Archive » October 11, 2007
Letters to the Editor
By MJ Staff
MJ in Political Coma
Are you in a political and cultural coma or what? It's bad enough to have Carol Lieff's agitated narrative published in the first place (MJ #13/38), and to then have her spewing a vitriolic response to a perfectly legitimate opinion expressed in response to that in your Letters to the Editor – but to have TLB chime in on Betty Stephens' experience with a pithy comment on the ice-cream vendor and Osama bin Ladin is just pathetic. Truly pathetic, and historically and politically way out in left field. Hello? Can you say Western ally? Or is the air just a bit thinner in your end of Montecito?
(Publisher’s Note: We all think highly of Ms Stephens and meant no disrespect. During the months following the attack of 9/11, however, very few Muslim groups condemned the attack. Judging by the absence of remorse from so-called “moderate” Muslims speaking out against Osama bin Ladin, it can only be surmised that many are indifferent to America’s fate. So if the ice cream vendor disliked Bush, he may very well be a fan of Bin Ladin; that doesn’t seem such a stretch. Why you regard that assumption as “pathetic” is puzzling, especially since recent events in Turkey suggest Islamic clerical influence is on the rise. – TLB)
Next Time, Try a Turkish Pizza
Although I lived in Montecito for forty-five years, I still read the Journal with great interest and enjoyment. However, I feel compelled to comment on Carole Lieff’s comments. Her portrayal of Istanbul as a city of dishonest money grabbers and swarms of pestering guides didn’t come close to funny, as I assume she was trying to be – much less accurate. It was more a pathetic pseudo-sophisticated attempt to be – what? According to the blurb under her picture “she is frequently quoted in Artnews.” To quote Miss Lieff herself, the palaces and sultans had “some of the worst taste I’ve ever seen”; she saw “people eating in a nice café down there in the sewer,” and half the population was made up of persistent guides. But, she proudly acclaims, “they haven’t met many women over there in Turkey like the Art Advisor.” Thank goodness for that! What an unfair assessment of a great city and its people. It’s been a while since I’ve heard the phrase “the ugly American,” but such unrelenting criticism does bring it to mind.
True, the Ottoman Empire was stuck in the Middle Ages until 1923 when Kemal Ataturk, the father of modern Turkey, dragged it into the twentieth century. In nine or ten remarkable years he replaced the Turkish alphabet with the modern Latin script the Western world now uses, mandated universal education for both boys and girls, emancipated women from suffocating head-to-toe clothing and accomplished much more.
I’ve seen some of Asia, North Africa, India, Mexico and the United States, and was privileged to live in Europe for three years, but Turkey stands out as a wondrous adventure. If you’re fortunate enough to visit there, do your homework beforehand. Prepare to enjoy, admire and learn, don’t fail to eat a Turkish pizza – for about two dollars.
Santa Barbara County
(Ed. note: There may well be Ugly Americans, but there are probably Ugly Germans, Ugly Frenchmen and, yes, even Ugly Turks as well – TLB)
Academic Freedom, Intellectual Responsibility, and Open Debate
Academic freedom protects the right of faculty, students, and institutions of learning to pursue knowledge, wherever it may lead, without undue or unreasonable interference. But all freedoms have self-imposed constraints. For example, it is unlikely any respected university would offer a prestigious podium to a racist hate-monger from the Ku Klux Klan.
Two recent events test the limits of tolerance on academic freedom. On the East Coast, Columbia University President Lee Bollinger offered legitimacy and a prestigious platform to Iran’s President Ahmadinejad, an avowed terrorist and murderous tyrant. He compounded a poor decision when he introduced Iran’s President as “a petty and cruel dictator, who was either brazenly provocative or astonishingly uneducated in his denial of the Holocaust.” This offended many Muslims, who saw his introduction as impolite, aggressive, and mean-spirited.
On the West Coast, The Wall Street Journal reported that 3,000 pacifist professors, students, and alumni at Stanford, signed a petition opposing the appointment of Donald Rumsfeld (Princeton Class of ‘54) to a fellowship at the Hoover Institute to explore terrorism in the post 9/11 world, defining Mr. Rumsfeld as “fundamentally incompatible with the ethical values of truthfulness, tolerance, and disinterested enquiry.” Stanford English Professor Robert Polhenus drafted an unofficial platform for the faculty opposition, calling Rumsfeld’s appointment “contemptible” and arguing that Rumsfeld lacks “intellectual and academic experience and/or some measure of achievement.” So much for Rumsfeld’s 40 years of distinguished public service, and so much for those who defend intellectual honesty, open debate, and the free exchange of ideas.
The bottom line is that Rumsfeld – twice Secretary of Defense, distinguished Congressman, naval aviator, recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, a man who devoted a lifetime of service at the highest levels of corporate leadership and public service is, according to Stanford faculty members, deserving a prominent place on the wall of shame. Conversely, one of the world’s most dangerous men, a man who plots the downfall of the Western world, who denies the Holocaust, who represses freedom, who seeks to develop nuclear weapons to wipe America and Israel off the map, and who oppresses women, tortures men, and murders opponents, deserves a protected pulpit of fame in the name of academic freedom.
No wonder some of us are so worried about the arrogance and quality of thought on the campuses of some of our best academic institutions.
Jazzin it Up
In reply to Steve Libowitz’s column “Jazzin it Up.”(MJ #13/39) I was amused by his comment referring to the 1998 and 1999 Santa Barbara International Jazz Festival that I “proceeded to take an even bigger bath than my predecessor.” In 1998, my wife, Dallas, and I bought the event from the previous promoter, Jack Butefish, who had produced it for more than a decade.
We brought Dave Brubeck to the beach for his first festival appearance in Santa Barbara, top performers from Russia, Cuba, Europe and Australia, as well as Tito Puente, Mose Allison, Less McCann, and a myriad of other American talent, and featured all of our best talents in Santa Barbara including five of our high school and college big bands.
Naturally, this was a giant step up in the financial costs compared to earlier events, but we felt good about the two large jazz festivals we produced and never thought for a moment that we were “taking a bath.” The experiences and musical excitement we personally shared with these incredibly talented musicians and singers was beyond any financial loss or gain, and will stay with us and our audiences forever.
By the way, the term “jazzin’” is sooo… last century
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