The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

Letter to the editor: Henry Kissinger’s legacy

In the wake of Henry Kissinger’s death, both the Lafayette Today and the student newspaper, The Lafayette, published articles celebrating the former National Security Adviser and Secretary of State and his connections to the college. Both articles heavily relied on our institutional archives for their stories. However, relying exclusively on these sources, while seemingly objective, is far from it. Archives are not mere transparent windows to the past, nor are they containers of innocuous information. They reflect the perspectives of their creators, who have predominantly been powerful, white men. Therefore, they must be approached with caution and thoughtful consideration. Moreover, what archives omit is sometimes as significant as what they contain. In Kissinger’s case, the absence of certain information in our institutional records offers, at best, a partial depiction of him.

The student newspaper briefly acknowledges in its article that Kissinger is, for many, a “disdained figure.” Although not mentioned in the article, this disdain is partly due to Kissinger’s violent legacy in the Global South. As one might expect, the college’s archives and records contain little, if any, information about these episodes. However, other archives, as well as the historical memories of many, provide a more critical and comprehensive view, calling for an examination of his legacy and our connections to him.

Kissinger’s policies have been linked to death, destruction, and suffering for millions. Journalists and historians have scrutinized Kissinger’s support for military juntas in Latin America, his endorsement of Indonesia’s 1975 invasion of East Timor, his complicity in the 1971 genocide in Bangladesh and the unlawful war he initiated in Cambodia from 1969 to 1973, among other historical episodes, such as those in the Marshall Islands. Recognizing this troubling legacy is crucial, as the US continues to engage in protracted conflicts abroad.

In light of these well-documented episodes of violence, we believe a thoughtful engagement with our institutional archives and a revision in how stories drawn from them are written is necessary.

Hafsa Kanjwal, assistant professor of history

Mónica Salas Landa, associate professor of anthropology

Nandini Sikand, professor & chair of film and media studies

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  • J

    Jeff R., an alumFeb 6, 2024 at 12:17 pm

    It is totally inappropriate for these three members of the faculty, obviously with their own political agendas, to criticize the newspaper and attack the former Lafayette student and Secretary of State, under the guise of the newspaper not having conducted the proper academic research into Kissinger’s background. The proper place for an attack on Kissinger, if any at all is warranted, is not in the pages of a student newspaper that set out merely to focus the Lafayette community on the Kissinger connection following his death and celebrate that connection. Do it, if you must, to satisfy whatever would motivate this in the first instance, in the pages of some scholarly journal that might be interested.

    • S

      Selin Sinan UzFeb 9, 2024 at 7:57 am

      Real education requires courage and the truth. It’s important to share the facts which are also part of Kissinger’s legacy. Kudos to Student newspapers for respecting the student’s freedom and rights for learning.