Web Extra: More letters to the editor

Author: Liquid error: internal

Kind words
For some time now I have been receiving Notre Dame Magazine. On every single occasion I have been impressed immensely by the material that is covered in that magazine. When I received the Summer 2001 issue, I could not resist writing to you any longer. It is an outstanding magazine. I particularly enjoyed the article on Presidents Notre Dame Has Known and also the outstanding articles on the outreach programs associated with graduates of the University of Notre Dame. The social Gospel was fully alive in this last issue. I write to you today simply to congratulate you on a work that is well, well done.

Most Reverend Harry J. Flynn, D.D.
Saint Paul, Minnesota

Peace and blessings on each of you for a ministry of the Lord well done! As a retired priest and still carrying responsibilities in our parishes, the Cursillo Movement etc., I make time to read our magazine. Most of the articles being well written, giving me considerable food for reflection and action. Be assured of my continued support (esp. spirituality) for all your fine efforts!!

Father Frederich M. Brand
Santa Fe, New Mexico

It is with humble pride that I want to thank you for the wonderful article on our home for the terminally ill in Cleveland. We are already seeing responses from this article from as far away as Puerto Rico. The senior editor of EWTN wants to do a story for 60 million cable subscribers from around the world. Also, I received a letter yesterday from a lady in Wisconsin who is interested in starting a home. This proves that our goal worked to spread the ministry elsewhere.

Walt Collins did a superb job in summarizing the warmth of this home. When I read the prefix to the magazine that you wrote in the recent issue, I was so honored to be chosen. I felt undeserving of the tasks due to the fact that there are so many alumni that do greater work and remain unseen and unheard. It is to them that I dedicate a true thank you, and to you, my sincere hope that their work will also be recognized in some way.

Daniel B. Cotter ’75
Cleveland, Ohio

Political thoughts
I was pleased to read in the May 18 Observer of Government Professor Peter Walshe’s Petition protesting Notre Dame’s honorary degree awarded to George W. Bush. Sign me on.

A June 4 New York Times article describes Bush’s “Catholic strategy for 2004” and begins by mentioning the Notre Dame honor and speech. The Bush agenda is obviously antagonistic to the Notre Dame mission. This holds true on everything from its model of Scalia and Thomas as the type of Supreme Court judges it wants to appoint to its internationally embarrassing position on Kyoto to its policies on domestic programs and much more.

I hope that the reason relatively few students and alumni signed on is that they did not know of the Petition.

Your magazine has previously (1984) recognized how politicians like Mario Cuomo represent views consistent with Notre Dame’s philosophy. Please report on what Father Malloy was thinking of.

James Stoepler ’73
Ukiah, California

I wholly and completely agree with the letter from Joseph M. Coleman, Class of ’51, which was printed in the Spring 2001 issue and which referred to the speech given by Senator Joseph Lieberman at the University.

Mr. Lieberman went around the country speaking about “religious values.” He used the University as a platform in his campaign. If he really believes in what he says, he should make such a speech to the Democratic Party but he would be afraid to do so. The man is not genuine and, as corny old adage goes, “actions speak louder than words.”

Thomas J. Kelly ’49
Buffalo, New York

Call to nonviolence
William O’Brien perfectly expresses my dismay at the Spring issue celebration of war and war-making. He also perfectly enunciates the countervailing gospel call to nonviolence.

What disturbs me, beyond O’Brien’s complaint, is the total absence of any semblance of the kind of rigorous exercise of critical intelligence one rightfully expects in a major university publication. Kerry Temple mocks that responsibility with his uncertainty about whether it is good “to question the use of killing.” John Monczunski substitutes opinion for thought: “The pacifist stance has never been strongly held in American Catholicism.” The Gospel command to peace? “The wrangling is likely to go on.” Do the editors have no contact with the Kroc Center faculty?

Brig. Gen. Wakin’s apology for the U.S. military is embarrassing in its lacunae and misrepresentations. “The military does good things well”? Flood and earthquake relief, yes, because no other agency in human history has had a fraction of its resources. But the carpet, fire storm, and nuclear bombings of World War II (I remember Father Simonitch, in Morals, keeping veterans after class to deal with that), the indiscriminate slaughter in Vietnam; the indiscriminate killing of thousands in the Panama drug bust; the destruction of water and sewer facilities in Iraq and boasted turkey shoot fleeing conscripts there; and the high altitude bombing of civilians in Serbia to avoid risk to bombing crews — not to mention our military-manipulated proxy terror in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Nicaragua? “Does good things well”?

Yes, the military acts for society, and the state may argue its responsibility to police its citizens. But where Ambrose recognized that the state can justify defense and Augustine that force may be necessary to achieve “the tranquility of order,” Augustine believed that the individual Christian must be faithful to the Gospel, which demanded nonviolence, even to martyrdom. Who, in “Onward Christian Soldiers,” even acknowledges that Ciceronian just war theory, from Augustine to George Weigel and Brian Hehir, attempts no Gospel justification? (Jesuit Scripture scholar John McKenzie insisted that there is none.) That Paul VI declared “War no more!” and that John Paul II has yet to see a war in his pontificate that he could approve? Who would guess from these four pieces that before the Constantinian compromise with state power, the Christianity rejected violence as directly contrary to the Gospel’s call to unconditional love? That U.S. military might is predicated on nuclear weapons the Church finds immoral and the World Court outlaws?

Instead of honoring Presidents who are war criminals and agents of Empire, Notre Dame should be celebrating successful nonviolent conflict resolution, such as the Filipino ouster of Marcos, and often heroic and life-sacrificing resistance to the global economy’s corporate war on the poor — which would bring Bishop Samuel Ruiz Garcia to campus as a commencement speaker graduates might recognize as a witness for faith.

William H. Slavick ’49, ’51M.A., ’71PhD.
Portland, Maine
(Prof. Slavick is author of the war and peace chapter in Rome Has Spoken.)

An ‘F’ for schools article

That was quite an amazing article, “Who’s to blame when schools fail?” (summer 2001 issue). In one fell swoop, the author manages to complete absolve our nation’s schools of any conceivable blame for turning out legions of ill-educated, self-absorbed, unmotivated graduates.

Never mind any real-world evidence. Schools widely ignore abundant and clear evidence that DISEC phonics teaches kids to read, that practice-to-mastery is fundamental in math, and that a rich substantive curriculum in history, geography, science and art is vital in earliest grades to provide a foundation of knowledge for later learning. Instead, most schools blithely go on choosing methods based on their consistency with unproven but prevailing philosophical orthodoxy. Just completely ignore all the real evidence. Just stare at the swinging watch, drink the Kool-Aide, and repeat, “The schools are wonderful. The schools are not to be blamed.”

To see this unreasoned prattle under the Notre Dame masthead is even more disturbing.

Kevin Killion

Bun Run history
I must break the public vow of silence that my fellow Bun Run founders and comrades have maintained. Outside of word of mouth within the hall, I am aware of no written history of the infamous Bun Run that began at the end of fall term 1991. The Bun Run began in the basement of Keenan Hall right before finals week and was the brainchild of Tim, a rollerblading legend of Notre Dame, (last name omitted unless he steps forward). In fact the first two Bun Runs were completed solely by participants on rollerblades. Tim and about 30 other men of Keenan, not Alumni, set out on a grassroots campaign to burn some energy before finals. The time of the first Keenan Bun Run was midnight of the pancake breakfast, free publicity and entertainment for those waiting to be admitted into the dining hall. In two short years the Bun Run grew to just over 200 participants and included a loop around both dining halls, the campus at SMC, and through the lobby of the library. As far as I know the Keenan Bun Run continued through the 1999 spring semester.

Probably our most memorable Bun Run involved about 225 Keenanites on all forms of personal transportation (bikes, rollerblades, wagons, and running) during the cold winter when Burger King was giving away antler headsets with kids meals. 8 sets of antlers were acquired for the naked reindeer that would pull our naked Santa (and dorm president) in a red wagon to deliver Christmas joy to the campus on the night of the pancake breakfast.

The most controversial Bun Run would have been the one that did not occur during the 1994 Keenan Revue, across the stage at St. Mary’s. To protect the tradition of the Bun Run and the Keenan Revue we canceled this Run.

Matt Makowski’94

Naked Outrage
The recent naked outrage occurrence performed in the library by a group of infantile “students” makes a mockery of a Catholic university. You should report it with anger — but no, you think it’s cute and report with giggles and a photo worthy of a tabloid. This is not an issue of the ND Magazine I would display to my non-Catholic friends. Ed Cohen thinks it’s fun? I think it’s time the administration beefed up security and made some examples of those idiots.

Rudy Toffenetti

The summer issue of Notre Dame Magazine displays a lien of students parading through the hall, naked. I was never a student at Notre Dame but I am 80 years old and ever since I was a young boy I have loved the school and am a loyal fan. There is nothing more beautiful than the Golden Dome shining in the sunlight and, standing on top, a figure of Our Blessed Mother looking down on all the students. It must really break her heart to see her loved ones parading around naked. Perhaps that same gang of young men in proper attire could form a line and march to the Grotto and pray for those who are suffering from the tragedy of Sept. 11. There was also a comment in the article about the administration not making too much of the incident because of fanfare. Why then publish it in the magazine for all to see?

Thank you for reading this opinion and God bless you in your future endeavors.

Paul C. Mower
Rockford, IL

Commercial brashness
Good work, ND. I’m so happy now that ND has an “Adidas allegiance now toe to head.” Let’s get the university more into the commercial advertising business: just keep calling it a “marketing partnership” and “sponsorship.” Has there been any discussion about selling “naming rights” to the Golden Dome? Or, perhaps a large billboard held up by Touchdown Christ on the library’s wall (Game Days, only, of course)?

Or, have you considered labeling our football uniforms like race car drivers? With individual ads and logos sewn on over all of the body parts? (Higher rates for QBs.) Ah, if my old English teachers at ND, Frank O’Malley and Al Ryan (who guided us through Newman’s The Idea of a University) were only alive to witness such progress.

Here is my New Notre Dame “Alma Mater” to be sung to the Traditional Tune:
Notre Dame has footwear,
Gear from head to toe.
Giving our endorsement
For all the world to know
Proudly in the heavens,
Dear Mother looks below,
Sees Adidas logos
And wants the world to know:
Here’s our proud tradition
On sale for one and all.
While a thousand merchants,
Praise thee Notre Dame.
While a thousand merchants,
Love thee Notre Dame.

Hugh (Duke) Rank ’54

A shame
“Domers in the News” in your Spring 2001 issue embarrassed the entire Notre Dame community and Ms. Hannah Storm in particular. Not one person affiliated with this great institution has need for updates as to the contents of recent “Playboy.com” polls, least of all a woman who is objectified by such a poll. Please do us all a favor and keep your collective head out of the sewer and focused upon Our Lady when you have need of editorial guidance on women’s issues.

Daniel J. Kelly ’94
Ann Arbor, Michigan

Notre Dame repeated the 1981 Ronald Reagan commencement embarrassment by inviting George W. Bush to speak at the 2001 ceremony. Perhaps it wanted to commemorate the 20th anniversary of one bad move by making another? The University embraced a man who launched his presidential campaign at the virulently anti-Catholic Bob Jones University. The president is a man with an undistinguished career, who rode a life of privilege to the White House on a questionable Supreme Court decision. He is for the death penalty, against protecting the environment, opposes gun control, and is cutting funds for government-sponsored social programs. Is this what Notre Dame stands for? Notre Dame will do anything for money, including supporting a president that stands against most Catholic social teaching. Shame on Father Malloy and the University for this continued pandering. Do not expect my contribution to any University fund drives.

Paul Czarnecki ’89
Cincinnati, Ohio

Following is the text of a letter I sent to Father Malloy complaining of the choice of George W. Bush as commencement speaker. I hope you will print it as a letter in Notre Dame Magazine.

Dear Fr. Malloy:
I was deeply disappointed to learn that George W. Bush will be Notre Dame’s commencement speaker. Neither in his public nor private life has Mr. Bush witnessed to Notre Dame’s defining values: advocacy for the poor, respect for life, mercy and justice for the oppressed, integrity in public service, and hard work.

Mr. Bush has never used the power of government for the protection or advancement of the poor and powerless. His tax plan is a colossal wealth redistribution from the poor to the top 1 percent, as even he was forced to admit during the third debate with Mr. Gore. In the areas of bankruptcy law, health care, food and water safety, and repetitive-motion injuries Bush has removed or blocked vital hard-won protections for low- and middle-income Americans. He opposes affirmative action for those disadvantaged by decades of state-sponsored racism but offers no alternative to redress the continuing widespread inequality of opportunity. There is no evidence that he ever publicly supported civil rights or women’s rights when such a stand might have shown genuine courage and conviction, in the 60s and 70s; except for vague bromides during last year’s campaign, he still refuses to face these issues.

Mr. Bush caused the worst damage to our electoral system in more than a century when last fall he went to court to toss out tens of thousands of legally valid, unambiguously marked ballots in Florida. Complicit in this disenfranchisement were the governor of Florida, who is also Bush’s younger brother; Florida’s chief elections officer, who was also his state campaign chair; and several Supreme Court justices appointed by his father. If this sort of corruption had occurred in Latin America or Africa we would have imposed sanctions or intervened militarily.

As Texas governor Mr. Bush refused to intervene in death penalty cases even in the face of disturbing evidence of official misconduct or unreliable testimony. He turned a blind eye to substantiated reports of prosecutorial malfeasance, defense incompetence, judicial corruption, and wrongful convictions: Gary Graham was executed last summer on the basis of the highly dubious testimony of a single eyewitness. Bush is also callous: days before her execution he mocked Karla Faye Tucker’s pleas for a commutation to life behind bars. Such calculated ignorance of the death penalty system’s failures and taunting of the condemned cannot be reconciled with Notre Dame’s insistence on respect for life and mercy for the imprisoned.

If nothing in Mr. Bush’s public career is consistent with Notre Dame’s principles, the same could be said about his private life. Unlike those who have used their advantages to help the less fortunate, Bush’s personal life reveals a pattern of responsibility avoidance coupled with schemes for personal advancement by currying favor with powerful family members and friends. Despite high school grades so wretched that counselors doubted he could be admitted into a good college, Yale accepted him because his father went there. His father also pulled strings to enable him to avoid the Vietnam War in lieu of service in the Texas Air National Guard, although no one has been able to prove that he actually completed his term. He enjoyed an extended adolescence of drinking and partying that lasted until his 40s, including an arrest for vandalism at Yale and at least one later arrest for drunken driving. He abused alcohol and harder drugs, and according to a report broadcast on CNN last fall, paid for an abortion. When he finally chose a career, during his father’s presidency, rather than exercise independence and enterprise he exploited his famous last name to entice investors to an oil company that soon tanked. When he sold his house upon election as Texas governor, it was revealed that his housing covenant forbade sale to any person of color; he has yet to publicly rebuke this provision.

It would be far more appropriate for Notre Dame to have invited a commencement speaker who has overcome great odds, fought courageously for a principle, or dedicated his/her life to education and advancement, rather than simply to have inherited wealth and privilege. I urge all speakers at the ‘01 convocation to chastise Mr. Bush for his disgraceful conduct during the Florida recount; to hold him accountable for the lofty campaign rhetoric he used to cajole voters; and to challenge this year’s graduates to hold themselves to higher personal standards than the ones he holds for himself.

Richard Flint ’84, ’85M.S., ’87M.A..
Naperville, IL

As an alumnus of our university, I can appreciate the unique emphasis that Notre Dame places on teaching students a sense of social morality. I cannot help but be disturbed by the mixed signals that Notre Dame sends, however, when inviting the man who, during his term as governor, allowed half of all executions performed in the United States to occur with his consent. George W. Bush presided over a record number during his governorship of Texas — 152. He never questioned the legitimacy of executions in his state even though all across the country, innocent death row inmates were being freed because new evidence (often DNA evidence) was being found that exonerated them. He even allowed the execution of the mentally impaired and those who committed their crimes as minors. Does this send a positive message of what Notre Dame stands for?

Mark Higgins ’00