‘Voices’ from SMU’s 2016 ‘Triumph of the Spirit’ Awards

kessler-sign-detailA large crowd gathered at The Kessler Theater Nov. 16 to honor the 2016 winners of the “Triumph of the Spirit” humanitarian awards sponsored by SMU’s Embrey Human Rights Program. In keeping with the evening’s theme, “Voices,” we’re inspired to share a few of those here, as well as some snapshots from the celebration.

“May we honor the courageous tonight — and dignify the human experience through poetry, music and art. May we challenge and embolden all of you to be powerful change-makers in every way possible.”
Rick Halperin, SMU Embrey Human Rights Program Director

“Academics, advocacy and action. Engaging in all three at SMU has been a true honor.”
MacKenzie Jenkins, SMU human rights/political studies major 

“Rick Halperin gave me a bracelet that says, ‘There’s no such thing as a lesser person.’ What a wonderful world this would be if we all followed that.”
Carol Brady Houston, “Triumph of the Spirit” Local Winner

“All the kids we’re credited for changing their lives for the better are actually changing our lives for the better.”
Dr. Georges Bwelle, “Triumph of the Spirit” Global Winner

 

Posted in Faculty, Good Advice, Politics & World Events, Students, Uncategorized, Words of Wisdom | Comments Off on ‘Voices’ from SMU’s 2016 ‘Triumph of the Spirit’ Awards

5 Questions for a Decorated Vet: SMU Law Prof. Chris Jenks

At far right, Col. Mel Jenks (father of Lt. Col./SMU Law Prof. Chris Jenks) talks with Gen. William C. Westmoreland and another officer during the Vietnam War.

At far right, U.S. Army Col. Mel Jenks (father of Lt. Col./SMU Law Prof. Chris Jenks) talks with Gen. William Westmoreland, far left, and another officer during the Vietnam War.

Chris Jenks, SMU Dedman Law Prof./U.S. Army Lt. Col (ret.)

SMU Dedman Law Prof. Chris Jenks, U.S. Army Lt. Col (ret.)

DALLAS (SMU) – Following the recent SMU Tower Center event, “Does America Still Need the Army?” we posed that question (and four others) to SMU Dedman School of Law Prof./U.S. Army Lt. Col. (ret.) Chris Jenks, director of SMU’s Criminal Justice Clinic. Based on his distinguished military career, Jenks is regularly tapped by the Department of Defense and others to provide legal insight into the armed forces, war and humanitarian law issues.

Before Jenks joined SMU in 2012, the Bronze Star recipient was chief of the International Law Branch of the Office of Judge Advocate General at the Pentagon. Earlier he served as lead prosecutor for the Army’s first counterterrorism case against a U.S. National Guard soldier attempting to aid Al Qaeda.

In 2004, Jenks deployed to Mosul, Iraq, and served as chief legal advisor to a Stryker Brigade combat team of more than 4,000 soldiers. There he provided targeting advice for the employment of artillery, close air support and direct-fire weapons during enemy engagements in a city of 2 million. He also advised investigations and prosecuted military crimes involving the civilian population, detainee abuse and fratricide.

Prof. Jenks’ grandfather, U.S. Army Col. Ed Haughney, provided military leadership in three wars.

Jenks is a third-generation Army officer. His father, Col. Mel Jenks, was an infantry officer during the Vietnam War. His grandfather, Col. Ed Haughney, served as an artillery officer in World War II, in the JAG Corps in Japan during the Korean War, and as the head military lawyer during the Vietnam War.

So, does America still need the Army?

There’s no question: Our country wouldn’t exist but for the Army and the idea of the citizen-soldier. That said, I think there should be more discussion in the U.S. about foreign policy and the role of the Army and other armed forces in support of our nation’s interests, domestic and abroad. The military is an important tool in the U.S. foreign policy toolbox. But it’s a blunt tool that should be used sparingly, despite technological advancements. The last 15 years the U.S. has been too quick to employ the military for nation-building tasks, for which it is poorly suited.

What’s your take on Veteran’s Day?

While Veteran’s Day tributes are appropriate and appreciated, there’s a growing divide between civil society and the U.S. military. A very small percentage of Americans have either directly or indirectly been impacted by our nation’s engagement in persistent armed conflict for more than 15 years now. That’s a problematic and worrying trend. At the end of our next president’s first term, we will have young adults entering college who were born after 9/11. 

While many Americans consider the [national security
and military] measures taken since 9/11 as the exception,
for an increasing number of Americans, it’s all they’ve
ever known – it’s their normal.”

What are you most proud of accomplishing?

I’m proud of having served in Mosul, Iraq, during Operation Iraqi Freedom. I was around tremendously talented and dedicated soldiers, non-commissioned officers and officers, performing tasks they were trained for, and not – and all in an austere, stressful, life-threatening environment. It was an intense experience which I have no desire to repeat, but at the same time I will forever appreciate it.

Lt. Col. Chris Jenks, second from right, with his team in Mosul, Iraq.

Lt. Col. Jenks, second from right, with his team in Mosul, Iraq.

As the third generation of Army officers, how do you stand out?

My career has been a hybrid of the paths my father and grandfather followed. I’m glad I could serve as a combat arms officer before transitioning to the Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps. Having been an infantry officer I was a much more effective legal advisor.

Any advice for people thinking of joining the military?

I hope all Americans will consider how they can serve their country – in the military, in federal, state and local government, or as volunteers in their community. Military service entails sacrifice, but with that comes tremendous rewards. For many, service yields an unparalleled sense of purpose and accomplishment.

Posted in Faculty, Good Advice, Politics & World Events, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

The Rest of the Storey: SMU’s Ties to Nuremberg & More

Nazi defendants listen to U.S. prosecutors, including former SMU Law Dean Robert Storey, during the International Military Tribunal in Nuremberg, Germany. [Photo ©Bettmann/CORBIS]

Most people know the Nuremberg Trials held high-ranking Nazis accountable for heinous World War II crimes. But few knew SMU’s connection to “the greatest trial in history” until Dedman School of Law hosted two events Oct. 24 to commemorate the Trials’ 70th anniversary.

At the first event, “The Nuremberg Tribunals’ Legacy: SMU’s Role in Seeking Justice,
Then & Now,”
 legal and human rights scholars highlighted the unique fact that
four former SMU law professors – Robert Storey, Whitney Harris, Walter Brudno and Jan Charmatz – prosecuted high-profile Nuremberg cases ranging from crimes committed by the Nazi secret police to the Third Reich’s looting of priceless European art.

“For SMU to have had only one professor involved in the Nuremberg Trials would be a badge of honor. But to have
had four? That’s extraordinary.”
– Dedman Law Prof. Chris Jenks, director of SMU’s Criminal Justice Clinic and expert in the law of armed conflict.

Following the Trials – which laid the foundation for international and human rights law – U.S. Army Col. Storey, a native Texan, joined SMU as law dean in 1947.

“Dean Storey returned from Nuremberg realizing American lawyers didn’t know that much about international law.
He also wanted to create a world that would never need
another Nuremberg.”
Michael Marchand, president of The Center for American
& International Law
 (CAIL), for which Storey was founding president from 1947–1972.

Storey set out to make the school “an international law center.” He also created a ground-breaking clinics program, inspired in part to help the large number of émigrés to the U.S. who had been displaced by the devastating war.

Dedman Law’s innovative clinics now comprise nearly a dozen civil and criminal law programs that have helped more than 20,000 people with no-cost or low-cost legal aid – while also providing law students with valuable training.

The evening event, “The Nuremberg Trials: 70 Years Later,” showcased rare items Storey collected as Nuremberg’s executive trial counsel (the right hand of lead prosecutor, Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson): A copy of German chancellor
Adolf Hitler’s marriage certificate; a scrapbook of family photos belonging to virulently anti-Semitic Nazi propagandist Julius Streicher; and documents shedding light on the unprecedented series of trials known officially as the International Military Tribunal.

“Based in Paris, Storey oversaw the collection of reams of evidence, which provided the smoking gun for the Trials – one in many ways that was led by the Americans.” The U.S.-led delegation employed more than 600 people, compared to 168 who worked for the British and less than half that number who worked for the French and Soviets combined.
– St. John’s University law professor/historian John Q. Barrett, board member of the Robert H. Jackson Center

[Question]
Why did the Germans have so much documentation related to their crimes?”
 Moderator/KERA host Lee Cullum
[Answer]
“They thought they were recording their greatness for the Thousand Year-Reich.”
– Panelist John Q. Barrett

“The world united by the Nuremberg Trials ran aground on the shores of Cold War politics.”
 Lelia Sadat, Washington University School of Law’s James Carr Professor of International Criminal Law, director of the Whitney R. Harris World Law Institute and International Criminal Court Special Adviser on Crimes Against Humanity.

“The U.N. was not created to take mankind to heaven but to save humanity from hell.” — Panelist Sadatquoting former U.N.
Sec. Gen. Dag Hammarskjöld.

[Question]
“What are the leading challenges to world peace?”
– moderator/KERA host Lee Cullum
[Answer]
• “We’re battling people who don’t follow the established laws of armed conflict – people to whom the Geneva Conventions seem quaint.”
• “After 9/11, America went down a very dark road. Our moral stature for calling out others for torture has now come into question, and we’re paying a terrible price for that.”
• “The rise of social media has a tsunami of data coming at us – a million terabytes a day. But 99.9% of it is worthless in a court of law, since finding and verifying the sources is like looking for a needle in a haystack.”
Syracuse University College of Law Prof. David Crane, chief prosecutor of the war crimes trial of Charles Taylor, convicted for the deaths of 1.2 million West Africans.

“We’re proud of Dean Storey’s work, which we endeavor to continue through our scholarship, course offerings, amazing externships, trips and events. Ultimately, though, it’s our SMU students and graduates who, through their efforts in human rights and international criminal law, not only will continue Storey’s work, but also inspire the next generation of leaders.”
– Dedman Law Prof. Jenks

Posted in Faculty, Politics & World Events | Comments Off on The Rest of the Storey: SMU’s Ties to Nuremberg & More

After Human Rights Summit, ‘Let’s Open Our Hearts to Each Other’

MacKenzie Jenkins

MacKenzie Jenkins

At the July 12 memorial for Dallas’ five fallen officers, President Obama asked,

“Can we find the character, as Americans, to open our hearts to each other?”

Several days earlier, the “Human Rights Dallas” summit, sponsored by SMU’s Embrey Human Rights Program, would answer that question before our president could even ask it.

Throughout the July 9 event, creative-expression group Journeyman Ink had the hundreds of community leaders and students in attendance recite one poignant truth:

“My voice has power to speak my truth and share my light.”

That message continues to resonate.

As our nation struggles to rebuild from the powerful earthquakes of violence we’ve recently experienced – and cope with aftershocks of grief, and perhaps fear – I hope we can find comfort and common ground in the words of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.:

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

Let’s work to open our hearts to each other — to use our voices to speak our truth and share our light.

— MacKenzie Jenkins, a third-year SMU student majoring in human rights and public policy while serving as a Peer Academic Leader and Tower Scholar. Her father, Charles Jenkins, was jail manager for the Plano Police Department until his death in 2010.

Posted in Good Advice, Politics & World Events, Students, Words of Wisdom | Comments Off on After Human Rights Summit, ‘Let’s Open Our Hearts to Each Other’

Brexit De-Brief: 10 Things Learned at Tower Center ‘Populism’ Talk

European political insider Sergey Lagodinsky was guest speaker for the recent “Populism in Europe and Germany” event sponsored by SMU’s John G. Tower Center for Political Studies. Lagodinsky, a Berlin-based attorney/author/political commentator who heads the EU/North America Department of the Heinrich Böll Foundation, was introduced by Tower Center Director James Hollifield. (Photo credit: Flickr)

1) “Reactive populism is on the rise in Europe and the U.S.,” Hollifield said before the talk. “Until recently Germany has escaped this trend. The bitter experience of Nazism seems to have inoculated Germany from radical-right politics. But will Germany continue to buck the trend?”

2) “Welcome to the Age of Populism.” Opening his discussion with this remark, Lagodinsky explained that while populism in America traditionally has been viewed as a positive reinforcement of democracy, “in Europe it carries a negative connotation of nationalism, distrust of government, anger over a stagnant economy and, chiefly, the growing migrant crisis.”

3) Populist parties vary, but share one “zero point”: “The European Union represents everything they dislike,” Lagodinsky said.

4) Is it the “House of Cards” effect? Lagodinsky laughed at this thought (he’s a fan) but thinks the idea has merit. The wildly popular Netflix series – about an innately evil, criminal, greedy world of politics – fosters distrust in politics and, in general, politicians, “many of whom are making very little money to just do what they think is right,” he said.

5) Fueling Grass-Roots Fires: Far-right populists in Europe, including Marine Le Pen of the National Front Party in France and Geert Wilders of the Dutch Freedom Party, are keenly aware of how to stoke fears (and sometimes violence) using revolutionary-tinged rhetoric bordering on or fully exhibiting racism, according to Lagodinsky.

6) The U.S. isn’t immune to No. 5. Across the pond in this country, “Americans are grappling with a political candidate who’s doing pretty much the same thing,” Lagodinsky said.

7) Authoritarianism is increasingly equated with safety and superiority. “Russian President Vladimir Putin is an example of European populism in power,” Lagodinksy said. Additionally, “People underestimate the power of Eastern Europe and its fondness for Russia.” Natives of the former Communist region, even ones living in other countries, he said, pine for the days “when things were, well, simpler.”

8) Befuddling “bromance”: In light of No. 7, Lagodinsky is intrigued that Republican Party presumptive nominee Donald Trump has repeatedly expressed respect for controversial strongmen, including Putin, and North Korean Dictator Kim Jong Un.

9) People underestimate the power of social media–for good and bad. While the ‘Arab Spring’ showed that social media can have an emancipating aspect, recent political turns have shown it also can have a debilitating effect: “Self-selection of biased newsfeeds can make people feel like they’re in the majority, when in many cases, they’re not,” Lagodinsky said.

10) Everyone wants to be a victim. But there is a solution. “Name-calling never works. To call someone a ‘fascist’ instantly shuts them down, leaving no room for further discussion,” Lagodinsky said. We need to encourage a dialogue that examines the positives and negatives that each party represents or wants to achieve – then let people decide in a well-balanced, reasoned forum of ideas.”

Denise Gee

Posted in Faculty, Politics & World Events, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

‘Comfort Women’: ‘We Have to Confront the Historical Pain’

 

Lee OK-Seon flowers

Lee Ok-Seon accepts flowers after her talk at SMU. The 90-year-old South Korean is one of about 44 survivors of Japanese military sexual slavery (as “comfort women”) during World War II. Her account of the brutality she endured after her abduction at age 14 brought a hush across the filled-to-capacity McCoy Auditorium.

“Most people have little-to-no knowledge of ‘comfort women’ during the war, and certainly haven’t heard the kind of first-hand testimony European Holocaust survivors have been able to share. So it was imperative we host a program with a survivor who could speak from her own experience. Some 75 years on, the struggle for justice goes on. But we have to confront the historical pain. We can’t pretend it didn’t happen. It’s the only way our students can go into this world as educated adults and make a difference for the better.” 


3. Rick on VIETVRick Halperin, director of SMU’s Embrey Human Rights Program, during VIETV coverage of the April 22 SMU event, “An Evening With Lee Ok-Seon.”

Posted in Faculty, Politics & World Events, Uncategorized, Visitors | Comments Off on ‘Comfort Women’: ‘We Have to Confront the Historical Pain’

Black Lives Matter cofounder Alicia Garza speaks at SMU

#BlackLivesMatter cofounder Alicia Garza spoke at SMU last night, where she eloquently spoke of the origin’s movements and planted several thoughts and ideas in the audience members minds.

“Hashtags don’t start social movements.”

“All lives (should) matter. That’s the truth. But in this country, black lives don’t matter. That’s why we must say, ‘black lives matter.’”

“Black lives matter less by every metric of life expectancy and wage earnings compared to white lives.”

“Black Lives Matter is not anti police. It’s anti being killed by the state for no reason.”

“Don’t sit at home and wonder which civil rights leader you would have been if you’d been alive in the 1960s. If you’re sitting at home now, you would have been sitting at home back then too. You are you. If you want to make a difference, stand up and do something.”

Garza said the origin of the movement was a “love letter to the black community” she wrote in 2013 after George Zimmerman was found innocent in the Trayvon Martin trial. (She wondered aloud why it was called “the Trayvon Martin trial” instead of “the Zimmerman trial,” when Zimmerman was supposed to be the one on trial.) Her letter, which she posted on Facebook, ended with the phrase, “Black Lives Matter,” and the movement grew from there.

Posted in Students, Visitors | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

‘Rights Are Different From Mere Courtesies’: SMU Law Prof.

During his State of the Union address Dec. 6, President Obama suggested linking firearm-sale databases with the nation’s no-fly list could help prevent future acts of terrorism. In response, a compelling thought:

“As a matter of law, and as a core value of our democratic republic, we believe that rights are different than mere courtesies. Your rights to freedom of speech, to possess a firearm, to free movement, are not held at the grace and favor of the government, state or federal. … So it’s particularly disturbing … that for issues so important we would call them a constitutional right, we’re willing to have them whisked away by a list not only very difficult to determine its accuracy or success rate, but every step of the way the Department of Justice has opposed the attempts of those who feel they’re wrongly on the list to clear their names.”

SMU Dedman School of Law Prof. Jeffrey Kahn, an American constitutional law and counterterrorism expert interviewed today by “Texas Standard” host David Brown. To hear the segment (from about 2:39 to 8:09), visit http://bit.ly/1NExLR5.

 

Posted in Politics & World Events, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

David McCullough: On Writing Well

Esteemed historian and Pulitzer Prize-winning writer David McCullough captivated a crowd of SMU students, faculty and staff during a Q&A-style forum Nov. 18.

Esteemed historian and Pulitzer Prize-winning writer David McCullough captivated an SMU crowd Nov. 18, 2015.

Often called “America’s greatest living historian,” David McCullough visited SMU Nov. 18 not only to speak with a crowd of students, faculty and staff, but also to accept this year’s Medal of Freedom presented by the John Goodwin Tower Center for Political Studies.

During an afternoon Q&A-style forum, McCullough shared numerous nuggets of wisdom, but his writing advice (geared to novices and professionals) was particularly inspiring:

• “Write for the ear as well as the eye. Read it out loud and you’ll immediately ‘hear’ what’s wrong with it. My wife, Rosalee — my editor-in-chief for 50 years — is my partner for that technique.”

• “The ultimate aid to navigation for writers is William Strunk & E.B. White’s book, The Elements of StyleFirst published in 1920, “It’s as good today as it ever was. It’s a must-read for writers, who should refer to it time and again.”

• “Writing doesn’t get easier as you get older. It gets more difficult. Your standards get higher.”

• “Challenge yourself by reading ‘up.’ Harry Truman, for example, read Latin for pleasure.”

• “I think all writers should take a drawing or painting class to learn how to paint with words. As Charles Dickens said, ‘Make me see.’ I try to make you see what’s happening and smell it and hear it. I want you to know what they had for dinner. I want you to know how long it took to walk from where to where.”

• McCullough is looking forward to the American Writers Museum opening in Chicago in 2017. “Up to now, Dublin, Ireland, has been the only other place with something similar. But you’d think that with all of America’s great writers, we wouldn’t still be waiting for something like that.”

• McCullough still uses a 1960s-era typewriter. Why? “Because I can’t push a button and erase a month’s worth of work.”

— Denise Gee

Posted in Good Advice, Humor, Visitors, Words of Wisdom | Leave a comment

Valve Software VP Doug Lombardi with the SMU Guildhall

Doug Lombardi, Steam VP, with the SMU Guildhall, 2015Valve Software executive and digital gaming insider Doug Lombardi joined the SMU Guildhall for a spirited talk on growing opportunities for independent game designers and what it takes to get a game ready for the marketplace. The event was broadcast live on Twitch.

During his talk, “Ship Something: The Steam Greenlight Process,” Lombardi shared his wisdom on both gaming and life:

On taking pride in process: “Even if you’re not charging for content, it represents you. When you ship something, you learn something.”

On setting aside egos when dealing with disagreement: “If the product wins, everyone wins.”

On making important decisions, whether about a project or your life: “Step back, take a time out. This isn’t basketball. You get more than five per half.”

On taking risks: “You’re more free now than you ever will be…. Now is your time to take risks…to learn what doesn’t work.”

On making the most of your education: “Be a sponge for info from your professors and colleagues. Someday, their advice could be the best you’ve ever heard.”

— Kathleen Tibbetts

Posted in Good Advice, Humor, Visitors, Words of Wisdom | Leave a comment