Forum: November-December 2004

November 30, 2004
Food for Thought

I think your low-carb article was great ["The Skinny on the Low-Carb Craze," September-October 2004], but what I don't understand is that if it is important enough to put on your cover, why aren't the Duke students benefiting from any of this? Have any of you tried to eat in a Duke campus facility lately? It is filled with high-fat and high-carb foods. Even The Chronicle acknowledged in an August article that food in the Marketplace was terrible. Why can't we do better for our kids?

Eileen Fischmann
Allentown, Pennsylvania

Diversity of Opinion

I applaud Duke for hosting the fourth National Student Conference of the Palestine Solidarity Movement [Gazette, "Controversial Conference," September-October 2004] and "for providing an environment for the safe and open airing of controversial ideas."

The entire world, except for Israel and the United States, understands that there are two sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. For forty years, Israel has occupied and enslaved millions of Palestinians, and continues to add thousands of new settlers yearly to the West Bank, which is clearly against international law. Now Israel is building a monstrous wall that runs miles into existing Palestinian territory, which will deny these Palestinians access to their work, fields, schools, and neighboring towns.

The influential, wealthy pro-Israel lobby controls our Congress and administration. I am glad to see that they don't control Duke University.

Ray Gordon
Baltimore, Maryland

As a Jew, I am particularly concerned with the university's decision to allow the Palestine Solidarity Movement (PSM) to hold its annual conference on Duke property. The PSM and its parent, the International Solidarity Movement, repeatedly call for violence against Jews (and Christians) and work in concert with the murderous Islamic Jihad and Hamas groups in Israel. Anyone who has followed the issue of terrorism in Israel for more than five minutes knows this.

Duke's decision on this matter, as defended in the administration's nearly nauseating Q&A document, is political correctness taken to the extreme. Does anyone believe that university officials would grant meeting space to the Ku Klux Klan--or to groups that advocate killing abortion doctors--or to groups that support harming homosexuals? They wouldn't, and they shouldn't. Tolerating a diversity of opinion is vital to a university community, but such tolerance must have boundaries. I would think that the opinions of groups who advocate the bombing of school buses would fall outside of those boundaries.

Paul S. Teller '93
Washington, D.C.

Tradition and Longevity

I thoroughly enjoyed the latest issue of the Duke Magazine, especially the comments of Professor Mary McClintock Fulkerson, who rightly points out the selectiveness of appeal to tradition [Quad Quotes, "On the Record," September-October 2004]. She might have pointed out that the ban of abortion, which is an important part of the political agenda of both the Catholic and fundamentalist Protestant sects, is not well founded in tradition either. For example, the writings of St. Augustine and those of later writers, as well, were quite ambivalent on the subject of when a fetus could be considered a human being. The present attitudes of the religious right are caused, in my opinion, by a morbid obsession with sex.

On another note, I read the obituary of Katherine Markham Johnson '30, who you say is survived by a sister, Ruby Markham Drakeford '12. That would make Mrs. Drakeford something like 112 years old, assuming she graduated at a normal age of, say, twenty. Is this possible?

Paul Zweifel Ph.D. '54
Radford, Virginia

Drakeford was born January 25, 1892, so she is almost 113.

Image Oversight

Your article "Taking Women's Issues on the Road" [Register, September-October] missed the opportunity to show photographs of women important to the initiative and women listed in the article as participating in the panel. It is ironic that you chose a man to feature in the photographs with women looking up at him in admiration, a traditional pose for a photograph showing the relationship between men and women, for the article.

I wish you had pictured Dr. Susan Roth, who was one of my professors at Duke. She was important to the initiative and is a female "success" story, having built her career at Duke.

Barbara Twombley-Herrick '76
Macungie, Pennsylvania

Impassioned

I was appalled but not especially surprised by Dr. Annabel Wharton's comments [Quad Quotes, "On the Record," July-August 2004]. Although each of her points is worthy of comment, to be brief, I will focus on her charges of anti-Semitism.

First, Dr. Wharton's claim that Gibson's film [The Passion of the Christ] is anti-Semitic is absurd unless one is also willing to extend that accusation to the Gospels themselves, of which it is a fairly careful rendering. It is even more absurd to base that claim on a few vague and superficial similarities between aspects of the film and the artwork or actions of individuals in Church history. For me and others I know, the film is an intensely personal one that triggered grief, love, gratitude, and a strong desire to repay Jesus' sacrifice by living the kind of life that would make Him proud. It did not trigger anti-Semitism.

Second, her suggestion that the "pre-Vatican II" Catholic Church was anti-Semitic is also demonstrably wrong. Multiple papal directives were issued throughout Church history denouncing the persecution of Jews, e.g., Gregory I (590-604), Alexander II (1061-1073), and Clement VI (1342-1352). In fact, of all the institutions in the Middle Ages and later, the Vatican was the only one to consistently forbid such persecution. Of course, atrocities were committed against Jews, but these were, with some rare exceptions, uniformly instigated by secular authorities not under Vatican control (albeit sometimes with the complicity of local clergy).

Sadly, Dr. Wharton's criticisms seem to be, at best, misguided and, at worst, a reflection of the growing anti-Christian stereotyping that appears to be so fashionable these days. In the end, hers is an effort unworthy of her position--an exercise in name-calling, masquerading as scholarship.

Edmund Haskins '72
Carmel, Indiana

Professor Wharton's attempt to trivialize Christianity is both pathetic and appalling. I did take several art-history classes as a Duke student, as the professor recommends. However, the only Duke courses that provided information and insights in the development of my personal faith came out of the religion department. These courses, along with the now well-tattered Bible that I was given at graduation, have served me quite well in my life. I respectfully suggest that the good professor stick to art and leave theology to others better informed and better qualified to teach it.

Harry Nolan '64
Atlanta, Georgia

Right Site

I notice that the commentary [Gallery, "Seville in the Sunlight," May-June 2004] on this painting states, "On the left is the Giralda, the twelfth-century mosque...." In fact, the edifice on the right is La Catedral de Sevilla y La Giralda, reportedly the largest Gothic church in the world and among the most famous landmarks of Seville.

The Giralda tower was originally a minaret. It is crowned by a 3,000-pound statue of Faith, which serves as a weathervane--hence, Giralda, from the [Spanish] verb girar, which means "to turn around."

Francis A.E. Micara '44
Daytona Beach Shores, Florida

You are correct. In the production process, the image was inadvertently reversed, as was the image on page 14 in the September-October issue. The problem has been corrected.

Party Parity

With respect to the article "Debating Party Parity in Faculty Population" in the May-June 2004 Gazette, I commend President Keohane for weighing in, and particularly embrace her statement that strength of teaching includes "ensuring that classrooms are open to diverse, often contrary views." I also commend the provost for hosting the panel discussion.

My experience is that the arrogance of academia, evinced in the quote from Professor Munger, is much broader and more pervasive than some of the panelists admit.

Unfortunately, my experience as a student and since, in working with faculty members across the country, is that they are impatient with, and not open to, views contrary to their own, whether liberal or conservative.

In my pro bono activity, I participated in and later chaired the effort to rationalize the law of payments, particularly for electronic methods. A Harvard law professor was the reporter for that project. At a dinner following a day of deliberations, he recounted the bitter battles within the Harvard faculty on appointments of faculty, largely based on liberal bias.

At my 45th reunion at Duke in 2001, one seminar on intellectual property attacked the Uniform Computer Information Transactions Act (UCITA) with misstatements, in my view, of the current law and the Act. I identified myself as chair of that drafting committee, asked for an opportunity for rebuttal, and suggested that the IP faculty sponsor a forum on the evolving law of electronic commerce. I have followed up, without success, in having Duke sponsor a fair dialogue on electronic contracting. I have yet to have a response.

My point is that there is bias within academia that should be balanced by diversity of viewpoint. Otherwise, education becomes insular and fails to achieve the critical thought to which universities aspire.

Carlyle C. Ring Jr. J.D. '56
Washington, D.C.

Wrong Word

During my last semester at Duke, I directed a play by Jean Genet called The Blacks: A Clown Show, about which Duke Magazine ran a story [Gazette, "Power Play," May-June 2004]. Before I had even read the story in May, my grandmother asked me about my "interesting" word choice during a post-play discussion: I was quoted in the article as saying I was "pissed off" at something.

Skeptical, I watched the tape of this particular discussion to reassure myself that I hadn't publicly, and in a formal discussion, used words foul enough to offend my grandmother. I hadn't; I had said "angry," and later, "mad."

While Duke Magazine's policy of employing student writers seems natural and positive, these writers must be held to the same level of journalistic integrity as any accredited publication with as wide a distribution as Duke Magazine. I was quoted incorrectly due to sloppy journalism. Had the writer checked the quote with me, or recorded the discussion in question, I might have been spared the small but embarrassing task of apologizing to my family and friends for a slip-of-the-tongue that I did not, in fact, make.

Mary Adkins '04
Greenville, South Carolina

The writer's mistake was unintentional. All of our writers are held to the highest level of journalistic integrity. We apologize for the error.

Hart's Art

The article on the renovation of Hart House [Gazette, March-April 2004] gave me special pleasure because of old memories. When I completed a basic ROTC course in 1951, the Korean War was still going on, and I applied for the advanced ROTC course. For that, one had to take a physical, and I failed to pass because of a newly discovered hernia.

In my senior year at Duke, the Air Force developed a great need for meteorologists and offered a direct commission to anyone who qualified. Expecting to graduate with a B.S. in physics, I figured I might qualify if the hernia was repaired. I applied and was accepted. I spent Christmas vacation 1952 in Duke Hospital, where Dr. J.D. Hart, then chief of surgery, repaired my hernia. I remember listening to the radio, to Bob Hope entertaining our troops in Korea, and I laughed so hard it hurt.

I went to Fort Bragg for my physical, where the examining doctor took special interest in my fresh scar and wanted to know who did the operation. When I told him Dr. Hart, he said, "Ah, the old man himself!" Clearly, Hart's work was well known, but his fame was not limited to North Carolina. Later, in Texas, where I reported for training, the examining doctor asked the same question and returned the same expression of admiration for Dr. Hart.

The Air Force sent me to FSU to study meteorology, and I served three years in Japan. One tour flying aerial weather reconnaissance at least took me over Korea, where once we were in the eye of a typhoon just as it made landfall.

Needless to say, I was especially proud when Dr. Hart became president of Duke. Perhaps someday I'll get to visit his former home near the campus.

Donald C. Gaby '53
Daytona Beach, Florida