Volume 29 · Number 2 · Winter 2012
A photo in the letters section of our fall 2011 issue was incorrectly identified as the late Professor Marion Miller. She is pictured above. We apologize for any distress caused by the photo mix-up.
I am writing to express my deep shame and outrage at the way UC Davis police dispassionately sprayed pepper spray directly into the eyes of students who were seated on the ground in an act of peaceful civil protest. The students were simply drawing attention to the deep problems that the university faces and has failed to address adequately so far — foremost among them the large gap between compensation of UC administrators and faculty and the unbridled cost of a UC education.
I once was a proud alumnus. What I saw UC Davis police do to unarmed, peaceful students in November makes me ashamed to be associated with the university.
Andrew Neuman '86
Future of athletics
The sports cutting fiasco of 2010 was blamed on state budget cuts, even though Intercollegiate Athletics receives no state funding to begin with. In 2011, with the release of the "Athletics Strategic Audit," the very nature of athletics seems to be up for grabs. "Should we go big time?" the chancellor is wondering. I'm wondering a few things myself. Wouldn't that mean abandoning the core principles and "The Davis Way" altogether? Wouldn't that ensure the program's ultimate contraction from a broad, inclusive and successful 27 sports, right past the present 23 and down to the bare minimum of 16 or 14 (with fully a third of the remaining student-athletes involved only in football)? Wouldn't that require fiscally irresponsible and unsustainable investments in the few that are left? Wouldn't we all end up learning the hard way what the NCAA already knows — that there is no correlation between spending and winning? The competition just spends more too.
Rather than enter a no-win football/basketball arms race, why not showcase "The Davis Way" as an example of how to do Division I athletics right and stake out a leadership position on the high ground next to Stanford and the Ivy League schools?
Paul Medved '78
Rainy day rides
I enjoy every issue of UC Davis Magazine and typically read it from cover to cover (except maybe for the sports articles). My favorite recurring article is "Parents" by Robin DeRieux, which provides lots of smiles to this three-time college parent.
I was delighted to read Kimberly Law's evocative "Rainy Day Ride" in the fall 2011 issue. I rode Unitrans double-decker buses around Davis for three years, mostly in the winter when riding my bike was not so pleasant. Law's vivid description of the bus moving through the rain, with cars down below and branches brushing the bus up above like "an urban safari" was perfect! I had forgotten about the conductors collecting our stops in advance. She brought back wonderful memories.
Anna DeVore, M.A. '72
Fixing our broken state
Your article "Fixing Our Broken State," (fall 2011) was . . . superficial and biased. Your experts complain about cuts, blame Proposition 13 and suggest it should be easier to raise taxes. It makes one wonder if there is any science in political science.
Michael Hilber '82
I was expecting to read some progressive ideas on how to get this state back on track. However, I was sad to read the same old liberal message of blaming the initiative process because it is too hard to raise taxes.
The most disappointing conclusion is: We should feel guilty, because "we have built our economic foundation on the backs of . . . Chinese, Japanese and Mexican workers." This statement is disrespectful of our European immigrant ancestors who worked just as hard for the good of this nation. . . .
I suggest that UC Davis economics professors do a study on why businesses leave California, and make some reality-based recommendations for revising current regulations to bring those companies back. California's sad state of affairs is all based on laws created by our Legislature. It amazes me how common sense has left our university and state government. The only question is how bad it has to get before the voter decides it is time for change.
Jim Coe '67
The military goes to college
Maybe others are more sanguine about the source of funds for research at UC Davis. I am not. Fascism is the perfect marriage of the military and the corporate. Looks like we qualify.
Scott McLean, Cred. '83
lecturer, Department of Comparative Literature
From the editor
A number of readers responded to an exchange in the letters section in our last issue that addressed research on the genocide of up to 1.2 million Armenian inhabitants of the Ottoman Empire at the time of World War I.
In the fall 2011 exchange, Gunay (Ovunc) Evinch '86, past president of the Assembly of Turkish American Associations (ATAA), challenged the conclusions of UC Davis Professor Keith David Watenpaugh that the Armenian genocide fostered the modern humanitarian movement. Watenpaugh, a historian of the modern Middle East who teaches in the Religious Studies Program and directs the UC Davis Human Rights Initiative, defended his research and said: "the Assembly of Turkish American Associations has been at forefront of a government-sponsored effort in the United States to deny that what happened to the Armenians was genocide."
That prompted Evinch to accuse Watenpaugh of libeling him, and ATAA President Ergun Kirlikovali to claim that Watenpaugh had defamed the group and its officers — allegations that Watenpaugh denied. At the same time, other readers objected to Evinch's account of history (see letters excerpted below).
Evinch and Kirlikovali in separate letters said that neither the ATAA nor the Turkish government was behind Evinch's fall 2011 comments. "I wrote my letter in my personal capacity as a UC Davis graduate and based on my research from 1991–93 as a U.S. Fulbright Scholar in International Law and Sasakawa Peace Foundation Scholar in International Relations," Evinch said.
"Let there be no mistake," Kirlikovali wrote, "in no way is the ATAA a division or agent of the government of the Republic of Turkey."
Watenpaugh said: "These individuals misconstrued my statement as suggesting that the ATAA is part of the Turkish government, or is financially supported by the Turkish government. I make no representations one way or the other in this regard. To be clear, what I meant is that the ATAA is at the forefront of the effort to deny in the United States that what happened to the Armenians as the result of Ottoman government policies was genocide, which parallels the actions of the Turkish government in our country to do the same."
He said the defamation allegations were "unfounded and intended to have a chilling effect on academic inquiry and discourse about this important historical episode."
Similar claims were made in a lawsuit by the Turkish Coalition of America against University of Minnesota faculty members who had listed the group's "contra-genocide" website as an "unreliable" source for genocide studies. A federal court dismissed the suit last spring on academic freedom grounds, though the coalition is appealing.
Blaming the victims
Gunay Evinch's letter regarding the Armenian genocide was not only fraught with falsehood, but was also offensive. What I gathered from his letter was that the Armenians got what was coming to them, not only because they were the prominent minority of Ottoman Turkey at the time, but also because they were Christian. To use words like "partial justification for the May 1915 security relocation of Armenians from the eastern Anatolian war zones" is an absolute joke. Objective (i.e. non-Turkish and non-Armenian) historians have time and time again proven that there was a state-sponsored effort to rid Ottoman Turkey of the Armenian minority, by murdering all able-bodied men, then sending the women, children and elderly on death marches through the deserts of Syria. To characterize this as Armenians revolting and Turks protecting their land is absolute nonsense. . . .
Imagine what the reaction of the world would be if we all stood back and said the Jews were not the victims of the Holocaust during World War II, but in fact the Germans were the ones who suffered dearly in the hands of the Jews and the rest of the world! Or to say that somehow, by their actions or inactions, the Jews got what was coming to them.
Shant Garabedian '92
Gunay (Ovunc) Evinch's letter oddly raised the Jewish experience during the 100-year decline and World War I fall of the Ottoman Empire. Contrary to his suggestion that Jews suffered on par with others within the Ottoman Empire, they were a relatively small population concentrated in a few long-established communities and, although second-class citizens, were neither significant participants nor significant victims in the Turkish-Armenian conflict leading to the Armenian genocide. . . .
It was the much larger Ashkenazi Jewish population in Central and Eastern Europe who suffered far greater displacement, disease, starvation and deprivation for 30 years prior to and during World War I — at the hands of conscripting and massacring Russian czars and Austrian-Hungarian dukes, among other Europeans. Following World War I those Ashkenazi Jews faced displacement and statelessness in numbers closer to those Armenians who survived the genocide (albeit without displaced persons camps).
But the nations of the world did not practice any humanitarianism they may have preached as the result of the Armenian genocide. Not until after World War II — with tens of millions of displaced persons, and thousands of displaced persons camps spread over an area the size of Europe — did the world for the first time recognize and react to a humanitarian crisis so huge it could not be ignored or resolved by mere lip service to humanitarianism.
Michael Libraty, J.D. '92