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Your independent source for Harvard news since 1898

Letters

Cambridge 02138

ROTC, military law, American empire, railroads, reunions

January-February 2003

CLIMATE CHANGE

I tried to write a book about changing our climate. When I realized that it had to be called "Avoiding Genocide," I abandoned it. Jonathan Shaw's article "The Great Global Experiment" (November-December 2002, page 34), however, has surely done a lot toward saving the world, and it could do more. The beginning pages, plus the cover, plus a slightly cut and lightened and sharpened version of the rest, ought to be sent in packages of five to all alumni, with extra to all D.C.-area addresses.

Frances Power Weismiller '44
Santa Barbara, Calif.

 

It is hard to imagine anything besides a steady increase in the global production of CO2. How much is generated just by the breathing of the 100,000,000 people added to the world's population annually? Too many social forces are against reduction, including those who are anti-nuclear power, anti-wind power, anti-diesel power, anti-abortion, anti-birth control, and pro-improvement of material standards of living worldwide, with more energy consumption per capita.

Walter Longsworth, M.B.A. '53
Mason, Tenn.

 

Shaw has written in detail in his superb article about the evidence for global warming, and that it is attributed to mankind's emission of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, starting with the Industrial Revolution. I would very much like to see a follow-up article, starting from the propositions about nuclear power laid out on the last page of Shaw's text.

In point of fact, nuclear fission is the only currently known source of energy that can: satisfy the industrial needs of our economy; reduce our extraordinary dependence on oil imported from unreliable sources, which will in any event be exhausted in a few decades; and eliminate a great deal of carbon dioxide emission and thus attenuate the tendency toward global warming.

When obtained from well-designed, well-constructed, and well-managed nuclear-power plants, nuclear energy is the safest, surest, cleanest, and longest-lived resource we have; and as oil and gas reserves are depleted, nuclear energy will certainly be the cheapest.

Berol Robinson '48
President, U.S. chapter,
Environmentalists for Nuclear Energy
Meudon, France

 

ROTC AT HARVARD

Thank you for publishing "Crimson, White, and Blue" by Garrett Graff (November-December 2002, page 72). As a Harvard alumnus who was commissioned through ROTC (though not at Harvard), I have never understood the pathological animus exhibited by faculty and some students at elite institutions toward the program. It would seem self-evident that lodging control of the armed forces solely in a professional caste of officers is undesirable in a democratic republic. It would seem equally undeniable that that republic and its armed forces benefit by having the officer corps contain liberally educated citizen soldiers who can move between the military and civilian worlds and bring the wisdom and insight of each to the other. Removing ROTC from elite colleges and universities in the name of ideological purity is an exercise which benefits no one and harms all concerned—the institutions themselves, which divorce themselves from a significant body of knowledge; the armed forces, who lose excellent potential officers; and the students who are deprived of the intellectual and professional opportunities, and the financial aid, available.

The elite attitude toward ROTC is illustrative of a larger divorce between the armed forces and those who, one would think, have the most at stake in the survival and prosperity of the nation. War and military affairs are regarded as distasteful matters which are best left to the sort of people who bowl and fish for recreation and do not read the New York Review of Books. The corrosive effect of this view on the body politic is obvious—an elite class that votes for one political party at a rate probably exceeding 75 percent and an officer corps that supports the other at a similar rate. Neither is healthy in a democratic republic that is also a world power.

President Lawrence H. Summers's public praise of those who choose to dedicate themselves to the nation's service, with no help and substantial hindrance from Harvard, is refreshing and long overdue. As a contributor to what Graff calls the "backhanded and shameful" trust fund, which has been necessitated by Harvard's evasion of its public responsibility, I hope that it will someday be unnecessary to resort to such schemes.

Scott W. Stucky, J.D. '73
Colonel, U.S. Air Force Reserve
Minority counsel, Committee on Armed
Services, United States Senate
Potomac, Md.

 

Because ROTC programs discriminate against non-heterosexual students, allowing them to operate on-campus would constitute a direct violation of Harvard's policy of non-discrimination regarding sexual orientation. Even the current ROTC policy is questionable under the University's non-discrimination policy, since shifting the program off-campus merely allows the University to dissociate itself from ROTC's discriminatory practices without addressing the fact that heterosexual Harvard students have an academic opportunity and a source for government funding that queer Harvard students are denied.

Backsliding on its non-discrimination policy by allowing ROTC back on campus could only undercut Harvard's authority and commitment to such an effort, at a time when that commitment may already be questioned due to the University's policies regarding on-campus military recruiting ("Military Recruiters Get Official Welcome," November-December 2002, page 57).

I would suggest to Graff that the pool of "bright, talented, enlightened men and women" found at Harvard is substantially resultant from the University's non-discrimination policy that he would effectively disavow. If the military wants access to the resource of human capital that Harvard has created, respecting the formula for its creation is a small price to pay.

Jeffrey Tyrrell '97
Los Angeles

 

As NROTC members of the College class of 1959, we applaud "Crimson, White and Blue." Combined with the College's liberal-arts culture, our early military service was critical to our later success. None of us, nor our other NROTC classmates, followed a military career. But we've all "done OK" in varied civilian careers, some with high profiles. One of our NROTC classmates was NBC's Moscow bureau chief, a Nieman Fellow, director of the Voice of America, and president of Radio Free Europe. Another is executive vice president of a world-famous research university.

Beginning with ROTC, we learned "military" virtues—"no excuse"; "take care of the troops" (or community); "I'll handle it"; "follow me"; and "duty-honor-country"—to lay alongside "veritas." In fact, there's nothing uniquely "military" about the quoted virtues, the core of good citizenship.

Our Harvard backgrounds guaranteed neither success nor immediate respect. But a 22-year-old watch officer on a warship in the stormy North Atlantic or Pacific, or infantry-platoon leader with 30 lives in his charge, bears responsibility that none of us had as civilians until our forties, if then. By working directly with sailors and marines (both teenagers and "old salts"), and with officers from backgrounds less grand then our own, we also internalized invaluable lessons of egalitarian democracy.

When we were admitted, we were told that we were "exceptionally well-qualified, both personally and intellectually, to profit from Harvard." At mid-point of our seventh decades, we modestly claim that Harvard has profited from us as well. Our military experience contributed importantly to that mutual profit.

Terence Murphy, Washington, D.C.;
John C. Rahming, M.B.A. '65, Washington, D.C.;
Michael H. Popernik, New York City;
Bernard (Bun) L. Gladieux Jr., Gilbertsville, Pa.;
Malcolm T. Hill Jr., M.B.A. '64, Brookline, Mass.;
Harvey H. Henderson, El Cajon, Calif.;
Darnell M. Whitt II, Carmel Valley, Calif.;
Paul G. Hines, M.B.A. '63, Charleston, S.C.;
Anthony J. Medaglia Jr., LL.B. '65, Boston;
John S. Welsh, Las Vegas;
Frederick M. Bohen, New York City;
Charles C. Ashley, Warwick, N.Y.

 

This is a disturbing and myopic piece. Graff blames Harvard for its "ill-placed stubbornness" to ROTC's presence, a resistance that he notes is motivated in part by the military's refusal to let all patriotic Americans serve, regardless of sexual orientation. He goes on to say, "If 'Don't ask, don't tell' is the wrong policy, offer solutions...." We have: end discrimination based on sexual orientation. The military refuses to do so, and thus it is the military's "ill-placed stubbornness," not Harvard's, that engenders opposition to ROTC's presence on the Harvard campus. I agree with President Summers's September 11 statement that "there are truths beyond debate" ("Hushed Voices," November-December 2002, page 51). One of those truths is that discrimination is wrong and un-American, and that all patriotic Americans ought to be able to serve their country. It's pretty simple. Too bad Summers and Graff don't seem to be able to grasp such a basic idea.

Kevin Jennings '85
Executive director, Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network
New York City

 

When Jane Fonda endowed a chair at the Ed School ("Fonda Gift Creates Gender Studies Center," May-June 2001, page 65), my 30-odd years of unease with the social and political attitudes predominate at, and in, the University suddenly crystallized. It occurred to me that if the University could withhold support from an institution it disapproved of (ROTC), so could I. I took off my class ring and dropped my membership in my local Harvard Club. The next time I received an appeal from the Harvard College Fund, I returned it with a note reading, "Harvard can have Hanoi Jane's money, or it can have mine. It cannot have both."

I'm immensely pleased that President Summers is trying to bring sanity and honor to the University's relations with the military. It's nice to have an American in Massachusetts Hall.

Richard M. Williams '65
Colonel, U.S. Air Force Reserve
Sarasota, Fla.

 

JHJ-ROTC.1
Photograph by Jim Harrison

TEACH MILITARY LAW

Although Harvard Law School has finally complied with federal law and allowed military recruiters to participate in the regular interviewing process on campus ("Military Recruiters Get Official Welcome," November-December 2002, page 57), the school still continues not to offer a single course on military law, although many of its graduates practice military law as civilian or military lawyers. I respectfully request that Harvard Law School change this policy and begin to offer one, if not several, courses on military law. The obligation to its own students, to our veterans, and to our country should at the very least make this proper and necessary.

Charles Facktor, J.D. '90
Lieutenant commander, U.S. Naval Reserve
Alpharetta, Ga.

 

PAKISTAN'S "PRESIDENT"

It's bad enough that you refer to a man who seized power in his country in a military coup, and then appointed himself to office, as "President" Pervez Musharraf ("Messenger from Pakistan," November-December 2002, page 65). But your description of him as pursuing a "reform agenda" and someone trying to build a "democratic...state" is really too much to bear. This is a man who last August single-handedly wrote 29 amendments to the Pakistani constitution, proclaimed that they were law without the approval of Parliament, and gave himself near total power. "Reform agenda" indeed.

Steven Patt, Ph.D. '75
Cupertino, Calif.

 

UNFULFILLING EMPIRE

Professor Charles S. Maier ("An American Empire?" November-December 2002, page 28) points out that for every effort by an empire to include more of humanity, there must still be "those not willing to participate vicariously in the lifestyles of the rich and famous—and those, indeed, embittered by the values of secular consumerism (which contemporary empires rely on to generate public loyalties) and imbued with far more zealous and violent visions of fulfillment." If the choice is between secular consumerism and visions which, violent or not, are "zealous" (read: religious), then it is no surprise that many both within and without today's empires find them unfulfilling.

An empire that promises liberty and opportunity, yet lacks moral-ethical standards for their wise exercise, risks trivializing them. By marginalizing religion and deifying the market, the empire of the West appears to limit admission to those prepared to check their spiritual values at the door. No wonder many people of faith would rather fight this club than join it.

The current Western model of development is not, after all, the only or even the best possible one. One of its chief successes—the separation of the secular from the religious sphere—can also be seen as among its greatest failures. At its height, western Europe achieved a synthesis of Christian and classical learning. However glorious, its evolution since then has unraveled that unity of faith and reason. It is not surprising that eastern Europe—most of which never experienced either that synthesis or its dissolution into sacred and secular spheres—remains skeptical about Western social and cultural models. Perhaps it will define anew the relationship between faith and reason, science and religion, church and state. The Islamic world may do likewise. In this, they may succeed precisely where the West has failed.

Andrew Sorokowski, A.M. '75
Rockville, Md.

 

The real agenda behind those who claim we are seeking an empire is simple. They want us to give up the freedom to take unilateral action and to make us subject to the United Nations. I would prefer to be governed by the worst members of Congress than by the representatives of such successful countries as Syria, Saudi Arabia, and North Korea.

Jack L. Arbiser, M.D.-Ph.D. '91
Atlanta

 

CRITICIZING ISRAEL

President Lawrence H. Summers was remarkably in error in his recent Memorial Church talk ("Raised Voices," November-December 2002, page 52) when he identified criticism of Israel, including the movement to have Harvard divest itself of its holdings in Israel, with current acts of anti-Semitism in the world today.

I, like Summers, am a Jew. As a Jew, I am profoundly shocked, as I believe Summers should be, by the widespread death and destruction the Israeli state inflicts on the Palestinian people as it methodically enlarges the excuse of self-defense to justify paralyzing and running roughshod over the entire Palestinian nation. Contrary to Summers's imputation, I am not one bit an anti-Semite when I denounce the wrongful acts that my fellow Jews in Israel are perpetrating on the Palestinians in their midst—nor when I advocate divestment from Israel.

Jules Rabin '46
Marshfield, Vt.

 

I am appalled by Summers's stance regarding free exchange of ideas and debate of pressing issues. To equate criticism of Israel's government with anti-Semitism is wrong both in fact and in consequence. If it were true, then at least half of the Israeli electorate is anti-Semitic. The dismaying consequence is the suppression of discussion in depth through intimidation.

Summers's stated position is unworthy of any American, and first of all the president of Harvard.

Giulio J. D'Angio, M.D. '45
Swarthmore, Pa.

 

Vita-hutchinson-final
Hutchinson on trial, in a nineteenth-century depiction
Harvard College Library / Bartek Malysa

TOLERANCE UNLIKELY

Peter J. Gomes's "Vita" of Anne Hutchinson (November-December 2002, page 32) gives no indication that she was an exponent of religious toleration other than that two organizations said she was. He does say that she claimed to be above the law due to having seen the light. Such dogmatists are very unlikely to grant others religious tolerance. Having been deprived of civil liberties does not mean you favor such liberties for others. Who believes that Palestinians, if they were in charge of what now is Israel, would extend to the Jews nearly as many liberties as they received from Israel?

Donald Marcus, LL.B. '58
Brooklyn, N.Y.

 

PEACE SPENDING

Zayed M. Yasin's Commencement address calling for graduates "...to shape a more just, peaceful, and honorable global society..." ("Of Faith and Citizenship," July-August 2002, page 65) was superbly organized and compelling. I suggest that the "Group of Concerned Students" who opposed the choice of Yasin could better serve world peace by circulating another petition, this one to the president of the United States, urging him to announce an $80-billion-dollar reduction in "defense spending" and to divert those funds to world hunger, sickness, and education, inviting the rest of the nations of the world to join in this effort. Although just a start, this would be the greatest moral effort by the United States since the Marshall Plan. As the strongest-ever nation in the world, we need to assert this type of leadership. We have the power. Let's use it wisely and justly.

John C. Schick, M.B.A. '53
Boulder, Colo.

 

SUPPORT THE RAILROADS

David Gunn is entirely right: self-sufficiency of U.S. passenger—let alone freight—railroads is a "loony idea" ("Working on the Railroad," by Garrett Graff, November-December 2002, page 76).

The U.S. has had a long history of federal help in creating and supporting economic infrastructure. It goes back to the land grants to the railroads in the nineteenth century, followed by ongoing help with highways, airports, and air-traffic control. State government support in these areas has also been obvious. Rail deserves equal support as a matter of course. It is important to the economic health of the country everywhere.

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

 

SIN AND SCIENCE

Delighted as I was by the notice you gave to the PBS/Nova programs about Franklin and Galileo ("Titans Televised," November-December 2002, page 23), I confess that I winced at the phrase, "Three and a half centuries after the Catholic Church branded Galileo a heretic."

Indeed, Galileo was tried for "a vehement suspicion of heresy," but the Inquisition never succeeded in proving this charge. Thus, in the humiliating confession that Galileo was obliged to recite, he was not required to abjure any heresy. His "crime" was disobeying orders by teaching the Copernican system after he had been enjoined not to. The miserable affair was essentially a turf battle—the churchmen of the Roman hierarchy could not abide having an amateur theologian tell them how to interpret Scripture that seemed to imply the immobility of the Earth, especially because they were desperately trying to present a united front against the Protestants up north. Pope John Paul II has pointed out that, ironically, Galileo was a better theologian than those he was contending against. But if the Galileo trial were to be rerun, he could well be condemned again, as before, for insubordination, not heresy.

Owen Gingerich, Ph.D. '62
Research professor of astronomy and
of the history of science
Cambridge

 

You write that Franklin is said to have "styled himself a 'natural philosopher' rather than a scientist." Franklin may have been far-seeing, but the reason he did not claim to be a scientist was that the word didn't exist until around 1840.

Charles A. Miller, Ph.D. '68
New Market, Va.

 

Editor's note: Quite right. The Oxford English Dictionary attributes the first use of the word in print to William Whewell, master of Trinity College, Cambridge, who wrote in Philosophy of the Inductive Sciences (1840), "We need very much a name to describe a cultivator of science in general. I should incline to call him a Scientist."

 

WHY ROONEY LEE LEFT HARVARD

Loyal alumnus William Henry Fitzhugh (Rooney) Lee, second son of General Robert E. Lee, left Harvard and his 1858 classmates in the spring of '57 not so he could make enough money to get married, as his biographer, Mary Daughtry, told Primus ("The College Pump," May-June 2002, page 76), but rather to take part in what was then the greatest adventure in the American West: the Utah War. This military campaign was the armed struggle between the leadership of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the newly inaugurated administration of President James Buchanan, who believed that he had inherited a Mormon rebellion in Utah Territory.

Buchanan removed Brigham Young as Utah's governor, superintendent of Indian affairs, and militia commander, and initiated a large military expedition to escort his successor west. The guerrilla campaign that followed Young's declaration of martial law and resistance (with an 8,000-man force) was the nation's most extensive and expensive military undertaking during the period between the Mexican and Civil Wars. Here was a colorful campaign that brought about the federal indictment of Brigham Young and one of his sons for murder and treason while propelling one of his adopted sons before a firing squad for his role in the Utah War's principal atrocity, the greatest incident of organized mass murder involving unarmed civilians in the nation's history until the Oklahoma City bomb blast of 1995.

William P. MacKinnon, M.B.A. '62
Bloomfield Hills, Mich.

 

PRICEY REUNIONS

I'd like to second Basil Pollitt's motion ("Letters," September-October 2002, page 96) to address the high cost of reunions. The cost of attending last June's twenty-fifth reunion was something like $2,000 for a family of four, not including travel. For one person, the cost was about $750. There must be a way of connecting with friends and campus memories that does not exclude those who have better things to do with their money.

Barbara Jaffe '77, M.B.A. '79
Elkins Park, Pa.

 

In the year of my fiftieth Radcliffe reunion, a Harvard classmate asked me to help phone Texans from our class to encourage their participation in reunion activities. One alum said he would not be attending: he said he was the "black sheep" of his class because he had not been financially successful.

I suggest that the Harvard Alumni Association perhaps conduct an anonymous poll of non-attendees of recent reunions to determine the extent of the problem. Possible solutions include a scholarship program for aging alums, or a tiered pricing that offers those who are more able the opportunity to subsidize those who are financially stressed.

Rosalie Skolnik Budnoff '49
Dallas

 

SPEAK UP, PLEASE

Harvard Magazine welcomes letters on its contents. Please write to "Letters," Harvard Magazine, 7 Ware Street, Cambridge 02138, or send comments by facsimile to 617-495-0324, or by e-mail to yourturn@harvard.edu, or use this website. Letters may be edited to fit the available space.

THE ENVELOPE, PLEASE

L-hoffman
Paul Hoffman
Courtesy Hyperion Books
B-patricia .thomas
Patricia Thomas
Photo by Elsa Wilkens
L-harrison
Jim Harrison
Photo by Julia White
Bartek-3as
Bartek Malysa
Courtesy Bartek Malysa
The editors take great pleasure in recognizing four contributors to Harvard Magazine in 2002, and in conferring on each a $1,000 award for their service to readers.

The McCord Writing Prize, named for David T.W. McCord '21, A.M. '22, L.H.D. '56, recalls the vibrant prose and verse he wrote at this magazine and at the Harvard College Fund. This year's prize honors Paul Hoffman '78 for "Castling in the Square" (November-December), his graceful exploration of chess as a Crimson contact sport. The Smith-Weld Prize—in the memories of A. Calvert Smith '14, formerly associate editor of the magazine, secretary to Harvard's governing boards, and executive assistant to President James Bryant Conant; and Philip S. Weld '36, former president of the magazine—celebrates distinguished, thought-provoking journalism about the University. We salute Patricia Thomas for her May-June cover story, "Brainy Women," a clear journey to the inner frontiers of neuroscience, and an introduction to the new generation of women scientists who are directing important research at Harvard. Thomas's next story is this issue's cover article, on infection.

For the first time, we extend long-overdue thanks to the visual artists whose work enlivens our pages and adds meaning of its own to the magazine's journalism. Jim Harrison has for many years illustrated every kind of article with distinguished photography—portraiture, University places and scenes, and news images. For this issue, he documented the demise of Coolidge Hall (page 57) and saw Hans Hofmann through a tankful of cichlids (page 32). Illustrator Bartek Malysa, an imaginative colorist, has made special contributions to the magazine's regular "Vita" features, including this issue's installment (pages 34-35). Both, fittingly, are listed as contributing editors on our masthead.