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Letters - Spring 2017

By Terp Staff

TERP S2017A Political Slant

I am reluctant to criticize the article about Professor Arie Kruglanski, “An Exit to Extremism.” His personal life story is deeply moving, and I have a great deal of respect for Holocaust survivors. I also, I confess, am not a trained psychologist. No doubt Professor Kruglanski has done valuable research about the dynamics of terrorism, and we can learn from his studies.

My complaint is that there was a distinct political slant to the article, perhaps more on the author’s side than on the professor’s. For example, at the bottom of p. 22, the last paragraph reads, “As scholars and experts around the world debate whether Western society is reaching a tipping point … with ascendant populism, nationalism, militarism and a worrying undercurrent of hate crimes and ethnic strife.” Why are we focusing just on Western societies? In many non-Western countries, the horrifying tendencies aren’t just ascendant, they are a part of everyday life. There was also an emphasis on right-wing extremism in the U.S. What about left-wing extremism?

I’m afraid that the quoted and praised Southern Poverty Law Center has strayed from its historic noble task of fighting bigotry by focusing mostly on right-wing anti-Semitism and hate crimes against Muslims. These are real issues, to be sure, but polls among Jewish students at many universities show that a lot of them are afraid of being “openly Jewish,” and the major reason is because of threats from Palestinian activists. One “helpful” guide, linked here, refers to Ayaan Hirsi Ali as “an anti-Muslim bigot.” Ms. Hirsi Ali was raised as a Muslim in Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia and Saudi Arabia. She flirted with Islamic extremism as a teenager but rejected Islam after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Whether or not one agrees with her views, she has rejected her own religion for personal reasons, just as many Christians reject their religion (but they are applauded for “thinking for themselves” and “speaking truth to power”).

Indeed, while a few references were made to Islamic terrorists (and I readily concede the point that terrorists come in many varieties), I suspect that the Islamic basis of Islamic terrorism is the proverbial dead elephant in the living room. Would a study of Nazi atrocities make sense if we assumed that each individual case came from isolated family dynamics and local social-cultural factors? The “lone wolf” in Orlando who murdered 49 people had regularly attended a mosque where sermons preaching hatred of gays were frequent—and the murderer’s father had had connections to the Taliban.

So, as a compelling personal story, the article was a good one. As an analysis of terrorism, not so much.

Earl H. Foote ’74

“Blatantly Biased”

Why should anyone subscribe to a university alumni “magazine” with such a liberally biased voice? There is no balance here, no diversity of thought. Just the same insidious liberal academic groupthink that infests our nation’s institutions of higher learning. 

Liam Farrell’s article on Professor Kruglanski is a prime example of this. It lauds Kruglanski’s work and discusses the perils of extremism and then proceeds to cite the Southern Poverty Law Center—an extremist left-wing nonprofit that lists conservative organizations that disagree with it on social issues on a catalogue of “hate groups.”

The article mentions “white supremacist flyers tacked to UMD buildings” but makes no mention of the violent riots against free speech by conservative figures at the University of California, Berkeley, nor does it address the shutdown of free speech at universities across the nation. I imagine that’s on purpose.

So here we have a magazine for Maryland alumni—people who represent a broad spectrum of political thought, which clearly has a blatantly biased voice. Shouldn’t a magazine for Maryland alumni be objective? Isn’t that your job as an editor?

This is another disappointing indicator of the bias that is rotting our university system nationwide and at the University of Maryland.

Jan Tegler ’89

A Lovely Magazine

We just wanted to take a moment to commend you on producing such a lovely magazine. We were full of pride reading the current issue. We especially enjoyed reading: The Hotel, Betting on Organics, Escape Boom, An Historical Inn-vestigation, Laughter With a Side of Facts, The Kids Who Did It, Growing Shade, A New Level of Learning and Teaching, and Changing the Tune in Charm City.

Can’t wait to take our Miss Shirley’s Cafe management team to Escape 45 for an evening of fun in September!

Enjoy the season!

Brandy ’98 and David Dopkin ’99

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