The article by Barbara Spector in the Sept. 28, 1992, issue of The Scientist [page 1] reported on actions taken by the National Academy of Sciences with regard to one of its foreign associates, the eminent Russian mathematician Igor R. Shafarevich. In brief, Shafarevich had written a book, Russophobia, which many readers interpreted as a thinly veiled anti-Semitic diatribe. NAS president Frank Press, speaking on behalf of NAS, had protested Shafarevich's words of hatred and had written a letter to him in which he suggested that Shafarevich resign from NAS. In the Dec. 7, 1992, issue of The Scientist [Barbara Spector, page 4], there was a follow-up article, reporting on reactions to the NAS action within the scientific community, and including a response from Shafarevich to the September 28 article [page 11].
The American Mathematical Society is the principal United States organization of research mathematicians. Its members use Shafarevich's books and theorems in their daily work. They also have a direct chain of human contacts that brings them close to the problem in a very immediate and personal way. His behavior is, in that sense, their "family problem."
At its annual winter meeting, held on Jan. 12, 1993, the AMS Council passed the following resolution:
"Resolution: The Council of the American Mathematical Society expresses its condemnation of the anti-semitic writings of I.R. Shafarevich, as expressed in Russophobia. Dr. Shafarevich has used his highly respected position as an eminent mathematician to give special weight to his words of hatred, which are contrary to fundamental standards of human decency and to the spirit of mathematics and science."
JOAN S. BIRMAN
Professor of Mathematics
Barnard College of Columbia University
Member of the Executive Committee and Council,
American Mathematical Society