Letters to the Editor Summer 2013

Pride... Divided?

As an Afghan War veteran, an ROTC- commissioned officer, and as an American, I felt tremendous pride reading "All That You Can Be" [Spring 2013] on the career of Brigadier General Tammy Smith. Thank you for publishing a story that demonstrates how Oregonians remain America's finest pioneers.

As a service member assisting in operations over Libya when "don't ask, don't tell" (DADT) ended, I was amazed how little the military changed—what mattered was the mission. In the only physical sign of repeal I saw, one Army friend put a photo of his fiancé, then deployed in Afghanistan, on his desk in our operations center. Such basic human affirmations make all the difference in the deployment separations that define this long war. Who could possibly deny their propriety?

For all the Sturm und Drang among elected officials about the dangers of repeal, I have heard of no negative incidents since the policy change. The professionalism and simple understanding among service members of the principle that "(s)he that sheds his blood with me shall be my brother" as more important than any difference between us makes me even prouder to wear my nation's uniform.

General Smith's story had special resonance for me, as I watched my brother, Nick, cast out of the Navy in 2003. After coming out to his commanding officer but requesting to continue to serve, he was shown the door and never truly recovered from the indignity of his country's rejection. He passed away on December 17, 2010, the day before the Senate passed the DADT repeal. I am so grateful no one will again have to endure what he did.

And special thanks to Tracey Hepner, Smith's wife, for making the general's story possible. There is no harder job in the military than being a military spouse. But still today, being a gay military couple is needlessly difficult. I hope the Supreme Court seizes the opportunity in theUnited States v. Windsor case to repeal Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act that bars the Army from recognizing Smith and Hepner as a married couple.

Military culture thrives on heroic examples. Thank you for identifying a hero in BG Smith. She does us all proud.

Jake Klonoski, USNR 

I am the faculty member that challenged ROTC policies on discrimination in 1982. My motion did not call for the removal of ROTC. It called for ROTC to bring itself into compliance with UO policies on non-discrimination, which prohibited discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation. The faculty senate voted against requiring ROTC to do this, for reasons that still mystify me. Military Science did not fight this initiative, as the article claims; I don't remember them saying anything about it at all. If students like Tammy Smith had had the courage to speak up, maybe these policies would not have lasted another 30 years. Instead, she stayed silent until others finally changed the policies. The real heroes are those in the military that spoke up when it made a difference.

Cheyney Ryan 
Oxford, United Kingdom

I enjoyed the article about General Smith and the sidebar about Army ROTC. What I found curious was that there was no mention that the university, at one time, also had Air Force ROTC. If it weren't for the Air Force ROTC program, I would probably never have been able to realize my lifelong ambition of becoming a pilot. My family was not wealthy and I worked my way through college while living at home. Today, I would not be able to afford to attend a college like Oregon State, which still has Air Force ROTC, because of the additional cost of lodging and meals. The demise of the Air Force ROTC program is a very sad commentary on the politics of the University of Oregon.

I did graduate from the UO and entered the Air Force, where I served a 28-year career. I flew rescue helicopters for 16 years with two tours in Vietnam and an additional 10 years in special operations, where my first eight months were spent training and perfecting techniques for a second attempt to rescue the hostages from our embassy in Tehran.

Mark Schibler '62, Lt. Col., USAF, Ret. 

Your editions usually have some very interesting stories that provoke thoughtful interest, and the spring version did as well, with stories on the Japanese Tsunami dock ["Big Wave, Small World"] and the Christchurch earthquake ["Shaking It Off"]. However, this issue also contained two of the worst stinkers I've ever seen in this otherwise interesting publication.

Economist Robert Kuttner ["Clear Economics, Muddled Politics"] seriously proposes that further spending beyond heavily indebted government's means is a wise prescription for economic success? Does anyone know of an entity of any kind where this has been successful? The Greeks, with a deficit approaching 170 percent of GNP, need to borrow moremoney to grow their way out of the self-induced spiral their lying politicians bequeathed to them. There is a reason why this type of thinking is not being taken seriously by policy makers . . . because it is lunacy and economic drivel.

The second piece of garbage was the cover story ["All That You Can Be"]. Congratulations on achieving the rare literary feat of combining the offensive with the irrelevant, a task not easily done. Grown adults with a developed sense of decorum do not discuss sexual preferences in the course of normal affairs, much less make such a topic the focus of an alumni magazine issue. Horrible story choice, absolutely moronic.

Tom Simshaw '89 

The Economist

"Clear Economics, Muddled Politics" by Robert Kuttner [Spring 2013] is descriptive of the economy following World War II, and I agree that austerity alone today will not lead to a healthy economic recovery. However, later in the article Kuttner implies that war bonds sold to Americans in the early '40s were equivalent to today's government debt, which is sold to investors and to foreign countries. This is misleading. War bonds were owned by the private sector. When they were "cashed in" following the war, the bonds were retired and money received was spent by the private sector. That demand sparked healthy economic activity; the spending response satisfied private desires.

Today, annual government deficits seem to assume heavily indebted consumers will borrow even more money to increase their consumption. Maybe government spending on "massive public investment" also will aid economic growth, but certainly not like the private-sector stimulus of spending cash received from war-bond redemptions. Today, when interest rates begin to rise, as they surely will at some point, the cost of rolling this increasing debt will increase government borrowing costs by hundreds of billions of dollars annually. Can we grow our way out of those higher interest costs with even more government debt? I doubt it.

Robert F. Wulf 

I disagree with several points Robert Kuttner makes in his article. First, the comment that "Reagan-era tax cuts" caused the debt ratio to rise. When Reagan reduced the tax rates, the government raised more income tax money because the private sector had more money to invest. Second, Barney Frank's committee in the House of Representatives forced banks to loan money to people who could not afford a home, which was the main reason for the housing collapse.

We were able to recover after World War II because our country still had the work ethic. Despite the "Great Society" social programs, there is more poverty now than there was back then. Of course, back then you were in poverty if you could not afford to buy enough food to eat. Now poverty is if you don't have two cars, cable TV, and other luxuries. I am sure that Kuttner would also not believe that government unions have anything to do with our current situation.

Gary Rink '60 
Saint George, Utah

I agree that politics is muddled, but two points were not brought up that I think strongly affect our economy negatively, both governmental in cause.

One: The Barney Frank–Chris Dodd bill requiring banks to make loans to people who didn't qualify was a major factor in the housing collapse. Frank and Dodd should have been hung out to dry for what they did to this country.

Two: If we did not have 10,000 regulations per year pouring out of government for business to try to comply with, business could expand. The amount of regulations are extremely expensive, often do not produce the desired result, always take away someone's freedom. They are not passed by our elected representatives, so the people have no input into what goes into them.

Government is hurting business at every turn, either through legislation that hurts, regulation that hurts, or taxing policy.

Granella Thompson 

Sex and Sensiblity

In "The First Time" [Spring 2013], author Kim Stafford indicates that the talk about which he reports occurred in 1965, a year before I completed my PhD at the University of Florida. The message in the article was touching. However, I am much disturbed by the implication of presumed premarital sex. It seems for the premarital sex to be "beautiful" it must be premeditated, planned.

My wife of 60 years and I at one point had an acquaintance who, for no reason I know, told us that he married the first woman with whom he had sex. My wife, who did not usually speak in such a manner, responded immediately that she had sex with the first man she married. The man was divorced by the time we met him. The author of the article implies that his is divorced.

I was a fraternity member at the UO; I am retired military. I know the ways of young men, but I know there is a personal discipline and responsibility. The author refers to the Song of Solomon; he refers to the first sexual encounter as "sacred." Perhaps his liberal interpretations of theology influenced the decision by his church not to retain him.

There must be a better message from our university of sex and sensibilities.

Harold C. White '59, MS '60 
Tempe, Arizona

Life during Wartime

Your story about Harry Fukuda ["The Trouble for Harry," Spring 2013] resonated with me. I was born five days after the Pearl Harbor attack, in Los Angeles, where my father was a sports writer. My parents had a Japanese gardener take care of our yard because my dad was too busy to do yard work. The man and his son took pride in their work, and it was a sad day when he was sent to an internment camp. His son joined the Army and went to Italy. When he returned, he had difficulty finding work, so he always wore his uniform to show people that he had served in the armed forces.

The Japanese internment experience surfaced when I was teaching in Arroyo Grande, California. My daughter had a history day project and decided to interview a Japanese teacher at our school who had been sent to an internment camp at Manzanar. He told her that he went to school one day and was told that he was to report at the school parking lot on Saturday morning and to bring one suitcase. There were no other details.

When his family arrived, they boarded school buses and were taken to the train station. They weren't told where they were going. Manzanar was isolated, just like the other internment camps. Fortunately, everyone from Arroyo Grande knew each other so they were able to form a community within the internment camp. All of them were well liked in Arroyo Grande, so neighbors and friends took care of their property while they were gone. Despite the hardships they had to endure, they returned and became successful in a community that welcomed them back. A farmer, Haruo Hayashi, became a member of the Lucia Mar School Board and two of his sons became doctors.

I enjoyed the other stories as well in this issue, especially the one about the Japan-Oregon connection ["Big Wave, Small World"]. Keep up the great work.

Jerry Cronin '64, '67 

In 1942, U.S. Marines were battling the Japanese in the Guadalcanal jungles. American aircraft carriers were sunk by Japanese warplanes. So many ships were sunk in the Solomon Islands "slot" that it was nicknamed Iron Bottom Sound. The fighting was a match of equals that could have gone either way. The American public was frightened of a West Coast invasion. We cannot condemn 1942 policy using our 2013 mores and sensibilities. The prospect of a readymade collaborationist population, following a Japanese invasion, impelled the internments of Japanese Americans.

Philip Ratcliff '79 
Cloverdale, California

I want to congratulate you on another excellent issue. In the, ahem, something-something years since I graduated, Oregon Quarterly has never looked nor read as well as it does on your watch, in my professional opinion. I was especially excited to see two features on subjects pertaining to my area of expertise, Japan.

You may be aware that Frank Okada, one of the UO's most celebrated professors of fine arts, was the younger brother of author John Okada, whose No-No Boy was among the first novels to be published by an Asian American. The plight of Word War II–era Americans of Japanese ancestry is closely tied to the history of the university. My former professor of Japanese, Yoko Matsuoka McClain, had her own struggles to contend with during her climb to tenure at the UO, where she all but single-handedly established one of the first and best programs in Japanese language study of any American public institution. I am proud to have been a student of hers.

Joe Hlebica '77 
Redding, California

Tears, Cheers, and Jeers

Your editor's note in the most recent issue ["Rhapsodic Utterances of Joy," Spring 2013] was stunning. It brought me to tears several times. What you've done for your grandfather with this short article, and by publishing a link to his essay, is an act of love.

John Harn, MFA '82 

The illustration accompanying the editor's note immediately caught my eye. As a sophomore almost 60 years ago, I was enrolled in the first-year German class taught by the late professor Wolfgang Leppmann. One of the required texts was Gerhard Wiens's Bilderlesebuch für Anfänger (Picture Reading Book for Beginners). The book is a collection of folk stories in which the text is sprinkled with illustrations to help students better understand vocabulary. The illustrations were done by Professor Wiens and the one pictured is from this text. The editor's warm tribute to her grandfather put a very human face to the author of this book, which I have kept all these years.

Nelson Tandoc '57 
San Jose, California

I wanted to express my compliments to your staff for the content and quality of your Winter 2012 Oregon Quarterly. My daughter is a UO graduate and she brought a copy to our home when she visited at Christmas and left it here. I just read it the other day.

Being a Stanford grad (PhD, physics, 1972), we Indians (I refuse to acknowledge "Cardinal") usually look down our noses at anything "Oregon." But, except for the editor's note ["Public Offering"], I found every single article informative, insightful, and well worth reading. Exceptionally well done. Please pass my "thank you" to each author of the articles, and to your staff for the way the magazine was put together.

Your editorial, on the other hand . . . well, the best I can say about it is that your editor should be taken out to the woodshed and whipped. Educators are no longer individuals dedicated to teaching and the promotion of lifelong learning—they are a bunch of politically correct, left-wing radical socialists mis-educating our young people, and in the field for what they can get out at the taxpayers' expense. But the rest of the magazine was superb.

Dennis Douglas