Letters

Cover

Winter 2011

Illustration by Alex Nabaum

I read with interest and anger the story about the Emory alum/Army colonel [Ted Westhusing, “An American Warrior”], and his service in the Iraq war. As a veteran of the Vietnam war, I was not surprised at the chicanery and folly he encountered in Iraq. That he felt his only course of action was to take his own life is profoundly sad. The story of betrayed arete is an old one. You might be interested in reading two books by Jonathan Shay, who was in charge of treating Vietnam vets with chronic PTSD at the Veteran’s Hospital in Boston. Thanks for a passionate and pertinent article.
John R. “Dick” Scott-Welch 78T
McMinnville, Tennessee

I wanted to thank you for the story [“An American Warrior”], as I am a veteran of the first Gulf war. While there are as many different experiences of war as there are people who go to it, I think the article captured well how war fundamentally challenges who we are, sometimes with devastating consequences. The hidden casualty of war is often the self, or an identity, and I don’t think the military or America is set up to deal with this. Anyway, a very nice piece of journalism about a topic that often gets fumbled in the media.
C. Aiden Downey
Director of Undergraduate Studies, Emory Division of Educational Studies

Thank you for your beautiful tribute and lament concerning the life and death of Colonel Ted Westhusing. I recently returned from a yearlong deployment in Afghanistan, where I served as a Marine intelligence officer, so the story hit where it hurts. I witnessed and experienced enough good will and admirable sacrifice on the part of my Marines to guard me from the kind of fatalistic despair that overcame your subject. Or perhaps it was only a duller moral compass that saved me. This is one question, among a litany of others, with which I’ll forever tangle.
Lyle Rubin 05C
Bloomfield, Connecticut

Just read your article on Ted Westhusing. I wanted to say that I found it to be an excellent article, yet painful to read. You really captured the issues and traced the chronology and trajectory of his life and decision to go to Iraq. I felt like I really knew this guy after reading just a few short paragraphs. In short, I think you did a great job of telling his story without raising political issues about his choice or the neglectfulness of the military. I was moved and pained by the story.
Thomas V. Flores
Program Coordinator, Initiative in Religion, Conflict, and Peacebuilding, Emory

Thank you for sharing Ted Westhusing’s story. Although it has been five years since his death, my condolences to his family. It sounds like this world lost a great man way too early in his life.
Donna J. Schmutzler 89N 96MSN
Rogers, Arizona

Although I have met many wonderful and interesting people through my association with the University, I have never read about or met a more honorable alumnus than Ted Westhusing. Thank you for the brilliant and heartwrenching profile. When I was a student, the Secretary of the University Tom Bertrand once told me that the purpose of the university was to find truth. It’s distressing to imagine the truths that Mr. Westhusing must have uncovered to take the steps he did.
Fred Diamond 84C
Vienna, Virginia

As a classmate that knew Ted [Westhusing]from our days at West Point, I can state that he exemplified the traits described in the article his entire adult life and I am sure those traits were present prior to his entrance to West Point. I have shared the article with fellow West Point classmates and others in the Pentagon and we appreciate your recognition of Westhusing. To echo a statement sent to me, “A great follow-up article to the ones I read after his death.”
Johnny Thomas
Temple Hill, Maryland

I just finished reading this article online and it was the most touching thing I have read in quite some time. Having just recently resigned from a prestigious, lucrative position over the same type of ethical issues, I expect it probably touched me more than most.
Charlie Ferguson 71OX 76M
Lagrange

I really enjoyed Frans de Waal’s essay, “Evolving Empathy,” but was surprised by the accompanying illustration [see it at www.emory.edu/magazine]. The notion that modern humans emerged in a straight-line descent from an ape was rejected by anthropologists some time ago. Today’s fossil and DNA records indicate that several different species of humans arose in Africa and, in the process of migrating through the Middle East, Asia, and Europe, gave rise to even more species of humans, some of which coexisted. Evolution is an emotional issue for many people, who struggle to reconcile the evidence with their religious faith. Reinforcing common misconceptions does not help matters.
Sarah Eby-Ebersole
Atlanta

I appreciate the article concerning the Emory Medal I was so fortunate to have received. The article neglected to state that the Emory sweatshirt that I produced out of my bag at the end of the talk had a football logo on the front with the words “Emory University” embossed over it. When I turned the shirt around, “Still Undefeated” was on the back. This is what generated the laughter. I enjoy reading Emory Magazine.
William C. Warren III 53B
Atlanta

I am likely one of few making this observation; however, touting the fact that Emory received $396.5 million (74 percent of all external funding) from the federal government seems incongruous with an issue that focused primarily on ethics and morality. Does no one on the magazine staff recognize the ethical and moral issues involved with seeking and accepting money from a bankrupt government? Regardless of the “worthiness of the cause,” funding provided by government necessarily means debt for future generations . . . debt that they must labor to repay having had no choice in the matter. To me that is both unethical and immoral.
Sandy Poole Vest 90MBA
Teton Springs

Just a quick note to say I liked your article, “The Devil You Know.” I thought it was fair and balanced, to use a silly tagline, but true. It helps us to step back sometimes and think about these things. I’ve been working in the technology field for most of my life, and I’ve had a real love-hate relationship with it for most of that time.
Marv Peck
University Technology Services, Emory

Congratulations on a terrific issue. I applaud the University for its leading role in teaching and promoting ethics and ways to incorporate ethics in a meaningful way into the everyday lives, as well as the work lives, of its students and faculty—and ultimately of society as a whole.

I found it ironic that Emory still runs the Yerkes [National Primate Research Center], which conducts research on animals. I understand that the center has the highest credentials and I assume that the animals are treated humanely, but that begs the issue in my mind. What if (as the movies like to depict) there are “aliens” out there and they were to come here for the purpose of experimenting on us to learn more about us and/or to discover a “cure” for something that ails them. They justify this experimentation by assuming that we are less evolved or less sentient than they. Would we think that is acceptable? Would it help their human captives to know that the aliens are treating them in accordance with the best practices that the aliens have?

Mahatma Gandhi said: “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” So long as we continue to test on animals (among other things), no matter how well we treat them while doing it, I do not think we can be considered great. Many alternatives to animal research (well-known to be flawed in application to humans) are available. Isn’t it time for Emory to reconsider animal research?
Bonnie S. Mandell-Rice
Broomfield, Colorado

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