Forum: March-April 2002


First, with Clarification

Is the first sentence in the recent article on Stanley Hauerwas ["Faith Fires Back," January-February 2002] at least misleading if not completely inaccurate? A number of Americans have given Gifford lectures in the last four decades. These lectures are given at four different schools--Edinburgh, St. Andrews, Glasgow, and Aberdeen--so Hauerwas may be "the first American theologian in four decades to deliver the prestigious Gifford Lectures at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland," but I even doubt that.

You may be interested in knowing that Ian Barbour of Carleton College, who gave these lectures at Aberdeen in the early Nineties, received an A.M. degree in physics from Duke in 1946.

Joseph Mitchell M.Div. '53, Ph.D. '62
(via e-mail)

According to our sources at the Divinity School: "The writer is correct that other Americans have given the Giffords, but not U.S. theologians, as far as we can tell."

Evil After All?

I am ashamed that Michael Hardt is affiliated with my alma mater, Duke University ["Empire: Not So Evil," November-December 2001]. I consider his ruminations on Marxism, that nineteenth-century idea so thoroughly discredited by the events of the twentieth century, to be acutely embarrassing to the university. I'm irritated that your magazine chose to devote so much ink to Hardt and I was unimpressed by your uncritical tone.

I also was troubled by Robert Bliwise's cavalier treatment of Hardt's collaborator, Antonio Negri, who in Hardt's own words has "been charged with and convicted of being responsible for acts of political violence." Negri is evidently unrepentant of his affiliation with the group of thugs that murdered Italian Prime Minister Aldo Moro. Indeed, Negri is believed to have telephoned Moro's wife to taunt her just before Moro was shot dead.

The saddest aspect of this smear on Duke University might be that Hardt doesn't think of Empire as "a very original book." So Duke is ultimately tarred with the brush of an Italian terrorist for the sake of a book with no new ideas that instead recycles incendiary slogans of the new (old) left.

I'm cautiously optimistic that my fellow alumni and alumnae will not treat Empire as uncritically as you have. I hope that they will remember that, after all, we have to fight bad ideas, because you never know when they will turn into matters of life and death.

John Sterling '99
(via e-mail)

I was astounded to see the photo of author Michael Hardt, on page 43 of the November-December issue, crouched in the middle of a railroad track. Every year, hundreds of people are killed and seriously injured while trespassing on rail property, as Mr. Hardt is doing in this photo. Our industry works hard to prevent such careless acts, and publishing this photo does not help. Please consider the consequences of such displays in the future.

Robert C. Fort
Norfolk, Virginia

Fort is vice president of public relations for Norfolk Southern Corporation.

Grief and Remembrance

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the staff of Duke Magazine for remembering those alumnithat we all lost on September 11.

Until this point, it has been very difficult to have any type of closure on the lives of the wonderful and innocent people who were simply living their lives, and upholding their citizenship of this wonderful country. For those I did not have the opportunity to know, I hope that their families and loved ones realize the entire Duke community, past and present, has them in their prayers and thoughts. Each and every one of these brave citizens shall never be forgotten for their courage and citizenship.

The Duke community is a family, and I think that I am not alone in saying that it is with this family that we all evolved into our adult selves. So to all those who have been touched by this awful and inhumane tragedy, we, the Duke family, will always be with you and here for you.

Thank you again for acknowledging our grief and our feelings of family. Godspeed.

Ellen L. Hellman B.S.N. '79
(via the website)

The touching letter of Rick Seidel in the January-February Duke Magazine, about people who lost their lives on September 11, prompts me to write a long-overdue response.

On September 11, my husband and I were in England, staying at Oxford's Rewley House as members of the "Oxford Experience," sponsored by Alumni Affairs. It is frightening to be away from home in a foreign country when one's own country has declared war. Even worse was to wonder when or if we would get home. In those first days of shock and fear, no planes were flying, and the possibility of another terrorist attack even more devastating than the first was on everyone's mind.

Geoffrey Thomas, president of Rewley House, opened the phone lines so that we could call home at any time and at no cost to us. Nothing could have been kinder and more reassuring. Ed Coker, programme director, was ready with comforting help and advice, and our Duke/UNC representatives, Rachel Davies and Ron Hyatt, were always available when we needed support.

The second day after the tragedy, a fax from President Keohane was posted on our bulletin board in the common room. Her expression of concern and reassurance brought tears to the eyes of my husband and myself. It was a never-to-be-forgotten time of people reaching out to others in compassion.

Nancy H. Roberts '48
Greensboro, North Carolina


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