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When History Becomes Hijacked

This past week, I attended the Dramashop’s performance of “The Company of Angels,” written by MIT Associate Provost for the Arts Alan Brody. As I thumbed through the Playbill, I came upon the end of the “Author’s Note,” a short message from Alan Brody in which he informs the audience that the modern state of Israel was the focal point of hope for the Holocaust survivors, but warns us that we shouldn’t misconstrue his play as “an apologia for political decisions being made by that country today.” He then continues to say that he hopes “the play is a reminder of what it means for any people to be homeless and stateless.” If his political agenda were not clear enough already, he concludes that he hopes his play “might help the people who see it to understand how important a home is to the Palestinians who have been driven to their experience of despair by historical circumstance.”

The moral implications of that statement are disturbing enough, of placing the onus on the Israeli people for the suffering of the Palestinians with the same moral weight as the unbearable burden of shame which lay upon the shoulders of the world community of silent bystanders after the Holocaust.

I also realize that it probably would not prove fruitful to begin a discourse on the utter fallacy of equating Israel’s policies of self-defense to the murderous genocide committed by the Nazis, an implication of Professor Brody’s statements clear to anyone who has studied the politics of the Middle East in the last decade.

Most significantly though for the readers of The Tech, I believe that it is an academic tragedy for a faculty member of Professor Brody’s stature to inject his own political tendencies into his work at the Institute. He was hired to contribute to the student body his great skill and talent in the world of theater, not for his personal ideologies which may constitute his world view. It is truly an inexcusable affront to those who survived the Holocaust and to the memories of the six million who perished, and a black mark on the proverbial eye of the Faculty of the Arts at MIT.

Chaim Kutnicki ’07

[LTE]The Sanctity of Marriage[body]
I applaud many of the declarations made in Andrew Thomas’s “Divorcing Marriage” [Feb. 13]. Unfortunately, for me to agree with these statements, they first had to be taken out of context. (I won’t address whether marriage should be overseen by the government or the church here, though I do think the government should have control).
Thomas is clearly an advocate of same-sex marriage while I am not. The affirmation that “marriage should be a sacred institution” is very refreshing. “Sacred” means “set apart” or “devoted exclusively to a single use,” according to The American Heritage Dictionary. The very essence of marriage itself is this exclusive union between a man and a woman, never between a man or a woman and any person, animal, or object worthy of his or her affection.
I also favor the expression, “Does [marriage] need to be protected? I think so.” I contend that we can learn a lot from history; traditional marriage has allowed civilization to propagate and thrive for thousands of years and must be preserved for our existence alone. In this country, traditional marriage has been a bedrock of society which has permeated into every corner of the American life.
We are where we are today as a world leader in part because of our commitment to the stabilizing institution of traditional marriage. People draw from American history and try to juxtapose the issues of slavery and gay marriage as if the former validates the latter. Yes, our nation has chosen to set people free from slavery to man, and continuing to outlaw gay marriage will keep people free from slavery to sin and its consequences.
Thirdly, I too believe that “children are far better off being raised by two parents -- the same two, ideally -- for their entire development, living in a house filled with love.” However, I challenge Thomas’s opinion that gay partners provide “strong benefits to children” and that “average gay parents are just as capable of raising healthy children as anyone.” Even twenty years ago, research indicated that the average homosexual had between 300 and 500 partners (American Journal of Public Health, 1985) and that homosexuals were 24 to 48 times more likely to abuse children (Psychological Reports, 1986). These factors don’t exactly scream family values. If I didn’t want my children to grow up in this environment, would you still call me “intolerant” and “closed-minded”? Therefore, I whole-heartedly advocate, like Thomas, that “marriage, as we see it now, can only be saved by taking it more seriously as [a] pure, idealistic, and glorious union,” but only between a man and a woman who love each other enough to recognize this institution as sacred.
Sara Vassallo[sig]
[LTE]Clarifying the St. John’s Case[body]
I am writing in regards to what I consider to be a misrepresentation of the facts in Yong-Yi Zhu’s column [“Sex and the Sports Game: Which Obsession Domineers our Minds?”, Feb. 13].
Zhu wrote, “At least in Colorado, nobody was disciplined because everything was legal. At St. John’s, many of the players were suspended because it was discovered that they had hired a prostitute.”
The second sentence doesn’t properly tell the story. The facts of the case, available to anyone with a web browser, are that several St. John’s players attended an adult establishment of some sort, engaged in consensual sexual activity with the supposed “prostitute,” then refused to pay her the $1000 that she demanded afterwards. Following this, she accused them of rape. After the university’s suspension or expulsion of several involved parties, the woman’s charge was shown to be false, and she herself was charged with prostitution, attempted extortion, and falsifying a report.
Now, we don’t know whether or not the players knew a priori they were soliciting a prostitute. She claims that the players agreed to the payment beforehand, but the fact that she falsely claimed she had been sexually assaulted threatens her credibility in my mind. Additionally, the fact that she was not paid makes the idea that they “hired” a prostitute a null one. It is not a crime to my knowledge to have sex with a woman who ex post facto attempts to employ herself thereof.
The other important point is that the suspensions and expulsions (some of which have since been upheld) from the Catholic school did not come from a supposition of illegal activity, but “for violation of team rules and behavior inconsistent with St. John’s mission and values,” according to a school news release.
Either way, the situation is far more complex than “they had hired a prostitute.” And in fact, as early as a week before Zhu’s column, voices at Colorado were recounting accusations of rape in the very situations Zhu confidently labels “legal.”
Now, I’m sure there are reasonable explanations for this. Perhaps Zhu didn’t read recent articles on the case. However, these players deserve no more than the reputation damage commensurate with their actions, or in other words, they deserve contempt and punishment for their late night carousing, not for a false rape charged by an angry woman.
Despite it being an opinion column, the misrepresentation of facts has no place anywhere in journalism, least of all on the sports page.
Christopher P. Anderson ’04[sig]
[LTE]Marriage Criteria?[body]
I really wanted to understand Adam Kolasinski’s column [“The Secular Case Against Gay Marriage,” Feb. 17], but it left me scratching my head -- at least until it dawned on me that by trying to balance this issue on a fulcrum of haphazardly interpreted economics, he had inadvertently and forcefully tipped the case in favor of gay marriage.
It is true that procreation has traditionally been an important consideration in marriage and perhaps even qualifies as a compelling state interest -- but does that justify using it as a litmus test for whether or not two people should get married? Kolasinski answers this question when he points out the many potential circumstances wherein a marriage between heterosexuals does not result in issue.
If the objective is to deny marriage to those who cannot or will not procreate, why not at least take the simple step of asking couples (note that costly, mind-reading technology is not required) what their plans are and refuse licenses to those who do not intend to have children? Additionally, since propagation of society is so important, why not exclude couples who plan on having fewer than two children? The answer, of course, is that we don’t have the moral or legal authority to do so and that gay marriage is therefore not merely an issue of procreation, but rather one of civil rights and equal treatment.
The biggest danger of following Kolasinski’s logic to its dubious conclusion is that we may enshrine into law the notion that marriage exists solely to facilitate procreation, and, worse, that economics has anything meaningful to say about marriage.
John Armstrong[sig]
[LTE]In Defense of Israel[body]
When I read the title of the article “How to Bring Peaceful Coexistence Back to the Middle East” [Feb. 17], I thought that it may be interesting and that the author may have original views and solutions to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Maybe she would stress what one could do toward resolving this issue, especially since the role of the civil society was made clear by the recent Geneva peace initiative brought about by Israelis and Palestinians working together.
I was not only disappointed by the article, but also shocked. The author merely provided a synthesis of the propaganda brought by extremist Palestinians who deny Israel the right to exist and advocate its destruction. The article is of course full of inaccuracies that demonstrate the ignorance of the author. I would stress only two.
First, the author pretends that Israel is the only country in the world to mention the ethnicity or religion of citizens on national I.D. cards. However, this is common practice in all countries in the Middle East, including Israel’s neighbors like Lebanon, and is even the case in a secular state like Turkey. It is also the case in some other parts of the world like Vietnam.
Second, the author pretends that the Zionist leadership was an ally of the Nazis during World War II because of an individual initiative of a second-rank right-wing Zionist activist who contacted a low-level Nazi diplomat in Istanbul during the war. This is ridiculous; despite the measures taken by the British against Jewish immigration to Palestine in the 1930s, Zionist leaders like David Ben-Gurion supported the British in their war against the Nazis and many Jews of Palestine fought alongside the British in the Jewish brigade. In the meantime, the leader of the Palestinians spent the war in Berlin, visiting on some occasions the extermination camp in Auschwitz.
What is unacceptable in this article is to pretend that Zionism and Nazism are the same ideology. This is a shameful attack on the memory of the victims and survivors of the Holocaust and cannot be accepted.
It is pointless to discuss these facts with the author. You cannot convince someone who hates. However, I hope that the editors of The Tech will not accept such “contributions” in the future, since this one assimilated Zionism and Nazi ideology, while advocating the destruction of an established state.
I will conclude by sharing with you two thoughts. The first one is that a high level of education, even if it includes the most advanced degree, is not a guarantee against political extremism, and hateful ideology. Second, as the great Martin Luther King, Jr. believed, there is no difference between anti-Zionism and anti-semitism.
Emmanuel Carrier G[sig]