Johns Hopkins Magazine -- June 1998
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JUNE 1998

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Palestinians as "victims"?
Bothered by illogical criticism
"Politically correct" use of "her"
Reaching out to the less-mainstream
Beneficial vitamins

Talal Asad calls Palestinians the "victim of victims."
Photo by Jay Van Rennselaer
Palestinians as "victims"?

Anthropology is generally the study of diverse customs and traditions, not political ideology. So I was both surprised and disgusted with your recent article, "An International Double Standard?," which reported the views of anthropology professor Talal Asad. Clearly the professor is biased when he recounts the political plight of Palestinians, decrying their status as the "victims of victims" who have suffered at the hands of the Israelis. I guess he has forgotten the proclaimed goals of the Arab-Israeli wars of 1948, 1967, 1973, and 1982 to destroy the Jewish state and commit genocide by pushing all the Jews into the sea. Professor Asad should stick to his own field of study, lest he continue to expose his real prejudice without the security of his academic trappings.
Adam Drew Lippe '95
Baltimore, MD

Bothered by illogical criticism

I try not to be bothered by illogical assertions, as they are pervasive these days. I also try not to be bothered by criticism, as a person can learn even from rude criticism. However, I draw the line at illogical criticism, as it offers little to learn and is therefore just offensive. I therefore felt it was necessary to respond to T. Morishige's letter to the editor in the February 1998 issue of your magazine.

Morishige begins, "In any war, there is no justice, no humanity." True, but unfortunate; and a very poor justification for soldiers' behavior toward a civilian population. Morishige next finds fault in Iris Chang's lack of personal experience. Does Morishige propose to eliminate the study of any history that predates personal experience? Morishige further accuses Chang of sensationalism. Is Morishige able to produce evidence that Chang distorted or exaggerated the facts? If she is only conveying facts in a moving fashion, how is that racism?

Morishige wonders if Chang researched the atrocities of the Russian soldiers against Japanese women and children in Manchuria in 1945. Morishige implies that Chang is one-sided by not considering that. Horrible as it is, how does that justify the acts of the Japanese that predated the Russians' offenses? Rather hypocritically, Morishige makes a one-sided attack on the Russians. Following Morishige's logic, any historical documenting of atrocities should include an explanation of how the offender was really a victim, tracing history back to the very first offense that ever occurred.
T. Laks (MS '91)
Baltimore, MD

"Politically correct" use of "her"

As a graduate of the Psychology Department at Hopkins, I found Melissa Hendricks's article in the February issue on language acquisition and cognition most interesting ["The Origins of Babble"]. Unfortunately, my enjoyment of the piece was marred by an egregious error in the caption relating to it on the cover of the magazine. Instead of using the grammatically correct "his" or "its" to refer to the neuter subject (a baby), the editors chose the "politically correct," but grammatically incorrect, "her."

Perhaps the editors believe that after years of intense liberal indoctrination at Johns Hopkins, no alumnus would object to this corruption of the language. Well, I for one would like to be counted as a Hopkins graduate who resents vitiations of the English language for political ends.

If the editors wish to write an article extolling leftism, they are free to do so. I just wish they wouldn't use insidious methods to promulgate their views.
Alexander F. Simkin '91
London, England

Let's restore trade relations with Cuba

While I can agree with 90 percent of Wayne Smith's ideas on Cuba (yes, the U.S. embargo is a futile embarrassment; yes, the Mas Canosa clique has seriously distorted U.S. policy toward Cuba), I do not believe we should restore full diplomatic relations with the Castro regime. This would imply a degree of approval that doesn't exist. Consular relations would suffice.

If we were to restore trade relations (including communications and transport), this would be the most subversive step we could take. We would do much to undermine the Castro regime, as the people of Cuba would come to realize that most of the 20th century has passed them by. Post Cold War globalization is not kind to dictators. Castro may have his Thought Police and hooligan gangs (such as the Cuban Institute for the Friendship of the People), but so did Batista. Where did he end up?
Richard H. Howarth (SAIS '59)
Reston, VA

Heeding Lattimore might have changed history

In your February issue, there were two letters that discussed Owen Lattimore and his support of the Chinese communists. I also have an opinion about Professor Lattimore that is based on attending many of his lectures while I was in engineering school, right after World War II, and courses on Southeast Asia organized by Lattimore soon after I graduated.

Lattimore's perspective was based on the thousands of years of Chinese history in which each revolution resulted in the successful emergence of a new dynasty. Each dynasty obtained recognition as it acquired substantial control of the country, although full occupation took many more years, sometimes hundreds of years, to complete.

Such a condition existed soon after the end of World War II. The new dynasty in this case was the People's Republic. It had gained substantial control of the country during the revolution and had plans for land reform and redistribution of wealth with a sweeping change of leadership. By this time, most of the world had recognized the new regime except for the U.S. Instead we continued to supply Chiang Kai-shek, who held pockets of resistance and had not yet retreated to Formosa (Taiwan). When Chiang finally was forced to fall back to Taiwan, the U.S. continued to supply him with planes and bombs for attacking the mainland, and thus the end of the war was delayed even further.

At that point, Lattimore was concerned about U.S.S.R. offers to China of an air force to destroy the bombers from Taiwan. Lattimore advocated a policy that would isolate the Russians from Asia, not one that would force China to invite them in. He was also concerned about our losing the advantage of a long-term friendship with China and the Chinese people. Unfortunately, as the McCarthy movement strengthened, the State Department moved further and further from the advice and counsel offered by Owen Lattimore and other Far East experts. Had this not happened, the political events in Southeast Asia may have developed into the following scenario:

1. We would have recognized China and would have conducted normal diplomatic relations. In view of this, the Chinese would not have attacked us at the end of a relatively short Korean War, and our long and costly Korean fight with China would not have happened. Korea would have emerged as one united country, not split at the 38th parallel.

2. Lattimore and his Far East associates knew that the Dulles-sponsored domino theory on containing communism, which was later adopted by the Johnson Administration, had no basis in reality. Without the domino fixation, we would not have fought in Vietnam.

3. Without a war in Vietnam, we would have had no motive to disrupt the government of Cambodia. Without disruption, the factors that led to the mass murder of her people would not have occurred.

Early in February of this year, I attended a meeting of the Baltimore Council on Foreign Affairs at the World Trade Center. James R. Lilley, U.S. ambassador to China, was the speaker. He covered a broad front of U.S./China issues and how matters are progressing based on a pragmatic view of China today. Lilley's address reminded me of Lattimore's understanding of China and his emphasis on our relationships with that country. However, the political climate of communist containment in Lattimore's day was not conducive to the much needed negotiations with "Red" China. Lattimore's counsel was ignored and his teachings were suspect. It is satisfying to this writer that his "teachings" are anchored in our present policies today.
Louis Robinson Jr. '49
Baltimore MD

Reaching out to the less-mainstream

What a fortuitous coincidence! Last evening I read about James Taylor, sideshows, blockheads, etc., in Dale Keiger's delightful "What's Weird Here?" in the April issue of the Johns Hopkins Magazine, and then this morning (4/3/98) The New York Times contained an article about the sideshow performers in the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus now showing in New York City. My appreciation of the second piece was greatly enhanced by having seen the first. Topics like this that reach out toward some of the less mainstream but still very real human aspects of our life and times are part of what gives the Magazine its character and identity. There's always something to grab one's attention; I look forward to more.
Donald Johnson (PhD '55)
Summit, NJ

Beneficial vitamins

I was surprised by all of the benefits you listed in your article on the ABC's of RDA, and also by the fact that Dr. Caballero said we didn't need supplements because we could get [enough nutrients] with our food ["The ABC's of the RDA," April].

In the late 1960s, I heard Dr. Emanual Cheraskin, who was teaching at the University of Alabama Dental School, give a one-day course in nutrition. He spent the first half of the day showing studies [detailing] how food loses many of its vitamins because of the way it is cooked, baked, steamed, defrosted, etc. He hypothesized that many of our ailments may be minor deficiency diseases, and recommended taking a therapeutic vitamin with minerals. This would provide the daily minimum of fat-soluble vitamins (which can be toxic if taken in doses that are too high), and more than the daily requirements of water soluble vitamins (which, in excess, can be excreted).

I started taking Theragram with minerals and 400 units of vitamin E and in two months I had several physical improvements. My varicose veins were less of a problem. My acne cleared up, as did my dandruff, athlete's foot, and chapped hands. Today I am 66 years old and in very good health for which I'm grateful.

Incidentally, one of our sons had a very bad burn as a young child. He was given medication so that he wouldn't itch during healing, but the medication never worked. Then we saw a book by a doctor from Canada who recommended that vitamin E be given internally and externally for healing burns. Our surgeon wouldn't recommend it. We gave it to our son ourselves and it stopped the itching in hours. When the itching came back days later, we questioned our 4-year-old and discovered that he had not taken his vitamins. The itching stopped again when he took them.
Samuel B. Stevenson Jr.
Darien, CT