Letters to the editor

Spring 2019

We hit the nail on the head

cover of winter 2019 Colgate MagazineI felt compelled to leave feedback letting you know how impressed I was with the reinvigoration of the University publication as a new magazine! Admittedly, I barely thumbed through the Scene, but, when the Colgate Magazine arrived, I was confused but very curious. I ended up sitting down and reading the whole thing. You hit the nail on the head: The editing, formatting, story flow, and stylistic choices all fit perfectly together. Well done, and keep up the good work!

Kristen Hawley ’15

Blast from the past

As a former editor of the Colgate Scene — back in the B & W days (1975–80) — I send my kudos for the University’s launch of a bright and impressive new publication to tell its great story.

I noted with pleasure the memories of Mike Smith ’70, a talented filmmaker, in the class notes of the inaugural edition. He recalled his affection for the rollicking band of brothers who worked on publications and other media back in those halcyon days.

Having later worked as editor of magazines and publications for three other universities and a large Boston hospital, I must say Colgate was — and still is — outstanding in the candor and engaging tales reported by its alums in its class notes and features. The esprit de corps and sense of community is evident in the tall tales told in those pages back in the day and up to the present.

So, hail and farewell to the Colgate Scene, and onward and upward to Colgate Magazine!

Paul Hennessy,

former Scene editor

On ‘The Newsworthiness of Police Shootings’

The article addressing the work of Professor Alicia Simmons prominently refers to the Trayvon Martin shooting as a factor causing crowds to fill the streets to protest police shootings of unarmed black men. Trayvon Martin was not shot by police, but by George Zimmerman, a private citizen acting in self-defense. The local police, the Florida Department of Justice, the U.S. Justice Department, and the FBI all investigated and found no evidence to contradict Zimmerman’s self-defense claim. Crowds of protesters rioting and demanding justice constitute mob rule, not the rule of law. The police stand between the mobs and the rest of us.

The real tragedy for Black Lives Matter is the number of young black men killing each other, primarily in our cities. You need look no further than Syracuse, N.Y., for this, although the numbers in Chicago, Washington, D.C., New Orleans, Philadelphia, Newark, etc., are more dramatic.

Dave Kline ’70

He made good on his promise

Thanks for the new magazine — kudos, as they say. Great issue! My great moment with a professor pretty much changed the course of my life.

After listening to advice on which professors were to be avoided in my freshman year, I ended up having to take a course with the professor who was most to be avoided: J.H. Kistler. Bad luck, I supposed. But I could not have been more wrong; he became my Svengali, and I took every course I could with him.

The day before my graduation, he asked me to stop by his office, which I did. “Well, Phillips, what are you going to do now?” My brother (also Class of 1956) and I had both been accepted at a seminary. He frowned and shook his head. “I want you to promise me something, Phillips. I want you to write a novel someday.” I started to laugh and he snapped, “Promise me!” I said I would.

I did go to seminary and graduated. I then picked up a British Council of Churches grant to pay for a doctorate from a seminary in Glasgow. My dissertation took me to Germany, to write about pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a Hitler opponent. It was published by Harpers. I started teaching. I wrote another book, this one on the effect of the biblical “Eve” story on the image of women in the Western world. It was also published by Harpers and was listed as one of the New York Times “250 Best Books of 1984.”

In retirement, I was determined to make good on my promise to Professor Kistler. It took me years, but I’ve done it! It’s to be called The Lion and the Dragonfly. A British publisher likes it, and it is now being edited. I owe all this to Jonathan H. Kistler, and it is dedicated to him.

John A. “Tony” Phillips ’56

Wary of Chinese food

It was with some interest that I read the article on the psychosomatic allegations as to the view of MSG in Chinese food.

Well before any publicity about MSG took place, I experienced the exact same physical reactions described in the article. As a result, I avoided eating in Chinese restaurants for a number of years.

When the MSG controversy became public, Chinese restaurants began to offer meals with and without MSG. When I again occasionally ate in such establishments and avoided MSG, there were no further reactions. While my sample size is small (one), I find it more compelling than the arguments raised in the article.

On a related matter, there is good reason to be cautious when dealing with food from China. Having made many trips to China and many Chinese friends, I have heard Chinese nationals express concern about food safety in the “People’s Republic,” which is neither a republic nor response to its people. The Chinese government’s intentional concealment of a potentially death-causing additive in milk when the Beijing Olympics were taking place resulted in the preventable deaths of many infants.

Playing down the risk of food with origins in China is a great disservice to the public, and is truly disinformation.

William Murphy ’62

Editor’s note: As the winter 2019 issue was being released, “The Strange Case of Dr. Ho Man Kwok” piqued the interest of the radio program and podcast This American Life. Their subsequent reporting added more twists and turns to this already bizarre tale. Listen to it on “The Long Fuse,” ep. 668.   

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