March 21, 2001: Letters

Maxim exposure

Nader doesn't learn, doesn't care

Palestinian protest

Clinton: fade to black

Winning writing

From the Archives

PAW welcomes letters. We may edit them for length, accuracy, clarity, and civility. Our address: Princeton Alumni Weekly, 194 Nassau St., Suite 38, Princeton, NJ 08542 (

Maxim Exposure

Judging from your cover story in the February 7 issue, Maxim is no more a “men’s” magazine than Hustler is an “adult” magazine. Rather, both appeal to considerably more immature appetites.
When a corporation exploits women in areas like wages and hiring, PAW surely does not consider running a puff piece — no matter how many alumni are on the corporation’s board of directors — calling the company “naughty” with a wink and a smile. Why are the standards different when the corporation exploits women by objectifying their bodies?

Walter M. Weber ’81
Alexandria, Va.


This is to register embarrassment to the Princeton community in your featuring the brand of journalism of Keith Blanchard ’88. You have aimed low in terms of content and cover. The story, of some general interest, does not deserve the emphasis you have given it. Perhaps on review, you will share our concern that PAW glorified the tawdry.

Harold Scott ’41
Chapel Hill, N.C.


We do not shop at stores where Maxim is displayed, and we surely do not want it coming into our home in the guise of PAW. Please remove our names and address from your mailing list immediately.

Christine C. R. Parham ’80
James C. Parham III ’81
Columbia, S.C.


I am embarrassed to be associated with an alumni publication that would feature on its cover a magazine that is not simply “a naughty men’s magazine,” but one that blatantly degrades women and animals — in addition to its more innocent defect of being a waste of paper.

If this is the type of career that you honor at PAW, I no longer want a subscription. No doubt you have more newsworthy alumni to report on. I understand and respect that people choose to pursue different career paths, some of which may be distasteful to me, but a cover story honoring the editor of Maxim — from the school that claims to be “in the nation’s service” — is laughable.

Lisa Frack ’91
Durham, N.C.


Thank you for your coverage of former Tiger editor Keith Blanchard. In the words of Mr. Justice Holmes, “I thank God that I am a man of low tastes.”

John Hellegers ’62
Jenkintown, Pa.

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Nader doesn't learn, doesn't care

So Ralph Nader (feature, February 7) “didn’t care” who won the presidential election because he believes that most decisions in Washington are made by what he calls the “permanent, corporate government” of “corporate lobbyists, political action committees, and the whole corporate infrastructure.” Well, no “corporate government” gave us right-wing extremist John Ashcroft as attorney general, no “corporate government” made George W. Bush reinstate the antichoice global “gag order” restricting family-planning organizations (as one of his first official acts, no less), and no “corporate government” is going to make the new administration take any of the other actions it is surely going to take to turn back the clock on social justice in this country. Perhaps Nader has conveniently forgotten that Bush has identified Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas as his models for Supreme Court Justices.

Only a person who doesn’t really care about or prioritize the rights of women, racial minorities, and gay men and lesbians, let alone achieving this country’s promise of equality for every American, could say he “didn’t care” who won the election. Only such a person could take the position, as Nader did during the campaign, that there was no real difference between Bush and Gore. We are already seeing the difference.

Judith E. Schaeffer ’74
Alexandria, Va.


Regrettably, the interview with Ralph Nader reveals that he has managed to learn absolutely nothing about the political forces he helped usher into power. One might have hoped the sight of Republican thugs shutting down the vote count in Florida might have awakened him to reality. No such luck.

Soon Ralph will discover the GOP is no more willing to allow him to participate in any great debate on national issues than it is to enforce environmental or civil rights laws or to conduct fair elections. However, it won’t be Nader and his followers that pay the highest price for their irresponsibility.

On the contrary, one day this year a future Rosa Parks will make another gallant stand for justice. Whether she’s supporting immigrants seeking amnesty or workers organizing a union or minorities still seeking equal access to education, she’ll have to challenge established power, just as those determined Montgomery activists did five decades ago. When she does, she’ll have to confront the combined opposition of Bush, Cheney, Ashcroft, and all their minions in the federal bureaucracy. As she’s dragged to the back of the bus, bloodied but I hope unbowed, I doubt if she’ll be praising the Nader campaign for its efforts to bring back “government of
the people.”

Bob Brownstein ’68
San Jose, Calif.

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Palestinian protest

As a longtime reader of PAW, I was disappointed but not surprised to read the letters (January 24) attacking PAW’s editorial judgment in running a photo of a group of Princeton students holding a vigil to commemorate Palestinians killed by Israel (Snapshot, December 6).

The authors of some of the letters seem to think that a lot turns on whether the vigils are “political,” as if political is some kind of dirty word. It seems to me that they are political in the broad sense of a morally informed concern about justice in the world, well within the tradition of Princeton in the service of all nations. If PAW, in quoting the organizers as saying that the vigils are “apolitical,” has quoted accurately, how is it deserving of criticism?

The authors of the letters use the pretext of inappropriate coverage by PAW to launch a defense of Israel’s brutal and illegal occupation of the Palestinians, all using the same tired clichés used throughout the U.S. by those who would deny the Palestinians the basic human rights guaranteed to all people. In their zeal to express support for Israel no matter what, they cannot even tolerate a peaceful commemoration of the dead.

I rely on PAW to help me keep current about what is happening on campus. That includes vigils, protests, memorial services, and expressions of unpopular viewpoints.

As a resident of the town of Princeton, I am aware that the vigils mourning the Palestinians were held on a daily basis at noon. If PAW provided no coverage, I for one would be asking why.

Chip Jerry ’69
Princeton, N.J.


It is stunning the lengths to which some people will go in an effort to blame the victim. The authors of letters responding to the photograph of Princetonians protesting Israeli aggression are a case in point. Admittedly, the protesting Princetonians unwittingly provided an opening for the backlash they received, by stating that their protest was “apolitical.” It was not. On the contrary, their protest of Israeli aggression is political, and their attempt to draw attention to the human costs of that aggression is not undermined by saying so.

Unfortunately their voice seems to have been drowned out by those whose letters have appeared in PAW. They seem to think that Palestinian victims of Israeli aggression have brought on themselves the deaths, casualties, and innumerable losses resulting from illegal Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Furthermore, they will have you believe that the Palestinian reaction, their uprising or Intifada, is nothing more than an itch for violence, a reflection of Palestinian or Arab depravity, such that Palestinian mothers will send their children to be shot by armed Israeli soldiers, and a congenital and self-destructive lack of appreciation for the presumably more “civilized” acceptance of their own occupation.

Apart from the fact that such racist arguments defy logic, reason, and basic human compassion, it would be so much easier to simply admit the following: The creation of the state of Israel in Palestine in 1948, however necessary for Jewish victims of the Holocaust, nevertheless resulted in the dispossession and displacement of the Palestinians. They have thus understandably resisted the annihilation of their own past and future. In this they are and have been no different from Native Americans, South African blacks, and any number of people seeking their own self-determination, including us Americans.

That Palestinians have accepted the fact of Israel’s existence has unfortunately done little to earn them the same right to an independent, albeit truncated, Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Instead they are subjected to endless futile negotiations, continued occupation, the threatened loss of their own spiritual and historic capital, demographic penetration in the form of settlements, and the countless and constant harassment of border closures, detentions, home demolitions, etc., etc., that have resulted in a society both trapped and turbulent with frustration. Is it any wonder that civilian uprising continues?

The question is why does Israeli occupation continue? What end does it serve? What has a world military power to fear such that its soldiers kill unarmed

Sumaiya Hamdani *95
Washington, D.C.


The negative responses to PAW’s photograph of the silent vigil for the Palestinian dead are extremely defensive and fail to acknowledge the intent of the vigil. Anyone who has followed the news knows that a much greater proportion of Palestinians has been killed than of Israelis in the past four months. While the loss of any life is disheartening, the vigil focused on the deaths of Palestinians in order to emphasize the suffering of the Palestinians under Israeli occupation for over 33 years.
Having lived both in the Occupied Territories and in West Jerusalem studying at the Hebrew University, I have witnessed firsthand the oppressed lives of the Palestinians and the sharply contrasting free lives of the Israelis.

There is a large gap between the immense military strength of the Israeli and Palestinian peoples. The Palestinians have the right to protest their oppression, just as the blacks did in South Africa. It is unfair to create a moral equivalence between the deaths of Palestinian civilians and Israeli soldiers, just as it is unfair to create an equivalence between the political strength of the Palestinian and Israeli leaderships in devising a peace accord.

Perhaps if the Israelis obeyed the U.N. resolutions and withdrew from the Occupied Territories and permitted the Palestinians to possess the same human rights that their own citizens possess, then both Israeli and Palestinian lives could be saved.

Nawal Atwan ’01
Princeton University

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Clinton: fade to black

In reviewing Mr. James Paulson’s letter published February 7, I was astonished at the apparent lack of understanding of the very basic difference between the perjury of former president Clinton and his subsequent public statements, and the position of an advocate taken by former secretary James Baker ’52 in connection with the Florida vote. Apparently Mr. Paulson does not consider the machine tabulation of all of the ballots a “counting,” but most knowledgeable people, including yellow-dog Democrats, do. The method of counting to be used in an election where the margin of victory for either candidate would be smaller than the margin of error for any method of counting, is a different issue. The Bush campaign favored a machine count of the ballots, the Gore campaign favored a manual count. I would accuse neither campaign of being altruistic in its preference of method, but to equate Baker’s legal arguments, made to the American public on C-Span, with Clinton’s conduct is unfortunate, at best. I have known James Baker for over 30 years. He has been, and continues to be, a man of honesty and integrity and the mischaracterization of his public conduct does everyone, including Princeton, a disservice.

Charles B. Wolfe ’66
Houston, Tex.


Please stop this partisan and fruitless debate over whether Bill Clinton is honest enough to be Princeton’s president. This issue is irrelevant since he is not qualified to be the university’s president, regardless of his personal prestige. He does not have a Ph.D., and he has never been an administrator or professor at a college of arts and sciences. Furthermore, he has never attended Princeton as either an undergraduate or graduate student. His having been a law professor and attorney general in Arkansas do make him qualified to be dean of Princeton’s law school — if it had one.

Jay Geller ’95
New Haven, Conn.

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Winning writing

I was pleasantly surprised to see the photo of the student from the 1970s performing a barbell curl (From the Archives, January 24). I don’t know who he is, but I’m happy to learn that nowadays there are “upgraded facilities” in the Dillon Gym exercise room.
When I attended Princeton, weight training was virtually unknown, a maligned undertaking, and its practitioners derided — at least, I was.

I had my own set of weights in my room at Lockhart Hall. I wanted to practice the Olympic lift known as the snatch (pulling the weight from the floor to straight-arm overhead in one fast movement). I didn’t dare try that lift in my room, fearing that I could lose the weight behind me, sending it crashing to the floor.

I took the barbell into the quad outside Lockhart and tried to practice the lift. What I got for my efforts was a lot of hoots and catcalls from students peering from their dorm windows.

John A. Peters ’47
Scituate, Mass.

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