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Merry Month of May

Greetings to you all! The May issue of the Yale Alumni Magazine is the most satisfying, best written, designed, and photographed issue of the magazine that I have ever seen.

You keep working at quality and refinement, and the results are clearly evident.


Alcometer’s Inventor

I thought you would like to know the identity of the professor in the photo you ran in May’s “Vintage YAM. “ It is my grandfather, Leon A. Greenberg '30, ‘33PhD, who is the inventor of the Alcometer shown in the picture. He was on the Yale faculty from 1933 to 1962. During that time, many Yale students were delighted to be compensated for imbibing alcohol as experimental subjects for his research studies. His work at Yale led to the adoption of uniform statutes across the nation relating to drinking and driving.


Lee vs. Lin

As a Russian Studies major at Yale in the 1970s, I observed Soviet “elections” that were conducted more fairly than the 2002 Alumni Fellow election (“Light & Verity,” May). Why was the Yale Corporation so threatened by the candidacy of a prominent New Haven pastor who cares about Yale and its workers?

The shortsightedness of the Yale Corporation astounds me. To all but declare war on Yale’s workers and their unions, and on an outstanding New Haven leader, can only exacerbate town-gown tensions and roil Yale’s already troubled labor-management waters.

Editor’s note: See this month’s “Light & Verity” for a report on the election results.

One has to chuckle at the Herculean effort by so many to influence the outcome of the Alumni Fellow election. Opposing this campaigning, one would have expected a petition, signed by at least 200 faculty (tenured, of course), admonishing, as unwarranted, this effort against a candidate sponsored by the local unions. The issue here, to them, would seem to be of far greater import than awarding a simple doctorate to Mr. Bush.


Battling Over ROTC

In the wake of September 11, our country is at war, and Yale is terribly negligent in failing to return ROTC to the campus (“Light & Verity,” Apr.). Shuffling off dedicated students to the program at UConn in Storrs is a cover-up! An obvious start to bringing ROTC back to Yale would be a major event welcoming recruiters. No basements—and let any protesters face the patriotic students who want to enlist.

The classes of 1937 and 1943 have spoken, and I believe 1942 will soon!

I read with sadness and anger that a group of alumni seeks to bring ROTC back to the Yale campus. This is a shortsighted move with potentially destructive consequences. Bringing ROTC back to campus sends a clear message to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered students that the school community does not care about their rights. Colleges and universities are too quick to sell out gay students in the face of expedient pressures. The military specifically bars openly gay, lesbian, and bisexual people from serving their country. Allowing ROTC to return will create two classes on campus: those who are “worthy” of being in the military, and those who are not.

Post-September 11, the military needs to be as strong as possible, yet it still excludes and actively ousts gay service members and excludes prospective service members who are willing and able to serve. The military’s policy is pure discrimination and is appropriately banned from the campus. Those alumni who founded Advocates for Yale ROTC should forget about bringing ROTC to campus and work instead to eradicate the hypocritical and discriminatory policy of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Until an end is put to thispolicy, ROTC doesn’t belong at Yale.


Hero, Villain, Enigma

The article in the May issue of the Yale Alumni Magazine (“Lindbergh in New Haven”), with pictures of Lindbergh in uniform and waving our flag in Paris, leaves out an obvious and important dimension of its hero.

Lindbergh not only stood for keeping “out of European wars entirely.” He was also close to the Nazis. He advised them on the importance of air power, was decorated by them, and was photographed with their leadership.

If he was, among other things, the “greatest victim” of the century, his choice of company has to be part of the picture, and it should have been included in the article. Lindbergh was a hero, a villain, and an enigma. Too many Yale alumni died in World War II for our magazine to omit this painful aspect of Lindbergh’s life.

I was amazed and profoundly disappointed that the Yale Alumni Magazine would print an article about Charles Lindbergh that was transparent in its attempt to sanitize his bigotry. Jennifer Kaylin refers to his “alleged anti-Semitism” and then quotes from his shipboard journal entry: “Imagine the United States taking these Jews in in addition to those we already have. There are too many in places like New York already. A few Jews add strength and character to a country. Too many create chaos. And we are getting too many.”

Alleged anti-Semitism? If it reads like anti-Semitism, sounds like anti-Semitism, and smells like anti-Semitism, believe me, it is anti-Semitism.

And what about the America First Committee, which attracted anti-Semites to its banner? The Yale chapter, writes Kaylin, invited Lindbergh to visit the campus in 1941. She conveniently ignores the fact that at the Committee’s meeting on September 11, 1941, Lindbergh called the Jews the most dangerous force pushing America into war. Liberal members resigned in protest, but Lindbergh and his cohorts persisted in their support for the Committee’s agenda of xenophobic bigotry.

The Sterling Memorial Library may be currently exhibiting Lindbergh’s archives. But that is no excuse for a journalistic travesty that offends our intellectual standards and, more seriously, insults the values of pluralism and interfaith respect upon which our nation is built.


Shame on Sports!

In the April Yale Alumni Magazine, Jacob Remes’s “Ban Slots for Sports?” was a rude awakening. I have always proudly told my friends and family that there was no such thing as a sports scholarship in the Ivy League. Apparently, I am wrong. How long has this been going on? Whom do I write in order to register my dismay and, more important, get this nonsense stopped? Please tell Mr. Remes that at least one alumnus agrees with him completely on this issue.

I agree wholeheartedly with every point made by Jacob Remes in his excellent piece. I would only add that the 35 varsity sports opportunities in question are now thus denied to students who enter Yale on their own merits.


Sheltering the Flame

Thanks to Bruce Fellman for his fine portrait of “Lion in Winter” professor Donald Kagan (Apr.). In his description of the program in Western civilization that Kagan had hoped to found with the ill-fated Bass gift, I heard echoes of the major that defined my Yale experience in the 1960s. History, the Arts, and Letters (HAL) was, like Kagan’s thwarted model, “comprehensive, intensive, interdisciplinary,” and, with a dozen students admitted each year, selective.

HAL was led by the unforgettable team of historian Joseph Curtiss and the English department’s Lewis Curtis, whose natty attire got him known as the “Duke of Bridgeport.” HAL followed roughly the same sequence of Yale’s excellent Humanities program, but was less latitudinarian about what students might study. All of us read the same texts, viewed the same artworks, and listened to the same music (the last presented sparklingly by a young Leon Plantinga, now Professor of Music). Among both faculty and students, the collegiality was profound, while the excitement of seeing historical “moments” (from Botticelli’s Florence to Freud’s Vienna) emerge in the round made HAL, at least for me, the very embodiment of what a university education should be.

I don’t know when HAL was discontinued, or why, although I suspect that charges of Eurocentrism may have contributed to its demise, as they did to that of Kagan’s project. A pity on both counts. In a University with so many justifiably acclaimed regional studies programs, the absence of Western European studies is a curious omission. Kudos to Professor Kagan for sheltering the flame.


The Art of Science

In recent YAMs, I have read of Yale’s commendable efforts to improve the sciences (“At Home With Science,” May) and to review the entire curriculum (“A Fresh Look at the College,” April). I thought I might add a personal retrospective.

In my days at Yale, I spent a good deal of time up on Science Hill as a science major. However, what I feel was distinctive about Yale was the strength and overriding emphasis on the liberal arts and humanities. Looking back, I think that’s what made my four years at Yale an education.

Late in my senior year, one of my professors asked what I’d be doing after Yale. I proudly told him of the very good medical school to which I’d be going. His face fell, and he commented, “It’s a shame to leave a great university like this to go off to a trade school!” I later felt there was some truth to what that professor said (despite the obvious bias).

For about 25 years, I taught in and ran a clerkship in psychiatry, which focused on the disciplined use of the clinical method to try to understand the human mind. Some students labeled it the only humanities course in the medical school. Former liberal arts majors tended to have an easier time with my clerkship than former science majors—except those from Yale.

While I applaud the timely rebuilding of the sciences, I hope Yale never loses the strength and even the primacy of the liberal arts and humanities. I think this may be even more important for those who will be going on to the “trade schools” in the sciences, medicine, business, and law.



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