Letters to the editor


Author: Readers

Editor’s note: The letters that appeared in the Spring 2007 print issue are marked with a double asterisk (* *).

Religious differences
* *It was nice to read in “Oasis of Hope” (Winter 2006–07) how small groups of Catholic and Islamic students can get along. The expression, “Every journey begins with a single step,” comes to mind.

My knowledge of Islam is limited to what I read in the newspapers and see on TV, and it is not a pretty picture. One is left with the impression that Islam is a loose confederation of fanatical organizations dedicated to slaughtering nonbelievers and even fellow Muslims, all in the name of Allah and with the intent of establishing a worldwide Islamic order. The Catholic Church is a highly organized, tightly disciplined bureaucracy, albeit with some dissension at the lower levels, headed by the pope, a recognized leader who speaks for the entire Church. What he says goes. On the other hand, who is in charge of the Islamic religion? Where is the adult supervision? Do the very large masses of “moderate” Islamic people and their mullahs concur with this worldwide jihad and, if not, why haven’t we heard from them?

Robert A. Sebold ’53
Huntington, New York

Too many people, period
* *Your essays on immigration (“American Dreamers”) were very well done and thorough. However, the best argument for restricting immigration can only be understood in the context of a bigger picture. For so many of the problems we face in America today, including such things as reducing greenhouse emissions and achieving energy independence, there are no solutions that don’t begin with stabilizing our population. Every year the U.S. population grows enough to fill another city the size of Chicago. Most of the growth is a result of immigration. Achieving a stable population is impossible without eliminating illegal immigration and balancing legal immigration with emigration. Such a stand isn’t immoral, racist or xenophobic. It’s simple math and common sense.

Pete Murphy ’71
Clarkston, Michigan

The article by Jerry Kammer ’71 was one of the best descriptions of the illegal immigration situation I have read. His presentation was well-researched and balanced. He even had the requisite quote denigrating honest work (William Clark of UCLA). His description of Sergio and Becky Mendoza’s plight is reminiscent of my own family. When I was a child many family meals and nights of sleep were interrupted by the duties of the family business. My wife and children have also experienced this as I am an obstetrician and have been called away at inopportune (for our family) times.

Allert Brown-Gort gives his view of the other side of the story and he almost got it right when he sarcastically invoked the economic fairy godmother.

Since I am the grandson of immigrants I know that there were two reasons (both sides of the story) my grandparents came to the United States: 1)What was there, and 2)What was here.

The “solution” to the “problem” must recognize both reasons. I am reminded of the Cuban missile crisis when bomb shelters were the rage. The civil defense department asked my father if his business could be designated as a bomb shelter, and he refused. He explained to his young son, who was fearful that the end was near, that he did not want the responsibility of keeping people out when the shelter was full.

As long as I have something that is “better” than what you have I must be ready to share it with you, protect it from you or lose it. In our country we have laws.

As long as the United States is a beacon of hope we will have people wanting to get in as long as the cost is less than the cost of staying home.

I don’t believe the economic fairy godmother waved her magic wand over the United States creating this “problem.” The economic situation did happen rather rapidly, given the history of civilization, and it can happen again in Mexico, China, India or even the former Soviet Union. It is not impossible for me to visualize waves of Americans crossing the Rio Grande to get into Mexico for the same reasons Mexicans are crossing today. I only hope the Mexicans are as hospitable.

We need to protect the beacon as best we can lest this vision become a reality sooner rather than later.

Phillip Madonia
Mobile, Alabama

As I read through these two articles, I come to the same question that I always come to when reading about this issue. There is a difference between legal and illegal immigration—why should we condone illegal immigration?? It is, after all, illegal. It seems to me that these people are being rewarded for doing something illegal. Maybe this is oversimplistic, but it is the question to which I always return.

In addition, it does not seem to me that the goal of these illegal immigrants is to become a part of America. Many do not make an effort to become part of the United States but rather want to retain their own language, customs, etc. They only want—from the United States—what will directly benefit them.

It seems simple—do things the correct/legal way and be welcomed—otherwise, return to your own country.

Mary Ann Spence
South Bend, Indiana

The Catholic quotient
* *The articles by Father John Jenkins, CSC, (“The Mission”) and Richard Conklin (“How Catholic the Faculty?”) are the best I have ever seen situating a major research university within a Catholic setting. It is a balanced approach that reflects the middle path associated with Aristotle and Aquinas. As a Catholic who was associated with Catholic educational institutions for more than 50 years, I see this as promising for retaining the Catholicity of Notre Dame while being compatible with diverse traditions within Catholicism.

Edward King ’65Ph.D.
Windsor, Ontario

* *Thank you for letting us know that it is legal under federal law for Notre Dame to take religion into account when hiring. Everyone I talk to concerning this has assumed the opposite. If the University cannot maintain a “predominant number of Catholic intellectuals” on the faculty, it is okay to blame the administration, and we all know who that is.

If Catholics on the faculty don’t make a difference, how can a Catholic university make a difference?

Isn’t it just a little late to worry about Catholics on the faculty? We weren’t worried about it back in 1967 when the Land O’Lakes statement declared this University independent from the Catholic Church. Until this statement is revisited, the course Notre Dame has chosen cannot be corrected. That is not going to happen. Instead, we will work really hard at identifying Catholic scholars. We will continue to discuss what a “predominant number” is, and we will promote diversity, dialogue and ecumenism. This isn’t where you go to find out what the Catholic Church teaches; this is “where the Church does its thinking.” This is where you should go to find out what the Church should be teaching. Cheer, cheer for old academic freedom.

Tom Wich ’63
Clarendon Hills, Illinois

* *I continue to be encouraged by Father Jenkins’ attention to the role of the Church vis-a-vis Catholic higher education and his belief that “serving the Church is central to its role as a Catholic university.” While delighted with what Father Jenkins wrote, I was equally disturbed by Richard Conklin’s “How Catholic the Faculty?” This seemed to me the prolonged discourse of an outdated liberal who, knowing he and those of his mindset are losing their hold on the philosophical and cultural development of the University, finds it necessary to shout out a cacophony of inane rhetoric before being eclipsed by those loyal to the Church and its pivotal role in Catholic education.

I am convinced, as are many others, that America is in a culture war and, with it, the Roman Catholic Church. Notre Dame cannot escape its role in this war. Therefore, it is incumbent upon the University to develop graduates imbued with the Catholic faith, prepared to do battle with the forces of secular relativism. If, in ensuring a preponderance of Catholics on the faculty, the University has a better chance of producing such graduates, we’ve no reason to debate Notre Dame’s Catholic faculty initiative.

Elek J. Schneider ’89

As a former Catholic University student in Brazil and a friend of Notre Dame, I was very pleased with you addressing such an important issue as “How Catholic the Faculty.” This had always been on my mind while studying at a Catholic University in Brazil and I think it is one of the most important issues when recruiting and retaining the faculty of a Catholic University.

Thank you very much for such a great magazine.

Alexandre Pacheco
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

In re “How Catholic the Faculty?” The chairman of the Notre Dame philosophy departrment is uoted as saying he is opposed to quotas calling for a prepoderance of Catholics on the faculty.

This remonstrance has an all-too-familiar first-step ring to it, that voice of creeping secularism that has turned religiously based universities into secualar dead ends.

Of course Notre Dame needs to have a preponderant core of Catholic faculty—it is, after all, a Catholic university. There are literally thousands of gifted Catholic intellectuals out there who are energizing the Catholic message and the Catholic mission and who would love to work at NotreDame.

Find them!

Kenneth Stier Jr.
Great Neck, New York

Am I the only alumnus who is concerned about the mission statement of the university when it comes to hiring practices and tenure tracks for perspective professor hirings? I hope I am also not alone when it comes to the direction of the Office of Residential Life.

Thomas Zatorski, M.D., class of 1978
via email

Red States, Blue States
Can we all agree that there can only be one truth? What troubles me is that so many so-called Christians profess their faith only when it’s convenient.

The Bible states that the persecution of the church and those who follow Christ is only going to get worse as we draw closer to latter days. That is why now is the time for those who declare Christ as their Savior, need to get serious about their faith and pray that God uses their life to make a difference.

There is coming soon a final showdown between Islam and Christianity. It has already been building over these past 1400 years since Mohammed dreamed up this religion. As the two dominant religions on the planet, they will continue to collide as the final days of human history unfold. The good news is that we already know how it ends. That is why those who know Christ as their Savior must stand strong in proclaiming His Truth, since in the end, it is God’s Truth alone that will be standing.

Joe Fazio ’85
Orlando, Florida

As long as it is the “truth” that a guy who buys his ink by the barrel full is peddling.

In the 21st century no one cares what the “truth” is, the only thing they care about, is making you believe the same bulls____ that they believe.

“Discourse” with the left is reminiscent of James Cagney rubbing a grapefruit in Jean Harlow’s face in the 1931 motion picture Public Enemy.

Other people’s ideas or theories are of no use to a fanatic. He doesn’t speak, he shouts; he doesn’t listen, he is too busy yelling; he doesn’t think, he doesn’t want anyone to think".—Elie Wiesel.

Decorum on university campuses when conservative speakers have the podium is deplorable and makes your Op/Ed as laughable as charging $40 grand for tuition.

Robert T Fanning Jr. ’73
Pray, Montana

Global warming
I really appreciated your article in the Winter 2006–-07 magazine entitled “Global Warning,” about the two Kroc professors Lopez and Cortright, and their work on Iraq during the period after the first Gulf War and before the current conflict. The sanctions, the Oil for Food program, and the WMD controversy were and still are topics of great interest to me. However, I was not aware of the work of these two men. Your article gave a unique perspective on that mess of interrelated issues that I found helpful. Thank you.

Mark J. George, S.J., Class of ’79
via email

Forget that George Lopez and David Cortwright ’68, two of the very brightest and well-informed experts on the subject, knew before our disastrous war in Iraq that it was clear that there weren’t any WMD’s. Forget also that, according to the United Nations officials, these men were knowledgeable, focused, articulate scientists whose opinion needs to be heeded.

It’s hard to fathom the deaths and maiming of more than 60,000 Iraqi men, women and children and over 25,000 American servicemen and servicewomen because of the incredible ignorance and arrogance of this administration.

Christine Brown ’91
Princeton, New Jersey

Sweet music
Many thanks to Patrick Gallagher for his reflections on “The Boss.” In addition to his musical contributions, his songs and off the stage advocacy demonstrate a willingness to speak in favor of the original hard-working dreamers of the Dustbowl and Tom Joad ilk; Americans who risked (and still risk) it all for a better life for their families. But he doesn’t stop there: Springsteen has consistently spoken up for veterans, conscientious objectors, soliders, and the thousands of victims and heroes of the nihilistic tragedy of September the 11th. He senses that with musical talent there comes a great responsibility that supercedes art. Indeed, Bruce can be admired for being a patriot in the best sense of that word.

Jeffrey W. Robinson
via email

Good to know there’s another Ray LaMontagne fan among those of us with ND roots.

Thanks for the broad range of topics you cover in the magazine. Keeps ND alive for me as life unfolds away from that place.

Jeff Hayes, ’86
University Park, Pennsylvania

I was just writing to express my displeasure at the magazine’s decision to include in its Seen and Heard section the statement that alcohol may have contributed to Caitlin Brann’s death. Whether alcohol was involved or not, I fail to understand how the statement contributes to the story regarding her unfortunate death. I do not know and had never met Miss Brann, but like other members of the Notre Dame family who read the magazine, the impression I am left with after reading the news section is that this young girl created the situation that caused her own death and that it was her fault.

Any attempt to honor or mourn the girl is lost by the inclusion of that one statement. I hope the magazine uses more discretion and is more sensitive to the deceased and the family of the deceased in the unfortunate event that another such story is reported.

Dan Maloney ’98
via email

My first comment in some 38 years regarding ND Magazine which I read cover to cover: I was totally appalled in reading in your ND News report on the tragic passing of ND senior Caitlin Brann the sentence “Alcohol appeared to be a contributing factor in the accident.”

SO WHAT? Is that important to the bolded “The campus was saddened . . . ” line?

How irrelevant to the sense of loss we in the ND family felt at her passing, and how insensitive and STUPID. I’m sure this will make this issue a real keepsake to Caitlin’s family.

Was this sentence intended as an editorial comment, or to lessen the sense of tragedy occasioned by Caitlin’s passing?

If so, stuff it.

Richard Phillips, ’69
Father of Matthew ’02 and Erin ’05
via email

I just looked through the Winter 2006–07 issue of the magazine. On page 15, I first noticed the mention about the award that John Paul Lederach received. I took a couple courses he taught back in 2001–2002, when I got to be a later-in-life student in the Conflict Transformation Program at Eastern Mennonite University. That was a great experience.

That is not why I am writing, though.

I read down through the column and was sad to see the story of the student who died in a car accident, with alcohol as a possible contributing factor. I live in Richmond, Virginia, and we have had a string of alcohol-related accidents—some resulting in deaths—over the holiday time. Several involved 16 year-old high school students.

You might receive critical reaction about this from others. These things are supposed to be kept as family secrets, after all. But it is time to stop keeping quiet about the tragic consequences of alcohol abuse. The ND family needs to come out in the open about its own problem.

Something comes to mind as I am writing. I had Frank O’Malley for a class the spring semester of my freshman year. At that point, the students in our class knew that Professor O’Malley had a drinking problem. If he didn’t show up for class, we assumed he had been drinking. But nobody really did anything about it. Did the administration?

I know you have looked into many issues that affect the mind, body, and spirit. Maybe it’s time for your magazine to look at alcohol abuse as an issue for Notre Dame students—past, present, and future.

Mike Sarahan ’75
Richmond, Virginia

Chicago landmark
My dad is smiling in Heaven knowing that Notre Dame owns the Sante Fe Bldg. that he worked in for 30 years.

Spanning the decades of the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s, Laurence Callan, Irish immigrant from Carringmacross, was the night stationary engineer at the [then] Railway Exchange Buillding [now the Sante Fe]. I know he is in Heaven because he died Dec. 25, 1965 [we Irish believe if you die Christmas Day you go right to Heaven].

J.P. Callan [Holy Cross Seminary, 1946, ’47]
via email

Against Tariq
Tariq Ramadan is the grandson of the founder of the first Muslim terrorist organization—the Muslim Brotherhood. The Muslim Brotherhood was founded in 1928 in Egypt. Tariq Ramadan has used his grandfather’s legacy to ascend to power and prominence as a Muslim activist and intellectual. In his many writings Mr. Ramadan has discussed the “deleterious worldwide effects of American consumerism". Mr. Ramadan has specifically condemned the World Trade Organization and McDonalds in his writings and speeches. He has written that he opposes “economism, individualism, imperialism.” In his writings Mr. Ramadan attacked the French Jewish intellectuals as apologists for Israel and practitioners of “communitarian politics.”

Tariq Ramadan is a practitioner of the Muslim art of taqiyya. Taqiyya is dissimulation that follows the Muslim principle that Muslims never owe the truth to unbelievers. The irony is that in spite of Mr. Ramadan’s overt hatred of American consumerism he was offered and was eager to accept a teaching position at Notre Dame in an academic institute funded by an endowment granted by Joan Kroc. Joan Kroc is of course the widow of the founder of McDonalds restaurants.

I think that the U.S. State Department did Notre Dame a favor by denying Tariq Ramadan a visa. This action by the U.S. State Department prevented the University from making a big mistake.

Paul J. Edwards
Northbrook, Illinois

Always open
In a letter from Richard van Berkel ’73 in the Winter 2006–07 edition, he states that the “Kent State protest . . . eventually led to the campus being closed.” In tribute to Father Hesburgh, I would like to tell readers that the campus was NOT closed. He made a commitment to students and parents that he would do all he could to respect the right to protest, to lead us in prayer, and to govern the campus, rather than turn it over to the police or others. I lived through those days in May 1970 and continued to attend classes, turn in all assignments, complete all finals in the School of Engineering (no exceptions) and was commissioned with several hundred others in the three ROTC programs in June 1970.

Graduation weekend 1970 was the fulfillment of Father Hesburgh’s commitment to students and parents. Several schools on campus did decide to end classes early that semester, but the campus was not closed.

Jack M. Leo ’70
Williamsville, New York

Social work, here and abroad
The Autumn 2006 issue focuses on the marvelous social work many Notre Dame graduates are doing around the world. All those involved deserve our prayers, praise and thanks. Clearly they are displaying true love of neighbor.

Today our country is sliding steadily into secularism and liberal Christianity. It would be an answer to my prayers to see more evidence of Notre Dame students and graduates working for an end of abortion, embryonic stem-cell research, sexual liberation, same-sex marriages, euthanasia, etc. The love of God includes keeping His cmmandments. The 4,000 innocent, defenseless unborn babies destroyed by abortion each day in our country deserve a display of love of neighbor, as well.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church says: “Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion.” Also, “Life must be protected with the utmost care from the first moment of conception: abortion and infanticide are abominable crimes.” To those who say they follow their conscience, the Catholic bishops have responded, “Conscience must be consistent with fundamental moral principles, including the Church’s opposition to abortion.”

Surely Catholic students and graduates of Notre Dame are capable of promoting both Catholic tenets and missionary work at home and abroad.

Robert W. Degenhart ’43
Columbia, South Carolina

The articles in the Autumn 2006 issues are amazing. Dr. Paul Farmer’s story about the spiritual and corporal acts of mercy in Haiti, Rwanda, Kenya, Boston, etc. is amazing. This is as rich an article as I have ever read anywhere.

Thanks very much,

Mike Bleeg
via email

Missing gender
Every feature article in the magazine’s Autumn 2006 issue is written by a man. The three small articles written by women are about men. Every Domer in the News is a man, except for one. There is, however, one short essay on the last page that is written by a woman about a woman. At least that’s a little something.

As a pioneer of co-education, I continue to feel deeply saddened by the failure of Notre Dame Magazine to enthusiastically celebrate women’s voices and women’s accomplishments, but male heroes (and the women who exhibit the particular bravado of masculine heroism) appear to be, for the most part, the only people worth noting. But Notre Dame invited women onto campus over 30 years ago, and we also contribute to our local communities and the world in heroic, albeit often quiet, unsung, and humble ways.

I urge and challenge you to address this ongoing imbalance. Seek out women writers. Seek out topics about the great work women do. Seek out stories about women who contribute to the world in ways that the media tends to dismiss. Seek balance by revealing and celebrating the feminine. Earn the right to represent a university called “Notre Dame.”

Brydie Ragan ’77
via email

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