Letter to the editor

Editorials featured in the Forum section are solely the opinions of their individual authors.

Critical editorial ignores The Tartan’s own mistakes

When I read The Tartan’s well-argued editorial criticizing The Daily Princetonian for its bigoted attempt at humor in a recent “joke issue,” I kept waiting for the part about The Tartan’s own joke issue fiasco: the 2004 April Fools’ Day “Natrat.” Only it never came.

Am I that old? Has so much time passed that the Carnegie Mellon community has forgotten the national attention we received for our newspaper’s own disgusting attempt at humor, which ran the hateful gamut from casual use of the N-word to an infantile poem about violent rape?

No. It wasn’t even three years ago. There are surely current students, staff, and faculty who remember the well-earned fallout from that issue. As such, The Tartan missed a unique editorial opportunity to share valuable insight on the matter with The Daily Princetonian, and played a dangerous game of hypocrisy.

I believe The Tartan has made admirable changes to its culture since April of 2004. Based on my reading of the newspaper and my time as a staffwriter, I will even go so far as to say that I again believe in the fair-mindedness of the news and opinion found therein. Also, I do not believe that an organization with a tainted past is somehow precluded from criticizing other organizations at any given time.

But if The Tartan is to level this criticism against a college newspaper whose foul-up bears such a striking resemblance to the “Natrat” fiasco, it must also do a service to the newer members of the Carnegie Mellon community and be actively forthcoming about its own failures — especially when they are so inarguably relevant to a potent editorial. While these failures are past and not of the current staff’s making, the choice to omit any reference to them reeks of an attempt by The Tartan to whitewash history.

It was a wise man who said that if people ignore the elephant in the room long enough, they won’t be able to see it anymore. Given that ignoring the lessons of history helped the “Natrat” incident happen in the first place, that statement is especially apt. I urge The Tartan to display how it learned from the past and keep its history alive for our community, the good with the bad.

Adam C. Atkinson
H&SS ’05, Pittsburgh