LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Judd Gregg ’69
I read with interest your highly flattering article on my classmate,
Judd Gregg, who you featured on the cover and portrayed as a great
public servant with a “core set of principles” that guide
him to do the right thing. Unfortunately, you omitted a few facts that
would have balanced the portrayal.
As a congressman, Gregg voted against establishing a Martin Luther
King Jr. national holiday and also opposed it for his home state, New
Hampshire. Recently, he joined a handful of senators who refused to
sign a resolution apologizing for the failure across many decades to
enact federal anti-lynching legislation. In addition, Gregg was praised
by the Rev. Jerry Falwell in a 2003 column for the senator’s
vicious attack on Democrats as religious bigots, asserting they have
a “litmus test” that would oppose any judicial nominee “who
subscribes to the Catholic faith.”
Mark S. Brodin ’69
The July cover of Columbia College Today is the last step in the march to the
extreme right of an institution I have loved my life long. When I had the privilege
of attending Columbia in the postwar years, it was a liberal-left — but
firmly anti-Stalinist — bulwark. As much as I disagreed with the New Left’s
domination of the campus in the ’60s and ’70s, it was a muscular
demonstration of intellectual challenge and excellence of a university
in the forefront of social change.
But the advent of Lee C. Bollinger to the head of the University has
brought with it a dramatic shift in social and political focus. Columbia
has reverted to its tradition of 19th-century anti-Semitism. It has
failed to understand that academic freedom stops at Auschwitz, that the Holocaust
no longer allows the luxury of prejudice in freedom’s clothing.
Putting Senator Judd Gregg [’69] on the cover ices the cake. As chairman
of the Senate Subcommittee on Homeland Security, Gregg helped assign
a disproportionate amount of money to Wyoming and a measly five bucks to New
York, a city he claims to love. Pro-life and pro-Bush, he clearly is a champion
of those leading the United States into the fascism of the 21st century.
Where are we locating Columbia under such leadership, in the red state
Thomas Weyr ’48
Gideon Oppenheimer ’47
Regarding Rick Mixon ’69’s touching
article on his ministry
(May 2005), he mentions Gideon Oppenheimer ’47, who apparently
was an extraordinary College recruiter in Boise, Idaho.
I met Gideon when he returned after WWII from Europe, where he was
an intelligence officer. We had a reduced wartime staff on Spectator,
which during the war was reduced to a weekly. Gideon came back as a
new managing board was taking over. I became editor and he became managing
editor and helped get the paper out twice weekly. The following year
it returned to a daily.
I was amused to see Gideon called “legendary,” and if he
were still with us he would find that embarrassing. But he certainly
was a valued journalist who became a good friend.
Ed Gold ’47, ’48J
New York City
Your article “Summer Reading” (July
2005) is provocative,
and it brings me a tad of sadness. It is the anniversary year of Don
Quixote (1605), and none of the distinguished readers is reading or
rereading it. This is a text that I had the privilege to share with
Columbia students for many, many years.
Karl-Ludwig Selig, professor emeritus
New York City
Professor William C. Casey
An oft-retold Caseyism in my time was about the Long Island commuter
who arose at the same time to the same breakfast and took the same
trains to and from the same job for 25 years. Asked one day if he would
vote for Roosevelt, he snapped, “Certainly not! I will not be
regimented by that man!”
Professor Casey’s stagey style
was entertaining, and today he seems remembered mostly with amused
condescension. But his “course” was
an admonition. Casey’s message was not just that we are all unwittingly
victim to ubiquitous absurdity but that slogans and buzzwords are substitutes
for thought. Devised by the clever for the mass unwary and endlessly
repeated, they can be used as weapons of mass destruction.
I was urged to take “Casey’s course”; I’d never
forget it. I never did.
Carl d’Angio ’41
Mount Vernon, N.Y.
Columbia’s Senate has denied the ROTC a recruitment facility
on campus, using a side issue as justification. The turndown reflects
the basic beliefs of Columbia’s faculty majority, namely, anti-military,
pacifist, peace at any price resulting in head in the sand.
Christians, Jews, atheists — all are on Islamic terrorists’ death
list. The moral depravity of these terrorists has been amply shown.
The threat to our future generations is real. Wake up!
Omar Legant ’35, ’39 P&S
I have been a quiet alumnus since 1953 and for at least 30 years an annual
financial supporter of the College, and my son, Glenn, is an ’85. It is
with great sadness that I confess to feeling increasingly alienated
from the mindset that now seems dominant at Columbia. The immediate trigger
for this letter is President Lee C. Bollinger’s May 17 Wall
Street Journal commentary on the issue of ROTC on campus. However, the same might be said for
the campus handling of Israeli-Palestinian issues.
What I most treasure from
my Columbia years and what has had a lifelong effect on me is the grounding
I received in critical thinking, civility and respect for others’ ideas.
These qualities provided the intellectual glue that made participation in the
Core such a powerful connective force among generations of Columbians.
I am appalled by the stridency, self-righteousness,
narrow focus and manipulative politics that emanate from campus. I
cannot imagine such a climate is conducive to imparting the values I learned
at Columbia. It isn’t clear
to me whether Bollinger is a leader or a prisoner of this new form
of anti-intellectual tradition, which comes across as arrogant and closed-minded.
I find it unworthy for a great university to proclaim (as Bollinger
has done for Columbia in his letter) that support for the U.S. military
in the form of allowing ROTC on campus must await moving beyond the
ask, don’t tell” policy on gays in the armed services. Whatever
the merits of the argument, the stance smacks more of clever posturing than
principle. National defense is too important to be held hostage to either word-games
or single-issue blackmail.
Philip R. Alper ’53