Not only did Charles Paul Freund's article ("Secrets of the Clinton Spectacle," April) confirm my own observations and suspicions, it served to renew my frustrations with the current political climate.
Imagine my reaction when the very next day a TV news clip showed U.S. Senate candidate Hillary Clinton here in New York state responding according to "formula." The news story was about the recently released report on the campaign finance practices of the Clinton administration and the involvement of Al Gore and Hillary. She responded to questions with a wide-eyed smile and said it was "old news," "people know all about that," and it's time to "move on." The American people, especially New Yorkers, need to be reminded that the Clintons are still at it.
Charles Paul Freund's brilliant analysis of the Clintons' modus operandi in scandal management left out an essential tactic: the realization that if an issue is sufficiently complex, you can lie with impunity. Neither the public nor the press have the patience to sort out complicated issues regarding financial regulations and legal procedures.
You can laugh in the face of the 10 percent of the people who understand the issues if 90 percent of the people dismiss any discussion of them as the incomprehensible legal jockeying of paid flacks. If matters seem in danger of coming into focus, obfuscate and complexify with an air of injured rectitude.
But the most important Clinton tactic, I believe, will be left to future historians to analyze: the systematic use of blackmail.
Professor of History
Thanks for the interview with Norman Borlaug ("Billions Served," April). I've been a believer in organic gardening for years, although I'm not a fanatic about it. I don't use chemicals when gardening, but I do buy conventionally grown produce—it's too expensive to do otherwise.
We seldom hear the other side of the food production argument, especially so clearly presented and (I hope) not biased by ties to an agriculture-based business.
I do not disagree with Dr. Borlaug's statistics and I have great respect for his contributions to agriculture. I don't, however, have his faith that agricultural technology can solve the food needs of an ever-increasing population. The resources of the earth are finite.
I did advanced studies in plant and soil sciences at Iowa State with a Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota. I have worked in production agriculture and agricultural research and development in the U.S., Central America, Africa, Haiti, and Saudi Arabia for more than 50 years. From what I have seen, the Green Revolution has penetrated the richer areas but has had little effect on the poorer ones. It takes money to take advantage of the Green Revolution.
A few years ago, Saudi Arabia produced only a fraction of its need for wheat. Now, I believe, they are practically self-sufficient—but at what a cost. I worked in research and development for Prince Muqrin, one of King Fahd's many sons and ruler of the Hail region. He uses short-stemmed wheat from Mexico (or at least did in that research). He pumps water from 2,000+ feet and pours on the fertilizers and gets excellent yields. The government guarantees him $35 a bushel, while the world market is around $4.
I think we'd all like to eat foods and grow plants without pesticides, but that's not likely to happen, so we need to be conservative in their use and test for negative effects. We used DDT intensively on the central Illinois dairy farm where I grew up, and I probably have more of the chemical in my bones than one in a million persons.
I have cervical dystonia, a nerve-muscle disease that may or may not have been triggered by DDT (mammalian toxicity has been demonstrated). I've used herbicides and fumigants that have had long-term deleterious side effects not mentioned on the label. I was working for Iowa State when stilbesterol was introduced to increase beef production by 20 percent. It was later found to be hazardous to the consumer's health.
I think Dr. Borlaug does a disservice in labeling all environmentalists as extremists. Certainly there are extremists on environmental issues as there are extremists who think technology can solve all problems. Some of Dr. Borlaug's solutions require more fossil fuel. The cost of energy will only go up. What about the increased gases produced by technology, such as CO2, that are destroying the ozone layer? Climate is changing and will have profound effects on all life, and potable water is in increasingly short supply.
It is amazing to me that Dr. Borlaug doesn't emphasize the need for population control along with technical advances in agriculture. Living in Haiti, as I have, would soon convince him of that necessity to maintain any decent quality of life. Yes, we need technology, but let's be more conservative—with longer testing periods for innovations and an awareness that agricultural technology must be combined with population control to maintain a decent quality of life.
Charles L. Coultas
Kudos for publishing "The Drug War's Southern Front" (April) by Timothy Pratt. This article should be on the required reading list for both Congress and the State Department.
Even so, I'm afraid that it wouldn't help. I recall that Street Without Joy by Bernard Fall was on the recommended reading list for Army officers in 1962. In that book, Fall showed how the Viet Cong won the war and why the French never had a chance. It didn't help because the U.S. thought it could do better. The Viet Cong beat us using the same tactics and strategy. Now Colombia is on the way to becoming a disaster of Vietnam proportions.
Gerald M. Sutliff
Watching the Watchmen
I enjoyed Cathy Young's article ("Miranda Morass," April). As a conservative, I've been concerned for some time about excessive and inappropriate use of police force. Likewise, I've been concerned about the effects of Miranda on suppressing evidence in criminal cases. Balancing the need to know the truth with the rights of suspects is sometimes difficult.
One concern that I've always had is that police officers who distort testimony, coerce confessions, contaminate evidence, etc., are almost never punished for the acts. Couldn't one replace Miranda with legislation which criminalizes certain police transgressions? A crime such as "warrantless entry" could be penalized as a misdemeanor or perhaps a felony under certain circumstances. Slap a $2,000 fine on a police officer for "warrantless entry" but allow the evidence seized to be admissible in court. This might better protect the rights of both the public and the accused than the present system.
Director and Curator
Earth & Mineral Sciences Museum
Pennsylvania State University
University Park, PA
About the only time I have seen the Miranda warning in use is on TV and in movies. I'm a software engineer by trade, but I look more like a drug dealer with my long hair and Levis. And because of it, I have been falsely arrested at least eight times in the past 15 years because of how I look.
I was never read my Miranda rights during any of those false arrests and, in each case, when I told the police that I wanted a lawyer before talking, they did not comply with my request and continued to question me. In fact, the police made threats that bad things would happen to me if I didn't answer their questions. In all of the cases the police detained me for about an hour and then released me after telling me I was a bad citizen for demanding my Fifth Amendment rights. In a few of the cases the police didn't show any respect for my Fourth Amendment rights and searched me, my car, or my home without my consent or a search warrant.
Alan Charles Kors' article, "Thought Reform 101," (March) is irresponsible scholarship in its reporting and commentary. Professor Kors radically distorts the presentation delivered by Hinda Adele Barlaz and Denise C. Bynes of Adelphi University at the Fourth Annual National Conference on People of Color in Predominantly White Institutions.
Professor Kors was not in the audience for our presentation. For his article on college orientation programs, he relied solely on Thor Halvorssen "for the materials and interviews from the Nebraska conference." It should be noted that Mr. Halvorssen did not interview either one of us. In addition, Mr. Halvorssen was not in the audience when the presentation began. In fact, he did not enter the room until we were approximately halfway into our presentation, at which point he appeared to have begun taping our comments.
Professor Kors' focus was on college orientation programs, a topic that we did not address in our presentation. Our only comments on college orientation programs came in response to a question by Mr. Halvorssen. In order to make our statements fit his own derisive agenda, Professor Kors misrepresented the primary focus of our presentation.
In fact, the title of our presentation was "The Phantom Menace or Why College Campus Racism and Intolerance Will Outlive Us All." Concerned about the prevalence of racist and intolerant behavior on college campuses, we wanted to share what we had learned as co-chairs of Adelphi University's Prejudice Reduction Committee. The main theme of our presentation was campus-wide diversity programs, not college orientation programs. The committee's work was a proactive attempt to solve immediate problems on our campus, not to indoctrinate anyone.
Erroneously, Professor Kors states that the Prejudice Reduction Committee is still in existence at Adelphi University, when throughout our presentation we emphasized that the committee no longer existed and that we were working on a proposal to resurrect a modified version of this committee in the foreseeable future.
Professor Kors' errors also include a long and wholly inaccurate discussion of the document, Conflict Resolution Styles Questionnaire, that we used in our campus facilitators training program at Adelphi—and not, as he reports, as a document for students. All of the ethnic characterizations that Professor Kors attributes to this "handout" are from another document we distributed in our session.
Professor Kors is inaccurate when he writes that the "training" by the U.S. Department of Justice's Community Relations Service was "so effective" that "it was very hard to get any of the other white members of the committee to go for the training." On the contrary, Ms. Barlaz stated that it was the training provided by the National Conference on Christians and Jews that had alienated some of the white members of the committee.
These major reportorial errors are compounded by a host of smaller ones: comments yanked from their original context and then applied to new and unintended ones; attribution of some remarks to Ms. Bynes that were in fact made by Ms. Barlaz; incorrect assumptions about the purposes and uses of the documents we distributed at the conference; and many more.
"Thought Reform 101" is an irresponsibly written and deeply dishonest article. We hope that REASON will reconsider using Professor Kors again.
Hinda Adele Barlaz
Denise C. Bynes
Garden City, NY
Alan Charles Kors replies: Perhaps embarrassment at Adelphi University has led Ms. Bynes and Ms. Barlaz to claim locally that they had not been indiscreet and had not said what in fact they said. Perhaps having made such claims, they were strongly encouraged by their superiors to write to REASON. That is the only explanation I can imagine for assertions categorically belied by the evidence literally in my hands.
They claim that Mr. Halvorssen, whose role I openly acknowledged, taped only half of their speech. The tape itself (and its professional transcription) says otherwise; at most, he missed taping a moment or two of their self-introductions. They claim that Mr. Halvorssen did not interview them; I am listening to that open interview as I write, and I have its professional transcription before me. They claim that Mr. Halvorssen's question during Q&A was tangential to their concerns; I am listening to their explicit statement to the audience about the great importance and pertinence of Mr. Halvorssen's question, which they then chose to answer at very great length, relating it precisely to the main themes of their talk. Ms. Bynes and Ms. Barlaz may attempt to remake human reality during their diversity training, but they simply cannot remake physical evidence.
Similarly, I possess the handouts that they chose to share with the attendees. I appreciate the clarification that they make about the provenance of any of those documents. (The only source listed on them by Ms. Bynes and Ms. Barlaz is the Department of Justice, and that sheet was part of and stapled together with the materials concerning racial and ethnic characteristics.) I am relieved to learn that the very worst racial profiling in these documents came from the National Council of Christians and Jews, not from the diversity training mavens at the DOJ.
The handouts were profoundly misleading, but I apologize for that significant error. Ms. Barlaz did note, in her formal presentation, that "it was very hard to get any of the other white members of the committee to go for the training that the U.S. Department of Justice provided free of charge," and she explicitly explained a few lines later that "both the National Conference of Christians and Jews and the Community Relation Service of the Department of Justice both do exercises that are very similar on conflict resolution style." If they intended a distinction despite the two "both"s, it was not clear.
I in no way twisted their views or agendas. My article concerned diversity training (of which freshman orientation was merely one sad instance). The article originally offered a longer history of their Adelphi Prejudice Reduction Committee, but an editorial conference wisely chose to examine their thought, not their Committee's itinerary toward pending rebirth. My "focus" was the world view, practice, and aspirations of campus social engineers who seek to "train" free individuals on intimate matters of belief and identity.
Ms. Bynes and Ms. Barlaz may regret it now, but they were exceptionally forthcoming on tape about how far they wished they could go in "training" the entire Adelphi campus, about the "white privilege" of faculty and students who happened to be born incorrectly, and about the need to overcome by "incentives" union objections to mandatory diversity seminars for the faculty. Having listened to the tape yet again, I think that I was not only wholly fair to them but, indeed, that my analyses were moderate and particularly kind to their reputations.