the College of William & Mary, I know they have the oldest chapter there and it may have history-savvy members you could interview. I must leave to meet up with my 4 o'clock interview but you are all invited to attend my lecture next week about the negative impact of Reaganomics and Globalization.

Ludwig: If Julius thought the information we sought would be at William & Mary, he would've told us to look there then. I think D.C. should be our next visit, after we return home for more research. We should not settle in any one place for too long, to keep ourselves secure from those who may be following us.

Me: Agreed.

Which was the end of my short leave, and on this Sunday evening, I send this letter asking for your company in the upcoming week before I must take the next trip to the federal city. Also, I received, in the moment of my departure your favor of Feb. 15., the DVD rentals of "Troy" and "The Village" and returned them only slightly late, and long to receive another favor of a different sort: one that is lengthy, warm, & flowing from the heart, as do the sentiments of friendship & esteem with which I have the honor to be, dear Madam,

your affectionate friend and servant.

- Thomas

Editor's Notes:

I decided to throw another collegiate curve-ball by going to one of America's most prestigious and oldest colleges, Harvard University. Many of the impressions Jefferson has in the article reflects much of what he would have learned and attitudes from his times, and reflects a lot of how it's changed. I'm afraid that I can't say much more about today's update without giving away plot twists, so instead I'll just offer my opinion of the NOW hysteria.

The National Organization of Women is really, in principle, a good thing. Women should be organized because male culture is so considerably bad that it needs to be countered from without or within. However, the insanely leftist agenda of NOW make it hard to be taken seriously. If you go to their website today, NOW.org, you'll see more about the "truth" about George W. Bush and gay rights (a separate issue) than serious women's social issues. The pay-as-you-go system of Social Security does not really threaten women's rights, and even if you disagree with the idea that increased privatization is a good thing for women, you can't say that it's effects are any different a concern for women than they are for men. Politicizing women by turning them into leftist activists will not result in real social change or even positive political change. While I agree a Federal Marriage Act would be disastrous, I fail to see why issues like "economic equity", "judicial nominations" and "fighting the right" get more time of discussion than violence against women and fighting social bias on non-political terms (community awareness issues). I've always felt it was a little misguided to imagine the Left is any more beneficial to American women than the Right would be, as the economic impact and damage of the Left's policies hurt families and the enforcement policies and quotas only breed segregation of women in society, which never helps mend social schisms. While the domestic policies of the Right are very anti-women (especially with issues regarding abortion), the economic policies of the Left are not any more "pro"-women just because they promise extra financial benefits and more entitlements. In a free society, women should always view big government as a threat to their rights, whether it's big government headed by the Right, or one headed by the Left... and I guarantee that it'll continue to be a problem so long as this idea is ignored.

If there was one issue Jefferson never really understood, it was women. He was married once early in his life and his wife died before the revolution was over. He spent many years alone, and only ever fell for one more woman, Maria Cosway. She more or less brushed off the poor guy, despite the fact he was desperately in love with here. Many of the elements of today's update were literally borrowed from that letter. I'll include the original here,

You conclude, Madam, from my long silence that I am gone to the other world. Nothing else would have prevented my writing to you so long. I have not thought of you the less, but I took a peep only into Elysium. I entered it at one door, & came out at another, having seen, as I past, only Turin, Milan, & Genoa. I calculated the hours it would have taken to carry me on to Rome, but they were exactly so many more than I had to spare. Was not this provoking? In thirty hours from Milan I could have been at the espousals of the Doge and the Adriatic, but I am born to lose every thing I love. Why were you not with me? So many enchanting scenes which only wanted your pencil to consecrate them to fame. Whenever you go to Italy you must pass at the Col de Tende. You may go in your chariot in full trot from Nice to Turin, as if there were no mountain. But have your pallet & pencil ready: for you will be sure to stop in the passage, at the chateau de Saorgio. Imagine to yourself, madam, a castle & village hanging to a cloud in front, on one hand a mountain cloven through to let pass a gurgling stream; on the other a river, over which is thrown a magnificent bridge; the whole formed into a bason, it's sides shagged with rocks, olive trees, vines, herds, &c. I insist on your painting it. How do you do? How have you done? and when are you coming here? If not at all, what did you ever come for? Only to make people miserable at losing you. Consider that you are but a day from Paris. If you come by the way of St. Omers, which is but two posts further, you will see a new & beautiful country. Come then, my dear Madam, and we will breakfast every day a Angloise, hie away to the Desert, dine under the bowers of Marly, and forget that we are ever to part again. I received, in the moment of my departure your favor of Feb. 15. and long to receive another: but lengthy, warm, & flowing from the heart, as do the sentiments of friendship & esteem with which I have the honor to be, dear Madam,

your affectionate friend and servant.

- Th. Jefferson

(sent to Maria Cosway in Paris, July 1rst 1787)


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