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June 07, 1968 - Image 4

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1968-06-07

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14r £fir$fan Dail#
Seventy-seven years of editorial freedom
Edited and managed by students of the University of Michigan
under authority of Board in Control of Student Publications

420 Maynard St., Ann Arbor, Mich.

News Phone: 764-0552

Editorials printed in The Michigan Daily exp ress the individual opinions of staff writers
or the editors. This must-be noted in all reprints.

FRIDAY, JUNE 7, 1968


The President's newest commission:
No hope from the wicked

IN TIMES of great stress, and especially,
in times when that stress is of a sud-
den and personally shocking nature, it
is the responsibility of the wise govern-
ment, to move to counteract that shock.
And whether its response will produce
effective results in the long run is less
important than that it allay the fears,
to soothe the shock, to satisfy the be-
The decision President Johnson an-
nounced on nationwide television two
nights ago unfortunately is of this safety
valve variety. The President said. he was
appointing a commission composed of
prominent public figures to investigate
the causes and nature of the violence
plaguing America, ;the violence which
struck down Robert Kennedy.{
Yet the history of national investiga-
tory commissions under President John-
son does not bode well for what could
be an important reexamination. Indeed,
Johnson's gesture placed in the perspec-
tive of his handling of the report of the
National Advisory Commission on Civil
Disorders seems almost cynical.
THE OFFHAND manner in which the
* Johnson administration eventually
chose to comment on the report after a
week of government silence, a week in
which a number of prominent and re-
sponsible Americans outside the adminis-
tration lauded it, belies the seeming ser-
iousness with which Johnson established
the current commission Wednesday night.
It is significant that the administration
since has been at greater pains to take
issue with the riot commission's analysis
Of the cause - white racism - than to
implement its policy suggestions. By mak-
ing a mockery of the riot commission, the

President discredited the temporary in-
vestigatory commission as a productive
weapon in the executive arsenal.
Thus, the appointment of another,
identically-structured commission as the
major reaction of the government to this
tragic assassination is unlikely to serve
any purpose but to alleviate the imme-
diate national shock.
That is unfortunate, because violence
is not only a problem of gigantic im-
portance for the future physical and
moral safety of the nation; it is a prob-
lem which is so often distorted in popu-
lar analyses that it urgently requires
serious study. The Columbia Broadcast-
ing System interviewed a psychologist
from an institute studying, violence, who
sketchily outlined the kinds of discrim-
inations and problems any study must
consider. He differentiated between the
type of violence directed against Robert
Kennedy - insane, personal, misdirect-
ed - and the mass social crimes that
signify the illness of a whole society.
IN THE LIGHT of the harried analyses
being put forth by many of the tele-
vision commentators, that distinction
especially needs to be made, as well as
the distinction between actual violence
and organized attempts to change social
and economic institutions through dis-
ruptive -- but non-violent tactics.
With Johnson's apparent willingness
to use the results of investigatory com-
mission studies as he finds them politic-
ally expedient and to accept their con-
clusions only if they agree with his own
a priori conclusions, however, any steps
the new commission takes in that direc-
tion are apt to be futile..

- a3 " yY 1
a~c 19.
V, ~ ~

Letters to the Editor

OPEN YOUR eyes, Mr. Presi-
dent! You have appointed an-
other committee, you have pro-
claimed another day of mourning,
you have once again decried kill-
ing and violence, but like the rest
of our nation you have not learned
to look at yourself and your mis-
We have preached violence,
glorified it, exported it-all in the
name of patriotism-and now our
teachings have been practiced
upon us in another isolated and
dramatic act.
The great shock of Robert Ken-
nedy's assassination is a result of
the fact that it was an act out
of context. Thousands of assas-

sinations are being committed by
human beings on other human
beings in Vietnam. They are acts
of violence motivated by political
differences,tactswhich are com-
mitted within the context of a
- war sanctioned by the government
and, incredibly, by society.
Senator Kennedy's assassination
was also an act of political dif-
ferences, but it was committed
within the context of free debate
and public election. We are dumb-
founded because the means of one
institution are practiced in the
other. I am not implying that the
assassin's act was defensible be-
cause we condone violence in the
context of war. To the contrary,

I am stating that we cannot ac-
cept violence in one context and
reject it in another. We simply
cannot play it both ways.
If we are capable of expressing
the same concern for living people,
regardless of their social position
and economic power, that we do
for a single murdered man, then
there is hope for our country. If
we continue, however, to focus on
our conflicts rather than the cures
to our basic problems, on our dif-
ferences rather than our common
humanity, on destruction rather
than solution, then we have learn-
ed nothing.;
-Steven Blatt

The bomb
beneah us
LAST NOVEMBER, a reporter for the Milwaukee Journal Visite.
Ann Arbor on an assignment which would have puzzled the
know-nothings in the state legislature, who regard any political
expression by students as inherently subversive: he was to find out
why student protests at the University of Michigan were so tamely
non-violent and non-disruptive compared to those at other univer-
At the time, it seemed like a good question for anyone-but,
especially a reporter from a newspaper in the state of Wisconsin-
to ask. During the previous months there had been student demon-
strations at both the University of Michigan and the University of
Wisconsin, and by comparison Michigan seemed a hotbed of sweet
In Madison, a few hundred students sat-in on the hallway floor
of a classroom building to protest recruiting by Dow Chemical Com-
pany. The police arrived and demanded an end to the sit-in. When
some of the students blocked their entrance, the police reapted with
savage brutality. Sixty-five students were injured, many of them
onlookers or those passing between classes.
IN ANN ARBOR, over 250 students and 30 faculty members sat-In
in the lobby of the administration building to demand an end to
University acceptance of classified research contracts from the
Department of Defense and University assistance to counter-insur-
gency work in Thailand At the offset they voted to eschew "disrup-
tive" tactics, but that only serves to illustrate how meaningless
the word has become: sitting-in in the lobby of the administration
building, the protesters here were far more disruptive of the normal
process of work and life than those who staged their demonstrati9n
in a classroom building at Wisconsin.
Nevertheless, the day was uneventful. There was a lot of talk, a
number of paper motions were passed, a few University vice presidents
got the afternoon off. Six hours after it had begun, the protest
gagged in its' own rhetoric and the 25 who had remained to the end
tramped wearily out of the building. Since then, the University is
still working hand in hand with the Royal Thai military, and the
faculty committeeset-up the day before the sit-in to review classified
research policy has given Willow Run Labs a blank check.
NOW WHY, the journalist from the Journal wanted to know,
did the protests at the two schools have much different denouements?
The answer lies in the reactions of the administration. At the Univer-
sity the police not only weren't called in, according to'one version of
the story Vice President Pierpont actually asked them to stay away.
Vice President Norman volunteered to discuss the issues with the
sitters-in and for the next two hours an honest if sometimes un-
informed and frustrating evasive dialogue took place. Vice President
Cutler strolled through the crowd, joking with students. When the
scene shifted to the hallways on the first and, second floors, Vice
President Smith sat-in with the. protesters outside his own office.
President Hatcher, as was his wont, was out of twn.
Although the University has never treated a student protest with
such civility, few protests have had more serious consequences. No
demonstration on the niversity campus in recent memory has ended
in violence, although the draft rankings crisis of November 1966,
in which over 5000 students mobilized, obviously had the potential.
Only one building has been "liberated" a la Columbia, by black stu-
dents last April, and that was under clearly extraordinary circum-
stances and the administration handled it thusly. The whole thing
was over in five hours, and there were no reprisals.
YET, I DO NOT subscribe to the "it can't happen here" school of
thought. The socogical profile of the student body, and especially
of the radical students, is strikingly similar to that of students at
Wisconsin and 'Berkeley, scenes of numerous violent incidents in the
past few years. The national issues are the same everywhere. And
although it appears that the administration here has finally learned
how to handle demonstrations when they happen, it is still incredibly
Insensitive to student opinion on local issues.
In fact, I think the University right now is sitting on a bomb
which could explode at any time. Part of the explosive potential
exists because the administration, as well as much of the faculty, is
afflicted with the same law-and-order complex which riddles the
larger society we live in. Administrators are so concerned with
averting manifestations of unhappiness that they never really listen
to what students are saying, never deal with their arguments on a
serious intellectual level.
PART OF IT also exists because President Fleming is newer to the
University than most of its students, and isn't able to judge his
actions with the benefits of historical context. He doesn't understand
the existing passions, what has generated them, and what now is
likely to set them off. Many of the people he trusts for advice aren't
as wise as he would be had he lived through the fights of the past.

Although predictions are always tenuous, I think the issue which
is most likely to light the fuse is the implementation of the report
of the Hatcher Commission on the Role of Students in Decision-
Making. If there is a blow-up now, the rest lts for everyone-students,
faculty and administrators-could be tragic, yet the whole affair has
been handled so badly that I would be surprised if there are no
WHAT THE STUDENTS have not yet understood is that It is the
report itself, as The Daily Senior Editors pointed out at the
time, which should be protested--not the implementation of the
report. Look at it this way: the commission was set up in 1966 to
head off almost certain trouble over the University's unilateral im-
position of a sit-in ban, its collaboration withthe selective service,
and its refusal to bide by the results of a student referendum asking
the University not to compile class rankings. The issue was who is
going to make the decisions which affected the lives of students-the
students themselves or somebody else.
The University is theoretically committed to student democracy.
It is not an enterprise and students are in no way employes, so the
analogy to the right of a corporation to regulate the conduct of its
employes is absurd on the face. And with the Reed Report in 1962,
the University pronounced the death knell on in loco parentis. There
is no other rationale for anybody but students making rules to govern
their lives.
FOR ALMOST A year and a half, the Commission haggled over
what role students would have in decision making. This spring it
came up with its answer: damn little. Worse, the Commission con-
cerned itself almost solely with what the administration wanted to
do in the first place: avoid sit-ins. Instead of an answer to the prob-
lems which led to its creation, the Commission set up a University
Council to make rules governing demonstrations and protests. Stu-
dents, who outnumber administrators and faculty members combined
five or six to one, are outnumbered on the UC two to one. Rather
than accept this he Daily Senior Editors rejected the report of the
Hatcher Commission in a front page editorial, preferring to have the
police on campus than tolerate a thin excuse for democracy. I
thought our decision was a wise one then, and I still do.



The medium and the extreme

McLUHAN'S dictum equating the me-
dium and the message never seems
so lamentably true as at times like these.
Radio and television can, at times of
national emergencies, tell us and show
us things with a sense of immediacy
which no printed media can duplicate.
At the same time, because the event is
deemed a national crisis, attention can-
not shift from the topic. That fact in-
deed distinctly shapes the message, and
with results which are not always happy.
For the pressure of having to stay on
the air with men on the scene or at other
scenes with related information even-
tually runs the broadcasting systems out
of things to say. The commentators who
hem and haw, whom the public assumes
have been rendered speechless by the
emotional impact of the tragedy, aire as
often as not simply stalling for time.
That would not be so bad. It is boring
to have to watch and listen to what
sometimes amounts to meaningless gib-
berish, yet if boredom were the only dis-
advantage it still wouldn't be so bad.
There is a certain therapeutic value at
traumatic times for people to have other
people in front of them, sharing their
grief and shock. And hopefully the total
immersion into the tragedy, the re-
watching of replays of speeches made

hours ago, inspires people to dwell on
the meaning of what is happening.
But boredom is not the only problem.
The fact that the television station must
stay with the event, that it can't return
to normal programs, that it has to make
snap judgment decisions about what to
broadcast, leads to the dissemination of
"news" which is so tasteless that hope-
fully no newspaper or magazine, if only
because these media have greater time
for reflection, would ever print it. The
"bulletins" carried by some networks
Wednesday afternoon which detailed the
reaction of Robert Kennedy's parents to
the news of his shooting characterize the
lack of consideration for privacy which
radio and television stations often fall
into when they are so out of newsworthy
items that they will broadcast anything.
Some of the shots of the fallen body
caught by cameras close to the incident
were abominably sensationalistic, almost
ALMOST by definition, the McLuhanis-
tic system is a closed, determined one.
Yet one hopes that those who decide what
will and will not be broadcast will in the
future attempt more vigorously to break
the chains of causation.
- J.L.

The word is .. .ahem

lowing interview was conducted
next February with one of the
originators (anonymous) of the.
underground newspaper, US,
two issues of which were distri-
buted at Ann Arbor High school
during May of this year, to the
consternation of school officials.
The first issue attacked school
officials, schools, grades, com-
pulsory attendance, and includ-
ed excerpts from "The Student
As Nigger" by Jerry Farber.
Daily:. . . and how did this
trouble get started?
X: Well, see, a bunch of us guys
just got together and put together
this underground magazine. We
got in trouble because we weren't
supposed to distribute it on tax-
payers" property. At school,, I
Daily: And what did this
magazine contain?
X: Well, it was pretty radical,
see. We wanted to "tell it like it
is," so towspeak. Or really "like it
was," as it were . . .or was . . .
Anyway, we all wrote a bunch of
inflammatory articles condemning
the administrators and the
schools. We went in pretty heavy.
Like we used the word "shit" once,
for example. One of the articles
also contained "fellatio," but
most everybody thought that was
a character in Hamlet,
Daily: You published dirty
X: No, stories and cartoons too.
There was one article on "The
Student as Negro," or "Colored
Man," or something. I can't quite
remember. But we didn't use that
other word.
Daily: What other word?
X: You know the one I mean.
The one everybody uses all the
Daily: Which?
X: Are you going to publish this
Daily: Probably.'
X: Then I'd just as soon not say
it. The word, I mean, I don't want
to make trouble.
Daily: Okay. So what hap-
pened after you put out your
X: Boy, all heck broke loose. I
mean the jello really hit the fan.
The school board got all bothered
and the Ann Arbor News had a
two-inch article and the adminis-
tration grilled all of us to find out
who did it. That wasn't so bad

Mr. Kontiki, the Assistant Prin-
cipal, we talked all about how the
magazine was irresponsible and
immature and flippant, and how
a respectable argument doesn't
need to be sarcastic, and all that
kind of thing.
Daily: And you believe that?
X: Believe it! Sure I do. What
do you think, that they get idiots
to run the schools? Those guys
know what they're talking about.
Why else would they be there?
Daily: I suppose that's a rhe-
torial question. Would you like
to tell us what else he told
X: Sure. He said that we weren't
crticizing, that we were just whin-
ing, just throwing bricks to break
the school windows. Like for in-
stance, he said we yelled about
grades because we ourselves got
mediocre or lousy grades. Sour
grapes, sour grades, see?
Daily: So what did he tell you
to do about it?
X: Prove our criticism. He told
us to try the grading system, for
awhile-work forgood grades-
and then after a trial period, to
see if we still had the same gripes.
Daily: And what did you do?
X: I worked my ass . . worked
my tail off. I went from a 2.34 to
a 3.42 last semester.
Daily: What do you think
X: No complaints, that's what.
I've been accepted at U. of M. next
year, mostly on the basis of my
improvement. That was pretty im-
portant to my parents too. It all
depends on how you look at it,
isn't that true?
Daily: What wat the school
board reaction?
X: They were upset about the
words. They said that the kind of
language we used wasn't neces-
sary. They said it antagonized
people and made them unrecep-
tive. As soon as they see swear
words used just for the sake of
shocking people, they stop listen-
ing. So we toned down the second
issue-I think we said hell once.
Daily: No more shit?
X: Well, you've got to make
some sacrifices in order to com-
municate, so that you don't turn
them off right away. Like apply-
ing for a job-a little humility,
right? Does it hurt so much to get
a haircut? See, like for an ex-,
ample, I used to wear hip clothes,
and right away, they'd suspend
me for smoking or something.
Daily: We noticed you're

X: "Radical" is a pretty harsh
term, don't you think? I mean,
I was never a fanatic or anything.
Sure I had disagreements, but...
Daily: Do you still write for
X: Are you 'kidding? Those
idiots? I wouldn't work for them.
Like I say, all they do is antagonize
and condemn. They make so many'
blanket generalizations. I mean,
you have to be rational, don't you?
And responsible?
;Daily: And you've abandoned
your former ideas?
Not at all. That's compromise.
What I'm, telling you is that I've
changed. I've grown up. I've been
learning how to criticize construc-
tively. Now I write for the Op-
Daily: What's that?
X: The school paper. You seed,
there are accepted channels al-
ready set up to ventstudent opin-
ion. And believe me, whenr you're,
accepted, people are ready to
listen. People pay attention when
you're reasonable.
Daily: Don't you have to mo-
dify your ideas for a school
paper, though?
X: No, of course not. Do you
think they twist the thumbscrews
to make us turn clockwise? That's
blatantly stupid to think that. And'
irresponsible. They let me write
what I Want. I still work for re-
form. Last week, por ejample, I
wrote an article constructively
criticizing the student council's
apparent reluctances to discuss
the policy on library passes. And
I didn't just throw bricks. I went
to the student council representa-
tives and gave them my own four-
page statement on suggested con-
crete alternatives to the situation.
That may seem small beans to
you, but that's the way you get
things done.
Daily: Through student coun-
X: They're the elected repre-
sentatives, aren't they? I can vote,
can't I? They're the brains of
the outfit, most of them. Their
fathers are mostly professors and
stuff like that. You don't get many
.athletes or general curriculum
kids on the council dragging them'
down. Generally, I'd say they've
got a pretty constructive group.
Daily: Don't you think you've
kind of reversed fields? First
US, and now elected represent-
X: Well. I resnect your onin-


The student newspaper

A STUDENT newspaper is, by definition,
a newspaper that serves the student
body. To be sure, we have a student
newspaper at Michigan; but there has
been considerable doubt as to whether
this newspaper is serving the student
This year The Michigan Daily has em-
barked upon the highly controversial
road of muckraking. Its discoveries have
been amazing. The Michigan Daily has
probably done more honest, and probab-
ly not so honest, investigating than any
other college newspaper in the country.
It is, however, for these reasons that The
Daily is one of the best newspapers in
the country.
The point that still remains, though,
is what has happened to the students',
newspaper? That the CIA has infiltrated
the University's higher echelons, that
there exists n cnvert slush find for th_

time; his studies make sure of that. The
Daily, however, devotes this time'to these
causes and in doing so prints an imbal-
anced stance when one takes the stu-
dent into consideration.
The Daily, intends to seek the truth,
says its editor-in-chief, even if that
means that we will end up with more
enemies than friends. You're paying for
this, he has stated; all we're trying to do
is give you your money's worth.
THIS LAST statement, however, over-
looks the fact that there exists other
channels of giving ,the students their
money's worth, if this indeed is the true
intent of The Daily. Telling the'students
more about themselves instead of just
talking about an athletic slush fund
might be a start. To be sure, both may
be important, but if one must preclude
the other, then average students' affairs

o A

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