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Letters

Cambridge 02138

Legacies, football, knitting

March-April 2022

Civil Rights, Reinterpreted

Lincoln Caplan’s cover story about Tomiko Brown-Nagin’s re-assessment of the civil rights movement (“Both Sides Now,” January-February, page 29) gives us a wide-screen picture of the struggle over a far longer period, beginning in the 1930s, than many of us thought. I participated in the Selma march, and have continued my interest and involvement, but was unaware of the decades of selfless endeavor and sacrifice in local communities that preceded the public demonstrations of the 1960s. Brown-Nagin sees the ongoing task as far greater than laws alone can provide. It involves ceaseless efforts throughout society to provide equal access and opportunities without regard to race or sex. We have much to learn from this gifted lawyer and historian. Thank you for featuring her.

Fred Fenton ’58
Seal Beach, Calif.

Lincoln Caplan’s article contains the following description in discussing Constance Baker Motley: “First woman and first black elected Manhattan Borough president, in 1965.” Hulan Jack, in 1953, was the first black elected Manhattan Borough president. He was succeeded in that post by another black man, who served until 1965. Jack’s career was reported in a recent New York Times story: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/20/nyregion/the-complex-story-of-hulan-j....

Mark Gelfand, A.M. ’67
Ada, Michigan

In Lincoln Caplan’s otherwise commendable lead article, he focuses on the new book Civil Rights Queen: Constance Baker Motley and the Struggle for Equality by Tomiko Brown-Nagin. Caplan dwells on Brown-Nagin’s comment in her earlier book, Courage to Dissent,that she was “astounded by how little attention other writers had given” Motley, the first black woman to serve as a U.S. District judge (among a long list of other firsts she attained in her estimable career). “The relative dearth of coverage struck me,” Brown-Nagin remarked, “as not merely regrettable but as a kind of historical malpractice.…The invisibility of this fascinating woman in our public histories and popular culture distorts our sense of who rebuilt America.”

Apparently on his own reconnaissance (and without any blame being assigned to it by Brown-Nagin), Caplan then cites my book Simple Justice, which he kindly describes as “the classic history of the Brown [v. Board of Education] case, and then goes on to target it as his prime example of the alleged “historical malpractice” Brown-Nagin laments. My sin, in Caplan’s view, appears to be that I mentioned Motley, then a lawyer on the NAACP Legal Defense Fund (LDF) staff during much of the Brown litigation, on only four of 778 pages and “dismissively” (his word) called her “pleasant, taciturn Connie Motley” and “quoted an anonymous source making this condescending appraisal: ‘She was a plodder,’ says a colleague of the period, ‘but she knew her stuff.’”

I wholly reject being charged with “historical malpractice” based on Caplan's evident belief that my book denied credit he supposes Motley must have surely deserved for her role in the triumphant Brown litigation carried out by Thurgood Marshall’s team of NAACP lawyers.

My book was not meant to serve as a compendium of the achievements of all the black attorneys, Motley among them, who nobly participated in some fashion—often at great risk to their safety—during that early period of the civil-rights struggle. Simple Justice is specifically an account of the LDF’s relentless effort to end racial segregation in America, culminating in the monumental Brown decision. None of the several hundred participants in this remarkable enterprise whom I interviewed during my research nor any of the thousands of pages of legal briefs, memoranda, and other documents I examined suggested that Motley played a prominent role in mounting the Brown case. But because I knew Motley was on the LDF staff at the time, I wrote to her seeking an interview to discuss her memories of the case and what part she may have played in formulating it. She chose not to see me—her perfect right—giving no reason other than that, as I recall her words, other people could provide me with the information I sought—and indeed they did. But if all of them had replied to me as she did, there would have been no Simple Justice.

As to my so-called dismissal of Motley by reporting that a consensus of her colleagues found her “pleasant” if “taciturn” and “a plodder” yet one “who knew her stuff,” Caplan conveniently omits my crediting Motley with having become “the resident expert on housing matters.” He ought to have found some other commentator to fault for having unduly ignored Motley’s many accomplishments because I did not cast her as a principal player in Brown.

Richard Kluger
Berkeley, Calif.

Lincoln Caplan responds: Dean Tomiko Brown-Nagin criticizes historians of the civil-rights movement for relatively neglecting Constance Baker Motley, as my piece reports. I chose to look at Simple Justice and its treatment of Motley, and was struck by how directly that history of the Brown case supports Brown-Nagin’s view, which is why I presented it in the piece as evidence showing what she was asserting. I don’t quote everything that Richard Kluger writes about Motley in Simple Justice: he’s correct that he credits her with expertise about housing law. (I thought it was unnecessary to add that fact, because I include an appraisal ending, “but she knew her stuff.”) That doesn’t change my view that the relative paucity of attention to Motley in Simple Justice and the nature of the comments I quote support Brown-Nagin’s view.

Here’s the most important evidence of likely interest to readers: Kluger emphasizes that Simple Justice is an account of the Legal Defense Fund’s effort to end racial segregation in America, culminating in the Brown decision—and that none of the hundreds he interviewed nor any of the thousands of pages of legal briefs, memoranda, and other documents he examined suggested that Motley played a notable role in mounting the case. Brown-Nagin apparently found important material that he did not, demonstrating how centrally the omission in his book proves her general point.

The dean’s new biography of Motley recounts that she “played an integral role on the legal team responsible for the landmark victory. As the five school cases wound through the federal courts and on up to the Supreme Court, she conducted invaluable legal research and helped write the legal pleadings and briefs needed to move the cases forward. In 1950, after the Court had paved the way for Brown by ordering the admission of a Black man to the flagship University of Texas School of Law who had been shunted off to a purportedly ‘separate but equal’ Black law school (Sweatt v. Painter), Motley had drafted a blueprint for the coming frontal assault on segregation. She wrote and distributed to NAACP-affiliated counsel a model complaint—the critically important document that instigates a lawsuit and, if well done, survives defendants’ efforts to get the case thrown out of court. The complaint Motley drafted set forth the facts and the law that explained why segregation violated the Constitution and why the Inc. Fund’s clients were entitled to a remedy (in this case, a desegregated school). Thus, when lawyers in Kansas and in the other Brown cases filed claims attacking school segregation, they were building on Motley’s intellectual handiwork.”

Editor’s note: “Both Sides Now” mistakenly reported that Constance Baker Motley was the first black woman graduate of Columbia Law School. She was one of the first, in 1946. The first was Judge Elreta Alexander, in 1945. Thanks to Nancy Goldfarb, of the law school, and others who brought the error to our attention.

 

A Legacy against Legacies

With regard toA New Look At Legacies” (January-February, page 18): my parents went to Harvard/Radcliffe—my father College ’50, Law ’53, and my late mother Radcliffe ’53. My brother would have gotten into Harvard anyway (’79) and I would not have (my brother was a valedictorian and I was not, etc.). I am an activist, and my brother runs a hospital in Brooklyn with 6,000 employees.

The best and the brightest should get the spots! End legacies now, no matter how much money parents give Harvard to get their children in!

Lauren Gibbs ’77, M.P.A. ’95
Cambridge, Mass.

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].

 

Rethinking the Constitution

Regarding re-thinking the Constitution (“A Democracy of Opportunity,” January-February, page 50), why do Americans not turn to their clearest and most logical economic and political thinker—Henry George?

He identified the prime source of inequality—unequal access to natural resources—and predicted the political results of the crisis of inequality.

Terence M. Dwyer, Ph.D. ’80
Canberra, Australia

“Rethinking the Constitution”....Oh my Gawd, O Ras O Mores! When will the liberal/progressives learn their history and take their rightful place at the feet of the Founding Fathers? I taught U.S. history for 35 years at the secondary-school level. I may not have the exalted degrees of the authors, but I nonetheless will proceed undaunted. My career choice was in large part due to the fact that I wanted the summers off to sail competitively. Laugh as many might, I would not do otherwise, given the choice today. Teaching is a poorly remunerated career, but it is a critical one. I witnessed a truly horrifying debasement of the teaching of history. Ever more liberal acolytes joined our department, and they reflected an indoctrination on the merits of socialism in any number of forms.

Casting literary restraint aside, I will begin by saying that the socialist/communist left has erected a sordid history of the violation of human rights no other form or philosophy of government ever has. It cannot prevent its governments’ descent into authoritarian/totalitarian forms.

Rousseau’s trenchant and accurate characterization of the role of all governments was solely “to take money from one group and give it to another.” This role is the foundation of the “politics of envy,” which is yet another way of viewing socialism.

Now, it is obvious that all societies must aid the less competitive or afflicted; thus the “safety net” —and therefore Rousseau is confirmed in practice. But beyond this level of aid, which can and should take many forms, the path gets tricky and dangerous. Socialism and its horrifying evolutionary extension, communism, DO NOT WORK. They are hampered at the most basic and critical level by a lack of understanding of human nature. Thus socialism/progressivism’s progress from a philosophy to political power is almost exactly what the Founding Fathers wished to avoid. The Constitution is a conservative document—it wishes to restrain large, dominating, and abusive government. It wishes to guarantee the rights of individuals and viewpoints with its Bill of Rights. It loathes all the elements which constitute the middle third of the Declaration. The latter list is simply and purely an indictment of British rule. Note its many elements—ironically, we have visited practically all of them upon ourselves!

This “politics of envy,” or socialism, obtains power through one elemental process: lying. Leftists lie, because they have to—if they related, in full honesty, what they intended to do, they would be rejected, and possibly become pinatas from every tree. Alas, as MIT’s Dr. Gruber opined, the Americans are “so stupid,” they are easily convinced to buy into leftist proposals. Most of the latter sound wonderful, even heartwarming. But, sadly, they run against human nature, so the following slide inevitably occurs: 1) leftists/progressives/socialists (whatever you wish to call them—they are roughly synonymous) get into power, ALWAYS by masking their true agenda, 2) they gradually institute their philosophy of socialism, which, in its early, mild iteration, takes the form of “bribing people with their own money”, as some reporter called it, 3) this generates public resistance, 4) which, in turn, generates more mandatory and repressive government, 5) this generates much more strident, even violent, public resistance and, 6) this, sadly, leads ultimately to the genocidal totalitarian state. If the masses won’t knuckle down, then government must become repressive in the extreme. Well over 130 million people have been sacrificed on the altar of socialism/communism.

Don’t let socialist “progressives” fool you. They are socialists under their “moderate” or “liberal” sheep’s clothing. If you challenge them on any point, leftists’ favorite trope is to call a conservative a “Nazi.” This idiocy proves they don’t know their history. ALL fascists were SOCIALISTS. Another method they use to shut down discourse is to call any conservative a “racist.’ How does this sell to the burgeoning mass of black conservatives?

As a conservative, mocked you will be, but stick to your guns. Note today, which side of the political spectrum wants to rule you and this nation by legal limitations. Myriad examples abound: Luddite speed-limits, speech codes, attacks on critical industries, banning endless behaviors, Wokeism, inciting riots to erase our laws and history, destroying critical industries, gutting the military, etc. etc. If money translates to freedom, as it surely does in this great, wealthy nation, observe the role of taxation. It robs us of hard-earned freedom now as it did in the 18th century. Contrast the total sum of 19th century taxes on American colonists with today’s average middle-class taxpayer’s burden. Socialists/progressives are forever trying to incite the middle-class workers, but, reaping a decent income, the middle class workers seem content. This drives leftists into transports of frustrated rage.

Liberals/progressives of ANY era have been eager to bend humans’ wills. They are completely ignorant of human nature. Frustrated by common sense, pragmatic or simple philosophical opposition, they lurch toward imposing their anti-human-nature laws and actions. The FOXNews wag, Greg Gutfeld, said it this way: “The Democrats come in and break things, then the Republicans come in a fix them!”

To me and many of my peers, the smug “undecided” voter is a pariah. If you don’t know history, and especially the history of the left, what you’re really saying, as a hubristic “undecided” voter is that you are prone to swing toward that political party which exploited your ignorance in the most seductive way. If you lack a firm knowledge of our country’s history and the history of the left, for the sake of the Republic, stay home on election day.

My celebrated classmate Chris Demuth knows all this. He, like I, must wonder where the left seized Americans’ minds.

Take this to heart: Fishkin and Forbath seem bent on ignoring or altering the greatest document in the history of the world—that “scrap of paper” which liberated and enriched more people more than all the other forms of government in history combined.

Fred Douglass ’68
Cataumet, Mass.

Remembering Donald Hall

I enjoyed Adam Kirsch’s insightful “The Poet of Old Age” (January-February, page 38). As an English teacher at Manchester, Massachusetts, I found Donald Hall to be a generous and sympathetic elder spirit.

In August 1993, I wrote to thank him for his collaboration with Jay Woodruff ’83, Div. ’88, on the text A Piece of Work, which featured Hall’s revision process for “Ox-Cart Man.” I had recently read that Hall was suffering from cancer and wanted to send best wishes from me and my students. I also commended his poem “When the Young Husband.” He responded on 8/17/93, “Thanks for writing. Right now I feel fine and the tests are good. I will try to stick around.”

He did stick around but sadly his wife Jane Kenyon passed on April 22, 1995. His kindness and encouragement led me to invite him in April 1997 to be a “poet-in-residence” at the St. Johnsbury Academy (Vermont) Advanced Placement Summer Institute where I taught English to secondary-school teachers. Although he was in England at the time, he agreed to come the following year, noting, “I will have a new book out a year from now, Without, entirely about Jane Kenyon’s illness and death.”

That visit took place on July 27, 1998, and he delighted the teachers, my late wife Lauren, and me with his reading and commentary. We invited Hall, a fellow Red Sox fan, to come to Fenway park with us. He replied, “It was great fun at St. Johnsbury. I am really sorry but I cannot come into a Red Sox game with you,” and following up with “I have sworn not to accept any more invitations, because I must have time here in this house (Eagle Pond Farm) with this dog—and this desk. Thanks for asking.”

One year later, he declined a follow-up invitation to Fenway. “I am sorry to be such a big No! I remember last summer with pleasure and it would be good to to look forward to the pleasure of your company again....It is good, that life is so full —but when life is so full you have to forego some of the good things. Best wishes as ever, to both of you.”

And finally, in response to a 2000 invitation to do a workshop at Manchester High School, the “Poet of Old Age” replied, “I really don’t want to do a workshop. I don’t believe in brief workshops....It’s also true that, because I have been doing too many readings and getting too exhausted—age creeping up—I have raised my regular fee. Thanks for asking me!”

I will never forget the joy and insight that Donald Hall brought to me, my colleagues, and my students as he explored the joys and pains of aging, and we are fortunate that we have all inherited his body of work.

Timothy C. Averill, M.A.T. ’71
Beverly, Mass.

Arts and Sciences Strategies

Congratulations on your fine analysis “Crimson Clear” (January-February, page 5) and recognizing the impact of Dean Gay’s comprehensive strategic-planning effort. As a life-long practitioner and educator in the “digital transformation” era, I have watched the agonizing transitions in faculty planning, curriculum redesign, and the rapid growth of “virtual” universities. A critical outcome has to be reducing the price of degrees. The student-loan tragedy should be enough to expedite dramatic redesign.

Charles A. Morrissey, M.B.A. ’62
Emeritus Professor-Strategy and Information Systems
Pepperdine University

Convening on Climate Change

In the November-December 2021 issue, John Rosenberg wondered what Harvard might do with possibly “outsized” investment results (“Endowment Enigmas,” page 5). In the next issue (Letters, page 2), Ira Braus suggested, “Why not build an international climate-studies institute comprising scientists, engineers, and yes, humanists to explore…the future of our planet?” I second that motion.

The Harvard University Center for the Environment already provides a hub of research and education. HUCE comprises scholars and practitioners from a variety of fields, including humanists. Its focus is on academia, and on students who will be the next generation of corporate leaders and policy-makers. This is necessary but not sufficient.

The siloing of knowledge has become a major problem. Experts in one field rarely talk to those in other fields, and experts in general have failed to share what they know with the public. And what non-academics understand about poverty, racism, and living with drastic climate change seldom gets communicated to the ivory tower. Yet none of these crises can be resolved without input from those directly affected.

Harvard has outsized convening power. What we need is a series of events designed to draw the participation not only of scientists, economists, sociologists, etc., but of reporters, activists, and artists. What is said in such conferences could be widely disseminated. The Office for Harvard Sustainability, having greened the campus, can serve as a stellar example of inclusive corporate action. The Divest Harvard movement and Bill McKibben’s organization 350.org should also be at the table.

The world needs public education on a massive scale. Harvard is uniquely placed to deliver it. If it can scrape together a few billion, how much progress can be made not just toward understanding climate change, but toward ameliorating and surviving it?

Jane Collins ‘71
Medford, Mass.

In the January/February edition of the magazine, reader Braus, PhD. ’88, noted the Harvard Corporation's 2050 as the deadline for averting global catastrophe. How was this date established?  We know that in 1990 when observers were citing “global warming” the CO2 content of the atmosphere was around 350 ppm.  Today it is well above 500 ppm and steadily rising. Is the Corporation projecting world measures to drop the CO2 content to below the 1990 level?  At what costs and by whom? Or was 2050 merely a convenient number that was deemed plausible?  We deserve to have some rational assumptions for what many believe is a significant goal.                                                                                                                                                    

Robert Baker, M.B.A. ’57
Darien, Conn.
                                                                                                                                        

Endowment Riches

Harvard Magazine reported that the Harvard endowment achieved gains of 34 percent in FY2021 (“On Firmer Footing,” January-February, page 13). This level of profit-making, during a pandemic which has seen massive social and economic suffering and skyrocketing inequality in the U.S. and around the globe, is unconscionable. Perhaps Harvard should initiate a citizens’ assembly of randomly selected citizens from around the world to ask them how this windfall should be fairly put to use.

Brendan Miller, M.P.A. ’03
Venice, Calif.

Divinity Education

The way President Bacow portrays the Divinity School (“A Just World at Peace” January-February, page 3) seems to make it more a center for a sociology of religions, with a few nods to training clergy, than a center of learning for the sacred critique, judgment, and leadership of society by something larger than the secular, which might be acknowledged as the basis of the original Charter of Harvard. Perhaps “judgment” is too strong a term, just my attempt to frame and express some form of ethical grounding or principled critique common to all religions and applied to all societies, an attempt to acknowledge the need for the sacred influence within the secular these days, the “divinity” part of HDS. Without a dialogue of the sacred at its center, HDS is only a high-minded extension of the historical forms of culture. Sadly, the secular predominates.

Kurt A. Pocsi, B.D. ’67
San Francisco

Science and Ideology

Daniel Oberhaus’sThe Clash of Science and Ideology” (September-October 2021, page 15), on Naomi Oreskes’ proposal that belief in a particular bit of science can suffer when it is perceived as “incompatible with cherished beliefs about God, family or country,” is perfectly logical and, I am sure, applies broadly. However, Oberhaus does not make the case for this view with regard to climate-change denial or acceptance of COVID disinformation. In fact, he offers no examples of “cherished beliefs” that apply. In these cases, it would seem rather that denial is, as many observers have noted before me, more the result of a concerted political effort to reject anything that Democratic leaders propose. Unless of course, an anti-Democratic view can be regarded as a cherished belief.

Mark Alper ’67
Berkeley, Calif.

The End of Cities

The report on professors Glaeser and Cutler’s new book (“Will Cities Survive Another Pandemic?” January-February 2022, page 9) misstates the oft-cited paradox regarding U.S. healthcare policy. As most prominently shown in a 2018 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), the U.S. spends more on healthcare than other high-income countries, yet achieves worse outcomes in some key health indicators. Contrary to the assertion in the article, this does not automatically equate to poor U.S. performance in “quality of care.” A variety of potential contributing factors—ranging from the prevalence of obesity to widespread inequality—are not always directly susceptible to clinical intervention.

Charles G. Kels ’00
San Antonio, Texas

I completely agree with Ed Glaeser’s and David Cutler’s call to action to make cities healthier places to live, work, learn, and enjoy. To their list of cities’ current weaknesses, I would add affordable housing, the foundation of sustainable 21st century cities. The absolute best way to reduce urban epidemic vulnerability is consciously to design, regulate, incentivize, and fund health-secure housing for all, especially the essential workers and their families who make the city function.

David A. Smith ‘75
Founder and CEO of the global non-profit Affordable Housing Institute
Boston

Westward, Ho!

I take severe issue with the incorrect assertion in the letter by Kenneth Neiman (“Western Mass?,” January-February, page 7) that he lives in “western Massachusetts,” whereas we of the Berkshires (and Berkshire County) know that he is indeed in central Massachusetts.

We of the true western Massachusetts (such as Williamstown and Pittsfield) all too often get overlooked not only by Boston people (such as the state government) but also by people in places like Neiman’s Northampton, which is more than an hour east for me.

I am glad that the original “Harvard Squared” from November-December 2021 about Springfield accurately placed it in “central Massachusetts.” Would the writer prefer “midwest” for Northampton, Amherst, and Springfield?

Jay M. Pasachoff ’63, Ph.D. ’69
Williamstown, Mass.

Football Woes

Dick Friedman’s ill-advised lament (“What Might Have Been…,” January-February, page 24) is a sad commentary on a magnificently played game by two champion-caliber teams. Back in the day, this classic Harvard-Princeton game would have ended with a tie and handshake, but we now live in an uber-competitive era where there must be winners (and of course) losers. This game, like all others, contained calls by human officials; most spot-on, some questionable, and one totally blown out of proportion. By awarding Princeton a post-facto timeout, the offending officials attempted to correct an obvious mistake by taking the high road, even though it was technically an incorrect decision. Simply put, they demonstrated integrity: To err is human…

To dwell on this example of human frailty does a huge injustice to the high ideals of sportsmanship upon which the Ivy League was founded. Creating championship rings with a fake record perpetuates the denial. This is a game we are talking about and hopefully the outraged Harvard faithful will eventually come to terms with the fact that Harvard lost.

Peter Mackie, Ed.M. ‘63
Lexington, Mass.

In the Swim

I lovedYesterday’s News” (January-February, page 18) and especially the 1927 reference to the freshmen-class physical examinations by Dr. Alfred Worcester reporting that 91 freshmen “cannot swim.” As a 1949 graduate of Dartmouth, I remember well the requirement that every freshman had to swim 50 yards for promotion to the sophomore class. I also remember classmates who could not do so and required special instruction in order to advance their collegiate careers. In 1945, Dartmouth rules also required attendance at morning prayer in Rollins Chapel, many years after Harvard abandoned a similar rule in Memorial Church.

Judge Quentin L. Kopp (ret.), LL.B. ’52
San Francisco

Pandemic Knitting

Damage and Repair,” about Celia Pym’s artwork, mending knit garments (January-February, page 42), inspires me to send word of my plague-year project. Somewhat inadvertently, I started a listserv of cat owners, to whom I email a photo of my cat every morning. Some of them respond, sometimes with more cat photos. The list now includes many online friends whom I shall probably never meet, since I am very old and do not travel.

But I do knit, compulsively, and last year I began a sweater into which I knitted all the names of my unknown friends’ unknown cats. You’ll notice that I signed the sweater with my Harvard email address.

Marjorie Cohn, A.M. ’61
Arlington, Mass.

Radcliffe Rembranding, Continued

The laudatory article on Tomiko Brown-Nagin in the January-February 2022 issue (“Both Sides Now,” page 29) fails to address her serious misstep in her “rebranding” of the Radcliffe Institute into the Harvard Radcliffe Institute. Bowing to market forces, she has chosen to squander the significance and diminish the importance of Radcliffe as a force in women’s history and education. Unfortunately, this falls into a sadly common practice of rendering the history of women invisible, particularly ironic considering Brown-Nagin’s connection to the Schlesinger Library, which is dedicated to the preservation of the history of women in America. I am sure both my father, Arthur Schlesinger Jr., and my grandparents, Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger, for whom the library was named, would be chagrined and horrified at the name change. It is particularly appalling that the “rebranding” occurred without public discussion or explanation, but was instead foisted on the community as a done deal. Does money always have to prevail? Isn’t the purpose of education, of an institution such as Harvard, to teach, not to forget?

Christina Schlesinger, Radcliffe/Harvard ’68
New York City

Editor’s note: See the correspondence, and Dean Brown-Nagin’s response, in the September-October 2021 issue, page 6.

Armenian Amplification

I found the excellent articleArmenian Creativity, Culture, and Survival” (Harvard Squared, January-February, page 12D) to be insightful and accurate, but as I read it, I had hoped to find some reference to Dr. Varazted H. Kazanjian who may well have been the foremost Armenian American of the Armenian diaspora.

 Fleeing from Armenia in 1895 as a teenager during an early ethnic slaughter by the Ottoman government, he settled into an established Armenian immigrant community in Worcester where he worked for almost a decade in a wire mill while learning English and obtaining a high school diploma. At age 26, he entered Harvard Dental School where, after graduation, he quickly rose to professorial status on its faculty. In 1915 he volunteered to join the Harvard Medical School unit which was to serve with the British on the Western Front, although he was initially denied because the role of a dentist in a hospital (in Boston) was uncertain!

 The horrendous jaw and facial wounds caused by ubiquitous machine guns and artillery had never before been seen. Those wounded who survived the initial hemorrhage and secondary infection were doomed to jawless, joyless lives of solitude, phantoms not of the opera, but of mirror-less veterans’ nursing homes.

 Developing and using new surgical techniques and prosthetic devices, he successfully treated over 3,000 mutilated victims of the Great War. He was heralded in the newspapers of the U.S., Britain, and Canada as the Miracle Man of the Western Front and was decorated by King George V.

 Returning to Boston, Kazanjian entered Harvard Medical School and graduated at age 42, because the operating rooms of Boston Hospitals otherwise would have remained closed to him. Subsequently he pioneered and expanded the specialties of plastic and oral surgery for almost 30 years.

 In 1957, while a student at the Harvard School of Dental Medicine, I “ discovered”an old, neglected, dust-covered, glass-display case in its basement, which contained plaster of Paris face masks of some of his war patients. Although I never met Dr. Kazanjian, that chance encounter stimulated me to read his textbooks and journal articles and then to proceed on to medical school and training in general surgery and Oralmaxillofacial surgery.

 Kazanjian has always been a venerated icon for me. I cannot claim to have played in his ballpark or even in his league, but his life and surgical career definitely sparked my determination to learn the game.

 Morton H Goldberg, D.M.D. ’58, M.D.
West Hartford, Conn.

Considering Ethics

Harvard Magazine regularly publishes articles and essays that fail to acknowledge the ethical issues embedded within them. In the January/February issue there were two such essays. In the first, “Your Brain on Exercise,” we learn about research on mice that supports the hypothesis that exercise is good for our brains. Nothing is mentioned about the ethical issues surrounding these experiments, or about whether epidemiological research with humans—that don’t cause suffering and death and which lead to more applicable results—would be a better use of resources. Shouldn’t we consider the ethics of animal experimentation, especially in circumstances where much better research options are available? Shouldn’t we ask whether it’s morally justifiable to cause harm to and kill sentient animals in order to conclude that exercise is good for us? Shouldn’t we acknowledge, however briefly, that there even are ethical considerations?

In the same issue, “Culinary Postcards” explores the “contentious topic” of “representative menus” on campus, and while briefly referencing the Food Literacy Project Fellows that "engage with questions of sustainability,” the issue of animal abuse and the ethics of eating animals and animal products, along with the human rights violations that are ubiquitous in current farming practices, are missing entirely. While food diversity to meet the human diversity at Harvard is great, to leave out the moral considerations about the food we eat (beyond “sustainability”) is to implicitly condone the cruelty and exploitation inherent in the food Harvard is serving students.

 

Zoe Weil, M.T.S. ’88
President and Co-Founder
Institute for Humane Education

Copy Mischief

The editorial staff appears to have suffered pre-holiday brains when we assembled the January-February issue. We are sheepishly indebted to close-reading correspondents who pointed out that the chart on income and savings rates (“Thank the Rich for Low Rates?”, page 8) showed data in decimals, and should not, therefore, have included percentage signs (which were added by an over-zealous editor who shall remain nameless).

Lauren Williams (Harvard Portrait, page 14), was indeed unfazed—but all of our internal readers were out of phase when they rendered that incorrectly.

As for the use of “trickle up” on the same page, in a description of the endowment distribution: incorrect by the book, but a play on the term minted by Keynes and used in economics, so we plead semi-innocent.

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