Rhys Southan wraps up his stint as REASON's Burton Gray Memorial Intern with a revelatory interview of provocative author and social critic Christopher Hitchens. (See "Free Radical" on page 36.) The starting point of the conversation was Hitchens' latest book, Letters to a Young Contrarian: The Art of Mentoring, but the wide-ranging conversation soon turned to topics such as Margaret Thatcher (on whom Hitchens is surprisingly sweet) and anti-globalization protesters (on whom he is characteristically tart). For his part, Southan, a senior majoring in film at the University of Texas at Austin, finds most group protest dubious. "It is an institutionalized, meaningless gesture," he says with the certitude of, well, a college senior. "It's more useful to convince people with your actions, or let them convince themselves." Yet Southan does see some value in counter-protest: In his most recent act of dissent, he shocked fellow demonstrators at an anti-Bush rally by protesting loudly that the president wasn't enough of a capitalist -- a contrarian gesture that Hitchens might appreciate.
"We sometimes call it a suburb of Dayton," jokes Sam Staley, who offers a critical assessment of urban planning and riot-recovery efforts in Cincinnati. (See "Ground Zero in Urban Decline" on page 42.) A lifelong Ohio resident, Staley lives just outside of Dayton, which is an hour north of Cincy and a mere third of its size. Despite Cincinnati's many problems, the 40-year-old father of two remains a huge fan of the place. "The river makes it beautiful," he says, "and Cincinnati has a tremendous amount of character." Staley is director of the Urban Futures Program at the Reason Public Policy Institute, co-founder of the Columbus-based Buckeye Institute for Public Policy Solutions, and the author of three books on public policy.
"Teaching in the 1960s, I generally found my students wonderfully dear, politically off the wall, and ready to believe almost anything," recalls REASON Contributing Editor Alan Charles Kors. In reviewing Put Your Bodies Upon the Wheel, a befuddled but unintentionally instructive new book about that decade's student revolts, he finds that some scholars of the period are just as credulous. Kors notes that the era's heady spirit of self-discovery has produced a multitude of powerful, competing narratives -- political, cultural, historical, and personal -- that often rely more heavily on emotion than on factual analysis. (See "Sex, Drugs, Jews, and Rock 'n' Roll" on page 62.) A professor of European intellectual history at the University of Pennsylvania and editor-in-chief of the Oxford Encyclopedia of the Enlightenment, Kors is also director of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (www.thefire.org), a nonprofit devoted to securing free speech, due process, and academic freedom on college campuses.