I WATCHED the cleverly crafted programme Inside the Mind of Robert Burns on the BBC Scotland channel (January 21). What is it with academia?

All we will ever have of Robert Burns is a two-dimensional view of the man. Yet they persist in trying to create the third dimension through the prism of modernity. I doubt if this will ever work. Of course the man was flawed, he was after all, a human being.

Academics seem obsessed with the darker aspects of his being and how they accord with modern behaviour.

Are we perfect? Have we not engineered and presided over two world wars; experienced from afar, the holocaust; genocide in the Balkans; turmoil in the Middle East and famine in Africa? What will academics have to say about all of this 200 years from now? Would they not be better employed researching and trying to resolve those current disasters rather than trying to fathom the foibles of a man who died 224 years ago?

Burns, I think, should get the last word:

“The deities I adore are social peace and plenty.

I’d rather be the cause of one,

Than the death of twenty!”

Dan Edgar, Rothesay.

THIS weekend will see the genius of Robert Burns and his works celebrated throughout the world, not least for A Man’s a Man, written in 1795 and ending “That Man to Man, the world o’er, shall brothers be for a’ that”.

I wonder if he knew of Friedrich Schiller’s Ode to Freedom (set to music by Beethoven in his 9th symphony as Ode to Joy), written in 1785 with the line “Bettler werden Furstenbruder” (“Beggars become princes’ brothers”) which was then changed to the more inclusive “Alle Menschen werden Bruder” (“All people become brothers”)?

John Birkett, St Andrews.

THE birthday of Robert Burns will be celebrated at this time of year by many in various parts of this country and beyond.

It would be unfortunate if the observance of this date were to overshadow what should be another important date in our calendars, that of the International Holocaust Remembrance Day. The date of January 27 was chosen to mark the anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau by the Red Army in 1945.

The liberation of the concentration camp Bergen-Belsen by the British 11th Armoured Division did not take place until April, 1945 and the scenes which confronted those troops haunted them for the rest of their lives.

As there is evidence of a resurgence of anti-Semitism in some parts of Europe it is important that the events which led to the Holocaust should not be ignored. It should not be forgotten that, while the instigators of the Holocaust were the leaders in Germany at that time, there were several in the Occupied countries who willingly gave support to the rounding up and deportation of those who perished in numerous concentration camps.

While we should ensure that anti-Semitism does not gain root, legitimate debate and criticism of the policies of the current Israeli government should not be misconstrued as anti-Semitism.

Some relatives of those who were murdered during those terrible years have attempted to come to terms with their loss, as best they can, in the knowledge that "hatred corrodes the vessel in which it is contained".

Malcolm Allan, Bishopbriggs.