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Volume 95, Issue 6

GRAPHIC:  Also in every issueLetters

Affirmative action reminds me of a cheap magic act…


Go figure
In the June/03 issue "E-Letters," M.H. Polin (in response to an article on political scientist Robert Pape's workon suicide terrorism) asks why President Arafat rejected Prime Minister Barak's offer of 95 percent of the West Bank at Camp David in 2000. The answer lies in getting the figures straight. Mr. Barak offered Mr. Arafat 80 percent of 22 percent of the land that originally belonged to the Palestinians—that is, an apartheid system of four separate cantons, controlled by and surrounded by Israel (, maps & negotiations).

M.A. Sullivan, AM'71
Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

All the news that's fit we link
Someone has done a fine job or making your UCHICAGO.EDU much more interesting and worthwhile. I especially like the summaries re new scientific advances, and the news bulletins about significant placements of University leaders.

Thank you. Please keep them up.

Bill Moore, AM'35, PhD'38
Gaithersburg, Maryland

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Quantity of qualified responses
Reading Sharla A. Stewart’s article about political science’s “Revolution from Within” (June/03) should raise some important questions. Do quantitative theorists really want to block the publication of qualitative area studies? Do game theorists and statisticians really control the major political-science journals? As a game theorist who works in political science, I can testify that the answer to both questions is No.
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Taking the U of C plunge
Congratulations on the wonderful Amanda Snow Conant essay (“Lake Effect”) in your June/03 issue. The idea and the act itself (a dip in Lake Michigan once a month) are bravely disciplined, highly spirited, and philosophically daring—exactly like the life of the mind at the University. The writing about it is smart and sassy, the ideas thoughtful and engaging, and the Dan Dry photograph breath-taking (I was born at Passavant Hospital, taught history on the Near North Side, and now reside on the shore of Lake Ontario: that skyscape is intimately familiar). Please pass on my congratulations to the author.

Arden Bucholz, AM’65, PhD’72
Waterport, New York

Correcting the legal record
May I just amend the reference to Ernst Freund in the excellent article on the Law School (“Just Cause,” June/03)? According to family records, Ernst Freund was born in New York, not in Germany, and his field was, I believe, jurisprudence not political science.

Evi Ellis Wohlgemuth, AM’52

No cause for celebration
David Currie’s glorification of the U of C Law School (“Just Cause,” June/03) would lead one to infer that all is well in the legal profession in general, and especially at the U of C. Such is understandable, given his position and purpose, but it’s highly inaccurate to describe the profession in glowing terms. In short, this self-serving profession has society in an ever-tightening death grip from which escape seems most unlikely.
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Confounding caption
Classified Knowledge” (June/03) has an image from Edward Tuckerman’s Lichen exsiccatae with a most curious caption. I draw attention to it because it is so full of errors and misinterpretations that one questions if fact-checking ever occurred. Tuckerman was not an artist; so far as I know he did not study animals; he did not go on the Wilkes Expedition (the U. S. Exploring Expedition); and his monograph is not what is illustrated with the caption but rather his Lichen exsiccati.
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Politics, not analysis?
“War: the frugal option?”(“Investigations,” June/03) was a political statement masquerading as economics. It should never have been published in the Magazine. Were you to consult any traditional economic analysis of a past war, you would see that premature death played a major role in the estimated costs. Death had no place in this analysis. Yet messy violent death is a fact of war. Why was it excluded?
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Promoting a preemptivist
I was distressed as an alumnus to be reminded in the June/03 issue (“Between the Lines”) that nuclear preemptivist Paul Wolfowitz got his doctorate from our university. Your promotional printing of a full-color photo of this Machiavellian monster alarmed me even more. I think it would be more appropriate to show shame rather than pride in his achievements.

Alan D. Kimmel, SB’49

Another reading
Reading “Between the Lines” one finds Department of Defense (DOD) officials Paul Wolfowitz and Abram Shulsky described as “a chief architect of foreign policy” and one who has “helped to shape public opinion and American policy.” Reading between the lines, one may infer that U.S. foreign policy is made at the DOD, rather than at the State Department, the White House, or the Capitol. If this is true, it prompts the question: What kind of society has the United States become?
[ more ]

Not all Straussians voted Bush
As one who studied under Leo Strauss in the early 1960s for both the A.M. and Ph.D. degrees, I am bewildered by the connection some have made between him and contemporary policy makers and neoconservative figures. Leo Strauss was a great teacher who influenced thousands of students over the years. His teaching, broadly speaking, was to encourage us to take seriously political philosophers who address the all important question of how we should live, attempt to understand them as they understood themselves, entertain the idea that they may have been right as they themselves thought they were, and subject them to the best rational scrutiny we are capable of.
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A reason for concern?
In response to the two letters under the heading “A rush to panic?” (e-letter sidebar) in the June/03 issue: No formal poll was ever taken of the faculty and staff of the Oriental Institute on the Iraq war, but my impression, formed during scores of conversations in the halls and e-mail exchanges on the eve of the war, is that my colleagues were overwhelmingly opposed to it. A few colleagues here thought the war was necessary, or were ambivalent about it, but they were, I am confident, decidedly a minority.
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Three cheers for athletics
Re: Justin Skiftenes’s letter (June/03): How sad that he doesn’t seem to understand the role athletics plays in the life of a college and its students—those who participate and those who don’t. Athletics is an important aspect of life for some students and as valid as the drive to an A in economics or election to a student government office. Being on an athletic team not only gives a student the pleasure of excelling at something physical and competing with like-minded students, but it also teaches how to work with others toward a common goal.
[ more ]

Vanishing opportunities act
Affirmative action (“Letters,” June/03) reminds me of a cheap magic act, where the magician makes a flash-bang while he puts the rabbit into the hat. The fact is, affirmative action only benefits the very few people on the cusp of being admitted. The real story is that an entire generation of inner-city and predominantly minority youth are being left behind.
[ more ]

So much knowledge, so little time
The April/03 article “Clouding the Issue” by Gerald Graff, AB’69, succinctly outlined the specialization vs. generalization debate, but this argument has been raging far more than “half a century.” As Graff himself earlier indicates, William James’s 1903 essay on the subject shows that this dispute is at least a full century old.
[ more ]

Department of Corrections
In the June/03 “Citations” report, “Scientists Uncover Oldest Salamanders,” salamanders were described as reptiles; they are amphibians. In the same issue, “Tournament of Roses” misspelled the name of rose expert Lew Schupe, while Eve Jones, SB’48, SM’48, PhD’53, is most likely to use gypsum, not jetsam, to ward off rose fungus. Meanwhile “Between the Lines” did not make it clear that Albert Wohlstetter taught in the University’s political-science department. We regret the errors.

The University of Chicago Magazine welcomes letters on its contents or on topics related to the University. Letters must be signed and may be edited for space and clarity. We ask readers to keep correspondence to 300 words or less. Write:

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