For the majority of last semester, the Lecture Fund’s list of speakers included big names like former President Bill Clinton, United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, and Hamid Karzai, the president of Afghanistan. Students could brag to their friends at other schools that a president or NGO leader spoke at Georgetown every week.
At other points, though, the speakers were less compelling (or at least less famous). The spring semester is off to a promising start, though. Lecture Fund has three prominent speakers planned for the beginning of this semester who merit a frantic rush to the nearest computer to RSVP for one of the coveted seats in Gaston as soon as you get the e-mail.
The first, Francis Fukuyama, is a philosopher and chastened neoconservative. He rose to prominence with his theory of the End of History, the idea that Western democracy would spread across the world after the Soviet Union’s collapse. It seems silly now, but it was popular in the 90’s.
After 9/11, Fukuyama signed a letter supporting an invasion of Iraq. More recently, he’s tried to distance himself from the war, embarrassed that Bush administration officials actually applied what he wrote. On Jan. 25 he’ll come clean.
A month later, students will have the chance to hear another advocate for human rights who prefers letter-writing campaigns to pre-emptive wars when Larry Cox, the executive director of Amnesty International USA, speaks on campus on Feb. 20.
Cox regularly issues statements on controversial issues, calling Saddam Hussein’s execution “simply wrong” in an Amnesty International press release. His speech, entitled “The War on Human Rights,” will touch on American abuses in the war on terror. Cox has written on his web site that the United States is responsible for “serious violations of human rights, including torture and disappearances.”
A little more than a week after Cox’s talk, Michael Barone, a political pundit, will speak. Besides being a guest on the entertaining-in-a-curmudgeonly way McLaughlin Group, Barone edits the nearly 2,000 page Almanac of American Politics.
The Almanac records the lives and votes of every US senator and representative, including their spouse’s name and which sub-committee they head. Find errors in the library’s copy and feel smug when you point them out, or for alternative lecture fun, quiz Barone on whether your representative voted for Medicare appropriations.
Lecture Fund’s schedule for the beginning of the semester is intriguing. It’s worth checking (and re-checking) your email to make sure you don’t miss anything.