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Winter 2002


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Letters to the Editor

Kudos from the Left Coast...

Congratulations to the Vermont Quarterly staff for putting out such continually fine work. Superb editorial content is complemented by clean graphics and great photo selection. As a freelance reporter, I particularly appreciate the fine craftsmanship.It is always a pleasure to find an issue of the magazine at my home here in California and be instantly transported back to Vermont. Though I haven’t attended any West Coast alumni events, it is always nice to see that they do happen here on the “Left Coast” as well.

Karen Kefauver ’91
Santa Cruz, California

... And the Right

The cover photo of the Summer 2002 is gorgeous — kudos to the photographer (Mario Morgado) — and the whole issue is a good read. I especially loved Kit Anderson’s article on the history of the UVM Green, which created vivid pictures for me of that lovely campus centerpiece. This piece is a truly beautiful collaboration: great research, writing, and images.

For me, the apartheid-divestment shantytowns of the 1980s remain an indelible memory, but it was fascinating to read about all the other uses the Green has been put to over the years. Looking forward, it was particularly interesting to learn of Grounds Manager Dick Streeter’s efforts to repopulate the Green after the Dutch Elm epidemic. I will enjoy looking for all the different tree varieties the next time I’m in Burlington.

For a little perspective, I work as art director on a publication at the University of Maryland, though I’m sure I’m not the only one who appreciates the quality of your magazine. Keep up the great work!

Cynthia E. Mitchel ’90
College Park, Maryland

Diverse Views Essential

One of the greatest aspects of my education at UVM was the exposure to diversity and tolerance of different views. This is representative of the country we live in and increasingly critical in a global environment. Most of the letters to the editor in the Fall 2002 issue in response to the interview with Professor Robert Kaufman represent an extreme leftist slant and, in my opinion, weren’t fair to the professor.

Professor Kaufman is an educated man with plenty of credentials to support his views. We cannot, as a people of tolerance, berate him or label him a “war monger” simply because his views may be different from our own. To do so would be academically irresponsible and defy the very nature of the values the university advocates.

As an educated individual and a student of world politics, I actively search out differing points of view on the current situation in order to formulate my own. To add emotion to the equation, I have several close friends (also UVM grads) who are in the Army, and one, Brian Mangual ’99, just returned from Afghanistan.
War is never an easy option. However, as Americans we are blessed with opportunities and freedoms some may never know. As a free, democratic society and a world superpower, we have an obligation to stand up for those without a voice.

Although I never had the privilege of taking a class with Professor Kaufman, after reading his article I wish I had. It is imperative that UVM continue to support its professors despite differing points of view in order to maintain a balance of dissenting views and create the necessary environment for students to formulate their own opinions. This is what learning is all about.

Michael Dowd ’98
Saratoga Springs, New York

Arab Assimilation

I am encouraged by the few positive letters in response to Professor Kaufman’s interview in the Summer issue. Such letters are hopeful signs in a sea of political correctness.

I want to focus only on the issue of Palestinian refugees. The small number of refugees in 1948 (relative to the total Arab population) could easily have been assimilated by their neighbors. There might well have been significant multinational support for such a relocation. Could we ever attempt to examine in a non-emotional way the reasons why this did not happen? Just for perspective, Jordan once even made war (effectively) on its Palestinian population. There was once before a political entity known as Palestine and Trans-Jordania.

Let me draw a parallel. After WWII, Finland lost one-tenth of its territory, the home to more than a tenth of its population. That Karelian population was evacuated and relocated in the rest of the country. There was no animosity or political protest. The sacrifice, large as it was, was only economic. Parts of large farms and landholdings were expropriated to house the population and a tax was levied. After the initial disruption to the lives and the economy, there were no enduring animosities or negative effects.

After 1948, Israel incorporated their refugees. The Arab countries could have assimilated their Arab brethren if they had the slightest inclination to do so. The uncomfortable truth is that they put their trust in the hoped-for elimination of the Israeli state. The vehement calls for a Palestinian state from the non-Palestinian neighbors carry within them a realization of their own partial culpability.

Jon Didrichsen, UVM parent
Kauniainen, Finland

Right On, Professor

Bravo to Professor Kaufman, a true conservative showing his colors in a morass of liberal educators. I wasn’t going to write, but after reading the several letters critical of Kaufman in the Fall VQ, I decided to add my two cents worth of conservative opinion.

Right on, sir! You are probably a minority of one among a sea of liberal bleeding heart “educators.”

Steve Moore ’62
Cookeville, Tennessee

Intellectual Fuzziness

The Fall issue offered hope with the introduction of President Fogel. May he reign with wisdom. It also displayed some of the intellectual fuzziness that I hope he can counter.

First, Professor Spinner’s 1960s lament fails to even mention 9/11, and instructs us happy alumni that “one person’s terrorist is another’s patriotic hero.” Tell that to the victims and families of the Twin Towers and Bali nightclub attack.

Then Lee Griffin entertains us with her trip to Cuba. The article conveniently fails to use the word “freedom” or “dictatorship,” which is at the core of Cuba’s “travails,” not U.S. policies.

I am delighted, if not relieved, that I attended UVM so long ago. My only regret is that I missed Professor Kaufman’s wisdom and courage, in league with the wonderful faculty that I was exposed to.

Rudolph M. Keimowitz MD ’58, ’61

Wayzata, Minnesota

Defining Terrorism

Professor Spinner’s statement in the Fall 2002 issue of VQ (“Old Speeches, New Questions”) that “Terror, terrorist and terrorism are difficult words to define” only underscores the myopic view that so many possess with respect to national security. While Professor Spinner makes many valid points, he has the luxury of a retrospective view. This is obviously the essence of being a history professor, you have the luxury of justifying your position with “history.” Unfortunately, those charged with the responsibility of protecting our citizens do not have the luxury of acting retrospectively.

Professor, for your enlightenment the definition of terror, terrorist and terrorism are: Terror is being on a rail car going to Dachau in 1942, knowing the outcome. Terror is being on the 90th floor of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Terror is living in Iraq and having lost several of your children to poison gas, wondering when it will happen again. Terror is having a gun held to your head on a hijacked plane in Beirut.

A terrorist is a person who perpetrates such acts, Professor! Terrorism is the act of or practice of creating terror. These terms are hardly difficult to define, particularly to those who have experienced terror.

As Professor Spinner points out, Napoleon had twenty years of luck. That “luck” lies in the fact that he was essentially unchallenged by an equally proficient or superior army on the battlefield. Professor Spinner’s Napoleon analogy undermines the arguments he makes in his article. He further undermines his position by referring to Napoleon’s slaughter of millions of people as a “great adventure.” I think it could best be called terrorism.

Brian J. Grenon ’70
Colchester, Vermont

Look back
What a surprise to see this flash from the past in the Fall VQ (page 47). The picture was taken, my guess, in the fall of 1973 or 1974. Dr. Milton Potash, Uncle Milty as we called him, was teaching a course in stream ecology which included several field trips to collect and identify stream insects. Interestingly enough, we were collecting from Potash Brook, off Swift Street.

I graduated from the Zoology Department in 1976 with a master’s degree, and most of my graduate work was involved with water quality issues relating to streams and lakes. I’m still involved with water quality issues but in quite a different field, semiconductor manufacturing. In the VQ shot, we’re looking for macro-invertebrates, while in the semiconductor industry we look for micro-contamination — worlds apart.

The knowledge I gained from Professor Potash still comes in handy when fly fishing, and when I volunteer to lead a lesson on stream insects at the school where my wife teaches. Thanks for printing this photo. It brings back lots of great memories.

Tom Gutowski G’76
York, Pennsylvania

Trip too Quick to Judge

I can’t recall ever being as appalled as I was while reading about the UVM students’ Alternative Summer Break tour of the “Civil Rights Trail.” Alabamians aren’t zoo animals that you can observe through the bars on a whirlwind tour of the Deep South. Our history and our culture are too complex to absorb in a week and pretend to understand well enough to teach to others. I’m sure there must be plenty of poor people around New England who would appreciate a nice bowl of soup fed to them by teary-eyed co-eds.

The march across the bridge at Selma was most certainly a defining moment in our modern history, but it was only a moment in time. The struggle in our society for fairness and inclusiveness is one that takes place daily in the big arenas of city commission meetings and courtrooms and in the intimacy of workplaces, neighborhoods, and homes. Our culture is a living, breathing entity that defines itself almost daily.

The visiting students from UVM didn’t earn the tears they shed over our history. They didn’t stay here long enough to understand how our history fits into the whole fabric of our culture. Why are they snuffling over the vicissitudes of race and privilege? These days, being in a position to attend a college at all is a great privilege. Unless you’re Michael Jackson, you’re going to have to live in your own skin. Quit feeling so guilty about being white and about having money and a good education. There will be plenty of trials in your life without borrowing other people’s.

If you want to understand Alabama, transfer to a school here and immerse yourself in the culture, in just the way I transferred to UVM from the University of Southern Mississippi in 1972. Stepping off the plane in Burlington on a cold, January day with a thin little corduroy coat and no socks was one of the defining moments of my life. I was tough enough to stay. I was tough enough to reply to all the ignorant questions about whether I played the banjo, or drank mint juleps, or sat on a veranda in a long skirt. Are any of you tough enough to transfer to a school down here and put your money where your mouth is? If you are, you’ll receive a warm and genuine welcome. If you’re not, you’re just a tourist, in which case we really don’t care how you do things up there!

Beth Wheeler Hall ’74
Silverhill, Alabama

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