Fall 2012

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Rahm’s World

I found the comprehensive cover article on Rahm Emanuel [“In Your Face,” summer 2012] quite enlightening. I marveled at how much I have in common with the mayor. Both native sons of Illinois — check. Both grandsons of immigrant Jewish forebears — yup. Early introduction to participatory Democratic politics — I’ll see Rahm on that one, too, and raise him some: I canvassed for Adlai Stevenson (L26) in ’52, arguably a far more challenging task in Republican Whiteside County, Ill., than was supporting Abner Mikva (H91) in Chicagoland a generation later. Both proud alums of Northwestern — for sure. In-the-marrow connection to the Holocaust — got that one too: When folks asked my mother if she had lost any family members to the Nazis, her answer was always “Yes — 6 million of them.”
So I can identify with Emanuel’s background on many levels. And because of that I found ultimately chilling the juxtaposition of two major themes that seem to drive him — Judaism and hubris. As I read his quote that ended the article, “The world wants … decisive action [and] that comes with single-party dominance,” I came away wondering if Emanuel has ever stopped to ponder whether for him those themes are oxymoronic or complementary. Based on that quote, and his professed fealty to our shared ethnicity, he would choose the latter. Based on my recall of what can eventuate when major parts of the world get “single-party dominance,” I can think of nothing more inimical to all civilized peoples — Jewish and non-Jewish — than such a political system.
Maybe hizzoner needs a refresher course in history.
Steven Cobb (WCAS65)
Scottsdale, Ariz.

Rahm EmanuelI am most disappointed with the Rahm Emanuel cover story for the following reasons:
• The entire coverage is nothing but a hagiography and is not in keeping with sound journalistic principles of objectivity. The references to him as “Rahm” are not only inappropriate but demeaning to the office.
• Why would you report on Chicago politics, just because a Northwestern graduate is the mayor? Would you do the same for other cities based on graduates’ successes? Evanston’s issues are not those of Chicago, regardless of its proximity.
• Why report on one’s first year in a position? Wait until a graduate has really accomplished something of note. Again, would you do this for other graduates’ first year on the job?
• The photographer could have at least told him that his tie is 2 inches too long.
All in all, very poor decisions from a journalism and alumni perspective. I would have expected more.
Bob Basofin (GSESP68)
Palatine, Ill.

The laudatory feature on Rahm Emanuel by Cate Plys has been offset by some inconvenient truths surrounding his new tenure as mayor. Ms. Plys’ generous suggestion of his being “on track to Chicago landmark status” begs the question — what kind of status are we talking about? Al Capone’s?
In light of Chicago’s 40 percent surge in homicides, ironically Emanuel invited hate-speech maverick Louis Farrakhan to help him reduce crime — a man who called for Malcolm X’s death, regularly derides both Jewish and white people (calling them “devils”), and whose views on same-sex marriage make [Chik-fil-A CEO] Dan Cathy’s look tame by comparison. Yet Rahm has disinvited Chik-fil-A from opening business in Chicago (although the only branch created 97 jobs in the past year and Chitown has 9.8 percent unemployment) because it doesn't “reflect Chicago values.”
Now surely the mayor realizes that by virtue of statistics, some in Chicago support traditional marriage, but he thumbs his nose at those constituents. It’s only free speech when you share Rahm’s values, I guess. Note his ironic silence when President Obama was against same-sex marriage.
In addition, Emanuel’s tepid admonishment for Chicago’s thugs not to get near its children is embarrassingly weak, amidst a crime orgy. It will be interesting to see how he prevents this crisis from going to waste.
It's embarrassing to see this hypocritical thug on the cover of my alma mater’s magazine. Looks like the only points he’s putting on the board are the number of Chicago homicides.
Beau Davidson (BSM03)

The cover story on Rahm Emanuel was riveting. Cate Plys held me in her thrall with her highly informative profile of Chicago’s complex mayor.
With the insight given in the article, I’d say Emanuel clearly is in the genius range, and, more important, he obviously scores still higher in any measure of his depth of humanity. Plys, without ever resorting to schmaltz, gave us an understanding of Emanuel’s appreciation for his parents’ and grandparents’ sacrifices that made it possible for him to achieve so much in his life. That, I think, was the strongest point in the piece. We see that for all his sometimes abrasive, brusque style, Emanuel is a mensch. In the end, of course, he will be judged by his record as mayor.
David Nixon (L64)
Overland Park, Kan.

Deering Doors

Deering DoorsAs a Northwestern alum and a college professor who still lives in the area, I have over the years made frequent use of Northwestern’s wonderful library resources. Many times, on my way to the reading rooms, I’ve paused and noted with regret the almost total absence of students in the Deering lobby. It is truly a magnificent space, perhaps the most dramatic and architecturally notable space on the campus, and there it is, locked up and tucked away from view. It almost screams at students: “KEEP OUT.”
So I was delighted to read of the plans to renovate and reopen the front entrance of Deering [“The Doors to Knowledge,” Our World, summer 2012]. It’s the right thing to do. One small request for the renovators: Do not remove the beautifully crafted and decorated antique telephone booths!
I also have high hopes for the plans to redevelop the southeast lakefront portion of the campus [“A New Look on the Lakefront,” Our World, page 7]. My other years–long beef has been with the depressing and decaying two-level parking facility near the sailing center. What a waste of glorious space! There, in the distance, the Chicago skyline rises majestically before — what? A line of mute and sightless rust buckets. I understand at least a segment of the parking facility will be converted to green space and much of the parking will be folded into the new visitors center. A great plan — just what the space needs. I applaud President Schapiro and all of the others who have played a role in planning and executing these major efforts to revitalize neglected spaces.
While they’re at it, I’d suggest a standard policy for all new lakefront buildings: big windows facing the lake. In my view, lakeside buildings should not look like concrete bunkers at Omaha Beach, with fortress-like window slits, as some currently do.
Trygve Thoreson (G72, 76)
Wilmette, Ill.

Robotic Rehab

Your article “Robotic Rehabilitation” [Lab Notes, summer 2012, Page 12] really struck home. My wife had a stroke on Labor Day 2006. She has all her mental and physical facilities except for a very stubborn right arm and hand. She has very little use of them despite five years of dogged physical therapy. She’s exceptionally mentally strong.
Chuck Rogalske (McC67)
Fresno, Calif.

Remembering Danny

I read with interest the story “Michael Stanton: Remembering Danny” [Alumni Life, summer 2012, page 63].
First of all, my condolences to the Stanton family on the loss of their son and brother.
My other reason for writing is to mention the ketogenic diet used by Johns Hopkins Hospital and the Mayo Clinic in treating young children who experience seizures. Apparently the diet enables many of these children to lead seizure-free lives. I hope this helps spread the word.
K.M. Schmitz (KGSM76)
Latonia, Ky.
Editor's note: The Danny Did Foundation will be the primary beneficiary for the 2013 Dance Marathon.


Connie and Tom Hodson, not Hudson, provided funds for the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art’s purchase of the Hotei at dusk woodcut by Utagawa Sadatora [“Art on Our Block,” summer 2012].