The Scene welcomes letters. We reserve the right to decide whether a letter is acceptable for publication and to edit for accuracy, clarity, and length. Letters deemed potentially libelous or that malign a person or group will not be published. Letters should not exceed 250 words. You can reach us by mail, or e-mail email@example.com. Please include your full name, class year if applicable, address, phone number, and/or e-mail address. If we receive many letters on a given topic, we will print a representative sample of the opinions expressed.
On “Chemical Healing”
SCOTT KRALY'S PIECE on “Chemical healing” (summer 2012) was excellent. My pediatrician/second generation Freudian grandfather had done pioneering work with Ritalin for hyperactive kids and my brother ran the essential drugs program at the World Health Organization for nine years, so I have been well attuned to the benefits — and limitations — of drug intervention. That makes me a demanding patient at times for my physicians!
You’ve delivered a practical and educational piece for all generations, but especially the 65-and-over folks who may be at risk of overmedication. A major concern of my brother’s has been the compromising of the scientific database by the huge commercial efforts of the drug companies. One anecdote: before his passing, Tom Pickering, a hypertension researcher at Columbia University, and I served on a “stress” panel together in Dallas, about the time the U.S. government issued new hypertension guidelines. I asked him what he thought. His response was that we’d just turned 40 (or maybe 50) million healthy Americans into hypertensives, of course to be treated by drug medication.
Your article and useful guidelines offer a valuable public service. Thank you!
James Campbell Quick ’68
On “Orderly and Humane”
IT WAS GOOD to see three articles featured in the spring issue, one by a Colgate professor, one by an alumna, and one by a current student (now graduated). All three stretched their readers’ horizons. May we have more such articles in future Scenes.
Thank you for granting Professor R.M. Douglas the space to write the detailed and powerful overview of his book and the interview that followed. Many thanks to Professor Douglas for researching and writing Orderly and Humane: The Expulsion of the Germans After the Second World War. Like many others, I had known virtually nothing about the forced emigration, and I knew I had to read the book. With 374 pages of text, 65 pages of notes, and 26 pages of bibliography, it is an encyclopedia of facts and interpretation. It is harrowing to read about the suffering and death of so many thousands of people, and sad beyond tears to realize that the forced deportations were official Allied policy.
Those who have studied the Holocaust will find many parallels with that unspeakable crime against humanity. Professor Douglas is careful to point out the differences, and he is right to do so, but the similarities are depressing in the extreme.
Who should read Orderly and Humane? I confess there were times that I was tempted to stop, but I thought of John Erskine’s essay “The Moral Obligation to Be Intelligent” (1921, reprinted 1969), and realized I could not turn away.
This is surely one of the most important books published in the new millennium. I hope the Colgate community has found, or will find, ways to explore this heroic achievement.
J. Allan Pryor ’69
Remembering Heaney’s reach
THE GUSHING OBITUARIES [in the major media] for Seamus Heaney H’94 who died on August 30, 2013, overlooked his unique relationship with Colgate.
Before Heaney became a rock star of modern poetry (including the 1995 Nobel Prize for literature and a visiting professor at Harvard), he was a frequent lecturer at Colgate. I was very fortunate to be a member of Bruce Berlind’s London study program during the spring of 1975. Bruce required us to read an archaeology book called The Bog People, by P.V. Glob, before a special guest lecturer arrived. Next week, Seamus Heaney rolled into our poorly heated conference room in the back of St. Bride’s Church on Fleet Street (“the spiritual home of the media”). Bruce said very little by way of introduction, and we were enthralled as Heaney read lines like “For beauty, say an ash-fork staked in peat” from his volume Wintering Out.
There were other guest lecturers during the semester who attested to Bruce’s incredible contacts. I will be forever haunted by Ted Hughes reading from Crow: “Man could not be man nor God God.” Terrifying stuff. Nobody could, or dared to, say a word.
Bruce Berlind’s teaching and his amazing relationships in the poetry world are among my greatest memories of Colgate. And they remind me that back in the day Colgate was punching way above its weight.
Brian Carroll ’76
Reactions to letter about Clinton
IN MY UNDERGRADUATE days, I wrote a number of letters to the editor of the Maroon and the News, some of which, upon rereading today, make me cringe with their extravagant language. I had a similar reaction to reading the letter from my fraternity brother Harry Mariani ’59 promising dire consequences if Hillary Clinton were allowed to appear on campus (Letters, summer 2013).
Leaving aside the question of what actual value the insights of a former First Lady, U.S. senator, and secretary of state might have, it seems to me to be antithetical to the mission of an educational institution to claim that any person’s political stances render him or her unfit to be heard and questioned.
A sad feature of the contemporary public discourse is that legitimate political disagreements are often framed in irrational and apocalyptic terms.
David H. Alvord ’80
I FEEL THAT Mr. Mariani’s letter is a classic example of an ad hominem attack unsupported by any facts. (As an aside, I wish to thank Jerome Balmuth for the fact that I know this.) Mr. Mariani simply states that Mrs. Clinton has no integrity, and does not expand at all upon his belief as to why this is the case. Furthermore, I feel that it reflects badly on Colgate that we are willing to give this individual a public mouthpiece in our major publication for alumni.
I do not understand the animus evident behind Mr. Mariani’s opinion. We have a very complex political system that Winston Churchill, probably rightly, estimated as the least of all evils. I don’t recommend in any profession for one to go out of one’s way to upset others, but certainly in the case of national politics, if you haven’t upset anyone, you are probably doing something wrong.
Alexander Wilson ’99
Quote reveals racism?
I WAS GENUINELY puzzled by the letter from Kris DiLorenzo (summer 2013). I do remember the Amos ’n Andy program, but unless I am missing something (and then with all due apologies), I am not sure I follow why a reference to a phrase from a program from another era — albeit one with caricatures that all well-meaning persons reject — would cause such consternation, dismay, and even more on the part of Ms. DiLorenzo.
To be honest, I was not able to find my prior issue of the Scene, so I could not read the quoted phrase in context, but looking at it again, “tempest sho do fidget” didn’t strike me as overtly racist, or at least not the extent that one would say that the “sentence speaks loud and clear of continuing racism at the university” and that the editorial staff needs “some serious consciousness-raising” with a “huge apology” required.
Would the same apply to referring to “hi, ho Silver,” coming as it does from another program of the era that some say portrayed Indians in a poor light? And what about an appropriate quotation from an anti-Semite, such as a Wagner opera or something written by Ezra Pound?
Hopefully none of us condones racism or any vestiges of it, but that does not mean that any turn of phrase that may still be appropriate if used in a non-racist or bigoted fashion has to be thrown out with the dirty bathwater.
Howard M. Liebman ’74
So punny we couldn’t resist
I HAVE A FRIEND who likes puns and he sent me this:
Yesterday, the driver of a huge tractor trailer lost control of his rig as he was entering the Herkimer tollbooth of the New York State Thruway.
He plowed right into the booth and smashed it to pieces. He climbed down from his truck and looked at the wreckage, unsure what to do.
But, within minutes a truck pulled up with a crew of workers. The men picked up all the broken pieces of the tollbooth, spread some creamy white substance on them, and began fitting the pieces together. In less than an hour, they had the entire tollbooth reconstructed, as good as new.
“Astonishing!” the truck driver said to the crew chief. “Tell me, what was the white stuff you used to put the pieces together?”
The crew chief said, “Oh, that was … tollgate booth paste.”
Don Fenner ’51
Springfield Center, N.Y.
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