Letters: April 17, 1996

When the history of this final quarter of the 20th century is writ, we may well be remembered as the society that built prisons instead of schools and put punishment ahead of lifting the spirits and answering the cries of our people. If that becomes our sorrowful legacy, a goodly share of the "credit" for this vengeful and counterproductive agenda will accrue to Professor of Politics and Public Affairs John J. DiIulio (Notebook, March 6).
With Princeton as his prestigious platform, DiIulio ranks high among the advocates of the most drastic, indiscriminate, incredibly costly, and thoroughly inappropriate degrees of punishment for all but the truly violent, dangerous, and chronic criminal offenders. If they don't look like us, smell like us, act like us, and they commit a crime, any crime, blow 'em away or lock 'em up forever. This only slightly exaggerates DiIulio's stance, and it has been at the core of our failed "wars" on crime and drugs for more than two decades.
DiIulio's desire to increase dramatically our reliance on prisons endears him to the political hard right and the powerful "prison/industrial complex," which has made prisons our fastest-growing industry. Many ordinary people have been brainwashed into believing the U.S. is "soft on crime," when in fact, and by a wide margin, we have the highest rate of incarceration and impose the longest sentences of any industrialized nation.
A conservative tax slasher and an ex-officio trustee of Princeton, New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman, states flatly that the problem of violent crime can't be solved by building ever more prisons. As she said last summer, "As resources become increasingly scarce, corrections must not be about punishing harder but punishing smarter. In fighting crime, prevention and early intervention are the only proactive responses. Everything else is reactive-after the crime occurs-and is less effective."
DiIulio's thesis and endless papers on crime are neither scholarly nor consistently truthful, but rather ideological and inflammatory. Consider his statement about youthful offenders quoted December 21, 1995, in the Chicago Tribune: "So long as their youthful energies hold out, they will continue to do what comes 'naturally': rob, assault, burglarize, murder, rape, deal deadly drugs, and get high." This is blatantly racist, and it appeals to the baser instincts of a nation torn by racial and ethnic strife. Such a venomous putdown of poor kids, mainly black and Hispanic, disqualifies its author from being considered an objective scholar.
His blanket suggestion that young people raised on the mean streets of America's cities engage "naturally" in violent and predatory acts is outrageous and an utterly specious rationale for locking away minority youths. For most of my adult life I have been involved in activities that seek to give opportunity and hope to poor kids. Here in Chicago, I recently served on a mayoral Task Force on Youth Development that focused on the strengths and aspirations of inner-city young people doomed to poverty, neglect, prejudice, and inadequate education. The members of the task force know from direct experience that the vast majority of these kids do not "naturally" engage in violent acts. Most are well intentioned and eager for help. They wish for a decent, rewarding future, and they have the potential to succeed in the larger society if given half a chance.
My appraisal of DiIulio is more the rule than the exception among respected criminal-justice experts. Professor Norval Morris, a former dean of the University of Chicago Law School, said in the journal Legal Times, "I do not think highly of his scholarship. It's a tribute to the superficiality of our analysis of crime that he gets such notoriety. He preaches what people want to hear in a field where myth far outruns reality." The same publication quotes Kenneth Schoen, who oversees criminal justice grants for the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, as stating, ". . . he enjoys a terrible reputation in the academic world. . . . because he is bright and articulate, he is dangerous." Michael J. Mahoney, the CEO of Chicago's John Howard Association (of which I am a past president) describes him as "chief demagogue of the hard-liners." Malcolm Young and Marc Mauer, the directors of The Sentencing Project, a research and policy group in Washington, D.C., in analyzing a recent paper he authored, condemn his "highly selective and at times deceptive use of available government data."
As an alumnus with extensive background in the realm of crime and punishment, I deplore DiIulio's use of Princeton to ply his divisive, wrongheaded message. I urge an in-depth review of his commitment to truth by an appropriate body of faculty overseers.
William H. Rentschler '49
Lake Forest, Ill.

Nothing in any recent paw touches on a more serious problem than your article on John DiIulio, who reports that 70 million children are growing up in "at-risk conditions" that result in "moral poverty." These children do not enjoy the kind of family environment in which most of us learned right from wrong. I applaud his recommendations for tougher jail sentencing, crime prevention through social programs, and crime protection for people in high-risk areas. Princeton is fortunate to have a man of his caliber on its faculty.
Warren W. Francis '46
Providence, R.I.

As a former school psychologist who, after 15 years on the "mommy track," returned to work to find how much ground had been lost in my field, I read your profile of John DiIulio with great interest. It confirmed my view that the profession of psychology needs to reclaim the study of destructive behavior from "experts" from other fields, like DiIulio. The concept that early learning affects behavior by now should be understood by everyone. We need to be working with children and parents together in the earliest stages of development. Intervention (in the form of incarceration) at age 18, as DiIulio recommends, is 18 years too late.
Nancy Rader p'89
Acton, Mass.

As a native New Jerseyan transplanted to the West Coast, I was fascinated to watch on national television a team without athletic scholarships outplay, outthink, and beat the quasi-professional UCLA Bruins, last year's national basketball collegiate champions, in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Pete Carril's team hung on, fought back, and stubbornly refused to be beaten by the big guys. The next day, the Los Angeles Times devoted most of its opening sports page to the victory. It was a great day to be a Tiger. Three locomotives for Pete, every member of his team, and Princeton!
Raymond F. Fitzsimmons '55
Orange, Calif.

The most telling thing about Princeton's victory over UCLA was the CBS commentators' choice of the game's outstanding "player": the entire Princeton team and its coach.
H. Martyn Owen '51
Hartford, Conn.

As members of the alumni committee convened by the university to advise it concerning the future of Palmer Stadium, we would like to help all alumni better understand the reasons for the decision to raze the existing structure and build a new facility. Much as we had hoped a plan would emerge that could allow the university to rebuild Palmer, exhaustive engineering studies have demonstrated that any attempt to do so would be impractical. With a renovation, we would be buying a structure with a probable life span of 30 years, at best. We believe it makes more sense to build a facility that can last at a minimum twice as long and better meet current program requirements. Among the factors leading to this conclusion:
There is no chance of saving any of the grandstand. While Palmer represented an engineering marvel in 1914, it soon experienced problems of rainwater entrapment that resulted in damage due to freezing and thawing, chemical reactions within the concrete that compromised its strength, and corrosion of its reinforcing steel. Attempts, beginning in 1925, to add reinforcing layers of concrete and other waterproof coatings wound up entrapping more water, which accelerated deterioration. Engineers estimate there is active corrosion in 70 percent of the grandstand.
These same factors have led to widespread deterioration of the promenade deck along the top rim of the grandstand and its parapet, the lower field wall adjacent to the track, and the end walls of the south fašade. Repairs would be extremely complicated because these components are monolithic with the grandstand, and removing the grandstand will require at least their partial demolition. It would be cheaper to demolish and rebuild these elements than to repair them in place.
Weathering has occurred unevenly in the columns and girders supporting the grandstand, with the greater deterioration in the north and east sections. It would be possible to demolish this superstructure selectively and to rebuild it, but the structural technology of reinforced concrete has advanced so far in the past 80 years that we would end up repairing columns and girders we no longer need to support a grandstand the size of Palmer's. Because the new grandstand would not be cast in place, attaching it to the existing superstructure would be difficult and expensive. The salvaged columns and girders would, even under the best conditions, have a life span of 30 years or less.
The north tower and arch may be salvageable in their lower portions, but not at the top. Again, the questions become how much to try to save, how to demolish only part of a monolithic structure, and how long to expect the refurbished portion to last.
Approximately one in five of the large piers that form the exterior colonnade are in poor or marginal condition. These could be repaired with a latex-modified mortar, but the long-term prospects would be risky. They could be demolished entirely, but even selective use of a wrecking ball would likely compromise the remaining piers. In either case, the final result would be uneven in structural integrity and appearance.
Minimal replication of all necessary stadium components would cost between $17 million and $26 million, without eliminating the risk of premature failure. To make matters even more complicated-and much more expensive-any renovation at this level would trigger New Jersey's Uniform Construction Code, calling for the plan to incorporate new standards of safety, handicapped accessibility, and other such requirements. These affect seating configurations, exiting requirements, bathroom sizes, aisle widths, stair pitches, ramp slopes, and a host of similar issues. Once all such changes are taken into account, the total cost of a renovated Palmer could easily exceed the cost of a new, functional structure that conformed to code.
It was with real reluctance that our committee concluded that Palmer Stadium should be replaced. The prospect of razing it saddens all of us who have played there or enjoyed so many autumn Saturdays cheering the Tigers. As concerned fans, we are directing our efforts toward helping the university develop a plan for a new structure that will capture the tradition and intimacy of the old one. We have every confidence in the architect, Rafael Vi˝oly, as well as faith in the university's intention to maintain the echoes of Princeton's gloried athletic tradition in its new facility. We hope others will join us in support of this project.
Dick Kazmaier '52
Concord, Mass.
Ralph DeNunzio '53
Riverside, Conn.

Editor's note: Kazmaier and DeNunzio are co-chairs of the Palmer Stadium advisory committee. This letter was also signed by the other members of the committee: Bob Baldwin '42, Royce Flippin '56, Kevin Guthrie '84, Sari Chang Guthrie '84, Bob Holly '82, Sam Howell '50, Cosmo Iacavazzi '65, Stas Maliszewski '66, and Frank Vuono '78.


I have two main problems with grade inflation (Notebook, March 6). First, it is inherently unfair to the top students, whose grades cannot be proportionately inflated. They are penalized by becoming indistinguishable from their mediocre colleagues. Second, if grades are to have any utility at all, they must be meaningful. Otherwise abolish them altogether, or give everyone an A (for attendance). The issue is not so much inflation as corruption of the entire institution of grading.
This problem is not specific to Princeton. But if any university is strong enough to demand excellence from its students, it must be strong enough to demand that their work be assessed fairly and honestly. To preserve credibility and standards of excellence, American universities must stand firm. Let the students howl if they must. It's time they grew up.
Stephen E. Silver '58
New London, Conn.

I'm appalled by Princeton's apparently cavalier attitude about grade inflation. How can anyone cite the rise in SAT scores as evidence that today's students may be "smarter" or "working harder"? And how could Dean of the Faculty Amy Guttman would have told The Daily Princetonian there's "no problem" with grade inflation "as long as grades reflect the quality of work done"? (By definition, grades can't reflect the quality of work done if they are acknowledged to be "inflated.) And how can inflated grades help students get into graduate school if all the schools know the grades are inflated?
On a positive note, I was impressed that, according to James Wei, the Dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science, "a C is still average" and professors there, at least, "still regularly give grades below B's."
Douglass B. Forsyth '60
Baltimore, Md.

We would like to add to your January 24 On the Campus regarding Professor Heath Lowry and the letters in response to it that appeared in the March 6 paw.
The field of Ottoman and modern Turkish studies has long been neglected in the United States, and Princeton has been one of the very few American institutions where it has been possible to study Ottoman and Modern Turkish history. So it is hardly a matter for astonishment that the Turkish parliament should have voted $3 million to assist in endowing four chairs of Turkish studies, all on a dollarfordollar challenge-grant basis, nor that the first grant should have been awarded to Princeton, where the discipline was already well established. The first person to hold the chair at Princeton was the historian Bernard Lewis. The other three recipient universities are still at various stages of fund raising and faculty recruitment.
Scholars encounter real problems when dealing with the recently opened (but still only partially catalogued) Ottoman Turkish archives, which are voluminous. These documents are for the most part in the old Ottoman script, which is difficult to decipher and is today read and understood by only a few. (The Institute for Turkish Studies, among other things, makes grants to help people learn Ottoman Turkish.)
There are a number of problems relating to the Armenian question in all its ramifications, and it will take time to resolve them. Not only the Ottoman Turkish, but also the Tsarist Russian, archives need to be examined, as well as any surviving papers of the Armenian revolutionary societies. No one denies that terrible massacres occurred, but not only Armenians were the victims. There is even disagreement over what questions need to be asked, and a younger generation of scholars is taking new approaches to uncovering the truth.
In view of all this, it seems unwise to declare in advance that nothing can be learned from the Turkish Ottoman archives. Princeton can be proud of its traditions of Turkish studies, scholarly integrity, and hiring of outstanding faculty members like Professor Lowry. We trust that the university will continue to uphold those traditions.
Timothy W. Childs
Edgard D. Romig '42
Washington, D.C.

Editor's Note: Childs is a lecturer on Ottoman and modern Turkish history at Johns Hopkins and Georgetown universities. Romig is an Episcopal clergyman with family ties to Robert College, in Istanbul.

Your article "Professor Feels Heat" reveals Heath Lowry, the Ataturk Professor of Ottoman and Near Eastern Studies and the chairman of the Department of Near Eastern Studies, as a consultant to the Turkish government in denying the Armenian Genocide.
The petition mentioned in the article, which was signed by 100 scholars and writers, outlines the Turkish government's history of denying the genocide and attempting to coerce American institutions into joining its denial. Lowry's service to the Turkish government in this capacity is just one part of that story, but a part that should be of concern to the Princeton community. Lowry has what we and other scholars believe to be a long and consistent record on this matter. He has written numerous articles and oped columns denying the Armenian Genocide and has lobbied to defeat Congressional resolutions recognizing it. He served as a consultant to the Turkish government, advising it on how to discredit scholarship on the genocide. Lowry also has written a 90page book, published in Istanbul, that attempts to discredit a memoir on the Armenian Genocide by Henry Morgenthau, the U.S. ambassador to Turkey in 191316.
As your article points out, Lowry in 1990 drafted a letter for the Turkish ambassador to the U.S. to send to Robert Jay Lifton, an authority on genocide, because Lifton mentioned the Armenian Genocide in his 1986 book The Nazi Doctors. Lowry's memorandum reads in part, "I strongly recommend that it be pointed out to Akara that Lifton's book is simply the end result of the Turkish failure to respond in a prompt fashion [to earlier books on the Armenian Genocide]. On the chance that you still wish to respond in writing to Lifton, I have drafted the following letter . . . ."
Lowry claims that if he finds documents in the Ottoman archives that prove the Armenian Genocide happened, he will change his mind about it. Such rhetoric is very much part of genocide denial, which seeks to question historical fact through what it claims is rational debate in order to produce controversy and doubt. It ignores the fact that the Armenian Genocide is documented by an abundance of official records of Turkey's wartime allies, Germany and Austria; the proceedings of the post-Armenian Genocide Turkish military tribunal; photographic evidence; official reports of diplomats and missionaries; the testimony of survivors; and eight decades of scholarship.
Contrary to the assertions of Princeton spokesperson Jacquelyn Savani, the signers of the petition never claimed that Princeton took money in exchange for Lowry's appointment to the Ataturk chair. Lowry, who at the time of his appointment was the director of the Turkishfunded Institute of Turkish Studies, was embraced by Princeton's Department of Near Eastern Studies, which has at least one member, Professor Norman Itzkowitz, who affirms Lowry's views about the Armenian Genocide. An emeritus professor of the department, Bernard Lewis, was found guilty in a French court last August under a French "hate speech" law for denying the Armenian Genocide "in the face of abundant evidence throughout the world to the contrary."
Princeton and its alumni community must understand the moral issues at stake. Denial of genocide-whether that of the Turks against Armenians or the Nazis against Jews-is not an act of historical reinterpretation. Rather, it sows confusion by appearing to be engaged in a genuine scholarly effort. Those who deny genocide always dismiss the abundance of documents and testimony as contrived or coerced, or as forgeries and falsehoods. As Deborah Lipstadt notes in Denying The Holocaust (The Free Press, 1993), "free speech does not guarantee them the right to be treated as the 'other' side of a legitimate debate" when there is no credible "other side"; nor does it guarantee them space in the classroom or curriculum, or in any other forum.
Genocide denial is an insidious form of intellectual and moral degradation and a violation of what a university represents. We ask Princeton to create an outside committee to investigate this issue.
Deborah Lipstadt
Dorot Professor of Modern Jewish and Holocaust Studies, Emory University
Atlanta, Ga.
David Riesman
Henry Ford II Professor of Social Science, Emeritus, Harvard University
Cambridge, Mass.
William Styron (writer)
Roxbury, Conn.

Editor's note: The following also signed this letter: Peter Balakian, professor of English, Colgate University; Yehuda Bauer, professor of Holocaust studies, Hebrew University, Jerusalem; Robert N. Bellah, Elliot Professor of Sociology, University of California, Berkeley; Jean Bethke Elshtain, Laura Spellman Rockefeller Professor of Social and Political Ethics, University of Chicago Divinity School; Robert Jay Lifton, Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry and Psychology, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNY; Eric Markusen, professor of sociology, Southwest State University, Minnesota; Arthur Miller, writer; Roger Smith, professor of government, College of William & Mary; Susan Sontag, writer; Rose Styron, writer; Kurt Vonnegut, writer.

My father, Walter L. Wright '21 *28, a historian specializing in Turkey and the Near East, worked in Turkey in 192830 and 193444, and knew many who had been involved in the persecution of Armenians during World War I. He believed the repression in eastern Anatolia resulted from Russian propaganda. During the RussoTurkish War of 1878, Russians recruited some Armenians to act as a Fifth Column within the Ottoman Empire. The authorities, fearing subversion in a sensitive frontier region, encouraged Kurdish Muslims to persecute the Christian Armenians. When Russia threatened eastern Anatolia during World War I, the Ottomans again panicked and encouraged Kurds to help government forces to settle the "Armenian Question." Their objective seems to have been to disarm potential subversives and move them from strategic areas, but economic factors may also have played a role in the persecutions. Like the Japanese-Americans interned during World War II, many Armenians were prosperous farmers and merchants, so their expropriated property must have been worth a lot. Many innocent people were killed and much property destroyed or confiscated during this brutal process. I don't think my father, however, believed that genocide was ever an objective. He told stories of Armenians hidden by their Turkish neighbors from Kurds and troops.
Frederick F. Wright '56
Douglas, Alaska