Editor’s note: Letters that appeared in the autumn print issue are marked with a double ##.
##Your report in the summer issue on the dismembering of the Irish Guard omitted salient facts: More than 2,600 Notre Dame alumni, fans and supporters signed a petition to reverse the decision to disband the Guard. The signatories included renowned former football players, former band members and Irish Guardsmen. The overwhelming sentiment was that the Guard was a significant part of the fabric of Notre Dame’s football tradition and should not be disbanded. Not one valid reason was advanced for the change to a band-member Irish Guard without any height requirement and single year participation. The change potentially reduces a diminutive set of new Guard members to ridicule as faint imitations of their imposing predecessors. The Guard buffered the band with military precision from overzealous fans and even opponents’ sometimes unruly fans.
And not one member of the administration had the courtesy to respond to the 2,600 petitioners. The petitioners care about Notre Dame and many of them devoted enormous time and effort to ND as undergraduate players, band members and Guardsmen. The petitioners are entitled to a thoughtful reply.
Edmund Adams ’63J.D.
##It was disappointing to see Notre Dame Magazine endorse such hedonistic and destructive events as described in the article on Senior Week in the summer issue. The writer bragged about “Dudes & Babes” events, such as drunkenness, a “junkyard car being smashed to bits by men who felt the need to prove their strength with a sledgehammer at 11 a.m.” and how “the day devolved, to everyone’s delight, into an hours-long mud-wrestling competition" which included hurling beer kegs. Perhaps these seniors are reflecting the popular extended-stage adolescence as glorified by TV and movies like The Hangover. I felt bad for the South Bend neighbors who had to endure “Dudes & Babes.”
Tom Burke ’83MBA
Fox River Grove, Illinois
I was disgusted by the article “A true, extended farewell,” with its glorification of excessive drinking featured front and center, and disappointed that the magazine saw it fit for inclusion in the Summer 2014 issue. Is this article really the best the magazine could do to capture Senior Week activities of the Class of 2014? Is its catalog of boring stupidity really what the University wants to highlight as important and worthy of its alumni magazine? Was there no insight on graduation that could be offered to readers beyond the tired and predictable record of the writer’s alcohol-fueled shenanigans? I am sure there are many members of the Class of 2014 who have embarked on incredible journeys of growth and service since graduation, and I would much rather have read about those than a rehashing of one senior’s alcohol consumption.
Megan Keenan-Berryman ’96
In response to the “Reflections on Senior Week,” if you were trying to pierce the veil of respectability once enjoyed by ND, then you succeeded. If not, I think a reflection on your reflection is in order.
FYI, in 17 years since graduation, I have many times considered returning a compliment about a story; this was the first time I considered a complaint and I didn’t think twice. I am befuddled by the possible objective of this story and look forward to the postmortem in the next issue.
My sister is a rising sophomore at Notre Dame and I am a rising senior at Franklin and Marshall. I picked up the Summer issue of ND magazine and I came across the senior article written by Kevin Noonan ‘14. As a rising senior myself, I was eager to read about a peer’s experience and reflections on graduation and the passage into “real” adulthood. I was disappointed to discover that the quality of the thoughts and the writing did not live up to my expectations. I expected more from one of this esteemed academic establishment’s graduating senior’s, but especially one of its magazine interns. The quality of writing was poor and the contents immature and embarrassing. The freshman at my school are held to higher writing standards than those of this article. Instead of sincere thoughts on Notre Dame traditions and experiences, this was an alcohol-soaked rambling about piss-poor traditions. For example, “There’ s no deeper meaning I can get out of this kind of stuff; sometimes it’s fun to just have fun, even if it’s brutish and maybe a little dangerous.” Nothing in this article made me jealous of ND’s senior week, in fact, it made me thankful I would never have to be anywhere near it. I had started this article thinking that I would be awed by the depth of ND senior pride in their traditions and ND experience. Instead, the very first word turned me off. This article could have been written by a Michigan grad. Nothing about this article made ND seem like a special place. And if I didn’t know any ND grads, I would have a very poor estimation of the 2014 ND class.
One of the letters under the heading “Who we are” praised the “diverse, fascinating, inspiring stories” of some of your alums. This article was the opposite of diverse, fascinating and inspiring. It sounded like it was written by a white frat guy who cared more about a good time and alcohol than taking advantage of the excellent education afforded him. There was nothing redeeming in this article and if I was a senior I would be ashamed that this is the experience that represented my class to all those who read this magazine.
Mary Grace Meland
##I find it curious that Notre Dame has not only decided to cancel the requirement that a student learn how to swim before graduating but also to eliminate the physical education class requirement. Being able to swim is one of the few life skills offered by the University. Seems ironic for a school that prides itself on its student-athletic tradition to eliminate the one required course that actually provides reinforcement of that proud tradition for the entire student body.
Andrew Crowe ’82
##Having been a member of the physical education faculty at Notre Dame for 49 years, I am writing in response to the article about Notre Dame eliminating the physical education and wellness department, a decision I find reprehensible and extremely disconcerting. When you look at statistics for obesity and sedentary lifestyles along with issues related to stress, anxiety and overachieving students, I think it inevitable that student development will be hurt.
I also question why none of the 13 faculty members in our department were asked to serve on the committee making this decision, why none of the committee members came to a class or spoke to a member of our faculty, why a request from one of our faculty to meet with the committee received no reply, and why you would eliminate a program that has been successful over so many years and through which students have learned cognitive, physical, social and effective skills used throughout a lifetime.
Dennis Stark ’47, ’49M.S.
I read with a bit of regret about the elimination of phys ed classes beginning in 2015. I would have never learned how to skate backward (slowly, but still backward) or discovered I was an ambidextrous force in handball without gym class freshman year. But my most vividly awful memory of gym class was the dreaded swimming test in the fall of 1973. Before the test, the very large coed class had to line up on the side of the pool in the Rock and, to my horror, among the dozens of girls in their navy or black tank suits, I was the only girl wearing a blue tie-dyed bikini. I was not a very good swimmer, but perhaps that is why I passed.
##I read the articles about sports with some real trepidation. I was once a fan of sports, particularly football. But for many years I’ve been of the opinion that big-time sports are much (much!) ado about nothing which can be really considered important. I feared these articles would confront me with the error of my ways. They did not.
Tom Walsh ’83
Better air and health
##At great risk to herself, Norma Kreilein, M.D., spoke up about a serious air-quality problem in southern Indiana (“Trouble in the Air”) and how it was likely to be exacerbated by a proposed biomass plant. I followed her letters in local papers and appreciated the medical/research knowledge and statistics that she brought to the fore. It is always refreshing to see this type of high-quality information (rather than the ranting and raving we so often see these days) shared as important decisions are being made. God bless her for almost singlehandedly making the case for the health impacts of the proposed plant. I hope that she continues to have the strength, courage and persistence to fight for the health of the people of southern Indiana.
##In 1978, having invested in several biotech startups, I found myself owning a hazardous waste disposal company in Maryland, a very profitable one that focused on small producers in the Mid-Atlantic Region. Short story, we ran afoul of citizen advocates who confused our efforts with companies hauling tanker trucks to hidden dumps and God-knows-where. By 1985, we were history; I had a back full of arrows. Although I was a bad guy to many, as time passed, a number of citizen advocates and journalists asked for my opinion on matters remarkably similar to the Rudolf story.
Briefly, two undeniable truths emerge. Air and water pollution in much of God’s country is a crime. Whether it is coal plants, smelters, mining or industrial farms, too many people are dying too early from illegal pollution. A little more pollution is not like a little more salt in the stew. There’s a tipping point in a deadly game of corruption. Second, any government adviser in Indiana could have picked up a pencil and calculated on the back of an envelope that the economics of the proposed biomass plant just could not work.
At the request of a local newspaper in West Virginia I investigated a similar proposal to truck biomass out of the Washington, D.C., area to an industrial plant in West Virginia for “clean” disposal. The financials were so bad, even local politicians who were supporting the venture because of the 15 to 20 new jobs it promised became less vocal. State officials held up the permit application requesting more information, and the project dropped. Regardless of how one feels about tree huggers, in the Rudolf story, Dr. Kreilein and team got this one right.
Michael Guarnieri ’62
Thank you for the excellent article “Trouble In the Air,” describing the efforts of our classmate, Norma Kreilein, to bring attention to a potentially serious chronic pollution concern in Indiana. With 20 years of experience in the field of chemical accident prevention, I am very familiar with the kinds of conflicts that arise between industry, government and communities on environmental impacts. Hence, it was disturbing to note that the Indiana Department of Air Quality has largely justified non-action on the concern raised by Dr. Kreilein because it has met compliance criteria under the law. Government policy officers are fully aware that compliance criteria is a one-size-fits-all approach established as a convenience for legal enforcement. Criteria often is not well-validated before it is established; it may have been influenced by economic forces, and it may reflect scientific knowledge of the time when it was established, that has perhaps advanced considerably in intervening years. For all these reasons, we in government are always seeking better ways to measure performance, waiting only for the right moment and the right answers to improve our laws. Hence, it is incomprehensible to me that an environmental officer of the government would use this criteria as a justification for not investigating further the concerns about excessively high pollution rates in the region in question.
In my opinion, research into the effectiveness of current pollution control policy is far more practical than waiting for long term and more challenging studies about the connection between emissions and children’s health. Defending the current policy on the basis that “it meets the standards” is usually the justification provided by industry. However, the standard for the government is not simply compliance. It is the welfare of its people. I find Dr. Kreilein’s argumentation quite compelling for this reason. It is a pity we never knew each other as classmates for indeed I share her concerns.
Maureen Heraty Wood ’82
I’d like to pass on a comment in response to the article "Trouble in the Air” about Dr. Norma Kreilein in the Summer 2014 issue of the ND Magazine. The article complained about the pollution (particulates, hazardous chemicals, heavy metals) from the coal-fired power plant at Jasper, Indiana. The author also complained about a proposed plant addition that would use Miscanthus grass biomass as fuel. In the latter case the implied hazard was apparently similar but with no specific effluent details. I realize the proposed plant was a few years ago. I would like to propose — and am surprised the author did not — that the fuel of choice for the newer plant would be natural gas. Here’s why:
Natural gas is a mix of low MW hydrocarbons that are now more abundantly available thanks to the crude that’s becoming widely available thanks to the newer “fracking” technologies in shale in the U.S.
Unlike coal that’s burned/oxidized during use to entirely CO2 (now considered a pollutant) the natural gas is burned to a mix of CO2 & H2O, reducing CO2 emissions.
Further, unlike the coal, the natural gas contains no heavy metals, Hg, etc., to be put out as part of the effluent.
Leon Glover ’57
War and the Middle East
##I applaud the magazine for presenting Andrew Bacevich’s insightful, thought-provoking analysis. For decades, imperial British and U.S. policy has achieved little beyond inflaming the Muslim world. The majority of American citizens, blinded by their pursuit of the almighty buck and consumer status, support destructive U.S. government policies designed mostly to enrich multinational corporations and empower a perpetual state of conflict. Israel’s excessive military strikes against its Palestinian neighbors, while perhaps not totally without justification, should depress anyone who hopes God’s children can one day enjoy peaceful coexistence.
Michael Henry ’79
Saint Petersburg, Florida
##I read Andrew Bacevich’s discussion of the Greater Middle East as Hamas rained rockets on Israel from Gaza and Israel responded with force. Bacevich argues that alliance with Israel is a barrier to the U.S. interest in stability in this region and elevates “responding to the grievances of the Palestinian people promptly and comprehensively” to primacy in whatever relationship this nation has with Israel. Bacevich is silent regarding specifics, but Hamas seeks destruction of Israel, and the more than two dozen Arab/Islamic nations which still refuse to recognize Israel as a nation abet this goal. Israel’s destruction would be a moral blot upon and a strategic disaster for our nation.
Enduring, strong relationships with nations of shared values, institutions, cultures and aspirations for the world are the best foundation for advancing U.S. interests. The Greater Middle East presents challenges in this regard, but so do an expansionist China, Putin’s vision of a reconstituted greater Russia, and hostile, corrupt regimes in our hemisphere.
John Kirlin ’63
##Andrew Bacevich’s brilliant summary of our last 30 years of Middle East foreign policy is insightful, concise and controversial. But some points are highly debatable, especially point 5 on “Generalship.” It implies that a Lee or Grant would be equally successful leaders in the deserts and mountains of the Middle East and Central Asia as they were in the wilderness of Virginia. Not only are the Asian landscapes alien, but the times, national and international political alliances — exercised in a global climate that stifles logistical and strategic inventiveness — are vastly different. As our politicians seek immediate but impossible military success, military leaders are rewarded for cleverness rather than strategic insight, patience and courage.
Bacevich’s lesson on “Regional Allies” is honest and forthright. Our partnership with Israel is a bear trap from whose jagged jaws even the most intense and enlightened domestic and international diplomacy seems unable to free us as we stumble blindly into the future.
Bacevich’s unsparing observations on “Religion” should make readers of this magazine uncomfortable and hopefully angry, especially when reflecting on current unrest in Northern Ireland. I never thought I’d see such a courageous reflection in any Notre Dame publication. Thank you for these honest and open “lessons.”
Thomas L. Bonn ’60
Ithaca, New York
##When the historians of the 22nd century attempt to unpack the puzzle of our times, they will not be concentrating on the “Greater Middle East.” Although Bacevich’s far-ranging analysis of U.S. policy (or lack thereof) is well-considered and insightful, his writings still pertain to a region which, in a strategic sense, is a backwater.
The way of the world is that economic power begets military power which creates political power. Historians will look back in wonder and try to understand why the United States squandered its resources on meaningless wars in the Middle East while, at the same time, supporting and policing a world economic order which destined China to supplant America as the dominant global power in the second half of the 21st century.
Guy Wroble ’77
##Colonel Bacevich left out the one thing everyone who comments leaves out and is absolutely essential to any discussion: What exactly are America’s security interests? Maybe our real security interest is a wise foreign policy that really defines what our security interests really are — whatever that is.
George Goodwine ’60
##“Lessons from America’s War” was very thorough and thought-provoking. But the solution content was largely missing from the article. For example, we could end the war if we were energy self-sufficient as a country. Why not call for energy independence as a national priority and a national security issue, instead of more military spending? Bring back the national draft, then war would be in the public conscious all the time. If you want to cut back the military, simply cut the budgets. We already overspend on military machinery. And if Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Israel are not good allies, stop doing business with them. These specific suggestions need to enter the national discussion as real options, and articles like Bacevich’s should add to the discourse with hard proposals for change, not just recapping the problems.
Phil Borchard ’78
Rochester Hills, Michigan
##I was greatly disgusted with Bacevich’s comments regarding Israel. Including Israel in any list with Saudi Arabia and Pakistan to suggest that Israel has something in common with them is a joke. Israel is a strong, liberal, democratic nation that stands up for morality, while Saudi Arabia and Pakistan are ruled by unfree regimes and are known state sponsors of radical Islamic terrorist groups. Israel is in fact a helpful ally and friend of the United States. For example, during the Cold War Israel served as a check against complete Soviet domination of the Middle East. It was Israel’s Mossad who warned the United States in August of 2001 of a potential major terrorist attack happening on our homeland. A month later, 9/11 occurred. And Israel’s “settlement expansion” in the West Bank is in fact not illegal considering that Israelis have every right to live in Judea and Samaria. U.N. General Assembly Resolution Number 181 (the partition plan of Palestine into one Jewish and one Arab state) is null and void considering that both sides had to agree to the resolution. While the Jews reluctantly agreed, the Arabs flat out rejected it. Several times Arab nations attacked Israel and tried to wipe it off the map. Because of this excessive Arab aggression, Israel’s acquisition of these lands was in fact lawful.
Trent Spoolstra ’13
I’m not a Notre Dame alumnus, but I did stumble onto Andrew Bacevich’s essay on Lessons from America’s War for the Greater Middle East. Congratulations to Mr. Bacevich and for Notre Dame Magazine for publishing this essay. I may not agree with every bit of it, but I do admire his cogent argument. An essay like this represents the best tradition of what alumni magazines can and should do — stimulate thoughtful, reasoned analysis of the big issues of our day.
Professor Bacevich’s 10-lesson tome on America’s War For the Greater Middle East is more remarkable for its sweeping assumptions than for its flawed “lessons.”
The assumption which seems present throughout is that America has a foreign policy, i.e. a settled and adopted course. In reality, our nation has not had a foreign policy since Ronald Reagan. Radical changes in the direction of our foreign relations have occurred between various administrations and even within single administrations. Coupled with ambassadorships that are increasingly awarded on the basis of campaign contributions, our foreign relations are dysfunctional, relegating the United States to the role of an indecisive, occasional meddler rather than a trusted, powerful and consistent world leader.
In his curious disdain for the military and in his loose conjecture as to how history will view recent U.S. military leaders, Professor Bacevich assumes that the “inconclusive” nature of the Mideast wars are the result of our officers whom he inarticulately asserts, “just didn’t do well.” In reality, the role of our military is to execute the dictates of politicians who often bow to political winds. A prime example is the current administration’s announcements to our enemies in Iraq and Afghanistan regarding the timetable for our troop withdrawals. In successful wars, the victors prevail then issue a departure schedule to the defeated.
The lesson on “The U.S. Military System” displays a stunning disconnect from social reality. The baseless assertion that “the existing relationship between American soldiers and the American people is shot full of cheap grace” to the point where the occasional “Thank you for your service” has little meaning. Such a puzzling opinion ignores the political and cultural transformation of post-Vietnam America, which understands more clearly than ever that political interests (right or wrong) make the decisions; the voluntary troops and their families unselfishly bear the burdens.
In the ninth lesson, Professor Bacevich trivializes the history and current role of Israel. Dismissing Israel’s possession of weapons of mass destruction as “implying double standards,” the author assumes that Israel and its enemies stand on equal moral ground. Absurd. As noted historian and Israeli diplomat, Michael Oren, recently related, “The most searing of Zionism’s unfulfilled visions was that of a state in which Jews could be free from fear of annihilation.” In the 10th lesson which addresses religion, there is the underlying assumption that America doesn’t understand Islam. To its credit, what America doesn’t understand is radical Islam’s hatred such as that manifested on 9/11. They seek to destroy our God-fearing democracy, which, ironically, has no room for hatred!
If indeed, there is a lesson to be derived from Professor Bacevich’s discourse, it is one of academia’s oldest and dearest tenets: never assume.
Andrew F. Reardon ’67
Perhaps I missed it but I don’t recall that Bacevich ever mentions Iran after Carter left the White House on January 20, 1981. While I completely agree with Bacevich that “people” must be at the “center of gravity” of the USA’s policy in the Middle East, Bacevich never tells the reader how he suggests the USA most prudently responds to Iran’s conduct in the Middle East, especially its seemly unquenchable thirst for a nuclear weapon. Much as I tend to agree with Bacevich’s analysis of the USA’s Middle East policy post-1980, it seems obvious that Iran’s acquisition, or virtual acquisition, of a nuclear weapon significantly increases the extent of the possible harm done by further errors of judgment by the USA’s makers of policy. Regardless of oil, Iran with a nuclear weapon significantly rearranges the “pieces on the chess board” in a presently-incalculable fashion.
At present, the worst likely possible outcome is nuclear exchanges between Pakistan and India. And there are actors in the Middle East who would love to see that exchange.
If you analogize to poker, it’s a huge game and the USA hasn’t played its hand well to date. And who doesn’t know what Santayana said about those who ignore the past.
God rest Professor Bacevich’s son, who lost his life loyally serving his nation in its misguided policy in the Middle East.
Thank you for the excellent articles in the recent Summer 2014 issue.
I found the piece “Lessons from America’s War for the Greater Middle East” by Andrew Bacevich to be both insightful and disturbing. As documented by Bacevich, our military might and disastrous foreign policy have resulted in tragic results in the Middle East. Next year (2015) will be 40 years since the Vietnam war ended, and we have learned very little from that disaster. I hope in 2015 Andrew Bacevich and like-minded real patriots will lead a year-long national debate about war; who leads us to conflict, who fights, who profits and the long-term consequences of spending trillions of dollars that kill hundreds of thousands of people, actually increase terrorism and make us a pariah in the international community. Thank you Andrew Bacevich.
Paul Robillard ‘68
Referring to “Lessons From America’s War For the Greater Middle East,” Colonel Bacevich left out the one thing everyone who comments leaves out and is absolutely essential to any discussion: What exactly are America’s security interests? This is the Res Ipsa Loquitur of pundits and politicians which is supposed to end any further examination of motive, purpose or wisdom. Maybe our real security interest is a wise foreign policy that really defines what our security interests really are. Whatever that is.
George Goodwine ’60
Very offended by the article in the Summer 2014 Magazine titled Lessons from America’s War for the Greater Middle East. An article like this should not be allowed to be printed by a magazine the University of Notre Dame prints. I pray our servicemen do not read this article.
As a proud alum and former member of the Women’s Basketball Team, thank you for your pictorial Irish Hysteria. For years many of us toiled away in obscure practice gyms, were handed men’s practice gear on a daily basis, played before a handful of fans and received little if any recognition from the University administration. To see this program flourish on a national level is beyond gratifying. Thank you Coach McGraw and all the women who followed in our footsteps! You are source of great pride. Go Irish!
Patti O’Brien Reising ’82
Loved your article, “Sometimes,” by Tom Coyne ‘97, ’99MFA. As a closet, unlettered writer wannabe it really hit home on what it takes to be a writer — it was like a writer’s seminar in brief. It is very obvious Tom is a professional, his nuances and turns of phrase keep a very readable article moving right along. I would consider this article mandatory reading for any budding writer. “Courage,” young man or young women!
Bill Snyder ’62
I struggled to finish the three-page feature of the Summer 2014 Notre Dame Magazine, “What Are They Doing Here?” This is the ultimate snapshot of white, male, upper middle-class privilege. I muddled through the article, hoping that there would be some great light-bulb moment at the end of the story or some indication that the author even questioned his xenophobic and backward worldview. Instead, the entire piece was peppered with racism, classism and sexism. Three full pages of a guy who isn’t comfortable with poor black people moving into his old neighborhood or a woman who relies on tips to survive showing what he deems too much cleavage.
It’s disturbing that this story was published in the alumni magazine of a world-renowned institution of higher learning. It may be one person’s viewpoint, but by publishing it, you put the power of Notre Dame behind it. The message that this article sends to me is that Notre Dame mourns the diversification of the University. Publishing this article says that accepting women, minorities and those of a lower socioeconomic status into the University — and into the Notre Dame family — is something to be mourned rather than celebrated and engaged.
Maybe some alumni identify with this story. Although the majority of the alumni pool is white, male and upper-class, the Notre Dame community becomes more diverse every year. In my mind, it doesn’t compute. Notre Dame is better than pandering to the outmoded race, gender and class-based fears of a few.
Because WE are ND. All of us. Men, women, rich, poor, white and minority students come to Notre Dame to learn and serve others in the image of Jesus Christ. Let’s keep moving forward.
Katie Mahoney O’Sullivan ’04
The things he carried
I was delighted to see the article about Rockne, “The things he carried,” by Jack Hefferon ’14 in the Summer 2014 issue. To add, Rockne came through Ellis Island with his mother and two sisters on May 30, 1893, when he was 5 years old. His father, Lars, had come in 1891 in preparation for the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair and sent for his family afterward. Also, when Rockne received his degree in 1914, he majored in chemistry.
Related to his conversion to Catholicism, there is a remembrance of Knute Rockne and his family in the lower church of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. Rockne was an early donor to the Shrine. His name and those of his family are engraved on a pillar: ROCKNE KNUTE K. MARY A. WILLIAM KNUTE JR. MARY J. JOHN V. SO. BEND INDIANA.
Paul Coppola ’78
Just finished reading the article “The Things He Carried” about the items found with Rockne at the site of his plane crash. I was stunned to see that these items are still in the hands of one family and are not available for viewing by the larger ND family. What a fine gesture it would be to donate the articles to Notre Dame so they could be displayed for everyone to see, ponder and reflect on their significance.
William R. Hickey "60
I was walking past the ND London Centre this morning and had to move across the pavement because I was obstructed by pallets of air conditioning units being off loaded from a lorry. The London building looks more like a bespoke corporate headquarters than a hall with classrooms. The attractive period building on Suffolk Street will be cooler for the rest of the summer. I assume this emergency mid-summer purchase was in response to summer session students who may not be as comfortable as they would like in the London heat.
I have been inside this impressive building many times. The furniture, fixtures and décor of the common rooms match the plushness of the conference suites in five-star hotels and multinational headquarters around the world.
ND has moved way up in the comfort zone from 40 years ago when I had a window fan in my ground floor Keenan hall dorm room to keep cool. Unfortunately the USN&WR rankings do not include scores for comfort.
John Federer ’77