Published Letters to the Editor

(Omits letters published in the Yale Daily News while I was at Yale.)

See also Left Turn, my bi-weekly column in the Yale Daily News, which ran in 2001 and 2002.

New York Times Sports Section, "Players' Background Irrelevant", April 2, 2006

To the Sports Editor:
      Duke has suspended the men's lacrosse season in the wake of an alleged gang rape with overt racial overtones. Yet the team is still practicing ("Duke Players Practice as Scrutiny Builds," March 30).
      If there are no more games, why are they practicing? I fear that the practices continue in order to build up and maintain team solidarity. This is exactly the opposite of what the university should be doing. Instead, it should be trying to isolate the players in the hopes of getting one of them to tell the truth.
Jacob Remes
Durham, N.C.

New York Times, "Flawed Arrests at the Convention", April 12, 2005

To the Editor:
     Police officers who offer false testimony about arrests, technicians who alter videos, and prosecutors who offer untrue evidence in court should be prosecuted.
     But their misconduct pales in comparison with the systemic misconduct of the New York City government during the Republican convention last year.
     The suppression of dissent has become commonplace, and it is an outrage. We need to ensure that freedom is more than a slogan.
Durham, N.C., April 12, 2005

Yale Alumni Magazine, "Remonstrance", January/February 2005

     I have always defended the independence and objectivity of the Yale Alumni Magazine to my skeptical friends, so I was severely disappointed to read Kate Moran's brief article on the Graduate Employees and Students Organization (Light and Verity, September/October).
     While the article paraphrased GESO chair Mary Reynolds, it contained no quote from a union representative. In contrast, it quoted three anti-GESO spokespeople, all with varying criticisms of the union.
     I expect better from the magazine.
Jacob Remes '02
Durham, NC

Washington Jewish Week, "Offensive hyperbole", January 15, 2004

     Aaron Leibel's review of two books on anti-Semitism was the height of irresponsible journalism ("Anti-Semitism redux: The haters are back, and they're worse than ever, " WJW, Jan. 8). I will leave for another time the claim left unexamined by Leibel that anti-Zionism is equivalent to anti-Semitism.
     Even regardless of this highly questionable argument, the hyperbole is offensive. To claim that current anti-Semitism is "worse than ever" demeans the memory of the Shoah.
     Worse, to engage in such reckless exaggeration is to cry wolf. Will people believe us when we complain of anti-Semitism if our press has previously claimed that what we see now is worse than the Shoah?

New York Times Magazine, re "Dumpster-Diving for Your Identity", January 4, 2004

Given the ease with which identity thieves find and exploit records from universities, hospitals and the like, it seems clear that one way to prevent such fraud is to limit the use of Social Security numbers (Stephen Mihm, Dec. 21). There is no excuse for doctors or educators using Social Security numbers to identify patients or students. Rather, they should use unique identification numbers generated specifically for their purposes.
Jacob Remes

New York Times, "Death at Work: Who Is to Blame?", December 26, 2003

To the Editor:
     Re "A Trench Caves In; a Young Worker Is Dead. Is It a Crime?" (front page, Dec. 21):
     If the people who hired companies like Moeves Plumbing were forced to be legally and financially responsible for their subcontractors' misdeeds, there would be fewer safety and other violations.
     Subcontractors like Moeves Plumbing survive by charging lower rates than their legitimate, safe competitors. Conversely, otherwise legitimate companies are forced to cut corners and compromise safety in order to compete.
     Imposing legal liability on contractors would force them to take into account the safety records of their subcontractors and expose the otherwise hidden costs of unsafe business.
Washington, Dec. 22, 2003

New York Times Magazine, re "Dr. No and the Yes Men", May 15, 2003

Matt Bai uses the terms ''electable'' and ''moderate'' as if they were interchangeable terms for a certain type of Democrat. The Democratic rout in the 2002 midterm elections should give the opposite lesson. Democrats lost last year because we put up weak candidates with no ideas or passion; our candidates were too moderate, too indistinguishable from Republicans, too ''electable.'' What will inspire voters to elect a Democrat is fresh, progressive ideas, a person who is not afraid to stand up for key Democratic values like multilateral diplomacy abroad and basic economic fairness at home. No one will win the White House as a New Democrat, Republican-lite.
Jacob Remes

Yale Daily News, "It's time for Yale administrations to stop forcing strikes", February 21, 2003

To the Editor:
     Erin Scharff '04 writes correctly that undergraduates cannot help but take an interest in labor relations at Yale, because they will necessarily be affected by a strike, and because the working conditions of Yale's teachers and other workers are the learning conditions for Yale's students ("Unionization and its discontents?" 2/20).
     Unfortunately, the Yale administration is slow to learn that lesson. Since 1968, four successive administrations have tried to win concessions from the unions by refusing to negotiate in good faith, and then forcing a strike. This policy displays a willful disregard for the welfare of the students.
     I graduated in one of the lucky few classes since 1968 to have graduated without a strike during my time at Yale. I wish the same for the Class of 2003 -- and, indeed, all future classes. It is the Yale administration that can make it so. President Levin: It's time to settle a fair contract.
Jacob Remes '02
February 20, 2003

New York Times, "Democrats, Organize", January 7, 2003

To the Editor:
     By spending time, effort and money on creating new television and radio programs and networks, the Democrats described in "Outflanked Democrats Look for Ways to Play Catch-Up in Media Battles" (news article, Jan. 1) miss the lesson of November's loss entirely.
     Rather than working to create a slightly more liberal news (read propaganda) source, Democrats should work on grass-roots organizing. As the key organizational Democratic constituencies, unions and grass-roots community groups have learned, organizing will not only recruit more voters, but is also an inherently empowering experience.
Boston, Jan. 2, 2003

New York Times, "Billy Graham, Then and Now", March 19, 2002

To the Editor:
     The Rev. Billy Graham misses the point when he professes love for "the Jews" and asks forgiveness from "the Jewish community" in response to proof that he made anti-Semitic remarks to President Richard M. Nixon (news article, March 17). By assuming a monolithic "Jewish community" and suggesting a love for "the Jews" -- as if we are all the same -- he proves the very anti-Semitism that he now disavows.
     Only when "the Jews" are no longer considered a homogenous group by those like Mr. Graham will anti-Semitism be addressed. Abraham H. Foxman, the national director of the Anti-Defamation League, is not my spokesman, nor the spokesman for my "community," and his acceptance of Mr. Graham's apology does not speak for me.
New Haven, March 17, 2002

New York Times, "Sweat, Brows, and Ivory Towers", May 22, 2001

To the Editor:
     Anthony Kronman (Op-Ed, May 19) falls into a common fallacy used by academics opposed to unionization of graduate students: He equates unionization with a lack of autonomy and lack of individual choice. By doing so, he ignores the scores of unionized intellectuals, artists and professionals who have found that solidarity does not crimp their autonomy.
     Indeed, it is university administrators who are most to blame for any diminished autonomy within the academy. The increased reliance on adjunct faculty and graduate students to teach undergraduates is perhaps the greatest danger facing academia today, precisely because it threatens to limit academic freedom. It is this casualization of higher education against which graduate student unions fight.
New Haven, May 20, 2001

[Michigan State University] State News, "Police infiltration leads to silence", April 5, 2001

     As a student activist at Yale University, I was tremendously disturbed to read Jeremy W. Steele’s article about police infiltration of the MSU affiliate of United Students Against Sweatshops ("Activist group exposes undercover officer," SN 4/3).
     While police infiltration of student and other dissident groups has a long history in the United States, that infiltration has often ended in tragedy. It has been alleged that it was an undercover police agent who started the shooting that left four dead and 13 wounded at Kent State University 31 years ago. Police infiltration leads to less effective dissident organizations and fear among activists.
     In a university setting, police infiltration is simply wrong. It defeats the freedom that should be inherent in the university and threatens to curtail the exchange of ideas that makes the university a valuable space within society.
     I hope that now that MSU has uncovered the police’s infiltration, students and the administration will take the lead in standing against such tactics.
Jacob Remes
former coordinator
Yale Social Justice Network

Yale Alumni Magazine, "Schmoke’s Impact", February 2001

     The article on Kurt Schmoke did much to broaden this student's understanding of one of the most powerful men at Yale. However, while the article told the story of Schmoke's involvement in May Day 1970, it neglected to tell a story equally relevant to his character.
     In Schmoke's final semester at Yale, the campus was torn apart by a bitter strike by Local 35. In the eyes of many students, the strike was forced upon the union by the University, which was unwilling to negotiate in good faith. Schmoke, along with a broad coalition of 25 other student leaders, went on a hunger strike to support a quick resolution of the strike and to demand that their University go back to the negotiating table.
     "We're here to make a sacrifice, and our self interests have no justification when compared to the plight of the workers," Schmoke was quoted as saying in the Yale Daily News.
     Schmoke's selflessness as a student in regard to Yale workers is surely as important to his character as his "filial courtesy" during May Day.
Jacob Remes '02
New Haven, CT

New York Times, "Linda Chavez, Victim of Politics?", January 11, 2001

To the Editor:
     Re "Bush Choice for Labor Post Withdraws and Cites Furor of Illegal Immigrant Issue" (front page, Jan. 10):
     As a proud supporter of organized labor and affirmative action, I strongly opposed the selection of Linda Chavez for labor secretary. It is a sad day, however, when supporters of working men and women must resort to attacking an act of pro-immigrant kindness to defeat someone who was so objectionable on other grounds.
     I hope that Democrats and moderate Republicans in the Senate have the political will to challenge John Ashcroft and Gale A. Norton for their problematic policies and extremist positions without having to manufacture an extra issue.
New Haven, Jan. 10, 2001

Washington Times, "Replacement nurses' freedom bad for patients", November 27, 2000

     In the article "Replacement nurses say they love freedom" (Business Times, Nov. 13), your reporter describes the choice some nurses make to work for an agency that specializes in providing replacement nurses during strikes. These replacement nurses, your reporter writes, like the freedom to "even leave [assignments] during lengthy disputes." Nowhere in the article is the effect on patients mentioned.
     Patients are hurt when nurses with "freedom" can leave their assignments on a whim. Patients are hurt when hospital administrators refuse to pay nurses adequate wages or make the reforms that even one of the replacement workers said were needed. Patients are hurt when management refuses to negotiate in good faith with nurses and instead forces a strike. Like all unionized health care workers, nurses are faced with a terrible decision when they strike, and all of them recognize it to be a last resort. All too often, however, hospital administrators force strikes at the expense of their patients.
New Haven, Conn.

Chronicle of Higher Education, "Fighting to Keep a Job at Yale", August 11, 2000

To the Editor:
     I noted with dismay in Courtney Leatherman's article about Lee Blackwood that while many of Professor Blackwood's detractors were quoted by name, all of his supporters seem to have demanded anonymity. For an institution such as Yale University, which prides itself on guaranteeing academic freedom, to have frightened its faculty members into hiding when supporting an embattled colleague is disgraceful.
Jacob Remes
Class of 2002
Yale University
New Haven, Conn.

GW Hatchet, "Lesson from Yale", April 13, 2000

     I read with some disappointment that GW would close its doors to protesters arriving in Washington for the A-16 demonstrations this coming weekend. While I understand the desire to maintain order, order is rarely maintained by imposing draconian rules to limit people’s freedom. Would GW President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg prefer that protesters sleep in their friends’ rooms or on the street outside? Surely they are less likely to cause damage if they are taken in.
     GW would do well to consider the example of my school, Yale, of 1969. When New Haven was effectively shut down during protests against a Black Panther murder trial, President Kingman Brewster opened campus to demonstrators. Despite harsh personal attacks from Vice President Spiro Agnew, Brewster stood firm in his belief that students should demonstrate and that moral leaders should protest unfair trials.
     I urge Trachtenberg to reverse his stance and allow out-of-town visitors to stay in GW residence halls this weekend.
–Jacob Remes
Yale University, class of 2002

New York Times, "Immigration and Law", March 24, 2000

To the Editor:
     Anthony Lewis (column, March 18) reports that Representative Lamar Smith told Attorney General Janet Reno, "We should not let the letter of the law get in the way of the spirit," referring to the 1996 Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act, which Mr. Smith wrote.
     How can the principal author of a law say, with any intellectual honesty, that those charged with enforcing his law should follow the "spirit," not the "letter," when he is himself responsible for the letter? Mr. Smith and his staff wrote the act to be as anti-immigrant as possible, both in the letter and the spirit.
     This is what he wanted, and this is what he got. If he is now unhappy, he should allow the act to be amended.
New Haven, March 20, 2000

NPR All Things Considered, on Mole Day, October 30, 1997

MARCIA BRANDWYNNE, HOST: Jacob Remes of Washington, DC liked our piece on Mole Day, October 23rd, but there was a mistake: "thanks for the piece on 10/23 on National Mole Day. It did contain a small inaccuracy. You stated that a mole is 6.02 times 10 to the 23rd of molecules. This is incorrect.
     "A mole is an Avogadro's number of anything. One could have a mole of chocolate chips, for instance, though I wouldn't recommend it since it would cover the entire Earth three-feet deep. A mole of fine sand would cover Texas 50-feet deep. A mole of atoms tends to be more practical, since even a mole of the heaviest man-made atom would only weight 266 grams. But one should remember that a mole is merely a unit and not dependent on what it is measuring."

NPR All Things Considered, on high school slang, May 16, 1996

NOAH ADAMS: Jacob Remus [sp], 15-years-old of Washington, D.C., would like to add to our rundown of teenage slang in an interview last week. 'In Washington,' Jacob says, 'no one I know uses phat or stoopid except in jest. Here in D.C. top phrases include the mac, the best; the beast, also the person but only a person. Occasionally I'll hear Africa as an adjective, meaning 'very.' It comes from a movie in which someone says, 'It's hot, it's Africa hot.' Something is helatight [sp] if it is very good. Tight means cool. Hela means very.'