I would like to respond to Rahmat Muhammad’s letter entitled, “In Search of Meaning: Beyond the Veritas Forum.” Ms. Muhammad correctly states that the Veritas Forum on Science, Faith, and Technology sought to address whether religious belief, specifically a belief in Jesus Christ and Christianity, can exist in intellectual harmony with scientific pursuit. I am writing this letter because Ms. Muhammad affirms that resolving “the need for a meaningful life and a career in science” is an important issue. In addition, she welcomes critiques of her definition of “meaning,” which I will attempt to offer.
The March 6 article "CME Being Funded Another Year" mistakenly stated that applications for the Cambridge-MIT Exchange "are due in the next few weeks." Actually, the deadline has already passed and the evalution process has been started, although interested students can still contact their departments or the Study Abroad Office to submit an application, according to Malgorzata Hedderick, assistant dean for the Study Abroad Office.
Raffaela L. Wakeman's letter to <i>The Tech</i> ("Responses to Controversial Forum are Misleading") is, itself, misleading. Her letter was the latest in the ongoing debate over the event "Foreign Policy and Social Justice: A Jewish View, A Muslim View," at which an anti-Semitic Imam and an anti-Israel Rabbi were chosen to give the Muslim and Jewish views. Many people on campus feel that it was inappropriate to give that title to the event, as neither speaker has the support of the community he was held out as representing. Some also take issue with MIT-funded groups like the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences providing funding to an event for anti-Semitic and anti-Israel speakers. Others, including Ms. Wakeman, the VP of the Forum on American Progress (which co-sponsored the event), support it. She made six points to which I feel the need to respond.
Last week, MIT hosted the Veritas Forum on Science, Faith, and Technology, purportedly to address whether religious belief can be effectively reconciled with scientific pursuit. Veritas began with a Harvard group on a "quest for a life with hope, meaning, and purpose." The event's speakers (and its parent Web site) argued that the individual can and should believe in Christ, and did their best to convince non-religious but "meaning-seeking" members of the scientific community (and to reassure the religious) that belief in Jesus Christ and Christianity can satisfy both the need for a meaningful life and a career in science.
Ali S. Wyne’s Feb. 27 opinion article, “Defending Free Speech at MIT,” misses the point made by numerous students and alumni who protested the event “Foreign Policy and Social Justice: A Jewish View, A Muslim View.” Mr. Wyne states that “we cannot claim to support free speech if we only invite individuals whose views fall within an acceptable continuum.” While it is true that Dovid Weiss’ views fall far outside the views of any member of the MIT Jewish community — and indeed more than 99 percent of the world’s Jewish population—that is not the reason for opposition to Weiss speaking at the event. The MIT Jewish community so greatly opposed Weiss because he was brought under the guise of presenting a Jewish view, not the skewed, radical view he presented that is condemned by nearly every sect of Judaism worldwide.
My name is Noel (Noah) Elman, I am a post-doctoral associate at MIT. My wife and I recently moved from Israel to do research at this famous institution about 7 months ago. I am compelled to write this letter as I see it as my moral obligation to convey my deepest ever possible disappointment at MIT after the Forum titled “Foreign Policy and Social Justice: A Jewish View, a Muslim View” was held in this prestigious institution.
Who should be allowed to lecture in public forums? Rabbi Dovid Weiss and Imam Muhammad al-Asi spoke last Thursday at "Foreign Policy and Social Justice: A Jewish View, A Muslim View." Given that their opinions are so contentious, should the event's sponsors have hesitated before inviting them?
The organizers of the recent event entitled “Foreign Policy and Social Justice: a Jewish View, a Muslim View” abused their academic right to free speech to spread horrible lies, hurting the MIT community and staining the good name of the Institute. As Jewish alumni, we are disgusted that Dovid Weiss was invited to present a “Jewish” view, despite the fact he is rejected across the Jewish spectrum for his unethical politics and his disgraceful warping of the history of the Holocaust.
Upon finding a group of hackers in the MIT Faculty Club after hours last October, the campus police reacted by filing charges of felony breaking and entering against the students. In the subsequent four months, MIT's administration has remained callously uninvolved in the situation. Not only is the police's Draconian reaction to a minor infringement by members of our own community wholly unjustified, but the administration's lack of response to the charges is deplorable.
Prof. James Sherley's hunger strike and charges of racism against MIT have catalyzed a welcome public dialogue on race relations. We must be careful, however, to ensure balance as we take advantage of this opportunity to improve community standards and understanding: in addition to examining the extent and effect of racism, both within and beyond minority populations, we must also be willing to discuss the problematic role of race-baiting and hyperbole within the public realm.
The Brass Rat is a time honored tradition of MIT and a source of much pride for each MIT student that flaunts it on his or her finger. The ring design itself is evidently the most obvious element of this tradition, as it graces the ring finger of many MIT students and alumni for years, but the tradition extends far beyond these ever-evolving and unique designs premiered each year by the successive MIT classes. One equally important element of the tradition is the appointment of a committee of students, the Ring Committee, to design this ring; another, the Ring Premiere, where the class will for the first time see the design of the newest Brass Rat.
The Feb. 16 editorial authored by members of The Tech’s editorial board mistakenly referred to Prof. James L. Sherley as Mr. Sherley while referring to Prof. Douglas A. Lauffenburger as Prof. Lauffenburger. Unfortunately, this may have given the impression that the editorial was biased against Sherley. This inconsistency was not intentional and resulted largely from Lauffenburger being referred to as “Prof. Lauffenburger” in a quote within the editorial. It is not Tech style to use Mr., Mrs., or Ms. as a title. Future editorials will adhere to Tech style.
The power of eminent domain permits government to seize your house, land or business for “public use,” the term used in the constitutional clause which limits this authority. Local governments are increasingly abusing this prerogative, transferring seized land to other private parties rather than putting it to a truly public use like roads and other infrastructure. The recipients are usually corporations represented by powerful lobbies. In 2005, the Supreme Court ruled in Kelo v. New London that a confiscatory transfer to another private party is a legitimate “public use” if the resulting economic activity under the new owners benefits the community. However, <i>every</i> piece of land would generate more employment, more goods and more tax revenue for the confiscators as a commercial establishment than as a private residence. <i>Every</i> home in America is now vulnerable to seizure under eminent domain under this expansive new interpretation of “public use,” not just those along roads which need to be widened.
I read your editorial concerning the apparent lack of evidence for Prof. Sherley’s claims of racism. While your argument seems logical and deliberate, your conclusions are obvious and you have added no value to the debate. Despite my own inquiry into the case, I remain ignorant of the deep facts. As my colleague remarked, “When are they going to tell us what really happened?” Of course there is a lack of evidence, and of course the burden of proof falls upon the accuser. These two points are not in question, as you have clarified in print.