Correspondence

by | February 6, 2006

BORDER PATROL

John B. Judis does a good job identifying some of the problems posed by immigration, but he misses the key part of any solution (“Border War,” January 16). It is true that many sectors of our economy need plenty of immigrant workers, and it is also true that many Americans are—rightly, in my view—concerned about immigrants who are not assimilating. The only way we can address both is by paying more attention to assimilation. Judis treats assimilation as something that cannot be addressed by public policy, but this is not true. Some studies show that English-immersion programs, for instance, do a better job of teaching English than native-language instruction (also known as bilingual education); bilingual ballots send the message that mastering English is unnecessary for citizenship; racial and ethnic preferences balkanize, as do identity politics and politically correct curricula in our schools; finally, the naturalization process, as well as K-12 instruction, should be intelligently but unabashedly pro-American.

ROGER CLEGG
President
Center for Equal Opportunity
Sterling, Virginia

 Clearly, Judis has never lived in the Southwest. Although he talks about how people are “obsessed” with illegal immigration, it is not enough to say that their reaction is cultural or about identity. The issues are about national sovereignty and public consent. The public has never consented to opening our borders to millions of illegal immigrants. What’s more, the beneficiaries of cheap labor pay a small fraction of the total cost, and it is no accident that medical costs are soaring, as the country supports illegals and their large families.

J.C. PHILLIPS
Summit, New Jersey
WATCH DOG

Franklin Foer’s thoughts on criticism of the mainstream media (MSM) are disturbing (“Bad News,” December 26, 2005-January 9, 2006). While I don’t agree with all the attacks on the MSM, it is troubling when members like Foer pretend the MSM is some disinterested institution that is, if anything, too soft on Bush. It wasn’t Bush who ended the era of consensus between the press and political elites; rather, it was a news media that came to be overwhelmingly peopled by those with liberal political stances (every self-reporting survey confirms this). They have practically launched a war on Bush.One of many examples should suffice: The same issue of TNR also contained an excellent article outlining the potentially devastating split among Democrats over Iraq. Compare the sparse coverage this significant trend has received with the front-page, lead-of-the-broadcast treatment of Cindy Sheehan’s demonstrations outside the Bush ranch.

NORM FRINK
Portland, Oregon
EX POST FACTO

As a former reporter, I was surprised and disappointed that Ben Smith did not bother talking to me before making his statement that I was a “particular favorite” of Senator Hillary Clinton when I worked as a political reporter for the New York Post (“Post Election,” January 16). I thought that talking to someone before writing about them was a basic starting point of journalism. If Smith had done so, I would have told him that my six years covering Clinton was based on firsthand observation. The reason I, and the Post, beat the competition on many stories about Clinton was hard work: I went to every public event and press conference she held, dialed into every conference call, attended the same hearings she attended, and watched her interactions with colleagues on the Senate floor. She won the admiration of the Post, as well as that of fellow senators and many New Yorkers, through hard work and attention to details. I reported what I saw—nothing more or less.

VINCENT MORRIS
Director of Communications
Mayor Anthony A. Williams
Washington, D.C.

BEN SMITH RESPONDS:

I spoke to Vincent Morris last summer about his success covering Clinton; he told me, “The two main reasons that I had some access to her is just the amount of time I devoted to it, and I also made the effort to go to all of her events.” His coverage was straight, and I agree that his hard work is a big reason he broke a lot of Clinton news in the Post. But I doubt Clinton simply forgot, or overlooked, which newspaper he worked for.

OLD STORY

Nathan Glazer is right to wonder what all the fuss is about in Jerome Karabel’s book on the exclusion of Jews from Harvard, Yale, and Princeton in the first half of the twentieth century (“Late Admissions,” December 26, 2005-January 9, 2006). The same policy existed virtually everywhere except in France before the Vichy regime. Poland and Austria pioneered exclusion through physical violence, while Czarist Russia developed Jewish quotas at its universities from the 1880’s on. What really deserves notice is that U.S. methods failed and Jews rose to become part of the economic and cultural elite against which other groups, particularly the blacks, are now banging their heads. Glazer is naïve about one thing, however: He seems at a loss to find the source of athletic ability as a means of exclusion. It comes from the British public school system, where muscular Christianity was the means of affirming social acceptability.

NORMAN RAVITCH
Savannah, Georgia

HAIL MARY

ALAN WOLFE SAYS THAT THE GOSPEL of John does not mention the Blessed Virgin Mary at all (“The Reason for Everything,” January 16). But the “Mater” in the “Stabat Mater,” which is drawn from the nineteenth chapter of John’s Gospel, is a reference to Jesus’ mother, Mary. The image of Mary and the disciple John at the foot of the cross, an account provided only in John’s Gospel, is one of the most common in Christian art and preaching. If Wolfe were familiar with, say, medieval English architecture, he would recognize Mary standing to the left of Jesus in the roods of most English Christian churches. Or, for that matter, if he were acquainted with the English Reformation, he might have known that such roods were subject to important legislation during three separate reigns.

Also, Wolfe suggests that the Spanish Inquisition tried Galileo. I am no scholar of Galileo’s career, but I do not believe he ever traveled to Spain. His theories were tried by the Papal Inquisition, which had no juridical relationship with the Spanish Inquisition.

MICHAEL SEAN WINTERS
Riverdale, Maryland

ALAN WOLFE RESPONDS:

As a great fan of Michael Sean Winters, I am happy to be corrected by him. 

This article appeared in the February 6, 2006 issue of the magazine. 

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