Congratulations America, Achievement Unlocked.

My colleagues at McGill University in Canada sent the following note to the American Association of Geographers (AAG) Conference (I was a coauthor on one of the papers). America is now officially less welcoming than after 9/11. Congratulations America, Achievement Unlocked. You have reduced the amount knowledge in the world, punished people from foreign countries because of their ancestry, as well as helped harm the US economy by reducing income at hotels, restaurants, and airlines.

Dear AAG Annual Meeting Organizers,

I regret to inform you that our team, Transportation Research at McGill (TRAM) will not be present at the coming AAG annual meeting in Boston and we will would like to withdraw all of our papers from the program. This is a decision we have not made lightly but upon thoughtful reflection, we have made this decision based on the following reasons: We at TRAM have an obligation to safeguard our students and it is part of our duty of care to ensure that all of our students and staff are protected as far as possible from the kinds of distress and potential harm that we have seen impacting students of given nationalities as they have attempted to enter or re-enter the US in the past week. We recognize that this situation was implemented at short notice and outwith the control of AAG and appreciate the efforts that you at AAG have made to keep conference participants informed of upcoming developments and mitigate any negative circumstances as far as possible. However, at this stage in conference preparations, we need to reach a decision based on the information we have available and we are not satisfied that the circumstances surrounding this travel ban will be resolved in the short term. We at TRAM feel that conference attendance is a vital component of graduate life and feel strongly that this opportunity should be available to all of our students, regardless of their nationality or religious background. We have thus sent students to AAG in the past based on this principle. Until we feel that our students may again participate at conferences in the US without discrimination, risk of harm and distress, we can not proceed to send them.

The following is the list of papers we are withdrawing. As it was the students that registered and given that this has fallen entirely outwith their control, I am additionally requesting a refund of their registration fees.


Title: Capturing the value of time: Assessing the impacts of access to public transport on home values

Title: Riding safely to school: An analysis of the supply of bicycle lanes and cycle tracks around schools in Quebec City 

Title: Access to desired destinations: An evaluation of the land use and transportation systems performance for different income groups using a combined measure of accessibility

Reprinted with permission.

A Time for Choosing

In 1964 Ronald Reagan gave a speech: A Time for Choosing, endorsing Barry Goldwater. Parts of it are newly salient. I imagine what he might say today.

Those who would trade our freedom for the soup kitchen of the welfare state TrumpWorks One Trillion Dollar Infrastructure Plan have told us they have a utopian solution of peace without victory. They call their policy “accommodation.” And they say if we’ll only avoid any direct confrontation with the enemy, he’ll forget his evil ways and learn to love us. All who oppose them are indicted as warmongers. They say we offer simple answers to complex problems. Well, perhaps there is a simple answer — not an easy answer — but simple: If you and I have the courage to tell our elected officials that we want our national policy based on what we know in our hearts is morally right.

We cannot buy our security, our freedom from the threat of the bomb by committing an immorality so great as saying to a billion human beings now enslaved within Russia, eastern Ukraine, and Refugees from Wars funded by Moscow behind the Iron Curtain, “Give up your dreams of freedom because to save our own skins, we’re willing to make a deal with your slave masters.” Alexander Hamilton said, “A nation which can prefer disgrace to danger is prepared for a master, and deserves one.” Now let’s set the record straight. There’s no argument over the choice between peace and war, but there’s only one guaranteed way you can have peace — and you can have it in the next second — surrender.

Admittedly, there’s a risk in any course we follow other than this, but every lesson of history tells us that the greater risk lies in appeasement, and this is the specter our well-meaning liberal ‘Republican friends refuse to face — that their policy of accommodation [with incipient Fascists] is appeasement, and it gives no choice between peace and war, only between fight or surrender. If we continue to accommodate, continue to back and retreat, eventually we have to face the final demand — the ultimatum. And what then — when Nikita Khrushchev Vladimir Putin has told his people he knows what our answer will be? He has told them that we’re retreating under the pressure of the Cold War, and someday when the time comes to deliver the final ultimatum, our surrender will be voluntary, because by that time we will have been weakened from within spiritually, morally, and economically. He believes this because from our side he’s heard voices say pleading for “peace at any price” or “better Red than dead,” or as one commentator put it, he’d rather “live on his knees than die on his feet.” “I think I’d get along very well with Vladimir Putin, I just think so,” And therein lies the road to war, because those voices don’t speak for the rest of us.

You and I know and do not believe that life is so dear and peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery. If nothing in life is worth dying for, when did this begin — just in the face of this enemy? Or should Moses have told the children of Israel to live in slavery under the pharaohs? Should Christ have refused the cross? Should the patriots at Concord Bridge have thrown down their guns and refused to fire the shot heard ’round the world? The martyrs of history were not fools, and our honored dead who gave their lives to stop the advance of the Nazis didn’t die in vain. Where, then, is the road to peace? Well it’s a simple answer after all.

You and I have the courage to say to our enemies, “There is a price we will not pay.” “There is a point beyond which they must not advance.” And this — this is the meaning in the phrase of Barry Goldwater’s “peace through strength.” Winston Churchill said, “The destiny of man is not measured by material computations. When great forces are on the move in the world, we learn we’re spirits — not animals.” And he said, “There’s something going on in time and space, and beyond time and space, which, whether we like it or not, spells duty.”

You and I have a rendezvous with destiny. 

We’ll preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we’ll sentence them to take the last step into a thousand years of darkness.