Letters to the editor (Winter 2007–08)

Author: Readers

Editor’s note: The letters that appeared in the Winter 2007–08 print issue are marked with double asterisks (**). The original, longer versions of some of those letters also are included here.

Thank you back

** I can’t thank everyone enough for the good tidings related to my 90th birthday. Thanks to everyone involved in the August celebration and book Thanking Father Ted: Thirty-Five Years of Notre Dame Coeducation (“A Hardcover Thank-you Card,” Autumn 2007).

I’d also like to thank all those who dedicated themselves to serving others in honor of my 90th birthday. One of the things I am most proud of is the tradition of service among the entire Notre Dame family. It adds a deep dimension to our lives and helps make us all better Christians. This tradition of service sets us apart from other institutions of higher learning and is a source of enormous pride. I was astounded to learn [see story page 54] how many alumni groups marked my birthday by doing community service. I am deeply honored and grateful for those actions that embody everything that makes Our Lady’s University special.

Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, CSC
Notre Dame, Indiana

More on how we are—’57

** “The Way We Are” provides interesting and, in some respects, (valid) information regarding the circumstances and attitudes of the ND Class of 1957. However, a number of its conclusions are questionable due to the survey methodology and design.

The authors claim a “75 percent” response rate (300 out of 425), but this calculation does not reflect the fact that the survey was only available online, thus eliminating the large number of our classmates from the survey who do not “do” email (or have not provided an email address to the University). The survey also appears to have missed many classmates who are in less than good health: some 90 percent of responders report good health—an unbelievable proportion for a 70-plus year old sample! Thus, it is hard to accept the survey results as truly representative of our entire group of surviving class members.

Three “hot button” topics were surveyed and reported in the article: illegal immigrants, stem-cell research, and civil unions. However, the survey presented no opportunity to measure the relative importance of two other “hot button” issues which are at the very top of the list for Americans in general—the war in Iraq, and access to health care – nor of a number of other issues that the general population considers of great importance (e.g., reliance on foreign oil, the proper role of government in various activities, quality of public education). It is important to note these omissions in order to dispel any notion that the national issues as reported in the article reflect a rank-order of ‘57 Domers’ concerns.

Notwithstanding these objections, the survey was interesting, and should provide a starting point for developing future surveys, and perhaps, a benchmark for assessing changes in Domers’ circumstances and attitudes over the years.

Michael L. Burke ’57
Canton, Masschusetts

Every issue is another informative edition done expertly by you and your staff. You are to be commended for your work. In the current publication the article on page 46, “The Way We Are” is a very fascinating compilation of data. I would like to see the resuts of a similar questionnaire to the classes graduating 40, 30 and 20 years ago to see the differences in our thinking over time and how we to have changed out thoughts on the myriad of topics covered . I would hope the class of 1957 shares the study questions. I would love to participate in such an endeavor and I hope to see some thing like it in the future.

John Siverd ’68

The survey items from Class of ’57—"The Way We Are"—was a bit disconcerting, considering this group of males are now approximately 72 years old based on being 22 when they graduated.

The fact that 75 percent of their progeny either don’t practice their Catholicism or on a “sometime basis” must be predicated on some underpinnings either devoid role models or discipline, or a capitulation to our increasing liberal—and immoral—societal norms. Regrettably, this is manifested in the magisterium’s approbation of the Vagina Monologues, Queer Film Festival, desecration of crosses intended to honor the unborn, as well as for the campus daily, The Observer, to refuse paid ads from the Right-to-Life group promulgating Masses that decry abortion. Their disdain is predicated on the ludicrous assumption that there is a sinister motivation from the Vatican behind this. Pray tell—the Vatican is the fountainhead of Church teaching, albeit Father Ted’s claim “the University is where the church does its thinking.”

Considering the overwhelming liberal bent of the faculty, in the Class of 1957 there are three times as many Republicans as Democats and only 21.3 percent independents. Significantly, only 16 percent have veered to be “more liberal” (likely hold an elective office) while 36 percent have become more conservative, with middle-of-the-road and “no change” a collective 47 percent, a strange composite of those who really “don’t care.” Paradoxically, only 32.4 percent subcribe to deny abortion unequivocally with almost 41 percent accepting the circumstances of rape, incest or mother’s life as a just cause. Lost in all this statistical rhetoric is “sex in the bedroom now a sport that denies the consequences of pregnancy?”

Hopefully the survey group would proivde a follow-up with a more insightful analysis 1) why did you, or your children, drop their religion? 2) what caused you to change your political attitude?

If the Church is to survive we must address the root causes of those defections. If Notre Dame grads cannot be the fortress of our Catholicity (and I’m a convert) how can we expect others—not so imbued—to have a Catholic commitment?

William Waddington ’45
Bayville, New Jersey

Wise warfare

** “Waging a Wiser War” was an insightful disclosure about asymmetric warfare but made no mention of the obvious reason for the United States toppling Saddam Hussein and now occupying a hostile Iraq—oil. The United States is by far the leading consumer of oil, but its production has been declining since it peaked in 1972, while our consumption has steadily increased. Imported oil now accounts for about 60 percent of our consumption, and the only two countries with large surpluses of cheap oil are Saudi Arabia and Iraq. So whoever controls the petroleum-rich Persian Gulf countries controls the world economies. The United States now allots about one-fourth of its military spending in the Middle East.

The United States has no intention of leaving Iraq until its oil infrastructure and huge reserves are secure, if ever. In May 2005, Congress overwhelmingly passed an $82 billion supplemental appropriation for war spending in Iraq and Afghanistan that included $4.5 billion to construct and maintain 14 permanent U.S. bases in Iraq. It is the immense U.S. footprint on Arab lands that foments the intractable, anti-American insurgency and terrorism.

Robert J. Kendra ’63
Putnam, Connecticut

** As a returning Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran, I read “Waging a Wiser War” with profound interest. As was pointed out, the military is the proverbial “big stick” and an undisputed champion with its mission. The military, however, is not the agent for change hoped for in this article. We, as moral educators, must teach our future leaders to wage a wiser peace. Peace will surely come easier when our peacemakers are not arriving with sidearms and body armor.

Lt. Col. Susan Soisson
Notre Dame, Indiana

I thoroughly enjoy the magazine. The current issue’s article on “Waging a Wiser War” was special. I read the back cover and “Winning Ways” a number of times to find Ruth Riley and the NCAA Championship Woman’s Basketball Team. I think they should have been included because they were really special.

Len Corcoran ’53
Athens, Georgia

In “Waging a Wiser War” Paul Howard and Timothy Connors try to put a noble face on the U.S. war in Iraq by explaining recent efforts by our military to pacify civilians in harm’s way and restore them to “civil society.” They fail to mention that the U.S. helped destroy that civil society.

Howard and Connors got off to a bad start when they bought into President Bush’s vision of a “war on global terror.” They’ve accepted his fundamentalist vision of the geopolitical world, in which a devastating Armageddon will decide victory for the “good guys” (as military spokespeople put it) over the “bad guys,” usually Islamists and anyone else opposed to American culture and military might. With astounding arrogance, Howard and Connors discuss the way the U.S. should conduct war in the 21st century, as if nations are doormats over which American boots, caked with mud and blood, will trample with impunity.

“Waging a Wiser War” is another notch in the gun of revisionism. Rather than see the war in Iraq—and probably Afghanistan—as a disaster, as General Sanchez recently conceded, the authors scour the corpse-littered streets to come up with a justification for our invasion. Iraq, they claim, was a failed state, where the “war on terrorism would be fought.” Huh? Before the U.S. invasion, Iraq was a stable, ironclad dictatorship. There were no al-Qaeda terrorist cells in Iraq. And as if this fantastic explanation of Iraq is not enough, the authors dare to put a positive spin on U.S. military “accomplishments” in Vietnam. Conveniently, they ignore the unforgettable image of America’s defeat in Vietnam: people crowding and clutching at helicopters lifting off from the U.S. embassy in Saigon.

I don’t appreciate people who try to put a positive spin on a war that has created two million refugees, killed untold numbers of Iraqis, and killed almost 3,900 Americans. Against this horrendous backdrop, the extra-military efforts that Howard and Connors describe as civilizing acts, amount to threadbare Band-Aids.

Let’s face it: if the U.S. military wants Iraqis and Afghanis on their side, it’s because they need intelligence. Our troops aren’t trained to do the work of the Peace Corps. How’s their Arabic? Their Farsi? Not too swift, I would imagine. As my platoon sergeant told us in basic training at Fort Ord, California, “My job is to turn you into killers.” I don’t think that mission has changed.

John Zaugg ’61
Via email

Indeed, to be successful, a campaign must either follow a principle of scorched earth or a principle of reconciliation and liberation. We in fact did follow the later principle in Vietnam. And yes there were the rare exceptions. We were winning until Walter Crackpot wrongly announced our defeat and Washington capitulated the next day the cost of 1.5 S. Vietnamese… Now that’s where the war crimes should have been investgated and Walter Crackpot should have been investigated for such crimes! WE HAD the CONG on the run in the Tet offensive! But that is conveniently ignored by the same PC hypocrites who would prosecute our troops for defending themselves.

Brian Lantz
via email

I was extremely disappointed upon reading the article “Waging a Wiser War” by Paul Howard and Timothy Connors. As a magazine representing a Catholic institution, it seems inconsistent with the message of peace that Christ preached to publish an article that so one-sidedly advocates for war. With their theory “of how America should wage war in the 21st century”, the authors do not even entertain the idea that perhaps we could finally get off the path of death and destruction and become a country that wages peace.

Not only does the article advocate for another century of war, they also glorify the nature of the current unjust wars our country is waging. The authors completely dismiss the fact that all reasons given for invading Iraq have proven to fabricated, by claiming “the real story is not the origins of the war or its post-invasion missteps.” I for one refuse to dismiss the deplorable actions of those who chose to start this war due to the fact that we are now mired in the consequences of their actions. Furthermore, the claim of the authors that these wars should be the model for the future is especially disturbing given the numerous cases of torture, slaughter and especially the unchecked destruction caused by private mercenaries funded by our taxes. While I am pleased to hear that some in our military our trying to build civil society rather than destroy it, it does not right the wrong of waging unjust and unprovoked war. I believe the fallacy of this article is summed up well in the quote Howard and Connors chose to end with: that is the belief that “freedom” can be enforced and co-exist with “over-whelming power.” We’ve spend centuries killing for this belief, I hope we spend this century employing the over-whelming power of peace and love.

Michael Knapp ’06
Portland, Oregon

Israel, Palestine

** Sarah L. Macmillen’s article “Uneasy Neighbors” offers a passionate plea for attending to the injustice and disproportionate suffering of the Palestinian people. The narrative about Ahmed and his family provides readers with testimony about the fears and inconveniences she encountered with them during her period of research in Israel and the territories. While this well-written testimony is moving, and her advocacy for “both sides to moderate their positions” seems reasonable, there are some points that might also provide a broader perspective for readers of ND Magazine.

The article begins with the allegation that Israel engages in apartheid policies and concludes with a statement that the, “U.S. population and government need to recognize the world’s growing dissatisfaction with Israel’s apartheid.” There is a gap between allegations or the suggestion that an Israeli made to President Carter about Israel “moving in the direction of apartheid” and claiming that it is an established fact. Readers of President Carter’s book will remember that readers who are sympathetic to his plea for peace consider its contents to have serious flaws. Israel does not forbid its non-Jewish citizens from participating in elections, organizing political parties, receiving education and medical services. The distance from the full-blown apartheid of South Africa and the situation in Israel is greater than Dr. Macmillen allows. Even if we grant that the use of the term is an “interruption” and that political advocacy demands the use of provocative words, the move toward peace and reconciliation cannot be achieved by unilateral accusations.

Testimony about the suffering of Ahmed and his family fleeing from Israel toward Jordan bombed the car of civilians in 1967 war invites counter-testimony from Israelis. Dr. Macmillen is aware that during the period of the birth of the State of Israel 60 years ago there were Jewish families who were forced to leave behind homes in Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia, Syria and Iraq. Their losses in 1948 and subsequent decades have never been acknowledged and no compensation ever offered to them. Policies of the British mandate government in Palestine during the 1920s and 1930s closed the door to Jewish immigration and slowed the progress of many refugees from Hitler’s death camps. In 1948 and 1956 Israel was attacked by all of its neighbors. The fact that Israelis have weapons and an army does not erase these traumas.

Dr. Macmillen observes “Most Palestinians understand the need for the Jewish state and have compassion for the sufferings of the Holocaust.” I wonder what her source for this claim is. The recent journey of Palestinians and Israelis to Auschwitz, led by a Palestinian priest, indicated that the Palestinians came to an understanding of the Nazi atrocities only for the first time. In bookstores throughout Arab-speaking countries one can find the vilest accusations of the blood libel and Jewish conspiracy theories.

It is clear from references scattered throughout the article that Dr. Macmillen is aware of the efforts made by Israeli citizens to criticize government policies and act as advocates for the Palestinian people and their suffering. She notes the presence of Israeli organizations monitoring the checkpoints, and the two founders of the NGO that brings together Israelis and Palestinians whose family members have been killed in the on-going conflict. In her effort to advocate greater attention to Palestinian suffering, these efforts by Israelis disappear in what she [and they] considers to be the bias of Western media and the un-evenhanded policies of the United States government. However, Jewish children and innocent civilians have been cruelly murdered by suicide bombings, by errant missiles shot from now unoccupied Gaza as well as Lebanon, and the claim of Hamas and many citizens of Arabic speaking countries that Israel must be destroyed. There is a need for Palestinians also to acknowledge the suffering that they have brought upon Israeli civilian adults and children.

The notion that the people of Israel and Palestinians are “locked in a sad unwanted embrace” is an established fact. The problem, however, can be resolved only by the people who bear the risks and the responsibility for the future of their children. Dr. Macmillen might have helped the readers of ND Magazine by providing them with greater information about how the families who gather in their separate but shared suffering come to reconciliation and peace. That knowledge would have helped all her readers understand her concern for both groups and mitigated the sense that Israelis are without grief, sadness and suffering.

Michael A. Signer
Abrams Professor of Jewish Thought and Culture
Director, Notre Dame Holocaust Project

** I would like to thank you for publishing Sarah MacMillen’s piece, “Uneasy Neighbors.” Sarah’s piece highlights the system of apartheid that is taking place in the occupied territories of Palestine today, and describes some of how Palestinians all across the West Bank suffer under “collective punishment”—undergoing daily harassment, humiliation, and too often violence at the hands of Israeli soldiers and settlers.

I am currently living in Bethlehem, a Palestinian city filled with Christians and Muslims, working with the Michigan Peace Team, an organization dedicated to pursuing peace through active nonviolence in places of violent conflict.

Bethlehem, the city of Christ’s birth, is almost completely surrounded by illegal Israeli settlements and by a towering 25-foot concrete wall that completely cuts off Palestinians from their capital city of Jerusalem, six miles away. Most residents of Bethlehem have not been allowed to visit Jerusalem in years, forcing many into unemployment.

I would like to point out one mistake in Sarah’s excellent piece. She says, “The most recent rise in suicide bombings led to Sharon’s decision to build a wall around the boundaries of the Palestinian territories to increase security within the state of Israel proper.” It is a myth that the wall was built for security reasons. The actual route of the wall does not at all follow the boundaries of the Palestinian territories but rather snakes in and out of the West Bank, annexing large amounts of Palestinian land to Israel. One village of Bil’in, which has held nonviolent demonstrations every Friday for the past three years, has lost 60 percent of its agricultural land to the wall. One only needs to look at a map of the wall to realize that Israel’s intentions in building it are to gain land for itself and to make living conditions so difficult in the occupied territories that Palestinians will be forced to leave or to die.

I have met many Palestinians whose land has been stolen for illegal Israeli settlements. I have met many Palestinians who have been imprisoned for years without charge. I have met many Palestinians who have been beaten by Israeli soldiers for no cause except to instill fear in them. I have met Palestinian women and children who have been beaten by Israeli settlers who want to remove them people from their own land. I have met many Palestinians whose homes have been demolished by the Israeli military for no just cause.

One only needs to visit the West Bank (it is almost impossible to visit the Gaza Strip, which is surrounded by a concrete wall with only one passageway in and out) to see that not only are my statements true, sadly, they are not even the tip of the iceberg. I encourage all of the readers of this magazine to visit Palestine and see for themselves. One excellent option for travel is to go through the Siraj Center for Holy Land Studies, www.sirajcenter.org/, for a mixture of religious pilgrimage and political study.

Brenna Cussen ’03M.A.

I would like to praise Sarah L. MacMillen PhD for her very informative article “Uneasy Neighbors.” There are a number of powerful groups that sometimes distort the truth of what is happening in the Middle East to serve their own agenda. It is important for all of us to educate ourselves about the history of this area so that we can make intelligent decisions about what strategies to use. Dr. MacMillen’s article provides a perspective not often seen in the U.S. media.
William T. Parker M.D., ’61

Re: “Uneasy Neighbors”: Dr. Macmillen reveals a bias in her reporting by referring to “The people of Israel and Palestine…” There is no “Palestine” and I wouldn’t mind leaving it that way. When was the last time there was a report of an Israeli suicide bomber?

Robert J. Shedlarz ’72J.D.
Navarre, Ohio

Sarah L. MacMillen wrote little of parallels with South Africa even though she invoked the word “apartheid” in “Uneasy Neighbors,” her essay on Israel/Palestine. The contemporary Middle East confrontation has roots in the late 19th century when Zionist organizations began to colonize Palestine with European Jews – much as Holland and later Britain colonized southern Africa. Palestine’s foreign rulers – first Ottoman, then British—permitted Zionist settlement.

Ethnic clashes occurred as colonization increased, although a tiny Jewish minority had lived peacefully for centuries among Palestine’s Arabs. Jewish settlers proclaimed the state of Israel after British withdrawal in 1948. Then Jewish fighters won most of Palestine in the ensuing war. Many Arabs fled or were driven out of what had become Israel.

Dr. MacMillen mentioned the conventional two-state solution, in which Palestinians would organize a sovereign state comprising the West Bank and Gaza. This proposal is impractical because Israelis have planted settlements throughout the West Bank and linked them to Israel with a network of roads “for Jews only.” Besides, Israeli territory separates Gaza from the West Bank.

South Africa shows the way to a single-state solution. Israel could annex the West Bank and Gaza, absorbing their people. This would transform today’s Jewish state, having a submerged Arab minority, into a multi-ethnic state. Admittedly, integration would be difficult, but the conflicts caused by colonization defy easy solution.

Terence Byrne ’57
Rockville, Maryland

I recently read a post from Kerry Temple about what a great job Notre Dame’s alumni magazine did reporting on current topics of interest. With excitement about what could be a great publication, I clicked on your most recent online issue. I was revolted by your story accusing Israel of apartheid and the incredibly biased reporting of the writer. I just can’t believe you would write off suicide murderers of Israeli citizens who experience the same terror as Palestinians.

Having recently visited Israel myself, I met with a number of Israeli journalists who are working with Israeli Palestinians in West Bank villages. Why didn’t your reporter cover the issue fairly —or is only one point of view relevant at Notre Dame? I am embarrassed for Kerry Temple, who thinks your magazine has outstanding quality and content when in reality it is just as biased and sensational as the mainstream media and the mediocre press he critiques.

Lisa Perlbinder
Amherst, Massachusetts

Jimmy Carter

** The article on Jimmy Carter paints a rosy picture of an abject political failure. His one-term presidency led us to double-digit inflation, double-digit unemployment and double-digit interest rates. This is the former president who now writes books damning our own foreign policy but who was paralyzed by the Iran hostage crisis. Today he accepts Hamas as the legitimate ruling body of Palestine while turning a blind eye to the murders of position Fatah party members and the rocket assaults on civilian targets in Israel. We have him to thank for the nuclear progress of North Korea, for without his negotiations the Clinton Administration would not have given Kim Jong II the nuclear reactors and $3 billion to boot. I guess we can soon expect a glowing account of Sandy Berger in the next Notre Dame Magazine.

Daniel Rapp ’59
Taylorsville, North Carolina

Let me be the first of many to provide an alternative view of Jimmy Carter’s legacy, since the “Not the Retiring Kind” provided only his perspective.

It’s not surprising that he violates the unwritten rule among ex-presidents that they don’t criticize their successors. He was unable to fulfill any of the other duties of the office.; economic, diplomatic, military or domestic. By the time he was swept out of office in the Reagan landslide, he had devastated the economy with record interest rates, inflation and energy prices. Poverty rates increased from 11.6 percent to 14 percent on his watch. When the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, he responded by punishing our Olympic athletes. By failing to support the Shah of Iran, he set the stage for the triumph of Ayatollah Khomeini and the fundamentalist Islamic revolution that he led. This resulted in hundreds of thousands of needless deaths by Iranian death squads and the Iran-Iraq war, and set the stage for more than two decades of terror.

He claims that he resolved the Iran hostage crisis through diplomacy, conveniently ignoring the fact that he tried to mount a military rescue with the armed forces he had gutted. That cost the lives of eight American service men. He inspired us with his infamous Camp David speech that cataloged every problem America faced and then proposed gas rationing and tax increases as the cure.

As an author, he’s been lazy when it comes to checking facts and sources. (“Well, one parallel is that the Revolutionary War, more than any other war up until recently, has been the most bloody war we’ve fought.”)

Readers of Notre Dame Magazine have come to expect better of its authors.

Dan Hiltz ’74M.A., ’79Ph.D.
Fort Mitchell, Kentucky

In regard to your article “Not the Retiring Kind,” Jimmy Carter deserves to be praised for his humanitarian efforts but condemned for his failures, blunders and misguided intrusions in the political arena. As president, he initiated a new policy of accommodation with Communist leaders and other oppressive regimes, reversing our historic defiance of their aggressions. This resulted in takeovers or revolutions in Iran, Nicaragua, Afghanistan and other countries. The America people rejected his leadership with one of the worst defeats ever for an incumbent. Since then, among other regrettable handiworks, he wrote secret letters to the U.N. Security Council and other world leaders urging noncooperation with the U.S. and its allies during the Kuwait buildup in violation of the Logan Act, he injected himself uninvited into North Korea negotiations and, as a result, left the world significantly more vulnerable to nuclear attack, he has continued his supported of, in word and deed, dictators, including Kim Sung, Arafat and Milosevic, and he has unceasingly demonized our democratic ally, Israel. He did not, and still does not, represent the judgments and opinions of most Americans. He was a poor president and is worse as an unelected, unauthorized, grandstanding former president.

Paul J. Cella, Jr. ’66
via email

I am happy that Jimmy Carter finds fulfillment in the many things he has accomplished since he was the president. He has always been a truly good man; he just had trouble with big decisions. For example, my parents’ generation enjoyed less than golden years because his double digit inflation eroded their savings. And his inability to act when our embassy was occupied led to a crucial enhancement of the perception of America as a paper tiger. Had he done his duty, the Bushes would not have been forced to do theirs, and my guess is that the twin towers would still be standing. He still has a chance to redeem himself though; he can do for Islam today what Martin Luther did for Catholicism in the Middle Ages. He is a great man who may still have great things yet to accomplish.

Thomas R. (Herschel) Freeman ’61 almost
Columbia, South Carolina

I was disappointed to see former President Jimmy Carter take a swipe at the Catholic faith by complaining about male domination in the Catholic Church. Since he provides no supporting evidence for this assertion, I conclude it is because of the fact that only men can be ordained priests and provide certain sacraments. To infer subsequently that the Church teaches and practices that females should be dominated by males is tenuous, at best. The Catholic tradition has long spoken of an “equal but different” role for women (see, for example, Catechism pp. 369-373).

While Mr. Carter’s human rights work is commendable, there is a glaring omission in his resume, that of respect for the right to life. Unfortunately, Mr. Carter’s actions support abortion rights, negating the impact of all of his other positive human rights works.

Lynn (Klunzinger) Chaffin ’92
Nashville, Tennessee

Ms. Hardie: Jimmy Carter set the standard for Presidential incompetency.

Abu Ghraib—we shot detainees with cameras; they videotaped beheadings of innocent American civilians. Some equivalence.

“…peace, humility, service, forgiveness, compassion, love…” espoused by Muslims. Name any country from Morocco to Indonesia where Islam is dominant where you find any of those characteristics advocated.

Your article is a joke.

Bruce Tomcik
North Ridgeville, Ohio

Ann Hardie’s article on Jimmy Carter was an injustice to the great name of Notre Dame. While Carter’s military service to our country is to be commended, he was at best a weak president. Many of today’s problems in the Mideast stem directly from Carter’s indecisiveness during the hostage crisis of 1979.

We need more positive articles in this magazine—not drivel about what is always wrong with our great nation.

Tom Mall ’59
Gainesville, Georgia

More on Carter
The recent article about Jimmy Carter paints a rosy picture of an abject political failure. His one-term presidency led us to double digit inflation, double digit unemployment and double digit interest rates. His governorship in Georgia consolidated departments in such a masterful way as to require 12,000 additional state employees.

This is the former president who now writes books damning our own foreign policy but was paralyzed by the Iran hostage taking for more than a year, and never solved it. Today he accepts Hamas as the legitimate ruling body of Palestine while turning a blind eye to their murders of opposition Fatah party members and the rocket assaults on civilian targets in Israel.

We have him to thank for the nuclear progress of North Korea, for without his negotiations, the Clinton Administration would not have given Kim Jong Il the nuclear reactors and $3 billion to boot.

I guess we can soon expect a glowing account of Sandy Berger in the next Notre Dame Magazine.

Daniel Rapp ’59
Taylorsville, North Carolina

I must take issue with your recent characterizations of former President Jimmy Carter (“Not the Retiring Kind”), and the Palestinian/Israeli conflict (“Uneasy Neighbors”).

For Carter to be described as a “humanitarian” is laughable. This is the man who almost singlehandedly ushered in the modern era of Islamic terrorism, by undermining the Shah of Iran and allowing the Ayatollah Khomeini (whom Carter described at the time as “a man of God”) to establish Iran as the world’s No. 1 sponsor of terrorism. Thousands of men, women and children have suffered either directly or indirectly as a result of the establishment of the current Iranian state.

To credit Jimmy Carter for the Camp David accords and peace between Israel and Egypt is revisionist history. The reason Egypt made peace with Israel is because its back was to the wall—Israel had taken over the Sinai Peninsula (not because they wanted to conquer anything, rather, they were simply trying to survive the multiple attacks upon it). Egypt had no choice but to sue for peace. The agreement was essentially done before Camp David took place. The Israelis and Egyptians simply needed someone to pay for the arrangement—enter the USA.

And to describe Carter as some sort of brave “maverick” because he continually criticizes the current administration is unwarranted hyperbole. This is the United States of America. Carter (and any other American) can say whatever they want. There’s nothing brave about that. At the same time, the rest of us are under no obligation to listen to his pablum. One shudders to think of what response he would have undertaken, if any, to the single greatest attack in history on the mainland of our country on September 11, 2001.

Mr. Carter also routinely sidles up to the same dictators who oppress the very people he professes to help. He “certified” as legitimate the recent Venezuelan “elections” that simply perpetrate the dictatorship of Hugo Chavez. Does any serious person actually believe that these “elections” were legitimate?

Though it is unfortunate for Mr. Carter, it is fortunate for the rest of us that he is indeed about as relevant as a can of Billy Beer.

As for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, why is it that your article insists on implying some sort of moral equivalence between the two sides? For instance, one sentence begins “Each side needs to confront its own extremists…” I’m sorry, but I don’t see any Israeli suicide bombers blowing themselves up in Palestinian territories. Some other quotes from the article—"Israeli apartheid"; “Unchecked militarism that led to last summer’s war against Lebanon”—are you kidding me?? Israeli soldiers were kidnapped, and rockets were being fired into Israel on a daily basis. Hamas has vowed to destroy the country of Israel (as has their number one support system, Iran), and all you can say to Hamas is that it needs to “moderate its position”???

As Catholics, are we not called to recognize the difference between good and evil, and in doing so support the triumph of good over evil? Islamic terrorism is evil. Supporters of that same terrorism (Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran, Syria) are evil. The Israeli military must fight against this evil on a daily basis to ensure Israel’s continued survival. For your article to condemn “injustices” of the Israeli military is itself an injustice to the truth of the evils of terrorism.

John P. Dagirmanjian
Friend of Notre Dame
Via email

It should be of no surprise to anyone that Jimmy Carter has tremendous admiration and affection for Notre Dame, and Father Hesburgh in particular. And the University must likewise be proud of bestowing on this great humanitarian the Notre Dame Award for International Humanitarian Service. Jimmy Carter and Father Hesburgh are not only great Christians, but they have devoted their lives to “compassion, love, humility, kindness and place,” making the world a far better place for millions of poor and less fortunate people.

Contrast, if you will, these men’s lives to that of the heartless, incompetent men who presently occupy the White House and who have brought nothing but misery and devastation to the lives of hundreds of thousands of innocent victims. What a pity that the administration at Notre Dame was unable to recognize George W. Bush for what he represented when he was invited to address the graduating class five years ago.

Lisa Williams ’92
New Hope, Pennsylvania

I write to you about Ann Hardie’s astounding article, “Not the Retiring King.” I read it twice, carefully, and with greater concern for fact than was apparently given by the author.

First said, and kindly, it is an un-analytic paen, totally unquestioning, one-sided and unprofessionally adoring. It forces the term “propaganda” to mind.

More bluntly, it is sophomorically clueless, obviously impervious to established fact and unchallenged by any responsible editorial oversight that might have insisted, appropriately, on more balance.

My goodness. How embarrassing for ND Magazine.

You really should strive more effectively to keep your pages free of such irresponsible intellectual disfigurement as this.

John D. Moynahan Jr. ’57
Darien, Connecticut

Knott lore
After reading your Hall Potrait: Knott Hall, I wanted to thank you for the trip down memory lane and to add something to the lore of Knott Hall. Myself and Peter Cesaro ‘99 were the first co-presidents of Knott Hall when it became a male dorm in 1997. Our inspiration for the now legendary hunter orange color was Justin “Guru” Roth ’99—a roommate of mine who had a wardrobe that was . . . loud. Justin would wear his bright orange, wool, hunter’s cap all around campus. In fact, he wore it both inside and outside, regardless of the season. He could often be seen in the study halls with the tip pulled up high above his head like an elf or the entire hat pulled down over his eyes during one of his regular 24-hour study sessions. During the color selection process there was a consensus that we wanted something different and I instantly thought of Justin’s hat. The rest if history.

As for the name selection process… that is a story that probably isn’t fit for print.

Matthew Jacques ’99

Mestrovic error
Love your magazine.
The Autumn Seen/Heard section states that Ivan Mestrovic died in 1957.
I had to dash to Wikipedia, online to see that he lived until 1962 (my sophmore year). Pheewww!
I’ve been telling people for decades that I watched the master at work.

I just learned that his granddaughter (I believe) is kind of “studio manager” to one of my current favorite sculptors—Mark DiSuvero. I plan to meet with them soon.
Jim McGuane ’65
New York City

(Editor’s note: Our apologies; the magazine gave the wrong year of death for Mr. Mestrovic. It has been corrected in the online version of Seen and Heard.)

Much saddened by the death of Joseph Turkaly, a great sculptor and teacher. He began his first semester as teacher of our small class of six Mestrovic scholarsip students in the spring semester of 1962 . . . just after Mestrovic died in early January 1962—between semesters. Just to set the record straight, 1957 was not the year of death of Mestrovic, a much-revered master by his students.

Ernest Garthwaite ’61
Old Greenwich, Connecticut

I am always happy to receive Notre Dame Magazine . . . and to read it cover to cover . . . and to pass it on to others who might be interested.

I was an M.A. student in 1962 and an art major, I read with sadness about the death of Joseph Turkaly, who I knew as Mestrovic’s assistant. Iwas surprised, though, to read that Mestrovic died in 1957; somone did not do their homework. Mestrovic died in January of 1962. I was a graduate student at the time and taking sculpture courses with the professor.

Sister Bianca Haglich, RSHM
Tarrytown, New York

Latin liturgy
Although I’m one of those “rapidly aging” and occasionally long for the Latin liturgy, as described in Professor Cunningham’s discussion of Pope Benedict XVI, I’m fortunate that my parish in San Juan Capistrano hosts a weekly Mass in Latin to an overflow crowd, perhaps 125 strong. But it’s populated not mostly by old fogies but—by observation—mainly by younger folk who could not possibly have lived in pre-conciliar days. Not a huge movement, but it seems to be genuine and thriving in this community, at least.

Joseph W. Harrison ’59
Via email

Financial aid
How very reassuring it was to read your article on financial aid in the autumn issue. The great majority of colleges and universities today address a student’s “un-met need” with additional non-federal, high-interest rate alternative loans. At the end of the day, most colleges and universities answer the question: “How can I afford this?” with a standard answer: “You’ll have to borrow more money.”

Notre Dame’s measured approached of effectively analyzing a familyh’s ability to pay, involving the student with work study and federal loans and then truly jmeeting the “un-met” need is remarkable and to be commended.

Many generations who received a low-cost, quality Catholic education have come to experience the reality that Catholic education, at all levels, is now available only to those who can afford to pay. This reality undermines a true mission o fthe Church “… to raise up a child in the way that he should go …”

The Spirit Campaign offers prior generations of the Notre Dame Family the opportunity to “give back” and assist current and future generations in benefiting from all that the University has to offer. How consistent it is with the marvelous tradition at Notre Dame for the University to identify a major issue in the modern world as well as to provide us with the means of resolving that issue.


Douglas Marvin ’69
Bethel Park, Pennsylvania

Some frustrations
I love the paper version of the magazine. One request: Could you put captions for ALL the photos in the magazines? Many photos (especially as one reads further and further into the mag) do not have captions. Please! It is frustrating to see pictures and not know what they are for or where they were taken.

Brian T. Seiler ’96
Lakewood, Ohio

Not that you’ll do anything about it, but just wanted to say for the first time in years I have not read an issue of ND Magazine. THE TYPE IS TOO SMALL, which makes it a real strain to stay with an article for any length of time. Also, many articles are printed over a color background that is too intense. Yes, my eyes are not what they used to be, but I have been and still am in the publication business, enough to know you keep the type size at 12 or no less than 10 points.

Vince LaBarbera
Via email

Magazine precursor
As an alumnus of Notre Dame, my husband receives and enjoys reading Notre Dame Magazine. As a former employee of the University, I also find it of interest.

Kerry Temple’s column in the autumn issue highlighted the 35 years he indicated the magazine has been in existence. While it may be true that the magazine has been in existence in its present format for 35 years, the Notre Dame Magazine was in existence at least as far back as 1951, when I worked as a secretary to John Cackley, whose responsibility it was to publish the magazine. At that time there were actually two magazines published by the University, the Notre Dame Magazine and the Alumnus Magazine. The Alumnus Magazine featured news of the graduated classes as well as news from the many alumni clubs throughout the United Sates. The Notre Dame Magazine featured articles highlighting the academic accomplishments at the University and various faculty members and was started specifically to counter the image that Notre Dame was nothing more than a football school.

I do not know what may have happened to the two separate magazines in the years between 1962 (whe I left the University) and 1972 when apparently a magazine which combining both academic and alumni news was published under the title Notre Dame Magazine. However, credit should be given to the University’s efforts to tell the complete story of the University of Notre Dame more than 20 years before the currrent magazine arrived on the scene and to James Armstrong, who was Alumni secretary at the time, and John Cackley, who were responsible for producing both the Alumnus and Notre Dame Magazines.

Keep up the good work.

Irene De Vliegher
Mishawaka, Indiana

About O’Malley
I would like to reply to the letter of Joseph Ryan ‘59, published in the Autumn issue, in response to what I wrote in the Summer issue about Frank O’Malley.

Ryan thinks the generation of the late 1940’s and ‘50s has “taken itself . . .as keepers of the central inspiration of the Catholic mind.” We probably are the keepers of that mind as O’Malley understood it for two reasons: his students from previous years are now mostly dead and because of his heavy drinking, changes in the university and especially changes in the students and the society from which they came, his influence waned in the 1960s and was virtually archival when he died.

But Ryan is wrong to suppose that O’Malley was chiefly concerned with “French evangelicalism,” whatever that may be. Frank’s reading list for modern Catholic Writers is still available and what we find among the more than 300 recommended readings is heavily British. It includes from England Dawson (the chief inspiration for his course), Waugh, Newman, Hopkins, Watkin, Greene, Chesterton. Gilby, Belloc,Vann, Gill and—if one allows it—T.S. Eliot. From Germany there were Pieper, Guardini, Von le Fort and Adam; from Ireland, O’Faolain and Joyce; from the US Haecker, Bronson, Thompson Patmore plus the Notre-Dame related O’Donnell and O’Connor—admittedly a thin American group. One could mention the major Russians and other non-Catholics he recognized as central to his vision of Christian humanism. No question the Frenchmen Maritain, Mauriac, Claudel, Gilson, Peguy and Bernanos were also important. But they were either Thomist philosophers or else writers in the prophetic/social-critical/religiously lyrical modes—anything but “evangelical.” His reading list for his courses in the Philosophy of Literature, which I assume Ryan did not take, had of course no French at all.

Ryan regrets that O’Malley’s Christian humanism did not include what he calls “European naturalism.” I’m not sure what that means by that term, but it sounds like a kind of “ism” that excludes the Christian humanism that was O’Malley’s subject. Frank taught literature, not science, and if he left Ryan “rootless,” as Ryan suggests, the fault just might lie with his Notre Dame teachers other than O’Malley. The “harmony of nature and spirit,” if there is one, belongs to other traditions, though one can find it in the works of the Jesuit Teilhard de Chardin and his disciples. O’Malley could do only so much.

Kenneth L. Woodward ’57
Via email

Whether one “loves” Frank O’Malley or not, and whether anyone does or should accept in detail what he was taught 50 years ago by anyone, what one should have learned incisively from O’Malley both in what he proposed and what he criticized is that literature is ideology. Students who went on to graduate school in literature in that bygone day might have found that that wasn’t at all the going thing. It has since become the only important approach.

David Karnath ’58
Buffalo, New York