Oberlin Alumni Magazine

Summer 2009 Vol. 104 No. 4 OAM Home | Oberlin Online


Spare Change

I read with interest the commentaries in "Will the Obama Era Mean Real Change?" (Spring 2009).

Of the perspectives offered, I was most intrigued by Professor Roger Copeland’s assessment that Obama is a "secret" Quaker. Obama’s Quaker-like process of consensus- making is, indeed, real change. Copeland contends that if Obama persists in extending his hand in search of consensus regardless of rebuffs, and the economy cooperates, decision-making by true consensus could very well be Obama’s legacy of change.

I was, however, struck by the absence of any mention of a most important and profound change Obama has already brought to decision-making. In the areas of health and environment, the past eight years were the culmination of almost three decades of ideology masquerading as science.

Scientists and science-based organizations have documented myriad examples of ideology trumping science in decisions and policy. The Endangered Species Act has been ignored and weakened for years. Abstinence-only pregnancy-reduction programs have replaced comprehensive reproductive education programs. Funds for family planning have been eliminated despite overwhelming evidence that modern methods enable couples to have the number of children they desire, reduce abortions, and lower population growth. The recommendations of the National Academy of Sciences to address climate change have been ignored. Teaching "intelligent design" as if it were scientifically based has been advocated.

Obama brought invaluable change when he took ideology out of health and environmental decision-making.

Carl N. McDaniel ’64
Oberlin, Ohio

I was astounded that only one of the faculty members polled saw any potential problem with Obama’s policies. When government rewards the reckless and punishes the prudent, there will be change for sure. To paraphrase Abe Lincoln, calling yourself a progressive doesn’t make you one.

John M. Rathbun ’68
Mills River, N.C.

Not Arch Enemy

I read with interest an article about Oberlin in the April 28 issue of Inside Higher Ed. The article talked about the Memorial Arch controversy surrounding graduation.

If I were graduating today and had the choice, I’d walk through the arch. The arch is a memorial to murdered [missionaries] from the Oberlin community. What they were doing when they were murdered is to a certain extent beside the point. I don’t condone being a missionary (even though Oberlin College included a seminary at the time), but I don’t think that being a peaceful missionary should be a capital offense anywhere. As to the deaths of many Chinese citizens during the Boxer Rebellion, it is traditional to mourn one’s own, and it is these murdered Oberlin graduates who were our own. That our predecessors were memorialized this way by their horrified, grieving community was and is entirely appropriate.

Steven Taub ’76
Greensboro, N.C.

O.C. P.C.

Bill Hilton, president of the Alumni Association, asks us to talk about race in America (Spring 2009). Bill must be kidding! I’ve been on campus several dozen times over the past few decades and have found that views that diverge from the "politically correct" are barely tolerated. At my last visit to campus, when I noted my only slightly liberal views on the subject, I was treated to a 10-minute harangue of gobbledygook by an associate dean, not a word of which I understood.

The fact is, there will be plenty of meaningful discussions about race in America, but they will almost certainly not be at Oberlin.

Jeff Schumer ’68
Baltimore, Md

Unpalatable Error

Come to think of it, it’s a triple. On page 19 (Spring 2009), you refer to [wooden] "discarded palates." A new frontier in surgical transplants? No, just oral English at work. Now, you choose between "palette" and "pallet," [to determine the correct usage] now that "palate" has been eliminated.

Chuck Ferguson ’55
East Vassalboro, Maine

I’m not planning to discard my palate no matter how good the cause.

If it’s any consolation, back in the middle of the last century when we had to rely on our wits instead of spell-checks, Dr. Roellinger gave me grief in freshman English for writing about coming to a college near "Lake Eerie."

He set a standard for us all to aim at!

Kittu Longstreth-Brown ’56
Portland, Ore.

Missing From the Marquee

In the article on the old Apollo Theatre (Spring 2009) you make reference to alumni who have made a name in theater. There is an oversight in not including the two-time Academy Award screenwriter Bill Goldman from the Class of 1952.

Jim Lloyd ’51
Winter Park, Fla.

Out on the Shelf

As a gay man, I was pleased to read Peter Nicholson’s "OUT of the Past" (Winter 2008- 09). At one time there was a copy of my book Christ and the Homosexual, published when Eisenhower was president, in the "books by alumni" section of the college’s library. I hope it is still there and still being read. (Editor’s Note: It is, indeed, in the "books by alumni" section of the special collections department).

Rev. Robert W. Wood GST ’51
Concord, N.H.

Correction: printed incorrectly in last issue’s class notes was the name of Susan Kazlow Friedland ’79. Her web site is www.SusanKFriedland.com.

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