Nikki Haley and the Burden of an Unpronounceable Name

Last week, the American talk-show host Sunny (née Asunción) Hostin attacked the former governor of South Carolina Nikki Haley as a “chameleon” who chose “not to embrace [her] ethnicity” because she does not use her given first name, Nimrata. Nachama Soloveichik comments:

Meanwhile, racist trolls on the right often use “Nimrata” to try to paint Nikki as un-American. All of these people should have done their research. It turns out, “Nikki” is Nikki’s given name. It is a Punjabi name meaning “little one” and is listed on her birth certificate. Nikki is the name she has gone by since she was a little girl—long before any political aspirations.

I work in a public role as a political spokesperson. My name has been in hundreds of articles. I spend a good portion of my life on the phone saying “N as in Nancy, A as in apple, C as in cookie, H as in hat, A as in apple, M as in Mary, A as in Apple.”

At work, I go by “Nahama.” It’s not because I’m ashamed of my name, but because it makes my life easier and the lives of people around me easier. . . . Names are funny. They can tell us a lot about a person or not much at all. In my case, my name tells you about my ancestors and my religion. My last name—which means “little nightingale” in Russian—tells you about my paternal ancestor’s general geography. But names can also be deceptive. Soloveichiks as a clan, it turns out—from my family at least!—are rarely little and not very good singers.

I have adopted a carefree attitude about the predictable awkwardness. I don’t insist on people pronouncing my name correctly or get upset when they inevitably don’t. If I did, I would be upset 80 percent of my life, and that seems like a poor life choice.

Read more at Newsweek

More about: Names, Nikki Haley

How to Save the Universities

To Peter Berkowitz, the rot in American institutions of higher learning exposed by Tuesday’s hearings resembles a disease that in its early stages was easy to cure but difficult to diagnose, and now is so advanced that it is easy to diagnose but difficult to cure. Recent analyses of these problems have now at last made it to the pages of the New York Times but are, he writes, “tardy by several decades,” and their suggested remedies woefully inadequate:

They fail to identify the chief problem. They ignore the principal obstacles to reform. They propose reforms that provide the equivalent of band-aids for gaping wounds and shattered limbs. And they overlook the mainstream media’s complicity in largely ignoring, downplaying, or dismissing repeated warnings extending back a quarter century and more—largely, but not exclusively, from conservatives—that our universities undermine the public interest by attacking free speech, eviscerating due process, and hollowing out and politicizing the curriculum.

The remedy, Berkowitz argues, would be turning universities into places that cultivate, encourage, and teach freedom of thought and speech. But doing so seems unlikely:

Having undermined respect for others and the art of listening by presiding over—or silently acquiescing in—the curtailment of dissenting speech for more than a generation, the current crop of administrators and professors seems ill-suited to fashion and implement free-speech training. Moreover, free speech is best learned not by didactic lectures and seminars but by practicing it in the reasoned consideration of competing ideas with those capable of challenging one’s assumptions and arguments. But where are the professors who can lead such conversations? Which faculty members remain capable of understanding their side of the argument because they understand the other side?

Read more at RealClearPolitics

More about: Academia, Anti-Semitism, Freedom of Speech, Israel on campus