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Letters to the editor

May 31, 2008

It's who you know that counts



To the editor:

I graduated from a West Virginia college in 1971. While attending the school (now a university) I had some classes with a student who was always identified as being an ambassador's son. Reportedly his father was from a country where some of my classmates from high school gave up life and limb in its defense.

His command of the English language was almost nonexistent. I can only guess at his writing skills. Somehow he managed to get his bachelor's degree and almost immediately his master's degree from a West Virginia university before returning home. If memory serves me correctly, his attendance in the classes I had with him was almost nil. However he never failed to show up for parties and he was always flush with rolls of cash. For someone whose communication skills were extremely poor in the academic environment, his social skills were definitely A-plus. He constantly bragged about the fact that he didn't have to do anything to graduate because he was a diplomat's son.

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I just wonder how many other "special" students have been awarded degrees because of their status ... probably more than we care to imagine. Is it because of the prestige it lends the school?

There is a big difference between an honorary degree and an earned one. But what about the degrees awarded to individuals whose claims to specific levels of academic achievement were wrongfully gained through their parents' notoriety and/or generosity? They just happened to get the recent publicity.

I do have some parting thoughts. In today's world, it is easy to print a degree from your home computer. You can even buy gold seals from a stationery store. Anyone can have his or her master's degree in a matter of minutes. And how many employers validate degrees listed on an applicant's resume?

Wake up America. It is still whom you know and not always what you know that counts. Remember in the real world it is not how you play the game, but whether you win or lose. I'm not being cynical, just realistic.

Don't send me any hate-mail letters. I'm not bashing West Virginia schools in particular. I am proud of my BS degree in economics, which I earned and paid for with a student loan (which was paid in full decades ago). I have even returned to the school on several occasions as a guest lecturer in their business division.

Richard Lee Martin
Hagerstown




An anti-Israel ax to grind



To the editor:

Occasionally I see anti-Israeli op-eds or letters to the editor in The Herald-Mail. Mostly I let them go. Running a business and having some time left over for family and self takes up the day. But Mr. G. F. Miller's letter of April 16 caught my attention because he used four quotes from four Jews. Slick, I thought. Using Jewish words to make an anti Isreali statement could give credence to his position. Who has the time to fact check and research for context? If Jews said Israel was formed by conquest, It must be true. Doubly slick, I thought next. Four quotes denigrating the foundation of the State of Israel are published right before the start of Passover, the holiday that contains four questions and commemorates the Exodus from Egypt and the beginnings of the first Jewish homeland. Needless to say, I had to get to involved.

The headline said, "Read the quotes and be the judge about Israeli actions." Being a good boy, I followed directions and read the four quotes that G.F. Miller offered as proof that the Arabs of Palestine were conquered.

I quickly noticed that among the authors, none were historians of Israel or the Arab world. One, Mr. Wallace, is an attorney who, I believe, specializes in Internet and software law. Another, Mr. Beit-Hallahami is a psychologist. The third, Vladimar Jabotinsky, was a far right-wing leader of the "rejectionist" offshoot of the Zionist movement. He was removed from the leadership of mainstream Zionism long before the time of Israeli independence. And the fourth, Mr. Chomsky, is a noted left-wing writer who has, seemingly forever, offered a slanted view of the world. For years he has been promoting an anti-American, anti-capitalist, anti-Israel view of the world.

Leon Seidman
Hagerstown




Cumberland Valley came through



To the editor:

I am writing to send my sincere thanks to Cumberland Valley Veterinary Clinic for the outstanding care of our three dogs. We are Smithsburg residents with two small children in a development with a fenced in backyard.

Our three dogs fell ill on a Saturday with severe diarrhea and vomiting. Our newest dog, a Scottie, was the worst of the three as she was bleeding badly with the diarrhea. My husband took the Scottie to the emergency clinic in Frederick as we did not think she was going to make it.

We called Cumberland Valley and they were waiting for us on Monday morning at 7 a.m. for all three dogs. The veterinarian and the assistants were patient and worked to bring our dogs back to us. All three dogs were in isolation in intensive care for four days. We were able to bring two of the three home and are still waiting for the Scottie to be in the clear.

As some pet owners may agree, your pets become part of your family and the thought of losing them is devastating, especially when it is all three at the same time. I can't thank the professionals at Cumberland Valley enough. My husband, my children and I will be forever grateful for the fantastic job they have done and continue to do with our Scottie, who remains in their care.

Blakeley Souders and family
Smithsburg

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