Letters

Spring 2007
Negative Action

To the editor:
The affirmative-action tragedy that Heather Mac Donald describes at the University of California didn’t have to happen [“Elites to Anti-Affirmative-Action Voters: Drop Dead,” Winter 2007]. I was a graduate student at UC Santa Barbara in the early 1970s. When affirmative action was first being discussed, I was part of a sizable minority arguing for a different approach. The focus would have been on identifying promising minority students in high school, and perhaps earlier, to make sure that they had opportunities for achievement. If these candidates met UC standards objectively, admit them with sufficient financial aid; if not, put them in monitored programs at the junior colleges, where they could remedy their academic deficiencies and prove themselves in UC-transferable courses, again with adequate financial aid.

Many of us feared what has, in fact, happened: academic standards for minority students are lowered at admission; programs with lower standards are created to keep them in the university; and the educated public therefore does not take their credentials at face value.

At the end of the 1970s, I went to the UCLA School of Law, where affirmative action was in full flower. Because I dated someone who worked in the admissions office, I learned that of the 20 percent of my class who were black or Chicano, only one person would have been admitted on objective criteria.

Rob Perelli-Minetti
Greenwich, CT

To the editor:
Our colleges and universities are now—with the exception of St. John’s College in Annapolis and Santa Fe, and only one or two others—merely trade schools. Ninety-nine percent of those attending are seeking only credentials, not liberal learning. That is equally true of those with SAT scores in the 1,500s. There is no reason to concern ourselves with the operation of these trade schools; we should care only about the competence of our graduates. They should have to demonstrate their competence to practice their professions—since that might affect us—but nothing beyond that.

So why be concerned if illiterates are admitted to Berkeley? The smart ones who are interested only in money will obtain a way to make it there. And those who are serious about finding wisdom and a true education wouldn’t find them there anyway. Let the system collapse under its own weight.

Jeff Hyams
Pittsburgh, PA

Heather Mac Donald responds:
Universities and colleges are worth fighting for as places where humanity’s greatest creations are lovingly preserved and passed on. I’m not willing yet to give up on them—despite the severe problems with their affirmative-action programs that I described in my story, and that Mr. Perelli-Minetti confirms.

Let Rudy Be Rudy

To the editor:
In “Yes, Rudy Giuliani Is a Conservative” [Winter 2007], Steven Malanga mentions Giuliani’s “support for abortion rights, gay unions, and curbs on gun ownership.” This may make Rudy a conservative in New York; in Texas, it makes him a flaming liberal.

Tom McDonald
Wichita Falls, TX

To the editor:
If Giuliani were to explain his understanding of what makes great judges—interpreting legal documents, not ruling from the bench via judicial fiat—an awful lot of the social conservatives’ angst over the man would dissipate. Our concern over gay marriage, abortion on demand, and limitations on Second Amendment rights is not that a president will pass them into law; he or she cannot. And we know that the legislatures never will. Our fear, which Giuliani can dispel with ease, is that a president will appoint activist federal judges who will continue to change the balance of power in Washington. Only then could the social issues that Giuliani may identify with be enshrined in law.

By the way, persuade him to name his running mate at the beginning of the primary season. Michael Steele would be a great choice, and the social-conservative wing of the GOP would be in Rudy’s pocket.

Stephen Graham
Royal Oak, MD

To the editor:
Simple question: Can Rudy beat Hillary in New York State? If so, that would seal the presidential election, as the Democrats probably can’t win without New York.

Howard Sandler
Bethesda, MD

Lone Star Hate

To the editor:
Thanks to Rod Dreher for honestly reporting what is going on in the Dallas Muslim community [“Muslim Mau-Mauing,” Winter 2007]. If Muslims there are angry about their radical activities being exposed, maybe they should stop doing the hate thing. Intimidation is a big part of Muslim relations, and I am thankful that the Dallas Morning News is not intimidated.

Sara Johnson Houston, TX

To the editor:
The covert malice of supposedly moderate Muslims is the big untold story of the conflict between Islam and the West. After a “moderate” Muslim has spoken soothing words in public, it’s striking how easy it is, with a little Googling, to uncover a private radical past. If Muslims are shaking their fists in your face, you are on the right track and should stick with it, confronting them with their radical views. More and more, I’ve come to believe that the pursuit of the mythical moderate Muslim is like chasing Sasquatch. Lots of folks claim to have spotted one, but nobody can produce one.

Yours will be a lonely job, because most of America is simply unaware of what’s going on in the mosques in their own communities. I suspect that the deeper you dig, the worse it will get.

Steve Gregg
Washington, DC