Vietnam, final clubs, Puritans
With great joy I read “The Portraitist” (by Sophia Nguyen, September-October, page 30), on Elsa Dorfman. I clearly remember her coming to Mather House to be a tutor, her smile and her expertise. With amusement I remember her posting a notice regarding the newly established darkroom in the Mather House basement. What caught my eye under her elaborate stationery letterhead was an undulating sentence that stated simply: “Some day your prints will come.”
I laughed then, and I laughed again when I recognized her on the cover and remembered that witticism. Glad to read she is going strong. Thank you for your article.
Tor Shwayder ’75, M.D.
Speak Up, Please
Harvard Magazine welcomes letters on its contents. Please write to “Letters,” Harvard Magazine, 7 Ware Street, Cambridge 02138, or send comments by e-mail to [email protected]du.
I want to thank you for “Criminal Injustice” (by Michael Zuckerman, September-October, page 44). I’m an attorney who occasionally handles criminal matters, usually for people I’m handling other things for, or those near and dear to them. Last year, I had a client who was unemployed himself, and whose parents were employed respectively as a home health aide and an auto mechanic. The judge set his bail at $3 million. (One of the bailiffs asked me, “What president did he assassinate?”) Eventually, we got it reduced—to $300,000.
Obviously, our client couldn’t afford the “lower” bail either, so he spent nearly a year in jail awaiting trial before accepting a relatively good plea bargain rather than spend any more time in jail to take his chances at trial before a judge who obviously thought he was a dangerous person to begin with. And, given the rather well-known conditions in Cook County jail, it should be reasonable to expect the judge to take judicial notice that nobody stays there voluntarily, and that any amount of bail that keeps a defendant locked up there is by definition “excessive.”
Constitutionally, the only matter at issue for a defendant locked up in Cook County jail is “deprivation of liberty.” It is precisely the same constitutional issue that could legitimately be raised by somebody locked up in the VIP Suite of the Ritz Carlton with unlimited room service and no doorknobs on the inside. The conditions of the place where one is deprived of liberty are constitutionally irrelevant. But to the defendant, the conditions are the real issue. Had our client been offered confinement in the Ritz Carlton for however long it would take his case to get to trial, he would probably have accepted it. (I certainly would have advised him to.)
If the court had ordered an amount of bail he could actually afford (somewhere around $1,500, I’m guessing), this would not only have enabled him to stay home and work while awaiting trial, it would also have enabled him to pay his own lawyers, and pay them in full, rather than relying on his parents, who could afford only partial payment at best.
More important, it would have enabled our client to insist on a trial. (More than 97 percent of U.S. criminal cases never go to trial, but are “plea-bargained out.” The issue of pretrial incarceration has a lot to do with that. The constitutional guarantee of “due process” doesn’t mean much if you have to spend several months in Cook County jail to get it.) In this particular case, my colleague and I were quite sure we could have won an acquittal, or at least gotten the charge reduced to something not involving physical violence or use of a weapon. The prosecution could not have proved either of those elements. Our client had never touched a gun. There was absolutely no physical evidence that he had.
And that in turn would have meant that, after the criminal proceedings were over, we could have sued the police department civilly for shooting our client five times, causing him considerable pain and suffering and leaving him with a permanent limp. (The reason the police and prosecutors in the case brought charges that could even remotely be considered to justify a seven-figure bail was that they needed to justify shooting the defendant five times in a case in which nobody else was killed or even injured.) In all likelihood, the city would have settled for a reasonable sum. The decision to set bail in an amount that neither the defendant nor his family could have raised saved the city a whole lot of money and got them off the hook for shooting the defendant for no particular reason.
The decision to set bail on my client at $3 million, or even $300,000, was obviously a strategic one. It was meant to subject the defendant to unpleasant and dangerous conditions to pressure him into a plea bargain. Thus the state could avoid having to try a questionable criminal case and then to settle a civil case to compensate the defendant for the injuries inflicted by police overzealousness. It worked. I cannot possibly believe, nor expect my fellow alumni to believe, that this case was unique. It is part of a pattern that enables the state to run its criminal-justice system at what it considers a reasonable cost. It is a system based on ransom and extortion. America deserves better. Human beings, made in the divine image, deserve better.
Marian Henriquez Neudel ’63
I am inspired and excited by the work of Alec Karakatsanis to end human caging and wealth-based detention. A few statements in the article especially caught my attention, as they point to a related issue. The author points to “a danger, in focusing on the work of a privileged white man” and of “falling into…the white savior trap.” He later mentions that “all of us are complicit in the social injustices that we’ve allowed to fester....”
Much of the social progress that we Americans have made in the last few decades can be tied directly to mass movements for civil rights, women’s rights, and gay rights, among others. However, as we look at the current political landscape, typified by President Trump, we realize that we have never experienced a badly needed movement to modernize white men. Instead, we see white supremacists, white male legislators who interfere with women’s reproductive rights, white male fear of immigrants (who built and continue to build this country), and too many other injustices to mention. We badly need to have men like Karakatsanis to model a more enlightened way for us white (Caucasian) men to behave.
Frederick (Fritz) Engstrom ’70, M.D.
The articles on Alec Karakatsanis and Carl Thorne-Thomsen [see below] made me especially proud to be a Harvard graduate. With all the criticism of higher education these days, we need more stories like these.
Mike Clement, M.B.A. ’71
Our top priority should be preventing inner city youth from ever being “caged.” Prevention is the orphan of our criminal justice system. Virtually all resources are expended after a crime has been committed—for investigation, trial, appeal, probation, prison. At $75,560, housing a prisoner annually in California exceeds a year at Harvard. Police departments may have a cold case unit but no proactive unit to deal with kids heading for tragedy. Thirteen-year-old Nathaniel Abraham had 22 previous encounters with police before his arrest for murder. Nothing was done to help this obviously troubled boy.
Inspire them. As a juvenile court judge (pro tem) I mentored kids in juvenile hall and gave motivational talks at inner city schools—reported on CBS’s Sixty Minutes. I told how I went from dropout, troubled youth, to cops calling me “Your Honor.” It did not matter if the group was black, Hispanic, Asian, male, or female—if I talked from the heart, they listened.
Improve the performance of public schools. To attract the best and brightest minds to the profession, better compensate teachers. For 28 minutes of boxing, Floyd Mayweather reportedly earned $300 million—or the combined salaries of nearly 10,000 new teachers.
Improve job opportunities. Emulate the successful [Los Angeles] inner-city Verbum Dei High School student internship and college program.
In adult court as a prosecutor I was committed to fairness and public safety. I reduced overcharged felonies to misdemeanors, never forgetting when I was a teenager that an overzealous D.A. tried to railroad me, but I held accountable murderers, rapists, kidnappers, gangsters…I opposed unjust Three Strikes cases but I fought hard to win a major Three Strikes case in the California Supreme Court: People v. Williams, 17 Cal. 4th 148 (1998). The high court adopted my public-safety test for dismissing strikes.
Thank you Bonnie Docherty for the article on Carl Thorne-Thomsen (Vita, by Bonnie Docherty, September-October, page 38). I was two years behind Carl at Lake Forest High School and Harvard College. His leadership and bravery were long-standing. Starting with my freshman year in high school, Carl was one of my heroes. He would speak out in support of racial minorities and LBGTQ students as a high-school leader. His calm and articulate insight was a beacon for all who knew him. He is deeply missed.
Mark C. Shields ’70, M.D. ’75
There is certainly a quality to be admired in the character of Carl Thorne-Thomsen, who died in the Vietnam war after rejecting the safety of a student deferment. However, I have something of a problem with the stance the piece appears to take. Refusing to accept the privilege inherent in a student deferment does, perhaps, represent a kind of moral courage. However the role that Carl in so doing accepted is unfortunately one that involved the killing of large numbers of Vietnamese, not to mention ravaging their culture and their countryside. That is a role that a number of Vietnam-era Harvard students rejected, on what could arguably be even more compelling moral grounds. No doubt a wish to personally escape the risks and unpleasantness of military service entered into many students’ calculations; human motives tend to be mixed, especially when moral issues are involved. But the implied comparison between Carl and his somehow less upstanding, more craven fellow students does not sit well with me. At the very least it is unfair to the many who sincerely—in many cases passionately—believed that fighting in this war was more ethically repugnant than sitting comfortably on the sidelines.
Dan Breslaw ’59
West Corinth, Vt.
I was profoundly affected by the life story of Carl Thorne-Thomsen and found great resonance in the history of my classmate, Commander Melvin Lederman, who graduated in the Harvard Medical School class of 1956. He was the class bon vivant, had great acting and singing chops, and for this reason, was the star of our second-year show as well as in the Aesculapian show of our senior year.
He had served [in the army] in World War II, and for that reason had fulfilled his military requirements. However, after completing his surgical internship and residency, he elected to re-enter the military as a naval surgeon in 1968. He was stationed onboard ship, off the coast of Vietnam, but elected to join a helicopter crew in order to be closer to the wounded servicemen. He was killed in Vietnam in a helicopter crash on November 29, 1969. Like Thorne-Thomsen’s, his name can be seen 0n the Vietnam memorial in Washington, D.C.
He was another example of a person “forsaking self-interest for principle.”
Richard Sogg ’52, M.D. ’56
Los Gatos, Calif.
I read with interest the courageous and compelling story of the late Carl Thorne-Thomsen ’67. It is fitting that he is finally getting his due. The year following his planned graduation, I was in Cambridge attending the Law School and a member of Army ROTC (the last such class to graduate from Harvard in 43 years). Needless to say, friction was at breaking point and tear-gas volleys and mayhem on the campus were a daily occurrence.
Just two months ago, I had the good fortune to participate in a panel discussion on Vietnam at my fiftieth Dartmouth reunion, joined by three classmates: two ex-Marine officers who served in combat in Vietnam and a third, who, in the face of being shipped to the Southeastern theater as an enlisted man, chose to go AWOL and flee to Canada, where he remains to this day after amnesty. The experience was a moving one to this former first lieutenant whose Reserve duty was confined to stateside, and it brought catharsis for many in the packed auditorium. Perhaps something like this might serve the same purpose at Harvard, particularly during these divisive times.
Phil Curtis, J.D. ’71, M.B.A. ’74
Thanks so very much to Bonnie Docherty, Linda Docherty, and Harvard Magazine for the profile on Carl Thorne-Thomsen.
I was in the same class with him, and in the same entry in the same House. Over these 50 years I have never forgotten him, and the sense of shock and loss has never declined. He was a fine person, intelligent and kind, and was from the center of the country, as I am, so there seemed to me to be an emotional connection that was left incomplete by his death. One of my roommates, Andy Kopecki, also knew him well since he was a coxswain in the Parker era, but Andy has also been gone for some time. They are both missed. The memories that I have of them are cherished.
Steve Coy ’68, Ph.D. ’76
Political Correctness, Final Clubs, the “Puritans”
As a loyal Harvard alumna and parent, and past president of one of the governing boards, I find it appalling that Harvard would ban students from joining clubs because it thought doing so would improve social life. I hope the faculty votes down the social clubs mandate and figures out some better way to make undergraduate life more appealing to all.
Undergraduates from California, as I was, from elsewhere in the U.S. and abroad, as well as the faculty, should be free to associate with whomever they please without fear of punishment by Harvard College or the government. Some of us remember President Pusey protecting the Harvard faculty by standing up for that principle during the McCarthy era. It is time for the faculty to do likewise and stand up for its students.
Joan Morthland Hutchins ’61
President, Board of Overseers (1999-2000)
Harvard Medal Recipient (2004)
Editor’s note: For background on faculty concerns about the proposed administration policy, see “Final Clubs, Continued.”
Violations of human rights will destroy the fabric of a community, shattering its ideals like glass (“Social Club Ban?” September-October, page 20). And this occurs most readily in times of deep anxiety and frustration. Seized by the crude formula “Us. vs. Them,” people cluster in mobs and committees and seek to ease their distress by tormenting a scapegoat, almost always some minority perceived as a threat.
So, now, a committee at Harvard, along with some administrators, have attempted to scapegoat a small group of students, aiming to stigmatize them and strip away their right to freedom of association. These students’ rights have been trampled upon, and the values that should bind and inspire the University have been defiled. This shameful episode must end, the appalling abuse of power must be denounced, and Harvard’s better angels must throw a clear light on the psychology of the mob and its destructive consequences.
John J. Adams ’62
New York City
In gratitude for what Harvard has done for my daughter, I had planned to continue my donations toward financial aid, but I can’t. Harvard’s stance against single-gender groups is too troubling.
In the Harvard Gazette, President Drew Faust stated, “We want to make sure that everybody feels fully welcome and can participate fully in campus life. The single-gender social organizations are antithetical to much of that....”
My daughter competed to join the Crimson Key and the Advocate. After both refused her, she found a home at the Bee. Some of her most positive experiences and leadership opportunities happened through the Bee, where she enjoyed the camaraderie of its diverse members of all colors, nationalities, and backgrounds.
As one of the 16 percent of plastic surgeons who are women, I published an article about gender bias in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeryin which I applauded the Business School’s project covered in 2013 by The New York Times (“Harvard Business School Case Study: Gender Equity”)—described as Dean Nitin Nohria’s attempt “to remake gender relations at the business school…to change how students spoke, studied and socialized.” That project, which President Faust supported, was brilliant because it was both objective and constructive.
At a time when male-dominated STEM industries struggle to increase their number of women employees, Harvard’s attack on all-female clubs in the name of combating sexual assault, the ban’s original intent, defies logic. An all-female club can be a respite for young women, particularly for those who might have experienced sexual assault.
Forcing members of all-female clubs to confess membership and be punished has a chilling resemblance to McCarthyism and is anathema to the explicit right of people to peaceably assemble under the First Amendment. Stanford, my alma mater, like most major residential universities, struggles with sexual assault, yet they just added their eighth sorority to meet demand. If banning single sex clubs were based on logic and facts, and not prejudice and political correctness, surely Stanford would have followed Harvard’s lead.
Heather J. Furnas, M.D.
Santa Rosa, Calif.
Enough is enough!!! Since the history of Harvard is being reviewed and revised within the current political mindset, I believe it is time to go a step further. Change the school’s name to, say…how about something like Obsequious University? This way no one will possibly be threatened or insulted by Harvard’s early history. After 380, years it’s only appropriate! It is so reassuring to know that the current administration is always eager to support the current political ideologies.
Steve Vose A.L.M. ’10
As a descendant of the “staunch Puritan” Michael Metcalf (1578-1664) and several other early settlers of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, I am responding to the implicit challenge in The College Pump (“‘Puritans’ Passé?” July-August, page 68). Encouraged by William Pike’s letter in that issue and the letters in September-October, I offer the following alternative ending for “Fair Harvard” as an expression of my sentiments:
Let not passing correctness cause thee
The traditions that long have held fast.
Be the herald of Light and the bearer of
While the stock of the Puritans last!
James Metcalf ’67
I was deeply disappointed to hear that the Kennedy School withdrew its invitation to Chelsea Manning following pressure from past government officials.
It would be bad enough if fear of displeasing the intelligence community inhibited Harvard from extending invitations to controversial persons. To rescind an invitation already extended is worse. Harvard has sent a clear message to the public and the government that those who offend the intelligence community will not be tolerated.
The Kennedy School has hosted foreign despots and U.S. officials whose actions have caused misery and death for millions around the world. Some have done things so widely condemned that they dare not travel to countries where they might come under the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice, yet they find safe harbor in Cambridge. Is it the considered scholarly opinion of our premier school of government that Chelsea Manning’s actions are plainly more criminal or more damnable than those of Henry Kissinger [’50, Ph.D. ’54] or Hector Gramajo [M.P.A. ’91]? I understand that the experiences and perspective of such VIPs provide important additions to the campus discourse; while their presence at Harvard may offend me, I do not assume it means the Kennedy School approves their actions. Other readers may celebrate these men and have different villains, but can doubtless find members of their own rogues’ gallery who have been invited to the Kennedy School.
U.S. universities and the federal government have a complex, interdependent relationship. Yet Harvard is among a handful of universities whose resources and reputation allow it to risk standing up to the government, costly as that could be. With this privilege comes responsibility to exercise it appropriately. It is a sad day when Harvard instead chooses to bow down.
David Feurzeig ’87
I am a 1946 graduate of Harvard College and a member of a final club.
I strongly oppose any sanction on students for joining a final club. Yet I sense the necessity for a compromise. Therefore I propose postponing the “punching” season from the fall of the sophomore year to the fall of the junior year with a further opportunity for students to join a final club in the fall of the senior year. There would be no sanctions for students who do.
This would give them ample time to determine whether they prefer the society of their friends in their House or in one of the final clubs.
George M. Coburn ’46, LL.B. ’49
Your readers discuss (Letters, “Fair Harvard” and History, September-October, page 2ff) the Puritans as an antique ethnicity like any other, ready to be dislodged by diversity, inclusiveness, or simple modernity. But it is not a coincidence that the “colledge” of the community the Puritans founded became a world intellectual center.
John Cotton, a divine who preached in Boston in East Anglia and after 1630 in Boston in Massachusetts, preached that God had given man two great volumes, the Bible and the world, and had commanded him to study both. (He did not, for instance, say that a degree is an asset in the marketplace.) His grandson, Cotton Mather, [A.B. 1678,] is meant to have framed an aphorism: study is worship; knowledge is godliness.Admittedly, Cotton Mather endorsed “spectral evidence” to the jury at Salem; but he had the credibility to perpetrate that evil because Isaac Newton and his colleagues had elected Mather to the Royal Society. (Mather had pioneered what much later would be called the germ theory of disease.)
Beyond Harvard, the Puritans established the first system of universal compulsory elementary education in the English-speaking world. And it actually was universal: enslaved children attended along with the others and were more regularly literate than the yeomen of England. Massachusetts housewives were more literate and “numerate” than those at home below the status of “gentlewomen.”
There is an interesting contrast between religious fanatics then and now. The seventeenth century counterpart of evolution was the heliocentric picture of the universe. Galilleo was shown the instruments of torture approximately as the Puritans were disembarking. They embraced the Copernican theory. Generally they accepted science as supplying the details of the Biblical narrative.
On behalf of education, the Puritans should be honored at Harvard and taken seriously throughout the United States.
Daniel A. Eigerman ’61
In the early days of the Cold War, the Soviet Union was derided and ridiculed throughout the West for their convenient reimagining of historical facts and events, to make the Soviet regime appear more legitimate. “Revisionist History” we called it.
We now see at present-day Harvard that questionable principle, thanks to the insatiable pressures of Political Correctness.
We no longer have House masters; we have House deans. By logical extension, we should no longer award master’s degrees, but something like “Person of Arts,” etc. The revisionists in this arena could have a field day.
But now the faculty has apparently declared war on “the stock of the Puritans,” as voiced in our alma mater. I am descended from two Mayflower passengers, and I am personally offenced by this possibility! Why should we of Puritan stock endure humiliation and ostracism when every other group is coddled, lauded, and favored. In the name of Political Correctness, let us Puritans have our little niche in Harvard’s history, because we ain’t ready to die yet.
William Dudley DeVore ’57
Unmarried Male of Arts
Editor’s note: The proposed rewording of “Fair Harvard” emanates not from the faculty, but from a task force convened and populated by President Drew Faust; see The College Pump, July-August, page 68.
Chelsea Manning in the Yard
I have been looking everywhere for alternate definitions of the Latin word veritas. Having learned of the long collaborative relationship between Harvard and the CIA, nowhere can I find room for secondary meanings like “disinformation,” “regime change,” “proxy wars,” or “assassinations” in that definition.
So now, the CIA has done all of us a big favor by “coming out” in plain sight—albeit in the dark of night—as a security agency that leans heavily on its academic partners to polish its image as a paragon federal agency in our country and the world. All this despite its role as covert violent disrupter of the political life of sovereign nations, concurrent with instigation of regime change and bloody anti-democratic upheaval the world over. This schema often referred to as full spectrum dominance is the most anti-democratic and anti-humanitarian diplomatic principle a nation can pursue. It also shakes to the very core the nature of higher education as a sanctuary and beacon of academic freedom and incorruptible intellectual integrity.
Harvard, ever the CIA acolyte, appears to have stood up and been counted by the bullying of Chelsea Manning in its school yard. In so doing, Harvard has simultaneously stood against its core maxim of “veritas,” which is burned into the school’s coat of arms, while helping to invalidate the only power the people have against the secrecy and perfidy of our police state: whistle blowing. Who is the keeper of truth? Is it the CIA or Manning? And who is the enemy of truth?
One could say that this was a defining moment at Harvard, were it not that this “moment” is nothing new. Ultimately, an academic institution should choose its legacy reflecting its students, faculty, and the finest traditions of academic freedom, not the covert interests of the state.
Joel Kabakov, Ph.D. ’77
The Dalles, Ore.
Personally, I’m deeply ashamed and utterly appalled at Harvard’s contemptible statements and damnable actions on this matter.
But sorely and sadly I’m not at all surprised.
Terribly, whatever awesome good comes from and through our dear alma mater gets trashed and lost by the awful effects of such as this.
Fact is, and we have to face it, our “fair” Harvard has long been criminally complicit in the imperial ruling and despicable looting of our world.
That must be stopped and corrected.
I insist that as alumni it is our moral duty to do that.
Erik B. Roth ’70
I am dismayed that Harvard University has been in the news twice this week for first accepting, then rejecting, a formerly incarcerated person: Michelle Jones and Chelsea Manning. Education is based on the premise that humans can change. Both of these women served their time and should be granted the respect of any other applicant.
In the Manning case, Harvard buckled under the political pressure of the military and CIA who consider Manning a lifelong traitor. In the Jones case, 25 years of prison was insufficient to pay for a death. Harvard was worried some donors would withhold funds.
Harvard cannot have it both ways. Either it stands for the transformative power of speech and education, or it does not. This week Harvard’s hypocrisy was unveiled. I am embarrassed to hold a diploma from an institution where all voices are equal, but some voices are more equal than others.
Susan Ringler ’74
It is outrageous for Harvard to bow to pressure from the CIA to withdraw the visiting fellowship to Chelsea Manning. The excuse is that she is a convicted felon. Her leaking of information is the only way the public found out details of American involvement in torture in Iraq, and the killing of civilians, that was otherwise covered over, including a famous video of downright murder. This from a school that awarded a degree to the Guatemalan general Hector Gramajo, who had a leading role in the genocide of the Maya in the 1980s and ’90s. Current fellows include Sean Spicer, whose only claim to fame was supporting untruths from his boss, and Corey Lewandowski, who was Mr. Trump’s campaign chairman only long enough to be accused of assault and battery on a reporter. Who among these gentlemen was more important for the transparency in public policy crucial to democracy? And despite the felony conviction for leaking vital information to the public, Ms. Manning is the only one of the above group who could be said to exemplify morality in the public sphere. At a time when conservatives whine about their lack of access to the free-speech environs of college campuses, I am ashamed of Harvard, the supposed exemplar of the American ideal of academic freedom, for acting as a subordinate branch of the intelligence community.
Franklin Miller ’67
I read with consternation regarding the invitations of former White House press secretary Sean Spicer and former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski to be visiting fellows at The Institute of Politics at Harvard Kennedy School. I understand (but do not condone) the invitation and quick disinvitation of Chelsea Manning after the resignation of ex-CIA director Michael Morrell from his fellowship. On the other hand, is lying to the public on behalf of a misogynistic, homophobic, and xenophobic presidential candidate and sitting president (who routinely lies and exaggerates himself) acceptable to Harvard? Where are the resignations of senior fellows for inviting Spicer and Lewandowski? If balance and “diversity of views” is the explanation for inviting Manning and Spicer, where is the disinvitation of Spicer? This is as bad as Trump’s false equivalence statement about Charlottesville about bad people on both sides.
I understand the tendency to whitewash celebrities (as the Emmys did when Spicer was semi-lionized with his not-so-funny joke on crowd size). But Harvard should know and do better.
David Siu ’95
The Harvard motto is veritas, truth, and truth demands an honest response to the University’s granting of a fellowship to Chelsea Manning.
Manning, while a U.S. Army intelligence analyst in Iraq, with malice aforethought criminally stole and distributed large quantities of classified files over an extended period of time.
Manning’s actions demonstrate a profound lack of perspective and ability to think through consequences. Further, what Manning did lacks the discernment, integrity, sense of responsibility, and most of all judgment required of a scholar and educator.
Even if Manning’s aim was legitimate “whistle blowing,” the record shows egregious lapses in prudent review, analysis, and reasonably restrained editing. As such, Manning’s record fails to rise to the level acceptable in scholarly work and [her] deeds are affronts to the academic standards Harvard professes to stand for.
But that pales in comparison to the damage done to our country and friends. Manning betrayed those who serve in uniform, fellow Americans, Coalition partners, Iraqis, and Afghanis. While we are reasonably certain that Manning’s actions did not lead to the death of Americans at the hands of our enemies, that many were placed in peril by Manning’s decisions is unquestioned. The fates of the Iraqis and Afghanis and their families who were so callously and thoughtlessly revealed by Manning is not so certain.
For such crimes Manning was charged, convicted, given a dishonorable discharge from the Army, and sentenced to prison. How Harvard managed to elevate such base behavior to the level of fellowship is truly Orwellian in its ramifications and, as a veteran of Iraq and alumnus of Harvard, I was both saddened and deeply disappointed.
Michael M. Walker, Ed.M. ’94
Colonel, USMC (Ret)
Twenty-four Radcliffe ’55 alumnae are deeply disturbed that Harvard admitted Michelle Jones to their history department, and then rejected her. The New York Times of September 13 reports that two professors in American studies took her papers to “administration,” and the admission was withdrawn. They questioned whether she had minimized her crime “to the point of misrepresentation.”
In fact, she was tried, convicted, and served a shortened prison term. While there she earned a college degree, mentored other inmates, and became a credible historian by conducting extensive academic research that resulted in publication.She earned admission to Harvard’s advanced-degree program in history.
Miss Jones could have contributed so much to Harvard. She knows how to cope in horrific situations with courage, determination, and focus. She could have introduced professors and students to the devastating history and culture of living in abject U.S. poverty. Those who made this decision lack empathy. We ask for their public apology for this nasty humiliation of Michelle Jones.
Radcliffe ’55 class secretary and classmates:
Ann Warner Arlen, Phyllis Yood Beinecke, Katherine H. Burkman, Susan Hilles Bush,
Claire Douglas PhD, Susanna Stone Doyle, Suzanne Flinton, October Cullin Frost, Elinor Fuchs,
Regina Greenspun, Irene W. D. Hecht, Roberta Liebman, Cynthia Lichtenstein, Jean Harvey Little, Linda London, Jill Carlotta Maher, Carol Anderson Pacun, Lucille Block Poskanzer,
Rebekah Richardson, Janet C. Robertson, Katherine Claire Pirani Russell, Katharine Sreedhar,
Jane Trask Rosen, Ann Besser Scott, Mary Stevenson Thieme
As alumni of Harvard, we wish to register our dismay about recent Harvard administration decisions concerning two formerly incarcerated people, Michelle Jones and Chelsea Manning.
While their circumstances differ, together the cases suggest a troubling pattern of discrimination against formerly incarcerated people. Harvard ultimately rejected each candidate based on its view of her moral worthiness, rather than on the usual criteria of academic excellence, scholarship, expertise, and potential for future contributions.
These decisions seem completely at odds with Harvard’s values as an institution and your professional and personal values. You have a history of battling discrimination, and your research has also put a spotlight on America’s past discrimination.
Tellingly, Harvard at first decided to admit Jones to a doctoral program and to invite Manning to be a visiting fellow. But Harvard administrators chose to overturn these decisions—not because Jones and Manning lacked sufficient intellectual aptitude, but due to a concern for Harvard’s reputation, insinuating that these women showed moral failings that might taint the Harvard brand—and, by extension, alumni such as us—if they were allowed to assume residency at Harvard.
We believe that Harvard’s actions were discriminatory for the following reasons:
- Jones and Manning served their time and do not pose a threat to the Harvard community. Past deeds, which have been punished, should not take precedence over candidates’ educational and scholarly potential.
- In the case of Jones, some administrators reportedly felt that her application did not sufficiently detail her crime. Others questioned patronizingly whether she could adjust to being an “elite among elites” at Harvard. This was a cruel Catch-22: administrators expected Jones to debase herself while simultaneously holding her own with top students. Meanwhile, they undervalued her formidable intellect and scholarly accomplishments.
In the case of Manning, Dean Elmendorf revoked her visiting fellowship at the Institute of Politics based on her “past conduct,” which he declared did not “fulfill the values of public service to which we aspire.” This improvised criterion is discriminatory: the IOP has granted fellowships to others whose activities, some would argue, have undermined our press or our norms of good governance. Harvard’s standards should be consistent and based on educational value and scholarly potential, not on whether current or former government officials disagree with someone’s prior actions or statements.
Our country and Harvard are not served well if previously incarcerated people are denied jobs, admission, fellowships, and voting rights after they serve their time. Because those behind bars are disproportionately impoverished or people of color, this is also an issue of racial and social justice.
We are disappointed that Harvard lost the educational benefit of interacting with these two manifestly unique and challenging individuals. Harvard could have gained credit for nurturing diverse talents and perspectives. Instead, Harvard has put itself in the dubious position of needing to defend behavior that we believe is discriminatory and regressive.
It is not too late for Harvard to revisit and remedy its flawed decision-making. As alumni, we would be proud of Harvard if it were to take these bold and generous steps:
- Apologize publicly and personally to Jones and Manning. Formerly incarcerated individuals rarely receive apologies when they have been wronged.
- Review Harvard’s decision-making processes in light of Harvard’s standards for educational integrity. Previous incarceration should not be a factor unless the person is still considered a danger to the public.
- Through institutional and departmental initiatives, support and fund academic research and symposia on carceral justice—including post-incarceration empowerment, restitution legislation for penal abuse, discriminatory convictions and sentencing, and civilly disobedient whistle-blowing—and ensure that formerly incarcerated people are part of the planning and implementation of these initiatives.
Thank you for service to Harvard and your consideration of this matter. We would be grateful for a reply.
Jane Sujen Bock ’81
James Bundy, Dolita Cathcart, LeRoy W. Collins, J.D. ’85, Andrew G. Compaine, Dayna L. Cunningham, Lisa E. Davis, Raven Deerwater, Madeline H. deLone, Daniel S. Feldman, Jr., Sara Frankel,Russ Gershon, Robin Gillespie, Maxwell Gould, Jeanne Heifetz, Maria L. Imperial, Ricardo Ismach, Andruid Kerne, Zoya Kocur, John R. Lear, Elizabeth Anne Leiman, Peter (“Brit”) Lundell, Jonathan A. Marshall, Erika Peterson Munson, Nancy Pfeffer, Naomi Rush Olson ’80, Peter L. Stein, Carl Phillips, Emily B. Roberson, Mary Roldán, Ph.D. ’92, David J. Rothman, Benjamin Schatz, J.D. ’85, Barbara K. Shubinski, Kate Elliott Smith, Sally R. Solo, Rebecca Stone, Stacy V. Stone, Tom Swope, Paula Tavrow, Felisa Tibbitts, Ralph J. Zito
Frederick C. Packard, featured in “Poetry Voiced” (July-August, page 32), also taught homiletics at Harvard Divinity School in the early 1960s. The course was required for all Master of Divinity* students. Although in other seminaries homiletics usually included the content and writing of sermons, at HDS, Packard’s course focused exclusively on speech in the delivery of “trial” sermons.
I was both blessed and cursed by Frederick Packard’s active membership at the Old Cambridge Baptist Church, where I did my fieldwork. At the principal Sunday morning service, I always read one of the scripture lessons; and at the back door, Packard inevitably stopped to tell me where I should have paused and what phrase or word I should have emphasized, while a queue of a dozen or so frustrated people trying to leave the church lined up behind him to my great embarrassment.
One of Packard’s quips has remained fresh in my memory for more than 50 years. Fortunately it was addressed to one of my classmates, not to me: “Young man with the stentorian, stained-glass tone, I can only hope that your first charge is a cathedral!”
John M. Keith, M.Div. ’63
*(In that era the degree was S.T.B., “Bachelor of the Science of Theology.” It was later “converted” to M.Div., Master of Divinity, to confirm to other universities and seminaries; and a “seal” was sent on request to attach to our diplomas.)
One has to wonder at the level of scrupulousness of an editor who records (“Off the Shelf,” July-August, pages 60-61) that Clarence C. Cook received his A.B. from the College in 1849 but fails to note that Theodore Roosevelt earned his in 1880.
Jim Goulder ’72
Saint James, N.Y.
Editor’s note: Rightly or wrongly, the assumption was that readers would be aware of TR’s Harvard connection, making his class year superfluous, which would not be the case for Cook.
Harvard grads don’t need “brain organoids” to do the basic math (“Probing Psychosis,” July-August, page 40). Half the genes involved in neurological and psychiatric disorders are inflammatory. Inflammation drives relapse and illness progression. Stop the inflammation and half the battle is won.
Minocycline is a profound CNS anti-inflammatory with neuroprotective and anti-apoptotic effects; it affects stem cells and paracrine factors important in prenatal gene sequences for such things as limb generation—and possibly regeneration. It reduces brain damage after stroke, helps Fragile X syndrome and autism, and prevents depression in HIV patients. Why don’t doctors know this? We’ve forgotten how to palpate.
Someone—meaning everyone—ought to get their heads examined. Are we too proud to study Chinese medicine and the cranial osteopathy discovered by William Garner Sutherland, D.O., 100 years ago?
Minocycline reduces cortical surface heat—first over the frontal lobes. It increases the width and range of motion of cranial sutures. Then it softens the bone, allowing increased pliability and convexity of skull shape. Over a few months it reduces post-inflammatory stiffness in subcortical centers and increases elasticity in the cortico-spinal tracts and cross-callosal fiber bundles.
Gene fragments, rating scales, and statistics don’t substitute for palpation. We can’t understand schizophrenia without understanding the relationship between brain and skull.
Adolescence inflammation is not a “normal” state. The skull locks and then the brain ignites. “Pruning” is a misnomer when 40 percent of neuronal connections are destroyed by an inflammatory process. Inflammation impairs rationality; inflammation drives agitation when emotion lasts hours and days instead of minutes. Adolescents on minocycline for acne get a free ride while their hot-headed peers are tormented by romance, desperation, and impulsivity.
Liver inflammation from virus infection and chemical exposure are the most common extracranial drivers for pathogenic brain heat. Five fluid ounces of cerebro-spinal fluid is a lousy cooling system for the brain. The upright posture doesn’t help; heat rises.
Through the blood brain barrier—or inhaled through the nose—chemicals reach the hypothalamus, which drives vegetative depression and exaggerated allergic reactions. Halons—chlorinated hydrocarbons—collect under the temporal lobes and stick on the dura and bone.
Excessive adrenal stress via persistently elevated cortisol drives palpable fluid swelling in the hippocampus, followed by hippocampal shrinking. The temporal region gets hot; kidneys get stuck. Even minor head trauma adds sticky trauma protein fragments throughout the brain; blows to the face jam the ethmoid/sphenoid joint and reduce perfusion to the underside of the frontal lobes. In the summer, heat-shock protein adds to the paste. Medial frontal lobes stick on the falx cerebri.
If you don’t palpate, you won’t get the history of the precipitating factors.
Recent research on the endocannibinoid system raises more hope for those who feel there must be something more than anti-psychotic medication for people with schizophrenia.
Cannibidiol (CBD) from hemp extract rebuilds an inborn regulatory system for reducing sensory overload and brain over-excitability. The endocannibinoid system helps calm the noradrenaline driver of painful emotional intensity, the glutamine driver of insatiable appetite, and the dopamine driver of over-thinking in paranoia. It makes cell membranes more fluid in the brain.
Courtney Humphries makes it too complicated: ‘probing’ psychosis requires hands...and an open mind. Dr. Freud should have left his hands on the forehead and met Dr. Sutherland when he came to the United States.
Daniel Kerlinsky ’74
Rapped Knuckles Department
O fair Harvard, and Harvard Magazine, how can you turn an undergraduate loose into the wild without teaching her decent grammatical structure? In “The Undergraduate” (September-October, page 25), an editor who was napping allowed Lily Scherlis to begin the very first sentence of her friendship essay with shoddy English. I cannot feel like I. I can feel like a motherless child, which I am. But she feels as though she has already squandered her prime friend-making years, not like.
Send your editors to some remedial grammar classes, sniff.
A.C. Doyle ’83, S.M. ’90
President Drew Faust could leave a legacy if she were to spend some time in her tenth year as president of Harvard as a spokesperson for the American Education establishment, encouraging recognition of the dangers of ignoring our national debt.
The $20 trillion of national debt we read about is only the tip of the iceberg. Total debt of our government includes an additional $100 trillion of unfunded liabilities, which means our total national debt is more than $120 trillion. This number is less than 30 percent of our total annual national income from all revenue sources.
If the country steams ahead, adding to this total debt, we will leave a dreadful legacy to posterity.
David Scott ’51, M.B.A. ’53
Department of Amplifications
I was disappointed to read “Anti-Aging Approaches” (Right Now, September-October, page 8), as it was one-sided and misleading.
Despite referencing (and misrepresenting) our company multiple times in the article, you did not reach out to us for comment. If you had talked to us, we would have shared the extensive scientific research supporting the potential benefits of nicotinamide riboside and pterostilbene. Furthermore, we conducted a double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical study of our product BASIS demonstrating that it increases and sustains nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+) levels. The study is registered on clinicaltrials.gov for anyone to view.
Elysium Health is dedicated to improving lives by translating advances in science and technology into effective, scientifically-sound products that help people manage their health. We are working directly with the world’s leading scientists, clinicians, and academic institutions to progress our understanding of science. In fact, we entered a multi-year research agreement with Harvard to fund research projects focused on cellular function and other key modulators in the aging process—a fact you left out of your story.
As a Harvard graduate, I expected better from you. At the very least, we deserved the courtesy of being called for comment.
Eric Marcotulli, M.B.A. ’12
Chief executive officer,
New York City
Marina Bolotnikova responds: Elysium cites evidence that its product increases levels of NAD+ in the human body. But there is no scientific evidence to date linking NAD+ to any health or anti-aging benefits in humans. The article (which was about anti-aging research at Harvard, not about Elysium specifically) pointed out that Elysium markets its product for its health benefits, despite the lack of evidence supporting this claim.
Editors’ note. The story “Poetry, Voiced” (by Sophia Nguyen, July-August, page 32) focused on Frederick C. Packard Jr. ’20’s pioneering audio collection, and the activities of the Woodberry Poetry Room’s current curators. Readers curious about the institution’s history, and in the collection and conservation efforts of previous curators Jack Sweeney, Jeanne Broburg, Stratis Haviaras, and Don Share, can learn more at the Woodberry Poetry Room’s website (http://hcl.harvard.edu/poetryroom/about/), as well as in Haviaras’s “Among Harvard’s Libraries,” published in the Harvard Library Bulletin (New Series Fall 1992, volume 3, number 3).
The sidebar, “Records, Rescued,” stated, “In 2014, Woodberry Poetry Room successfully resurrected Ezra Pound’s 1939 recording of The Cantos.” More precisely, the project retrieved and digitized data from a disc containing Canto 56. For more about Pound’s Harvard recordings, see the Woodberry Poetry Room’s notes for its 2015 exhibition, “Not to be Played”, or this magazine’s coverage, “Pound, on the Record."
And in other articles…. “Practicing My Purpose” (by Max Suechting, Montage, September-October, page 53) refers to songwriter Dan Wilson as having “written for or with many of the biggest names in pop,” among them Joni Mitchell. Wrong pop star: the author meant to list Carole King.
The Harvard Portrait featuring Sunil Amrith (September-October, page 19) rendered the title of his professorship incorrectly. He is the Mehra Family professor of South Asian studies. Our apologies.
A photo credit accompanying the Vita profile of Carl Thorne-Thomsen misidentifed the date for the image from the Lake Forest High School yearbook; the correct date is 1964.