Before the semester is out, we want to take a moment to remember Prof. Thompson Bradley, a passionate and gifted teacher and activist for peace and justice at Swarthmore College, the local region, and the world.
President Val Smith informed the Swarthmore community of Prof. Thompson’s passing on October 3, and the Communications Office provided a rich remembrance of his life, work, and activism. We reprint that below, along with a poem honoring Prof. Thompson by Swarthmore alum Bill Ehrhart that appears on the Veterans for Peace website.
October 3rd, 2019
With deep sadness, I write to share the news that Professor Emeritus of Russian Thompson Bradley died peacefully Sunday, Sept. 22, at his home in Rose Valley, Pa., after a long illness. Tom is remembered for his deep and abiding love of Russian language and literature, his commitment to generations of students, and his devotion to decency and justice in all of his pursuits. He was 85.
Tom is survived by Anne, his wife of more than 60 years, their three daughters, and two grandchildren. A celebration of his life will be held at 3 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 21. in Upper Tarble in Clothier Memorial Hall.
I invite you to read more below about Tom, his remarkable life, and his innumerable contributions to our community.
In Honor of Professor Emeritus of Russian Thompson Bradley
The Swarthmore community has lost one of its most influential and beloved faculty members, Professor Emeritus of Russian Thompson Bradley, whose teaching and passionate intellectual engagement with Russian language and literature were inseparable from his lifelong commitment to and advocacy for peace and social justice.
“No one in this life is indispensable, but Tom came awfully close,” says longtime friend and colleague John Hassett, the Susan W. Lippincott Professor Emeritus of Modern and Classical Languages. “He was a born teacher, completely dedicated to his students. His preferred space was always the classroom.”
“I recall Tom’s gift for making his interlocutor feel heard and appreciated,” says Professor of Russian Sibelan Forrester. “His face would light up in a very affirming way when he heard a good idea or an interesting story.”
Tom was born in New Haven, Conn., and raised not far from there on a farm in Cheshire. His love of languages first took hold at the Hotchkiss School, where he studied French and Latin. In his senior year, he was introduced to Russian, an encounter that ignited his love of the language and its literature. At Yale University, where Tom earned a B.A. in Russian, and later, at Columbia University, where he pursued graduate work in Slavic languages and literatures, this love deepened and took on literary and historical dimension.
Tom’s recognition of the complex dialectical nature of the relationships between Russia’s language and literature and its revolutionary history inspired his impassioned intellectual and social commitments and was the vital current that found expression in all that he did as a teacher, activist, colleague, and friend.
In 1956, Tom married Anne Cushman Noble. That same year, a few months after graduating from Yale, Tom was drafted into the U.S. Army. In keeping with his moral convictions, he made the principled decision to enlist rather than seek a deferment, then afforded to students continuing on to graduate school. He served for two years at an American base in Germany, where he had been recruited for military intelligence for his language skills.
After completing his service and returning to the U.S., Tom resumed his academic career at Columbia. He then spent a year in Moscow as one of 35 American scholars on a cultural exchange. While working in the Lenin Library and the Gorky Institute of World Literature, Tom witnessed the gradual shift from the Stalinist regime to that under Nikita Khrushchev. He also met with and befriended members of the Soviet dissident movement, whose courage he greatly admired. Years later he invited one of them, well-known human rights activist Elena Bonner, to speak on campus.
After teaching briefly at New York University, Tom joined Swarthmore’s faculty in 1962 as an instructor in Russian. Here, he connected with an earlier generation of scholars, especially those in the Modern Language and Literatures (MLL) Department, who had been displaced by World War II and other major conflicts and had immigrated to the U.S.
In Russian, he notably joined, among others, section head Olga Lang, the quintessential intelligentka and a fount of poetry who had worked with major figures in the Communist Party, and Helen Shatagina, who had been born to an aristocratic St. Petersburg family but politically, Tom said, was an anarchist.
“It was a rich culture and wonderful, cosmopolitan world they brought with them,” he once said. “At Swarthmore, we were the fortunate beneficiaries.”
At the College, Tom also found students whom he described as having a “real commitment” to living the intellectual life. His Russian novel class became legendary, invariably drawing the most students of any MLL course at the time.
In their reflections and testimonials, colleagues recognize Tom’s gifts and dedication as a teacher, as well as his capacity to communicate the beauty and power of literature to broaden and deepen the scope of our moral imagination.
Marion Faber, the Scheuer Family Professor Emerita of Humanities and Professor Emerita of German, says she was “astonished to learn that Tom regularly met individually with every one of his students both before and after each assigned paper—a uniquely generous investment of time and a sign of his devotion as a teacher.”
“More than anyone else I knew here at the College,” says Professor of German Hansjakob Werlen, “Tom’s love of literature always came through in his superb teaching, as did his ability to convey the essence of what literature’s particular aesthetic form can do: free up the imagination for the ways other people live and lived in various places and times and make us empathetic participants in those worlds with all their diverse inhabitants. That empathy extended to everyone living in this world.”
“Tom’s grasp of literature was profound, and profoundly moving,” writes Philip Weinstein, the Alexander Griswold Cummins Professor Emeritus of English Literature. “I never knew anyone so passionate about his beliefs who nevertheless refused steadfastly to demonize others whose views he rejected. He didn’t speak much about love—at least not in my hearing—but his whole embodied stance radiated love. Political passion is common enough, but its being humanized and enlarged by love is passing rare. I know of no one else who embodied both these realities so well.”
Tom received tenure in 1968 and chaired MLL for several years. Throughout his career, he never separated his teaching from his social and political activism. Tom spoke of this when he retired in 2001: “I think there are fewer and fewer people in academia today who think of their lives as having to do with a practice outside of academia. I can’t imagine only doing activism, or only teaching. To me they seem as indivisible as literature and history.”
Tom embodied this understanding in his teaching and his activism—both on campus and off—and was at the forefront of efforts to extend the reach of the College curriculum to the larger community.
“Tom was devoted, personally and politically, to decency and justice, and virtually everything he did reflected those commitments,” says Professor Emeritus of Philosophy Rich Schuldenfrei, a longtime colleague and friend. “He was politically active on the left for his whole adult life [and] a leader in mobilizing the College against the war in Vietnam. He mentored conscientious objectors and arranged for training for the faculty to do so. He was active for many years with Veterans for Peace.”
Before opportunities and support for connecting the curriculum to the community were common, Tom forged that path in his own teaching. As Professor Faber notes: “He not only brought contemporary poets like the Vietnam War veteran W.D. Ehrhart ’73 to the College but also taught literature classes in prisons.”
Adds Hugh Lacey, the Scheuer Family Professor Emeritus of Philosophy: “He was always there when it mattered—speaking, organizing, and teaching countless students outside of the formal classroom setting and inspiring them to think and act in new ways.”
Professor Lacey credits Tom with generously participating in, and often leading, many of the activities that made Swarthmore College “live up to its claim to be a community.” Those efforts included organizing a full day of talks and activities to celebrate the first Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day; engaging in the Faculty Seminar on Central America in the 1980s to educate the general public about the wars and U.S. foreign policy in the region; supporting the Sanctuary Movement for refugees from those wars; developing a faculty exchange program with a university in El Salvador; and, in the 1990s, helping to create and sustain the Chester-Swarthmore College Community Coalition, which planned educational and other collaborative programming and opportunities for students from Swarthmore and Delaware County Community Colleges and residents of Chester, Pa.
After he retired in 2001, Tom became what one alumnus describes as a “foundation stone” of the College’s Learning for Life program (LLS). Three years later, colleagues and former students published Towards a Classless Society: Studies in Literature, History, and Politics in his honor. Counting his additional years of teaching Russian literature to legions of devoted alumni in New York and Philadelphia through LLS, Tom’s Swarthmore teaching legacy extended nearly 50 years.
Tom was always generous with his time and knowledge. In a 2014 interview, he provided a powerful perspective, unheard until that time, on the division among faculty members during the 1969 Admissions Office takeover.
Tom once said of his European colleagues, several of whom he counted as teachers (and “luckily” as friends): “I always felt, when one of them died, as if more than a person or colleague had gone, but a whole world.” It is not a stretch to say that Tom’s death has left a similar void.
“I’ll always remember him as a loving man, a convivial host at his home, encircled by his beautiful family,” Professor Faber says. “And I’ll always remember him as a man of great élan, in his long black winter overcoat, beret and red scarf, striding to a classroom or a meeting.”
As Professor Schuldenfrei writes, Tom “leaves behind family, friends, political allies, and colleagues who will miss him and forever think of him as a model of political commitment and integrity, and personal loyalty and love.”
He looked like Lenin. Really.
I’ve never forgotten the first time
I saw him, fifty years ago; I had
to do a double-take, knowing Lenin
had been dead for nearly fifty years.
He’d pace back and forth, gesticulating
to a classroom full of college kids
while rolling a cigarette, explaining
Russian Thought and Literature
in the Quest for Truth.
What Lenin took for truth, I’ve
no idea, but through the years
I came to know that truth meant
justice, peace, honesty and fairness,
decency and generosity to Tom.
You name the issue, Tom was always
on the side you wanted to be on:
wars in Asia, the Americas, the Middle East;
civil rights, prisoners’ rights, women’s rights,
gay rights, the right to live with dignity.
He looked like Lenin, but he lived
a life that Lenin would have envied,
or certainly should have. If Tom had led
the Revolution, I’d have followed him
to hell and back and into heaven.
– W. D. Ehrhart
As a radical Swarthmore professor, Tom developed a friendship with Ehrhart, then a returning Vietnam combat vet who felt like a fish-out-of-water on the Swarthmore campus.
How do we identify and address intersectional concerns (e.g. from racism, to poverty, to militarism, to homelessness, and more) in our sustainability work and activism? How do we connect our various initiatives within a framework of environmental justice? How do we communicate these visions with others?
On Monday, November 20, join Peace and Conflict Studies and Environmental Studies for a workshop with Prof. Randall Amster, former Executive Director of the Peace and Justice Studies Association.
Weaving the Threads: Intersectionality, Sustainability & Environmental Justice
The confluence of contemporary crises represents a direct threat to human existence, yet also a remarkable opportunity to implement alternatives and cultivate visions for a more just and sustainable world. The framework of “climate justice” increasingly subsumes many of these issues and possibilities, providing a basis for transforming our thinking and acting in relation to essential resources including food, water, and energy production. Likewise, critical issues of equity, access, and distribution are brought to the fore, with the nexus of environmental justice and peacebuilding offering potential avenues for change. What theories and actions are informing current movements and responses? How can policymaking and the lived experiences of people and communities equally inform the discourse? How can we promote an ethos of responsibility in both senses of the word, as a form of accountability and a locus of empowerment? Drawing upon examples from local to global scales, this session will seek to spark a collaborative dialogue for cultivating resilient responses to today’s most pressing challenges.
Randall Amster, J.D., Ph.D., is Director and Teaching Professor in the Program on Justice and Peace at Georgetown University. He serves as Editor-in- Chief of the Contemporary Justice Review. He teaches and publishes widely on subjects including peace and nonviolence, social and environmental justice, political theory and movements, and the impacts of emerging technologies. His recent books include Peace Ecology (Routledge, 2015), Anarchism Today (Praeger, 2012), Lost in Space: The Criminalization, Globalization, and Urban Ecology of Homelessness (LFB, 2008); and the co-edited volume Exploring the Power of Nonviolence: Peace, Politics, and Practice (Syracuse University Press, 2013). His current research interests include environmental peacebuilding, climate justice, intersectionality and ecology, community and sustainability, and the justice implications of contemporary technology.
The workshop begins at 4:15 pm and will take place in Kohlberg Hall, Room 116.
This event is sponsored by Peace and Conflict Studies, Environmental Studies, the Provost’s Office, the President’s Office, and the Office of Sustainability.
Jeremy J. Stone, a mathematician whose ideas about minimizing the possibility of a nuclear catastrophe influenced arms-control negotiators in the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War, died on Sunday at his home in Carlsbad, Calif. He was 81.
The cause was heart failure, said Steven Aftergood, his executor and a former colleague at the Federation of American Scientists.
Mr. Stone’s focus on arms reduction began in 1963 with what he called “an electric thought”: If the Soviets could be persuaded not to build a missile defense system, then perhaps the United States could be persuaded not to build one of its own.
“Both sides would then avoid the waste of expensive, ineffective systems that would, still worse, accelerate each side’s interest in buying offsetting offensive missile systems,” Mr. Stone wrote in “Every Man Should Try” (1999), one of his two autobiographies.
It was a counterintuitive argument: that national missile defenses could encourage both sides to build more offensive weapons. But it was central to the 1972 Antiballistic Missile Treaty, which limited the number, type and placement of missiles that the United States and the Soviet Union could deploy to shoot down attacking nuclear missiles.
Mr. Stone was not the only policy expert, in or out of the government, who thought that way. But Matthew Evangelista, the author of “Unarmed Forces: The Transnational Movement to End the Cold War” (2002), and other arms-control historians said that Mr. Stone made an important contribution: the regular trips he took to the Soviet Union to cajole scientists and foreign-policy experts about the wisdom of limiting missile defense systems. His wife, Betty Jane Yannet, also a mathematician (better known as B. J. Stone), learned Russian to help him on his missions.
“He was one of the leading figures in arms control,” Mr. Evangelista said. “It took a while for the Soviet side to appreciate the arguments, and he was involved in contacts with Soviet scientists over many years to persuade them. He changed a lot of minds.”
By 1966, Mr. Evangelista said, some Soviet scientists who were involved in military research and were close to Soviet leaders like Prime Minister Aleksei N. Kosygin were calling an American plan to limit missile defenses “Jeremy Stone’s proposal.”
Morton Halperin, who served three White House administrations in national security and diplomatic positions, said in an interview that Mr. Stone “understood what many advocates don’t: that if you want to influence governments, you have to give them an idea for what they can actually do rather than lecture them about peace or arms control.”
During the debate over the Strategic Defense Initiative, or Star Wars, the space-based missile defense system pushed by President Ronald Reagan, Mr. Stone told a meeting of Soviet scientists in 1985 in Moscow that disarmament was the best response to the White House plan.
“You people are saying that if we go ahead with Star Wars, there can be no disarmament,” Mr. Stone is quoted as saying in “The Master of the Game” (1988), a biography of the nuclear-arms negotiator Paul H. Nitze written by Strobe Talbott. “I agree, but you should turn it around. You should see that if both sides go ahead with disarmament, there can be no Star Wars.”
Mr. Talbott, a former deputy secretary of state under President Bill Clinton who is now president of the Brookings Institution, said in an interview that Mr. Stone “understood the technology and theology of nuclear war.”
Jeremy Judah Stone was born on Nov. 23, 1935, in Manhattan. His father was I. F. Stone, the radical journalist who published the muckraking newsletter I. F. Stone’s Weekly. His mother, Esther, ran the newsletter’s administrative operations.
After attending the Bronx High School of Science, Mr. Stone attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for one year before transferring to Swarthmore College, from which he graduated. He met Ms. Yannet while they were students there. In 1960, he received a Ph.D. in mathematics from Stanford University.
After working at the National Bureau of Standards, the RAND Corporation and the Stanford Research Institute, he joined the Hudson Institute, which was run by the physicist Herman Kahn, a leading thinker on nuclear strategies.
Mr. Kahn assigned Mr. Stone to study the hypothetical evacuation of American cities if a Soviet invasion of Western Europe were to be met with an American first strike, leaving a retaliatory strike by Moscow inevitable. In his report, Mr. Stone concluded that it would take three days to evacuate cities in the Northeast by car and rail. When he briefed the federal Office of Civil Defense, which had paid for the study, he was asked if he thought the plan would work.
“Thanks so much for asking,” he recalled replying. “No, I don’t think it would work at all!”
In 1970, he took over the Federation of American Scientists, which was formed by some of the scientists who had built the first atomic bomb and who were dedicated to reducing nuclear dangers. Mr. Stone used a monthly newsletter to turn the federation into a policy research organization that studied issues like nuclear proliferation, energy and government secrecy.
It also became a platform for Mr. Stone’s views on arms control and the value of scientific exchanges with the Soviet Union and China, and for his defense of the dissident Soviet physicist Andrei D. Sakharov.
Mr. Stone left the organization in 2000 and formed his own firm, Catalytic Diplomacy, to try to privately resolve conflicts in countries like Cambodia, Kosovo and Peru.
Mr. Stone is survived by a sister, Celia Gilbert, and a brother, Christopher Stone. His wife died last year. They had no children.
Mr. Stone never wanted to be a journalist like his father, whose views twice jeopardized the son’s security clearance. But Jeremy Stone, like his father, was a gadfly, and in recent years he helped to perpetuate his father’s memory by establishing an I.F. Stone website and helping to raise money for a documentary about him.
“With a free press,” Mr. Stone wrote recently, repeating what his father had told him, “if the government does something wrong, it will become known and the government can fix it. But if something goes wrong with a free press, the country will go straight to hell.”
Correction: January 6, 2017
Because of an editing error, an earlier version of this obituary misstated the middle name of Mr. Stone’s wife. She was Betty Jane Yannet, not Betty Jean.
In celebration of Peace Day 2016, International Day of Peace, at noon on Wednesday, September 21st, Swarthmore College bells will ring in solidarity with the ringing of bells for peace worldwide.
The United Nations Association of Australia Peace Program initiated the ringing of the peace bells worldwide last year on Peace Day. Bells around the world will sound alongside of bells of Sydney University, St Jones Cathedral located in Brisbane Australia and St Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney CBD.
There is strength in unity and the sound of peace bells ringing throughout the world will focus on the importance of peace in our lives.
Peace Day, also known as International Day of Peace, was brought into being by the United Nations Resolutions in 1981 and 2001. Millions of people worldwide and thousands of organizations across the globe now actively observe Peace Day on and around September 21. For more local events see http://www.peacedayphilly.org/
Choose Peace Concert
Listen to and Sing Songs of Peace
Also, on Wednesday, Sept. 21 from 7:30-9:00 p.m., a “Choose Peace Concert” will be held at the Swarthmore Friends Meetinghouse on the Swarthmore College campus.
This event is free and open to the public.
What is visionary peace and what are the choices we can make to live our lives into such a possibility? We are invited to explore linking the cultivation of personal peace to identifying innovative steps toward global peace through song with Rev. Rhetta Morgan, singer, songwriter, interfaith minister, and activist. These events are sponsored by the Swarthmore College Peace and Conflict Studies Program. Please contact Ellen Ross, Coordinator, Peace and Conflict Studies, eross1, if you have any questions.
The weather vane atop Parrish Hall is in the shape of a feather.
People with sharp eyes may have noticed that the feather has been
fashioned into a quill pen. This is easier to see in the old Parrish
Hall weathervane mounted on the wall on the center staircase of Parrish Hall between the first and second floor.
This earlier weathervane was replaced by another (maybe the current version) in the 1930s. For an institution of higher learning, a quill pen seems quite appropriate. However, there is a possible additional reference. It may be a reference to William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania. If this is the case, it is also a peace symbol, referencing William Penn’s treaties with the Indians.
The following is from a 1798 letter to the Six Nations (the
“To our Indians Brethren of the six Nations Brothers; We rejoice that you are now at peace and we pray to the Good Spirit that he may continue to preserve you from the miseries of war, We have always had your welfare at heart, ever since our Grandfather, Onas came into this country; and the present time appears to us to be a favourable one, again, to manifest our unalterable friendship for you We cannot forget the harmony that subsisted between our forefathers and the Indians during the first settlement of this country.”
The Haudenosaunee referred to William Penn as Onas, their word for feather, and by extension, a feather quill pen.
At least this is more likely than the story appearing in the Phoenix in
1941, claiming that the feather was from the golden phoenix, dropped when that bird took flight from Swarthmore following his/her rebirth in fire.
Omar Offendum will be coming to Swarthmore on Thursday, November 20th to give a hybrid performance/lecture.
In addition to performing some of his songs, he will speak about connections between the artistic community and the Arab uprisings, with a special focus on hip hop. Omar will also discuss his efforts to use art and music to raise humanitarian relief funds for Syrian refugees. Opening performance by OASiS.
Thursday November 20, 2014
Science Center 101
Swarthmore College (directions)
Omar is a Syrian American hip-hop artist, designer, poet and peace activist. He was born in Saudi Arabia, raised in Washington, DC, and now lives in Los Angeles, California. He tours the world performing at international music festivals, lecturing at major academic institutions, and fundraising for humanitarian relief organizations. Most recently, Offendum has been involved in creating several critically acclaimed songs about the popular democratic uprisings throughout the Middle East & North Africa. He is also working on several new collaborative projects while touring to promote his solo work.
This event is sponsored by the Arabic Section (MLL), the Intercultural Center, the William Cooper Foundation, the Islamic Studies Program, the Peace and Conflict Studies Program, the Department of Music and Dance, and the Muslim Students Association.
David Hartsough knows how to get in the way. He has used his body to block Navy ships headed for Vietnam and trains loaded with munitions on their way to El Salvador and Nicaragua. He has crossed borders to meet “the enemy” in East Berlin, Castro’s Cuba, and present-day Iran. He has marched with mothers confronting a violent regime in Guatemala and stood with refugees threatened by death squads in the Philippines.
Inspired by the examples of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., Hartsough has spent his life experimenting with the power of active nonviolence. His new memoir, Waging Peace, offers a peace activist’s eyewitness account of many of the major historical events of the past sixty years, including the Civil Rights and anti–Vietnam War movements in the United States and the little- known but equally signiﬁcant nonviolent efforts in the Soviet Union, Kosovo, Palestine, Sri Lanka, and the Philippines.
Hartsough’s story demonstrates the power and effectiveness of organized nonviolent action and shows how this struggle is waged all over the world by ordinary people committed to ending the spiral of violence and war.