Editor’s Note

This magazine hits the stands April 20, amid two grand convergences.
Thousands
of activists, including a coalition of Yale students, workers, and
homeless
New Haveners, are leaving for Quebec City to protest the World Trade
Organization’s
extension of unfettered trade across the Western Hemisphere. And hundreds
of Yale’s most illustrious alumni, including the elder President
Bush,
are arriving here to celebrate our tercentennial.
No doubt both events will be characterized by a lot of rhetorical
arm-waving
about their historic significance. But I, for one, would like to know
which
moment will prove more momentous, since I can only be in one place at one
time.
A phrase that’s been swimming around in my head for the last few
months is “the myopia of the present”—in other words,
the illusion that all points of time, space, and importance converge just
before one’s nose. I think that students at an elite university are
especially susceptible to this optical illusion, being young, coddled,
and
flattered by frequent references to their school in connection with
politics
and literature and important scientific discoveries. Dan
Kurtz-Phelan’s
story in this issue explores just such a flattering Yale connection. At a
certain point in the fight to bring cheaper AIDS drugs to Africa, a quiet
campaign at Yale was instrumental in securing the release of a patent it
held on the drug d4T. But what happens next? As Dan points out, nobody
really
knows.
   Which brings me to the kind of myopia I would like to be
able to justify: the myopia of a bunch of writers with journalistic
inclinations
publishing a student magazine about Yale and New Haven. Recently we got
the chance to meet Daniel Yergin, who founded The New Journal in 1967. He
spoke on a tercentennial panel titled “Defining Moments at
Yale.”
With an asymmetry perhaps meant to be dynamic, half the speakers
addressed
themselves to events before 1900, and the other half talked about the
late
1960s. Yergin brought some early copies of the magazine and described his
and his friends’ attempts to record and respond to a moment of
unprecedented
upheaval, the “Kingman Brewster Years” of coeducation,
countercultural
protests, and the Black Panther trial. While the battle lines may be less
firmly drawn for our generation, some of us still aspire to the same
sharpness
of focus.

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