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Racial Insensitivity



To the Editors of the Crimson:

Matthew Rothschild's personal attack on Nathan Berkovitz (April 16) added nothing to the discussion of race at Harvard. Charging "insensitivity to racial injustice" because Berkovitz disagreed on the importance of some issues adds only to the antagonism already built up around this issue.

Berkovitz's points are not without merits. The ethnic studies demands are excessive. It would be a waste of effort and money to make separate study departments for the dozens of U.S. ethnic groups. How could they be limited to the seven he mentions? More importantly, separate departments will help very little if the administration doesn't want to teach these subjects. The Afro-Am Department is a good example, and these new ones would get even less support. A better approach would be to emphasize these groups in existing programs.

The attack on Professor Levine for his 'Jewish studies' certainly widened "the chasm between Blacks and whites" here. Lack of student input, which Rothschild called "the essence of the protest", has nothing to do with racism. Students don't have a major voice in running any part of the University.

Other demands have been excessive, too. A Third World center the size of the Hasty Pudding club, for example, is a lot to ask when the general student body has no center at all.

A number of Third World writers to the Independent (March 13) argued for racial separatism at Harvard. That is certainly their's to choose. One result, though, is a lack of basic communication and understanding of concerns. We see "overstatement" or "insensitivity" because our feelings are mutually misunderstood. If we want to improve sensitivity to racial problems, effective dialogue and constructive ideas must replace criticisms and demands. Mark Saltveit '83

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