March 21, 2007: Letters
Letter Box Online
PAW welcomes letters on its contents and topics related to Princeton University. We may edit them for length, accuracy, clarity, and civility; brevity is encouraged. Letters, articles, and photos submitted to PAW may be published or distributed in print, electronic, or other forms. Due to the volume of correspondence, we are unable to publish all letters received. Write to PAW, 194 Nassau St., Suite 38, Princeton, NJ 08542; send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
Your article about real-world diplomacy, “Everything on the table” (feature, Jan. 24), gave me a great deal of pleasure. In the late 1980s former treasury secretary Mike Blumenthal *56, former Fed chairman Paul Volcker ’49, and I served on the advisory board of the Woodrow Wilson School. We were very interested in seeing the school have real-world practitioners on the faculty in addition to the pure academics. We had a meeting with the faculty, and one of the professors asked why we wanted real-world practitioners because “all they would do is tell stories.” My reply was: “That is exactly what we want them to do.” The PAW article illustrates why.
Dean Anne-Marie Slaughter ’80 should be congratulated, not only on putting together the lecturer and the former German foreign minister, but also on her ability to attract a man of Joschka Fischer’s background and reputation to the faculty.
FREDERICK H. SCHULTZ ’51
The terrorist group Hezbollah is mentioned numerous times in PAW’s six-page story on John Waterbury ’61, the president of the American University of Beirut (feature, Jan. 24). The references appear to be unavoidable, given the group’s de facto presence on campus and in the Lebanese capital. What’s telling, though, is that the word “terrorist” does not appear and, indeed, not a single sentence in the lengthy article would appear to be objectionable to the average Hezbollah member. Hezbollah itself is described only as having a “much-vaunted lack of corruption” and of garnering support from “socially liberal students.” Nor is there any discouraging word about Syria, which has had an unpleasant role in Lebanon’s politics in recent years. Even Noam Chomsky gets a favorable mention as a “linguist and critic.”
By contrast, the article has only invective for the United States, which is accused of having “violated its own norms” and of having “dismissed entire peoples” on essentially racist grounds. Israel also receives passing jibes, including supposed responsibility for blockading fuel for the University’s hospital.
I should say that I have no complaint against John Waterbury. According to the article, he is the first president of the University to live in Beirut since two previous presidents, also Princeton alumni, were killed and kidnapped, respectively. His freedom of speech to criticize Hezbollah and its backers is, shall we say, circumscribed. Even the author of the article, described as a “writer living in Beirut,” might be forgiven for appeasing the powers that be. PAW’s editors have no similar excuse for an article that whitewashes evil, with only criticism for our own country and one of its best and most democratic allies.
MARK SHERE ’85
Re “Rules of engagement” (feature, Jan. 24): While Shaomin Li *88 was given a speedy trial and convicted of the espionage charges leveled against him by a court of law, there are hundreds of detainees, including Chinese nationals, who have been marooned indefinitely in a legal black hole at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, without any formal charge and due process of the law. How can anyone denounce one and acquiesce in another?
XINPING ZHU *05
I usually find most of the articles in PAW to be interesting, but I found “The international campus” (feature, Jan. 24) especially so. It covered a wide range of interests, locations, and involvement.
I also thought the articles on “An American in Beirut” and “Rules of engagement” in the same issue to be most interesting. Re “Stronger, tougher Tigers,” I had thought Princeton had to scrap its wrestling program due to Title IX. Altogether, probably the best issue I have ever read.
RICK HANKINS ’68
Like a legion of students from abroad, I owe it to the generous philanthropy of Jo-Ann F. Nehr and her husband, the late Raoul H. Nehr ’36, that I could attend Princeton in the early 1980s. While a sense of adventure, or wanderlust, had driven me from my hometown, Goettingen in Germany, to discover the New World in its more sophisticated facets, my years at Princeton later proved to be the basis of a global education long before talk about globalization came into fashion. This was not just about learning foreign languages, a few of which I had the chance to explore at Princeton, but rather the opportunity to experience the intellectual dimensions of the world through the perspective of other cultural, political, and historical traditions. When I returned to the “Old Europe” (as Donald Rumsfeld ’54 would say), I had unconsciously become an advocate of American values.
Moreover, these years have helped me to come to terms with my own nationality. During the final years of the Cold War period, Soviet Russia and its satellites were still looked upon as the main threat to peace and freedom. But as a young German who had learned his history lessons, I knew all too well about the unspeakable crimes my own country had committed during World War II — most notably, but not only, the Holocaust.
When in my Italian class we read Primo Levi’s account of Auschwitz-Monowitz, Se questo è un uomo (If This Is a Man), I felt overwhelmed by sorrow and shame. In discussions with Americans I usually met with curiosity about “what went wrong” with Germany in 1933, to which I usually opined that a couple of things had gone awry long before that, but no one ever treated me in an unfriendly way. To my surprise, Jewish classmates even would take me home to their parents — a big honor for me at the time. And conversations with the distinguished historian Arno J. Mayer were among my most memorable personal encounters in college.
So my account is a modest example of how the genius loci of Princeton can build bridges in the minds of people — “in the service of all nations,” really.
I am grateful to my alma mater and, again, to Mr. and Mrs. Nehr, who enabled me to have this unique experience.
DONAT VON MüLLER ’84
As you note in your article (Sports, Jan. 24), durability is the key to success in masters sports. My roommate, Dave Hunter ’72, sustained an injury that ended his intercollegiate track career after a promising freshman season, but since returning to the roads after completing law school in 1975, he has given new meaning to the phrase “distance running.” Over the past 30 years, he has averaged almost three mara-thons a year, performing very competitively. This spring, he competes in his 16th Boston Marathon, where in 1983 he ran his personal best of 2:31:40.
As a Grandmaster runner, Dave has done well, especially of late: third in his age group at the 2005 Philadelphia Marathon, first in his age group and 23rd overall at the 2006 Columbus Half-Marathon, and third Grandmaster at the 2006 Memphis Marathon, in a field of 8,000. He has competed in the oldest foot races east and west of the Mississippi — in addition to his regular participation at Boston, he cracked the top 100 in his only try at the hilly Dipsea Race from Mill Valley to Stinson Beach several years ago.
But perhaps the performance of which Dave is most proud has come in the annual Hood-to-Coast Relay from Mount Hood to Seaside, Ore., a grueling 197-mile race run ’round the clock by teams of nine runners each doing four legs. For a decade, he has captained a coed team from Akron, Ohio, and has run 27 of the 36 possible legs at all hours of the day and night. He projects that he will have run all 36 legs by the 2009 race, where he hopes to share the road with his youngest daughter, Helen, currently a freshman at Lewis & Clark College in Portland where — guess what — she’s running cross country.
LARRY KURTZ ’72
In the Nov. 8 From the Archives photo, I am the callow, pensive-looking youth in the trench coat wielding the pencil, shown second from the right. A curiosity about journalism had prompted me to sign up for the University Press Club. My first assignment was to sit in the Palmer Stadium press box and record for The New York Times the names of all Princeton football players who played in the game. There were two significant job-related perks: free food and, more importantly, I did not have to parade into the stadium with my freshman classmates and get pelted with tomatoes by the rest of the student body. Raincoats were de rigeur for this rite of passage. I subsequently traded journalism for a career in science, ending up in Baltimore where my classmate, Hal Piper, also a Press Club member, had a distinguished career with The Baltimore Sun.
JERRY L. SPIVAK ’60
Editor’s note: Jack C. Childers Jr. ’60 also wrote in to say that he is pictured at right in the photo.
The Murley-Pivirotto Family Tower was pictured in a photo of Whitman College published with the Feb. 14 On the Campus column. The name of the tower was reported incorrectly in the photo caption.