Virtuous Example?


To The Editors of The Crimson:

The Crimson today (Monday, May 8) displayed a remarkable lack of tact and a general vacuousness of social consciousness in their article "Gordie Gardiner: A Thoroughbred Plies the Charles."

I suppose that adulatory sports profiles do serve some function in cultivating through hero worship our loyalties to our school and social class. This particular one, however, was ridiculousness and offensive in its sycophancy to social values and elites that you in your editorials have so oftencondemned. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that writers for the Harvard Crimson are impressed by Mr. Gardiner's impeccable lineage both in Harvard attenders and in participants to such gentlemanly pursuits as rowing. Nor should I be annoyed by their careful noting that his great uncle financed renovations in the Porcellian Club. And I suppose it is even a defensible hypothesis that Mr. Gardiner's ancestors' ability to gain control over, and so philanthropically dispose of such resources is of relevance to his athletic prowess and moral virtue. I guess I just find it a little disconcerting read of how a man's "Brahmin gentry" birth leads him to "preside over Harvard's sporting aristocracy with the gentlemanly reserve of his forbearers" from the same pages that but a few months ago chimed "Harvard Divest" and "Liberation to the Oppressed". That such admiration for a "tradition of quiet genteel success" and "a full column of Gardiners, all boasting home addresses such as Brookline and Greenwich and assorted American Embassies" was printed by a newspaper which professes to frown upon arbitrary power structures and their manifestations in South Africa and Playboy centerfolds is most surprising.

What Mr. Gardiner does with himself is his own business. The reasons one has for joining a final club such as the Porcellian are best passed over in charitable silence. Why must we be assured of his affection for "people with a certain financial background"? No doubt he will row for Chase Manhattan as hard as he rows for Harvard, but is this really the sort of thing that the Crimson wants to hold up as virtuous example?

The article's last paragraph was--perhaps unintentionally--quite amusing: "Leaning back, hands behind his head, stretching into the plush leather made possible by another generation of Gardiners, he says, "God, I get psyched just thinking about it." It is understandable that Gardiner is "psyched" about his birth and wealth. I am puzzled that Jeffrey Toobin is. I am disturbed that The Crimson is. P. van Buren '79

Recommended Articles