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Don't forget first-generation students of European descent
As one of the contributors to Entering the Ivory Tower, I read "Blazing the Trail" in Santa Clara Magazine's Spring 2004 issue with mixed emotions. I am extremely happy SCU is taking steps to help these students. First-generation students have previously been a type of "unknown" minority and the lack of resources hindered many of us. Kudos to Professor Nichols and others who worked so hard to bring awareness to this issue! I am confident that future first-generation students will benefit greatly from these programs. However, I feel the article erroneously implied first-generation students are, for the most part, only students of color. I am married to another SCU alum, who is also firstgeneration, and who happens to be of European descent. It is misleading to not mention (or picture) any of the current students of European descent who are first-generation students. This is not a color-based issue and I hope SCU is trying hard to aid all first-generation students. Its efforts to find and help European firstgeneration students should be as strong as the efforts made for firstgeneration students of color. I look forward to hearing about SCU's progress in its guidance to firstgeneration students. Hopefully, next time, the students mentioned and photographed will depict a more accurate picture of SCU's first generation students.
First-generation students have unique challenges and gifts
"Blazing the Trail" uncovers the struggles first-generation students have gone through, usually silently. Thanks to insightful and compassionate professors like Laura Nichols, current students don't have to suffer silently any longer. They are lucky to have Professor Nichols and other professors and advisors who have the insight to see the unique gifts and challenges students of color have, create ways for them to use those gifts, and support them to address those challenges in ways that not only help them succeed but also teach others important lessons about privilege. Though my parents attended college in the Philippines, I was the first person in my family to go to college in the United States. They knew nothing of financial aid, except to get a loan. They didn't know about the curriculum, dorm life, social pressures, and the challenges of being a student of color at a mostly white school. At the time, they were not even in the country so they could only hope and pray from a distance that I'd make it through the four years. I did, and eventually, my older sister and brother also returned to college and completed their degrees. I am thankful to my dear professors in the communication and ethnic studies departments, as well as Affirmative Action Officer Jacyn Lewis, Women's Student Resources Coordinator Denise Priestley, and other advisors and fellow students who reached out to me and kept me going. A diverse student body means that professors and the college community must recognize each student's different strengths, perspectives, and circumstances and create a climate where each student can fulfill his or her potential. Neglecting to do so would make any university complicit in perpetuating privilege and inequality.
Thanks for the new memories
With the advent of another basketball season it was great to relive a great time in Bronco history ("Late '60s were glory days for SCU hoops," Web exclusive section: http://www.scu.edu/scm/winter2003/exclusives-basketball.cfm.) I was with the Red Hat Band in the Pit the night the Broncos demolished the Lobos in front of 15,000+ of their fans. It was a night to remember. I had never heard that Wooden quote ("We should be playing for the NCAA championship next month.") Thanks for the "new" memories.
Newsom must not have studied morality at SCU
In "Class Notes" I read that we have the dubious honor of having an SCU alum as the current mayor of the newly independent people's republic of San Francisco. Strangely (I hope mistakenly) the article reports that Mr. Newsom was a political science major. I was a political science major, and I am wondering how Mr. Newsom rationalizes his municipality's defiance of the State of California. As if activist judges issuing socially engineering decisions from the bench were not enough, we now have activist mayors, and a political science major from the Santa Clara University is one of them. Now, in complete abandonment of traditional values and Biblical and Church teaching, he is performing same-sex "marriages." This debauchery takes us down the path of "anything goes" social mores and the inevitable debasing of our culture and decline of American civilization. Matriculation from our alma mater failed to equip him with a moral compass. He shames SCU and makes a mockery of whatever he learned as a political science major.
Shame on the new San Francisco mayor
I would think that you could feature someone other than Gavin Newsom in your Bronco Profile (Spring 2004). Mr. Newsom's flagrant violation of law, his open, public and inappropriate violation of morality brings only shame to Santa Clara
Newsom is a source of embarrassment
How shocking is it to find that the alumnus featured in the Bronco Profile, Gavin Newsom is the same one who is not only violating California law, the voters will as expressed defining marriage but also actively promoting the homosexual lifestyle.
RIC BRUTOCAO '66
War should be a decision of the people
Regarding the criticism of David DeCosse's opinion piece on the "unjustness" of the Iraq invasion (After Words, Winter 2003), no one will disagree that it's good that Saddam Hussein is gone. And there are compelling arguments on both sides whether that removal was worth the price in American and Iraqi lives lost, fractured international relationships, and a massive bill to U.S. taxpayers. The question remains if our elected representatives in Congress would have given their (and, by extension, our) approval to unilaterally invade Iraq had the initial rationale been Saddam Hussein's human rights violations rather than the threat of weapons of mass destruction. The enormously costly decision to commit our nation to overthrowing a brutal regime is not one to be left in the hands of one or a few individuals, but in the majority will of our people.
An SCU education laid the foundation for life
As an alumnus of Santa Clara University I take great pride in making a contribution to the magazine of one of the greatest universities in the United States. As a 1976 graduate in the field of political science, I had the most positive and wonderful experiences of my life as a student. I had great professors that inspired, motivated, and supported me to the highest levels of achievement. They brought out the best in me and, most importantly, reinforced the values and morals of Christianity. I love Santa Clara for giving me the most powerful and loving, academically supportive environment in which to work, to grow, and to discover who I really was, so that I could take those tools and give back to those in need. Santa Clara University exemplifies the highest level of excellence in all social, culturally diverse, academic, and religious principles.
Prayers of the faithful
Something very profound happens at every Mass in our parish. The last intercession presented by our pastor during the prayers of the faithful is a reading of each and every name of the American soldiers killed in action during the previous week. On Easter Sunday it was 46 names and by the time the pastor concluded, tears were streaming down my cheeks as well as the cheeks of others standing around me. When he says, "We pray to the Lord," and we respond, "Lord, hear our prayer," it is so personal-so painful-every week! I wish to humbly propose that each parish in the entire country do the same. Just think how many Santa Clara alums could take this idea to their own pastor and their own parish and begin to also honor each person who has given the ultimate sacrifice. No need to go through diocesan channels- simply spread the word through one parish at a time.
Fighting for the American Empire
I see that several Bush apologists got in their letters criticizing Mr. DeCosse's article ("Moral clarity in war is a challenge to discern," AfterWords, Winter 2003). I would like to state that I agree with his opinion that the war against Iraq was totally unjustified, and that no weapons of mass destruction were found, and that Bush lied to the American people and the world for the reasons for this invasion of a sovereign nation for no good reason. Whether Hussein was a tyrant makes no difference; there are plenty of tyrants in the world that the United States doesn't seem to mind to have in power, such as the Saudi royal family. I'm sure torture chambers exist in Saudi Arabia, and if they don't, well, they have Shia law, which extolls inhuman punishments for criminal offenses. The United States, if truth be told, has backed countless tyrants in the years since World War II, as so many tyrants, like Chile's Pinochet, were seen as useful by America in its Cold War against the Soviets.
Regarding the use of chemical weapons by the former Iraqi regime, let's not forget who was president of the United States at the time, who apparently didn't think it was such a bad thing, as nothing was done then: Ronald Reagan, with Bush's dad as the vice president. Let's not forget Donald Rumsfeld visiting Hussein in 1983 and proclaiming that he was someone America could work with. Let's not forget that Iraq was the foil to Iran during the decade long war between those two countries in the 1980s, a war the United States did everything it could to keep going, like making sure both sides got plenty of weapons.
And finally, let's not forget how Sadaam Hussein got into the good graces of the United States in the first place in the late 1970s: he was a virulent anti-Communist who did all he could to arrest and/or exile Iraqi communist party members. So why the war? American Empire, brought to you by the likes of Richard Pearl, Paul Wolfowitz, and Dick Cheney.
Civil dialogue is important during war times
In strident tones John Monti's and Julie Carlson's letters attack David DeCosse's conclusion that the war in Iraq was unjust. I happen to agree with those who believe that undertaking this war was—and is—an enormous mistake, quite aside from whether or not it was "just."
But Monti and Carlson rightly point out that it has put an end to any further accumulation of Saddam's mass graves. For this we must be thankful, as well as for the sacrifice of U.S. service personnel risking death daily in the attempt to improve the lot of others. "Greater love hath no man than this, that he will lay down his life for his friends." Our respect is boundless when those friends are people on the other side of the globe.
However, a sad outcome of the war domestically has been the rupture of civil dialogue between those with differing views on the subject. It does not help when letter writers cast aspersions on their opponent's judgment or motivation, or make oblique swipes at someone's patriotic backbone. We need to respect and listen to each others' voices more than ever if we are to heal ourselves in these trying times.
Iraq war was motivated by politics, not humanitarianism
Three letters in the Spring 2003 issue of the magazine took issue with David DeCosse's just war analysis, using distinctly revisionist reasons for the U.S. war with Iraq. Their common error was their failure to recognize that the primary goals of the Iraq "adventure" were not humanitarian and noble but political and tactical.
A key purpose of the war was to capitalize on America's terror fears to manipulate the 2002 congressional elections. That goal was achieved—a solidly Republican Congress was elected; the reasons provided for war proved to be fraudulent.
It has become clear that there was no imminent threat from Iraq and that peaceful methods like U.N. inspections were both constraining military buildup and seriously reducing the likelihood of any additional massacres by Saddam. In other words, there was no need for war. Bush falsely argues that military intelligence indicated the contrary; the fact that the U.N. inspectors couldn't find WMDs should have given us pause in our race to war, rather than impelling us forward. We ended up sacrificing Iraqi lives and unnecessarily broadening the war on terror to satisfy our thirst for vengeance, certainty, and a quick solution.
The ultimate moral question is this: Would Jesus condone a preemptive war?
It's all relative when discussing reasons for war
Mr. DeCosse's article lacks the moral clarity he decries in others.
Postmodern philosophy, the premise of which is that all truth is relative, has many converts in both our religious and academic circles. This philosophy and its defects are noted by Edward Rothstein, a columnist who writes "Postmodernism bears a peculiar relationship to the West. Its insistence that differing perspectives be accounted for and that the 'other' be evolved from those enlightenment ideas. But then, in the name of those principles, postmodernism challenged the West's claims for priority over competing perspectives, criticizing its philosophical idealism and notions of objectivity…So when postmodernists' arguments are applied to the war, they often seem directed at the West, relativizing its claims and qualifying condemnations of the opposition."
Mr. DeCosse states that President Bush "offered a series of reasons to go to war. Among them: Saddam is evil." This is the moral relativism in its most insidious form. The article clearly insinuates that it was President Bush's opinion that Saddam is evil, but that his opinion is that and simply no more. It is frightening to believe that anyone could not possibly make a rational, objective opinion that Saddam is evil. Saddam started a war with Iran, invaded Kuwait, used chemical weapons against the Kurds and Iranians, and paid the families of suicide bombers for their terrorist activities. He murdered his opposition. His historical hero was Adolf Hitler.
It must be said that no weapons of mass destruction have yet been found. Perhaps they never will. Perhaps our president thought they presented a greater danger than actually existed. But his interpretation of the facts had to include Saddam's nuclear desires, the use of chemical weapons, the Kuwait invasion, financial support of suicide bombers, etc. Perhaps we could have done nothing and our nation would be in no greater danger.
The president felt otherwise. His decision reflects his strong sense of right and wrong- and the willingness to confront evil. This characteristic is itself thought of as a defect of personality or intellect by the postmodernists. Mr. DeCosse's article neglects the most important current issue: What must we do to protect Western civilization (note: Democracy's origins and survival are part of Western civilization).
Before the second World War Britain had two prime ministers, Stanley Baldwin and Neville Chamberlain. Their appeasement of Hitler, and unwillingness to recognize him as evil appears criminal in hindsight. Confronting Hitler early would have changed the course of world history and prevented the killing of millions of people.
Mr. DeCosse ends his article by stating he is disturbed by the "increasing martial character of the American people." He should be more concerned at the inability of many Americans to look at the war on terror without using the prism of debilitating relativism.
Don't forget the lessons of history
The reaction to David DeCosse's article was to be expected, specially coming from ex-military personnel. Their arguments are based on Saddam Hussein's cruel mistreatment of his own people, especially the gassing of the Kurds. Their conclusion is that bad heads of state should be overturned, even if foreign powers have to do it by violent means.
Unfortunately, the world is full of such leaders, and it behooves determining who among them should be selected for decapitation, and what other governmental leader is sufficiently holy and moral to serve adequately and fairly as judge. Also, if a world policy is to be created, it should be consistent, and should not be applied haphazardly or at whim.
In the case of Hussein and the U.S. state leaders (Bush, Rumsfeld, Cheney, et al), however, the situation is really a mess.
First of all, we have the prior relations of the U.S. government with Hussein.
It's no longer a secret that the U.S. gave Hassam great military aid, (which included advanced technology agents adaptable to WMD) in his war against Iran, and both Rumsfeld and Dole visited Hassam to warmly congratulate him on his support of justice (and the U.S.). If evil rulers must be dispossessed, why support them? Whatever happened to the consistency of the new rule on warfare? Or is it applied at the whim and convenience of the greater power, when it's exclusively to its advantage, discarding any thought of morality?
Many bad governmental leaders around the world received substantial support from the U.S., and were overturned not by U.S. means, but by their own people. In fact, in most of these cases, the peoples' revolts were opposed by the U.S.
It's vital for the health of the world that U.S. colleges and universities begin teaching the true history of the U.S. to show the real and murderous face of the belief in its "manifest destiny". The world has had enough of Deutschland uber Alles to now face U.S. uber Alles. As a practical measure, I suggest that Santa Clara purchase a few sets of the books written by Noam Chomsky and place them in the university library. Also, if possible, if history majors or minors are existent, the teachers involved should treat their subject material in a mature and objective manner.
Beware a rush to judgment about the Iraq war
I found David DeCosse's recent article in Santa Clara Magazine to be shallow and judgmental. His conclusion that "The war in Iraq, on balance, was unjust"—is a rush to judgment. The facts are not yet known with regard to many of the stated reasons to go to war. As time goes by many of the unanswered questions will become apparent and the president's decision to embark on a course of war can be more equitably and truthfully evaluated.
It is without dispute that the Iraqi dictator had programs to develop weapons of mass destruction. It is also indisputable that Saddam had not fully complied with the United Nations Resolutions requiring him to account for and identify the whereabouts of certain weapons. Saddam had previously demonstrated his willingness to use chemical weapons to destroy those he perceived as enemies. It was proven on 9/11 that our nation, most probably because of our free society, was vulnerable. Was there a threat to our country?
The casualties resulting from the war and its aftermath, regrettable and tragic as they may be, are fewer than those casualties that occurred in everyday life in Iraq under the Saddam regime. Additionally, it appears that one of the benefits sought by the war is a more equitable distribution of oil revenues among Iraqi citizens. The government we seek for Iraq would incorporate Shiites and Kurds and thus be less discriminatory and more representative than the prior regime. Finally, if we are successful in transforming Iraq into a democracy, perhaps other democratic societies in the Middle East will emerge and peace and stability can be achieved throughout the region. Is the good to be achieved greater or proportionate to the harms that led to the war?
All or part of these results may yet come to pass. Not instantaneously, but the may ultimately come to pass. Mr. DeCosse seems to be one of those who wish to pass premature judgment. The true results of this war have yet to be determined. Let's have patience. It is premature to declare: "In the aftermath of the fighting with Iraq, two just-war principles in particular—'just cause' and 'proportionality' reveal the injustice of the war". Mr. DeCosse may well have the principles correct, but he has not correctly applied the facts because those facts have not fully been ascertained.