The Echo received lots of response to Richard K. Rein’s profile of Chris Hedges, author, social advocate, and Princeton resident. Hedges had a volley of criticisms about the university, the planning board, the local media, and his fellow residents — “I don’t really like liberals,” Hedges said, “white liberals particularly.”
Interestingly, of the Echo readers who responded to the article, white liberals by and large, the overwhelming sentiment was that, while people did not always agree with Hedges, they were appreciative of the issues he raised.
Some people felt Hedges was spot on in his calling out white liberals and the “self-exultation” they derive from their particular causes. One reader called Hedges “the closest home grown thing to John the Baptist and John Brown as a force of one.” Like Hedges, this reader “never developed a taste for the cafe tethered, latte-liberals of Princeton,” who, as Hedges once said, “have never smelled the poor.”
But another reader was less impressed: “Chris Hedges finds our little town worthy enough to settle in? Perhaps McCarter will adjust its lineup to suit his likes. He proffers equal criticism for everyone and everything. Realities are indeed a downer. I would confidently bet that Chris Hedges has never had to choose between paying a bill or buying groceries. Champion for the downtrodden, or dog-and-pony show?”
Remarkably, the article was circulated among a small group of former Princeton University basketball players from the 1960s. “A sobering read,” one of these alumni noted.
One of the former basketball players in the e-mail loop was Chris Thomforde, captain of the 1969 team who later earned a doctorate in ministry and eventually served as president of St. Olaf College, Bethany College, and Moravian College before retiring in 2013. Thomforde first met Hedges when he was a freshman at Colgate and Thomforde was teaching a philosophy and religion course. “More importantly, Chris was mentored by a great teacher and friend at Colgate, Coleman Brown (Pyne Prize winner at Princeton 1956, class president, and one of the organizers for Martin Luther King Jr.) I presided at Coleman’s funeral and Chris was one of the lectors.”
“I find Chris’s writing always challenging. I think it’s prophetic. He uses the language of the church and the Gospel and the Bible to call the church back to its truer self. Do I always agree? No. But I am always better for having listened.”