To redress a “marked dearth” of conservative and political thought on campus, earlier this month undergraduates revived The Salient, a publication originally founded at Harvard in 1981 that aims to elevate contrarian viewpoints and promote open debate.
College students found copies of the first iteration of the revived The Salient outside their dorm rooms last week. The November edition — entitled “Revising America: The Deconstruction of the American Commonwealth and the Patriot’s Reply” — contains eight essays published under pseudonyms like “Publius” and “Marcus Porcius Cato.”
Jacob A. Cremers ’23-’24, the spokesperson for The Salient, wrote in an emailed statement that the organization’s editors decided to revive the publication to promote diversity of thought on campus.
“The Salient has traditionally served as a source and platform of independent and contrarian thought at Harvard; it seemed to us a shame that it had vanished without leaving another newspaper to take its place,” he wrote. “Its revival, then, is intended to fill the vacuum and to encourage diversity of opinion on Harvard’s campus.”
Members of the Harvard-Radcliffe Conservative Club founded the original Salient in 1981. At the time, editors described the publication as “moderate to conservative,” but said they solicited diverse political opinions in their pages.
Today’s editors of The Salient espouse a similar philosophy.
“No opinion is barred from The Salient, so long as it is well argued and rationally defended. We do not expect agreement. We expect controversy,” the paper’s introduction reads.
The original Salient provoked its fair share of controversy.
In 2006, The Salient republished four Danish cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad, a decision which drew criticism from student groups including the Harvard Islamic Society and the Society of Arab Students.
And in 2002, the editor of The Salient wrote a homophobic letter to the editor published in The Crimson, which sparked outrage and led two of The Salient’s editors to resign.
The revived Salient’s November edition includes essays like “Utah: A Model for America,” which argues that Utah has the lowest economic inequality in the country thanks to the state’s commitment to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and “The Liberal Tyrant,” which contends that the United States undermines stability and respect for customs in its pursuit of liberal change throughout the world.
The organization grants writers anonymity to promote the free exchange of ideas and prevent “ad hominem attack,” Cremers wrote.
“Pseudonyms are used in order to encourage freedom of expression and attract contributors who would otherwise be too shy of public exposure,” he wrote. “The pseudonyms also allow readers to focus on the ideas communicated, rather than the writer behind them.”
Cremers added that The Salient plans to publish two to three times per semester and will commentate on topics such as current events, Harvard issues, philosophy, and political theory.
—Staff writer Taylor C. Peterman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @taylorcpeterman.
—Staff writer Leah J. Teichholtz can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @LeahTeichholtz.