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Volume 96, Issue 1
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Affirmative action reminds me of a cheap magic act...

Narrow-minded elitists
Re: “Promoting a Preemptivist” (“Letters,” August/03): It is hardly surprising how consistently the U of C promotes its image as a place for intellectual exploration, on multiple levels and from many perspectives. Chicago’s self-regard rests upon legitimate and admirable realities. However, I find it stunning how equally consistent is the U of C’s underlying hypocrisy. As long as the cause is the predictably progressive, politically, socially, or otherwise, the University revels in its “role” in fostering the world-class scholars and thinkers who perpetuate this image.

If the Magazine takes a chance, as it did in June’s “Between the Lines,” on a person with ideas that run counter to the academic conformity that thwarts the very objectivity Chicago claims to stand for, then we have alumni who howl with outrage! How could the University give space to someone like Paul Wolfowitz, Mr. Kimmel (SB’49) bemoans? We should, he suggests, feel “shame rather than pride in [Wolfowitz's] achievements.”

The University trains its graduate students to think critically, to consider all evidence, and to stand on one’s own two feet when formulating opinions about difficult, often controversial, issues. How are alumni to react when we are fed a constant stream of liberal, so-called progressive, ideas that absolutely assume that anyone wise enough to attend the University and smart enough to make it through the challenging programs will surely think “just like us,” the faculty and students of this fine institution.

Mr. Wolfowitz may not stand for what most at the University consider legitimate U.S. policy. Last time I checked, however, there are ways to deal with those “in charge” in Washington. The whining and blinding narrow-mindedness of alumni who would place prominent U of C graduates into “good” and “bad” lists is contrary to everything I thought Chicago stood for. The U of C is missing something fundamental in its education process if the expectation is that all graduates will think—and act in their professional lives—in one way, specifically one that looks down on anything connected with the U.S. military or national security under a Republican administration.

Mr. Wolfowitz a “Machiavellian monster”? There’s a larger, more frightening monster out there: intellectual narrow-mindedness and elitism. Neither represents the University of Chicago I attended.

Maureen Anna Harp, PhD’96
Annandale, Virginia

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