Monday, December 8, 2008

Pomona's Song Committee Chairman Weighs in on the Comment Section of CI Website

Aanchal Kapoor has written a great article detailing the travesty of Pomona's Song Committee (how Orwellian a commitee, indeed!) -- only to have Professor Kim Bruce of Computer Science and of the Song Committee attack her in the comment section of The Claremont Independent! He suggested, incredulously, that Ms. Kapoor has presented "allegations" "as facts." 

Were this actually true, this would be a serious charge, indeed.  But unfortunately Mr. Bruce is in no position to argue that allegations have been presented as facts. He is, after all, chairman of the Pomona Song Committee, which still exists despite rather convincing evidence that there is no evidence that Pomona's alma mater is of racist parentage. 

The allegation that the song is racist, has been replaced by the fact that it isn't. But don't take my word for it. Read Ms. Kapoor's article and ask yourself why it is that Pomona College is excluding its alums from participating in the discussion over one of Pomona's richest traditions, the singing of the alma mater. 

Below you'll find a copy of my remarks on the entire situation.
Mr. Bruce, I thought I might point out that Ms. Kapoor is not a "he" at all. Perhaps if the committee decision and discussions had been more accessible to the full Pomona community, you would know her sex. A slight point, but indicative of a much larger problem -- the lack of community feedback on a decision of serious consequence. Pomona should be proud that so many alums have chosen to participate in this process. If only they showed such dedication all the time! 

More to the point, I wonder what expertise you have in addressing this historical matter in the first place. Insofar as I can tell you are neither a music professor, nor a professor of history, but a computer science professor. Clearly you are not an expert on the origins, nor were the students who brought the matter forward, despite the scholarships to study the matter closely. Why not defer to two people, Rosemary Choate and Carl Olson, who are knowledgeable in this subject? Had they been able to fully participate, it is doubtful that Pomona would have to salvage what appears to be a most embarrassing situation – that of banning a song without any racist underpinnings whatsoever. 

We take the issue of reporting very seriously at the Claremont Independent and find no fault with Ms. Kapoor's article. On the contrary, we find her work exceptional as always and regret that you have laid what is so obviously an ad hominem attack on her character. Having seen your email, I must say that I find Ms. Kapoor's characterization seems absolutely fitting. 

While you are right to make "both sides" available, I'm curious as to what "side" the other side is. Either the song has racist underpinnings or it does not. Merely summarizing both sides is an injustice and a travesty, suggesting as it does an evenness in the discussion of the song committee when in truth, no such evenness actually exists. In part, this evenness has been accomplished by the shoddy reporting of The Student Lifewhich has sought to print point-counter points on the subject, rather than wading into the judgment of examining Ms. Choate's research. Insofar as I can tell, no such evenness actually exists. If it did, the song committee decisions would be open to the entire community rather than self-appointed types who have so clearly failed to see the importance of history and truth that the committee ought to be dissolved immediately. 

Of course, that this debate is occurring on the comment section of the Claremont Independent testifies to a larger argument that Ms. Choate and Mr. Olson have been making ad infinitum: that they have been closed out of a discussion that ought to include the entire community. Rather than have a discussion face-to-face, we're left typing, rather than talking. 

If only one were to follow the advice on one of Pomona's gates,"Let only the eager, thoughtful, and reverent enter here." 


Anonymous said...

Now THIS, Charles, is where your time is well used. If you spent less time fighting liberal windmills and more time shedding light on issues where you can offer reason, I suspect you could maintain your readership and contribute to your community, all without descending into polemics.

Anonymouse said...

I second that! This is good stuff, hope you stick with it CJ.