Letters

Your Turn

Readers write, react and respond. (November-December 2016)
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The Votes Are In
Jake Tapper ’91 is certainly among the very best journalists on TV [“State of the Union,” September/October]. He is sharp and he has earned my trust. And kudos to him for defending Monica Lewinsky. 

Given Tapper’s passion for truth and his scorn of hypocrisy, I wish he would report on what has happened to the American college over the past half century.

Frank Gado ’58
White River Junction, Vermont

 

Unfortunately Tapper doesn’t have enough degrees of separation from the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton to be entirely objective, in my humble opinion. Isn’t it ironic that his first job was as a staffer for Rep. Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky, whose son just happens to be married to Chelsea Clinton? 

Paul D. Ettari ’72
Darien, Connecticut

 

Just after reading the introduction to the Vintage edition of a recently acquired old book, I read Julia Klein’s interview with Tapper. When I read Tapper’s response to an early question, I thought I was still reading the old book.

According to Klein, Tapper said, “I have a value system.…But that value system is not necessarily reflected by either party or politician.…It’s much easier for me to not belong to a team because I don’t like either of the teams in particular….It was kind of how I viewed the world even at Dartmouth….The comic strip I did…made fun of everybody.”

The writer of the intro to the old book to which I refer wrote, in part, “Disillusionment’s child is irreverence….I am still irreverent. I still feel the same contempt for and still reject so-called objective decisions made without passion and anger. Objectivity, like the claim that one is nonpartisan or reasonable, is usually a defensive posture used by those who fear involvement in the passions, partisanships, conflicts, and changes that make up life; they fear life. An ‘objective’ decision is generally lifeless. It is academic and the word ‘academic’ is a synonym for irrelevant….This brings me to the question, ‘What, if anything, is [my] ideology?’…The prerequisite for an ideology is possession of a basic truth. [But I] do not have a fixed truth. Truth to [me] is relative and changing. [I] accept the late Justice Learned Hand’s statement that ‘the mark of a free man is that ever-gnawing inner uncertainty as to whether or not he is right.’ Having no fixed truth, [I have] no final answers, no dogma, no formula, no panacea.”

That old (1946) book and its author? Reveille for Radicals, by Saul D. Alinsky. 

Stu Mahlin ’63
Cincinnati

 

Cool Customer
Thanks for the excellent article on Leah Daughtry ’84 [“The Peacemaker,” September/October]. Several things she said resonated with me. For one, after overcoming initial misgivings about Dartmouth, she agreed to visit campus, arriving soon after it had snowed. It was January, freezing, “To most people, it might have seemed miserable,” she says. “I just loved it. I said, ‘This is where I belong. This is the place for me.’” I was lucky to grow up in Hanover and attend Dartmouth. I still would rather be in Hanover, straddling the Appalachian Trail, than almost any other place in the United States. And I remember being outdoors in the winter—the special silence after a snowstorm, the cold air that, when inhaled, could freeze the snot in your nose.

Daughtry makes the amusing and insightful comment that she grew up in the black church, “and there is no place that has more sensitivity to personalities, egos and positions than in a black church.” It appears that she has applied her experiences well in her work in the DNC. She is obviously in the right line of work, saying, “We welcome a diversity of opinion. There are always protesters. There are always people with signs. I’ve been one of those.”

Because of these experience-based views, she sounds like a good emissary for the incoming Clinton administration to the disaffected right starting on November 9: the disappointed Trumpists, the angry nativists, the Second Amendment folks to whom Trump famously referred and the near-racists who have filled the media with their ranting. I presume Hillary would equip Daughtry for her negotiations with such a crowd but could reasonably expect her to “pacify the spirits,” as Brazilians might say.

Donald R. Gaylord ’77
Fayetteville, North Carolina

 

The September/October issue is as politically biased as any edition in memory. You don’t even try to make it close in the face of two unworthy presidential candidates.

Quentin L. Kopp ’49
San Francisco

 

In the Neighborhood
As a Vermont native and Dartmouth alum recently moved back to the Upper Valley, I feel compelled to address the controversy raised by the proposed 70,000-square-foot indoor practice field referenced in your last “Campus” section [September/October]. I have been embarrassed by the College’s arrogance in its attitudes toward the Chase Field neighborhood and question the institutional need for the huge building. The College would do well to step back and reconsider the balance between wants and needs. How much will this building enhance the education of students? We see the cost of higher education rising all across the country, and part of the problem is keeping-up-with-the-Joneses when it comes to facilities. I recall a guy on my floor freshman year on the crew team. How much he enjoyed sleeping in once the season was over! Do we really need year-round facilities for all sports? At what cost?

Then there’s the Rennie Farm, where Dartmouth once buried lab animals. Granted, in the 1960s and 1970s society had different attitudes about waste disposal. But once the problem was recognized, why weren’t neighbors alerted right away? Why weren’t all potentially contaminated wells tested? And why was the cleanup put on hold in 2013?  

Dartmouth can do better by recognizing that its greatest assets lie not so much in big new facilities or even the idyllic campus but in the people of the larger community, from students to faculty and staff to townspeople.

Peter J. Thompson ’68
Post Mills, Vermont

 

Digital Delights
Your online magazine is very impressive. I think I can learn more here than by reading The New York Times (and I like The New York Times)!

Michael Butler ’61
Oakland, California

 

Social Oenology 
I knew there had to be some conscientious “winos” among our alumni [“Chateaux Faux?” September/October] who have made a professional career in spotting good ullage from bad, aged sediment from shadow and capsule chicanery.

In 1973 a group of young professionals joined together to pragmatically follow the grape and must in the purchase of appropriate quality French wines. Through years of hit-or-miss decisions—vigorously debated at monthly meetings at restaurants, clubs and even garages—we acquired and imbibed a panoply of good wines and rotgut. We learned to our joy early on to buy futures of excellent vintages of celebrity wines (Latour, Mouton, d’Yquem). While pure luck and a little bit of “terroir” logic have saved us money and embarrassment, we regrettably find that age together with medication now limits our enjoyment to fewer than two glasses per dinner meal, requiring that granitic fortitude to forgo a third. As our membership shrinks, the survivors reluctantly have utilized advisory services similar to Edgerton et fille to sell portions of the group cellar, with proceeds to buy younger vintages for our progeny.

I’ve always wondered why our graduate schools have never offered a non-credit seminar in social oenology. Am I out of the social media loop? 

Ed Parsons ’53
Naples, Florida

 

Defense Spending
If the College passed along the full cost of its cybersecurity spending, in the millions (“Look Who’s Talking,” September/October) to current students (numbering in the thousands), we’re talking thousands of dollars in tuition or fees. 

Assuming our intellectual property and privacy are worth it, alumni philanthropy can and should continue to subsidize risk mitigation. Steve Nyman, chief information security officer for the College, identified nation-state intelligence services, specifically in Russia and China, as the first enemies actively seeking to steal. So federal defense and intelligence appropriations and procurement reform would indirectly address other national concerns, such as student loan burdens and college costs.

Alex Talcott ’04
Durham, New Hampshire

 

A Rare Combination
One thing readers should know about Margaret Spring ’82 [“Pursuits,” September/October] is that she is a conservationist who is passionate about science. You may say, “Of course,” but I would say she is too rare these days. This makes her more valuable to her cause since she can communicate openly and honestly with the scientific community, particularly those in government who work on the fishery population models (stock assessments) that inform conservation policy. 

And the favor is returned, as National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration fisheries, for which I worked, did in proposing management measures for Pacific bluefin tuna. 

Sam Pooley ’70
Honolulu 

 

The Pole Truth
I like that Bryon Friedman ’02 [“Pursuits,” September/October] is making bamboo ski poles that are both stronger and more environment-friendly than aluminum poles. But his bamboo is shipped from China to Park City, Utah. Does he know bamboo grows almost anywhere, and would probably do well in Park City? Right now I’m watching the bamboo grow in my backyard .

Bob Reid ’67 
Sea Bright, New Jersey

EDITOR’S NOTE: Although bamboo can in theory grow almost anywhere, Friedman says there are no high-quality suppliers in the United States. He uses a species based on attributes including diameter and strength.

 

Banded Together

Another item that might have been included in your story about the Dartmouth Marching Band [“School Spirit,” September/October] is participation by Marching Band alumni each fall at Homecoming, where 20 to 30 of us return to march and perform with the student members. This all started in 1980. Donald Landzettel ’60 has participated every year since then, and I have missed only one. Many former band members help with the band’s financial needs. John Graves ’85 generously donated a new full drum set. Many of us also attend the sweater awards dinner for graduating seniors each February. 

Keep up the good work with the high quality of the magazine.

John H. Kennedy ’53
Mystic, Connecticut

 

A Spud to Remember
Thank you for the evocative photograph of the two Dartmouth football players of 1910 on the Class Notes cover, page 63, of your September/October issue. Your photo editor—who chose so well—and your readers might not know the full story behind the smaller player on the left. Sturgis “Spud” Pishon, class of 1910, was far more than a hero on the gridiron. He was killed in aerial training at Saint-Jean-de-Monts, France, on October 26, 1918, two weeks before the WW I armistice, and is buried in the Suresnes American Cemetery in France. A Boston boy from West Roxbury, he was memorialized by his friends there as the namesake of the Crosscup-Pishon American Legion Post organized in 1923.

Spud’s memory lives on in Hanover, too. His name appears on the WW I honor roll at Memorial Field. His class picture adorns a wall at Casque & Gauntlet. And in a first-floor room at Theta Delta Chi, his name is on a bronze plaque with those of three other brothers killed in WW I.

How does a ’77 know about Spud? Because as late as the 1970s, Col. Conrad “Connie” Snow, class of 1912, would speak of him at the annual Theta Delt pledge banquet as an exemplar of brotherhood, striving to ensure that “mystic chords of memory” stretched to another generation at Theta Delt and beyond.

Thank you for bringing Spud’s memory back to life once more. 

Tom Barnico ’77
Westwood, Massachusetts

 

No Ordinary Joe
Senator Joseph McCarthy and his associates did not meddle only in the affairs of libraries, they were also involved in fighting communism in educational institutions [“Don’t Join the Book Burners,” July/August]. In January 1954 I was accepted by a doctoral program in Russian studies at the school of Oriental studies of the Sorbonne in Paris. I was on active duty in the U.S. Army in Germany and therefore took my discharge in Stuttgart. That done, my wife and I headed for Paris.

On our arrival there, I checked in at the Veterans Administration office of the U.S. embassy to register for the GI Bill. When I explained that I had been accepted at the Sorbonne, the official with whom I was dealing asked, “Which faculty?” When I replied, “L’École des etudes Orientales,” he was crestfallen and explained rather hesitantly that Messrs. Cohn and Shine of the McCarthy staff had just visited Paris. They had come to evaluate libraries and educational institutions and had determined that the faculty that I wished to join was “communist dominated” and thus no longer eligible for the GI Bill. 

Bereft of funding, we headed for the more friendly climes of London, where, happily, the McCarthy twins had not visited.

Haviland Smith ’51
Williston, Vermont

 

Unwanted Attention
Your decision to profile alumnus Tom Green ’62 [“The Fixer,” July/August] was, to put it mildly, an unfortunate choice. When presented with a list of hundreds of worthy alumni, why would you choose a man who manipulates the law to “secure acquittals and lenient deals” for politicians and government officials who have betrayed the public trust with illegal financial operations, obstruction of justice, illegal arms sales and serial sexual child abuse? To this Dartmouth wife, sister-in-law and daughter-in-law, your choice serves to perpetuate Dartmouth’s reputation as a clueless bastion of white male privilege. 

Mary Smoyer
Cambridge, Massachusetts

 

Koch Machine?
I was dismayed to read comments from Jason Sorens, a lecturer at Dartmouth [“Look Who’s Talking,” July/August]. I do not know this person, but Sorens has been at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University since 2008. This center is the think tank funded by Charles Koch to promote free-market policies under the guise of legitimate academic research. Since

the 1980s a group of free-market billionaires has pursued academic legitimacy for their extreme economic and political ideas. They fund “institutes,” “programs” and faculty “fellows” to promote the “benefits” of unfettered capitalism to college students. They have specifically targeted the Ivies.

For these billionaires, libertarian phil-osophy (freedom, personal liberties, small government) fits their intentions: maximizing their own fortunes.

In DAM Sorens identifies as a Libertarian and he supports a smaller federal role in education. His Free State Project has recruited 20,000 Libertarians to New Hampshire. He wants this group to “expand civil liberties” but has “no idea” what form that will take. He also talks about legislators who will “vote a libertarian position 85 percent of the time.” That’s an eerie reminder of the right-wing takeovers of North Carolina and Wisconsin (funded by millions from the Koch brothers and others). 

Is Sorens providing education—or propaganda—at Dartmouth? Students—and faculty—should know the backstories of the instructors to whom they are exposed. 

Kevin Kennedy ’70
Winchester, Virginia

 

More Dignity, Please
I found the cover of the July/August issue [“The World According to Rembert”] most distasteful. It certainly did nothing to enhance the dignity of the individual or my beloved Dartmouth College.

In my opinion, you could have presented the young man in a much more complimentary way. I did not read the article about him as the cover turned me off so completely.

Ross M. Tucker ’54
Sarasota, Florida

 

Every Second Counts
In your article on Heinz Kluetmeier ’65 [“Photo Finish,” July/August] you mention that Michael Phelps won the 2008 Olympic 100-meter butterfly by “one tenth of a second.” This is incorrect. Phelps won the event by one one-hundredth of a second, making Kluetmeier’s photography that much more impressive (and important).

Vince Pollard ’81
Indianapolis, Indiana

 

Different Strokes
I admire Fay Wells, Tu’06 [“In the Crossfire,” May/June], for her calm composure when assaulted by intruders, the first being an offensive neighbor calling the police, then by an overload of force. My heart goes out to her for suffering needless loss of peacefulness.

Roger E. Condit ’59
Farmington, Maine

 

Weeks after reading your story about Wells, I was biking through Santa Monica, California, and observed no fewer than seven Santa Monica police department squad cars responding to a curbside incident involving two white suspects who appeared to be compliant. Approximately five Santa Monica police officers stood over them. I would estimate that at least 10, and likely more, Santa Monica police officers were at the scene. The police response that I observed happens all the time in Santa Monica. 

Please read this factual account as a cautionary tale before you publish future context-lacking “social justice” stories. 

William L. “Bill” Robbins ’83
Los Angeles

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