March 7, 2007: Letters
Letter Box Online
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Similar to the vast majority of China-related articles in the mainstream media, the article “Rules of engagement” (feature, Jan. 24) is written to the taste of American readership and appears to be a balanced report of representative opinions.
I worry about the impact of the article, however. While the content is truthful in isolation, the article may have reinforced the misunderstanding and unrealistic expectations of China by the American public.
I actively participated in the pro-democracy demonstration in Tiananmen Square in Beijing in 1989. I came to the United States in 1990. During the following years, I was shocked to witness the extremely negative portrayal and demonization of China by American media. Don’t get me wrong — I agree that what was reported has been mostly truthful in isolation. However, by relentlessly focusing on a tiny spot of a vast country of extreme diversity, the American media give American people an extremely biased view of China.
This problem is not remedied in “Rules of engagement,” which failed to give adequate coverage from the Chinese side. If we do not understand how China thinks of our view on engagement, how can we define rules of engagement? Aren’t we simply lecturing the Chinese on how to engage and how to follow our rules? Aren’t we imposing our values and ideas on the Chinese without understanding them first?
The fundamental issue, both here and on issues related to China, is not freedom of speech, but mutual understanding. To me, Americans simply do not have a basic understanding of China or the Chinese, and American media have yet to make a serious endeavor to cover China in a fair and balanced manner. Much too often, when an effort is made, interjecting biased comment immediately defeats the purpose. China is changing fast in all aspects of life, but our views on China have been stagnant.
I spent the first 23 years of my life in China, having lived in a village of extreme poverty, a small town of frugality and ethnic division, a provincial capital with a booming economy and social changes, and the capital city of China. There is no doubt in my mind that democracy in the U.S. style simply does not work in China. Singing high praises of freedom of speech and democracy is one matter; advancing a vast country of extreme diversity is another.
Shouldn’t Iraq be a lesson for us all? Keep in mind: The complexity in Iraq is not in the same order of magnitude as that in China.
In “Princeton in the World,” part of the article on “The International Campus” (feature, Jan. 24), P.G. Sittenfeld ’07 refers to the “Princeton-ins,” including Princeton-in-Asia, Princeton in Africa, and Princeton in Latin America, and notes that “the University created these programs for postgraduate work experience.” Princeton in Latin America, the most recent of these programs, was created by two Princeton seniors, Daniel Pastor ’03 and Allen Taylor ’03. It is an independent 501(c)(3) corporation that is legally separate from the University and dependent on contributions and fundraising to support its program and fellows. Its executive director, Claire Brown ’94, reports to a board of trustees composed of faculty and alumni. The University encourages students to pursue our program, and we were proud to have been mentioned by President Tilghman, along with PiA and PiAf, in her 2005 Commencement address. While independent of the University, we are grateful that the University has allocated us space on campus in order to better serve students, who frequently drop in to see us. We look forward to continuing cooperation with the University in the further development of “Princeton in the world’s service.”
PAUL E. SIGMUND
Editor’s note: Both Princeton-in-Asia and Princeton in Africa also are independent organizations that are affiliated with the University.
Your Jan. 24 issue on “Global Princeton” was very timely, especially the profile of John Waterbury ’61, president of the American University of Beirut. Your readers might be interested to know that the photo on page 34 of that article shows the front steps of West Hall, named for my grandfather, Robert H. West 1882, dean of the college when he died of typhoid fever in 1906.
ALLEN C. WEST ’52
Your article on Princeton’s early women’s teams (Sports, Jan. 24) brought back many fond memories. One of the most outstanding athletes of that period was Emily Goodfellow ’76, who earned 12 varsity letters (field hockey, squash, and tennis).
Also, I would like to mention the women’s sailing team that won four straight national championships (1974-1977). Three members of this team (Marilee Allan ’75, Anne Preston ’77, and I) were among the first women inducted into the Intercollegiate Sailing Hall of Fame in 1994.
NINA NIELSEN ’76
I was delighted to see the success of women’s varsity sports teams high-lighted in “Great from the start,” especially about how the first Princeton women’s swimming and diving team placed third in the 1973 AIAW National Championships. The rest of the story? That team had only five swimmers and one diver! According to research I did to prepare to emcee the 35th-anniversary celebration of Princeton’s women’s varsity sports (Feb. 11, 2006), the women’s swimming and diving team has had the longest winning streak of any team — male or female — in University history. Other Princeton women’s sports highlights (as of February 2006):
• There were six original women’s varsity teams: tennis, swimming and diving, basketball, field hockey, squash, and crew.
• Princeton women have won 123 Ivy League championships in 16 sports, with 15 won by the swimming and diving team and 14 titles each for field hockey and softball.
• Princeton women have won 26 national championships in four sports. Squash won 14 national championships; crew won nine. Six Princeton women won individual national championships; four others won a swimming relay national championship.
• There are at least 14 Princeton women Olympians in five sports, in the service of many nations. Anne Marden ’81, a four-time Olympian rower (1980, 1984, 1988, and 1992), returned with silver medals twice. Lynn Jennings ’83 (cross country in 1988, 1992, and 1996) and Carol Brown ’75 (crew in 1976, 1980, and 1984) were both three-peaters.
• Princeton women’s soccer team went to the NCAA Final Four in 2004, the first Ivy League team to do so.
• At least four Rhodes scholars were Princeton women varsity athletes, as were two full pages of Academic All-Ivy honorees.
Any discussion of our athletic success is incomplete without emphasizing that our teams have achieved without the benefit of athletic scholarships, although Princeton leads the way in providing financial aid for qualified students, athletes or not.
The Princeton Varsity Club has a wonderful photo slide show of 35 years of Princeton women’s varsity sports.
It can be found on the Web at http://princetonvarsityclub.alumniathlete.com; click on the “Features archive” link.
DONNICA MOORE ’81
While it is not surprising that some alumni, like Gaetano P. Cipriano ’78 (Letters, Jan. 24), are upset at the “overt celebration ... of LGBT conduct” that the University’s new LGBT center represents, his arguments that invoke the University’s founding fathers struck us as rather flaccid.
Mr. Cipriano fails to take into account that the founding of the University was a direct result of the Great Awakening, a revivalist movement that was also responsible for the first major American movement against slavery. Indeed, as he invokes the name of Pastor Theodorus Frelinghuysen, the instigator of the Great Awakening, we feel we should point out that the pastor emphasized “the religion of the heart over doctrine and liturgy” (from The Princeton Companion, published in 1978).
John Witherspoon signed the Declaration of Independence, which sought to ensure for Americans the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Another founder, Ebenezer Pemberton, most probably was the author of a letter that emphasized that Princeton was not to be just for Presbyterians, stating, “persons of all persuasions are to have free access to the Honours & Privileges of the College.”
As some will point out, it is more than likely that many of these men were themselves contradictory. “All men are created equal” was a lofty sentiment, but Princeton’s history is not devoid of discrimination. John Witherspoon himself owned slaves, and Woodrow Wilson, throughout his tenure as University president, actively discouraged the admittance of black students. So it is quite possible that Mr. Cipriano is correct. The founders might have been against a celebration of homosexuality, had the term existed when they were alive. They also might have been against the celebration of other marginalized groups of people, too: African-Americans, Jews, Muslims, and women.
In this dangerous and difficult decade, it seems to us that we could use a little more “religion of the heart over doctrine and liturgy.” We hope, in the best traditions of the founders, that that is what the new center will provide.
Times change, Mr. Cipriano. Welcome to the 21st century.
MARINA FERRARO ’98
I felt I had to respond to a recent letter from a class member who expressed disappointment and shame over the opening of the University’s LGBT Center. The real shame is that there are still people who are so intolerant.
As the daughter of a New York City policeman from a high school where most did not go on to college, I had some inkling of how it felt to be an outsider among Princeton’s preppies and wealthy elite.
Bravo for President Tilghman, whose leadership has made my alma mater more diverse and welcoming to all!
MARY GALLAGHER ’78
If [Muslim chaplain] Khalid Latif truly supports Princeton’s mission of free inquiry, a good start would be for him to have another crack at the questions Isaiah Cox ’94 asked him (Letters, Jan. 24). So far he sounds like a politician or an undergraduate expounding on an unread book (or Yusuf Islam, the former Cat Stevens, playing similar dodgeball in a recent New York Times interview). And Cox’s questions were easy ones!
I must admit that Latif’s technique of answering momentous questions about the outside world with self-centered platitudes shows him to be a man of his times.
ROB SLOCUM ’71
David Thom ’96 compared Princeton to Rutgers in his Jan. 24 letter. He says “the athletics department has chosen to disregard tradition by solely using a bizarre tiger-striped ‘P’ that has no graphical precedent on campus.” Thom goes on to say: “[Rutgers] can teach us a thing or two about how to celebrate that proud history in an appropriate athletic logo.”
I was on the committee of student-athletes, members of the athletics department, and a marketing and design firm brought together to produce several logos that could be used for apparel, marketing, and sports media. In our meetings we discussed the way the current logos were being used and came up with most of the new variations of the traditional “P,” the word “Princeton,” and the different tigers that are now depicted on apparel sold in the U-Store.
Our main focus during these meetings was to produce a logo that would be recognized not only by people on campus, but by people throughout the country. It was our belief that outside the Ivy League, the traditional orange “P” was not being recognized as the symbol of Princeton athletics. Thus, our goal was to create a “P” that could be distinguished throughout the NCAA as our logo, and not mistaken for one of the many other schools beginning with the letter “P.”
After discussing the issue at length and with other students and athletes, we decided that adding the tiger stripes was the best way to distinguish our “P” from the rest. In no way does this new logo take away from the Princeton tradition. Instead, it helps Princeton to be better recognized nationally as we continue our winning tradition.
COLIN R. BROWN ’04