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Letters

Cambridge 02138

Presidential debates, Overseer elections, admissions biases

July-August 2021

 

Discourse and the Humanities

Doris Sommer’s article on the crucial place of the humanities in holding a democracy together had me nodding enthusiastically right up to the last paragraph (“Democracy Requests the Pleasure of Your Company,” May-June, page 42). And there we parted ways. Law degrees have been the introduction to deep thinking in other times and places, such as Latin America and the Middle East, she pointed out. “Today this preparation is the Ph.D.”

Well, not necessarily. In fact, in the United States at least, the J.D. is the last refuge of liberal education in the professions. It is just about the only profession whose practitioners get extra points for knowing things outside their specialties. It is the only safe graduate degree for young people who still aren’t sure what they want to be when they grow up. For that purpose, a Ph.D. is a prodigious waste of time and money. In fact, I know several people who, having gotten an unsatisfactory Ph.D., found their way into solvency and success only by following it up with a law degree.

In seeking approval from the dean of the program I was teaching in at the time to list the course I was creating as a humanities course, I argued forcefully (and successfully) that law is a discipline in the humanities. Two semesters later I supported listing another course I was creating as a social-science course, and succeeded again. Both times, I was arguing in perfectly good faith. Law is a discipline in the humanities and in the social sciences. Yes, a J.D. is faster and cheaper than a Ph.D. But that doesn’t make law school a trade school. Democracy needs humanist lawyers.

Marian Henriquez Neudel ’63, Dv ’67
Chicago

I very much doubt this was the author’s intention, but Professor Sommer’s essay on the democratic value of sociability could be read as an argument for the depoliticization of sports. For a roughly four-decade period following the tumult of the Vietnam War era, professional and collegiate athletics represented a relatively safe space for lively conversation that avoided the pitfalls of politics. While few would confuse sports-talk radio with Enlightenment salons, there is little doubt that spirited debate over whether, say, a quarterback’s success is a function of his individual attributes or the team system he plays in provides an outlet for interaction across societal divides and engagement with topics that have “no practical purpose” beyond the dialogue itself.

The convergence of sports and news coverage is eroding this refuge for innocuous conversation where fans with diametrically opposing political views can bond through sociable sparring.

All of the above, of course, has no bearing whatsoever on athletes’ and coaches’ right to be as outspoken as they wish, or fans’ right to hail or bemoan their activism. But what is undeniable is that there is increasingly one less place for apolitical argument. When politics bleeds into everything, where can conversation be gracefully steered?

Charles G. Kels ’00
San Antonio

Presidential Debates 2020

The excellent article about Chris Wallace (“Straight-Up News,” May-June, page 38) makes it clear that he sets the gold standard in television news. However, the article errs in stating that after the first 2020 debate, “the Commission on Presidential Debates reacted by changing the rules for succeeding debates.” We did not change the rules; we simply enforced rules which had been agreed to by the candidates.

Readers will be interested that the Commission on Presidential Debates was created in 1987 as a result of a 1986 study and conference at the Institute of Politics in Harvard’s Kennedy School. I was a Fellow at the time and have been involved in every presidential debate, starting with Kennedy/Nixon in 1960.

Newton N. Minow, K ’86 
Board member, Commission on Presidential Debates
Chicago

The Standard-Setter

Senior editor Jean Martin ’70, A.M. ’73, retiring after more than 45 years of service to readers, appears on the masthead for the last time in this issue. Her legacy is about much more than longevity.

Jean was pursuing her doctorate in history (but also hedging her bets by taking the Radcliffe Publishing Procedures course in 1973) when she applied to the magazine and was hired in December 1975—as a “Library Assistant II”: that was allegedly the lowest-paid University position (about $6,000 per year) that could be construed as having something to do with magazine editorial work. She describes her duties then as those of an editorial assistant/gofer, but that seems characteristically understated. Jean appeared on the masthead in March and dove into finding the visual contents for a major July-August 1976 U.S. bicentennial issue. Soon after the first appearance of Vita, in the following January-February issue (the first at the magazine’s new, fully bimonthly, frequency), she took responsibility for that feature. From those earliest initiatives, she was an essential part of the work led by editor John Bethell and managing editor Kit Reed to make this into a modern magazine about the work and aspirations of this University—characterized by superb reporting, intellectual seriousness, and an unwavering commitment to the highest standards.


Jean Martin

As the magazine has evolved, so has Jean's role, into her stewardship of our texts during the past quarter-century. She has mastered that craft superbly, helping writers with countless thousands of improving suggestions.

Jean’s lasting contributions are cultural and even moral. In a selfie era, she is rigorously self-effacing, preferring always to direct attention to the magazine's mission. She has a remarkable capacity for work. She treats everyone—from frail alumni/ae to colleagues and class secretaries—with grace and respect. Hers is a towering record of citizenship: a neglected virtue that ought to be more widely embraced.

As Jean departs, we cherish not only her continuing friendship, but her example: aspiring to absolute accuracy, precision, fairness, and dedication to the truth. You can’t do this work for a day, more or less decades, if you don’t really care about it. We have never met anyone who does it better than Jean, nor anyone who cares more about doing so. We, and readers of Harvard Magazine, are forever in her debt.

~The Editors

Overseer Elections

I used to vote regularly in the elections for Harvard’s Board of Overseers. But I stopped long ago—not because I stopped caring about Harvard. I still do care. I stopped, rather, because eventually I recognized that the process affords me no meaningful basis for choosing.

A meaningful basis would involve attending to more than such things as generation, gender, race, or professional affiliation. A meaningful choice would focus, rather, on what directions the various candidates would use their power on the Board to take our institution. I’m assuming that—with respect to how Harvard evolves—the Board of Overseers actually matters.

And—in making the following proposal—I’m assuming also that, at the time when ballots are sent out to all of us alumni, at least many of the most important issues the Board of Overseers will be called upon to address are knowable.

So I propose a revision of the election process, according to which:

First, the existing Board of Overseers will articulate the major issues that it is expected the Board will be confronting.

Second, the candidates will be asked to articulate their thoughts regarding how those issues should be considered/addressed/resolved.

And third, the candidates’ answers will be included as a major component of their presentations to the Harvard electorate.

In our political elections, we have historically expected our candidates to address the salient issues of the day. That’s considered essential for enabling the people to have a voice in choosing their future. If the election of our Board of Overseers really matters for Harvard’s future, why shouldn’t there be an equally meaningful consultation of the “voting public’s” collective values and judgments to help guide fair Harvard into the future?

Andrew Bard Schmookler ’67
Broadway, Va.

Editor’s note: As a service, the magazine posed questions to the candidates about their views of Harvard’s challenges, the Overseers’ role in meeting them, and so on, and published the responses online in January (“Prospective Overseers State Their Views”; see harvardmag.com/overseer-nomineeviews-21), with subsequent pointers to the information in the printed issues. We hope this information proved useful and will repeat the exercise if that proves so.

 

Name Those Scientists!

Conservative Curation, by Alona Bach (Treasure, January-February 2021, about a Harvard Tercentenary exhibition on women scientists at Radcliffe College), was an interesting story, regarding the ambivalence of accomplished women toward self-promotion.

But how could you write that story today and still continue to hide the scientists’ identities? The story doesn’t identify any of the scientists in the exhibit—not a single one!

As my mother (Augusta Alger Prince ’40) concentrated in astronomy, it would be so interesting to know who her mentors might have been.

Can you point me (and others) to where we can see more about this exhibit in the Schlesinger archives?

Charlotte Hitchcock (Prince) ’70
Durham, N.H.

Alona Bach responds: Indeed, you are right that it is a shame the article didn’t list any names. It was a tough decision for me to make as I tried to figure out how to tell this story in 500 words, and I am glad that you reached out to ask for more information.

You can read more about Schlesinger Library’s archival collections on the exhibit here: hollisarchives.lib.harvard.edu/repositories/8/resources/5647. I also attach a list of the women that the exhibit committee drew up; I believe the names listed in parentheses are women from whom the curators did not receive reprints or other material. Thank you also for sharing a little bit of your mother’s story: you may be interested to know that the exhibit had the most material from astronomy/astronomers. My guess is, this is because many women worked at the Harvard College Observatory at that time, and several were involved in planning the exhibit (e.g., Dorrit Hoffleit, Margaret Harwood, and Annie Jump Cannon). Radcliffe had also hosted the International Astronomical Union for its General Assembly meeting in 1932, so the astronomy subcommittee may have had more up-to-date professional networks through which to send out the call for reprints. (This is just my own speculation.) The department and Observatory must have been fascinating places to be from 1936 to 1940.

Editor’s note: The complete list of scientists is now available at harvardmag.com/radcliffe-300th-exhibit-21.

 

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 email to [email protected].

 

Back in Harvard Yard

Since the beginning of the pandemic, I have had the opportunity, on three different trips from home in the Hudson Valley, to spend an hour walking favorite paths at Harvard, including a few days ago…Terecentenary Theatre, the broad steps of Widener, Mower Hall where I lived as a freshman, all perfectly familiar, beloved, but with literally almost no one else in sight! To reverse a trope from “The Walrus and the Carpenter”: “Which was most odd, I’d say, /Because in very fact it was/The middle of the day.”

Next year (God willing and the creeks don’t rise) will be my class’s sixtieth reunion. Were it this year, it would have had to be an on-screen event. However, as I was very comforted to learn from a gentleman, one of the few I encountered during my ramble (who, as it turned out, is responsible for events in the Yard), “Next year is going to be a great year.” In fact, he was busily and joyfully preparing for the first “in-person event” in the Yard, the following day. In this long and difficult era of corporeal desert, what spirit he showed.

I hope it went well, with many more to follow, the first steps of a return of Harvard (and campuses everywhere) to a vibrant physical presence as well as an indelible spiritual one.

Jim Lichtenberg ’62
Beacon, N.Y.

The Alumnx Association?

Regarding renaming our organization, i.e., Harvard Alumni Association versus Harvard Alumni/ae Association (Letters, “An Inclusive HAA,” by Carole Wilson Garvey, May-June, page 9), why not jump straight to Harvard Alumnx Association? That appears to be how gendered words will be formed in the future.

William Bernet, M.D. ’67
Nashville

Harvard’s Admission Biases

Jeannie Suk Gersen suggests in her podcast (harvardmagazine.com/2020/jeannie-suk-gersen, and see “Due Process,” March-April, page 31) that Harvard could improve diversity in future classes by eliminating the preferences given ALDC candidates (athletes, legacies, and donors’ children). One-third of the incoming class is made up of these predominately white, privileged kids.

Harvard should try to to balance its obligations to our society, and diversity is certainly a worthy goal. But Harvard’s obligations also include insuring that the literate have a reasonable representation among the powerful.

Soon after graduating, Ross Douthat ’02 [see “The Conservative,” November-December 2020, page 34] wrote Privilege, critiquing how meritocrats have been blinded by their brilliance and oblivious to their privilege. A 1970s admission-policy change increased the proportion of high-achieving public-school graduates in each new class and such (still-privileged) students were its beneficiaries.

The previous antediluvian processes gave practically automatic admission to at-least-sentient candidates who were children of alumni and donors. This reflected a goal of elite education: preparing the next generation to assume power, practically a birthright for boarding-school alumni. A liberal education would help these privileged children accept their role as leaders.

“Noblesse oblige” was drilled into their thick heads around family dinner tables and reinforced by the boarding schools. I was “privileged” to attend The Barlow School, one of several schools head-mastered by the sons of Choate’s legendary headmaster, George St. John. Well into the early 1960s and into his eighties, St. John gave chapel sermons at his sons’ schools; I remember well his stern reminders that, as members of a class born to privilege, we were obligated to serve and give back. We had not earned these privileges, but we had the opportunity and the obligation to prove ourselves worthy of them.

The meritocrats Douthat describes seem to have concluded they’d earned their privileges through merit, through being both brilliant and hard-working. Harvard did not hold remedial classes in modesty or noblesse oblige.

The United States has a long way to go toward becoming a country of egalitarian opportunity; if anything, it has become less egalitarian since the end of the 1960s. Equal opportunity is a noble goal. I hope the next generation makes more progress toward it than we who came of age in the ’60s have.

It is fairly clear that the children of wealth and privilege will inherit most of these opportunities. But if they go to today’s Harvard, they will at least have the opportunity to meet more meritocrats, perhaps even a more diverse set of meritocrats, who can help them better take advantage of their “undeserved” opportunities; perhaps the “undeserving” children of privilege can return the favor by setting examples of noblesse oblige from which even the brilliant and hard-working could benefit.

Robert S. Davis, M.B.A.’67
Founder–Seaside, Florida
Seaside, Fla.

Representative Stefanik

In response to Alfred Alcorn’s “puzzlement and dismay” over the “dismissal of Elise Stefanik from the Institute of Politics Senior Advisory Committee” and his suggestion “to consider changing Harvard’s motto from Veritas to Virtus” (Letters, May-June, page 4), I would reply that our almost-400-year commitment to “Veritas” continues to be right on. The facts in this case are substantiated beyond doubt, and those who bear false witness have no place in our house. President Bacow did the right thing (see Brevia, March-April, page 19), and I for one would like to thank him.

Henry J. Frisch ’66
Chicago

I was so proud of President Bacow when I read his View from Mass Hall column, “Resolve,” in the March-April issue (page 3). He has held fast to his core commitments to open-minded dialogue between people of opposing viewpoints both within the Harvard community and with visiting speakers. This is in the face of “outpourings of disappointment and anger” from alumni and alumnae with their demands on him to the contrary. In these days of cancel culture, neglecting the environment, critical race theory, tax breaks for the wealthy, censorship and banning of opposing viewpoints, the 1619 Project, and hostile rather than open-minded communication from both sides, his affirmation of “civil dialogue,” Harvard as “a place of many voices,” and “the dangers of campus bans and litmus tests based on ideology” was refreshing. When I read: “The defense of free and honest inquiry in the unfettered pursuit of truth is our shared responsibility—and among our most sacred commitments,” I almost thought I was reading Scripture. May we all resolve, whatever our relationship to Harvard or to the political spectrum may be, to follow his leadership and hold fast to Veritas!

Walter R. Bodine, Ph.D. ’73
Wallingford, Conn.

Mental and Fiscal Health

The article by Veronique Greenwood (“Linking Mental and Fiscal Health,” May-June, page 14) explains the problem of depression in poverty. There is no doubt that not knowing where your family’s next meal comes from will depress you. It is very well known that aid with money is very helpful in those situations. The time and money used in extensive research of such an obvious solution should have been better used for charity.

Sevi Avigdor, M.D.
Rumson, N.J.

Praise, Not Money?

I’m sure Harvard pays salaries consistent with current standards, notions of fairness, habits, merits, demands, power and other reasonable considerations (see harvardmag.com/harvard-top-earners-21). What is amazing to a naive democrat (small d) is that in a democratic society, where half the households make less than $70,000 per year, some have to be motivated to do their jobs by getting a hundred or a thousand times as much. Some years ago W.G. Runciman suggested that we are rewarded in two ways, with economic rewards and with praise. Since economic rewards seem so disproportionally disproportional, might it make our communities more solidary and mutually concerned if we put some limits on economic rewards and established methods of “praise” perhaps in the form of privileges of various kinds, not quite so individualistically differentiating as sheer money. Is it a problem worth considering?

Arnold Simmel ’47, G ’51
New York City

Due Respect for Radcliffe

I write in solidarity with my Radcliffe College classmates who are dismayed at the new “shorthand” name for the Radcliffe Institute. While I understand the utility of a short name, “Harvard Radcliffe Institute” is insensitive to the history of Radcliffe and Harvard, to the historical status of women within Harvard University, and to the legacy of Radcliffe College. It seems to me that “Radcliffe Institute at Harvard” would better serve the purpose.

Benjamin N. Levy ’69
Cambridge

Dr. Jeffries, Redux

I read Jacob Sweet’s piece about the cross-Channel balloon flight taken by Dr. Jeffries and Monsieur Blanchard with great pleasure (“Clothes Overboard!” May-June, page 72). Parents with cloud-minded kids might want to check out the children’s story I wrote about this aeronautical adventure, A Voyage in the Clouds: the (Mostly) True Story of the World’s First International Flight by Balloon in 1785 (FSG, 2016), illustrated by Caldecott Medalist Sophie Blackall.

I based my story on Jeffries’s “A Narrative of the Two Aerial Voyages of Doctor Jeffries with Mons. Blanchard.” My well-thumbed copy of Jeffries’s report is a facsimile; I look forward to a visit one day to the Houghton Library to spend some time with the signed manuscript.

I did take a bit of literary license with the story—thus the word “mostly” in the title—but rest assured: the scene where the two aeronauts pee over the side of the basket in an effort to lighten its load is a big hit with the younger set.

Matthew Olshan ’88
Landisburg, Pa.

Highfield Hall

The admirable article on Highfield Hall (“A Cultural Escape,” by Nell Porter Brown, Harvard Squared, May-June, page 16J) surprised and pleased me. However, I also knew that there was a great deal missing in the summary statement that “Highfield Hall opened to the public in 2006, following a long grass-roots effort to save the property, and a six-year renovation.” I was closely involved with the rescue and the re-creation of Highfield Hall and still know many of the actors.

Saving Highfield was like a rescue after a shipwreck, a rescue that involved many people with many skills who cooperated to keep the owners from demolishing the building before Town Meeting could be persuaded to buy it. We barely made the deadline. First, we had to get enough money pledged so that if Town Meeting did vote to take the property, the town would not be responsible for any of the subsequent restoration or operating expenses.

The people who worked to restore the deteriorated building gave very generously of their skills, time, and equipment. Mary Lou Smith was the visionary and prime mover in the whole effort. The Sunken Garden described in the article is appropriately named in her honor.

In the early 1980s, Falmouth was planning to celebrate its 1986 tercentenary. Citizens ran one campaign for the town to buy open space for conservation and recreation, another to increase affordable housing, and a third to fund preservation of historic buildings. Smith started her own campaign to persuade each of the villages of the town to collect its local stories and photographs, and to write a village history. Her group of editors worked to turn all the material into “The Book of Falmouth” in celebration.

It was not the last of Mary Lou’s projects. Since 1987, the Woods Hole Historical Collection has published the semiannual Spritsail: Journal of the History of Falmouth and Vicinity. One issue features Highfield Hall; I was then chair of the editorial board.

Congratulations to Nell Power Brown.

Judith G. Stetson, M.A.T. ’60
Woods Hole, Mass.

Chris Wallace

Craig Lambert’s enlightening article on Chris Wallace (“Straight-Up News,” May-June, page 38) was dismaying in at least two ways.

There were troublingly omitted matters involving Wallace’s Harvard education. What was his major? Did he write an honors thesis, and if so on what, and what was the assessment of it? Did some professors and courses make a valuable difference for Wallace?

Lambert’s uncritical treatment of Wallace’s coauthored, bestselling Countdown, on Truman/Enola Gay/A-bomb history is dismaying. Yes, the reviews were generally favorable, and sometimes even enthusiastic. But had Lambert brought critical judgment to bear on the sourcing, framework, and analysis, he might have discovered that the book is very weak. It is under-researched, ignores much necessary material, is error-prone, and often presents a badly flawed narrative an analysis.

One cannot responsibly analyze Truman’s decisionmaking without looking closely at whom he consulted and discovering what they said and thought. That requires directly using at least six sets of archival materials not examined by Countdown’s authors: the papers of Secretary of State James Byrnes, Navy secretary James Forrestal, Adm. William Leahy (de facto Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman), Gen. Henry Arnold (Air Force chief), Gen. George Marshall (Army chief), and assistant war secretary John McCloy.

Adding to the severe problems, the book also ignores direct use of at least 16 significant A-bomb-related studies, including work by such varied analysts as Richard Frank, Tsuyoshi Hasegawa, Robert Newman, Robert Maddox, and Sean Malloy. Countdown’s heavy reliance on three journalistic books, by Gordon Thomas and Max Witts, David McCullough, and A. J. Baiome, cannot compensate for the many omissions and mistakes, and the Thomas-Witts book is remarkably unreliable, as Wallace should have recognized if he had thoughtfully read Enola Gay copilot Robert Lewis’s correspondence that Countdown used in part.

Countdown’s more than 35 documentable errors are surprising. Consider: the errand discussion of Gen. MacArthur’s pre-Hiroshima think about the A-bomb; the misreporting on casualty estimates rebutting Herbert Hoover’s claims; the repeated errors on the name of the Nagasaki-bombing plane; the mistake of placing Truman in mid June at Potsdam; the many mistakes in quoting the 1989 note by Enola Gay pilot Paul Tibbets; and multiple errors in quoting and misdating Robert Lewis’s 1981 letter.

A poorly researched, inadequately conceptualized, heavily error-prone volume, by Chris Wallace, a well-known newsman, merits serious concerns. That involves, in multiple ways, examining intellectual standards in reporting and publishing. That might lead to a thoughtful study in U.S. culture dealing with fact, evidence, interpretation, standards, and accountability.

Barton Bernstein, Ph.D. ’64
Palo Alto

The Coop

The world turns, so The Coop changes. In the 1950s, professors supplied reading lists to The Coop. Those listed books were gathered on shelves in the Annex. The impecunious among us would trade in last year’s readings, provided the returns were not overly marked. We sometimes could pick up the old new readings for a song.

Books satisfy the solitary. Transferring symbols into thought is the practice of the individual, even though the lining-out of a psalm, or joining in a song, is a literary sharing beyond pleasure. The individual may read while eating, or drinking, but booksellers prefer to exclude food. Sticky fingers and wet pages turn new books old in the instant.

Clothing, or the lack, is a social occasion. To hide or display the body reveals consciousness of others, totally different from the intimacy of reading. One’s dress is fashionable or unfashionable, as one chooses, regardless of the mode, as is noticed in revealed and unrevealed Zoom clothing.

 Money is made in the selling of clothing, but the selling of new books in a store is being replaced by the actions of the internet. Yet, at Harvard, Hunter-gatherers, young or old, female or male, arrive in waves. They search the merchandise mart, or the souvenir shop, in well-known Harvard Square, to bring trophies home, or to gift to others. Someone must satisfy their quest. Why not The Coop?

Years ago, in an ode, I extolled the delights of reading, using the stairs at The Coop to give flight to the imagination. The stairs remain, but the books that gave them identity, are thinning out. View the ode as a fond farewell.

The Tree of Knowledge

Recall the time so many years ago
When, rising from the variegated green
And pleasant land, that much maligned tree
Nurtured an apple fair.
The serpent took a hit upon a day.
Around the trunk in upward coils it wound
With iridescent muscularity
To seek that apple rare.

Oh wretched thing
To sleekly bring
That gift to mother Eve.

What in the world could possibly twitch
Our primeval mom’s great gardening zeal
To rebellion’s appeal? Adam soon follows?
In seeking this vice with which serpents entice,
Travel to Harvard Square.

There, within a building grand and old,
A cooperative nest to grads young and bold,
At farthest distance from the opening door,
Surrounded, nay sheathed, with stacks of books galore,
There, displayed in printed pride of place,
There, bearing the fruits of learning’s grace,
So sweet, livened in leaves, with cover’s
Delectable, sensual, enticing, soul grasping face,
There, in movement and stillness, in circular poise,
There, drawing in our restless mind, coiled
Seducing, rewarding, attracting, all naked
With splendor, there, resting in layers, floor to floor,
There stretches a stairway, that offers the known.

To learn, and so to know, does serve
To plant us on this spinning globe.
Since evil known is evil stopped,
Say yes to apple’s larger thought.

A riff on Milton’s Paradise Lost, 9/9/04

This is a near perfect set of stairs winding from basement to the third floor of the Harvard Coop. So much is done to harness utility with beauty.

Philip M. Williams ’57
Falmouth, Mass.

Kudos to Context’s Coverage of Food Addiction

Thank you for [posting a link to] Daniel Lieberman’s wonderful review of Michael Moss’s new book, Hooked. In case this is helpful to someone, we typically overeat when we want the fleeting pleasure experienced during eating to keep lasting. That’s because what we are genuinely craving in our lives is lasting pleasure. Therefore, the easiest and most effective way to overcome overeating is to immediately bring pleasures into our lives that are greater than the momentary pleasure we get from eating.

To overcome a bad habit like overeating which is widespread, we need to sub in a greater pleasure right then and there. You may want to simply turn on music and start dancing or stretching. You may want to open a window or step outside and feel the cool air or sunshine on your face. Or you may want to leave a sweet text message for someone you appreciate. Suddenly that big bag of potato chips isn’t calling your name so loudly. What works? Whatever fills your genuinely hungry soul with the joy that gratitude brings.

Also it is much easier to feel gratitude for an orange, for instance, or another whole natural food because it nourishes you physically, in addition to just tasting delicious like most processed foods. And when you feel gratitude for the natural food that gives you vitality, it uplifts not only your body, but also your soul. So filling up on natural and wholesome food will leave little room for overeating the more addictive processed food. This is a deeply enjoyable way to get “unhooked.”

Bracha Goetz ’77
Baltimore

The Harvard Hothouse

HARVARD, formally an “institution of higher learning,” has now evolved into a very exclusive hothouse where issues concerning diversity, inclusion, gender harassment, and “renaming” have take precedence over a focus on time-honored academic subjects: history, philosophy, English literature, foreign languages, religious, thought, etc.

When I attended college in the 1960s (University of Pennsylvania, B.A. ’68), despite great turmoil in the United States regarding integration, women’s rights, and the Vietnam war, I had no awareness of the political persuasions of my professors or the administrators. Isn’t that as it should be?

Harvard has created a party line and students and faculty who don’t swear allegiance to it are being increasingly shut out, excluded, or silenced. Where is the pushback? What happened to the dialogue?

Gretchen Bachrach
Arlington, Mass.

 

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