The Duck of Minerva

The Duck Quacks at Twilight

Area Political Scientist Armed Only with Words Thwarts Robbery

July 2, 2012


“All the fake news that’s fit to print.”
–South Boston
Photograph by Matt Gratias

Area political scientist Joseph Nye of Harvard University emerged Sunday as a hero, thwarting an attempted robbery at a local convenience store. Suspected robber Donnie McFlanagan was pointing a sawed-off shotgun at the quickie-mart clerk, demanding him to empty its contents. Taking his own life into his hands, Nye intervened according to multiple witness accounts. Armed only with a bottle of Coca Cola and a copy of US Weekly he managed to convince the assailant to put down his weapon and surrender his weapon. One witness recounted: “He had this sort of power over [the robber]. But he wasn’t holding a gun or anything. I can’t describe it. Maybe he is a Jedi master or something.” Another said: “That dude was hard. Well, not quite hard. That’s not the right word. But he was the man. Dude didn’t even use any carrots, and there were some right there in the produce aisle if we wanted ‘em. Of course, they did look nasty. No one buys vegetables at the 7-11.” 

Security camera footage reveals that Nye tried to reason with the criminal by pointing out all the great things about the United States that he was denigrating with his actions – like soft drinks and gossip magazines, conveniently on hand at the store. He told the thief that he had to be true to his values and that this, rather than brute force, was the only way in which he would reach his personal goals. People fear force but respect peace, Nye explained.  Did the petty thug really want to live in a country where people could not go safely into a store and catch up on Kim Kardashian’s divorce? Didn’t that undermine our moral leadership in the world? Nye advised that if the hooligan wanted the $182.14 in the register, he was more likely to succeed by appealing to the clerk’s sense of justice, rather than by coercing him with a weapon. 
As the assailant starting weeping, Nye slowly reached for the gun, seized it, and threw it across the floor. Although the police only responded 20 minutes later, the robber never attempted to flee. Once he is out of prison, the soon-to-be felon claims that he will begin taking classes on international relations with an eye towards following in Professor Nye’s footsteps. In his statement to police, the suspected robber said, “Professor Nye taught me that anyone, even a Southie like me, can become an expert in international politics. That is what the United States is all about. It is the attraction of America.” 
However, another local success story, Will Hunting, who succeeded in a career in higher math despite his underprivileged background, cautions the assailant to think about all his options. “When I started this whole higher education thing, it was great. I didn’t have to clean toilets or risk my life robbing banks. But now I have to go to all of these faculty meetings.  I ask you, ‘What’s worse?’ Seriously, I mean that. These people are insufferable.”
When contacted to account for why he was in the working class suburb in the first place, Nye, who lives and works in the tonier confines of Cambridge, did not return phone calls. However, area residents have reported seeing Nye in the area on several occasions and think that, bored with the stuffy environs of Harvard, he might have adopted an alter ego in superhero fashion. His students have noticed that he frequently comes in late to class, noticeably tired. “With Gaddafi gone, I think Joe is looking for a true diplomatic challenge,” said longtime friend Stephen Walt. “And what better place is there to resolve disputes non-violently than here at home?” However, Nye has not responded to inquiries from the Guardian Angels, the Catholic diocese, or the Dorchester Neck police forces, preferring it appears to work alone under cover of darkness. To date, he adopts no disguise, preferring the standard uniform of the consummate Washington insider — dark suit and tie.
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Rathbun is a professor of International Relations at USC. Brian Rathbun received his Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley in 2002 and has taught at USC since 2008. He has written four solo-authored books, on humanitarian intervention, multilateral institution building, diplomacy and rationality. His articles have appeared or are forthcoming in International Organization, International Security, World Politics, International Studies Quartlery, the Journal of Politics, Security Studies, the European Journal of International Relations, International Theory, and the Journal of Conflict Resolution among others. He is the recipient of the 2009 USC Parents Association Teaching and Mentoring Award. In 2019 he will be recognized as a Distinguished Scholar by the Diplomatic Studies Section of the International Studies Association.