Letters to the Editor

By Letters from Readers

Division III athletics

While I agree with the general conclusions of your editorial statement on athletics and academics, I must point out that the third paragraph reeks of snobbery (“Mens sana in corpore sano,” 11/9/04).

I had the pleasure of attending the school you mention in the first paragraph as an undergrad, and there were plenty of athletes whose lives were just as or more “compelling” as the average UofC undergrad.

While I could pull out a litany of examples, one in particular stands out: Pat Garrity was an All-American in basketball and now plays professionally. While excelling on the court he excelled in the classroom as a biochemistry major. Having had the privilege of teaching many an undergraduate here, I can say, without a doubt, that Garrity would have easily excelled in this environment also.

You seem to assume that someone like him is the exception, rather than the rule, at universities like Stanford and Notre Dame, but unfortunately this is not the case. It is possible to mesh top-notch athletics with top-notch academics, and the University of Chicago does not hold the monopoly on such well-rounded student-athletes.

I applaud the efforts of the student-athletes here at the University of Chicago: College at any high-powered institution, with or without athletics, can be a delicate balancing act. It is possible to recognize the accomplishments of those at the University of Chicago without denigrating the efforts of those at Divison I programs by implying that those participating in athletics at such a high level do not exist “outside the lines,” so to say.

Bob Walicki

Department of Chemistry

In response to your editorial “Mens sana in corpore sano” and the accompanying article “University athletics department picks brains over brawn” in the November 9 issue of the Maroon:

Other than a nice Latin phrase to support yourselves, a fine tautology, a quaint romantic conception of the Greek ideal (which you “hearken” back to), pandering to the Chicago athletic population, and a vague deference to the trendy idea of the well-balanced student, I see no actual argument for the importance of physical prowess.

That student-athletes “excel in classes” is no justification for student-athlete-hood. You trivialize the life of the mind by describing it as Hutchins’s “decision to place increasing emphasis on academics.” Is that all it is? You do a disservice to all the great souls who argued that the body is something to be cast off as vile and temporal, and a hindrance to all our noblest aspirations. In an editorial that seeks to defend the body, you sell your soul.

And to Marino, who proudly states that the average football team GPA is right on par with the rest of the university, I say this: Congratulations to you and yours, but par is nothing to brag about. What’s more, a GPA—high, low, or mediocre—is no justification for your project.

Samuel Iser Jacobson

Fourth-year in the College

War in Iran

Viewpoints writer Feliks Pleszczynski’s lack of humility is telling (“The next phase in the global war on terrorism begins in Iran,” 11/9/04). Just as he misconstrues Bush’s very narrow re-election as a mandate, he fails to get the message from the quagmire that Iraq has become. While there are many reasons to be concerned about the political environment of Iran, the notion that an invasion would be appropriate is absurd. Our armed forces are tied up in Afghanistan (remember that country?) and Iraq, where casualties continue to mount. The Army is having difficulty retaining sufficient personnel for these two conflicts alone, already having to resort to “stop-lossing” to keep numbers up. Ignoring the fact that world support for such an act of “yee-ha!” diplomacy couldn’t possibly be lower, even setting aside the notion that a doctrine of armed “liberation” has no place in a world of sovereign states, Pleszczynski’s call to arms is ludicrous. It is ludicrous because there is no way that the United States can support another military adventure abroad without significant strains emerging here at home. It is ridiculous because the American people, despite their narrow re-election of George Bush, have no interest in fighting wars of choice if it will cost them more than a pittance in blood and treasure—as adding a third conflict to the current portfolio certainly would. Pleszczynski would do well to drop the neo-conservative notion that it is America’s job to remake the world in our image.

Eric Allix Rogers

Fourth-year in the College

Feliks Pleszcyznski seems to be ready for this country to “liberate” Iran next (“The next phase in the global war on terrorism begins in Iran,” 11/9/04). The question is: How ready is he? As a second-year in the College now, he’d be of prime draft age when a war would be in full swing. If he doesn’t have a father in high places, like his hero President Bush, it’s unlikely that he’d be able to substitute a life of nominal National Guard service and raucous parties in Texas for a tour of duty through the heart of his designated target. We are stretched to the breaking point in Iraq; another invasion and occupying force is inconceivable without a draft. The careless game of Risk that Pleszczynski and his neo-conservative ilk favor will have as its consequence monumental bloodshed, and he and his friends may be among the victims.

Pleszczynski is right when he says to Kerry supporters: “You lost.” But we didn’t lose by much. And if President Bush continues his foolhardy crusade to bring democracy at gunpoint to the Middle East, the results will lose his supporters elections for decades to come.

Damian Long

MAPH, class of 2005

Criticism of Israel

I was stunned by Molly Schranz’s aberrant opinion piece, “Anti-Zionism rages at Columbia” (11/5/04). Not only does the article’s attack on Edward Said make a complete departure from fact into an absurd atmosphere of polemical mudslinging, it is also packed with ill-wielded accusations that make the Axis of Evil speech look nuanced. Schranz accuses Edward Said of throwing rocks at Israelis, an offense, she claims, that he was photographed perpetrating. I am not sure where Schranz has seen these photos, but as Said himself explained, this incident occurred in Lebanon, where he was throwing rocks in a competition with local youths. Perhaps Said was lying, so I suggest Schranz put her photo album where her pen is and provide these photos to the Maroon, so that we can all see these Israelis whom Said was supposedly pelting.

More alarming to U of C readers accustomed to at least a modicum of lexical control, however, was Schranz’s awkward use of the term “anti-Zionist” in her article. It is clear from her usage that “anti-Zionist” is a very negative term; it is, after all, what she claims is “raging” at Columbia University. But does that mean we have to be “Zionist” to be good people? If we don’t fill in the “Zionist” box on Schranz’s simplistic opinion poll, are we bad, perhaps even racist? Since there are many Israelis who are critical of their government’s policies towards Palestinians, should we say that “anti-Zionism” is raging in Israel too? In the wake of all the tension surrounding America’s war in Iraq and our own president’s strong Christian beliefs, should someone not write an article about how “anti-Americanism” and “anti-evangelicalism” are raging at U of C?

Last I checked, Zionism is a political and religious movement, and, as such, people are free to evaluate it in the same manner they might judge the Democratic party or Christian evangelicalism. As far as I know, Israel is a state with a government and a seat in the U.N., and, as such, its policies can be judged in the same manner that one might judge France’s or our own American policies. Like all movements and all governments, the Zionist idea and the Israeli government are subject to criticism. As proven by the presence here on campus of devout Jewish Israelis who criticize Sharon’s government, this in no way entails a judgment of Judaism or the Israeli people.

Jonathan Brown

Fourth-year Ph.D. student

Near Eastern Languages and