Red skies at morning, sailors take warning. So goes the first half of the wise mariner's aphorism. Well, my newly arrived Dartmouth Alumni Travel brochure, promoting a 2017 alumni trip to Cuba, informs me, glowingly, that "Cuba is transitioning into a promising new dawn as it reshapes its future relationship with the United States." Well, I have news for you. Peering out from my beach-side hammock, the color of Cuba's new dawn is the same as yesterday: Red.
Yes, I get the whole alumni travel thing. The camaraderie. The shared enjoyment of new travel and cultural experiences. The intellectual stimulation, with faculty-host lectures and such. Oh, and, don't forget the pitch for annuities. All is good. Except for reek of academic progressive liberalism that makes me queasy about these alumni junkets. Heaven forbid we alumni should travel without a decidedly left-leaning itinerary.
I had to write to the good people at Dartmouth Lifelong Learning and Travel, which operates out of the Office of Alumni Relations. Mind you, we Dartmouth people are all friends, so, what I write is purely for the pleasure of intellectual engagement.
Dear [Officers at Dartmouth Alumni Travel]:
I write to you from Los Angeles as a Dartmouth alumnus (Class of '83) and recipient of Dartmouth Alumni Travel communications, including, most recently, a brochure about the 2017 trip to Cuba.
Dartmouth is a wonderful institution where alumni retain strong ties to the College, and remain very much a part of today's Dartmouth Community. Being an active part of that community is, to me, not only an enjoyable pass-time, but, also, an obligation. Dartmouth helped to shape my worldview, and, when compelled to do so, I need to speak out.
Dartmouth Alumni Travel's announced trip to Cuba disturbs me. While longstanding travel restrictions to Cuba have recently been lifted by the Obama Administration, Cuba remains a communist country, ruled by Soviet-vintage dictators. As a Dartmouth alumnus of a certain era (not too long ago, but in a different world), the idea of offering alumni travel to Cuba would be unthinkable, and, of course, against official U.S. Government policy and law, except for certain well defined purposes (such as academic research of the type conducted by then-Professor Marysa Navarro, as noted in DAT's Cuba brochure.)
I read in the Cuba Brochure that "Cuba is transitioning into a promising new dawn as it reshapes its future relationship with the United States." Honestly, Robin and Mary Ann; as a Dartmouth alumnus, I am ashamed that people from Dartmouth could lend their names to such writing. "...a promising new dawn..?" Really? With regret, I expect such rosy statements from the White House and the State Department, but, from Dartmouth, such unsubstantiated pablum is inexcusable. Show me the proof!
When, during the Cuba trip, will Dartmouth alums meet, unchaperoned, with Cuba's political dissidents? When will Dartmouth alums visit a Cuban political prison, or, perhaps, get the opportunity to share a cool drink with one of the many fugitives from U.S. law (including the accused killer of a New Jersey policeman) who live in Cuba, as welcomed guests (or pawns) of the Cuban government? How many Dartmouth alumni dollars from the Cuba land & cruise tariff (never mind the airline landing fees, etc.) will end up in the Cuban Government treasury?
As a Dartmouth student, I learned to detect poor thinking, and, I must say, DAT's trip to Cuba is poorly conceived.
Sincerely,William L. Robbins '83