The mere fact that Kim Bruce "provided a link" to my report on the Song Committee's web page one month after he received it does not mean that the committee considered it in any serious manner. The fact that Kim Bruce first titled it "Skepticsreport" speaks volumes as to how seriously it must have been considered. And, for the record, it was changed only after I telephoned Prof. Bruce and demanded he do so because of the insulting tone the title leveled at my objectivity, research, and character. It might as well have been titled "Crank's Report."
Question: Exactly how and in what manner did the committee consider or discuss the undisputed facts that the January 21, 1910 Student Life reported that a different song by Loucks, The Blue and White, was the one performed in the minstrel show and that Hail, Pomona, Hail! was never even mentioned? The mere fact that Mr. Bruce describes the uncontested evidence in the Student Life article as "the gaps in contemporary documents" provides a good indication and window into how the committee considered these facts. "Gaps?" What "gaps?" "Gaps" in what? Gaps are missing parts, missing pieces of information. The only thing missing here as far as they're concerned is the Alma Mater which clearly failed to appear for minstrel show duty. The TSL review contains a specific and detailed account of the show – the skits that were performed, the performers, and the songs that were sung. There were no "gaps." Use of this term is disingenuous and casts aspersions both on the TSL review's veracity and on my report of it.
How invaluable a gracious, forthright, and factually-based response would have been for all those involved in the effort to ban Pomona's Alma Mater! The Committee might have rejoiced that new research absolved the song of an undeserved lynching based on bad history and false guilt by association! Everyone makes mistakes; everyone can even arrive at different conclusions, but to hold to a position after being shown to be factually wrong is the error of arrogance. As Daniel Patrick Moynihan exclaimed, " Everyone is entitled to his opinion. No one is entitled to his own facts."
There is one point on which Kim Bruce and I do agree: "It IS always disappointing when allegations are presented as facts." This has been the case in point regarding the racist accusations surrounding the origin of Pomona's Alma Mater.
Monday, December 8, 2008
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."
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."