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Santa Clara Magazine - Spring 2006
Spring 2006 issue



Web Exclusive: A better way to spend $2 trillion

That was an interesting letter from Jeremy McCarthy in your Spring issue. (“Is SCU anti-social justice?”). Maybe Mr. McCarthy is on to something with his…thought—how can we “free millions of others around the world” from their own unique Saddams? Let’s just go in and take over a few more countries; Mr. McCarthy seems to think that has worked pretty well in Iraq. Oh, wait a minute...the rest of the world won’t let us just do that (some misplaced concerns over things like justice and sovereignty). We’ll have to come up with an excuse. Too bad we already used up the Weapons of Mass Destruction one—that really worked well. Oh, one more problem...since it’s estimated that the Iraq war will ultimately cost us $2 trillion, not to mention 16,000 dead or wounded soldiers so far, we might have a problem actually pulling off another “Freedom War.”

Here’s my humble suggestion. Let’s work to free the oppressed through just and peaceful means, and have the courage to stick with that rather than taking the convenient and disingenuous way out—brute force violence. Most importantly, the next time our country wants to do something good for the world and spend $2 trillion in the process, let’s spare thousands of American families the grief of a dead or maimed young soldiers and decide instead to wipe out AIDS, hunger, and homelessness (Am I up to $2 trillion worth yet?)

Tom Brysacz ’80
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What about lynching in San Jose?

I was very impressed and moved by your article (“Justice Delayed,” Spring 2006), but I wonder if we should look a little closer to home in studying racial injustice. As a Santa Clara undergraduate, I remember viewing a picture taken around, I think, 1936, showing a number of students, or at least students wearing USC (it was the University of Santa Clara back then) shirts, in the forefront of a mob, who took a prisoner from the San Jose jail and lynched him. Am I in error, or did this indeed happen? In reading about Emmett Till, I was reminded that not all racial injustice happened in the South. I wonder what the reaction of the University student body, faculty, and administration was at the time of the San Jose lynching.

Thomas Dakan ’59
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Response from Margaret Russell:

The letter raises an important point: Although most anti-black lynchings occurred in the Southern and border states, there were lynchings of blacks in all parts of the country, including California. The incident mentioned in the letter, however, involved the 1933 lynching of two white men, Thomas Thurmond and John Holmes, for the kidnap and murder of a white Santa Clara graduate, Brooke Hart. Photographs of the mob (estimated at 10,000) are startling and tragic; my research to date has not located any Santa Clara presence in the crowd. At the time, the events resulted in much publicity and even a popular movie—Fritz Lang’s “Fury” (1936), starring Spencer Tracy. Another film based on the San Jose lynching is currently in production and is expected to be released this year.

Of course, no matter what races are involved, lynchings are the antithesis of justice. The letter’s principal point is worth reiterating: Racial violence is hardly a Southern phenomenon. It is pervasive and as close as our backyard.


Web Exclusive: No apology for this war

I have to admit to being somewhat shocked at the opening letter to the editor in the Spring issue of Santa Clara Magazine (“Is SCU anti-social justice?”). Jeremy McCarthy writes in indignation over anti-war articles, decrying “obsessive hatred for Bush and the war.” What was especially shocking, given the apparent lack of irony, was that according to Mr. McCarthy, “[the University] never addresses a murderous regime that killed hundreds of thousands of innocent people and tortured countless more.” Which regime are we talking about? Because from my reading of the news from here and abroad, it seems that we ourselves have become that regime.

For the more than 3,000 servicemen and women who have died in this ignominy, at least 30,000 Iraqis have died, in the words of the President himself, nameless and faceless to us. And we have taken over the running of Abu Ghraib prison only to outdo Saddam Hussein, by not only torturing prisoners but also dragging the Muslim religion through the mud in the process. All of these atrocities are being carried out in our collective name, we all have blood on our hands from every wedding party “accidentally” sprayed with bullets, from every woman or child made “collateral damage,” and from precipitating a civil war that will prove to be a hecatomb. The further enormity is that we do not have the excuse of ignorance as we did during the countless dirty wars waged by us during the Cold War.

In the cold light of day, there is simply no apology for this as a just war, under any ideology or religion.

Nicole Rabaud ’93
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Delayed justice is better that no justice

The article “Justice Delayed: Reopening the Emmett Till Case” is the most moving, powerful article I’ve read in more than 20 years of reading the Santa Clara Magazine. Reading that the 50-year-old murder case has been reopened made my day; justice delayed is better than no justice at all. I also applaud your inclusion of the grisly photo of the 14-year-old’s beaten, disfigured face at his open-casket funeral. For readers who object to you using the photo, simply point out its significance, as you suggest in your editorial: “Rosa Parks reportedly said that she saw Till’s disfigured face in her mind’s eye in the second she decided not to give up her seat on the bus.” We need occasional reminders of such atrocities, if only to help prevent them from happening again.

At lunch recently, several SCU faculty friends said that they felt that it was time for the eight white crosses in front of the Mission Church to be removed. But I for one am proud that our University continues to honor the six Jesuits and their housekeepers who were martyred in El Salvador not so long ago. Such simple yet dignified memorials are important in our information-overloaded society. I’ll never forget more than 40 years ago visiting the Dachau concentration camp, where everyone, Germans and foreigners alike, were whispering out of respect for the dead and their suffering.

Thank you, Professor Margaret Russell and Santa Clara Magazine.

Peter Ross, Senior Lecturer SCU Department of Mathematics and Computer Science


Web Exclusive: Was justice served?

After reading Gerald Uelman’s comments on the O.J. Simpson trial (Winter 2005), I cannot understand why no one credits the Los Angeles County District Attorney.

Realizing a massive riot would result with a conviction, the prosecution did not oppose a change of venue motion by the defense. The jury was selected from downtown LA, not the suburban scene of the murders.

Everyone, including the jurors, knows “O.J. did it.” However, guilt is a matter for a jury to determine. Consider the thousands of white Southern juries violating black rights for centuries. With the destruction of Los Angeles in the balance, was justice served?

Thomas Lietz J.D. ’84


Two regrettable miscarriages of American justice

Having considered Robert Anderson’s letter (“Is winning all that matters?” Spring 2006) just minutes before reading Margaret Russell’s excellent essay on the Emmett Till case, I couldn’t help but feel saddened about American race relations, be it 1956, 1996, or 2006. Statistically, blacks have been given some of the opportunities to which they’ve long been entitled. But, in white America’s heart and soul, we have failed. Miserably. You can’t legislate morality, but you can otherwise try to improve it. We have tried and failed. Perhaps some people see O.J. Simpson’s verdict as an oblique form of vindication for more than 200 years of racial injustice. Maybe that’s how some people define justice. Nonsense. Who can sincerely claim the Till verdict and the Simpson verdict are not both horribly regrettable miscarriages of American justice? Nobody. Of all Anderson and Russell wrote, the line I’ll remember, and embrace, most is Anderson’s failure to understand how Gerald Uelman can sleep at night. Thinking of the Brown and Goldman families, the mountain of guilt evidence, and the Dream Team’s artful obfuscation, I can’t understand that either.

Danny Herns J.D. ’83
San Jose

Gerald Uelmen responds: I would like to assure Mr. Herns that the O.J. verdict has never disturbed my sleep, although I do occasionally have a sleepless night at the thought of graduates of Santa Clara’s law school going out into the practice of law without a basic understanding of the fundamental ethical obligations a criminal defense lawyer owes to a client. Any lawyer who rations the vigor of his advocacy on behalf of a client based upon his personal judgment of the client’s guilt or innocence is depriving his client of the right to assistance of counsel guaranteed by our Constitution. Criminal defense lawyers do not owe obligations to the public to see that justice is done: They simply owe an obligation to their client to provide competent and vigorous representation to the full limits that the law allows. Justice will be done when both sides are represented by vigorous advocates, to ensure that the case is decided only after all the strengths and weaknesses of both sides of the case have been fully exposed. There were plenty of weaknesses to be exposed in the case of People v. O.J. Simpson, and regardless of one’s personal opinion of his guilt or innocence, the question the jury had to decide was simply whether the prosecution had proven its case beyond a reasonable doubt.




Web Exclusive: A J.O.Y.ful marriage

I was very interested to read Mr. Robert Brancatelli’s article on his class “The Theology of Marriage” (After Words, Spring 2006). As a Natural Family Planning teacher, my main goal is to help people have happy marriages and avoid divorce. I can’t think of a more important course to be teaching at Santa Clara. Bravo! One addition I would suggest adding to the list of books for the course would be Christopher West’s work on Pope John Paul II’s “Theology of the Body.” My husband and I have a close friend who said the following words at his son’s wedding, “Here is how to find J.O.Y. in marriage. 'J' stands for Jesus. Make Him the number one priority in your marriage. 'O' stands for the other, who is your spouse. Make him or her your number two priority. 'Y' stands for yourself, who should be your number three priority. Do this and you will find much JOY in your married life.” Through 29 years of marriage and 7 children, my husband and I have never forgotten these wise words.

Joan Triplett Noyes ’73
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We had to help the Middle East

Although William Stover offers several scenarios, including one of success, he concludes that the war has caused only “continued chaos” (After Words, Winter 2005). I am disappointed by Stover’s lack of impartiality in his article, giving no recognition to the fact that, in deposing Saddam Hussein, we stopped a reign of terror, murder, and mayhem imposed by the Baathists on the Iraqi people for well over a quarter century and that Iraq has progressed in spite of the Sunni Triangle. As an aside, this same regime was also responsible for summarily removing the Jesuits who educated many Iraqis (including some of the recently elected leaders) for many years at Baghdad College.

Stover suggests that the United States should have avoided armed involvement in the Middle East. We would all be pretty naive to think that we could leave the Middle East to itself and move on with our own lives. By doing nothing, the potential for nuclear annihilation and global calamity would grow ever stronger. Under any scenario, the United States would find itself involved—if not for moral reasons then for financial reasons (as alluded to by Stover).

Robert Gorini ’71
Special Agent and Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction Baghdad, Iraq
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Web Exclusive: The past is past

As I read Margaret Russell’s “Justice Delayed: Reopening the Emmett Till Case” (Spring 2006), I wondered why someone as successful and obviously as intelligent and articulate as she, has such a negative view of America. Her conclusion that “Racial violence continues to proliferate in our society” is not supported. That she had to go back 50 years to find a case horrible enough to write about shows that our country has come a long way in moving away from racial intolerance and violence. That the FBI reopened the case for an 18-month investigation in 2005 is further evidence that our government institutions want justice to be served since the trial failed to convict Till’s murderers.

Black people in America today enjoy a higher standard of living than Blacks in any other nation, and they hold many prominent positions in government, education, entertainment, sports, etc. “The transcendent value of looking back” (her words) is in how much progress has been made in justice and fairness in civil rights in our society. And the past is past.

Cynthia Riordan ’76
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Web Exclusive: The ugly faces of racism and injustice

As an editor myself, I applaud Margaret Avritt not only for running the outstanding article by Margaret M. Russell but also for publishing then photo of Emmett Till in his open casket. Grisly and gruesome as his face appeared, we only need to remind ourselves that the faces of racism, discrimination, murder, and injustice are uglier. They are hideous, disfigured masks, hiding the fears of ignorant oppressors.

Emmett Till’s death was not the worst, the first, or the last due to a horrible injustice, but it may have been the most enlightening. His mother’s courage, his murderers’ braggadocio, his casket photographs, and many other details make for a compelling story. They also leave a lasting impression that his innocence triumphs even in death.

Rich Bertolucci ’81
Los Angeles