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ROTC, thievery, brainy women, diversity, advice to the young

BELLUM AMERICANUM

Never have I read anything as arrogant as Stephen Peter Rosen’s "The Future of War and the American Military" (May-June, page 29). As America openly plans an empire of worldwide military control, is it any wonder that so many people around the planet hate it? The only consolation is that Nemesis follows hubris as surely as night follows day. May she hasten her steps.

Michael Dawson ’46
Cambridge

F-soliderlandwarrior

Photograph courtesy of United States Department of Defense

Rosen’s manifesto seems a curious compilation of campaign rhetoric— rationalizing the Bush administration’s bellicose foreign policy—and a grandiloquent fantasy of world domination.

Fashioning a superficially plausible demographic explanation of America’s current focus on Asia—an explanation including an overly facile endorsement of the administration’s efforts to develop a ballistic-missile defense—Rosen goes on to describe and elaborate upon the United States’s alleged insuperable command of technology. America, in Rosen’s view, is an empire (an "indirect" empire, as we ostensibly seek not to govern nor otherwise control foreign territories). He then asserts, with a soaring leap of illogic, that it is mandatory that the American empire utilize maximal military force, at the least provocation, to maintain imperial order and demonstrate that the empire cannot be challenged with impunity.

In light of President Bush’s arrogant display of his military goals, buttressed by a predictable spate of "rumors" of Iraqi collusion with Al Qaeda and with disdain for international disapprobation, one wonders whether Rosen might be an architect of or an inspiration for the administration’s foreign policy. Stephen Peter does differ from George W. in that he does not assume an evangelical posture and his universe is not predicated upon diametrically opposing forces of good and evil. But Rosen does remark that "we use our military dominance to intervene in the internal affairs of other countries because the local inhabitants are killing each other, harboring enemies of the United States, or developing nuclear and biological weapons"—a familiar note.

It might be one thing if implementation of Rosen’s hypotheses were left to Rosen himself. But in the hands of George W. Bush and his cherished Bellum Americanum, such a program, sustained by moral clarity, bodes ill for the survival of civilization.

Robert E. Edmands, M.D. ’53
Indianapolis

 

What a chilling view of America’s national and world future we are offered by Rosen. It is chilling on its face, and chilling as present national policies seem to embody it.

We are told that we are the sole, that is the imperial, power in the world and that American interventions in other nations are crucial. Under the rubric of Realistic Imperial Self-Interest, this view ignores deeper and broader analyses of equally real, nonmilitary, historical and cultural conditions of world tensions and of our own insecurities. It abandons all integrative discourse about the culture and exercise of social power, replacing it with reliance on only one form of such discourse, about military force. It brushes aside the manifold existing institutions and enterprises that are seeking to develop balances between security and justice in this complex world. And it relieves its exponents of inquiry into the ambiguous moral implications of any exercise of military power, to say nothing of the less ambiguous burden of the proposed imperial exercises.

I find no reassurance in Rosen’s reference to Pericles’ admonition to the Athenians that empire, like tyranny, is risky to let go of. I like better Pericles’ comment that "there is often no more logic in the course of events than in the plans of men" (Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War, book II). And indeed, the plague, the "fortunes of war," and the nemesis of the gods dealt catastrophe to Athens even while Pericles was drawing his last breaths— not as Athens tried to transform or to decline the imperium, but as it bullied to maintain it.

Harry Booth ’48
Carlisle, Pa.

 

Rosen appears to approve of the empire, even though he writes that "empires are like tyrannies," "we intervene in the internal affairs of other countries," and our adversaries will likely be driven to find "equalizers" such as terrorism and nuclear weapons.

This is utter madness! Let’s dismantle the empire immediately, starting with the offensive military machine. Harvard should not promote ROTC ("ROTC Resurgent," May-June, page 52) and should wean itself from "Defense" Department funding. And let’s look more critically at the reason for the empire, not mentioned by Rosen—the protection of U.S.-centered corporate capitalism.

Martin Baker ’99
San Francisco

 

Why is there no article in the magazine on how we as a nation can work toward peace? How can we improve how we exist in the world vis-à-vis poverty, hunger, illiteracy, lack of health care, lack of economic opportunity, lack of hope for billions of people? Where does our true national security lie? In being world policeman to protect our empire, or in finding better ways to get along in the world of nations with all its problems?

Richard W. Weiskopf, M.D. ’52
Syracuse, N.Y.

 

BRING BACK ROTC?

President Lawrence H. Summers is to be highly commended for the stand he is taking with respect to ROTC ("ROTC Resurgent," May-June, page 52). Obviously, it is only a small first step toward rectifying the wrongheaded action taken in 1969 to banish ROTC from Harvard, one of the blackest days in Harvard history. That act was not only cowardly, but it was purely and simply political. It went against everything Harvard stands for— academic freedom, diversity, no official involvement in politics, and freedom to choose one’s career, to mention only a few. Hopefully, Summers will have the courage to rectify this indefensible act.

Wayne P. Libhart ’51, J.D. ’57
Seal Cove, Me.

 

As an alumnus who served in the U.S. Naval Reserve on active duty from 1968 to 1972, including 16 months in Vietnam, I strongly support the position of President Summers that military service is "vitally important to the freedom that makes possible institutions like Harvard." However, as a gay man, I found it repugnant (as well as frightening) that I was forced to lie at that time in order to serve my country. (The form I was required to fill out and sign on induction had an item about "homosexual tendencies," which I checked "No.") Therefore, I strenuously object to Harvard changing the status of ROTC on campus without vigorously insisting that the Pentagon change its repellent policy of "Don’t ask, don’t tell."

Nathaniel G. Butler ’68, M.B.A. ’75
Boston

 

DOWNFALLS

I have no sympathy for accused thieves Suzanne Pomey ’02 and Randy Gomes ’02 ("Underhanded Undergraduates," May-June, page 59), and they deserve to be ousted from Harvard, not coddled because they aren’t rich. Many of us are not rich, and yet somehow have managed not to commit larceny because we wish to be.

I am greatly disturbed over the quotations attributed to law professor Laurence H. Tribe ("Brevia," May-June, page 61), which if correct mean that he thinks that plagiarism is fine as long as you steal your material from a careful, accurate author. Stealing is stealing. As for Tribe’s calling the plagiarism by Doris Goodwin, Ph.D. ’68, IOP ’91, "sloppy sourcing," that kind of dissembling is not worthy of any Harvard professor, much less a lawyer. Goodwin should be asked to resign from the Board of Overseers.

If Harvard has professors who condone plagiarism, if Harvard retains an Overseer who admits to dishonesty, and if Harvard does not oust students who steal, what kind of lesson is being taught?

E. Donald Kaye, M.B.A. ’60
Santa Fe

 

Editor’s note: Tribe’s remarks came from a letter published in the Crimson on March 18. For the letter’s full text, see www.thecrimson.com/article.aspx?ref=180631.

 

BRAINY WOMEN

In her article about Harvard neuroscientists ("Brainy Women," May-June, page 36), Patricia Thomas writes that "Carla J. Shatz ’69, Jf ’76, Ph.D. ’76, chairs the department of neurobiology and is the first and only woman to head a basic-science research department at the medical school." In 1984, I was hired as an assistant professor into the then department of anatomy and cellular biology at Harvard Medical School, chaired by Elizabeth D. Hay, M.D. Hay was appointed chair of this basic-science department in 1975 and stepped down only during the reorganization of the basic-science departments some years later. The department was responsible for the bulk of the teaching of first-year medical students for many years and trained and recruited many outstanding cell biologists, some of whom are still at the medical school. This includes Hay, now Pfeiffer professor of embryology, who is well known for her research in the area of epithelial-mesenchymal transformation.

Velia M. Fowler, Ph.D. ’80
Professor, Department of cell biology
Scripps Research Institute
La Jolla, Calif.

 

Patricia Thomas responds: All I can say is mea culpa: I fell prey to bad source materials that cited Dr. Hay as the first woman appointed full professor in a research department but did not note her ascent to chair of anatomy. She came along before the Division of Medical Sciences, the Ph.D.-granting wing of the medical school, was created. When HMS folk speak of basic-science departments today, they mean DMS. Carla Shatz truly is the first woman department head within this newer structure.

book cover
A well-worn copy from the library of this magazine

ROLLO RECOGNIZED

I very much enjoyed "Harvard on the Block" (March-April, page 19), about Harvardiana bought and sold in cyberspace, but want to explain a bit more about an item that was described as an 1890s children’s book. While Rollo’s Journey to Cambridge is certainly childish, it’s not exactly a children’s book. The boy protagonists meet grisly ends. Thanny is shoved into a locked airless closet by a professorial "Chinaman" to study the works of "Confutsee" for 17 years, while Rollo himself is publicly hanged for assaulting a Cambridge policeman.

The book first appeared in 1880 and was an early "extracurricular" effort of the Lampoon, then just four years old. It includes cameo appearances by Benjamin Butler, the real-life Massachusetts governor, who so despairs of ever getting an honorary degree that he enrolls in Harvard as a freshman, and Henry James, who makes a brief appearance to study Rollo’s sweetheart for a new book he’s writing about "The American Girl." The book has all the dismaying racial and gender attitudes of its time, but includes some surprisingly "modern" slang—including a reference to students "hanging out" in their rooms, and an early use of the gag "See you later," "Not if I see you first."

Stephen M. O’Donnell ’76
New York City

 

DIVERSITY ON DIVERSITY

In "Faculty Diversity: Too Little for Too Long" (March-April, page 33), Cathy A. Trower and Richard P. Chait lay a sound foundation for attention to core issues affecting women and minority faculty. Since 1988, the Committee for the Equality of Women at Harvard (CEWH), now a group of almost 2,000 alumnae/i, has pointed out the low number of tenured women at Harvard and has considered the implications of the academic and social climate for women—precisely the issues described by Trower and Chait.

With a new president and provost, now is the time for Harvard to undertake a study of the status of faculty women, much as MIT has recently accomplished: to produce a responsible study on the climate for women faculty; to publicize the findings; and to make a firm, public commitment to require every department to develop and follow a vigorous plan of action for tenuring distinguished women scholars and teachers.

"Who teaches matters," as Trower and Chait state. Let us think about the effects of the academic and social climate not just for women students, but also for men. Since Harvard develops leaders in every field, it influences the attitudes and behavior of those who can break remaining barriers in the workplace and society.

Gabriella Pintus Schlesinger ’58
Member, steering committee, Committee for
the Equality of Women at Harvard
New London, Conn.

Trower and Chait incorrectly assume that women are underrepresented on the faculties of American universities. They believe that sex parity should override the present criteria of academic achievement, promotion, and tenure. They offer naïve proposals to increase the percentages of females on those faculties.

Competition for academic recognition, like competition in other markets, requires aggression, which both nature and nurture have disproportionately bestowed on males. Among the five large primates with whom mankind shares 97 percent of the same DNA, all but the bonobos exhibit the same aggressive male behavior, including murder, rape, assault, and warlike raiding activity. Differences in the very structure of their brains result in the differential aptitudes and interests that characterize males and females.

Would Trower and Chait claim that females are underrepresented in crime statistics? FBI data show that males constitute between 80 and 99 percent of arrests in the categories of serious crimes. These data confirm the anthropological and neurological findings.

Discrimination is the PC explanation for the present sex "under-representation" on faculties.

What do the authors offer as antidotes to male domination of the academy? They propose changing what they call the old criteria for advancement: competition, objective determination of merit, research, autonomy, secrecy, and separation from family. These spurs to talent are to be replaced by new criteria that are obviously designed to favor women: cooperation, merit seen as a "subjective" construct, excellent teaching, stress on personal life, and collective responsibility. Do they also imagine Nobel Prizes resulting from such a revisionist hodgepodge?

A university should, indeed, seek diversity of race, geographical and national origin, and other characteristics in its faculty and students. It should also recognize that many women are as talented as, or more talented than, men. But gender parity? No way.

John Maher ’48, Ph.D. ’55
Prior Lake, Minn.

 

In his letter responding to Trower and Chait’s article ("Letters," May-June, page 4), Christopher M. Lohse ’81, A.L.M. ’83, correctly states that arguments in favor of increasing faculty diversity based solely on race and gender are a priori racist, sexist, and wrong, and that academic quality must be the primary consideration in faculty appointments. However, his conclusions do not logically follow from these statements.

First, he concludes that failing to consider similarity of "values and upbringing" in faculty appointments has diminished Harvard’s success. Harvard’s mission has never been, and should never be, to encourage similarity of thought among its students and faculty. Harvard’s excellence derives not from similarity of thought but from diversity of thought, which exists notwithstanding similarities in class, economic status, race, or sex. Therefore, seeking faculty of similar values and upbringing would not necessarily enhance Harvard’s "culture and collegiality," let alone its academic reputation.

He also concludes that academic quality and the hiring of additional female and minority faculty are mutually exclusive. What Lohse calls the academy’s "long and honorable" history of racial and sexual segregation was founded on restrictions based solely on race and gender—restrictions also a priori racist, sexist, and wrong. Given that diversity of thought strengthens Harvard, and given that certain groups of people who might have increased diversity of thought have been arbitrarily excluded in the past, Harvard will be immeasurably improved by including members of these groups in its search for talented students and faculty. It is precisely this search for academic quality, without regard to any bonds perhaps forged by race, sex, values, or upbringing, that inevitably will foster the diversity that is the hallmark of Harvard University.

Stephanie E. Heilborn ’95
New York City

 

In today’s political climate, it must have taken a good deal of courage to publish Lohse’s letter. I completely agree with the sentiments expressed in it.

Walter L. Hinman Jr. ’52
New Providence, N.J.

 

My apologies to Lohse. I was under the mistaken impression that universities were institutions designed to promote thought, encourage debate, and expose their members to new viewpoints and experiences. Had I realized instead that Harvard was meant to function as a country club where affluent, straight, white, Protestant men could drink dry martinis in clubby bonhomie, discussing summers on the Cape and the undesirability of the overly intellectual ‘Cliffie, perhaps I would have applied to an all-women’s college where I could have found my own "enclave of kindred spirits" that naturally develops "with those of similar values and upbringing" and not bothered Lohse and other fine Harvard Men with my obviously irrelevant opinions.

I failed to realize that my mere presence on campus was a dangerously misguided endeavor that in fact degraded, demeaned, and "diminished" the University, breaking those bonds of fraternity, culture, and collegiality without which Harvard has become a meager echo of its former self.

So I apologize to Lohse, and to all those other fine Harvard Men, for forcing them to consider the opinions of "all men, regardless of race or gender"; I apologize for forcing them to interact with people not of their accepted social circle, gender, and even race; and I especially apologize for forcing them to eat with, room with, go to class with, play sports with, and even occasionally drink from the same water fountain as those less fortunate of us who were not born into a life of elite white male privilege. They have been deeply inconvenienced—perhaps even unfairly challenged—by my selfish quest for an education, and for that I am truly, devastatingly sorry.

Lisa M. Nosal ’98
Cambridge

 

I am not proud of Harvard in 2002. I can’t put my finger on the specifics of my displeasure, but Lohse, in his eloquence, has touched on some of them. The fact is that the University is far from first place in many fields, and my impression is that it doesn’t seem to care. There seems to be an insular and self-satisfied feeling in the community and a knee-jerk assumption that Politically Correct is the Harvard way. I don’t claim any specific knowledge; my lifestyle puts me much closer to the common man’s point of view than most Harvard people, yet I dare say my impression is not an unusual one.

What is wrong and how to fix it? A bit of guts and individuality in the spirit of Lohse would make a start. Getting an objective overall evaluation and paying more attention to the needs and opinions of the real world—more or less consciously reversing the course of the last 20 years (with the exception of restoring Memorial Hall)—could be useful suggestions.

Thomas H. Stearns ’53
Nashua, N.H.

 

Lohse goes a bit far in seeming to suggest that "diversity" has a negative result. But, certainly, all minority groups— blacks, women, homosexuals, Hispanics, et cetera—ought to get their shoulders to the wheels and use their brains, talents, and energies to help with the many problems this country and the world face today, and avoid self-indulgent "group therapies," if you will. If, and to the extent, they do that, appreciation will more and more substitute for discrimination. That tendency has been a main reality in this good country for all of its years.

"Diversity," "multiculturalism," "identity," and the like are slogan terms, quite effective propaganda tools that were much abused all during the twentieth century and are still. They ought to be red flags (no pun intended) in the minds of all thinking people.

John A. McVickar, M.P.A. ’59
Richmond, Va.

 

Lohse writes, "The academy has a long and honorable history of racial and sexual segregation in higher education." His heart must be gladdened as distinguished African Americans begin to leave the Harvard faculty. Now if only the women could be forced out, the University would be perfect again. Honorable? For shame!

Paul Nossiter, M.A.T. ’54
Bass River, Mass.

 

My first reaction to reading Lohse’s letter was that it had to be intended as satire. No one with his educational background could really believe in the theories that he espoused. On the small chance that he was serious, however, I need to comment.

To pick only a few of his more amazing statements, I believe it is easily possible for a diverse university to produce a "Harvard man" who still connotes "excellence of intellect and character." The writer’s claim that the "history of segregated academies’ successes is both far longer and far more distinguished" is unfortunately self-evident, since it is only relatively recently that diversity has become a significant priority. Once there has been enough time to establish a new history, we can expect universities to be even more distinguished. He is wrong when he says that we are moving "thoughtlessly toward" this new history; in fact, much more thought is going into this process than is necessary to continue our monolithic past.

Most importantly, Lohse is dangerously wrong when he says that "elitism has long been the source of Harvard’s success." This is the kind of thinking that causes hatred in society. We who have been fortunate to receive a Harvard education and become enlightened in the process must ensure that Lohse’s viewpoint remains where it belongs—in the extremist fringe.

Arthur P. Richek, M.B.A. ’75
Charleston, S.C.

 

Lohse’s letter is a comic masterpiece, shrewdly combining a wry humor that Mark Twain would have appreciated and a skillfully disguised Whitmanesque embrace of the American experience. I was so convulsed with laughter that I could barely read it aloud to my wife.

James M. Frey ’54, M.B.A. ’56
Potomac, Md.

 

Being from northern California, I find Trower and Chait’s article a good start, but way too shallow and superficial. Frankly, it is so twentieth century. To help get them up to speed, and to assist in their analysis, please consider the following.

I. Gender: The discussion is barely adequate, as it is widely accepted today that mere gender (i.e., 48 percent male, 52 percent female) does not come close to achieving diversity. Actual sexuality is critical. You must diversify by accounting for gay/lesbian (12 percent?), transsexual, bisexual, et cetera, as well as heterosexual.

II. Minorities: Again we see a woefully simplistic analysis. Any halfhearted attempt at true diversity must achieve 12 percent black, 15 percent Hispanic, 19 percent Asian, 10 percent Native American, and many other subgroups. (Note: The authors can validate actual percentages and subgroups.)

III. Handicapped: Shockingly, these critically important groups are not even mentioned. Both the physically and mentally handicapped must be included, including the deaf, dumb, blind, vertically challenged, and obese.

IV. Religion: Particularly in these times, diversity must include a balance between Islamic, Judaic, Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, and other faiths, as well as agnostics, with proper attention to subgroups. Again, the authors fail to recognize a vital requirement in true diversity.

V. Other omissions (just to cover a few):

A. Non-English-speaking—A large, growing, and vastly underrepresented, even invisible, minority. Especially true in California.

B. Non-citizens—Must be included, both legal and illegal aliens.

C. Age—Diversity requires a balance, in five-year increments, from ages 21 to 75 (or so). This must be adjusted from time to time.

D. Net worth—Again, a balance, so that the poor are not overlooked and undervalued. Obviously, equal pay for all is mandatory.

I am sure I have missed several other valid groupings that should be considered, but feel that the above is a good start. To be fair, we are in basic agreement that true diversity must have tangible goals, visible actions, and measurable, transparent results. Other considerations (actual academic or teaching achievements, tenure, personal traits, et cetera) are irrelevant, as is a probationary period if it interferes with the above. All diversity goals must be achieved in the student body as well. A three-year timeframe would be adequate.

We must keep in mind, first and foremost, diversity is the goal. Only then will the students be properly serviced.

Jerome H. Clark, M.B.A. ’54
Orinda, Calif.

Zenos Frudakis sculpting Bobby Jones
Robert T. Jones Jr. ’24, by Zenos Frudakis

SCULPTING AN IMMORTAL

I saw your "Vita" of Bobby Jones (March-April, page 44) at my doctor’s office and thought you’d get a kick out of the attached photo. The sculptor is Zenos Frudakis of Philadelphia, working on his portrait of Jones for the Georgia Golf Hall of Fame. I interviewed Zenos for an article on the challenges faced by the historical artist, who must be able to produce a result that pleases not only himself but an entire committee who hold varying opinions of how the product they are paying for should look. Zenos takes the drawn-out approval process in stride. Quoting Bobby Jones, he says he can only "play the ball where it lies."

Katherine Jaeger
Shamokin, Pa.

 

ADVICE TO THE (BRIEFLY) YOUNG

In response to Eugenia Levenson’s "Undergraduate" column "Bear Market" (May-June, page 64), I would urge her and her classmates who didn’t land the plum summer internships to smile and give thanks. Those eager little beavers spending their summer days sequestered in cubicles with spreadsheets do not gain any longterm advantage over you through their misguided choices.

Be a waitress down at a seaside resort. Be a lifeguard at a local pool. Be an instructor at a summer camp. Work on a friend’s father’s lobster boat. Pound nails or paint trim for a contractor. But in the name of all that’s holy, spend your last few youthful summer years outdoors, near the water, with friends!

I was a windsurfing instructor straight through the summer after graduation—and guess what? Morgan Stanley hired me. When I did recruiting for them later, I had been trained to see that sailing, chess, and music are as important in a 22-year-old’s background as a few summers at Salomon Smith Barney. These pastimes require smart choices, advanced planning, recognition of patterns, avoidance of mistakes—the keys to strong analytic performance. None of the mindless tasks a quasi-adolescent intern does for a law firm or investment bank requires any serious thinking—that’s what firms pay their real employees for.

Nobody—who’s not a 24-year-old human-resources lackey who spent his summers at 80-hours-per-week corporate scutwork and cannot fathom doing otherwise—believes that newly minted grads should have anything more on their résumés than evidence of hard work, good grades, and leadership. Trust me, the reverse is almost true; there’s a growing distrust of human beings who sacrificed their youth toward their parents’ expectations for what they’d be as grownups—whether it be tennis-prodigy burnouts or prematurely Republican 19-year-olds already obsessed with their first IPO. And within a few years of graduating, there’s no difference in income or professional advancement between those who squandered their summers in a cubicle and those who took good old-fashioned summer jobs. The richest and most successful and happiest men and women I know from my class at Harvard and elsewhere bused tables on Cape Cod or played with crappy garage bands during their college summers. Then they grew up and busted ass to the tune of 90-hour weeks. Or didn’t, and chose a different lifestyle, with different expectations.

So here’s the deal—do what you please in your summers. Nobody who’s anybody cares, so long as you’re actually doing something productive or enlightening. When you emerge to compete in the world after graduation, your boss will have gone to Notre Dame or Georgetown, worked in a little bank, then gotten his M.B.A. from Wharton, and will be intimidated by the label-judging résumé-builders, and will find you less threatening. Your CEO will be from Harvard. And she’ll find your banter about playing guitar in a café on Corfu last summer far more charming than your classmates’ discussions about subordinated debentures and flexible repurchase agreements. She’ll ask you to rollerblade with her. She’ll ask them to fill out their timesheets before Tuesday at 5 p.m.

And don’t forget to drink a bit too much at the beach parties and make out with the good-looking lifeguards.

A.C. Doyle ’83, M.S. ’90
Boston