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February 13, 1976 - Image 4

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1976-02-13

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Ehe t Mcgan Daily
Eighty-Six Years of Editorial Freedom
420 Maynard St, Ann Arbor, MI 48104

Literacy: Menace or


Friday, February 1 3, 1976

News Phone: 764-0552

Edited and managed by students at the University of Michigan
Wyidwe arm UNITA?

has said that the reasons for
U. S. intervention in Angola were the
Soviet presence in the area and the
U. S. policy of encouraging moderate
independence groups in southern
However, according to a text pub-
lished Wednesday in The Village
Voice and said to be part of the Con-
gressional Committee's report on the
CIA, "the military intervention of
the Soviet Union and Cuba is in
large part a reaction to U. S. efforts
to break a political stalemate in favor
of its clients ... This infusion of U.S.
aid, unprecedented and massive in
the underdeveloped colony, may have
panicked the Soviets into arming
their MPLA (Popular Front) clients,
who they have backed for over a dec-
ade and who were now in danger of
being eclipsed by the National Front
The Commnittee report also saw
only scant ideological differences
among the three major factions in
Angola. And it reported likely that
the paramount factor in U. S. in-
volvement probably was Kissinger's
desire to reward and protect African
leaders in the area.
The CIA funding of arms in An-
gola is a clear violation of legal lim-
its on the scope of the agency's ac-
tions. The CIA intervention provok-
ed the Soviet build-up, to which
President Ford reacted by calling for
overt financial aid to UNITA and the
National Front (FNLA).
of the MPLA has been wrong
since its inception. The MPLA is the
faction which fought the longest for
Angolan independence. It is the only
faction which draws significant su-
port from all three of Angola's eth-
nic groups. And it advocates a social-
ist program for the development of
Angola which would advance the
country at least as efficiently as the
programs advocated by its rivals.
Kissinger's support of UNITA and
FNLA can hardly be justified on
ideological grounds. Setting aside for
the moment that Western-style de-
mocracy is not the best style of gov-
ernment for developing African na-
tions, UNITA and FNLA are not any
closer than the MPLA to being dem-
ocratically oriented.
As for Kissinger's argument that
we should' defeat the MPLA because
it is Soviet-backed, the House report
names CIA involvement as the rea-
son for the Russians coming to the
aid of the MPLA.
The Popular Movement asked the
U. S. for aid before it went to the
News: Glen Allerhand, Phil Foley,
Rob Meachum, Maureen Nolan,
Tim Schick, David Whiting
Editorial Page: Marc Basson, Michael
Beckman, Stephen Hersh, Dale
Hickley, Jon Pansius
Arts Page: David Blomquist
Photo Technician: Steve Kagan

T AM WRITING this because
I crave words, and books,
and reading. And you, since you
are reading this, are probably
a member of the same name-°
less fraternal organization,
which for the sake of discussion
I will dub Literates Anonymous.
Those who meet the member-
ship requirements may realize
they have a problem: they jok-.
ingly call themselves "Book-
aholics," sneakily join mail or-
der book clubs, and go on glaz-
ed - eye bank - balance - de-
stroying rampages in book
stores. Even then they may not
admit that their problem is
serious. And for every obvious
Literate, there are probably two
secret Literates who keep a
paperback wrapped in plastic
in the toilet tank and read un-
der the covers with flashlights
when their spouses are asleep.
But it is not enough to decry
print - junkie symptoms; we
must examine root causes if we
are to dry out and ultimately
sober up the general populace.
Readers have had their way in
academic and government cir-
cles for centuries, and one of
us has completely escaped their
pernicious indoctrination.
Bacl in the olden days, long
before the GI Bill, The Roman
Catholic Church attempted full-
scale prohibition of Literacy.
The church confined hard-core
printites in monasteries and

running hit: it burned women
(called witches, op cit) who
could count past ten and thus
keep track of their husbands'
squandering, and men who
could spell out addresses well
enough to read of the where-
abouts of illegal but amorous
church learned to its eternal
sorrow, prohibition never works.
Gutenberg created bathtub ink
and move-easy type. Skid row
priests like Martin Luther leaf-
letted and fomented. Dissident'
factions siezed the cause of
Literacy for political, advan-
tage, and the binge was on.
Consumers learned to read,
write, even do sums. Social or-
der descended to chaos. Power
was wrenched from classes that
held legal title and sacred writ.
The word 'meritocracy' was
coined, and all sorts of upstart
social currency was printed and
passed.** Ambition and a little
learning could get a person al-
most anywhere (luck, money,
and nice features not withstand-
ing), even the Senate, or Par-
liament, or Afghanistan with the
Peace Corps.*** The emerging
ruling class could read (so
they said) and peons aspired to
Although Bookaholism can
strike any sex or station of life,'
certain important genetic con-
tent can be discerned in the an-

Paul Tassie/Michigan Daily



Henry Kissinger

'Environment is a key contributory factor
in print addiction, because it not only condi-
tions the victim to accept his or her condition,
but imparts an unwarranted but exhilarating
sensation of moral superiority.'

sustained them on maintain-
ance dosages of readigg and
writing, mostly writing. Itin-
erant clerical lecturers mysti-
fied Literacy in the same way
that Reefer Madness mystified
marijuana users some centuries
later. And, in a move that had
very little popular support, re-
ligious orders suppressed the
technology necessary to pro-
duce and distribute books and
pamphlets. *In an attempt to
regain credibility with the
masses, the church initiated a
campaign that became a long-
Marnie Heyn is a former Lit-
erate who kicked the habit and
enrolled in graduate school; she
is also a reformed Daily Edi-
torial Director.

cestral background of commit-
ted Literates: parental desire
for upward mobility, and the in-
stinct for earning a living sit-
ting down (or, marginally, rid-
ing about in a limosine). But
we know, through the benefits"
of theological research, that en-
vironment is a key contribu.tory
factor in print addiction, be-
cause it not only conditions the
victim to accept his or her con-
dition, but imparts an unwar-
ranted but exhilarating sensa-
tion of moral superiority.
In part, this sense of super-
iority is instilled by ingenuous
faculty members who believe
the propaganda in catalogues
and brochures issued by the
businessmen who were trying
to pumo up their establish-
nents. These early education
entrepreneurs believed that fos-

tering the image of competition
would bring in curious hordes
eager to play on one side or.
the other in various ancient riv-
alries: Arts or Sciences, College
Prep or. Manual Training, Aca-
demic or Vocational, Public or
Private, Fiction or Poetry, His-
tory or Biography.
S C H 0 L A S T I C U M
TREMENS. An already byzan-
tine system of values about
learning and reading became
more "elaborate and convoluted
in trying toraccount for certain
pecularities. F o r instance,
whole generations of American
students grew up unable to dis-
tinguish grey from either black
or white.. They - refused to be-
lieve that a questioned could be
answered "Maybe" or "I don't
know." They learned to sym-
pathize with and tolerate schol-
ars and experts. They put up
with all that in order to Go To
College and Get a Head.
But the Sputnik Crisis knock-
ed all that into a cocked hat.
It suddenly became necessary
not only to identify grey, but to
quantify how grey. The public
cried out for Progress in the
schools: measurable, countable
Progress. Always happy to klist
and count, school entrepreneurs,
distilled their programs to in-
crease the content of math and
science, even social science. In
softer subjects, more stress was
placed on history and tech-
nique. The vaults of learning
hummed with data collection,
soientific method. new this and
that, programmed anything,

and Absolute Standards. Liter-
ates got one whiff of Salk and
moon and psychometrics, and
promptly got excessively intox-
icated. But something far dif-
ferent was fermenting in sub-
conscious cellars; presently,
foaming, libidinous juvenile
masses would agitate and un-
settle Progress tipplers and
Standards swiggers alike.
The youth uprising hit schools
and older, confirmed Literates
harder than the Reds had. Not
only did these young quaffers
assume personal control over
the way they dressed and bar-
bered; they made a much more
substantial, revolutionary de-
mand: Teach us, not subjects
or material or information.
They were still pathetically will-
ing to soak: up their three R's,
but they refused to ingest a lot
of toxic nonsense and watered
beer at the same time.
Then Richard Nixon shipped
all the wheat, rice, potato peel-
ings, wood pulp, and grapes to
Russia; the flow of finances for
the wine of learning slowed to
a trickle and dried up. Booka-
holics and Literacy pushers
panicked. Prices soared. Hoard-
ing became rampant. In the
public sector, rationing became
necessary. The problem, as al-
ways with rationing, was to es-
tablish priorities in allocating
precious full-bodied fluids. Few-
er students shelled out more
dough to get their fixes. Teach-
ers and janitors demanded a
bigger slice of the barrel for
peddling Literacy. Administra-
tors and school boards patent-
ed their siphoning process, and
guarded their books carefully,
almost jealously. Some reading
plants stood empty while other
popped their corks.
brewed about: Jerry Ford
thought that Vocational Educa-
tion was a good idea, but
couldn'tthink of any jobs to
train people for: Ivan Illich ad-
vocated a, return to feudal
ideals, but had grown very
fond of flush toilets and Magic
Fingers; The PTA called forap-
ple pie, but all the apples had
been shipped to Russia too;

school superintendents touted
Functional Literacy, but she
got religion and split for the
underdeveloped countries; most
students could kick the habit.
God was dead, at least in the
form of Bible-reading. Every-
body spoke English, at least ev-
erybody whom the society ,and
economy needed. Factories had
plenty of people who could sit
still for eight hours on tap.
Most people could write their
names, and therefore sign time-
purchase contracts; and tele-
vision and telephone filled all
communication needs.
As a Talmud freak might ask,
What can we learn from this?
We already know that a small
group of people with strong con-
stitutions and/ specially - adapt-
ed metabolisms not only want,
but actually need large, contin-
uous infusions of typed informa-
tion and entertainment. That a
far larger proportion of the
population can handle Social
reading, as long as they are
warned off trying to drive at
the same time. And that even
moreAmericans can tolerate
small doses in ritual forms like
the Watchtower, newspapers,
coupons, and Annual Reports.
But for a substantial minority,
a little Literacy is a dangerous
thing, perhaps even a deadly
thing. And yet, by law and cus-
tom and marketplace dictum,
print production continues
'Gutenberg created
bathtub ink and move-
easy type. Skid row
priests like Martin Lu-
ther leafletted and fo-
mented. Dissident fac-
tions seized the cause
of Literary for politi-
cql advantage, and the
binge was on.'
apace; innocent children, naive
teenagers, and credulous adults
are sloshed around in the de-
luge, contrary ,to reason and
Clearly, one of the largest
tasks confronting our society is
the uprooting of School Abuse
and Literary Addiction, in the
legislatures and in the streets,
with evangelistic and detoxifi-
cation programs, guidance for
the young and comfort for the
aged, until researchers find a
cure for Bookaholism and the
public reexamines and rede-
fines its educational impera-
tives. And, as with alcoholism,
the first step on the road to
normalcy is acknowledging that
you have a problem. So confess.
*This action incited a grass-
roots movement whose mem-
bers ran through the streets
crying "Start the presses."
**In the Constitution of the
United States, even landless
freemen were given the right
to vote. See also "Forgery,"
"Diploma Mill.."
***See "The Impos a ble
Dream," S. McDuck, The.In-

G;eraIld1 Ford

Editorial Staff
JEFF RISTINE................ Managing Editor
TIM SCHICK . Executive Editor
STEPHEN HERSH Editorial Director
JEFF SORENSEN ................. Arts Editor
CHERYL PILATF ..... ........ Magazine Editor
STAFF WRITERS : Susan Adles, Tomn Allen, Glen
A1erhand, Marc Basson, Dana Bauman, David
Blomquist, James Burns, Kevin Counihan,
Jodi Dimick, Mitch Dunitz, Elaine Fletcher,
Phil Foley, Mark Friedlander. David Garfinkel,
Tomi Godell, Kurt Harju, Charlotte Heeg,
Richard James. Lois Josimovich, Tom Kettler,
Chris Kochmanski, Jay Levin, Andy Lilly, Ann
Marie Lipinski, George Lobsenz, Pauline Lu-
bens. Teri Maneau, Angelique Matney, Jim
Nicoll, Maureen Nolan, Mike Norton, Ken Par-
sigian, Kim Potter, Cathy Reutter, Anne
Marie Schiav, Karen 8chulkins, Jeff Selbst,
Rick Sobel, Toni Stevens, Steve StoJic, Cathi
Suyak, Jim Tobin, Jim VaIk, Margaret Yao,
Andrew Zerman, David Whiting.
Editorial positions represent'
consensus of the Daily staff.

Ignoring the Coast

What do Ronald Reagan, Cali-
fornia Governor "Jerry" Brown
and Richard Nixon have in com-
Not much, you'd say, except
that an importantspolitizian
from the largest state is al-
ways to be taken seriously on
the national scene.
But to California' political
journalists, they share some-
thing else. Each is an example
of the domination of national
political opinion by columnists
and even reporters from east-
ern states - writers of whoni
the Californians despair for
their ignorance even while they
envy their prominence.
In the cases of Reagan and
Brown - whose futures, as Cal-
ifornia humorist Mort Sahl
might once have said, are still
ahead - the California jour-
nalist is likely to be impatient-
ly frustrated with stories call-
ing them "unknown quantities"
or describing them in what
seem from here to be' super-
ficial terms. It hurts even more
when otherwise knowledgeable
politicians from other parts of
the country seem to rely on
these eastern judgments in mak-
ing their own political assess-
WASHINGTON columnist John
D. Lofton Jr., for example,, re-
cently quoted the Republican
governor of Missouri, Christoph-
er Bond, who is usually describ-
ed nationally as a "moderate":
"I think Mr. Reagan's ideas
are consistent with our broad
general understandings as Re-
publicans. I don't see that his
campaign would necessarily be
a narrow one. He's got a clean
slate. Let's see what he writes
on it."
To a California journalist, the
idea that a man has a "clean
slate" who has conducted two
statewide campaigns and serv-
ed two terms as governor of
one of America's most varied

be a "new face" to most of
America, but to the California
reporter he's a man who has
been in a lesser statewide of-
fice for four years, ,whose in-
terplay with legislators is al-
ready known, whose adminis-
trative abilities are at least un-
der test and whose moralistic
tendencies are feared by some
as much as they are admired
by others.
CALIFORNIA political jour-
nalists, convinced that they are
as wise as those in New York
City or Washington, are obvi-
ously no nearer being infallible.
Liberals among them were
chagrined when Earl Warren-
??:;t "":::: a::.:::: e:if:i Ji m,::;«:;?";:i':':;

'While the


reaction to Watergate
may have been shock,
the reaction a m o n g
people who had. been
covering Nixon since
1946 was "Well, they
finally caught him."
Californians couldn't
understand in 1968
and 1972 why their
eastern colleagues did-
.i' t understand Nix-
who had been a law-and-order
district attorney and attorney
general before becoming a
moderate but definitely conser-
vative governor - was appoint-
ed to the Supreme Court. His
turnabout is history.
But while the national reac-
tion to Watergate may have
been shock at learning that a
president could do such things,
the reaction among people who
had been covering Richard Nix-

he characterized the instability
of Richard Nixon, printing in
full the remarkable statement
that Nixon made to the pi ess.
after his gubernatorial defeat
in 1962.
know only the phrase, "You
won't have Dick Nixon to kick
around any more," the entire
statement was a frightening and
pitiable display by an emotion-
ally exhausted man. When,
seven years later, Theodore
White said a very few of the
same things in a best-selling
book reviewed in the east as
"living history," the frustration
of western journalists was easi-
ly enough understood.
White is in fact a principal
target of the criticisms by west-
ern reporters. In his first cam-
paign book in 1960, White dis-
missed California with a Lingle
line about then-governor "Pat"
Brown (the present governor's
father) and his "loss of con-
trol" of the delegation 'to the
Democratic convention.
Although Californians knew
perfectly well that no such thing
had happened, White's version
became "history," and the stig-
ma still clings to the elder
Brown. One of the more com-
petent of the state's governors,
he is remembered in out-of-
state analyses as "ineffective."
ideological. "Conservative" and
"liberal" reporters alike resent
the lofty ignorance of eastern-
ers. Nor is it entirely geographi-
cal, though there is much re-
sentment, particularly in the
north, of easterners who spend
a week in Los Angeles and then
write about "California."
Rather, the resentment is pro-
fessional. Assigned to any oth-
er story, a competent reporter
would be expected to go for
information to those who know
(and, if he or she is good,
to those who dissent from the
conventional' knowledge as

but not surprised, to find that
the CDU had a three - page
"script" prepared for last
Wesdnesday's Local 2001 mem-
bership meeting. Among other
things, their script detailed:
f seating arrangements for
CDU followers;
* complete texts for motions;
* complete dialogue for argu-
ing in favor of or against mo-.
* directions to begin "chant-
ing" certain phrases if they
couldn't have their own way;
* instructions to "storm the
stage" and take control of the
meeting in, the event things
were going badly for them;
* signals from "group leaders"

Weeks, as leader of CDU, have
so little faith in-her own follow-
ers that she must tell them ex-
actly what to say and do? Why
does she not trust her followers
to conduct themselves at a
membership meeting? Perhaps
this is an indication of her at-
titude. toward our entire bar-
gaining unit.
Have we elected a president
who has no faith in clericals?
Have we elected a president
who feels that clericals must
constantly be told what to do?
Have we elected a president
who feels that women cannot be
trusted to think and act for
themselves? Heaven help us if
we have!
Judy Sisung
Secretary, Law School
Feb. 6

Ietters to the Dail

CDII stationed in "key locations"
throughout the meeting room.

To The Editor:

....""'. :..... . :. , " ".'. ?= ? :3
Contact your reps-
Sen. Phillip Hart (Dem), 253 Russell Bldg., Capitol 11111,
Washington, D.C. 20515.
Sen. Robert Griffin (Rep), 353 Russell Bldg., Capitol Hill,
Washington, D.C. 20515.


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