Letters to the Editor (April 27)
April 27, 2007
**Articles in Informer cause outrage**
p. To the Editor:
Two articles recently featured in The Virginia Informer helped me realize that that student newspaper is the pinnacle of unprofessional and utterly irresponsible journalism.
p. The first article in question, “A Whole New World: Studying in Jordan,” by Editor-in-Chief Joe Luppino-Esposito, a junior, promises a look into junior Robert Landicho’s travels in Jordan. What is presented is a poorly constructed argument on the contrasts between Jordanian and American ideals.
p. Luppino-Esposito explains that “war and violence was [sic] almost laughable to many people there [Jordan]” and follows this statement with a quote from Robert: “They said that joking about it was the only way to get through it.” I live with veterans at school and at home; both of them often joke about their experiences, but I would never make claims that they consider war and violence to be laughable.
p. Most jarring are Luppino-Esposito’s words on Islam. He assumes that, because the society of Jordan is “based in Islamic law, [it] means that freedoms are severely limited.” As a middle eastern studies major, I am appalled at this comment. I do not deny that inequality and corruption exists in states where Islamic law is present, but Islamic law is not the root of the problem.
p. Luppino-Esposito’s comment is absolutely offensive to Muslims. If one actually examines the statements made by Landicho, one would notice that no words support Luppino-Esposito’s claim that everyday life in Jordan is “wholly unjust.” Perhaps Luppino-Esposito should have asked senior Walid Kildani for his input, as he is a Jordanian student.
p. Thankfully, sophomore Nick Hoelker was able to feature Kildani in his article “Students challenge Bechtold’s objectivity.” But, like Luppino-Esposito, Hoelker selectively utilizes quotes to allege the anti-Israel sentiment of Professor Peter Bechtold. Interestingly, all quotes supporting this alleged stance are given by anonymous students. More shocking is the fact that Hoelker never contacted Bechtold himself. But I find it most callous of Hoelker to publish students’ references to Bechtold as “the Fuhrer.” I think Hoelker and his editors should be aware that Bechtold’s father, who passed away in late 2006, was almost killed by the Nazis. Bechtold’s aunt was killed in a Nazi gas chamber.
p. I am not writing this letter to attack the Informer. I wholeheartedly believe that multiple voices should be printed on campus — it’s essential to our freedom of speech to have these perspectives available. There is some talent at the Informer; the impeccable writing of sophomore RC Rasmus is always a pleasure. However, the obvious misrepresentation of fact and lack of research evident in the articles by Luppino-Espositio and Hoelker is disturbing. I am not a legal scholar, so I would not be so ruthless as to make claims of libel. If anything, I hope Luppino-Esposito and Hoelker consider offering the Muslim community, as well as Bechtold a most sincere apology.
p. __— Cliff Martin, ’08 __
p. **Preserving Confederate history**
p. __To the Editor:__
p. I read Keirstin Flythe’s letter in the April 24 issue of The Flat Hat as a personal attack. You see, I had ancestors on both sides in the Civil War. As a history student and Civil War buff, I admire the courage and fortitude that my ancestors displayed when they decided to take up arms and fight for their beliefs. They faced harrowing conditions and gruesome battles, and I simply have to respect my ancestors for that.
p. However, Flythe’s last two paragraphs prompted my response. First, Flythe states that she does not want children looking up to Confederate soldiers as role models because they were racist. Yet, the fact is that 19th-century American society was extremely racist. Even some Northern abolitionists could be considered racist: some of them wanted to free the slaves, only to ship them to Africa. Many Union soldiers were also racist. In fact, many soldiers that fought in the American Revolution and the War of 1812 were racist. Should we stop honoring them as well? An historian, or anyone for that matter, cannot judge previous eras with 21st-century values.
p. Second, the author stated that the creation of Confederate History Month would be an exercise in forgetting “how the Confederate heritage and its mentality alienated and oppressed the African-American race.” Yet, by not creating Confederate History Month, we would be forgetting our history, which is a dangerous exercise.
p. Forgetting Confederate heritage would mean forgetting my ancestors, and that is something I am not prepared to do. Additionally, forgetting Confederate heritage would mean forgetting history, forgetting Southerners (the majority of whom did not own slaves) who fought for a cause they believed in, forgetting the free and enslaved blacks who fought for the Confederacy (see “Black Confederates” by Charles Barrow, J.H. Segars and R.B. Rosenburg) and forgetting the stories of millions of people.
p. __— Timothy Huffstutter, ’07__