Journal Number Five
Journal 5 Thursday the 2/9/17 0–1.5
In class we talked about the different types of leaders between the ancient leaders we have discussed in class. Between all those ancient leaders I weirdly find myself thinking that Leonidas was the best leader of the bunch. Even though he visibly would seem to be the one that failed the most miserably of the bunch. What I find most valuable about Leonidas’s brand of leadership assuming it’s transferable to modern times is his loyalty to the ethos and character of his country in even the most trying of times. Staring down certain death Leonidas stayed true to his city-state’s values of unbreakable spirits and fierce fighters. This persona struck fear into the heat of his enemies and allowed him to stage the most successful military defeat of all time, and even though they lost his countrymen would describe what happened as a success and that’s why I think Leonidas would be the most useful leader if we could switch out his spartan ideals for American Ideals. Leonidas would follow American principles till his dying breath and would be a true patriot regardless of party unlike many of our leaders who are so entrenched in party lines they refuse to lift a hand while it becomes more and more apparent that the Russians had a direct hand in electing our “President” of the United States. I think that’s one of the largest problems in congress there are no true leaders only party leaders. There is no one there who would put the good of our country ahead of party lines, not many who think of how we can make America great. But there are many who think about how they can advance themselves, everyone there thinks about how they can get re-elected and that’s the problem. This idea of partisanship has never been more evident to me than in the Representative Jason Chaffetz of Utah’s third district. Chaffetz was one of the loudest critics of Hillary Clinton during the Benghazi scandal, he called multiple hearings and admonished and attacked her as much as possible to smear her during her presidential run. He abused his job as chair on the house oversight committee to help the republicans win the presidency. Now that Donald Trump is found to have unsightly connections to Russia greater than what we might have already suspected, Chaffetz is silent and even suggesting we should go after those leaking the information rather than prosecute the information we now have. This is the problem of leadership in American politics we need someone who truly cares about Americans above everything even re-election and party lines, I’m not sure we’ll ever get that type of leader in America.
Thursday Module Reading 2/9/17 1.5–4
This module was about look and how Alexander was one of the first leaders to understand the power of cultivating a look and letting people fall in love with said look.This is a common practice now every presidential candidate wants to exude a certain look and many of the greatest campaigns had a president that had an iconic look like JFK, Obama, or Ronald Reagan who had a distinctive look that helped them to get elected. After Alexander the module said then Roman leaders also found it useful to cultivate a certain look, it allows you to give your citizens a snapshot of who you are. One of the craziest parts about his module to me at least was the age of Alexander. He died when he was only 32 having never lost a major battle and being the leader of much of the known world at the time, that’s mind boggling to me. Most of our presidents have been in their 50’ or 60’s and have dedicated their life to the pursuit of this goal while some like Obama and JFK have been extremely young and some like Trump have not spent their entire lives in politics mostly the president goes to someone who has been a politician for life. But by the age of 32 Alexander the Great had conquered the known world, I can’t imagine what it would be like to live with that type of drive to be great to succeed. I honestly don’t even think it’s possible in today’s society to have that sort of drive with all the elements the present gives us. His drive reminds me of one of my favorite musicals, Hamilton. One of the main points of Hamilton is the Alexander Hamilton had a drive that was unique even among the founding fathers and he could not be matched by any. One problem that I can see between those like Alexander Hamilton or Alexander the Great is that to be so successful so young seems to grant you either ruin( Hamilton became shamed after an affair ruined his career) or you die ( sometimes under mysterious circumstances that seem an awful lot like poison.) The question though is if it’s worth it to achieve a legendary type of greatness even if it’s guaranteed that you will face unknowable hardships and possibly even death to a degree that others would never experience.
Sunday 2/12/17 4–6.5 Module Reading
This module talked about how leaders use images to brand or re-brand themselves in a certain way. It starts by talking about Augustus formerly known as Octavian who had the Arca Polis made. Arca Polis( Altar of Peace) was made to establish Augustus as a great seeker of peace, this is one of the most useful applications of Iconography for leaders to recreate themselves. Augustus was one of the most war hungry emperors the roman republic had ever seen he crushed both other members of the Triumvirate and ruthlessly murdered many of their offspring to quell future rebellions before they happen and to consolidate power. Augustus was one of the most brutal emperors of Rome but that is not the legacy he wished to be left behind so he attempted to change it. He wanted to be known as a lover and pursuer of peace so he had the Arca Polis made. A monument that would forever be associated with him and hopefully change the conversation around his name. This happened today with modern pr campaigns to remake the image of celebrity who have been tainted by negative public perception for example Mel Gibson. After multiple anti-Semitic and sexist voicemail's were leaked Mel Gibson was temporarily blacklisted from Hollywood but slowly and quietly he made his return and this year with his move Hacksaw Ridge he returned to the forefront to relative anonymity and little opposition. He could very well win an Oscar this is the modern version of Augustus building the Arca Polis to redefine his legacy now instead of with buildings it’s done with cute interviews on late night television and goofy antics and that’s all it takes to forget the past of some who otherwise would be unpalatable and allow them to once again flourish and become even more successful and wealthy in our society.
Tuesday Class 6.5–8
In Class we discuss Betsy Devos coming to Howard and the inherent problems encountered by president Fredrick's would have had to anticipate had he decided to meet or not meet with her. I found this to be our most pertinent in conversation in class with all that had happened on campus during the previous week. I contend that even though the blow-back would’ve been major if it had been played correctly Howard could’ve not only made a stance against the racism, incompetence, and general jackassery of Donald Trump’s administration. If Frederick's had refused to meet with her on grounds that he does not support her because she stands antithesis to the values of Howard University. If Trump or Devos had threatened Howard University with a withholding of funds than Howard could’ve rallied up the liberals who are already in a frenzy by claiming the administration wants to shut up dissenting minority voices at even the most prestigious of Universities. This could work well especially if former Howard University grad and current senator Kamala Harris were to engage in the fray. That would put pressure on the white house to make sure they gave us our endowment at the same or a higher level than before. This way Howard could have it’s cake and eat it too, I’m not sure if Frederick's thought of such an option. I do wonder who Frederick's counseled on this matter before he decided to invite her to our school. Even though I wouldn’t have done what Frederick's did I do understand and even support his actions. Because of the precarious financial situation Howard University has been in due to mismanagement we need every dollar we can get. So I understand why he would refuse to pick a fight with an administration that seems extremely vindictive of anyone who opposed them. I understand his desire not to rock the boat and to keep everything steady, Howard has been slowly improving during his tenure as president and Frederick did not wish to throw away all that progress I understand and can respect that even though I personally would’ve acted differently.
Wednesday 2/15/17 8–10
The last part of the Module reading discusses Trajan the Roman Emperor whom I found extremely interesting. He expanded the Roman empire th what would be it’s largest point ever and I’ve never once heard of him in history class or even in the discussion with famous or other great roman leaders like Mark Antony, Augustus, or Julius Caesar. Even though by all metrics he was far more successful than any of them. How does one become put in the recesses of mainstream history with such accomplishments this once again reminds me of Alexander Hamilton( Sorry for all the Hamilton references I’ve been listening as I’m completing my Journal.). Hamilton was only mentioned in my history class as the fool who lost the duel with Aaron Burr the then vice-president of the United States. It was presented as a crazy story of the past and even told with relative humour. It did no justice to one of the architects of our country someone more important and influential than presidents like John adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and many others. I only found out about Alexander Hamilton through the musical and through Ron Chernow’s excellent book about his life. How do these great leaders get trapped in the past while those lesser enjoy more popularity and success. Trajan and Hamilton both built great structures that stood the test of time such as Trajan’s column and the modern banking system used in the UNited States of America. Their greatness isn’t taught in history which is odd considering how repetitive history got in highschool we basically learned the same couple of facts on repeat or with more depth and truth as we progressed through. The one lesson I get that is no matter how great we can’t decide how history will remember us or our legacy no matter how great said legacy is.
I also thought Trajan’s column were interesting they reminded me of comic books the way they tell a story. It seems to me to be an example of the more things change the more they stay the same, people always have and will enjoy visual storytelling because it allows them instead of just simply reading the see what is being described and focus on images being used to convey meaning. This was especially useful in ancient times when many were not literate. This allowed them to see the victory of Trajan and celebrate beyond just being told of victory by proclamation or other means.