Blindness Ensures Opportunity For Best and Brightest
Amy Gutmanns enthusiasm and her administrative experience appear
to bode well for Penn [Learning
and Leading, September/October]. However, I was taken aback by
the contradictions in the quotations from her writings in the article.
On one hand, she notes that a principle of democracy is basic opportunitythe
capacity of individuals to live a decent life with a fair chance to
choose among their preferred ways of life. On the other hand, in
apparent defense of Affirmative Action, she observes that Fairness
is a fundamental principle of justice and ... it is a principle that
does not always call for color blindness, at least not with regard
to employment, university admissions, or electoral redistricting in
our nonideal society. To respond to racial injustice with a color
conscious principle or policy is therefore not to commit any wrong
at all, provided the principle or policy is consistent with fairness.
This is academic-speak that denies reality in our nonideal world.
Fairness, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. It is inherently
unfair for a well-qualified student to be denied admission because
someone else of lesser or even equal qualifications was accepted because
of his or her color. The absence of color blindness may create more
social problems than it resolves. Color blindness will ensure that
the best and brightest will be given the opportunity to develop and
make their contribution to the goal of improving our lives, our society,
and, indeed, our world.
Shapiro C57 G61 Karnei
Penns PC Label
inference that my rhetorical question [Does the choice of a second
consecutive female to be Penns president endanger the legitimate
interests and aspirations of male students and male professors? in
Letters, July/August] meant
I wanted to bar capable women from positions because of gender is
utterly ridiculous. After all, I encouraged my daughter to attend
and sail through MIT (after declining her acceptance at Penn and four
other schools), and then get her M.D. from Stanford Medical School.
Amy Gutmanns statement, quoted with disapproval by Harvard Professor
Samuel Huntington in his book Who Are We? that teaching students
that they are above all, citizens of the United States is repugnant,
is simply wrong. However, I agree with Gutmann that our moral allegiance
should be to justice, to doing what is rightas long as students are
not taught to dismiss American patriotism.
While most Penn departments are superb, especially all the sciences,
Penn has a bad record of enforcing political correctness. This has
been criticized in these pages by many alumni. I hope that President
Gutmann will reject Penns PC label, by inviting speakers from both
Republican and Democratic persuasions. Actually, I am quite optimistic
from your article, Learning and Leading, that she will do thisperhaps
by creating, as she did at Princeton, a Penn University Center for
Human Values with programs in ethics, public affairs, and political
Hearing speakers from both sides of current issuessuch as a debate
on Is Affirmative Action (that is, racial preferences) really beneficial
and constitutional?will stimulate students. President Gutmann must
be prepared to insist on proper order, even if radicals try to shout
down some speakers. To insist on free speech in Philadelphia, where
our founders wrestled with innumerable problems, is extremely worthy,
responsible, and necessary.
Greyber Gr53 San
OLeary is Right on Iraq
OLearys Hard Questions, Uneasy Answers
[September/October] got Iraq exactly right. Iraq is an artificial
state created arbitrarily during the dismemberment of the Ottoman
Empire after World War I (see David Fromkins superb book, A Peace
To End All Peace). The Ottomans had the sense to minimize intergroup
hostility in their very diverse dominions by allowing each group (millet)
to run its own affairs, provided taxes and manpower were paid to the
central authority. A federated Iraq corresponding to the three Ottoman
provincesKurd, Sunni, and Shiawith substantial ethnic/religious
autonomy could work. It is difficult to envision anything else that
could, short of the kind of brutal dictatorship we are so proud of
having just dislodged. If the neocon ideologues responsible for this
mess actually knew anything about Iraq, they would have opted for
such a solution from the get-go.
M. Shapiro C66 David,
A Must Read
Questions, Uneasy Answers is the first rational analysis of the
Iraq War I have read and is a must read. Hooray for Brendan OLearys
objectivity and thoughtful candor. Wish I were back in school taking
a course from him.
Berkowitz W54 Savannah,
students wanting to unionize [Gazetteer,
September/October]! I cant believe students are still trying
and that they believe they should be allowed to unionize. This issue
takes me back to the fall of 1962. I had just graduated from the University
of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and was in my internship year at
Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta. A group of physicians from New
York were trying to unionize medical staffs. The CEO of the hospital,
Mr. Frank Wilson, dealt with this by calling each of us individually
into his office. His statement was simple. We had been invited there
to continue our learning and if we were unhappy and demonstrated this
by attending the unionization meeting, we could go elsewhere. That
was the end of the issue.
Fast forward to the winter of 1968. I was treasurer of the house staff
at Cincinnati General Hospital when another group from the East was
again talking unionization. An emergency meeting of the house staff
officers was called to discuss this issue. Been there, done that,
and voted against it. Now, I would do as Frank Wilson did: tell the
students to go elsewhere if they are unhappy.
Apple M62 Atlanta
Marvelous Article, But Wrong Marshall
you for the marvelous article done on my masters thesis at Penn in
1963 [Alumni Profiles, September/October].
Sam Hughes did a beautiful job of making sense out all the disparate
details in the long and complicated story of Prince Edward County
Virginias five-year long public school closing.
However, there is one small correction which I think ought to be made.
The article reports that among those requesting copies of my thesis
in 1963 was Judge Thurgood Marshall. To my knowledge, Thurgood Marshall
never asked for any copies, but I did learn of a letter at the Kennedy
Library at Harvard which indicated that Burke Marshall, Attorney
General Robert Kennedys Deputy for Civil Rights, did order several
I much enjoy the Gazette. Thanks for all your and your staffs
good work on it.
H Peeples, G63 Richmond,
Lost Teams, Too
Don Z. Block Gr78 is so upset about Walter OMalley moving the Dodgers
from Brooklyn to Los Angeles [Letters,
September/October], he can take comfort in the fact that Los Angeles,
the second largest city in the countrylarger, even, than the Borough
of Brooklynhas not had a major-league football franchise for several
years. The Raiders returned to Oakland (home of the former Philadelphia
As) and the Rams now play near the Gateway Arch in St. Louis.
Rofman C65 Van
the September/October Gazetteer article News
to Chew On: Weaker Jaws, Bigger Brains? we incorrectly identified
Dr. Nancy Minugh-Purvis as a craniofacial surgeon. She is a craniofacial