Your Turn

Readers write, react, and respond. (September/October 2020)

A Note to DAM Readers
DAM’s staff and board are dedicated to making a great magazine for you. With all the feedback about the Blake Neff ’13 item in our July/August issue, let me say loud and clear: We hear you, and we thank you.

Our coverage of Neff is a matter of newsworthiness, given his prominent role with Tucker Carlson Tonight, a television show with enormous influence on the president of the United States. That said, DAM should have provided additional context and more rounded reporting to explain the role of Carlson’s show in today’s political culture. The magazine’s editorial board and I have held extensive discussions about your feedback and the shortcomings in our story. The editors will be more rigorous moving forward.

A week after DAM published the issue, CNN reported on July 10 that Neff had posted racist, misogynistic, and homophobic comments on an online forum using a pseudonym. Neff resigned from his job at Fox News, and DAM temporarily pulled the online version of the story to provide an update. The original remained available in our digital archive.

A number of alumni wrote letters to express their dismay at Neff and the magazine. We are pushing out this online version of letters early so you can read them all prior to publication of the September/October 2020 issue, which will include an expanded letters section culled from those that appear here.

One thing I noticed in the letters: some misunderstanding about DAM’s relationship to the College. As the masthead says: “Editorially independent since 1905.” DAM’s mission, according to its charter, is to deliver “news of the College and its alumni, provide a medium for the exchange of views concerning College affairs, and in other ways provide editorial content that relates to the shared and diverse experiences and interests of Dartmouth alumni.”

To those who wrote to ask if DAM is somehow proud of Neff, the emphatic answer is no. The editors condemn Neff’s reprehensible actions, which in no way reflect the views of this magazine.

Thank you for writing, and thank you for reading.
—Sean Plottner, editor

 

Further Review

I am extremely disappointed by the magazine’s decision to feature Neff, Tucker Carlson’s writer. Given Carlson’s regular racist, sexist, and false remarks, the institution could easily have anticipated that at one point Neff would cross the line.

ERIN KLEIN ’13
Chicago

 

Really? Out of all the remarkable Dartmouth alumni since 1769, you had to pick Neff?

ETHAN BRAUNSTEIN ’67
Flagstaff, Arizona

 

You picked the wrong person to lionize. The Dartmouth Review tormented Native and Black students for years. We were tormented by the Neffs of the world at a College founded for the youths “of the various Indian tribes.” We are proud to be alums, but the DAM celebration of Neff scratches at old wounds we still carry beneath the flesh.

WILLIAM HARJO (LONEFIGHT) ’89
New Town, North Dakota

 

It’s so disappointing when alumni such as Neff reinforce the negative aspects of Dartmouth’s brand despite all the good work that so many people are doing. I can only imagine the impact on students and alumni of color.

DAFNA SARNOFF ’85
New York City

 

It should be noted that Neff began his illustrious career in journalism at The Review. Neff’s journey from being a bigot in a small town in New Hampshire to being a bigot on the national stage should remind us that The Review remains a stain on the Dartmouth experience and serves only to create a pathway to influence and fame for the worst of our College. Yet again, The Review and its alums have brought shame to our great institution.

HEMANT JOSHI ’04
Allston, Massachusetts

 

Whose brilliant idea was it to highlight the most dubious achievements of Neff? Yes, you’ll tell me this was written before the current scandal. And yes, we are a community that fosters free speech. But give me a break: I was there (as a member of the staff and later arts editor of The Dartmouth) when The Review was founded. We have always known that while it was based on conservative political philosophy, it was in reality a means to express cruel, racist, xenophobic, and homophobic ideas. As an institution we may have no choice but to tolerate the existence of The Review on campus, but for DAM to highlight how one of its alums has now gone on to promote hateful ideas on a national scale with Carlson is a bridge too far.

JESSICA ROSENBERG BROWN ’83
Brooklyn, New York

 

Dartmouth has wonderful alumni doing important work, but in light of the racist, misogynistic, and homophobic comments that he has posted online over the past few years, Neff is not one of them. Please remove your profile of him in the current magazine. The College has nothing to be proud of in calling him an alumnus.

SHARON GRAYZEL ’87
Portland, Oregon

 

Unfortunate timing for the Neff profile, but I appreciate how quickly DAM updated the story online with a condemnation of his racist views. I hope that article stands as his last appearance in these pages, but history suggests that might not be the case. Consider the relatively small but highly visible cadre of alumni who’ve turned bigotry into a highly remunerative career path and how frequently they are mentioned in this publication.

I cannot be the only alumna who cringes whenever someone like Neff makes the news for a provocative tweet or screed, then earns another mention in an alumni publication. What responsibility do we have as an institution to opt out of promoting those alumni whose careers are a constant test of the line between political opinion and inflammatory hate speech? Is it necessary to write sympathetically about convicted felon Dinesh D’Souza ’83? Must a book by Laura Ingraham ’85 be noticed? 

When alumni profit from white supremacy and exclusionary politics that conflict directly with the College’s values, why must we remain neutral? Plenty of other media outlets with distributions exponentially greater than DAM’s will continue covering their every utterance. We cannot revoke their diplomas or deny their alumni status, but let’s at least decide to stop including notices about them in alumni publications.

ANDREA GREER ’93
Houston

 

Congratulations on your timely piece about Neff on the eve of his firing. Have you considered running similar articles about Dartmouth grads serving time on death row or in hospitals for the criminally insane?

GREG PRENTISS ’66
Lakeview, Arkansas

 

To find a feature in the most recent issue about Neff under the headline “The Right Stuff” is truly disgusting. It gets worse. The magazine flippantly adds that Mr. Neff worked for The Daily Caller as if it were some innocuous broadsheet instead of a publication that has published a number of white supremacists, anti-Semites, and bigots. DAM owes the Dartmouth community an apology. People such as Neff, Laura Ingraham, and Dinesh D’Souza should never be featured. These people have no business being anywhere near the Dartmouth we all love.

NICK BERNSTEIN ’84
Brooklyn, New York

 

There is no place for the racist, sexist comments of Neff in the Dartmouth community. I’m incredibly embarrassed to have graduated the same year. The recent article misrepresents what kind of person he is and undesirably draws more attention to his connection with Dartmouth.

JANE CAI ’13
New York City

 

I was so disappointed to find out that Neff is a Dartmouth alum. We certainly do not want to celebrate him. He’s offensive and an embarrassment.

LAURA FRIEDMAN KLEIN ’91
Brookeville, Maryland

 

Yet another member of The Review joins the ranks of the disgraced. I’m rolling on the floor laughing my ass off as I wallow in schadenfreude.

JOHN CHAMBERLIN ’70
Falls Church, Virginia

 

Yet again I find myself incredibly disappointed by Dartmouth. It is totally appalling that DAM would publish a feature on Neff. Regardless of the fact that he was just recently caught posting racist and misogynist diatribes online, he writes for a racist and misogynist TV host and lets us know that those are his words that Carlson is saying on TV. He’s proud of that, of course, but should DAM be? I fail to understand how someone writing for a TV personality who has a clear disdain for women and for people of color should be celebrated. Does the College feel proud of the job it did educating [Neff] if these are the views he graduated with? I would hope the College is working to educate and graduate students who value and celebrate diversity and graduating white people who understand the privilege that they were born with and that they carry as Ivy League graduates. Lord knows the College needs more diversity—and celebrating graduates such as Neff certainly won’t help it attract a student body population that it needs to be a successful school. 

BROOKE LIERMAN ’01
Baltimore

 

My husband and I are both alums and were frankly appalled to see the article about Neff. To have that article come out the week Carlson besmirched Tammy Duckworth—a disabled woman of color and war hero—was ridiculous. And Carlson is so racist and sexist that many advertisers will not even pay for ads on his show. But I held off on saying anything until learning why Neff had to resign from Fox News. I am shocked but not surprised. This is exactly the kind of person who would commit themselves to working for Carlson. You owe all of us an apology for normalizing and glamorizing this work. There aren’t two sides to every story. Sometimes there is just right and wrong. 

MIRIAM INGBER ’01 AND PETER VASSILEV ’00
Westport, Connecticut

 

What a “nice” coincidence to have Carol Muller’s interview [“A Failure to Dig Deeper,” July/August] on the same wall space as the recognition of Neff’s achievements! Reminders of a couple of Dartmouth’s legacies—of John Kemeny, an important mentor of mine [who oversaw Dartmouth’s decision to go coed], and also of the College’s insular, sometimes racist and sexist, environment.

NEIL HENRY, ADV’60
Richmond, Virginia

 

As a parent of a Dartmouth ’16, ’18, and ’21 as well as the wife of a Tuck board member, I am horrified by the news of Neff and his racist posts. I would hope that DAM will hold Neff accountable and run a follow-up article condemning Neff and exploring the role Dartmouth has played, if any, in forming or allowing his racist views and the College’s current race culture.

SONIA F. MCARDLE
Chicago

 

I was disappointed to see your piece on Neff, a kindred spirit with, and mouthpiece of, Carlson and his racism and misogyny. It would appear to be a pretty clear call that this son of Dartmouth’s accomplishments do not deserve celebration. The embarrassment from Neff’s resignation because of his own postings of racist and misogynistic views under the shield of a pseudonym is just confirmation.

While Dartmouth is a great institution, not everything its alumni do is great, even if influential. I am sure there are many like me—who graduated and, without fanfare, worked hard and became leaders in their communities—who have a difficult time seeing their values in this editorial choice.

It is possible someone may wish to turn my comments into a partisan attack. Nothing could be further from my point. There are legitimate and illegitimate conservative perspectives just as there are legitimate and illegitimate liberal perspectives. Carlson, and the hateful words he spews, bear almost no resemblance to, for example, George Will, David Brooks, and The Wall Street Journal.

GEORGE STRANDER ’84
Albion, Michigan

 

I wasn’t surprised to hear about Neff's racist, sexist, and homophobic commentaries. This is the moment to confront the campus institutions that have long perpetuated discriminatory and bigoted behavior. Neff appears to have loyally upheld The Review tradition of buttressing white supremacy through the denigration of diverse voices—usually on the left—most infamously when Review staff members attacked shanties that had been constructed to protest apartheid in South Africa, a story that student activists told for years after. When I was a student The Review vociferously defended a frat “ghetto party”—an unbelievably painful event for many Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) students—so Neff’s racist writings demeaning the intelligence of Black Americans, African immigrants, and Asian Americans did not come as a surprise. The Review’s party line then was the same as it has been since the school coeducated in 1972: Lighten up, it’s just boys being boys.

It also didn’t come as a surprise that the anonymous posts of a former Review writer would target a woman, as Neff did, posting private details about her life and mocking her. When I was at Dartmouth this was The Review’s modus operandi. It was an elitist publication with a pathological need to slander fellow community members by shaming them in print; how could I forget being labeled a member of the “phallus brigade” by a Review writer or called out for my “well-known awfulness”? 

Notably, Steven Menashi—recently appointed by Trump to the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals—was the editor-in-chief when the Review published articles claiming that Dartmouth was “anti-male” and derided any effort to draw attention to issues of inclusion and diversity on campus. The Review staff had particular disdain for the Women’s Resource Center and its work to confront sexual violence on campus. Most troubling of all, the Review targeted students, by name, and often with photographs. Not content to merely exercise their free speech and articulate their grievances, the editors strove to intimidate students who didn’t ascribe to their brand of political incorrectness. When students complained to the university about being harassed in the pages of The Review, the administration shrugged; the Review is notoriously “independent.” 

For Neff, Menashi, and The Review, feminists, BIPOCs, queer people—or anyone else they consigned to the dangerous bin of liberal politics or, even worse, who dared call them out on their tactics—did not belong in their space, and frankly didn’t belong at the school at all; theirs was a twisted, “Make Dartmouth Great Again” nostalgia.

Until DAM begins to write about The Review’s role on our campus with honesty, the stain on our College will remain. Its name will be raked through the mud every time another incident affiliated with a former Review writer is exposed, and its deleterious effects on the student body and prospective students will endure. And the sense of alienation among the many alumni who suffered defamation and harassment in their pages will also continue.

HILLARY MILLER ’02
Brooklyn, New York

 

It reflects badly on Dartmouth that [Neff] would write these things. Even without the racist comments, he had poisoned the public discourse with the writing he did for Carlson.

GERALD CLAMON ’68
Iowa City, Iowa

 

Under normal circumstances I might have questioned your decision to publish favorable fluff for a former Review staffer, as it’s pretty clear that lot hasn’t changed much since the shanty-bashing good times during my stay in Hanover. I’m sure the fact that he’s never applied for a job will serve as an inspiration for all: The right-wing old boy’s network is alive and well. Fortunately, I don’t have to, since he’s now been outed as racist, misogynist, and homophobic. You really should be more careful when you choose to feature this kind of toxic personality.

HOLGER KLEY ’88
Fort Collins, Colorado

 

I read with dismay articles revealing the vile racism and sexism of a man you profiled. While I’m sure the editors of the alumni magazine were not aware of his despicable rantings under another name, I urge you to expressly renounce any implication that he should be celebrated by our College. 

JAYNE DeCUBELLIS DONEGAN ’84
North Kingstown, Rhode Island

 

The timing is just too good. Shortly after your profile of Neff appears, he is outed as the author of several anonymous and abhorrent racist and misogynist posts on an online message board. And to think this is by a former editor of The Review. To paraphrase a line from Casablanca, I am shocked! Shocked!

DOUGLAS RAELSON ’70
Milan, New York

 

It is not a secret that Carlson peddles racism, hatred, and propaganda for President Trump on a network that makes it fortune by peddling racism, hatred, and propaganda on behalf of Trump. The news that it was Neff who put the words of hatred in Carlson’s mouth is a revelation indeed. “The Right Stuff” is the title of a bestseller by Tom Wolfe that profiles the first American astronauts who risked their lives in the dramatic and successful effort by NASA to put humans on the moon. DAM, which appropriated this title without attribution for the article, implies that Neff’s scriptwriting is in some way comparable to the courage of these astronauts. Such a grotesque comparison seems out of place in DAM. DAM has totally sidestepped its responsibility in choosing to profile Neff, knowing full well what kind of deplorable material he was producing for Carlson to speak on the air, and for deciding to characterize this material as “The Right Stuff.”

THOMAS PEARSALL ’67
Washington, Vermont

 

I write to express my disappointment and frustration with the editorial decision of DAM to run a profile on Neff. Though it is clear that there was no way for you to have anticipated that this Dartmouth graduate would be fired from Fox News for his vile posts under a pseudonym, it should have been abundantly clear well before this dramatic revelation that Neff did not deserve the fawning profile that you bestowed upon him. That his status as Carlson’s head writer was understood by you and your team as something worth honoring is a major embarrassment to the Dartmouth community and contravenes Dartmouth’s institutional commitment to equality, inclusivity, and diversity. Your decision to run this profile in the current issue of the magazine is particularly galling, since it comes on the heels of the horrific killing of George Floyd and the subsequent social movements that emerged to protest systemic racism. Your decision to honor Neff for working for Tucker Carlson Tonight and The Daily Caller also contradicts your own stated values, which your masthead proclaims are guided “by Dartmouth’s principles of freedom of expression and accepted standards of good taste.” Dartmouth cannot support equality, inclusivity, and diversity and have its alumni magazine honor alums who actively contest these values through their professional activities.

In the DAM article, Neff brags that “anything [Carlson] is reading off the teleprompter, the first draft was written by me.” This is nothing to be proud of, and certainly nothing that should warrant a glowing profile in one of Dartmouth’s flagship publications. [Ed note: The author provided five samples of offensive Carlson quotes that we have deleted. You can read them here as part of her full letter.)

The problem is not that Neff’s writing serves the interests of conservative political values. The problem is that Neff’s talents were put to use on a television show that is unmistakably aligned with white nationalist values, the politics of us vs. them, and white grievance. Just a little bit of research on Carlson would have revealed that he is a darling of white nationalists, including Richard Spencer, who has praised him as “open-minded” to white nationalism, and the notorious white supremacist website The Daily Stormer, which has called Carlson “literally our greatest ally.” For months Carlson has been shedding advertisers precisely because of his overt racism. Why is it that major American corporations, including T-Mobile, Disney, and Papa John’s, can see Carlson’s show for what it is, but DAM cannot?

Your flattering profile of Neff publicizes his career as enviable and implicitly validates it on behalf of Dartmouth. Surely there must be other alumni who have pursued career options aligned with political conservatism who would have been more deserving of a profile in your magazine. Surely there are recent graduates who are working to further civil discourse and equality who you could have honored. Instead, DAM used its institutional soapbox to valorize the career path of someone who put his valuable Dartmouth education to work in the service of a prime-time media personality who is beloved by our country’s most high-profile white nationalists. This is more than an embarrassment: It is an indictment of the kinds of values that operate at the very top of this institution. Dartmouth cannot claim that it supports equality and have its alumni magazine devote one of its pages to covering the utterances of racists and their allies.

In these times of creeping authoritarianism and the erosion of democratic norms, it is dangerous for an institution such as Dartmouth to decide that working for someone such as Carlson is enviable. It is my hope that going forward your publication will not honor alums like Neff who are actively contributing to the erosion of our democratic values (not to mention our institutional commitments!) by making racism, xenophobia, and white nationalism into acceptable prime-time cable news content. We cannot allow these discourses to be normalized; this is precisely why your decision to celebrate Neff for his work as a writer for Carlson was so objectionable and why I was moved to write this letter.

I hope to hear from you so we may discuss this situation, how it might be addressed by your editorial team and board, and what it might mean for the future.

KATIE HORNSTEIN
Associate professor of art history
Hanover

 

Should we be surprised given Neff’s Review roots? DAM gave Neff coverage and must now, officially and unequivocally, go on the record that it regrets doing so.

GORDON R. DOWNING ’71
Wynnewood, Pennsylvania

 

How about a follow-up article on Blake Neff?

RANDY EMERICK ’69
Sunrise, Florida

 

I shall save my printed copy of this month’s alumni magazine to refer future fundraising callers to when asked why I am not donating.

JONATHAN HODGDON ’74
Greenwich, Connecticut

 

Would you mind explaining how DAM published an article featuring Neff without having conducted more thorough due diligence on his clandestine postings? It’s embarrassing that DAM would publish an electronic piece today without commenting, and apologizing for, its decision to provide [Neff] a platform and publicity.

MARK STEIN ’83
Concord, Massachusetts

 

Way to go, DAM! Interviewing Neff really worked out well, huh? Who cares if he’s a racist and misogynist, right up there with Tucker and Donald. He’s famous and rich. That’s what counts, right?

VLADIMIR SVESKO ’69
Dolores, Colorado

 

Great article on Neff. Too bad you didn’t delve a little deeper and discover that he is a racist and white supremacist. Now, of course, he’s been fired, not because he’s a racist and white supremacist, but because he was found out to be a racist and white supremacist. Keep up the good work.

W. FAULKNER WHITE ’72
Aliso Viejo, California

 

After the glowing portrayal of Neff’s charmed post-Hanover life, I’m looking forward to the follow-up article updating the readership with the latest on Neff’s career path and thoughts. DAM needs to address this disgusting story head-on. Structural racism will persist within Dartmouth if institutional mouthpieces such as DAM fail to investigate how institutions such as Dartmouth and The Dartmouth Review normalize, support, and build the worldview espoused by Neff.

KENNETH WHITNEY ’89
Corrales, New Mexico

 

Since you did such an excellent job giving him a write-up (that didn’t even have time to age badly), will you be writing a follow-up to your Neff story?

SEAN PADGETT ’00
Litchfield, Connecticut

 

The timing of the article highlighting Neff may have simply been unfortunate, and DAM would never knowingly publish a glowing article about an alum who proudly espouses racism, homophobia, and sexism. We are hoping that his unmasking and subsequent dismissal from Fox was exactly at the same time as this article was being written, printed, and mailed.

Neff does not reflect conservatism, and he does not live up to the standards of being a daughter or son of Dartmouth College, let alone a human being with any level of basic human decency.

We are ashamed to see that he is an alumnus but unfortunately not surprised that he is a former Review staffer. His intolerance and cruelty is typical of some of the more notable Review alums.

Please write an addition or correction acknowledging who and what Neff is and what he’s done, and that the College does not condone his vile views and, in fact, abhors and rejects them.

IKE ANYANWU-EBO ’94, TH’96, AND CARMEN HARDEN ’96
Thornton, Colorado

 

What, no fawning follow-up story on Neff?

TED CARLETON ’90
Mammoth Lakes, California

 

While difficult to run intense checks on all featured alums, please tell me that someone on the editorial staff looked into Neff's background before highlighting him in the recent issue! Deplorable!

WALTER CALLENDER ’78
Rumford, Rhode Island

 

Turning the Page

Neff bragged about being the first-draft writer for virtually everything Carlson says on his show. Carlson called Sen. Tammy Duckworth, who lost both of her legs fighting in the Iraq War, a fraud, a vandal and a coward. Did Neff write that, too? As a veteran who fought and lost friends in Vietnam, I am incredulous.

Totally disgusted and disheartened to learn that a fellow Dartmouth grad was apparently so ignorant and deceitful, I decided to move on, and the magazine’s story, “The Professor was a Spy,” immediately caught my eye. It is a fascinating story and a credit to Professor Eldredge and his amazingly courageous wife, Diana Le Poer Trench. Without the commitment and courage of heroes such as them, Hitler would have prevailed

Looking back on the courses I took during my years at Dartmouth, I remember Eldredge’s class on propaganda as the most eye-opening of them all. We discussed some of the specifics outlined in the story, but I don’t recall picking up any hints that he had served in our intelligence service or been personally involved in Britain’s intelligence efforts related to Normandy. I was amazed at the depth of his knowledge and now wonder why I was never curious enough to ask him about its source.

Having finished the wonderful story, I found myself pondering the subject of propaganda and the nonstop manipulation of information in today’s world. In the end, I boiled it down to this. The lies and deception used by British intelligence during WW II were used for the good of humankind. Sadly, that is in direct contrast to the intentions behind the never-ending lies, deception, and degradation that have been continually used by our current president, his aligned government leaders, unscrupulous media “partners,” and minions such as Carlson and Neff.

Why are so few Republican leaders willing to call it out for what it is? History will remember them, above all, for their lack of courage.

BILL LAMB ’67
San Diego

 

Spy Games

The Rick Beyer ’78 article, “The Professor Was a Spy” [July/August], took me back to the pleasure experienced when I took professor Eldredge’s course on propaganda in my senior year. I disagree, however, that “his students never knew.” It was eminently clear to us that Eldredge had engaged in important intelligence work during World War II and knew far more than he was telling.

What has stayed with me all these years was his explanation of the knowledge Prime Minister Churchill and the Allies had of the Nazi extermination camps and the decision they came to with respect to how to deal with them. Our leaders understood that until armies on the ground could actually reach them, there was little that could be done to help them. Perhaps more significant was the decision that if the Nazis were willing to divert precious resources from the fight to prevent the advance of the Allied armies to the operation of these camps, our leaders were prepared to permit them to do so, as the “better” of the choices available.

Those of us who were children during World War II and came of age during the Korean and Cold wars, and actually met and knew at Dartmouth refugees from the 1956 rebellion in Hungary, learned that in the field of ethical and moral decision-making the predominant “color” is “gray.” That is why it is so disappointing that the teachers and administrators of our current generation of “woke” students have failed to help them learn that in matters of good and evil there are few vivid “colors” to assist us. The world is far from as simple as they apparently believe.

ALAN M. SHAVER ’60
Brunswick, Maine

 

Good Question

“My Arrest” [“Personal History,” July/August] by Keith Boykin ’87 was timely and alarming. Why would a Black CNN political reporter and teacher at Columbia University, who was photographing a protest on New York City’s streets after George Floyd’s murder, get arrested? Boykin conveys the absurdity of his experience—arrested and in the custody of the NYPD for six hours that ended with him locked up in a jail cell with 34 other inmates before he was released. He was simply a middle-aged Black reporter photographing another protest. I hope DAM prints more about the words, thoughts, and actions of Black and white undergraduates who are working hard to help release all of us from the grip of systemic racism.

WILLIAM HENGST ’61
Philadelphia

 

Thanks to Boykin for telling the story of his arrest. Like the story in the magazine written by a Black woman who was harassed by police [“In the Crossfire,” May/June 2016], we need this credible alumni testimony.

At age 24 in San Francisco I’d seen enough police hassle Black and brown youth to not call them when I was attacked by a man with a knife. I knew they’d be as likely to arrest the guy who told me to sprint for the bus as they would the perp. Thirty years later in Michigan, I thought nothing of handing pocket change to a street-smelly panhandler until a year later I saw on TV news that Milton Hall had been shot by seven Saginaw Police officers.

Realizing that Black Lives Matter had now personally touched me, in 2017 I exhibited paintings and drawings about Hall’s killing at Saginaw’s alternative arts space, Counter Culture. There we held a public forum on policing, featuring a Black faculty colleague, a city councilman (“I entered politics because of Milton’s killing”), and a pacific, Buddhist, soft-spoken community activist. A year later the activist was beaten by Michigan state police at a traffic stop, and an artists’ benefit was held for his medical expenses.

Increasingly it seems the militarized police in the U.S. wear badges: “We are all bad apples.” I support the criminal justice department of my own university [Saginaw Valley State], which helped present a multidisciplinary Black Lives Matter forum in 2018. But too often in 2020 the radical aphorism comes to mind: The police may be a necessary evil, but we must never forget they are an evil.

MIKE MOSHER ’77
Bay City, Michigan

 

Whiteness: A Social Construct

This time of racial reckoning has me thinking more about the article describing the compelling work of Charlotte Whitmore ’03 in freeing the wrongly convicted Christopher “Omar” Martinez [“Innocence Found,” January-February]. The details that haunt me are the personal ones—the contrast between Whitmore’s table in the “leafy suburb” of Concord [Massachusetts] and Martinez’s release to the streets of Springfield [Massachusetts]. Those who know both places must wonder how can this tragic disparity not recreate itself with another generation of legacy on one side and struggle on the other.

I feel challenged as a family doctor who has worked my whole career in community health centers. How can I hope to pursue justice in health if I am personally invested in neighborhoods and schools we define as “good” because they exclude the people I serve professionally? If whiteness is a social construct created to privilege some and exclude others, can Dartmouth be anything but a whiteness-serving institution when our own identity is so tied to how well we exclude?

JOHN RASER ’01, DMS’06
Saint Johnsbury, Vermont

 

President Thad!

I enjoyed the “Dad Thad” piece [May/June]. I loved Dean Seymour. He was as fine a man as I’ve ever known. He talked me out of dropping out when I was a scared freshman. He loaned me his car to pick up my date in “White Rivah,” Vermont.

My six college warnings brought us up close and personal on many occasions.

I’ll never forgive Dartmouth for not naming him president. He would have been perfect.

MARSH POTTERTON ’62
Northfield, Illinois

 

Doubleplusgood

One particularly excellent page from the May/June edition of DAM both delighted and fascinated me. The “Look Who’s Talking” column on page 17 featured Jimmy Martell, the College welder, with great humor and spark (pun intended). I delighted in his answers to the questions about his becoming a welding teacher and how he describes one of his toughest assignments, when he had to weld upside down using a mirror for orientation.

Also on page 17, “Blast from the Past” describes the time when the Spanish influenza epidemic of 1918 hit campus. Students’ isolation and restrictions then mirror some of those we see today, with the coronavirus slamming communities so hard.

Joy opposing misery. The placement of these two succinct and pithy articles side-by-side was most intriguing and heartfelt. Well done.

FIONA BAYLY ’89
New York City

 

In the Booth

Thank you for profiling Aileen Chaltain [“Look Who’s Talking,” July/August]. I ushered at the Hopkins Center during my four years at Dartmouth, first as a volunteer and then as a paid head usher. Aileen was the manager at that time, and it’s wonderful to hear that she is still a leader at the Hop all these years later. I have excellent memories of the movies and musical and theatrical performances that occurred. I also fondly remember the monthly head usher meetings led by Aileen. Her warmth and humor really made the job fun.

ELIZABETH TERRY ’92
Cambridge, Massachusetts

 

Canaries in a Coal Mine

I am certainly glad that Kristin Young Christman ’90 [Letters, July/August] can be so dismissive of the possibility that young people won’t die when they contract the Covid-19 virus. Science has been ignored by the current administration, which explains the plight of our nation. Our infection and death rates currently surpass any nation in the world. As a Dartmouth alum and parent, I remember Stalin’s observation that one death is a tragedy, a million is a statistic. I would recommend that Ms. Christman ponder if the one death were her child, not the number of those who have died and will continue to die due to the unethical, incompetent, and immoral actions of the Trump administration. I am glad my children will not be guinea pigs to her hubris.

RICHARD J. CARLETON ’71
South Dennis, Massachusetts

 

Corps Values

I thank Lisa Kocian ’94 for her piece on current Peace Corps volunteers whose service was necessarily interrupted due to Covid-19 [“Mission, Interrupted,” May/June]. I’m pleased that Dartmouth continues a long tradition of graduates’ service in developing countries. My own Corps experience was quite the opposite. I had recently relocated to the Upper Valley to pursue a degree in Dartmouth’s MALS program. I had an apartment in Lebanon, New Hampshire, and a job at the University Press of New England [UPNE].

One weekend, a forwarded letter arrived stating that I had three days to decide whether to accept a Peace Corps invitation to serve in Kenya. Thirteen months earlier I had applied but not heard anything. While delighted to be attending Dartmouth, I knew that if I didn’t accept, I might regret that decision for the rest of my life.

Upon my return to Hanover after my service, Dean Barbara Smith, and Thomas McFarland and Thomas Johnson of UPNE, welcomed me back with open arms, financial assistance, and much-needed employment. I will always be grateful to them.

JEFFREY J. SUSLA, MALS ’91
Woodstock, Connecticut

 

Sherman 2.0

I was interested to read your article about the origin of Cabin & Trail and its founder, Sherman Adams, class of 1920 [“Anniversaries,” July/August]. But you left out another important gift he gave to Dartmouth, namely his son, Sam Adams ’59, Adv’61. Sam, like his dad, was heavily involved in the DOC throughout his time at Dartmouth. As a senior, our late classmate was president and a member of Casque & Gauntlet. Sam majored in geology and went on to a distinguished career in academia, remaining loyal to Dartmouth and the many friends he made there throughout his life.

RAY E. BECKER ’59, TU’60, TH’60
Falmouth, Maine

 

I read with interest the blurb about Adams and his role in the founding of Cabin & Trail. It also quotes Gov. Adams: “Upon acquiring the sheepskin, which was whisked into a trunk and has not been seen since. . . .” In spring term 1966, Adams, assisted by professor Larry Smith of the history department, taught a seminar about his years in the Eisenhower administration. One of the many perks of the seminar was access to Adams’ papers, which he had given to Baker Library. His “sheepskin,” class of 1920, was with those papers.

ROBERT A. BURKA ’67
Washington, D.C.

 

Cover Offense

Your choice of Lis Smith ’05 and the manner of representing her on the cover of DAM [“Trail Blazer,” January/February] offends me, as I can determine no merit in her style, substance, or attraction as it pertains to what I hoped from my Dartmouth experience of the early 1960s. Many of us did not learn to drink responsibly, regard women respectfully, or have the privilege of matriculating with them. Perhaps this is why I shed my graduation gown faster than Houdini shed a strait jacket when immersed 20 feet in New York Harbor, anxious to see the real world again at last. Your choice of adulating Smith graphically and pictorially must offend a great many women and men who were culled from the best of the best to benefit from Dartmouth. I had hoped my College had come a long way.

PETER DORSEN ’66
Eagan, Minnesota

 

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We welcome letters. The editor reserves the right to determine the suitability of letters for publication and to edit them for accuracy and length. We regret that not all letters can be published, nor can they be returned. Letters should run no more than 200 words in length, refer to material published in the magazine and include the writer's full name, address, and telephone number. 

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