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Valley Voices: No liberal latte education here

Shaun Scanlon
Vail CO, Colorado

For a variety of reasons, I didn’t think that I would ever find myself responding to a letter on the Commentary page of the Vail Daily. However, a letter from Ms. Henri Stone in the April 18 edition of the Daily entitled “Obama remarks socialistic” has left me fuming. I simply cannot let some of her comments pass unanswered.

My objection is not to her criticism of Barack Obama per se. As a classic “swing voter,” I find shortcomings with all three of the remaining presidential candidates and may or may not vote for Obama in November if he survives the Democratic Party nomination process. I don’t know if he meant those comments about people in small towns and I doubt seriously whether Ms. Stone does either.

My problem begins with Ms. Stone’s comments that “Liberal professors in our best universities are the only people who still teach that communism is the path to a utopian state.” What “best university” did she attend where that dogma was taught?

Not the two Ivy League schools that I attended. Like Mr. Obama, I am a graduate of Harvard and Columbia. Unlike the senator, I did Harvard as an undergraduate, and Columbia (business school) as a graduate student. He did the opposite. At Harvard, I majored in government, called political science at most colleges. While there, sure, I read Marx, but I also read political philosophers like John Locke, who inspired Thomas Jefferson and other founders of our Republic. None of my professors taught “that communism is the path to a utopian state,” as Ms. Stone alleges. One of my professors, Henry Kissenger, who eventually became Richard Nixon’s secretary of state, could hardly be considered a Marxist or communist. In fact, as far as I know, though it’s been many years since I’ve been a student in Cambridge, no subsequent Harvard government faculty members have been considered confirmed Marxists.

Next, Ms. Stone talks about Sen. Obama’s “exclusive latte liberal education.” Where is she getting her information? When I was at Harvard, the Harvard Young Republican Club had almost as many members as the Harvard Young Democrats.

During the one presidential election that occurred while I was there, there was almost as much enthusiasm for the Republican candidate as for the Democratic nominee. As for Marxist liberal persuasion, of the 1,100 undergraduates in my class, at least 150 belonged to one of the three (Army, Air Force, Navy) ROTC programs on campus. My Army ROTC program at graduation commissioned 40 second lieutenants; four of them (myself included) took regular Army commissions. I served a total of over four years on active duty, three of them in Germany, followed by another eight years in the Army Reserve. One of my college roommates took a commission as a Marine lieutenant; another roommate attended Navy OCS after graduation, was commissioned and went to sea as an ensign and subsequent lieutenant. Two of my ROTC classmates (one Army, one Navy) died in Vietnam. One of my Army ROTC classmates served for 30 years as a regular officer and retired as a colonel.

Nowadays, Harvard undergraduates still enroll in ROTC (at the program at MIT, I believe).

Ms. Stone might comment that what I cite occurred a long time ago and that subsequent graduates of elite schools are different. Not that different, I think. Except for the campus turmoils of the late ’60s and early ’70s, when student reaction to the draft and to an unpopular war was extreme, Harvard (and Columbia) graduates and under graduates remain what they always were ” fiercely independent, highly individualistic people who critically examine views and positions before making up their own minds. Finally, they are very diverse in their views. There are many liberals, true, but also many conservatives and moderates. Also, for what it’s worth, ROTC has been restored to four, I believe, of the eight Ivy League campuses.

Finally, with respect to Ms. Stone’s remark about “latte” coffee consumption, I also take issue. This product of an “exclusive … liberal education” learned his coffee drinking habits from his first Army commanding officer ” I drink my coffee black.

Shaun Scanlon is an Eagle resident. E-mail comments about this column to letters@vaildaily.com.


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