Barack Obama, College Journalist

More than 25 years before acceding to the most powerful position in all the land, Barack Obama was a student journalist with an anti-war bent.  In “Breaking The War Mentality,” a March 1983 piece for The Sundial, a weekly magazine at Columbia University, Obama embeds his own obvious anti-war outlook into a profile of a pair of student groups whose names define their own positions: Arms Race Alternatives (ARA) and Students Against Militarism (SAM).


At the start and close of the 1,800-word piece, written when he was 21, he argues:


Most students do not have first hand knowledge of war.  Military violence has been a vicarious experience, channeled into our minds through television, film, and print. . . . But then, there are some things we shouldn’t have to live through in order to avoid the experience.



It is a fair piece of student journalism, well-written (a bit pretentious and wordy) and adaquately reported (although outwardly biased in tone and source selection).  I found it interesting mainly because it is truly an early published example of the detached reasonableness that has so come to define the man who is about to be president.  And so Obama’s path is obvious: college journalist —> White House. :)


(This will be my last post before the big day, so happy inauguration and safe travels to all those crowding into D.C.!  Sixteen years ago, I was in the city with my grandmother for Clinton’s inauguration.  I remember frigid weather, not enough port-a-potties, and a citywide idealism unlike anything I’d experienced before firsthand.  I am sure there will be more of all those things come Tuesday.)

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