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Speeches

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A talk by Mark Danner at Olafur Eliasson's Parliament of Reality, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY. May 15, 2009
May 15, 2009
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Lecture by Mark Danner at the Institute for Religion and Culture, Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, CA, April 2, 2009 
April 02, 2009
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Speech at the Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas, Austin
April 17, 2008
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Fellowship Lecture by Mark Danner as 2008 Andrew and Marian Heiskell Visiting Critic at the American Academy in Rome, Italy
February 28, 2008
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Lecture by Mark Danner at the Tenth Asia Security Conference at the Institute for Security and Defense Analysis in New Delhi
February 06, 2008
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Inaugural lecture, the James Clarke Chace Chair in Foreign Affairs, Politics, and the Humanities, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY
December 03, 2007
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A conversation with Claudia Bernardi and Mark Danner to coincide with the exhibition "Silence was Hostile and Almost Perfect: Paintings by Claudia Bernardi". 40 Acres Art Gallery, Sacramento, CA.
November 17, 2007
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Speech at the Commonwealth Club of California
November 15, 2007
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The 18th Annual Richard Leopold Memorial Lecture, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL
November 01, 2007
ORATION

Lecture by Mark Danner at the American Center, Rangoon, Myanmar
July 05, 2007
TRANSCRIPT   |   Tomdispatch.com

Commencement address given to graduates of the Department of Rhetoric at the University of California, Berkeley, published by Tomdispatch.com

The Rhetoric-Major President

By Scott Horton

We're at peak commencement season right now, and so far we've paused in this column to note several speeches by administration figures — Cheney's disgraceful speech at West Point, Gates's noble address to the midshipmen in Annapolis. But from all the texts I have seen, one commencement address really stands out for its immediacy and importance. It was delivered a few days ago by a former Harper's writer, Mark Danner, at the University of California in Berkeley, and it's called "Words in a Time of War." Danner labels President Bush as the first "Rhetoric-Major President," and he deconstructs the Bush presidency's use of cheap political rhetoric to obscure reality. Here's a snippet, in which Danner reflects on the same fairly obscure (but very consequential) document on which I will have some words to say in the upcoming July issue of Harper's:

It was the assumption of this so-called preponderance that lay behind the philosophy of power enunciated by Bush's Brain and that led to an attitude toward international law and alliances that is, in my view, quite unprecedented in American history. That radical attitude is brilliantly encapsulated in a single sentence drawn from the National Security Strategy of the United States of 2003: "Our strength as a nation-state will continue to be challenged by those who employ a strategy of the weak using international fora, judicial processes and terrorism." Let me repeat that little troika of "weapons of the weak": international fora (meaning the United Nations and like institutions), judicial processes (meaning courts, domestic and international), and…. terrorism. This strange gathering, put forward by the government of the United States, stems from the idea that power is, in fact, everything. In such a world, courts - indeed, law itself - can only limit the power of the most powerful state. Wielding preponderant power, what need has it for law? The latter must be, by definition, a weapon of the weak. The most powerful state, after all, makes reality.

Now, of course, the Bush rhetoric is imploding all about him, pointing to the risk a politician takes when he pursues inflammatory rhetoric dangerously at odds with reality. Bush believed that his words and America's military power had the power to craft a new reality, but in this he was like the sorcerer's apprentice of that famous poem by Goethe, who has now unleashed forces he cannot control ("Die ich rief, die Geister,/Werd ich nun nicht los.")

Danner's remarks appear today in an abbreviated form in an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times but it's best to read the whole text—crafted as a commencement address to the Rhetoric Department, but its proper audience is our entire nation.

May 10, 2007
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A lecture by Mark Danner at Ostrander Auditorium, Minnesota State University, Mankato, MN
April 25, 2007
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An evening with Wendy Lesser, Robert Hass, Mark Danner, Steve Wasserman, Steven Barclay, and Sydney Goldstein; The Herbst Theater, San Francisco, CA. (remarks by Mark Danner)
February 12, 2007
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Lecture by Mark Danner, the Critical Issues in America Lecture Series, the University of California, Santa Barbara
January 18, 2007
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Public lecture by Mark Danner at the American University in Cairo, AUC Oriental Hall, Cairo, Egypt
December 05, 2006
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Lecture by Mark Danner at the Salt Lake City Public Library Auditorium, hosted by the University of Utah College of Humanities
November 16, 2006
TRANSCRIPT

The 2006 Remarque Lecture by Mark Danner, the Remarque Institute, New York University
November 14, 2006
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A discussion with Anna Politkovskaya, Hendrik Hertzberg, Steven Poole, and Mark Danner; moderated by Wendy Bacon; the Sydney Writer's Festival, Sydney Theatre, Sydney, Australia
May 25, 2006
ORATION

A Commencement Address at the University of California-Berkeley Department of English Graduation Ceremony, Hearst Greek Theater
May 15, 2006
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Lecture by Mark Danner, with an introduction by Peter Tarnoff, Sibley Hall, the University of California, Berkeley
May 01, 2006
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Panel discussion, the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books; Scott Ritter, Mark Danner, John Arquilla, and Robert Scheer, moderated by Marjorie Miller
April 30, 2006
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Lecture by Mark Danner at Willamette University, Salem, Oregon
April 27, 2006
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Lecture by Mark Danner at Willamette University, Salem, Oregon
April 26, 2006
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Book-talk at City Lights Bookstore, San Francisco, California
April 20, 2006
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A San Francisco Public Library Event, featuring Robert Hass, Mark Danner, Robert Faggen, Jane Hirshfield, Brenda Hillman, Michael Palmer, Anthony Milosz, Lillian Vallee, et al.
April 02, 2006
TRANSCRIPT

Lecture by Mark Danner; Jeremy Waldron and Scott Horton, respondents; "Theology, International Law, and Torture" Conference, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ
January 13, 2006
ORATION

Commencement address by Mark Danner at the University of California-Berkeley Department of English Graduation Ceremony, Hearst Greek Theater
May 15, 2005
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Keynote speech by Mark Danner at the Rothko Chapel, Houston, TX, for the 2005 Oscar Romero Human Rights Award, Sister Dianna Ortiz and Torture Abolition Survivors Support Coalition, International, awardee
April 03, 2005
ORATION

Mark Danner lecture at the Goldman Salon, University of California-Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism
February 09, 2005
VIDEO

Mark Danner keynote address at the semi-annual meeting of the Boulder International Humanist Institute Boulder, Colorado
February 04, 2005


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