“The Silencing of Dorothy Thompson”

Kicking off the blog with a shout-out to a relevant Kickstarter campaign. Here’s the gist: Some folks are trying to raise cash to make a documentary about Dorothy Thompson, an American journalist who was one of the leading media voices against the rise of the Nazis. She was the first Western journalist to interview Adolf Hitler — and the first reporter expelled from Germany by his personal order.

After the war, Thompson faced enormous criticism for speaking out against the formation of Israel at the expense of the Palestinian people. Whatever your opinion about Israel, Thompson offered an early warning about the the instability of the region based on her extensive knowledge of European politics. And compared to today’s inflammatory media discourse, Thompson’s comments were pretty tame.

Thompson’s career encompassed much than a single political statement. She published eighteen books and article collections, many of which were rooted deeply in her American patriotism and in her Christian faith.

Anyway. Watch the video. And in the name of freedom, support the Kickstarter. Because as Dorothy once said: “It is not the fact of liberty but the way in which liberty is exercised that ultimately determines whether liberty itself survives.”

Dorothy Thompson
Dorothy Thompson

 

Why this blog exists, or, Have you met Mickey?

It started simply enough. In 2013, I was sitting in a lonely office in a lonely wing of the engineering building on the University of Wisconsin campus. At the time, I was a science writer, on the hunt for a historical factoid about materials science to insert into a department newsletter.

I stumbled across the name of the first female graduate of the program: Emily Hahn. She received her degree in 1926, but the college’s website offered nothing more. I mentioned Hahn to my boss, who shrugged and said, “I don’t think she became an engineer.” I didn’t include her in the newsletter.

But I didn’t forget her, and eventually, I started to Google her. And it didn’t take long to realize that “Mickey” Hahn was way more interesting than we gave her credit for.

After a brief stint as a mining engineer, she became a writer and world traveler, ultimately producing more than 50 books. She traveled to the Belgian Congo alone in her mid-20s, and she spent eight years in Japan-occupied China during WWII.

I was … stunned. I’d majored in journalism at the University of Wisconsin, and I’d never, not once, heard the name of this prolific alum. How was that possible?Read More »