A Poor Reflection

September 11th, 2013

I’m not sure of the purpose in publishing a reactionary ideological screed masquerading as a letter to the editor in the July/August BAM (Mail Room, “Politics and Perez”). The letter was allegedly a response to the May/June cover story on a member of my class, Thomas Perez ’83, who was just confirmed by the U.S. Senate as Secretary of Labor. We can agree to disagree on political issues, but publishing an ad hominem, hyperpartisan attack on Secretary Perez reflects poorly not only on the screed’s author, John R. Hooten ’51, but on Norman Boucher, the editor and publisher of the BAM.

The Hooten letter begins with the unsupported claim that Secretary Perez has no appreciation for economics. The letter ends with an ultraconservative laundry list of the usual right-wing stuff from talk radio—Detroit finances, Chicago guns, Washington, D.C., public schools—things having no relation whatsoever either to the Stephanie Grace ’87 cover story on Perez or to his official duties at the labor department.   

Emmitt Carlton ’83
Alexandria, Va.

As Tom Perez knows well, longtime political figures who take strong positions on important issues inevitably leave themselves open to “hyperpartisan” attacks, whether from the right or left. In keeping with Brown’s tradition of inclusion and the free exchange of even uncomfortable ideas, it’s the BAM’s policy in Mail Room to include all points of view we receive about our published articles, whether they are viewed as political screeds or fawning praise. The exceptions are libelous or ad hominem attacks, particularly on a private citizen, or letters that run considerably longer than our suggested 250-word limit. In our view, Mr. Hooten’s letter was not an ad hominem attack but a harsh commentary on Perez’s lack of an economics background, which Hooten obviously believes is important to a labor secretary. His letter is actually restrained when compared to the comments of other political figures quoted in the article. —Editor

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Related Issue
September/October 2013