Page 9

ANTIFASCISM IN OHIO: Humanities Director Speaks Out Against White Supremacy By Sebastiaan Faber

Last August, in the wake of violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, Ohio Humanities issued a powerful letter condemning white supremacists who attacked antifascist protestors. We speak with Executive Director Pat Williamsen about the need for public humanists to take a stand. “America has forgotten itself.” “The short shrift we give to the humanities in education really has done a disservice to the American people.”

F

ew people know Ohio and its history better than Pat Williamsen. She has worked with Ohio Humanities, the state’s humanities council, for more than 30 years, serving as Executive Director since 2011. On August 25, 10 days after white supremacists marched through Charlottesville, Virginia and killed Heather Heyer, Williamsen forcefully condemned those events in a public letter that we reprint here. An accomplished photographer and writer, Williamsen studied English in Toledo and holds an M.A. in Film History and Theory from Ohio State University. She speaks slowly and reflectively—but she rarely hesitates. Although they are largely funded by the federal government, I understand the state humanities councils operate as independent non-profits, building bridges between academia and the general public. We create opportunities for the general public to use the humanities as it navigates through everyday life. Humanities schol-

ars these days are not necessarily encouraged by their universities to write for a broad audience. But I think that may be one of the reasons why we are where we are as a society. These days, I find myself trying to parse through the moment that America is in. I don’t think it started at the conclusion of the presidential election process in November, or at the party conventions in the summer of 2016. This phenomenon has been brewing for a long time—whether we’re talking about the polarization of our civic discourse, the rise of white supremacy, or even yet another mass shooting. What conclusion do you reach? I keep coming back to the notion that America has forgotten itself. We’ve forgotten so much about our history—or maybe we never knew it in the first place. The short shrift we give to the humanities in our public school systems, colleges, and universities really has done a disservice to the American people. Why are we even talking about white supremacy now? Why don’t we have December 2017 THE VOLUNTEER 9

Profile for Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives

The Volunteer December 2017  

Published by the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives, www.alba-valb.org

The Volunteer December 2017  

Published by the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives, www.alba-valb.org

Profile for albavalb
Advertisement