January 8, 2021
Dear Students and Colleagues,
Within the U.S. Capitol complex lies the National Statuary Hall: a sweeping space that contains 35 of the Capitol’s collection of 100 statues of notable Americans (two from each state) such as John Adams, Dwight Eisenhower, and Rosa Parks. When I began working in the U.S. government 15 years ago, on the afternoon of my swearing-in, Lindsey and our two then-little boys went up to the Capitol for a tour. I can still see Nicholas and Jacob’s wide eyes as they absorbed everything in that hallowed Hall.
Wednesday evening their eyes were wide again. But this time in shock, not in wonderment. While the four of us watched the images of hundreds of brazen rioters roaming and violating the Hall and all the Capitol, as a dad and as an American I felt a strong sense of loss. As boys, Nicholas and Jacob had had the good fortune to see firsthand American government and some of its most inspiring history. Now as college students, Nicholas and Jacob have had more than a little of that wonderment stolen from them, so suddenly on a day destined to be one of America’s most appalling.
I know that lots of strong sentiments are coursing through our Tuck community right now. Many community members, especially many of our students and colleagues of color, are jarred by how the Capitol Police’s tepid response to the mob contrasts with law enforcement’s handling of Black Lives Matter protests last summer. Many are dismayed that America’s political fractiousness has descended from words and votes into a seditious attack that was the most significant on the U.S. Capitol since the British invaded in 1814. Some are saddened that at least part of John Winthrop’s “city on a hill” exceptionalism of America was smashed along with the Capitol doors and windows.
Earlier this week, I wrote that this new year holds great hope for all of us – and that with hard work, we can translate all the hope of this new year into reality. I did not foresee that two days later, the shadow of political violence would at least temporarily dim that great hope. But because of that violence, I am even more convinced that America and the world need more Tuck – and that our hard work can yield even greater good. We need even more commitment to reasoned discourse, not mendacious assertion. We need even more capability of constructive disagreement, not violent uprising. We need even more leaders who inspire, not provoke.
To support each other in this work, this coming Monday afternoon we will open our next community conversation with time for anyone who might want to share thoughts and feelings about the Capitol attack. I look forward to seeing you there. Between now and then, please take care of yourself this weekend however you need.
Dartmouth has formed a high-level task force to plan for and manage possible disruptions related to the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, monitor federal and state recommendations, implement guidance, and communicate with our community.