Letters and Comments to the Editor

Your thoughts about your magazine

I was moved by the profile piece on Sandy Darity [“Sandy Darity Has Some Thoughts About Inequality,” Spring 2019]. First, congratulations to the magazine’s editors for the courage to take on the topic of racism as a cover story, not shying from its reality, and in fact, educating readers about the evidence for arguments about what some would call “radical” solutions to address our horrific national scourge. The article rightfully points out that Darity’s ideas and solutions aren’t so much radical as they are sensible, and they have antecedents in other national policies that have addressed injustice against specific populations in the past.

Second, it just needs to be said that Darity is a most worthy holder of the Samuel DuBois Cook professorship. Professor Cook, my most influential teacher at Duke and a model of wisdom, grace, and character for the entire university community and beyond, was Martin Luther King Jr.’s deep personal friend and intellectual soulmate. He was also a fierce advocate for the “beloved community” about which King regularly preached—a society based on justice, equal opportunity, and love of one’s fellow human beings. Professor Cook could not have envisioned a more bold, scholarly, and visionary person to honor his name and life’s work than Sandy Darity.

Andy Burness ’74/Chevy Chase, Maryland

Who will pay?

The “Inequality” article amply covered Sandy Darity’s plans for reparations and a guaranteed job/income, but there was little discussion of how to fund his wish list. With the federal government currently running a deficit nearing a trillion dollars annually, due largely to ever-increasing “entitlement” payments, the reparations to blacks and guaranteed jobs that Darity seeks are probably going to have to come from another source. How about, instead, if the top twenty-five or so national universities agreed to admit only African-American students for the next ten years or so, with all expenses paid? That would amount to reparations of a sort, likely job offers upon graduation, and would help to level the playing field academically for the foreseeable future.

There would be an added benefit: This program would help reduce the large endowments, largely donated by privileged old white men, which burden the consciences of so many college faculty, administrators, and students. In fact, any remaining endowments at the end of the period could be contributed to a fund that would be disbursed equally to all descendants of slaves who did not participate in the college program.

Perhaps Duke could lead the charge to go all in on Darity’s mission!

Joe Wise ’66/Timnath, Colorado

Handouts don’t help

Nathan Glazer assisted L.B.J. in constructing the Great Society, a social program (1965) intended to eradicate poverty in America. Glazer, Charles Murray, and Daniel Moynihan soon saw the adverse effects of prolonged charity on black Americans, here described by Jason Riley: “Disadvantaged groups have been hit hardest by the disintegration of middle-class mores... and the expansion of the welfare state... the number of single parents grew astronomically, producing children more prone to academic failure, addiction, idleness, and crime.”

Now comes Professor Darity proposing an Even Greater Society to close the much-advertised income gap. Baby bonds, guaranteed basic income, and a job for everyone are promised. Reparations for slavery, bound to further divide America’s races, seem to be the whipped cream on the cake. The enormous cost of such largesse is ignored, as are the adverse effects of more charity on family and work ethic. Please, professor, rethink your program, and try to see that more handouts will benefit mainly vote-buying politicians, and will further weaken black Americans, who can achieve parity with whites only by their own efforts. Riley’s book, Please Stop Helping Us, says it best.

Richard Merlo M.D. ’61/Elkin, North Carolina

Not critical enough

A comparison of the Wikipedia articles for Sandy Darity and Thomas Sowell is sufficient to show just how blinkered was your worshipful article on Darity. Absent from your article was critical thinking about human nature, the historical influence on Europe and America of various world views such as that of the Judeo-Christian tradition, the universality (not rightness) of slavery in history, and Darity’s lack of concern about current slavery in the world (which is widespread, as Sowell observes), Darity’s questionable Marxist and current black American victimhood assumptions, his arbitrary rejection of Adam Smith (and any other economic writings older than a few decades—except Marx’s), and his ignoring of supply-side economics and the destructive impact of our welfare system and abortion-on-demand on the inner-city black family.

Howard Killion Ph.D. ’72/Oceanside, California

Worthy praise

Just a quick note to tell you how much I enjoyed and admired Lucas Hubbard’s superbly written article about Sandy Darity. Sandy’s a Duke (and American) treasure, and Hubbard did a great job of telling us why in an engaging and insightful piece. Sentences like the following are a joy to read: “It’s occupied his thoughts and research for at least a decade. And so, when pushed to justify its merits, Darity speaks with the terse, deliberate nature of a man on the phone with tech support, who knows how badly his computer is broken and is tired of hearing that he try unplugging it.”

Osha Gray Davidson/Durham

More winning, please

I have been a Duke basketball fan since graduating in 1969 and have been disappointed that the recent freshman-led teams, other than in 2015, have failed to live up to expectations [“Just Can’t Win for Losing,” Spring 2019]. It is impressive to have the top-rated recruiting class for the past few years, but what has that accomplished? The last four national championship teams have been dominated not by freshmen, but by players who are sophomores and above, many of whom were not highly rated recruits. They were well-coached and developed into strong teams, which is what wins championships.

Maybe Coach K should change his approach and recruit good high-school players who will stay around for a few years, coach them well as we know he can, and then maybe that next championship will become a reality. Coach Calipari at Kentucky has the same problem, but I am not going to encourage him to change!

Mark J. Reasor ’69/Morgantown, West Virginia

We got it wrong

As always, I enjoyed my copy of Duke Magazine. But please be clear—it was the 1977-78 men’s basketball team, led by Spanarkel and Gminski, that went to the NCAA Final Four, defeating Notre Dame in the semis and losing to Kentucky in the final. Not the 1978-79 team.

A senior in 1978, I was headed for medical school at UNC. I had decided to cease being the family outcast and simplify things by becoming a Tar Heel fan. But the Mad March victories that spring were so riveting, my blood turned True Blue. That was the beginning of it for me, and for the program.

Betsy Coward Phillips ’78/Asheville, North Carolina

Even the losses are exciting

Those of us who attended Duke in the early 1960s can relate to the article “Just Can’t Win for Losing.” I entered Duke in the fall of 1961 as a fan of Duke football. The basketball team was a pleasant surprise. I had heard of Art Heyman being Vic Bubas’ first big recruit, but I did not know much about the rest of the team. My first year, Jeff Mullins joined the team after being ineligible to play the previous year as a freshman, but Duke lost in the ACC tournament.

The next year expectations were increased and then realized during the regular season with Duke losing only two games. At that time, the ACC tournament champion was directly placed in the regional tournament, which Duke easily won. It was then on to the Final Four, where Duke proceeded to lose its first game, to Loyola of Chicago, in an upset. The following year, Duke again tore through the regular season and the ACC Tournament and the NCAA regional tournament, losing only four games. Everyone thought that the championship would be decided in the firstround game. Duke, however, turned the tables on Michigan and moved on to play UCLA in John Wooden’s first appearance in the tournament. UCLA did not have a player over six foot, five inches and Duke was made the favorite. However, Duke could not contain Walt Hazzard and the rest of the team, Letters&Comments... continued and we were again disappointed.

In 1965, Duke lost to N.C. State in the championship game of the ACC Tournament and was denied a trip to the NCAA tournament, despite winning the ACC regular season. All Duke fans looked forward to the 1965-66 season; Bob Verga had the prettiest jump shot I have ever seen. ... Duke again tore through the regular season, the ACC tournament, and the NCAA regional tournament. The only close game was in the ACC tournament, when Dean Smith unveiled his four-corners “offense,” and Duke won 21 to 20. Duke’s opening game in the NCAA tournament was against Adolf Rupp’s Kentucky Wildcats. Unfortunately, Bob Verga got sick after the regional game and played very little. Partly as a result, Kentucky won and again disappointed the Duke fans. The next night Kentucky, an all-white team like Duke, lost to Texas Western, an all-black team, in the championship game.

For over ten years, that was the high point for Duke basketball until Bill Foster led the team back to the NCAA championship game and again lost to Kentucky. Over the years it has certainly been exciting to be a Duke fan.

Marlin M. Volz Jr. ’65, J.D. ’68/Bettendorf, Iowa

The pain goes even deeper

Having just seen in person Duke’s last loss, to Michigan State, in the Elite Eight, this year, I share Shane Ryan’s agony of defeat feelings.

However, he did not go back far enough in his discussion of Duke basketball. Duke went to the Final Four under Vic Bubas in 1963, 1964, and 1966. I watched the televised loses as an undergraduate in ’63 and ’64, and attended the ’66 tournament in College Park after graduating. It was glorious when we finally, finally won it all.

As disappointing as it is to lose, having Duke to cheer for almost every year for the last oh-so-many years has given me much pleasure. And my family knows to stay out of my way whenever a Duke game is on.

Elizabeth Morris Schwartz ’64/Laurel, Maryland

Maybe a little more detail?

I appreciate the value of brevity on The Quad’s DR/TL page, but the Spring 2019 issue squib about Duke paying $112.5 million to the federal government “to settle a lawsuit over faked research data” was misleadingly brief. I was horrified to think that my alma mater was involved in a UNC-level scandal, but as I understood it after a little Googling, the fraud was in the failure by those in the know to report that one individual used fraudulent data to obtain grants from the NIH, the EPA, and other agencies. That’s bad, of course, but my impression on reading the DR/TL report was that knowingly bad research data had been submitted with who-knows-what catastrophic consequences.

I think it would have been better to omit that entry altogether and “come clean” in some detail elsewhere.

Charles Philip (Phil) Clutts ’61/Harrisburg, North Carolina

Classics rock!

Thank you for the recent timely article on classical studies [“Timely and Timeless,” Spring 2019]. When I was an undergraduate, I was pleased to be with Professor Robert Rodgers for Latin 51-52. We met one day on a sidewalk of East Campus. He smiled as much as he ever did and said, “Mike, I was pleased to report to the dean recently that the Latin department has doubled its number of majors. Last year we had one; this year we have two.”

Michael Malone ’59, Ph.D. ’70

The other side of the story

Duke Magazine’s Spring edition severely mischaracterized Duke’s role in the termination of Durham’s light-rail project [Update, Spring 2019]. The truth is that the Duke administration under President Price broke faith with the people of Durham and with Duke’s history of public service.

As a Duke alum, former mayor of Durham, and volunteer advocate for this critically needed project, I can testify that Duke’s last-minute failure to support the project was the key reason for the project’s termination.

In spite of the administration’s written support for the project in 2015 and the fact that Duke expressed no concerns about it during federal hearings in 2016, the incoming Price administration subsequently failed to work in good faith with Durham’s leaders to address concerns and move the project forward.

North Carolina’s governor backed the light-rail project. So did both U.S. senators and our members of Congress. For the last two years, Durham’s mayor made clear to President Price that this was the community’s number-one civic priority. Light rail was a critical component of the area’s plan to deal with exploding highway congestion and provide affordable, reliable, sustainable transportation to Durham residents. Importantly, two-thirds of Durham Housing Authority residents lived within half a mile of one of the planned rail stations.

Light rail would have provided convenient access for workers, customers, patients, and staff to three of the region’s largest employers, including Duke and Duke Hospital. It would have connected to a planned commuter rail line between Durham, the Research Triangle Park, and Raleigh, with a shuttle to the airport. Perhaps most important, it would have been a concrete action to reduce Durham and Duke’s carbon pollution and fight global climate change.

Duke’s last voiced objections centered on potential vibration and electro-magnetic interference that the university said might impact Duke Hospital’s operation. In response, the agency managing the project had agreed to mitigate EMI at no expense to Duke for the life of the project and to abide by the same vibration standards that Duke requires of other major construction projects anywhere near the hospital. Still the Price administration refused its support.

Duke Magazine may obfuscate Duke’s responsibility, but The News & Observer noted that: “Many of the nation’s leading medical centers are located in intense urban areas such as Chicago, Boston, New York, and Philadelphia. These hospitals function safely and well despite rumbling trains and subways and major construction projects—sometimes their own—nearby. This isn’t about patient safety. It’s about a rich private university that doesn’t want its harvest of healthcare dollars inconvenienced by a major improvement in the region’s infrastructure.”

Past Duke presidents Keohane, Brodie, and Brodhead did much to build a mutually supportive partnership between Duke and the Durham community. Unfortunately, the damage from Price’s decision and the bad faith shown will visibly linger for years, from increased traffic congestion to Duke’s failure to take a significant step against climate warming. As an active participant in civic affairs, I regret to report that this administration has squandered much of Duke’s credibility as a true and trustworthy partner for Durham.

Wib Gulley ’70/Durham

It’s very special

I am thoroughly enjoying my hard copy version of “The Future” [Special Issue 2019]. I am only partway through it and am looking forward to reading the additional essays in the digital version. The profiles spaced throughout are a wonderful addition as well. Congratulations on assembling such an insightful and thought-provoking collection!

Kris Klein ’82/San Rafael, California

Undeserving honor

You chose to feature Andrew McCabe [“The Discipline of Analysis, The Necessity of Faith”]? A man discredited by the FBI, fired for his lies? His future may well include some jail time. There are so many more honorable alumni you might have selected.

Jim Liccardo ’67/Pawleys Island, South Carolina

A win for free speech?

It was with a degree of sadness that I read the article in the Special Issue written by Andrew McCabe. Yes, Duke owes its graduates a platform; the tragedy is that time is unlikely to burnish his reputation with the esteemed glow that characterizes Coach Krzyzewski’s reputation. McCabe’s own words—the frequency with which he uses the pronoun I—proves that the person most impacted by his image of reality, the person most deceived by his “faith,” most tarnished by his belief in America will be none other than himself.

Given the now-public and increasingly large legal record—including official e-mails sent by McCabe while employed by the FBI—McCabe imagines a nation I do not wish to live in. His words are not benign: “My former colleagues might be disappointed with my forsaking the discipline of analysis for optimism and faith in the American spirit.” His statement is a confession that he knowingly and willfully relinquished objectivity and tilted the scales of justice to satisfy his subjective opinion of a duly-elected politician and his (McCabe’s) subsequent willingness to negate the will of the very public that he claims to champion by removing, without due process, a legally elected president that he doesn’t like.

If you recall, in 1860, the same Electoral College system that put presidents Trump and Clinton in office also put President Abraham Lincoln in the White House despite winning only 40 percent of the popular vote. That small portion of the American electorate opposed slavery and willfully triggered the Civil War in defiance of the 1857 Supreme Court majority decision (and appalling opinion) in the Sanford v. Dred Scott case. Mr. McCabe’s disdain, not only for Trump but by extension the Constitution, the Electoral College, and the American voter, led him to contribute mightily to an atmosphere where “tougher challenges and darker times” slipped the blindfold off Lady Justice with the expectation that her eyes would see the world through his eyes, and more ominously, through the eyes of any one person with the power to silence opposing voices—you know, that free speech bugaboo that yanked President Clinton from the jaws of shame. Who cared what he did in private, certainly not the American electorate.

As many moderate Democrats know too well—including many of the people McCabe purports to protect—subjective justice is the foundation of tyranny. As he suggested, “This analysis paints a dark picture of our future, one in which division and politics tear the country into warring tribes, unable to unite around issues necessary to protect our nation and advance the lives of all Americans,” and he is right. Ironically, he failed to see the spirits of men and women rising ghost-like from the Pandora’s box that he opened, politicians yet to be elected who will author the very fate he fears: a tenuous and fearful nation where justice is no longer blindfolded.

In the end, McCabe’s argument clarifies one point. He cares deeply about one person: himself. Not surprisingly, he failed to point out that free speech has become an endangered species in the United States. The issue has bipartisan defenders including Whoopi Goldberg, who recently rose in strong vocal defense of free speech and privacy within the voting booth. By printing McCabe’s article, you proved that free speech is not endangered in Duke Magazine. Kudos!

Karen Humeniuk, P ’07/Greenville, South Carolina

Let’s be more inclusive

I just enjoyed reading the latest issue of Duke Magazine over a cup of coffee. I appreciated the insight and creativity of the contributors in thinking about the future. I am, however, truly disappointed that women were not included in the roster of faculty contributors. It’s very much an artifact of the past to exclude—even unintentionally—women from our conversations. And we have incredible women on our faculty here at Duke. Their omission was striking, especially given the theme of the issue.

Joyce Gordon/Director, Jewish Life at Duke

Not the Marxism he knows

I just read “Seeing Beyond the Now” by Sydney Roberts of the Class of 2019. Given the hysterically retro and historically ignorant analysis of economics that she parrots, I assume she is a member of the Class of 1919. Certainly no one in 2019 could mindlessly recite Marxist dogma with no recognition of Marxism’s disastrous century of death, destruction, failure, and evil. Placing this foolish propaganda piece about the failed Marxist belief system in “The Future Issue” is the height of irony. Thanks for the laugh.

Daniel Blonsky ’87/South Miami, Florida

CORRECTION: In the Spring 2019 issue, a caption accompanying “A little help from civilians,” about an interdisciplinary course that connects students and alumni with military groups to help solve problems, included a misspelling of a student participant’s name. Her name is Akanksha Ray.

SEND LETTERS TO: Box 90572, Durham, N.C. 27708 or e-mail dukemag@duke.edu. Please limit letters to 300 words and include your full name, address, and class year or Duke affiliation. We reserve the right to edit for length and clarity. Owing to space constraints, we are unable to print all letters received. Published letters represent the range of responses received. For additional letters: www.dukemagazine.duke.edu.


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