Last week on April 26th and April 30th, PAC hosted two events: Layla Picard, founder of the Yemen Peace Project, and Lucas Lazzaretti, St. Olaf’s Kierkegaard House Foundation Fellow.

On the 26th, St. Olaf proudly welcomed Layla Picard from the Yemen Peace Project to campus. As the website writes, “The Yemen Peace Project is dedicated to supporting Yemeni individuals and organizations working to create positive change; advancing peaceful, constructive US policies toward Yemen; defending the rights of Yemenis in the diaspora; and increasing understanding of Yemen in the wider world.”

On campus, Picard worked to increase understanding by providing a fast history of the civil war in Yemen, the Saudi-led intervention, as well as the United States’ role in escalating and creating violence and famine in Yemen.

From the support of the Saudi-intervention, the willful ignorance of US lawmakers, to the supplying of weapons, the US profiting from the Yemeni war, Picard emphasized the impact that the US plays and has played in Yemeni lives. Picard ended with a call for action. She urged the audience to work with professors and classmates to spread awareness and understanding of the war in Yemen.

Pressure lawmakers, peers, and teachers.

Advocate.

Do not stop the conversation and continue to learn.

On the 30th, PAC welcomed Lucas Lazzaretti to deliver a lecture titled How the Abstract Extremity Becomes Concrete: Political Threats in the Age of Democratic Absurdities. Lazzaretti is the Kierkegaard House Foundation Fellow who, while on campus, plans to complete his dissertation and translate Kierkegaard’s first texts into Portuguese.

In his lecture, Lazzaretti described German philosopher Carl Schmitt’s characterization of two kinds of people: friends and enemies. Applying the description to governmental power, he spoke on the government’s legal ability to name certain people (denoted by race, religion, gender, sexuality, etc.) as enemies while naming a separate group (the group with the political power) as friends. Through this construction, the government grants itself the legal power to incriminate, vilify, and ultimately kill groups of people.

Describing various historical examples of this phenomenon, Lazzaretti urged the audience that such a phenomenon is currently occurring. However, it is not occurring in the explicitly dramatic way it has been observed in the past. It is created through the various institutions that governments create in order to separate groups of people. It occurs through the prison industrial complex. It occurs through militarization of police and the refusal to hold them accountable. It occurs through the specific rhetoric employed by political leaders to uphold white supremacy. It is implicit, yet a concrete occurrence, and as Lazzaretti concludes, people must know of its occurrence before it can be changed.