"In the Hitler Sense..."

The article "Snake in the Garden" [Fall] reminded me that in 1962 my husband and I, chemistry graduate students at JHU, wanted to buy a house in Baltimore. When we asked about properties in the Roland Park/ Guilford area, the realtor asked a surprising question: "Are you Jewish?"

We were neither of us practicing Jews, we were choristers in a Bolton Hill Episcopal church, and we didn't celebrate the Jewish holidays. I am a World War II refugee from Nazi-occupied Austria. Surprised by the question, I blurted out, "In the Hitler sense, yes." The realtor went on to tell us that Roland Park was a "restricted" neighborhood and, while there was no law prohibiting Jewish home ownership in these neighborhoods, no Baltimore realtor would broker a sale there to Jews. We did buy a house in Mt. Washington, where housing cost considerably less; we learned that at the time people would pay considerable sums of money not to live next door to a Jewish family.

This was half a century ago. Society and the law have moved on. All kinds of prejudices still exist, but they are not condoned or practiced, at least not in public. The public conversation no longer dwells on prejudicial practices that targeted not only Jews but Italians, Poles, Irish, and women; it continues, however, to focus on prejudice against people of color. This focus is unlikely to change anyone's mind and may exacerbate the very prejudice it seeks to eradicate.

Ruth F. Weiner, A&S '62 (PhD) Albuquerque, New Mexico

No Snakes Here

I was saddened, but not surprised, to learn of the Roland Park Company's dedicated legacy of bigotry in establishing the Roland Park, Guilford, and Homeland neighborhoods ["Snake in the Garden," Fall]. My seventh great-great-grandfather, Captain Charles Merryman, received from Lord Baltimore the 200-acre tract of land (Clover Hill) that later went on to become a substantial portion of those neighborhoods. Much of my life, schooling, and formative friendships have taken place in these neighborhoods, where subtle and not-so-subtle remnants of the same bigotry still remain. My Roland Park Country School graduating class of 1974 was unable to hold our prom at a Baltimore country club because we had both black and Jewish girls in our class.

I am happy to report, however, that there is another neighborhood in Baltimore, also designed by Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. and offering the same curvilinear streets, landscaping, and lovely, large old houses as Roland Park, which is wonderfully diverse and where I have lived and raised my family for 30 years. Sudbrook Park, although much smaller than Roland Park, is an artsy, civic-minded community of whites and blacks, Christians and Jews, near the heart of Pikesville. The only snakes in our gardens are the kind that aerate the soil.

Lara Merryman Schafer McLaughlin, Ed '99 (MS), A&S '05 (MA) Pikesville, Maryland

That Sinking Feeling

In "Climate Change Questions" [Dialogue, Fall], Raoul Benveniste's rebuttal to the editor's note by Catherine Pierre regarding the debate over whether climate change is man-made, he argues that there is little point in spending tax dollars to try to reverse climate change if it can happen naturally, as it did millions of years ago in what today is Florida.

Seeing as I actually am from the Tampa Bay area of Florida, where Mr. Benveniste learned this, I feel I have a vested interest in not having my home state sink beneath the seas any time soon. The argument is not whether all climate change is man-made but whether this particular warming of the planet is. If climate change is our fault (as evidence does appear to suggest), we certainly should do something to fix it. After all, we broke our toy, so either we suffer with its being broken (thus many species die that otherwise would not; many—including humans—are displaced owing to changes in the environment; and devastating weather patterns become more severe and commonplace) or we do what we can to fix it. We have the ability to make a real impact on our environment rather than to be just a victim of its whims. We should use this power to help more than just ourselves.

Unless, of course, this reluctance to help is just a clever ploy to sink Florida before our alligators, hurricanes, and utter insanity take over the rest of the world, in which case, I salute you!

Brittany Chavez, A&S '09 Port Richey, Florida

So Berry Wrong

I am going to use Wikipedia to respond to Raoul Benveniste's "Climate Change Questions" [Dialogue, Fall] and let my intrepid fellow readers follow the citations to the original research. He wrote, "Approximately 1,000 years ago, grapes were growing in Greenland ('Vineland'). Today it is mostly covered in ice." The article "Vinland" states, "In geographical terms, Vinland is sometimes used to refer generally to all areas in North America beyond Greenland that were explored by the Norse." It also states, "It should be noted that vinber (currants—black or red) literally translates to wineberry, and that there is a long-standing Scandinavian tradition of fermenting berries into wine; grapes do not currently grow in Iceland or Scandinavia." It wasn't Napa Valley.

Dr. Benveniste also wrote, "I doubt that any significant change in our climate can be measured in the lifetime of a human." The online article "August 2014 Was Earth's Hottest August On Record; Long-Term Trend Points to Global Warming" in the online International Business Times, that well-known Marxist publication, should assuage his doubts. It also states that July of this year was the fourth-hottest on record, after 2005, 2010, and 1998.

Robert O'Rourke, A&S '80 Leavenworth, Kansas

You're All Wet

In the otherwise interesting article "Water, Water, Everywhere?" [Summer] is the statement: "Every drop of it has been here since the Earth began—and no more." This is nonsense. Water is constantly being formed and unformed. In photosynthesis, water combines with carbon dioxide to form sugars. In the major industrial process of electrolyzing salt solutions, some of the hydrogen in the water is reduced to hydrogen gas and the rest is in hydroxide ions, sodium hydroxide being an important product. In many reactions of acids and bases, water is formed. In respiration, sugars and oxygen combine to form water and carbon dioxide.

John Bordley A&S '72 (PhD) Sewanee, Tennessees


Dumbest thing we did last issue: Somehow, we messed up four bylines and credits. (Don't ask.) Greg Rienzi was credited with writing "Virtuous Development" [Forefront, Fall]. Greg is a fine writer, but not of that piece—the byline should have read Lawrence Lanahan. Christina Cook did write "Don't Try This" [Forefront, Fall], but she spells her name Christina Cooke, and we should, too. The photo of Matt Green [Campus, Fall] was by Cara Walen, and the photo of furniture [Campus, Fall] was by Will Kirk.

Second dumbest thing we did: In "Ouch" [Fall], we stated the cost of chronic pain in the United States as between $560 million and $635 million. As reader Mark Glickstein, Med '70, correctly pointed out, that should have been between $560 billion and $635 billion.

Finally, "Climate Change Questions" [Dialogue, Fall] included an incorrect graduation year for letter writer Raoul Benveniste. He graduated from the Krieger School in 1966.

Give us your feedback by sending a letter to the editor via email to jhmagazine@jhu.edu. (We reserve the right to edit letters for length, style, clarity, and civility.)

The opinions in these letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the magazine's editorial staff.