Editor’s note: Because we received so many letters about the Winter 2016-17 issue, we are printing all of them here in their entirety, except where editing was needed to restrain personal attacks.
The (intentional) error of our ways
Whom. Whom do you trust? Your cover made me wince.
Ed Knauf ’81
Rochester, New York
Please! It is WHOM do you trust not WHO. Your lapse into slang shows lack of edit. Let’s keep English rules… communication is bad enough as it is.
Mike Rush ’66
Nashua, New Hampshire
The question, “Who do you trust” on the cover should be “Whom do you trust.” Whom is used since it is the object corresponding to the subject “you.” You might want to refer to grammarly.com. Thanks.
Bob Salinger ’60
I just received my winter Notre Dame Magazine in the mail today, and something leapt off the cover. Not the serpent in the colonnade, but the question under it: “Who do you trust?” Did you deliberately intend to write “Who” instead of “Whom do you trust?” Or was this an unfortunate “oops”? I love ND and greatly appreciate the magazine, so I hesitated to email you. But, as a high school English teacher with an MA in English from ND, I had to ask.
Rich Kovatch, FSC, ’79
Editor’s note: The editors were fully aware that “whom” would have been technically correct in this case. However — after consulting various style guides, reading an article in The Economist and batting the pros and cons back and forth — we unanimously agreed to go with “who.” The rationale, although it didn’t satisfy our critics, was that the question on the cover was intended to be conversational, informal, authentic to popular usage — to sound as if spoken by regular people. A post-publication, online survey in which readers could vote for “who” or “whom” ended in a tie.
As the 2012-2013 Editor-in-Chief of The Observer, I was thrilled to see Notre Dame Magazine celebrate The Observer’s 50th anniversary, but I do have to take issue with Matt Storin’s contention that there’s been a recent “trend toward more docile coverage.” During my four years in its offices, The Observer frequently went head-to-head with the administration, particularly on issues of student life such as the administration’s long refusal to allow student organizations that serve the LGBTQ community. We worked tirelessly to hold administrative, academic and student leadership accountable, criticizing the University’s handling of sexual-assault cases and its recently announced sustainability plan, to name just two examples. Here’s to another 50 years of intrepid, independent, student journalism.
Allan Joseph ‘13
Providence, Rhode Island
My name is Greg Hadley, and I served as The Observer’s editor-in-chief for the 2015-2016 term, which places me in the “recent years” Mr. Storin referenced in his article. To a certain extent, I agreed with much of what Mr. Storin said in his article. I too believe that Notre Dame, especially its administration, needs a watchdog to ensure that corruption, controversy and breaking news are covered aggressively and fairly. I too admire the alumni of the University who have gone on to do impressive things in the field of journalism. I too think The Observer can always improve and refine its coverage to be even more hard-hitting and insightful.
What I take exception with is Mr. Storin’s characterization of The Observer’s recent coverage as “docile.”
First, Mr. Storin only cites one incident in which he believes The Observer’s coverage was lacking, and he provides little evidence to support this claim.
In fact, The Observer was actually the first news outlet to report that Devin Butler had been arrested and worked throughout the night of the incidents to gather as much information as possible. Mr. Storin falsely assumes that because The Observer did not publish any stories citing students, they did not interview any students or attempt to discern what actually happened. After speaking with the paper’s current leadership, I agree with their decision not to publish unsubstantiated rumors, however tempting that might have been.
What is more, I can easily recall multiple instances during my time at The Observer when the reporting was anything but docile. ESPN’s lawsuit against Notre Dame Security Police for access to police records, the University’s legal battle against the HHS mandate, the epidemic of sexual assault on campus, Ann Coulter’s controversial visit to campus, the “Frozen Five” and several tragic deaths of students were all times when the Notre Dame community needed strong, independent reporting, and I believe that The Observer rose to the occasion each time.
But beyond my pride in the work of my colleagues, I also feel Mr. Storin’s article overlooks a great opportunity when it comes to forming a better campus conscience. The Observer is a student publication, and, as Mr. Storin notes, lacks any official oversight. That is certainly an advantage in some ways, but it also means these young journalists aren’t always sure about the path forward. I know when I was editor I relied greatly upon the advice and accumulated knowledge of my predecessors, as well as the guidance of Prof. Schmuhl and Prof. Jack Colwell.
Even still, I messed up. And when I did, I was grateful to have the honest and fair feedback of others, who helped me understand not just what I did wrong, but how I could do better the next time. The editors Mr. Storin mentions in his article are legends at The Observer, some of the all-time best. But I’d like to think that they made mistakes, and when they did, they had people to help them get better moving forward.
Mr. Storin, as a former member of the administration and a longtime journalist, is uniquely positioned to be a great resource for the young reporters in the basement of South Dining Hall. I hope he, along with anyone interested in preserving a free and fair press at Notre Dame, knows that the men and women of The Observer work very hard and will accept any help offered to them.
To that end, I urge people to support student journalism any way they can, either be reading the work The Observer produces, donating to help fund The Observer’s independence or offering whatever time, talent or expertise you can spare. Good journalists don’t appear out of nowhere. They develop at places like The Observer.
Greg Hadley ’16
“Bravo, bravissimo” to my fellow Glee Club alums John Murphy and Patrick Scott for capturing so well the “Coach” I knew during my years in the club. Clubbers are blessed to be able to reconvene at ND every three years for a reunion weekend of “dear old music, soft and sweet,” and it was always such a pleasure seeing Coach at these gatherings, and being directed by him in many of the songs that defined the “Isele years.” The next reunion in 2018 not be the same.
Scott Wahle ’75
The pictures in the article were beautifully done and I am sure the instrument sounds as good as it looks. However, rather than naming the organ to honor a patron saint or some other appropriate figure, the administration has put a “For Sale” sign on the front entrance of the University and the only limits appear to be their creativity.
Eric P. Murray ’89
A privilege this past weekend was fulfillment of a vow to fellow Glee Clubbers Larry Hayden ’72, Bob Oppold ’73 and G. Howard Bathon ’74 at November’s ND/Navy match in JAX, also Joe Mulligan ’59, to attend the Murdy Family Organ dedication at Basilica of the Sacred Heart. Surely all present will attest to the beauty and spiritual power that this instrument will bring to corporate worship and musicality on campus. Congregational singing at Feast of Blessed Basil Moreau Mass left many in tears. It was reminiscent of Lied, or “German song” from my upbringing in stolid Lutheran parishes of Nebraska, where Bach and Haydn hymns belted out from fathers and grandfathers, aunts and uncles, in a Rockwellian Heartland.
How to convey the afterglow of the special place which ND and her family is, to our daily life, then lay heavily in my soul as I vividly recalled how just a few meters south of Angela Boulevard there were street people gathered around shelters and food banks in South Bend’s rain and mist, her boarded-up houses and dilapidated commercial buildings contrasting starkly to the sense of belonging and warmth on campus, her empty union halls and decaying factories testaments to the false gods of self-appeasement, quick profits and short-range thinking, as seen during my drive into and out of town. The radio conveyed administration of our Oath of Office but I pondered how aspirations of hope for the future, opportunity for generations yet to come, could credibly be conveyed by Our Lady to lost sheep, Road-and-Rail Wanderers pulling roll-a-boards with rolled-up sleeping bags, their entire worldly possessions, in the gray mud, our “Lilies of the Valley” forgotten by society, our “least of these, my Brethren” of Jesus’ admonition.
What will our special role be in this new era of greatness? Who will champion the fatherless and homeless, the “entire spectrum of life from conception to natural death,” as Father Jenkins puts it? His unity prayer vigil of Monday, November 14, was not out of place. Students on both sides of today’s prominent issues should recall how fortunate we remain as brothers and sisters at ND. She will back you, we will back her. It was also not unlike that peace march in 1970 when Father Hesburgh allowed/commended 5,000 of us students to prayerfully and silently walk down Notre Dame Avenue for an antiwar gathering at Howard Park, during the nation’s turbulent “Seven Days in May”, and in the immediate aftermath of Kent State’s shootings. Both were calls to action and faith, to peace and unity. Both were reminders that faith is action, is discipleship, and costly as well, described amongst others by Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Karol Józef Wojtyła, now Pope Saint John Paul II. Both calls retain their vigor for this time, this place. Got your Inauguration Ticket?
Phil Conroy ’74
Fort Worth, Texas
Credibility, immigration, racism and politics
As Our Lady’s University continues down the secular-progressive path, it comes as no surprise to find the latest issue of Notre Dame Magazine overloaded with vitriol aimed at our president. From the editor’s column to the lead news article, “Rancor and reconciliation,” you display your open support for those who just cannot accept the thought of Donald Trump’s crushing defeat of Hillary Clinton. So let’s cancel college exams, let’s drive busloads of anarchists into D.C. to disrupt “Doomsday” celebrations, let’s wear sackcloth and ashes, let’s overturn and burn police vehicles, let’s loot small businesses and let’s show how caring, considerate and loving we big-hearted Democrats really are. Whatever happened to “Can’t we just all get along together?”? The Trump Juggernaut is about to leave the station; either you get on board to help us “drain the swamp” or you join the cry babies who just haven’t understood the message: Democrat Party elitists have dragged the once-proud party so close to the brink of pure socialism, the masses of educated voters have finally screamed, “Enough, already.” To help explain what transpired on November 8, 2016, let me cite a famous quote from the Japanese Admiral, Isoroko Yamamoto, who engineered the infamous attack on Pearl Harbor in 1940. He told his co-conspirators after their victorious return to Japan: “I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve”!! Yes, the ultra-liberal DNC simply overreached and awakened a sleeping giant — AKA “The Silent Majority” — and, as the United States military might so accurately proved the prescience of Admiral Yamamoto just four years later, so we in “The Silent Majority” will put our “terrible resolve” behind President Trump’s efforts to soundly rid America of this insane PC virus the DNC has inflicted upon us: same sex marriage, abortion on demand, unisex latrines, “sensitivity” training, gender neutrality run amok, no more Nativity displays in public squares, no more “Merry Christmas” in lieu of “Happy Holidays,” anti-Christian-led ACLU attorneys having a field day, etc. etc. Where will it end with you people?
Charles J. Schubert ’52
Castle Rock, Colorado
Does the winter issue indicate the mindset of my alma mater, with its cover depicting a government structure supported by a snake? The majority of this document’s content was consistent with the tenor of the cover, beginning with the editor’s screed which dealt with credibility and racism. Credibility? You are kidding me. How many times was Hillary exposed as a liar? The editor’s piece clearly set the stage for the bulk of the magazine’s content. The majority of that content is simply devoted to hate-filled rejection of our electoral process.
I was particularly incensed by Anthony Walton’s, “Hope at Risk” which touted the incredible achievements of Barack Obama and screamed racism at any opposition. Racism? No thinking person disputes the fact that the past eight years have resulted in an incredible increase in racial divisions. Obama has increased the racial division that the Democratic Party has seized upon as an attempt to sustain itself.
If your magazine represents the philosophy of this University, I can only conclude that the University has departed significantly from the philosophy of which I had been so very proud. If your magazine does not, you should be ashamed.
Thank you for your recent issue, “Who Do You Trust?” and the thoughtful introduction by the editor. It is exactly what I needed as I look for inspiration and insight.
Mary Yu ’93J.D.
Had Brendan O’Shaughnessy limited the focus of his article, “Rancor and Reconciliation,” to those concerned with immigration issues, I would have understood. Overblown or not, their fears deserve our consideration. However, by venturing into the wasteland of alleged, on-campus, Trump-inspired human rights violations, he entered the realm of left-wing political theater. In a single paragraph he managed to play the Nazi card, the Muslim card, the race card and the Jew card. While I applaud the editors in their pursuit of “honest and reasonable dialog,” this is not it.
W.F. Huber ’62
It is disheartening to hear of the rancor on campus. Though clearly it appears to be a one-sided debate. Does the Administration coddle the students or will they attempt to educate? Do we stand above or do we follow suit and become the Fighting Snowflakes?
Tom Dwyer ’89
Wall Township, New Jersey
I read with amusement (“Rancor and Reconciliation” Winter 2016-17 issue) of the prayer vigil held by Father Jenkins to help the snowflakes on campus cope with the reality of the outcome of the election. Funny, I don’t seem to recall reading about a similar event to help those who were troubled with the 2008 election of President Obama. I do recall Father Jenkins issuing an invitation to Obama providing him a forum to promote abortion and to receive an honorary degree. Will Fr. Jenkins extend the same courtesy to President Trump? Or does the rancor on campus make such a reconciliation unthinkable?
Frank Oelerich ’82
David Shribman in “Our National Malady” is no more profound than the biblical author of Genesis. Adam and Eve were deceived by giving credibility to the author of lies. Shribman decries lying as a part of the political playbook. The motivation for such deception was and is, power. In short, suffering from the consequences of Adam’s credulity, those who seek political office seek power over others. Nothing new here.
Despite the wisdom of our founders who ascribe our freedom to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, to our Creator, some politicians seek to control others from their own interpretation of good and evil. They accomplish this by relying on members of the press who, like Shribman, refuse to discern the biggest misrepresentations of all. Somehow they concentrate on minor breaches and extol the monstrous lie that the child, even as it draws its first breaths, is not a person. Such lie has cost the United States at least 60 million citizens.
Some fact-finding by Shribman would have been nice. Reagan was not wrong. Isoprene emitted by trees is considered a pollutant contributing to alleged smog. Shame on the editors for reproducing such a shallow presentation.
Dennis S. Mackin Sr. ’66, ’69J.D.
In response to your “Rancor and reconciliation” article, I am waiting to read your article celebrating the victory of Donald Trump whose strong positions on life and religious liberties, not to mention immigration, corporate taxes, jobs and trade, stand in stark contrast to the terrible policies of the Barack Obama administration. I am certain that a strong minority — if not the majority — of Notre Dame students, parents and alumni voted for Trump and look forward with great anticipation to the next four years, and another four after that. So let’s see that pro-Trump article. Or are you only interested in one part of the Notre Dame community?
Charles Lumb ’86
I’m afraid I have to agree with Mr. Crane. Not only did the prayer service cater to only one side, so did Mr. O’Shaughnessy’s article, “Rancor and reconciliation.” If the DACA students are suffering from fear and anxiety, they have only the Democratic party to blame for their senseless fear-mongering meant to increase votes for their party. Trump never said he would deport these students, and no rational or reasonable person believes he ever would. I don’t believe the students believe it either, if they were honest. The article also says, “Trump began his campaign by calling Mexican immigrants criminals and rapists.” Words have meaning and the truth is important; Trump actually said that some immigrants are criminals, not all, and those criminals deserve deportation.
The article also refers to Trump’s “hateful rhetoric” against women and Muslims, and his comments on “sexual assault.” I’m reminded of an old childhood adage about “sticks and stones.” I agree that his locker room dialogue was inappropriate, but sexual assault, please! I would remind Mr. O’Shaughnessy of Mrs. Clinton’s real efforts to absolutely destroy women who accused her husband of “real” sexual assault. As for Muslims, Trump never said he hates them or their religion. He wants to find a way to effectively vet Muslim immigrants, so we don’t import a terrorist who might kill innocent Americans. Not a problem for me.
The article obviously implies that a vote for Trump was a mistake, and even mentions fundamental Catholic values in regard to immigration and human dignity. I would rather vote for Trump, in spite of his shortcomings, than for Mrs. Clinton, because fundamental Catholic values would dictate that no true Catholic could ever vote for someone who so blatantly supports abortion, even partial birth abortion, a truly horrific procedure.
John Finneran ’66J.D.
It’s no secret that the mainstream media has a decidedly liberal bias, but that is not what I expect from Notre Dame Magazine. The recent issue had articles touching on the election of Donald J. Trump as our 45th President, but instead of celebrating his victory and promoting a fresh start for our country the magazine chose to denigrate and deride those who voted for him. While Donald Trump was not the perfect candidate, his positions on the moral and social issues of the day were vastly superior to those of his opponent, and I for one felt compelled to vote for him.
Frankly, I’m tired not only of seeing all the protests directed at President Trump, but I’m appalled at the way the protesters are being coddled. I was a sophomore at ND in 1963 when JFK was assassinated, and the University didn’t cancel classes, call in counselors or provide therapy dogs. We had to learn to deal with it, and life went on. I think that’s precisely what should happen in the current environment: The Republicans won, the Democrats lost, and it’s time to try to foster some kind of unity and move on.
Dave Goebel ’66
When I first looked at the cover of the winter 2016-17 issue of Notre Dame Magazine, I scared my roommates. My guffaw of surprise was loud enough that one roommate could hear it through her headset and came to see what was going on.
In the light of the recent election and the management decisions over the last few years, the choice of a snake slithering through the academic temple was eerily appropriate. As is normal in times like these, I used humor to handle deep unrest. (Hence the guffaw.)
The headline article in this issue dealt with a popular national malady — the question of credibility and trustworthiness in our nation and in our everyday lives. I readily admit that it is a problem, although this particular problem does not come as a surprise to me. Given some of the people and events which were cited — Brian Williams, organized religion — I do not dispute that this article was timely and decently written. However, I found it absolutely hilarious that the author seemed to expect that those with the most power would necessarily tell the truth all the time.
Spies have power. If they tell the truth, they die, sometimes taking hundreds of thousands of people with them. I would bet good money that no one whom Irena Sendler or Virginia Hall saved is sorry that they lied. (If you don’t recognize those names, blame the sterilized curriculum of grammar schools and proceed straight to the local library.) The American people and much of the rest of the world have allowed themselves to be duped for the last eight years into believing that someone honorable was sitting in the White House. And they complain now about a lack of truth?
In the search for truth, what larger truth is there than that of Christ? Organized religion, for all of its internal and external problems, has kept this light burning for over 2,000 years. Do any of you really believe that this new age actually has the power to bring it to an end? (Matthew 16:18)
Which brings me to my complaint. For all of its trials and tribulations during these two millennia, the Church remains the bearer of the credibility of Christ and the light of His truth.
Although sometimes mistaken about how that truth could be earned (i.e., indulgences), the Church has nevertheless stood firm behind its core principles. This has allowed it not only to survive, but to thrive, even in this modern era. One of the subtle ways that the Church has survived is through its ongoing mission to teach and evangelize through hospitals, charities and schools.
When the leading Catholic institution of higher learning in the United States is nominally Catholic at best, its credibility is weakened. I don’t care how many chapels you have and how many students attend Mass on a weekly basis. You can hang crucifixes on every wall in the place. But when the core principles of the faith are not publicly defended, it seems to me that the institution has lost some of its precious credibility.
Oh, the irony of the snake.
A number of events over the past decade have raised serious doubts in the minds of many about whether Notre Dame retains its vibrant Catholic identity. Some events in question were allowing the Vagina Monologues and the Queer Film festival onto campus and have included the University’s honoring of President Obama in opposition to the policy of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and in defiance of its own bishop; overturning long-standing policy by granting official status to a gay student organization; appointing to the board of trustees a pro-abortion alumnus publicly opposed to the school’s religious liberty claim in its lawsuit against the Obamacare abortifacient/contraceptive mandate; and according spousal benefits to “married” homosexual and lesbian employees. At the root of all of this is the dramatic shrinking of the Catholic faculty. While the school’s Mission Statement declares that its Catholic identity “depends upon the continuing presence of a predominant number of Catholic intellectuals” on the faculty, the erosion of Catholic faculty has been so great that this test is no longer worthwhile. Thus, measured by its own standard, Notre Dame has lost the Catholic identity that it nonetheless continues to proclaim. When I confronted President Jenkins about some of these facts, he immediately went on the defensive. I feel that this was a bit of an extreme reaction from the president of a school like Notre Dame.
Oh, the irony?
If Notre Dame were a public or secular institution, we would not be having this conversation. But it’s not. If students and parents were deceived into thinking Notre Dame was a Catholic school when it’s not, there would be no problem. But there is. What message of credibility are we sending when we actively deny the very truths that we claim to teach?
If Notre Dame continues along its present course, I see only one option for any future children I may have. Catholic University and University of Dayton, here we come.
Although listing Ted Kennedy as a credible politician brought me much joy. Thank you so much for the laugh!
Katherine Hoppe ’03
Thank you for providing us over the years with articles which are relevant and thought-provoking. I particularly enjoyed the stories in your winter edition about “The Boys in Brazil” by Father Nathan Stone.
On the other hand, I found the article regarding “the plague of untruth which threatens our country” to be particularly offensive. In the article, the author compares Hillary Clinton’s lies with Donald Trump’s lies as if they were equally responsible for this plague. Ms. Clinton lied during the campaign, as do most politicians. However, to compare her lies to those of Mr. Trump’s is disingenuous at best.
The author might want to reference Factcheck.org which researched the truthfulness of statements made by Mr. Trump and Ms. Clinton. There was no comparison between the two, not only in the number of lies, but in the substance. The targets of many of Mr. Trump’s misrepresentations were poor people, women and minorities. Maybe the author thinks a lie is a lie. Pope Francis had no problem understanding the difference.
The untruth that threatens our country’s health and well-being is furthered by this article. And that is the truth.
W. John Brennan ’69
Albuquerque, New Mexico
I’ve been reading every issue of Notre Dame Magazine for the past 43 years and winter 2016-17 was one of the, if not the, best I recall. How timely with the “Who Do You Trust?” cover story. Particularly powerful were the articles, “Hope at Risk” and “The Talk.” They both helped me to much better appreciate things I cannot experience, but only learn from those who do. The editor covered my sentiments best in the introduction when he said, “If there is a place where reason, love and a sustaining generosity of spirit may persist, it is within the Notre Dame family.” I pray this proves to be correct.
Bud Hauser ’74
Just spent a few minutes reading some of the articles and have to say I was not surprised by the overall tone of every one, totally unmindful of the tall tales Obama told over the last eight years. This leftist president who promised to bring us together, right to his final painful day in office, polarized and divided this country in a very dangerous way.
I was inspired by several articles in the recent winter Notre Dame Magazine, especially Brendan O’Shaughnessy’s “Rancor and reconciliation,” David Shribman’s “Our National Malady” and Anthony Walton’s “Hope at Risk.” In O’Shaughnessy’s article, however, I was deeply saddened to read about Patrick Crane and his group’s support of Donald Trump. I know it’s a free country, and freedom of speech should be most pronounced at universities. However, just how anyone from Notre Dame could support that most evil, corrupt and vile man against everything that Notre Dame is supposed to stand for is totally beyond me. It should be outrageous for all affiliated with our esteemed University, from the administration to students, alumni and staff. Okay, there were many haters of unfairly maligned Hillary Clinton. But supporting someone like Trump in default was unconscionable. A no-vote or a write-in with anyone else would have been protest enough. Trump is a pathological liar and extreme egomaniac. I fully expect that even his most loyal supporters will finally see what they did to America and the world by somehow having this demagogue become president.
Antone B. Perrone ’65
Highlands Ranch, Colorado
God bless the ND Republicans and Pat Crane for supporting Trump. I too voted for Trump and I am not a racist, homophobe and misogynist. I graduated from West Point in 1974 — served 14 years in the military. I’m sick and tired of illegal immigration. What is so “racist” about wanting people to enter this country the “legal way,” like my ancestors did. If they break the laws, deport them. If they are felons and illegal immigrants, deport them. Build a wall to keep out illegal immigration; respect our laws. I don’t want 10,000 Syrians in this country unless they are fully investigated. Islamic terrorism is trying to destroy our Christian values. They need to be destroyed by our military. Where were the cries of disgust as they beheaded Christians throughout the Middle East? Our president couldn’t even call it Islamic Radical Terrorism for fear of offending people. What happened when Obama endorsed “marriage between a man and a woman” in 2008 — and eight years later — changes his mind — embraces same sex marriage, orders states to allow men to go into women’s bathrooms, and anyone who believes in the sanctity of marriage and says that publicly is a homophobe? Some 2,000 years of belief in the sanctity of marriage and now suddenly we’re all wrong and we are attacked by all the liberals if we disagree. People are tired of the PC nonsense around this country. That’s why Trump won.
And for the University to actually consider being a sanctuary, to have a candlelight vigil for all those disenfranchised voters because they felt “sad” — give me a break. Thank God our Greatest Generation that went to war in the 1940s wasn’t concerned about hurt feelings. It’s time for this country and institutions like Notre Dame to start treating people like adults. In the words of a famous pundit — “Suck it up Buttercup.”
John Fitzpatrick ’81J.D.
The entire Notre Dame family owes Father Jenkins a debt of gratitude for his concise encapsulation of what it means to be a Domer, “Either we are all Notre Dame, or none of us are.” Nonetheless, it was disconcerting to read that that some members of our community seem to be resorting to the fig leaf of the law as a cover for injustice. If Norte Dame leaves its graduates with nothing else, it ought to impress upon them that, at the final reckoning, attempts at justification because “It was the law” will leave the Almighty altogether unimpressed.
Guy Wroble ’77
My son is an alumnus of the University and I have been reading the magazine for some years now. Very proud of Notre Dame and the magazine always keeping its journalism at very high standards. My admiration for the magazine stopped with the winter issue. And I’m saying: How convenient for some people to pick only the side they like and leave out, ignore or downright distort the whole truth. See article “Hope at Risk”: From Anthony Walton: “Whites are going to have to decide among themselves what kind of nation they want.” Really, Anthony. Or from “The Talk”: “’What do people do to get shot,’ and I’m telling them they weren’t doing anything that warranted them being shot.” Great work, authors. Not expected and sad, sad.
Thank you for the powerful and thoughtful article, “Hope at Risk,” by Anthony Walton. We need to raise up those voices that are speaking honestly about racial tensions and working to create a much needed dialogue.
Debby Reelitz ’92
North Granby, Connecticut
Anthony Walton lost any and all credibility with his statement, “In my view, in many ways, Obama is the most important black man in history.”
Webster, New York
Having read, and reread Anthony Walton’s treatise on the increasing schism in American society, I am as despondent as he appears to be, albeit for very different reasons. In the interest of transparency, I am a first generation Latino on my mother’s side and a second generation Franco American on my father’s side. I was educated at Notre Dame and at Harvard University, and I served as a Naval Officer for 30 years. In the course of my military career, I am proud of my efforts to assist minority sailors advance in rank and responsibility in the Navy.
At bottom, Walton alleges that the schism is largely the fault of those “whites” who would walk the march of time back to an era which was undeniably characterized by unjust and oppressive treatment of minorities. In other words, it is yet another example of how “white privilege” perverts the promise of the Declaration of Independence for minorities, especially African Americans. This is a gross exaggeration and generalization which is a theme in contemporary liberal credo, so popular on today’s campuses. In the first instance, let us posit that more than a few “whites” have worked hard on behalf of minorities helping secure the enhanced access currently enjoyed by many. Walton laments the mixed reaction to President Obama’s legacy as he leaves the White House he won so handily with significant “white “support. We can ask, could it have to do with the many failures and unfulfilled promises of his tenure that are a matter of record. Certainly the increases — by several metrics — in levels of poverty and despair after eight years of a fitful economic recovery, the dismal labor participation rate, the frightful increase in violent crime in urban population centers are also part of the legacy. In the realm of foreign policy and national security, the record is similarly blemished in the opinion of many with experience in these matters. The point is that the trace of his presidency has a negative slope, and this was the recent judgment of almost 50 percent of the American electorate (including significant numbers of minority voters). I would argue that it has little to do with ethnicity, race or Mr. Obama’s religious preference.
I certainly agree and I despair with Walton that there is a schism and that it may be widening. In addition to the allegedly regressive penchants of some “whites,” another causal factor might be the widening gap in what can be termed societal norms and behavioral standards. After all there are troubling measures here that are incontestable, and might also qualify as what Walton terms “demographic realities”: disproportionate numbers of gang and drug-related shootings, prison population numbers (even discounting arguable disparities in drug conviction rates), out-of-wedlock births, on-demand abortions, and high school graduation rates, to name a few. Of course following progressive logic, these disparities are attributable to inequalities in educational and economic opportunities. This may be, but as some including that glib Democrat, Daniel Moynihan, have noted the critical variable may be the collapse of the core family and the absence of paternal influence. The latter is rarely mentioned as a causal factor in treatises such as “Hope at Risk.”
Until the recent election, it was fashionable for modern political economists to posit that political power favored the economically advantaged. It may be that the American model of representative democracy, which also empowers rural and blue collar working communities, now favors a return to core interests and values beyond those of dependent urban population centers, and to arguments that are outside the parameters of political correctness. The promise of the Declaration of Independence, where minorities were concerned, was realized in the election of Barak Obama — twice. The failed record of his Administration and the political ideology that inspired it, have run their course.
Philip A. Dur ’65, ’66M.A.
Rear Admiral, USN (ret)
Of course you can’t be “your biggest, boldest self” when dealing with the police. As “The Talk” says, if you shout and make sudden aggressive moves toward people, you put yourself in danger. It is not shameful or humiliating to follow this advice. Sudden aggressive moves and shouting are no more called for with police than with TSA agents, teachers, retail workers, DMV workers or IRS agents. You need to build up trust over time before you can be your biggest, boldest self with a stranger, especially if you are 6 feet 2 inches and 270 pounds.
All people deserve respect, not just those who have guns and the power of the government. Parents should teach their kids to avoid this kind of behavior, not primarily because it foolishly puts them in danger, but because it is the right thing to do.
After reading the latest issue my husband and I are both incredibly disappointed and disgusted in the direction you have chosen to pursue. First of all, I saw an overload of undisguised distaste for our president-elect. Perhaps you forgot that our new president won in a landslide. You certainly failed to consider that the commentary would very likely insult and alienate at least half of your readership. Perhaps most pathetic and manipulative was resorting to the words of an 8-year-old quoted in “The Talk” to spread your anti-Trump narrative.
I also saw an astonishing endorsement of illegality in the support of non-citizen students — even allowing one of Notre Dame’s undocumented students to callously mischaracterize and inflame the situation without even a hint of pushback from the writer. Trump does not hate immigrants nor does he encourage hatred of immigrants. He believes that illegal immigration is wrong. There is a huge difference between these two.
Worst of all I saw bigotry, the very thing that Notre Dame of all places is supposed to be fighting against, the very thing that this issue decries. Was it not the very definition of racism when Anthony Walton in “Hope at Risk” lumped whites into one group and assumed they all act and think the same way? And it’s actually worse when he suggests something terribly derogatory about white people — that they don’t believe all men are created equal.
As two people who happen to be white and are devout Christians who believe in the sanctity of all lives, my husband and I are extremely offended by this. And furthermore, how insulting to black Americans to propose that the white people in this country are the only ones who can help them. The truth is that claiming victimhood rarely elevates the so-called victim.
This is disgraceful, appalling rhetoric, blatant leftist propaganda and irresponsible journalism. And here is the great irony: this issue of Notre Dame Magazine bemoans the loss of credibility among the media while completely and utterly destroying, in one fell swoop, our faith in yours. Your publication just landed squarely off our list of “Who We Trust.”
Kate Zinsmeister Harvey ’10 and Stephen Harvey ’07
Thank you for printing “The Talk” and “Hope at Risk.” These are stirring, powerful pieces coming at a time when we need not only to hear from those with such insight who can articulate our family’s and society’s struggles with skin color, but also challenge our institutions to prioritize the conversation more publicly. I am a former student member of the magazine’s advisory board from the early 2000s and these are the first pieces to resonate with me for a very long time. I am very thankful to the authors and the editors for their collaboration in what I think is the best print edition of Notre Dame Magazine as a whole.
It is unfortunate and deeply disturbing that we have arrived at a point in our country’s history that common sense is set aside by people who should know better. The honorable president of our great university, Father Jenkins, in holding his interfaith prayer service condoned lawlessness for our country. Before I go further let it be known that I love the University of Notre Dame and count my attendance and graduation from ND as one of my life’s accomplishments, right up there with raising and educating my children, all college grads.
Father Jenkins stressed:
“First, we are committed to respecting the dignity and worth of every human person, from conception to natural death, regardless of national or ethnic group, religious tradition, gender, race, socio-economic class, immigration status, sexual orientation or anything else.
“Second, we are committed to work together to realize what is called the common good — the conditions that allow each member of this community to flourish and contribute to the flourishing of others.
“Third, we are committed to solidarity with all people, recognizing that the well-being of each person — and particularly the most vulnerable and marginalized — is a concern for every one of us.”
Jenkins specifically assured undocumented students that the University “will spare no effort to support you” as part of the Notre Dame family. The hypocrisy of his words is apparent to those who wish to see it. To illustrate I propose a hypothetical.
Shortly after the beginning of the semester a student sits in an ND classroom faithfully taking notes from what the professor is saying. This student is a legacy his father graduated from ND although his mother did not. He is a bright and willing student. He is prompt and fastidious in his studies. He is by all counts a good member of the university. He is active extracurricular activities and generally liked and appreciated by his peers. As most of those peers he feels varying degrees of stress to achieve and struggles at times with feelings that he is not good enough. But he perseveres he does all the work required by his course instructors. By the end of the semester he has completed all his assignments, turned in his work and had them graded, completed and passed all his exams and for all intent and purposes he has passed and succeeded in all his classes.
When it comes for the administration to record his work there appears to be a problem. They cannot find any record of his enrollment in the University. It appears he was never admitted to the University. But they do have the record of his work, some of which was outstanding. The administration calls him into their office for an explanation. During this meeting the student calls on Father Jenkins to “spare no effort to support” him as an undocumented student. Can you imagine the stress he must have felt? The fear he lived with? All the while succeeding at his endeavors. Surely he is the exception to the rules.
He argues that Notre Dame is committed to respecting his dignity and worth from conception to natural death, regardless of national or ethnic group, religious tradition, gender, race, socio-economic class, immigration status, sexual orientation or anything else, including his fraudulent behavior. And further that the University is committed to work together to realize what is called the common good — the conditions that allow each member of this community to flourish and contribute to the flourishing of others. The only records that the University have show that he certainly has contributed. The student contends that Notre Dame is committed to solidarity with all people, even frauds, recognizing that the well-being of each person is a concern for every one of us.
In this hypothetical, it is obvious what action the University takes next to remedy the conundrum. They, under orders from Father Jenkins…? What? They do what? What should they do? How could this situation arise? They have admission standards in place. They review all the applicants. They have extremely vetted all the applicants and granted admission to those deemed acceptable? So now what are they to do with this student? Do they “support” him? Do they “recognize his well-being”? Do they “contribute to his flourishing”? What do they do?
What they do next will illustrate the hypocrisy of Father Jenkins’ prayer service. After 50 years of being a part of the Notre Dame community I have no doubt that the University will act to preserve the integrity of their admissions policies and procedures. They will defend their process of extreme vetting of all applicants. They will defend their right to admit those they deem worthy and exclude all others. They will commiserate with those they reject, but they will reject them all the same. They will protect the integrity of all those students from the past, present and future, who followed the rules, who went through the process of gaining admission legitimately. They will protect the integrity of the work of those legitimate students. After all there is the integrity of the University’s position as an elite institution to be considered. The worth and value of a Notre Dame degree must be factored into the equation.
This hypothetical student is a fraud and will not be accepted into the ranks of the Notre Dame community. And thus, the hypocrisy. Because Father Jenkins does not wish for President Trump and his institution, the United States of America, to conduct themselves as Notre Dame would.
Sad but, I am afraid, true.
Terrence D. Cernech ’70
I am not a ND graduate but a ND parent whose son was granted a football scholarship to ND in the early ’80s. Since we are from Texas I have to say something about LBJ. Mr. Johnson was probably the most crooked president we ever had! President Johnson would make Bill Clinton look like an altar boy. Mr. Johnson was the president credited for the Civil Rights bill but that was the best piece of legislation that he ever signed into law. Unless you are from Texas most Americans really don’t know the real President Johnson. President Johnson was so cunning that he had something bad on many senators and congressman! It was his way or the highway. And if they didn’t vote for his bills, he would tell the world how bad they were. Mr. Johnson even had the audacity to meddle into the 1964 presidential election. Mr. Johnson was running against Republican Barry Goldwater. In the 1960s no one escaped the draft unless you were a draft Dodger and fled to Canada. In the summer of 1964 I was a raw recruit in the military. The commanding general called a muster for everyone stationed at that base. The first words out of the general’s mouth were: “Men and women, you know there is no democracy in the military.” He proceeded to say “In November we have a presidential election coming up. You won’t be casting your ballot on voting machines! But you will be issued a piece of paper and we will know who you are voting for. We are telling you today that if you vote for Goldwater we will all be in Vietnam and get our butts shot off. You will vote for LBJ.” Now where do you think that 4-Star general got his orders? I believe it was from none other than our commander-in-chief, Lyndon Baines Johnson. And 60,000 deaths later all we have to show that my friends paid the ultimate price is their names on a granite wall in Washington, D.C.
Carl J. Schiro
Calling Out the Bad Actors
For a brief interlude in the wake of the Dallas police shootings, a pervasive weariness seemed to envelop us as the horrors that our internecine wars have wrought came sharply into focus. For a moment, we seemed resigned to surrendering our personal dogmas to jointly confront this rising flood of senseless violence. Sadly, in short order, we resiliently regrouped and retreated within our respective siege mentality fortresses.
Given the current state of conflict between our safety forces and the black community, I suggest that nothing will be resolved unless and until we acknowledge the many elephants parading around the room.
Before our eyes, four police officers beat a prostrate Rodney King senseless while fellow officers stand by and watch; a police officer unholsters his gun and shoots to death a man he is kneeling upon; a mob of 62 police cars abandon their posts and chase a single fleeing car culminating with an officer standing on its hood and firing at least 15 of the 137 shots fired by 13 officers that killed the two unarmed suspects inside; a police officer shoots a suspect fleeing from a traffic stop multiple times in the back killing him. The list goes on.
Police uniformly and steadfastly stand shoulder-to-shoulder, refusing to characterize any actions or behaviors of their fellow officers as unjustified or inappropriate. Police unions appeal virtually every reprimand in valiant defense of the indefensible. None of this can be right. And if the law says it is right, as it ultimately has in many of the cases already adjudicated, then the law is wrong. Is it any wonder that many blacks view the police as enemy?
Meanwhile, crime runs rampant in inner city neighborhoods. Drive-by and all other manner of shootings are daily occurrences. Drugs and crime are the leading industries. Attending public schools in pursuit of education of dubious quality is a dangerous endeavor for students and teachers alike. Gangs are the de facto government presiding in a realm where no lives matter.
Police work hard every day to protect and serve within these communities, notwithstanding potentially imminent danger with every encounter. Yet no assistance is provided them; no witnesses come forward to identify the myriad of criminals in plain sight. But when police and prosecutors are fingered for crimes manufactured out of whole cloth by the likes of Tawana Brawley, guided by rabid (and still unrepentant) mentors like Al Sharpton, the community offers its unwavering support. This can’t be right, either. Is it any wonder that even our best police officers have become cynical and feel isolated?
Within black communities, the necessity of “the talk” is a sad commentary on the realities that young black men face in their daily lives. It is even a sadder commentary that there aren’t enough black fathers around to give “the talk.” How is it that 72 percent of black children are raised by single mothers? Why do black mothers stand by while their daughters replicate their own history of breeding children into a matriarchal welfare society sired by men who have no intention of assuming the duties of a parent? Isn’t it the responsibility of fathers to support their children, not taxpayers?
And how goes the task of bringing up young black men in this environment? Without regard to his ostensibly unjustified shooting, what type of life was 12-year-old Tamir Rice emulating and aspiring to as he pranced through his neighborhood brandishing a very real looking toy gun? Prior to his fatal shooting, what type of impunity was a thug like Michael Brown asserting, taking at will from a convenience store, bullying the clerk, and scuffling with police trying to arrest him? Why does the black community promote and nurture, or at the very least tolerate, such outlaw bravado as the norm among young black men? This culture is the incubator of those who perpetuate the ills of the inner city.
How did we get here? There is a lot of blame to go around. We might start with the ironic observation that, within the fierce debates that rage about how best to deal with violent crime, there is common ground between the bleeding heart liberals and law-and order conservatives. That is, we all want violent crime “contained.” Snug and safe in our suburban homes, we expect the police to keep the danger “contained” in the inner city, away from us and our families.
Of course, we want it done legally, correctly, and by the book. But make no mistake about it, first and foremost, we want it done. And if getting it done takes things we would rather not know about, we avert vicarious responsibility, taking undeserved comfort within our willfully ignorant clear consciences. Alas, yet something else that isn’t right.
It is time to call out the bad actors!
Many people become police officers for the wrong reasons. They revel in their roles as omnipotent bullies, delusional superheroes, and empowered bigots. Given the real challenges and fears that police face, it is easy for the cynics among them to conclude that the bad actors may well be those most effective at achieving “containment.” More importantly, these gun-happy commandos actually serve to provide their fellow officers with a modicum of protection against what is a very real enemy. Nevertheless, the bad actors and the enabling complicity of the good officers are the root cause of the visceral mistrust and resistance police encounter in the black community.
It is time for the brotherhood of police to break ranks with the bad actors, to isolate, expose and expel them along with their poisonous and lethal legacy. You know who they are. You see them every day. You see how they interact with the citizens, both good and bad. You hear their cute little comments that betray what is in their hearts. There is no need to wait for yet more tragic incidents to blow up on the news and further inflame the enmity of the communities you are trying to protect.
It is time for the good citizens of the inner city to retake your communities from the bad actors; to stop bearing fatherless children; to assist the police in their sincere desire to remove the scourges of your civilized existence; to disavow the leaders who dishonor your causes with falsehood and hatred; and, most importantly, to take charge of your young men and purge their destructive instincts well before they become the men who trash your neighborhoods; who decimate your schools; who establish drugs as the mainstay of your economy; who staff the gangs that govern your community. These are the men who strike justifiable fear in the hearts of police that are trying to protect you and are the ultimate cause of the enmity they feel toward you.
It is time for the rest of us to recognize that we too are culpable, viewing these issues from afar through the abstract filters of our unyielding political poles. It is time to recognize that there are legitimate concerns on all sides of these issues. We cannot continue to use the police as buffers between us and danger without coming to fully understand what they are up against, nor can we continue to ignore the hardship and injustice that “containment” visits on so many good and decent people.
We would be well advised to ponder the tragic lessons learned when people refuse to see what is before them. People like Joe Paterno, who turned away from a pervert in revulsion rather than sullying his and the reputation of his beloved institution, or the Catholic bishops who elevated parochial interests over common decency as they shuffled their predatory priests from parish to parish. Keeping the bad actors in place can only spread the disease and make it worse.