Feedback: Readers Weigh In on the US and the AR-15, Activism and BU Faculty, and Alum Author David Grann
The US and the AR-15
KUDOS TO Ms. Molly Callahan for her remarkable story based on the research of Cari Babitzke (GRS’22,’22) (“How the AR-15 Divided a Nation,” Summer 2023). She took one of the most contentious and perplexing subjects of our time and made it comprehensible. That was no mean feat, and it is a tribute to her gifted talent as a writer. A special note of thanks to Professor Babitzke for her integrity, courage, and, quite simply, her guts in researching this deeply troubling schism regarding the AR-15, which has, as the title so perfectly denoted, “divided a nation.”
Patricia Lutwack Bloom (CAS’65)
I READ THE article “How the AR-15 Divided a Nation” and felt compelled to respond. The AR-15 didn’t divide a nation. Power and arrogance did. If one wanted to change the legal standing of gun ownership in America, you must amend the Second Amendment to the Constitution. The founders provided a method in Article V of the Constitution to do just that, foreseeing a need to adapt and change in the future. Through this process, the Second Amendment would either be changed according to the Constitution or it would not, based on the will of the people through their elected representatives at the state level. And the “will of the people” is a basic principle of American politics, or it used to be.
To the best of my knowledge, this has never been proposed. Instead, efforts to circumvent the Constitution were tried to force a change and bypass the Article V process. I believe this was done out of the arrogant and elitist assumption that “We know what’s best and you should just accept that and comply.” This attempt to make what is essentially a dictated change to the Constitution without the involvement of the people is the problem. Those proposing a mandated change seek the power to overrule the Constitution in favor of, if not a popular opinion, at least a loud one. I see this effort as an attack on the Constitution and, through that, our system of government.
The Constitution is an owner’s manual that tells us how our government is supposed to work and, when most of us think it doesn’t, how to fix that. When a group of people decide their “idea” is so great and their judgment so superior that it allows them to ignore the law, that is the first step toward anarchy, much like we see today.
Put it to the Article V process, let the states decide, and amend—or not—the Constitution.
I say it has nothing to do with theAR-15 because it’s actually an effort to minimize the impact of the Constitution on the conduct of government in order to allow more mandates that do not include the “will of the people.”
The division is between those who support the Constitution as the foundation of our Republic and those who do not. If it wasn’t the AR-15, it would be free speech or the right to assemble or something else to be changed based on decree. Firearms are just a convenient means to an end.
Roger Perkins (CAS’87)
Activism and BU Faculty
THANK YOU for the article in the summer issue highlighting the activism and community-engaged scholarship that several BU professors are engaged in (“Beyond the Classroom,” Summer 2023). As a professor myself at a research-intensive university, I know how this kind of work is often undervalued and not rewarded in the tenure and promotion processes, so it’s nice to see it featured in Bostonia.
I hope it is also valued by the administration for the important contributions it makes to both the University and the broader community.
Audrey Lucero (CAS’96, COM’96)
Associate Professor, Education Studies Director, Latinx Studies
University of Oregon
Praise for Alum Author David Grann
YOUR INTERVIEW with David Grann (GRS’94) and info on the release of the movie Killers of the Flower Moon (“Master Thriller,” Summer 2023) brought me back to the feelings of shock and horror I had several years ago when I read the book. I am a native of Oklahoma and I do not recall either the Osage murders or the Tulsa race riot of 1921 being taught in my history classes in high school or at the University of Oklahoma.
Until now, the only Hollywood depiction of the injustices against the Osage is a brief scene in the 1950s movie The FBI Story, starring Jimmy Stewart. So, thank you, David Grann.
Joe D. Marlow (Wheelock’78)
Disruptions at Commencement 2023
As a double BU graduate (CAS’70, Questrom’72) and one who has been involved with the protests of the ’60s, I must express my support for Dr. Brown’s comments on the subject of disrupting David Zaslav’s keynote Commencement address. In no particular order of importance (although all these points are), I was saddened that President Brown’s last official Commencement had to suffer through the boos and chants of graduating students.
Second, does any reasonable person actually believe that David Zaslav doesn’t want a resolution that all sides can live with? He does “represent” the employer side by definition, but he is wise enough to know that his industry must have a steady stream of valued writers, accomplished and up-and-coming, and he knows that an equitable solution must be found, as it usually always is in any employer-employee dispute. The changing impact of technology on writers’ compensation is at a point where new approaches are necessary, and I suspect both sides know this.
Third, and most distressing, was the fact that an institution of such high academic standing and dedication to open and free speech should have graduates who were unwilling to hear a fellow alumnus speak his mind. The settling of the writers’ strike will be best served by two-sided discussion with offerings from both sides. Did the disruptive students at Commencement actually feel their rantings were going to encourage a result or even influence a move toward settlement? If they did, they did not achieve it other than to disregard the basic premise of an academic education: open discussion of both sides of the issue.
One thing I know from experience, organized protest with reasonable alternatives is necessary at many times. But noisy chanting disallowing the “other side” to speak openly and offering no solutions, simply, is not. I hope that those who were against Zaslav speaking will remember that in the future protesting is only valuable when solutions are presented and offered for negotiation.
Matthew Smith (CAS’70, Questrom’72)
More on Ibram X. Kendi
OMG! Can it possibly be true that the “powers that be” have finally awakened from their slumber to the reality of the Kendi charade? A University “inquiry” is now being conducted into allegations of mismanagement at the Center for Antiracist Research. What a monumental embarrassment for Boston University. Where was the University’s oversight during the past three years? Snoozing?
In a recent New York Times article (9/23/2023), BU’s interim president, Kenneth Freeman, was quoted as saying, “We continue to have confidence in Dr. Kendi’s vision and we support it.” Really? Kendi’s “antiracist” mantra is, in actuality, anything but. Kendi’s “vision” is designed not to unite but to divide. Recall Kendi’s solution to combating racism: “The only remedy to racist discrimination is antiracist discrimination. The only remedy to past discrimination is present discrimination The only remed to present discrimination is future discrimination.” Wonderful. Even more racial discrimination. Is this what you continue to have confidence in supporting, Mr. Freeman? Hmmm?
BU must continue its full “inquiry” into the workings of the Antiracist Research Center, and must then make its findings known. Kendi and his center was an unfortunate exercise that, most likely, would never have survived any level of scrutiny under President John Silber (Hon.’95). As for finding a solution to racism, Kendi and his divisive narrative is definitely not the answer.
How do we move forward? Perhaps one way might be to get back to the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (GRS’55, Hon.’59), a true BU icon. His belief that the content of one’s character is more important than the color of one’s skin is as true today as it was then. He perceptively realized that, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that; hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.” How about starting a movement that teaches a person how to treat his/her “neighbor” the way they themselves would wish to be treated? Sounds like a pretty good place to start doesn’t it? We could surely do a whole lot worse.
Anthony M. Santoro (DGE’69, CAS’71)
Letters are edited for clarity, style, and length. Please include your full name and address.