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April 17, 1977 - Image 4

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Publication:
Michigan Daily, 1977-04-17

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Qale 3fr ictan Dait
Eighty-Seven Years of Editorial Freedom
420 Maynard St., Ann Arbor, MI 48109

IS

Sunday, April 17, 1977

News Phone: 764-0552

Edited and managed by students at the University of Michigan
'Red Squad' bill rates OK

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MICHIGAN Attorney General Frank
Kelley ought to make it unani-
mous and permit the subjects of sur-
veilance by the State Police's "Red
Squad" to examine their own files.
Kelley is the only state official who
still resists disclosure.
While there is no specific legis-
lation, state or federal, which requir-
es such disclosure in the case of il-
legally gathered records amassed by
a secret governmental agency in the
course of an unconstitutional investi-
gation, allowing people to see their
own records would certainly conform
to the spirit of legislation and court
rulings in similar situations.
And there is no convincing rea-
son for preventing access to the files
before they are destroyed. Since they
were collected by an agency which is
now defunct, publication couldn't pos-

sibly damage or endanger the opera-
tions of that organization. Confiden-
tiality is not an issue in this instance.
Documents were "secret" only from
the public, most of the legislature
and the squad's victims: other agen-
cies and private corporations got
"leaks" if the squad decided they were
entitled to the information.
Full public disclosure of all the
material is unnecessary: those citizens
whose rights were violated once
should not be exposed to further
scrutiny and possible embarrasment,
or recriminations, or harrassment.
But it is only sensible that they
should know, if they choose, what
their lives looked like to covert ob-
servers who not only watched and
listened, but made records for pos-
terity as well.

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What will Carter name
his new master plan?

YOU KNOW, of course, that he must
be getting ready to spring it on
us.
Jimmy Carter is too masterful a
symbolist, too wise a political tactic-
Ian, to let the opportunity slip
through his Georgian hands.
Carter is about to unleash some
of his big programs this week. He's
going to get a lot of flack for them,
and he's going to be making as hard
a pitch to the people back home as
he can muster. If Congress knows the
voters stand behind him, he thinks,
it'll ease up on him.
And for that, he needs some dra-

ma. He needs (dramatic pause) A
Slogan. He needs a label for his ad-
ministration.
Teddy Roosevelt's was the Square
Deal. FDR grabbed the biggie - the
New Deal. Eisenhower encouraged a
New Look; Kennedy trudged into the
New Frontier. Lyndon Johnson asked
for a Great Society.
And they all sprung the slogans
in major speeches.
So what can we expect from Jim-
my? The Great Frontier? The New
Peanut? Perhaps the Square Peanut?
In any event, it will be history
before our eyes.

By CHRISTOPHER POTTER
I wish I could like Robert Altman. To loathe him
seems the cinematic equivalent of a consumer advo-
cate disowning Ralph Nader. The comparison is more
than casual; like his idealistic compatriot, Altman.
bucks the corporate monoliths (in his case the Holly-
wood studio moguls), does his own idiosyncratic thing,
and comes up smiling. He's been doing it for almost
a decade now, escaping unscathed again and again,
bankrolled once more for his next film. In this nimble
process he has become-despite his disclaimers-a
calumet of individualism glimmering bravely through
the dark turmoil of an art form which with little prior
warning seems lately and tragically hurtling toward
creative suicide.
The American Film Renaissance has gone sour, a
decline made doubly ghastly by the fact that it hit
just at a time our native cinema seemed on the verge
of realizing the almost limitless potential which had
lain patiently, whating to be tapped. It had been hard
coming: Following Hollywood's initial burst of versa-
tility with its new-found toy, depression-era sternness
dictated that The Dream Factory serve up puritan-
enforced pablum in which the good guys won, the bad
guys lost and sex didn't exist. The straightjacketed
audiences of the time either accepted the spoon-feed-
ing, or, if they yearned for a genuine view of society,
curled up with a good book. There were, of course, ex-
ceptions to the rule (else the movies would have died
long ago), Rooney and Garland, Inc. remained the
essential film lexicon for almost three decades.
Suddenly, the 60's were upon us, and just as sud-
denly there appeared a film named Bonnie & Clyde
destined to blast the Sound of Music ethos to bits and
open -up the possibility of turning business into art.
Suddenly anything seemed possible in cinema.
But such was not to be. Just at the moment the
corner seemed turned toward a lasting film liberation,
the sudden hammerblow combination of adverse court
decisions and economic uncertainties have recently sent
the film industry-never disinclined toward timorous-
ness in the first place - scurrying tail between its legs
to the closest aesthetic bastion of conformity of the
moment-currently the intertwined disasterland-con-
spiracy genre.
The sociological implications of the presumed nar-

cotic audience lure of mass apocalyptic bloodletting
weighs little if at all upon the minds of the moneymen;
they doubtless also fail to note such irony as the post-
1969 blacklisting of director Haskell Wexler, whose
then-radical film, Medium Cool, looks positively bovine
by today's all-powerful "they" paranoid flicks. (When
even Stanley Kramer (The Domino Principle) jumps
aboard the subversive bandwagon, one realizes con-
spiracy has truly become apple pie).
Such contradictory factors don't matter to the mo-
guls: "Times are tight; we've got to make out invest-
ment back; it's time to consolidate, not experiment.
Cut out the damn foolishness!"
And thus trumps the endless, brutal parade of same-
ness; whether wretchedly made (Two Minute Warn-
ing) or adroitly crafted (Black Sunday), these opii all
project humanity ground into a fly-paper dimension,
played upon audiences molded into Pavlovian cynicism.
It's a game' of contempt wwith the viewer as a pawn
both commercially courted and aesthetically scorned.
It's the is-it-a-business-or-an-art paradox, and it's going
to get worse folks, a lot worse.
Placed against this backdrop of formula numbness,
it's no wonder Altman looks heroic. He makes (almost)
whatever he feels like, he uses small budgets, he dis-
dains the star system, he glories in rep company im-
provisation. To hear screenwriter Joan Tewkesbury
(Nashville) describe the flow of ideas and freedom of
interchange amidst the Altman troupe left me feeling
almost duty-bound to champion this noncomformist
against theOrwellian money machines bent on squeez-
ing the life out of an art many of us cherish. But I
can't do it. For all his free-flungness, I find the core
of all (save one) of Altman's films infected by a moral
torpidity in its own way as desolate and ominous as
the moguls' assembly-line grist that at first glance
seems the very antithisis of his own work.
I could attempt to take Altman to task technologic-
ally, pointing out that his films rarely exhibit any
sense whatsoever of pace and timing, that many of
his "innovations" are less than original and often sim-
ply sloppy to the point of amateurism; but I could.
live with these functional faults if I could still sense
that despite all the pitfalls Altman was getting at
something, some cauldron of truth or whatever pseu-
donym one chooses to give the word. Something to

AlItman
make the turmoil within our own skulls a little less
desperate. Obviously, such was never Altman's pur-
pose; he worships the maelstrom of chaos, and behind
it a pittiless void.
Altman is fond of saying that he just "watches
things unfold" in his films. casting no moral judge-
ment upon his characters. This is, of course, aesthetic
humbug; any artist makes presumptions about his
creations, no matter how obtuse or personalized. And
Altman, far from withholding judgement over his sub-
jects, has issued a consistent and ringing pronounce-
ment of the amorality of his players - not a shades-
of-gray moralitynbutsspecifically amorality, ominous
in its android blitheness.
Assuming this, one might be naturally inclined to
categorize Altman as a cinematic pessimist, but he
really isn't. And that, ironically, is what I find so dis-
turbing. Ingmar Bergman's characters wrestle with
tortured posing of God's existence and individual iden-
tity, reflecting their master's passionate gloom; Alt-
man's hollow men and women don't appear to ponder
anything at all. They simply react, often nastily and
never with genuine affection, a fact that, rather than
disturbing their director, often seems to delight him.
Altman's emotional sterility has been present from
the onset of his film career: the troupe of limp, youth-
ful zombies infesting That Cold Day in the Park cer-
tainly captured Altman's sympathies far more than
the 30-ish spinster (Sandy Dennis) they piteously tor-
ment into insanity. (Must one be punished for the crime
of being alone and unwanted?) The icy brutleness cer-
tainly extended to the Army doctors of M*A*S*H,
whose exercises in elitist sadim continue to make this
much-loved "comedy" one of the most unlovable
movie experiences I've ever had to squirm through.
(Is it really the Olympus o fhumor to see a human
being hounded so unmercifully that he ends Vp carted
off in a straightjacket?)
Overt sadism is less apparent in Brewster McCloud
(Altman's favorite film, rumor has it), but its pres-
ence is hardly necessary to insure the insufferability of
this most blatant exercise in zombie chic. True ab-
surdist works tell their tale while always holding fast
to a gogent, forceful meaning beneath the surface;
Brewster McCloud has no meaning beneath, above or
See WHY, Page 5

Contact your reps
Sen. Donald Riegle (Dem.), 1205 Dlrksen Bldg., Washing-
ton, D.C. 20510
Sen. Robert Griffin (Rep.), 353 Russell Bldg., Capitol Hill,
Washington, D.C. 20515.
Rep. Carl Pursell (Rep.), 1709 Longworth House Office Bldg.,
Washington, D.C. 20515.
Sen. Gilbert Bursley (Rep.), Senate, State Capitol Bldg.,
Lansing, MI 48933.
Rep. Perry Bullard (Dem.), House of Representatives, State
Capitol Bldg., Lansing, MI 48933.
W M M . "M".

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affirmative action
To The Daily:
For several days I have hesi-
tated to respond to Prof. Carl
Cohen's eloquent remarks on
what he views as "deadly poi-
son": namely, Affirmative Ac-
tion programs for racial minori-
ties (Daily, April 10). Like many
other blacks, I am weary of
this peripheral yet crucial as-
pect of our struggle, the at-
tendant shouting and pain, and
I realize sadly that Cohen is
neither the first nor the last
whose devotion to abstract con-
cepts of "fairness" outweighs
his concern for a 'non-assimila-
ted (and, in 1977, unfashionable)
group of people to which he does
not belong. But until the day
when we can defuse such mini-
issues as bussing and racial
quotas, someone must address
them, hoping eventually to re-
focus attention on the dirty linen
of racism that underlies reac-
tionary rhetoric, the feeble ra-
tionalizations of an insecure
white male society no longer
in a benevolent mood.
Cohen reiterates the familiar
argument that any preference
or attention given to race in
the deliberations of college ad-
missions boards is unfair, "in-
trinsically odious, always invidi-
ous, and morally impermissable,
no matter how laudable the
goals in view." He also reminds
us frequently of the Constitu-
tion, a document which as orig-
inally conceived by the Found-
ing Fathers specifically defined
Negroes as fractional human be-
inmqN+t wirr P ni fi nnQ-

Letters
of minorities enrolled in Ameri-
can colleges would fall substan-
tially with the repeal of Af-
firmative Action because many
are less "qualified" than their
white male peers, is to ignore
the fact that these "qualifica-
tions" are arbitrary, patently
racist-sexist, and designed ex-
actly to bring about the exclu-
sivity in higher education which
existed unchallenged until the
Sixties.
Moreover, Cohen writes as if
in a vacuum about the racial
discrimination that "was," the
damage that "has been," as if
these negative factors are now
purely historical and that mi-
norities are welcomed into white
academic society in any more-
than-superficial sense. In the
real world, which bears no re-
lation to the philosophic-legalist-
ic detachment of Cohen, Affirm-
ative Action has served at best
to counter the indelible factors
that militate against the admis-
sion and survival of minorities
in white-oriented schools, though
never eliminating such forces.
If his ridiculous statement were
true that "all sides agree that
vigorous action, affirmative
steps must be taken," then sure-
liy a time of racial equality
would be within our grasp. Un-
fortunately, Cohen's primal fear
that Affirmative Action "will not
integrate the races but will dis-
integrate them, forcing atten-
tion to race, creating anxiety
and agitation ... exciting envy,
ill-will and widespread resent-
ment...," would be more ac-
curately directed toward pres-

to th e
contention of a non-admitted
white student, Mr. Bakke, that
"had his skin been of a darker
color he would certainly have
been admitted." At this junc-
ture,' I would refer Mr. Bakke
(and others who share his mis-
conception) to the absurdist best-
seller, Black Like Me, lest they
tempt the Fates so frivolously
for the- sake of admission to col-
lege. More seriously, I would
point out that had his skin been
of a darker color, Bakke's
chance of having received a sub-
standard, non-"qualifying" high
school education becomes like-
ly, his chance of death before
the age of twenty due to urban
homicide or inadequate health
care increases at least five-fold,
and, most critically, his chance
of having been so turned off,
physically and emotionally, by
a society committed to his fail-
ure as a man, that he could nev-
er even have reached the stage
of application to professional
school, becomes a tragic near-
certainty.
Affirmative Action as it exists
today is wildly imperfect; Prof.
Cohen is wise to suggest that
such programs must be altered
so that "some majority appli-
cants deserving compensatory
preference will benefit also..."
But may I caution that the com-
plete repeal of Affirmative Ac-
tion by the Nixon Court, per-
hans imminent and inevitable,
will be pyrrhic victory for any-
one who hopes to see the day
when compensation for racial
injustice truly is not needed.
Time is short. We modern-day

Dalily
students to help them pass the
time. It is not our policy to print
the entire letters, but we will
print the names and addresses
of each prisoner. If you are in-
terested in corresponding with a
prisoner, you can write to:
Jim Edwards
Box 81248
Lincoln, Nebraska 68501
Otis Johsen 139-291
-Box 57 MCI
Marion, Ohio 43302
Jack W. Lyon Jr. 136-731
Box 69
London, Ohio 43140
Tony F. Sisbarro 39868-133
Box 1000
Leavenworth, Kansas 66048
Richard Tracy 147-128
Box 511
Columbus, Ohio 43216
Alphonso Hayes
Box 51
Comstock, New York 12821
GEO
To The Daily:
A cartoon in The Daily Fri-
day, April 15 shows a lonesome,
abandoned GEO picket left con-
fronting the smiling condescend-
ing dude of an administrator,
but it doesn't tell the whole
story. It doesn't say why all
the other pickets have fled.
You see that administrator
has a certain foul odor about
him. In fact he reeks so foul
that the rest of us have fled
to get gas masks. Such is his
smell that they had to build
this huge jewel of a building
with think nn ,.miq wlmsnd ,

have just run back to get bet-
ter equipment: then we'll be
back."
Olivia Baldwin
protest
To The Daily:
The Black Law Students Alli-
ance of the University of Michi-
gan Law School announces its
full and complete support of
the Black student protest pre-
sently being waged at the Wayne
State Law School in Detroit.
B.L.S.A./U.M. recognizes the
just and honorable nature of
the struggle at Wayne, and
stands solidly behind the Two-
Point Proposal of the Wayne
Law School students.
The protest is a response to
the intolerable racial discrim-
ination embodied in the flunk-
out quota policy at Wayne. Last
year more than 60 per cent of
the first year Black and other
minority law students were eith-
er flunked out or put on proba-
tion. The Wayne faculty has
summarily rejected all propos-
als which would have had a di-
rect and meaningful impact on
the Black and minority attri-
tion rate.
The Two-Point Proposal: 1).
Details a more equitable aca-
demic probation framework; 2).
Calls for the reinstatement of
a more equitable grading poli-
cy.
We urge the administration of
Wayne Law School to give care-
ful consideration to the just

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