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January 23, 1970 - Image 4

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1970-01-23

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Seventy-nine years of editorial freedom
Edited and managed by students of the University of Michigan

search of mad dragons
The short-sighted pollution crusade
by mary rdtke

420 Maynard St., Ann Arbor, Mich.

News Phone: 764-0552

Editorials printed in The Michigan Doily express the individual opinions of staff writers
or the editors. This must be noted in all reprints.



Nixon and the

" STATE OF THE Union messages, like
mast other major public pronounce-
ments, are grand examples of the speech-
writers' art. Teams of them labor long
hours to produce the carefully wrought
phrases and subtle implications which
characterize modern American political
oratory. While their task is rarely out-
right deception, speechwriters are prized
for their ability to obscure. The consum-
ate political address is written so as to
conceal both means and ends behind a
carefully woven fabric of hopes and con-
j ecture and to homogenize all political
direction beyond recognition. r
For this reason modern political docu-
ments, particularly those of presidential
origin, must. be examined for subtleties
and inferences, for what they say as well
as what they fail to say. Such a docu-
ment is President Richard Nixon's first
State of the Union message..
IN TERMS of foreign policy N i x o n ' s
statement is hopeful but not terribly'
reassuring Returning to the theme he set
forth in his inaugural address, Nixon
looks forward to a change ft'om a per-
iod of confrontation to a period of nego-
tiation. Calling peace in Vietnam "t h e
major goal of our foreign policy," Nixon
goes on to point with pride and earnest
resolve to the strategic arms limitations
talks with the representatives of the Sov-
iet Union and the resumption of informal
meetings with the Chinese. Although the
President has promised to say more .about
foreign policy in a written statement to
Congress in February it seems unlikely
that he will reveal anything more of how
he expects to bring peace. Nixon still de-
scribes his goal as a "just" peace in Viet-
nam which, through the magic of politi-
cal speechwriting, probably means "slow."
In doiestic affairs Nixon displays an
encouraging comprehension of what
issues must become important in the fu-
ture. Describing the tremendous growth
in the economy which he expects to come
out of the seventies Nixon states, quite
reasonably, that "The critical question is
not whether we will grow, but how we
will use that growth."
Employing the idea of "the quality of
life," Nixon builds a system of priorities
the like of which has rarely been heard
in the hallowed halls of the land of af-

fluence. As the President suggests "Our
recognition of the truth that wealth and
happiness are not the same thing re-
quires us to measure success or failure by
new criteria."
QUT OF THIS concern for the quality of
life Nixon calls for a massive set of
reforms to curb pollution, including a $10
billion clean water program. Nixon also
speaks of acquiring more open lands and
forests to protect them from the en-
croachment of civilized ugliness and the
development of a national growth policy
to help avoid in the future the chaos of
this country's present urban sprawl.'
But beyond these laudable objectives,
the President also offers other, more
questionable enhancements to the qual-
ity of life in America.
A major part of his program to make
life in the seventies better than it was in
the sixties is increased law enforcement
measures. Although there is nothing
wrong with attempting to bring under
control the rising wave of street crime
Nixon's call for a "war" on crime sounds
disturbingly more than that. The ominous
fact that the one area of the budget
Nixon intends to increase (rather than
cut) is federal aid to local law enforce-
ment agencies coupled with his admin-
istration's call for preventive detention
and no-knock laws makes Nixon's plans
sound more like a war on blacks and stu-
dents than a war on crime.
ANOTHER FACET of Nixon's program
to improve the quality of life in
America is his continuing attempt to end
inflation. In a dazzling display of specious
economic reasoning Nixon tries to show
that the $57 billion of deficit spending
done by the Federal government in the
sixties was paid for by the American pub-
lic entirely through increases in the cost
of living. Unfortunately he speaks only
vaguely of welfare and employment pro-
grams to deal with the inevitable prob-
lems of the slackening of economic
The speechwriters did a good job on
the State of the Union message. It re-
mains to be seen what Nixon will do.
Editorial Page Editor

The thing the ecologically illiterate
don't realize about an ecosystem is
that it's a system. A system! A system
maintains a certain fluid stability that
can be destroyed by a misstep in just
one niche. A system has order, a flow-
ing from point to point. If something
dams that flow, order collapses. The
untrained might miss that collapse
until it was too late. That's why the
highest function of ecology is the
understanding of consequences.
Frank Herbert, Dune
DUNE IS A desert planet so arid that
every drop of water, from the moisture
in an exhaled breath to the 40 liters of
water in a dead man's body, has to be re-
claimed. The people on Dune have a dream,
a great ecological restructuring which will
eventually make the desert count its water
not in drops, but in open pools..
The process by which this miracle will
be accomplished is slow and imperceptible,
based on understanding and manipulating
the consequences of Dune's natural ecology.
But the people of Dune are sensitive
to this problem of consequences and fu'.ly
prepared to wait and to work for the
500 years it will take to recycle the planet's
How unfortunate that this cannot be
said of the people of Earth. ,
Earth, as everybody keeps s'aying, is a
water planet, once green and abundant,
now rotting in its own wastes. Everybody
keeps saying this, and to prove it, they
circulate hundreds of horror stories in-
tended to enlighten those who naively be-
lieve that somewhere the earth is still
clean and whole, although they can not
say where.
AS ENLIGH TENED people, let us agree
that the earth is nowhere clean and whole,
and dispense with the customary evidence
to that effect. The repetition of this oracle.
of doom once a month in the national
press has made ecology one of the ten
most worried-about problems in the ollec-
tive conscience.
This new status has resulted in two
Cabinet-level environmental commissions,

a 57-nation study of different environ-
ments and life webs, the usual proliferation
of federal agencies and commissions, two
major bills to be introduced into the Sen-
ate by Edmund Muskie and Gaylord Nelson,
and pledges from a number of prominent
As one observer noted in the last issue
of Newsweek, "We've got a program to
invent a new name for ecology, so we can
keep it alive after its been talked to death."
The focus for this popular and political
rally around ecology is pollution. The
battlecry, "We're poisoning our environ-
ment," has raised an army for its cause
and may ,with luck, even produce victories
in the war against filth.
But no anti-pollution crusade, no matter
how successful, has a large enough scope
to confront the real issue of environmental
use and misuse. This requires a philoso-
phical orientation such that the people
of Earth develop a sensitivity to the pat-
terns of environmental consequence as
acute as that of the fictional people of
FOR ECOLOGY is not merely the devel-
opment of new technological treatments
to "clean up" the waste being dumped into
our waterways. It is the study of the effects
which these treatments will have on all
the biological, social, political, and econo-
mic entities which touch the waterway,
the waste, or the treatment process. And
what effects these effected entities will
have on each other. And on life forms and
life cycles half a world away.
Every action has consequences. Some of
these are trivial, which is to say they can
be observed and offset, like the first litter
-dropping, smoke-belching stages of pol-
But the consequences of large-scale in-
terference with the environment, especially
by mass populations, are never trivial.
They reverberate infinitely and turn up in
peculiar places. And they breed: Attempting
to rectify the unfortunate consequences
of one action. (The use of DDT for ex-
ample) is quite likely to create more of
the same. -

If DDT is replaced with other pesticides.
will anyone attempt to evaluate their long-
term effects before they begin to wreak
unexpected havoc? And isn't it possible,
albeit improbable, that the absence of
DDT could have equally as drastic effects
on the environment as its presence?
It seems, then; that the solution to our
ecological dilemma lies in attaining per-
feet knowledge of all the relationships be-
tween all the living and non-living, single
and complex elements of life, with a view
to deciding which of these can be safely
tampered with.
Obviously this is absurd-we need to act
now, before all the data are in. But that
does not mean that we cannot act reason-
ably and with an eye to the future.
TO DO THIS, we must rearrange our
thinking about the relationship between
man and his environment so that the
emphasis is not on ignoring its unpleasant
consequences or camouflaging them, but
on accepting them as inevitable and finding
some way to integrate them into the ecd-
system without mutilating the existing
The result of having a consequence-
oriented citizenry is that the action-takers,
specifically government leaders, would no
longer be allowed to act in the irrational,
short-sighted, and helter-skelter fashion
of which they are so fond. If they per-
ceive that their constituents value ultimate
gain over immediate gain, public officials
will no longer be able to fob off stopgap
measures as solutions.
For example, urban transportation prob-
lems are acute and commonly "solved"
by federally-sponsored highway prolifera-
tion programs. But highways encourage
more cars which snarl up more traffic
and foul more air. Perhaps more ecolo-
gically important, they reduce the amount
of space available to oxygen-producing
green plants.
Yet how many years has Congress been
forcing highway programs on traffic-
plagued cities, some of which, like San
Francisco, desperately want and need mass
transit instead?

And when the environmental is con-
fronted, consider how the government pro-
ceeds. Both Senators Muskie and Nelson
have called for the development of pollu-
tionless vehicles in their environment bills.
Should either of these very commendable
pieces of legislation be passed, in due time
Ford and GM will create a car which has
the desired anti-pollution qualities.
But will anyone, anywhere, have checked
out this new vehicle to make sure it doesn't
possess some property capable of screwing
up the environment in still other ways?
As usual, the cure is as object-oriented,,
and therefore short-sighted and dangerous,
as the disease.
A ludicrous herald of this principle can
be seen in efforts to clean up the Delaware
River. When the plans go into effect in
1973 each sewage source along the river
will be allowed a quota of treated sewage
which it may dump into the water.
The rest will have to be burned (air pol-
lution) or buried (what will it do to the
soil?) or carted out to sea. At this rate, the
price of cleaning up the Delaware could
bankrupt the earth.
IT MAY BE argued that when dealing
with a critical problem, one should expect
haste and not perfection; that we may
have to accept the idea that one part of
our environment must remain waste so the
other part can be saved.
This is probably true. Certainly earth
can never be restored to its virginal pre-
technology state. But to save even a part
of it we nuist develop a different way
of approaching our environment-not as a
series of separate problems with concrete
solutions, but as a web of interlocking
causes and effects which have no solution
except constant attention and cautious
Perhaps the people of Earth, like the
people of Dune, will have to wait and to
work 500 years to achieve their ecological
goals. Perhaps they will spend the rest
of their history trying to stay one step
ahead of crashing consequences.
But one thing is certain-they can never
take a careless step again.




Political statements -or childish pranks


The repression boomerang

B I L L NO. 3800 ("A bill to provide
penalties for certain conduct at pub-
lic institutions of higher education") was
passed by the Michigan House of Repre-
sentatives yesterday.
The first section of said bill provides
that anyone who remains in a publicly
owned and operated college building "in
violation of properly promulgated' rules
of the institution" and against the in-
structions of a college president or his
representative is subject to a fine of "not
less than $250 nor more than $1000" or
to imprisonment for not more than 30
days-or both.
Section two provides the same penalties
for anyone who "willfully interferes with
or disrupts" any "function, class or activ-
ity" of publicly owned and supported
institutions. The bill is expected to pass
in the state Senate.
Judging from the performance of the
courts in the recent bookstore sit-in cases,
total fines and court costs imposed under
the new act would total approximately
$450 per person.
THESE ARE stiff penalties, and the
intent of the House is clear. The bill's
passage reflects Lansing's tacit accept-
ance of the fact that its university presi-
dents are now politically bankrupt on
their own campuses, unable any longer
to plead, cajole, or whine their way out
of student defnands and protest actions.
The bill is Lansing's admission that
the only way to preserve any sort of
peace on its campuses is with the threat
and use of frankly repressive force. In
short, the bill is a left handed compli-
ment to the student bodies of Michigan:
it concedes that they can no longer be
talked into passivity. Only the bludgeon
rmm.i n s_

jects of their dissatisfaction disappear
AS OFTEN as not, the increase of re-
pressive f o r c e used by authorities
against them has sharpened rather than
blunted the edge of these mass move-
ments. This lesson is clear not only in
the relatively brief history of our student
movement (although the Columbia and
San Francisco State cases do stand out
in bold relief). The history of American
labor is studded with similar examples.
Even the AFL's Sam Gompers, the
arch-foe of radicalism in the labor move-
ment, warned Congress that if ever
American workers turned their gaze to
dynamite, the cause would be govern-
ment repression. Of all this, President
Fleming-an old labor mediator himself
--must be painfully aware.
Rather than e a s i n g Fleming's role,
therefore, Bill 3800 only makes it more
harrowing. Immediately after the Colum-
bia uprising, he told the faculty that
bringing the police onto campus can
galvanize the student body more than
anything else into action against school
Fleming himself got a small object-
lesson in this truth when he brought in
police to end a sit-in at the LS&A Build-
ing this fall. The arrest of 107 that night
produced a mass protest rally of thou-
sands the morning after. How much more
incendiary will such arrests be when the
weight of convictions are increased!
FOR THE STUDENTS, there can be only
one attitude. The bill is written in
such a way that only Fleming (or his
"designee") can put its repressive ma-
chinery into motion. Only his public de-
mand that students vacate a building can
. " .. ____ . . _ _ _ _ . . . . . 3...

IN THE INKSTER junior high school I visit twice a week, more than
half of the windows are smashed. Is this a political statement?
While it seems very likely that the predominantly black seventh
and eight graders in Inkster hate the institution which those windows
shield, it is doubtful 'whether many of them believe that the shards of
glass in the school corridors represent a demand to make education
more relevant to their lives.
However, these window smashers are not simply "troublemakers."
And while it is obvious that the people who smash windows, trash
and spray paint the Air Force Recruiting Office are motivated by
political goals, it is also unlikely that any conceivable "audience" would
accept these tactics as political statements.
Many people will probably shrug off the trash and broken windows
at the recruiting office as just another prank-no different from the
green paint job the University receives each fall. Others may heed
the advice of Spiro Agnew and explain away the trashers as a band
of alienated and misguided youths-out of touch with the majority
of young people, who support American institutions and values.
Yet the people responsible for trashing the recruiting office insist
that we understand their "prank" as a "Political statement."
Well, I tried, but it wasn't even funny.
LAST WEDNESDAY, some people sprayed the Allied Chemical
recruiter's office with pesticides and dumped some dead fish on his
desk. This was a political statement whose message could not be
shrugged away.
When I first heard about the "raid" I chuckled under my breath.
These people had displayed the essence of everything wrong about the
Allied Chemical Corporation. The dead fish symbolized all the hor-
rible things which happen when corporations insist on manufacturing
chemicals that poison the environment.
In short, the dead fish transmitted a mental image of an evil
Allied Chemical. It could make people angry about the corporation's
blatant immorality in profiting from the manufacturing of DDT.
On the other hand, when I read about the smashed windows in
the recruiting office my reaction was completely different. The broken
window wasn't nearly as effective a metaphor in summing up the es-
sence of the destructiveness of the military in comparison with the
dead fish on the recruiter's table.
Perhaps it is more difficult to laugh about something as horrible
as war than other political issues. But I know I would have chuckled
under my breath if the people who had trashed the recruiters office
had invaded North Hall during the day wearing, combat uniforms and
armed to the teeth with squirt guns and rubberbands. It may even have
made people think twice about the presence of ROTC on campus.
As it was, it seems that people will interpret the trashing and the
broken windows as destructive acts rather than political statements.
It allows some persons to write off all actions against the military as
nothing more than a childish pranks. It gives them a chance to stop
thinking about the question at all.
IN A RECENT LETTER to The Daily, some members of Ann Arbor
SDS have written that while they have no illusions that window smash-
ing and trashing are sufficient actions in themselves to get ROTC and
military recruiters off campus, they can be regarded as first steps in
the building of a movement-and hopefully a revolution.
The letter says "trashing is one way of fighting back, a low-level
way, but still a physical response to the aggression by the United
This is nothing more than playing into the government's hands.
People get turned off by the style of such tactics without bothering to
even think'about the issues involved.
The letter continues: "One window breaks, the war goes on, two
windows break, the war goes on, three windows break, the war goes on."
Now isn't this exactly the reason why it is so ridiculous to break win-
It is hard to'believe that neople who claim to understand the whole




Letters to the Editor

a 1
To the Editor:
paring for Rush, I read your arti-
cle (Daily, Jan. 18) with great
interest. Unfortunately, much of
what you said is altogether too
accurate. But, there is fnuch more
that you did not bother to say.
Wh t little information about
fraternitiestthat filtered down to
students in my high school was all
very vivid and sensational such
as stories of wild parties, exten-
sive drinking.
I don't recall ever hearing that
fraternity men ran their own small
businesses - frequently with bud-
gets over $50,000 a year, and did
so with the men they elected from
their own numbers.
I don't think I ever heard much
mention (even in college) of the
work done by Greek men and
women for charitable organiza-
For example, my own house in

fraternity system's concern with
academics-yet, our house spon-
sors a regularly-held university
class, History 332.
ADMITTEDLY, none of these
things in themselves are closed to
the non-fraternity man. But as a
fraternity man, I am afforded the
opportunity to participate in many
varied and worthwhile projects,
and to sharemany experiences
with men I have come to trust,
appreciate and respect.
From this involvement I have
come to realize that brotherhood
is not dead and that it is not
just so much b.s. Brotherhood
doesn't just happen; rather, it pro-
ceeds from the repeated mutual
involvement of the chapter mem-
bers in a host of different areas.
A MAN GAINS from his frater-
nity experience in proportion to
what he puts into it. If he cannot
or will not contribute of himself,
he cannot expect to know the re-
wards that come only with in-

CERTAINLY, fraternities aren't
for everybody. But they have a
great deal to offer to a great many
Rush is not just a function for
men who have definitely decided
to pledge somewhere, it is a chance
for any Michigan man to see for
himself exactly what the fraternity
system bias to offer, and perhaps
to have some critical questions
We would especially like to in-
vite our critics to rush; too fre-
quently ,they have spoken from a
standpoint to comparative ignor-
ance, only to find an audience
anxious to swallow their biased
-Tom Pearce
Sigma Nu
Jan. 18
A team
To the Editor:
TODAY I witnessed a most in-
teresting event A debate between


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