Letters to the editor

Author: Readers

Editor’s note: Letters that appeared in the summer print issue are marked with a double ##.

Gleason on Burns

##Phil Gleason’s article about Robert E. Burns (“A Question of Academic Freedom”) brings to mind an astonishing moment for this incoming freshman in 1952. Gleason describes how a faculty letter endorsing the Democratic presidential candidate, Adlai E. Stevenson, embarrassed Notre Dame’s new president, Theodore Hesburgh, CSC, who took steps to assure the nation that Notre Dame was nonpartisan.

Which brings us to the day I first came to South Bend: Arriving by train, I took a cab to the circle and began to lug my bag across campus. It was very hot, the bag was heavy and I was unsure of the way. Someone told me St. Ed’s was just to the right of the big building with the dome. As I neared the big building, I saw a group of people on its front steps. One of them looked vaguely familiar. No, it couldn’t be, I thought. Walking closer, I wiped the sweat from my eyes and looked again. It was Dwight Eisenhower posing for pictures with the dome in the background.

It seems Father Hesburgh found a way of spreading the gold dust equally between the candidates. But for this young man, it was an unforgettable introduction to Notre Dame.

Don Brophy ’56
New York City

##I found the reference to Professor M.A. Fitzsimons’ role in protesting the purging of Frank McMahon particularly interesting in light of Fitzsimons’ own run-in with Church authorities later on. Few remember it, but Fitzsimons’ book, The Catholic Church Today, was withdrawn from circulation because the local bishop objected to its content and withdrew its imprimatur. Fortunately, Fitzsimons’ conflict with religious objections to academic freedom went no further than that, otherwise the many thousands of us who were touched by his wisdom in later years would have been denied that opportunity.

As to McMahon himself, there is not likely to be a similar incident in the future since — because of the re-Romanization of the University in recent years — I doubt a modern McMahon could get through the University’s intellectual screening process.

E. Brian Graham ’66
Austin, Texas

##I want to thank Philip Gleason for revealing “a well-kept secret” that “it was a directive from Rome” that forced the firing of a liberal professor. How convenient. It makes me wonder if there are other secrets that would help validate Father Hesburgh’s efforts in protecting Notre Dame from the Catholic Church.

Tom Wich ’63
Clarendon Hills, Illinois

Phil Gleason’s excellent article, “A Question of Academic Freedom,” needs final resolution. He worked in the ND Archives, as did Robert Burns (as did I); he has been all the way through Burns’ unfinished work on ND history, “Being Catholic, Being American.” No one would be more suited take the Burns work and turn Volume III draft into a finished product. That would be a magnificent gift to the Notre Dame family.

Jack L. Rafuse ’62M.A., ’72Ph.D.
Alexandria, Virginia

Many thanks to Phil Gleason for the great article on Robert Burns, whom I had for Western civ in 1965. I also had courses from Phil, whose books I also admire. Please forward him my regards. Glad to know he’s still writing!

Mike Hollerich ’69
Via email

A modern divide

##The article “Going to Extremes” by Robert Schmuhl compares the division of the 2012 election with the time of the Civil War. How could such a well-written piece never refer to abortion? The election of 1860 had profound divisions among Americans over the future course of their country, and especially over the South’s “peculiar institution,” slavery. The election of 2012 had profound divisions among Americans over the future course of their country, and especially over the Democrats’ “peculiar institution,” abortion. No middle ground with slavery; no middle ground with abortion.

Gary B. Smith
Rochester, New York

The reference to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s praise of President Obama during the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy is a bit misleading. Many New Jerseyans love Governor Christie for his forthrightness. His accolades for President Obama were no exception to his frankness. You might want to take another look at the comments, and number of them, that were made. It is one thing to praise someone, deservedly, for their actions, regardless of political party, especially in such an emergency. When one goes quite overboard, however, it becomes a different story. Please look at the entire picture, and don’t be so black and white so as to fit the theme of your column.

Phyllis Clarke DeFonzo
Via email

Climate change

##“Saving Planet Earth” by Kerry Temple is one of the most biased, inaccurate portrayals of fiction I have ever read. Indeed, I had a hard time finding any scientifically accurate statements presented as fact in the entire article. Science is about facts, not one-sided bias to satisfy an agenda.

Jim Rybarczyk ’74
Muncie, Indiana

##“Saving Planet Earth” was big on Al Gore-isms and devoid of data to prove that global climate change results from man-made causes. The international climate people have been shown to have twisted the data to try to prove their contention that mankind is causing global warming. The Earth has been warming ever since the Ice Age, and it’s continuing, that’s all.

The United States is cutting its carbon dioxide emissions substantially, but we can’t do anything about China adding another coal-fired power generator every week. If carbon dioxide is causing global warming, natural gas is the economic solution. God and American technology are giving us this grace, if liberals like you will just let it happen.

Bob Hart ’53
League City, Texas

##Facts are stubborn things. The models used by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicted that the world would experience surface warming of .25 to .30 degrees C from 2000 to 2012. The actual data show no warming at all over that 12-year time period in spite of the fact that the atmosphere’s CO2 loading increased from 365 ppm to 390 ppm. Obviously, the global warming computer models, with their focus on CO2 emissions, are off-base.

The climate-change alarmists also like to point out that the El Nino year of 1998 was the warmest year in recent time, and that we all should consider this some kind of omen. But the Earth’s surface temperature has actually dropped nearly .20 degrees C between then and 2012. Temple made the standard case for ignoring the above facts.

John C. Zink ’65, ’67M.S., ’70Ph.D.
Tulsa, Oklahoma

##Kerry Temple has no qualifications to preach to America that it is not doing enough to save the planet. Americans have done an immense amount, but you do not acknowledge that at all. One of many examples: Fuel consumption for cars has peaked and will not be exceeded in the future.

You have accomplished nothing worthy of publication when all you have done is “toss articles on climate change” into a file, then just take unconfirmed bullets from biased organizations that are ideologically committed to furthering their version of climate change.

Patrick Conway ’57
Minneapolis, Minnesota

##I have read numerous articles that contradict Mr. Temple’s hypotheses on rising world temperatures and its possible relation to extreme weather events, including a report from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that “confirms there has been no statistically significant increase in the world’s average temperature since 1997.” Any discussion of this subject should acknowledge and address contrary opinions. This article did not do that.

Paul J. Cella ’66
Denver, Colorado

##Shame on the editors for the use of the question mark on the cover, “Climate changed?” The climate has changed. Maybe they were persuaded by the sentence from The New York Times quoted in the article, “Powerful incumbent industries — coal, oil, utilities — have mounted a well-financed long-term campaign to sow doubt about climate change.” If they felt a strong need to keep the question mark, the teaser could have read: “Climate change — should we continue to ignore Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops?”

Tim Wagner ’67
Columbus, Ohio

##Thanks for an excellent article about global climate change; the information was spot-on for the most part. I was put off a bit by the two paragraphs in the middle that contained nine “maybes.” I think it is vital to speak forcefully about what is the defining issue of this century, and since the rest of the article was for the most part well thought out, hedging your comments to imply that there is still doubt about what is now happening all around us took the bite out of your conclusions.

I also thought the author gave the USCCB an “out” by being less than forthcoming about the bishops’ unrelenting opposition to population control. Your desire for affluent nations to recognize that consumerism is killing the planet should have been coupled equally with a desire for the hierarchy of the Catholic Church to recognize that without effective birth control practiced by everyone, it will not matter much what the consumption level of the 9 or 10 billion people on the planet by the end of your children’s lifetime is.

John M. Tietjen ’71
Corvallis, Oregon

Holy Cross degree

In Tara Hunt’s article “A Brotherly Approach to Education,” the author wrote “Then, in 2007, it awarded its first set of bachelor degrees as a four-year residential college and now draws students from all over the country.” The first four-year Baccalaureate degrees were awarded in 2005 not 2007. I know this because I was one of the guinea pigs of that new program awarded one of the first degrees.

Thomas Hogan
Via email

Father Tallarida

The “Deaths in the Family” article about the recent passing of Father Tom Tallarida, CSC, ‘47, was poignant and prompted me to reminisce about my many own encounters with him, beginning with my years at the CSC-run Notre Dame High School for Boys in Niles, IL. The article refers to his teaching a "high school history’ course, but it was so much more than that.

He used history to give context to current events and he urged us…and taught us…to analyze and think independently and critically.

One of the most memorable aspects was that he required all of us to subscribe to Time magazine and to write a letter to the editor every week, expressing our opinion on some national or world event. Of course, he gave us extra credit if one of our letters was published. He was also firmly in control of the classroom and any student acting up could be brought to their knees by Fr. Tom’s well-placed grip to the shoulder blade.

In later years, after he transferred to the University, I visited him occasionally and am pleased that both of our sons had the opportunity to meet a teacher who made a significant difference in my life.

Tom Conoscenti ’’67
Yardley, Pennsylvania

You may have readers interested to know this after the recent death of Father Tom Tallarida, beloved by the Notre Dame community.

Here at St. Anthony of Padua in northern California we were singing the “Notre Dame Victory March” on a recent spring morning, as we recessed from a memorial Mass for Father Tom Tallarida. Father Tom, who died at Holy Cross House in January, spent many summers in residence at our parish, here in the town where his brother lived for decades. He taught many California children to be proper altar servers, including my own. So, in addition to teaching Notre Dame students and serving as rector of Zahm Hall, he impacted the lives of many families in California as well. As much as Father Tom enjoyed his time in our beautiful town, he always returned to Notre Dame in late summer before the first home football game.

We loved him and are blessed for having him in our lives.

Julie Vavuris
Via email

Class Notes

Thank you to Angela Sienko for the short and very sweet column on the second page of “The Classes” about Richard Savage, the 105-year-old alumnus who unfortunately passed away earlier this year.

There is another gem on that page in the notes from the Class of 1936. I hope the author, John Norton, does not mind me singling it out, but the last line made me laugh: “If you are out there and still alive,” he says, “send me a note.”

I might have missed both the column on Mr. Savage and the notes from the Class of ’36 except that I have started finding the notes for my graduating class (1972) by paging my way forward from the beginning of the section rather than working my way backward from the end.

It is okay that 1972 is getting farther away from the end of the section. I expected that. I knew it was inevitable that classes would graduate after mine. I don’t know why, but I just never expected to get closer to the front. Somehow that did not seem as inevitable. It hit me, though, that with Mr. Savage’s passing, another year drops out and I move up one more slot, as does everyone else. That realization is a bit sobering. We need the people at the front of the line to slow things down as much as possible.

I am counting on those gritty, hearty men from the 1930’s to make a stand. Mr. Norton reports a classmate driving after dark at age 100 and gives out his email address so others from the class can contact him. Driving after dark and technologically savvy. Both are encouraging.

Hold out for as long as you can men.

John M. Nichols ’72
Via email


Your winter 2012-13 article “What Is Mike Lee Fighting for?” really turned me on. Just as that true-blue Notre Damer Mike loves the feeling of the impact, just loves it (so appropriately gold highlighted on its own page), I to get ecstatic thrills from seeing and hearing the impact, especially the thud of the body and the head striking the canvas. This is to live for and to die for. Thus, a whole new meaning to that “turn the other cheek” saying arises as I yell, “Get up you sissy bastard!”

Who said nothing wholesome comes out of Texas? It’s all about the narrative and not one step to far: tenacity, being a legend, the across-the-throat slicing gesture for a charity event, overcoming the pain of blue marks and achieving the gold standard in order to live the dream! What sportive writing. Hoo-Rah.

I too am an educated nice guy outside the boxing arena. That is the only fighting Irish absolution anyone needs.

Well, just like the poor, violence will always be amongst us.

Don Roy ’77
Grand Rapids, Michigan


In regard to the first spring issue letter to the editor entitled “That step toward inclusion,” it is difficult to comprehend that it was written by a Christian, much less from a graduate of Notre Dame.

It is disturbing that the author is unable, or unwilling, to distinguish a given from a choice. Furthermore, that often a given determines, diminishes and negates choice.

One does not choose gender or sexual orientation, among other givens, e.g. ethnicity and DNA. The given gender and sexual orientation are not necessarily mutually exclusive.

The letter-writer seems to imply that at some point, by exercising his free will, he chose the gender of male and apparently a heterosexual orientation. Neither sexual gender nor sexual orientation are chosen.

In regard to inclusion rather than exclusion, the author seems to have forgotten that Jesus has called us to be inclusive not exclusive. All are welcomed to and have a place at the table. Yes, even those with narrow and rigid parameters.

The commandment is, love thy neighbor, not love they neighbor unless he or she is gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered. Compassion is called for, not revulsion.

The letter-writer’s stance on a given being worthy of exclusion is incomprehensible at best and reprehensible at worst.

Geraldine Dunn Leinenweber (SMC ’59)