Letters to the Editor (May 1)

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May 1, 2007

2:12 AM

**Inaccurate characterization of professor**

p. __To the Editor:__

p. A recent article that appeared in The Virginia Informer questioned the objectivity of Professor Peter Bechtold. Judging by its content, we believe that this article was not designed to inform the student body, but rather mount a personal attack against a very knowledgeable and professional faculty member. This semester, we have had the privilege of taking Professor Bechtold’s seminar on the Arab-Israeli conflict.

p. This article insinuates that Professor Bechtold holds biases against Israel, a very serious allegation. The author stated that the only assigned textbook for our seminar was Jimmy Carter’s controversial book, “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid.” This claim is untrue, as our two assigned textbooks were Carter’s and Dennis Ross’ book, “The Missing Peace.” For our final essay, we are required to write a comparison of the two books, in which we are expected to criticize Carter’s writings when appropriate.

p. Additionally, we were given a list of 13 other books to reference. In class, we generally go over assignments and discuss research we have gathered from wide-ranging sources. This “article” exhibits a fundamental ignorance in the distinction between presenting a viewpoint and advocating or inculcating it.

p. The article employs the position of an unnamed student who refers to Professor Bechtold with hateful Nazi terminology. It attempted to appear objective by referencing two of our classmates, and alleged “supporters” of Professor Bechtold, seniors Sulaiman Bah and Walid Kildani. However, in our opinion, the author purposefully chose two students with Arabic names to portray the professor as someone only agreeable to a select group of people.

p. If the author meant that Professor Bechtold scrutinizes certain Israeli policy choices, as he scrutinizes other governments’ choices, then they would be correct. The allegations made in this article were upsetting and disturbing because they questioned the objectivity of a professor who is concerned principally with inciting discussion and learning — not hatred or an agenda of any kind

p. __— Students of Professor Bechtold’s Arab-Israeli conflict seminar__

p. **Response to gun control editorial**

p. __To the Editor:__

p. The editorial on “Common-sense gun control” in the April 27 issue of The Flat Hat started out to be a legitimate call for legislation to close a legal loophole that cost lives, and ended as a disgusting politicization of a tragedy. Shame on you.

p. If you had confined the editorial to the relevant facts of the matter, that a mentally disturbed individual was able to procure arms and ammunition because of a technicality, the editorial would have warranted respect and heed.

p. As it was, you not only sought to address this issue, but issues which do not even remotely pertain to this crime. Cho Seung-Hui was not wielding a machine gun or an automatic pistol, so why bring them up? Cho did not defeat any safety technologies to engage in his rampage, so why bring them up? Cho did not use an extraordinary number of weapons to commit murder — two pistols do not compare to the dozen handguns railed against in the editorial, so why are you making quantity an issue?

p. Keeping weapons out of the hands of psychologically distressed individuals is common sense. Respect for the dead and refraining from politicizing their deaths beyond the scope warranted is not common sense, it is common decency. Your lack of tact, poorly disguised bias and wonton politicization of the murders at Virginia Tech has lowered my estimation of The Flat Hat’s standards of journalism, and leaves me filled with disgust.

p. __— Andrew Nesbitt, ’09__

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