July 3, 2002: Letters
Letter Box Online
PAW welcomes letters. We may edit them for length,
accuracy, clarity, and civility.
As a former student of Cornel West *80, I celebrate his return to Princeton. He cotaught our student-initiated seminar on liberation theology in a way that affirmed us as scholars in our own right, and challenged us to meet high standards in critical thinking and social analysis. He is one of the rare (at Princeton, anyway) professors who concerns himself with the total development of students and with the betterment of the campus community.
I will never forget walking into class the evening of the 1992 Los Angeles uprising and finding not just a classroom but a community, where we reflected, analyzed, emoted, and responded to each other in a dialogue where not everyone agreed, but everyone was respected. More than a voice for social justice, West encourages students to develop their own voices.
Wests CD, which some have cited as evidence of thin academic credentials I wonder if the people making those assertions have actually read his work is in my mind evidence of his integrity. I credit him with finding a way to connect theory with practice, to augment the messages of liberation in his writings by making them accessible through the heart and soul as well as the mind. Making ones ideas more universally accessible is consistent with and I would say essential to social critiques related to racial and class injustices.
Donna Riley 93
Regarding Professor Wests well-publicized description of Harvards President Lawrence Summers as the Ariel Sharon of higher education: As many people know, Ariel Sharon is notorious (among other things) for his conduct at the Sabra and Shatila massacre in Beirut in September 1982. According to estimates by the Israel Defense Forces, between 700 and 800 civilians were slaughtered by militias sent into the camps by Mr. Sharon.
Has President Summers done anything comparable at Harvard? If so, what?
Irfan Khawaja 91
As a non-legacy Princetonian and a surgeon who treats people with brain tumors every day, I was shocked and dismayed to read R. J. Innerfield 67s letter-poem entitled West Collegeioma (Letters, May 15). By equating the rejection of his daughter from Princeton with a tumor growing in West College, he not only betrays his venomous and egotistical bitterness, but also his ignorance about tumor genetics. Contrary to what the author implies, the diversity generated by the incorporation of foreign genes is the ultimate foundation of natural selection and the strength of the species. The stagnation of the gene pool by inbreeding, far from being the glue thats shaped our destinies, actually heightens the susceptibility to cancer.
The strength of our university is derived from the talent, character, and diversity of its students. Admission by merit is the only way to assure its continual growth.
West Collegeioma is but an egregious error in diagnosis by a rambling poet. The university should continue to rebuff nepotism and inbreeding, while embracing intelligence, character, skill, talent, and diversity to bolster its health.
Walter C. Jean 89
R. J. Innerfield 67s association of foreign genes and unnatural selection on our left with his daughters inability to gain admission to one of the most selective schools in the world is a tragic illustration of how personal misfortune, thoughtlessly redirected, can spawn and fuel xenophobic, extreme-right bigotry. But perhaps that is consistent with his idea of an inbred Princeton.
Ben Waterhouse 00
Im sure R. J. Innerfields poetic lament for his daughters unsuccessful application to the Class of 06 is shared by many alumni whose children have received the same letter. I have two daughters who received the same treatment, forced to receive educations at Brown and Northwestern because they couldnt make the Princeton admissions cut as legacies. The rejections angered me and changed my attitude toward Princeton, but certainly didnt ruin my daughters lives. Both were admitted to highly selective institutions through processes in which neither had a legacy advantage; they had thoroughly fulfilling academic, extracurricular, and social experiences; and they broadened our familys exposure to the world of higher education and, in one case, real college football.
Perhaps these phenomena are more benign than we alumni realize. They protect our kids from the risks of educational inbreeding.
Richard Hokin 62
The April 10 PAW reported small rallies protesting U.S. support of Israel in its attempt to stop Palestinian terror. The facts dont justify such protests. Unfortunately, the Palestinian leaders rejected agreements by which they would rule independently over 95 percent of the territory that was occupied when Jordan attacked Israel in 1967. Instead of continuing to negotiate, they deliberately turned to lethal violence against civilians.
The Israeli people do not want to be sitting ducks. Their government, like NATO in Yugoslavia and the U.S. in Afghanistan, has believed that force could stop terror; but it cannot do so without diplomacy and dialogue. I belong to an organization of 1,200 former colonels and generals that is part of a movement to get a million signatures (in a population of six million) for withdrawal from nearly all of the occupied territory, with or without an agreement, but unless the Palestinian leaders stop the attacks, there is little chance that a threatened public will back such a move. The Palestinians should by all means have their own independent state and enjoy economic growth and democratic citizenship. They can only achieve these aims through peace, not war. The Israelis dont want to fight them or to rule over them, but to live in peace without fear.
Daniel Shimshoni 41
Though I always enjoy reading PAW, I was particularly pleased to see Kathryn Federici Greenwoods piece on the Chapels restoration in the March 13, 2002, issue.
As the partner in charge of that project, I can attest to the exceptional work done by the Masonry Preservation Group and Femenella and Associates. Id also like to point out that three of the five partners of the architectural firm in charge of that project, Ford Farewell Mills and Gatsch, are Princeton alumni: Jeremiah Ford 54 *59, Michael Farewell *78, and I.
It was an honor to work on such a significant commission, and we were delighted to have the opportunity to lead the restoration effort.
Michael J. Mills 73
The cats in the April 24 From the Archives picture are without doubt procrastinating at Dial Lodge, and the cat in the right foreground has to be Tip Larkin 53. The year must have been 1952 or 53.
Bob Frye 53
I couldnt tell you who these students are, but I do know the where. The picture was taken at the Tiger Inn, in the first-floor lounge now known as the Red Room.
Chris Beha 02
The young man in the single chair on the left could well be my late husband, John E. Irby III 71, at Tower Club, where he was a member (and where its my understanding that he spent more time at Ping-Pong and other recreational activities than at reading).
While Im not certain that it is John, it makes me chuckle to be reminded of those crew-cut days, which yielded after his sophomore year to much longer locks.
Christine Irby Williams
The memorial for Bob Peters 42 (April 24) stated that the Class of 1942 football team was the only one in Princeton history to beat Yale all four years. The 42 Tigers were, of course, the first class to do so, not the only one.