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On September 11, Harold Stassen, and more

 

A SAD IRONY

What irony and how sad that your November/December issue tragically omits any reference to the Middle East conflict from a view other than United States support of Israel as a reason for the attack on American citizens and property [“Thinking About 9/11”]. The views of faculty members chosen for publication are interestingly enough sandwiched between the accounts of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center [“Alumni Voices”] and Anne Weiss’s piece on the Holocaust [“The Last Album: Lives in Memory”].

I really do not know what kind of policy the U.S. could have adopted that would have satisfied the Palestinians, Dr. O’Leary, or Dr. Lustick. What a difference it would have made if Jews were welcomed to that region both before and after the State of Israel was established!

Sol Koenigsberg SW’52
Shawnee Mission, Kan.

 

BLAME BIASED REPORTING AND
ARAFAT FOR VIOLENCE, NOT ISRAEL

This is in response to Dr. Ian Lustick’s remarks in the comments by faculty on terror and terrorists about the need to convince Muslims everywhere that we, Americans, are not their enemy. My disagreement is in his comment regarding, “a steady diet of images of Israeli oppression of Palestinians” being a core cause of the distrust among the Arab masses. Should he wish to affix a responsibility for these “images,” he should look to the media. Biased reporting has been supporting terrorist activities in Israel, and, as Dr. Lustick says, has given the terrorists sympathy and support.

Dr. Lustick’s wish for the terrorism to stop should be accompanied by denouncement of those in Mr. Arafat’s camp who initiate the violence and cause a reaction by Israel, as we in America have reacted to the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. He should also ask why Mr. Arafat doesn’t stop the terrorism emanating from his camp, so that his people and the Israelis can formulate a treaty and begin to live a normal life.

Irving H. Kaplan Ar’52
Franklin Lakes, N.J.

 

BUILD CAPITALISM FIRST, DEMOCRACY WILL FOLLOW

People who are trading with one another (read globalization, lowered trade barriers) are less likely to go to war with each other. The same is true for those enjoying the possessions that a middle-class life brings.

America’s efforts in the Middle East and Africa should not be toward conventional “nation building”; the focus of any “Marshall Plan” should be to assure the institution of fair and open-market economies.

Much as we would prefer the institution of democracy as a priority, capitalism, imperfect as it may be, will do more to assure peace in these regions. Witness the last 30 years in South Korea and Taiwan, where market economies have led to democracy from dictatorships. Look also to India, where democracy and socialism have not brought anywhere near the progress as an authoritarian China, whose progress through a shift to a market economy has resulted in rising living standards and which may someday lead to a more liberal and democratic government.

Imagine Afghanistan repeating what Japan, Germany, Singapore, and others did 40 or so years ago and becoming a leading producer of shoes, textiles, apparel, and later electronics for world markets. Osama bin Laden would not be an issue. People with jobs, possessions, and rising expectations would not tolerate his imposition on their lives and their futures.

Poverty is at the root of terrorism. Capitalism is the best cure for poverty.

Robert A. Berliner W’52
Beverly Hills, Calif.

 

LESSON: SHUN THE MIXING OF GOVERNMENT AND RELIGION

Thank you for a timely and thoughtful November/December issue. I found the piece by juniors Acharya and Arora indicating that the American flag should never be waved in fear particularly affecting [“Notes From the Undergrad”]. It recalled a compilation of newspaper articles from the small German town where my parents lived. Those articles, written after World War II, document the suffering of the Jews of that town under the Nazis. One of the stories concerns the very first anti-Jewish action in April 1933, shortly after the Nazis came to power. My parents,who owned a clothing store, and a handful of other Jews displayed the swastika in a vain attempt to prevent a Nazi boycott. (Stormtroopers ripped it down overnight.) I feel mortified that, although without government support, some minorities in this wonderful, free, and fair country are being treated in a similar way.

And yet, I have misgivings about a presumably peaceful religion whose leaders have not disavowed the atrocities of 9/11 without reservation. Any religion—and that includes the major Western ones—that asserts that it is the only correct one and that all non-believers must be converted or killed, is the problem. Fundamentalists of all religions are evil and prove the importance of separation of church and state. It is not enough to proclaim “God bless America.” Whose God? The local majority’s God? Bin Laden’s God? Your God?

If we learn anything from this, it should be to shun the mixing of government with religion. And our pious attorney general, John Ashcroft, does not inspire confidence along those lines. Wars, as in the past, will continue to be fought in the name of religion and ethnicity. In these days of easy worldwide travel, social justice has become more important than ever. I’ve traveled to many Third World countries with their appalling poverty and realize that the extreme gulf between the haves and have-nots cannot be maintained.

But even in the U.S., the difference in wealth between superstars and CEOs and the common people has gone in the wrong direction. Raw capitalism will eventually need to be reined in by voluntary or government-sanctioned leveling mechanisms. A “Global Marshall Plan,” as suggested by William M. Evan, makes a lot of sense.

At the root of much of the Third World’s poverty, misery, and degradation is overpopulation. But increasingly conservative/fundamentalist influences in our own government hinder even reasonable education and aid in contraception under the guise of anti-abortion or other religious motivation. This policy will come back to haunt us. Can we really find any rational justification for hesitating to kill cells or “potential life” when we have few qualms about killing actual people or condemning them to squalor?

John Wolff EE’54
Lancaster, Pa.

 

SECURE THE BORDERS

To guard against further terrorist attacks, we must regain control of our own borders. Bill Clinton used to talk about 100,000 new police on our streets; President Bush should provide at least 100,000 new personnel for the Border Patrol. No one really knows how many illegal aliens have penetrated into our country, but, according to every estimate, there are millions here already, with more coming every day.

For the duration of the crisis, we must also place a complete moratorium on entry by aliens from all Islamic countries, including student and tourist visas; any exceptions should be carefully screened by the State Department, the FBI, and monitored by local police agencies.

We must also have a permanent policy against almost all Third World immigration. If present demographic trends continue, regular majority Americans will become a minority in their own country within only one to two generations. This is neither necessary nor desirable.

William E. Samuels C’74
Columbia, Mo.

 

TO MEDIA: SAVE TEARS FOR APPROACHING HORRORS

We are so weary of media, be they national networks like NBC with Uprising or small university publications like the Gazette with “The Last Album: Lives in Memory” [November/December], wringing their hands and shedding tears over the Holocaust at the same time that they give voice to “academic experts” like Ian Lustick.

Lustick maintains that a just and lasting “solution” in Israel will “achieve the destruction of the terror machine.” He is blind to what his own colleague Dr. Stephen Gale realizes: that the terrorists (including Arafat and the PLO) want to get rid of anything in the Middle East that is linked to America, be it troops in Iraq or the State of Israel itself; that their anti-anything-not-Islamic is the same as Hitler’s anything-not-Aryan.

It is a cop-out to shed tears over Hitler’s Holocaust without dealing unequivocally with the goals of bin Laden and his ilk. Recalling the horrors of the last century’s Holocaust while simplifying the approaching horrors of this century only reminds us of Santayana’s warning.

Morris Dean C’51
Beryl Richman Dean L’64
Bryn Mawr, Pa.

 

A PACIFIST, WHATEVER HE SAYS

The comments of Dr. Brendan O’Leary, visiting political science professor from the London School of Economics, are typically pacifist, contrary to his protestations [“Penn Community Grieves and Unites after Terror”].

He tells us to prevent terrorism by criticizing our dependence on air travel over railways. Does he try to compare the physical size of the U.S. to England? Has he ever taken a train from L.A. to New York City?

The next advice: do not support “authoritarian regimes,” but do not support Israel (a democracy) at the expense of the Arab world. Can he name one democratically elected leader in the entire Islamic world? Who offered Yasser Arafat a state with 90 percent of the West Bank and part of Jerusalem—only to be answered with the current violence?

Advising us to improve our border patrols is parallel to his advice about air travel. Isn’t he aware of the size of our country with its very long borders?

I was very surprised to hear a man of his stature express such illogical or misinformed opinions.

Harold Krivins D’50
Interlaken, N.J.

 

STASSEN SHOWED PENN’S ENTREPRENEURIAL SPIRIT

I thoroughly enjoyed the article by Mark Bernstein on the political machinations behind the development of Ivy League football in your last issue [“Harold Stassen and the Ivy League”]. I was particularly impressed by the entrepreneurial spirit of the University, which I believe comes through strong and clear in the ways that President Stassen attempted to deal with the football program. I think this is a quality that places Penn apart from and ahead of some of the other Ivies—I would define it as pragmatism coupled with the ability to appreciate opportunities—and it often runs counter to the staid perspectives of other institutions who perhaps grow a tad complacent about their positions in the grand academic order.

Mark Banash C’82
Hanover, Md.

 

WHAT’S IN A LETTER?

I enjoyed your article on Harold Stassen. I always thought that he hoped to duplicate the efforts of Woodrow Wilson and land in the White House. He hoped to be the president of the U.S.A. via the presidency of the UPA.

Sidney I. Katz W’53
Atlanta

 

STASSEN WAS TALLER THAN SIX FEET AND HAD A CHARMING SMILE, WOULD HAVE BEEN A GOOD U.S. PRESIDENT, TOO

Harold Stassen and I came to the University of Pennsylvania at about the same time in 1948, I as a student and he as president of the University. We left at about the same time in 1952, I as a graduate of the Wharton School and he moving on to serve in the Eisenhower Administration. I was fortunate to know him personally in heading his student organization in his bid for the Republican presidential nomination in 1952. Additionally, I remained friends with him and met with him in Washington and Chicago several times after that.

Although Mr. Bernstein’s article is essentially favorable to Harold Stassen, I do take issue with his description of this larger-than-life person. He was much taller than six feet. I was six feet and had to look up at him when I talked with him. His hair was in fact thinning, but by the time he was Disarmament Advisor to President Eisenhower, he was almost completely bald. I certainly take issue with Mr. Bernstein’s description of Stassen having “a bland, toothy smile” and that he “still looked like the Midwestern farmboy he had once been.” In fact, Stassen had a very charming smile, which was one of the reasons for his political successes as governor of Minnesota and in seeking the Republican presidential nomination in 1948 and 1952. 1 don’t think looking like a Midwestern farmboy is necessarily a bad thing, but he appeared to me to be a very sophisticated individual—which is supported by his being a three-term governor of Minnesota, assistant chief of staff to Admiral Halsey, and designated by President Roosevelt to be a delegate to the San Francisco conference that established the United Nations.

I also recall that the reason the University hired him in 1948, in addition to his prominence and the prestige he brought to the University, was primarily for him to raise $32 million for the University, which may not seem like much now but was a lot of money in 1948. One of the reasons he expanded Penn football to take on such powerhouses as Notre Dame, California, Wisconsin, etc., is that when Penn would play an away game at one of those universities, it would be an opportunity to hold a large fundraiser to be attended by Penn graduates.

I am well aware that the scheduling of these games into the future by Francis Murray C’37 at Stassen’s direction became a disaster on the football field when the University, in order to remain in the Ivy League, had to cut back on recruiting efforts, spring practice, etc. I can remember one game at Franklin Field at or near the end of his presidency when we were defeated by California 35-0. Of course, I was not there prior to his taking over as president of the University so I cannot attest to Franklin Field not being filled for each game. However, during my stay at Penn I believe every game was a sell-out with a capacity at that time of approximately 78,000 people.

Suffice it to say that I believe he did raise the $32 million, he was a good president of the University of Pennsylvania, and would have made a good president of the United States. We should be proud that he was president of Penn.

Richard M. Rittenband W’52
South Windsor, Conn.

 

BETRAYED

I read the article by Mark Bernstein on Harold Stassen and the Ivy League. Much has been written over the years about those defining days that led up to the formation of the Ivy League, but not much has been heard from the players who were betrayed at the time.

I have read College Football by John Sayle Watterson and a good thesis by David Goldberg titled, “What Price Victory? What Price Glory?” I haven’t read Mark Bernstein’s book. Many of the writings have outlined the events that led up to the decisions that created what we refer to as “the Ivy League,” but little has been said about the athletes that were the victims of how the decisions were made. I was on that last Munger team and remember the stories about the “Harmony” meeting with the athletic director, Franny Murray, about the spring practice issue, at which he berated the players and essentially called them cowards. These were young men who were recruited by the football staff to come to Pennsylvania to play against the best in the nation.

My freshman team of 1950 was undefeated and composed of young men who had many options to go to other big-time schools; we had full rides to Penn State, Notre Dame, Maryland, Pittsburgh, Ohio State, Army, and Navy, to mention a few. But we came to Penn to play for George Munger. Not only were we emasculated by the decision to drop spring football, but we still had to play the national schedule of Notre Dame, Wisconsin, Michigan, Georgia, California, Ohio State, Army, Navy, and Virginia, with only two weeks practice in the early fall. Now we find that Harold Stassen was the one who cast the deciding vote to drop spring football in order to satisfy the Harvard-Yale-Princeton coalition that threatened to ban Penn from the new league.

The sad part of the saga is that he sacrificed these young men to accommodate his colleagues without addressing the consequences they had to face. There are many wounded football alumni who faced these awesome battles, who no longer have any special feeling for their University other than anger and resentment. Try playing that kind of schedule with one hand tied behind your back. Remember 1953 (3-5); 1954 (0-10); 1955 (0-10).

Gerald L. Robinson W’54 Ged’67
President of the Class of 1954
Member of the Mungermen
Alumni Award of Merit 1997
Philadelphia

 

RECALLING A SCOOP

The excellent article by Mark Bernstein concerning Harold Stassen and the University’s football program brought back my memories of one of the more dramatic developments in the story.

The football team held a secret meeting in early 1953 to discuss the situation and decided to send a letter to University officials protesting the idea they should play a major college schedule without spring practice and with a greatly reduced number of athletic scholarships.

I was sports editor of The Daily Pennsylvanian at the time, and the DP broke the story of the secret meeting and the letter. By agreement, The Philadelphia Inquirer and the Associated Press ran the story in concert with the DP. The New York Times ran the AP story under an eight-column banner in its sports section. (The story might have gotten greater play but for the fact that Soviet dictator Josef Stalin happened to die that night.)

The players’ letter dramatized the end of Penn’s days as a big time football power. If my memory is correct, both Ed Bell C’54, who caught the tying touchdown pass in the opening 1952 game against Frank Leahy’s Notre Dame team, and Bob Evans C’53 made at least one All-American team that year, possibly the last Penn players to do so.

The conflict created by deemphasizing football—to be accepted by the other Ivy schools—while continuing to play a major college schedule was rather like the bride or groom continuing to date old boyfriends or girlfriends after the wedding, with the obvious disastrous results.

Fred B. Walters C’53
Harrisburg, Pa.

GOOD LUCK TO THE NEW PENN SCHOOL,
GOODBYE TO THE OLD NEW SCHOOL

I was pleased to read that the new Penn-assisted public school has opened its doors to students [“School’s In,” November/December]. I wish the school all the best. However, I could not help but feel a twinge of nostalgia for what is now absent on the grounds of 42nd and Locust. For 28 years, the University City New School stayed true to its founding mission of fostering a creative, progressive, and multicultural environment to the students who passed through its doors. The same doors are now those of the new Penn elementary school.

As a former UCNS student, I give them full credit for breathing into me a passion for learning. As a first-grader there, I composed my first paper on the artist Marc Chagall. In the second grade, I knew all the names of the Greek and Roman gods and goddesses. UCNS was a place to feel free. We addressed our teachers by their first names and everyone wore jeans. My classmates represented all colors and faiths. There were certainly no uniforms as in the new Penn-assisted school.

When my family moved out of West Philadelphia and into the suburbs, upon my first day at my new school I asked, “Mommy, why does everyone look the same?” She responded that the University City New School was a very rare and special place and that I should feel lucky to have been a part of the school.

Indeed, I feel very lucky. Some suggest that multiculturalism was an ideal that fostered more confusion and political correctness than positive results. Perhaps for some, UCNS was too idealistic. However, as for this graduate of both UCNS and Penn, I credit the school with shaping my personal philosophy on education and learning. I believe that education is a multi-sensory and interdisciplinary journey. It is one of both personal and collective growth—not individual competition. Perhaps that is why I was a history and theater student at Penn and took advantage of much that the University had to offer.

I thank UCNS for a job well done, and I wish the new school in its place the best of luck. West Philadelphia is a unique and colorful community with countless resources at hand. I hope the new school relies as heavily on the surrounding community as it does on the University.

Kristin Meyer C’00
New York

 

VETERAN CLASS

In response to the letter from Harold Montgomery W’39 about the War Years Classes [November/December], and at the risk of indulging in one-upmanship, I would comment that in my Class yearbook about nine out of 10 male members shown are listed as veterans! Hence our slogan:

We got back a little late:
Pennsylvania Forty-eight.

Marshall L. Main W’48
Centreville, Va.

 

EVOLUTIONISTS BEWARE

I got a good chuckle out of the three letters to the editor in November/December arguing the age of the earth and when the dinosaurs actually roamed it. In order for something to be proved by the scientific method, it must be repeatable. History in its very nature is nonrepeatable, thus proving that dinosaurs roamed the earth 100 million years ago is impossible.

Scientists in the past have assumed an old-earth (millions or billions of years) model. However, many scientists today believe in a young-earth model for dating the age of the earth. These scientists are experts in their field and have exposed the problems associated with radioisotopes and radioactive dating. They believe the earth to be thousands of years old.

If Charles Darwin and Carl Sagan are correct, then creation scientists have nothing to fear. If God and the Bible are the truth, evolutionists beware.

John Shirk C’83
Ocean City, N.J.

 

BEST FOR LAST

I’ve been doing acrostics since the mid-1960s and Don Block’s last acrostic (with all the Qs), was without a doubt the best acrostic I’ve ever come across [“Pennsylmania,” November/December]. His clues were witty and just-gettable. It took all my spare time for two days to finish it, and after it was finished, I felt the same sadness one gets when finishing a wonderful book that should go on forever.

Jeffrey Myers C’53
Medford, N.J.

With this issue, “Pennsylmania” has been replaced by a new department, “Finals,” which may, however, include occasional puzzles in addition to surveys, quizzes, and interesting facts about Penn people, places, and events.Our sincere thanks to Don Z. Block for his work on the puzzle. —Ed.


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