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February 15, 1980 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1980-02-15

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*1

Page 4-Friday, February 15, 1980-The Michigan Daily
This charge un San Juan Hill may be the last

L The ritual wasn't nearly as dramatic as pain-
-ted in the history books. There was no scrun-
ching under one's, desk, tucking one's head
\between one's knees or other panicked
liturgies. When the siren sounded we would all
file out of the classroom in orderly fashion and
proceed either to the school basement or out-
side into the playground-the later route
seeming a bit illogical on its surface unless the
idea was to avoid potential collapsed roofs. As
the alarm roared over the city, we milled
around joking and fidgeting, yet our general
disorderliness and noise level remained
tangibly muted by the vague awareness that
we were somehow engaged in a very serious,
ominous business.
This subliminal sense of foreboding, of
looking over one's shoulder, was a congenital
element in the life of anyone who grew up
during the 50s and early 60s. I still remember
my own day of bitter maturation: I was about
seven years old, and happened to glance at a
Time magazine cover of a huge, grinning
Russian bear leering hungrily out toward a
trembling world while the accompanying cap-
tion decried the Red Menace and the dwindling
chances for world peace. It was my first in-
troduction to the sobering notion that there
were forces at work in the world far beyond the
safe circumstance of our house, our neigh-
borhood, our town; that there were people out
there, cold and unsympathetic, who might do
terrible things to me if they got a chance.
MY PARENTS quickly reassured me that
nothing was going to happen, that good was
surely stronger than evil, that I would grow up
strongly and healthy and safe. Yet even then I
could see in their eyes the doubt which coun-
terbalanced their verbal confidence, the day-
to-day fear which hung like a sword of
Damocles over their existence every bit as
much as it suddenly did over mine.
So went the poetics of instability for the
children of the Cold War. Khrushchev ranted at
us while John Foster Dulles ranted back, the H-

Q i

bomb was a national obsession, behind every'
minor dispute between nations lurked the spec-
ter of Communist conspiracy. All the while
Americans went about their daily business en-
cased in a kind of grilm fatalism that some kind
of eventual apocalypse was inevitable. Yet the
funny thing about the Cold War was that its
terrible sword was decidedly double edged:
While we feared and indeed expected the worst,
we also developed a comparable obsession for
combating it. While we dutifully hated the
Russians, built our fallout shelters and awaited
doomsday, our very palpable terror of the un-
thinkable war served to make it unthinkable.
Our harrowing, ever-present proximity to the
abyss itself took the form of a breaker switch, a
coolant system to douse the flames of Ar-
mageddon.
In retrospect, our preoccupation with the end
of the world had an inverse result: We would
resolutely meet the challenge of the enemy,
yet we would do our honorable damnedest not
to destroy the earth in the process. The "balan-
ce of terror" meant just that-if mutual fear
was the x-ingredient necessary to keep us from
going up in a ball of fire, then by all means let
there be fear.
AND FEAR IS the precise ingredient which
seems chillingly missing from all the saber-
rattling of the current world crisis. Jimmy Car-
ter declares with stentorian exuberance that
Afghanistan is "the greatest threat to peace
since World War II," and we nod vigorous ap-
proval; Clark Clifford warns that "any move"
by the Soviets toward the Persian Gulf will
result in war, and we don't even blink.
Is such rhetoric the harbinger of a new
national psyche? Through its language runs not
so much a sober determination as an almost
boisterous eagerness, a zest to do battle, to take
the gloves off, to "settle this thing once and for
all." Such a stance is surely good politics for
the moment, yet I 'detect in much of it an
ideological fervor that runs far beyond the ex-
planation of simple election-year pragmatism.

By Christopher Potter
Is the Day of the Hawk at hand? The Henry
Jacksons and George Wills now crow in non-
stop vindication, emboldened by sudden
"proof" that the Ruskies are the bastards they
always knew they were; conversely, the
congressional and journalistic doves continue to
tuck feathers between their legs in chagrin,
their life-long beliefs in international relations
apparently as devastatingly undermined as
were their domestic beliefs abruptly undone by
Proposition 13.
DO CURRENT GLOBAL events merit such
militant revisionism? Where were the com-
parable howls of righteous wrath a decade ago
when the Soviets marched into
Czechoslovakia-a nation passionately, if
briefly, committed to ideals of freedom which
never even entered the autocratic minds of the
feudal lords of Afghanistan? No matter-we
now seem to have embarked on an age of bully
vs. bully, and the voice of mediation has
become precipitously, self-hatingly silent. War
is "in," peace is a dirty word; the San Juan Hill
Complex is loose in the land, and is every bit as
self-aggrandizingly, xenophobically macho as
it was eighty years ago-and immeasurably
more perilous.
So what shorted out that psychological
breaker switch, which seemed to operate with
slick, if stern, efficiency for better than three
decades? The truth, of course, is that it didn't
suddenly malfunction-it slowly rusted and
wore down through lack of use over the years
as the world evolved from its superpower
deadlock into a far more complex political
orientation. And though this new fragmen-
tation came to comprise a far more creatively
diverse threat to peace, it simply couldn't
compare in dramatic, blood-curdling wallop to
the monolith-vs.-monolith standoff which
preceeded it.

So we began to forget-to deliberately and
passionately put our terror behind us. October
1962 brought the Cuban Missile Crisis and hur-
tled civilization to the brink (our proclamations
of that time carried none of the eager
pugnacity of today's pronouncement);
somehow we emerged unscathed from those
darkest of hours, and you could almost hear the
whole world sigh with relief, audibly mur-
muring "'Never again." So began the age of
retraction, of co-existence, of detente. The
blustering Khrushchez was replaced by the
temperate Brezhnev, while our own long-
entrenched rigidity was gradually supplanted
by an irresistible yearning to slip into a lower
key, to explore similarities rather than exacer-
bate ancient grudges. No longer did we see a
Communist under every stone; "peaceful
competition" became more than an abstract
political concept.
AS WE MOVED into a kind of wary
neutrality, the dark sword of apocalypse
seemed accordingly to retract farther and far-
ther from over our heads. The autocracy of
terror had finally lost its punch-at least we
were free from that gnawing, ever-present fear
of tomorrow.
Yet this new world of benign mini-crises was
a poignant delusion from the start. Our misad-
venture in Vietnam sickened the American
Left into a full-scale retreat from our
democratic policeman's role, while it em-
boldened the Right with tangible proof that
conventional warfare was wageable even un-
der the omniscient nuclear shadow. It wasn't an
all-or-nothing situation after all: Under the
guise of world stewardship abandoned by the
liberals, our new militarists could wage
mischief in innumerable locations throughout a
now-staggeringly entangled planet-a
realization just as swiftly grasped and ex-
ploited by the Soviets' own adventures. The
nefarious dream of world conquest was alive
and ghoulishly pulsating as ever.

And now it all seems recklessly, manically
geared- warp-speed 'toward a buckeroo
showdown at high noon-Good vs. Evil and
may the best system win. Only it isn't the Wi@
West anymore and it isn't World War I either.
Though we may be beleaguered with the
simultaneous bellowings of a dozen
"emerging nations," our problems haven't
really been transformed-they've simply
multiplied. Our planet remains as mortally
vulnerable as it did in 1962. Both major powers
possess just as many bombs as they ever
did-manlkind can still be obliterated a huh-
dred times over.
BUT WHERE, oh where, is that break#
switch-that dread nullifier so vilified by
politicians, churchmen, and psychologists, yet
so vital a cooling, regulating, and yes, moral
guardian to hold together a world seething
apart at the seams and somehow grooving on
its own dissolution?
Can words suffice when terror no longer
holds sway? To all the trendy, belligerent
drum-beaters on all sides of our current
predicament, I offer some not-so-humblea
vice that debunks neither courage no
masculinity,dbut merely promotes logic: This
is 1980, not 1898, and there just isn't room on
earth anymore for a San Juan Hill complex..We
can no longer afford to indulge such orgasmic
luxury; I suggest instead that all potential
disputants and adversaries go watch that
witheringly wise film Duck Soup, take a cold
shower, then reflect on all the small, enduring
joys of this planet. May we always have the
guts to defend them, yet possess the qui
maturity not to sacrifice it all to the cold win
of self-serving vengence. Our descendants will
surely'appreciate it.
Christopher Potter is a Daily film critic
and occasional contributor to this page.

i
R
L.

]\1, (I Ya .~(f EditorialI Fr(eedom

Vol. XC, No. 112

News Phone: 764-0552

Edited and managed by students at the University of Michigan
The time is right for a
smallconcession to Iran
autonomous action and left Khomeini
RESIDENT CARTER'S softened and the government ministers to find
position on Iran, announced at a out about it only after the fact.
news conference Wednesday, comes at To an observer whose last look at the
an excellent time. hostage situation was a month ago, the
Until recently, it seemed to many current breakdown of the two "sides"
people that any substantive concession would look very strange. "Them" is no
to the Iranians would appear to the longer everyone within a 100-mile
world as a lesson in how to win in radius of Tehran, but has been reduced
disagreements with the U.S. The to the outlaws inside the embassy and
president's refusal to offer any support a handful of the supporters outside.
for an international tribunal to 'Us" would seem to consist of
examine the Shah's misdeeds seemed American citizens, the hostages, and
the only reasonable course of action. Bani-Sadr. Former firebrands
But events in recent days indicate Khomeini and Ghotbzadeh seem to
that newly-elected President KoenadG z emo
AthassnBan-Sadrcido i at have retreated to neutral corners, the
Abolhassan Barni-Sadr is doing what he former because of illness.
can to bring the militants in the All around, the situation in Iran is
embassy under government control. much less explosive now than it was
For the first time an Iranian even two weeks ago. The president's
government official, in the person of cautious approval of a move toward
Bani-Sadr, has expressed disapproval forming a tribunal will not necessarily.
with the militants for taking the incite other acts of international
nation's foreign policy into their own lawbreaking. He has waited for a
hands. Bani-Sadr has publicly positive change in the Iranian stance
expressed his irritation with the and has not submitted to the demands
militants when they have taken for extradition of the Shah.
-''

The only contact many Univer-
sity students have with the Public
Interest Research Group in
Michigan (PIRGIM) is when they
are asked to support it during
CRISP. registration. This
column is part of an increased
effort by the students in PIRGIM
to improve communications with
the rest of the student body as
well as the faculty, ad-
ministration, and the surroun-
ding community.
Students mostly fund and
totally control the actions of
PIRGIM,' which are virtually
limitless in scope. In addition to
the educational, skill building,
and practical experiences and
academic credit opportunities,
individualsr .gropsare en-
couraged to draw on PIRGIM'S
resources to initiate their own
projects.
THROUGH collected research,
well developed channels of com-
munication, and an, ever-
increasing body of skilled
professional staff and students,
one can easily plug into an
ongoing project, or collect infor-
mation for an individual or new
project. Credit is available for
participation in projects that
may not be personally interesting
but offer practical applications
as well as education.
Public Interest Research
Groups (PIRGs) exist nation-
wide. The PIRG concept was in-
itiated in 1970 by Ralph Nader, a
leader in the already popular
consumer movement. The
University responded in 1972
when more than 20,000 students
petitioned the Regents to create
PIRGIM. Today, there are
PIRGs in more than 25 states.
PIRGIM has grown to five ad-
ditional campuses, including
Michigan State University,
Oakland University, Grand
Valley State College, Central
Michigan University, and most
recently, Western Michigan
University. PIRGIM's state of-
fice in Lansing consists of
professional staff researchers,
administrators, lawyers, and
educators. It functions as a
clearinghouse/focal point for the
channels of communication bet-
ween campuses.
PIRGIM'S U.M chapter is the
largest in the state. As PIRGIM
works with increasing numbers
of students, faculty, and com-
munity members, it grows in
educational quality, effec-
tiveness, and political respec-
tability.
PIRGIM Task Forces are the
basic organizational bodies.
There are six at the University:
They are the Consumer, Energy,
Environment, Human Rights,
Tenants, and Media Task Forces.
Each Task Force is student
organized and coordinated.
Representatives from each Task
Force give updates on their ac-
tivities at the weekly local board
m ann i'c~

Students working
in public interest
for political change

tatives of all the state PIRGIM
chapters, some legal staff, and
the state staff. PIRGIM has a
completely "open door" policy:
all meetings are open to the
general public. The PIRGIM
board reviews all issues before
any policy decisions are made.
Individuals or groups with' all
viewpoints are invited to present-
themgat PIRGIM board
meetings.
'The success of PIRGIM is
evident in its ability to influence
public policy decisions and in its,
education of the public. The skills
and experiences gained by the
participating students are
PIRGIM's most valuable
achievements.
The students of PIRGIM's Con-
sumer Task Force (CTF) inform
the public about competing ser-
vice businesses in the area. A
new, more comprehensive
Grocery Store Survey will be
published soon. New
publications, including a Bottle
Bill price-effect study, Pharmacy
Survey, and a guide to restaurant
cleanliness are soon to be com-
pleted. By June, the CTF will
release a Doctor's Directory.
This group also started research
on the Educational Testing Ser-
vice, the corporation that for-
mulates such tests as the LSAT's
and SAT's. These efforts aim to
inform the public and breed com-
petition to benefit the consumer.
,THE ENERGY Task Force
(NRGTF) is lobbying for the
public interest on public policy
decisions on three levels. Studen-
ts are giving testimony at Lan-
sing and are using direct lob-
bying techniques to help gain
support for the Michigan Nuclear
Moratorium Bill (HB 4528). The
Detroit Edison Shareholder's
Initiative is underway in its an-
nual effort to gain Edison'
shareholder support for the
moratorium on nuclear plant
construction. Third, students are
working on a "weatherization"
project. It's aimed at exposing
the lack of incentives for landlor-
ds to weatherize, insulate, and
repair their property.
The Environmental Task Force
(ETF) has two major operations
well underway. One is an attack

data from municipalities and
parks across the state is near
completion. This information will
be.made available to the general
public as well as to legislators
across the country who will be
voting on similar beverage
legislation in the near future.
THE TENANTS Task Force
(TTF) recognizes that students
and poor tenants often find them-
selves the victims of sub-
standard housing, dispropor-
tionate rents, and retaliatory
evictions ; they are bilked out of
damage deposits due, to them
when they move out, unable to
receive needed repairs from lan-
dlords, and generally unaware of
their rights. The TTF has 'set
goals to establish a structure for
a solidified community as a base
for community chosen alter-
natives (e.g., rent control and
land trusts) and educate tenants
of their rights both as tenants and
as individuals. This community'
organizing effort will be launched
with a discussion on February 28,
at 7:30 p.m. in conference rooms
5 and 6 of the Michigan Union.
Three noted community
organizing experts will facilitate
this initial effort.
The Human Rights Task Force
(HRTF), since the president's
draft registration proposal, has
multiplied rapidly. The HRTF is
working with the Committee
Against War (CAW); the two
groups combined have more than
80 students. These students
organize public debates, con-
ferences, rallies, demon-
strations, and letter writing
campaigns.
The HRTF has had a conscien-

tious objection campaign going
for several months.:Some studen-
ts are also working on the
criminal code revision propo
which threatens to severely limy
the civil liberties guaranteed by
the Constitution.
LAST AND very important is
the Media Task Force (MTF).
This group is responsible for ad-
vertising the events that the other
task forces are conducting: The
MTF puts out press releases,
public service announcement
keeps contacts with newspape*
and pioneers any means
necessary to adequately inform
the surrounding community of
upcoming, events. A new social
awareness campaign has started
which includes a dorm com-
munications program, a
classroom speaker program, and
this column.
In short, PIRGIM offers
students not only an education
but practical experience inat
working of any field, be it
statistics or public relations,
graphics or administration.
Along with the experience is an
opportunity to get involved in im-
portant contemporary issues.
PIRGIM sponsors dozens of in-
ternships which grant students
academic credit for their work.
In this capacity PIRGIM hopes to
tap resources of student abiliti
There is an urgent need for
student/citizen involvement in
our government; PIRGIM hopes
to expedite an improvement in
this overall aspect of our
democraticsystem.
Come up to the PIRGIM office,
4107 Michigan Union, or call 662-
6597. We offer you services,
education, and experience. Help
us help you to help everyone.
The Public Interest Resear-
ch Group in Michigan
(PIRGIM) addresses a number
Sof consumer and student con-
cerns in its weekly columns on
this page. This piece was.writ-
ten by PIRGIM member John

Leone.

LETTERS TO THE DAILY:
Kat 's Play is refresh ing:

To the Daily:
Mr. Nick Katsarelas' column
about studying at the Grad
(Daily, Feb. 6) was one of the
most refreshing, entertaining,
witty, and overall best articles
that has appeared in the Daily in
a long, long time. It was noted,
with great joy, that Mr. Kat-
sarelas would appear in the
paper every Wednesday. It will
finally, once again, be a pleasure
to read the Daily. It's about time
that you took the humor out of
your regular articles (they are
supposed to be funny, aren't
they?) and donated an entire
column to humor, written by an

energetic wit, namely Mr. Kat-
sarelas.
I have known and admired Mr.
Katsarelas' humor for - a long
time. He follows in a long line of
great American humorists-con-
tinuing the tradition of Will
Rodgers Jr., Groucho Marx, a
Mel Brooks. With his articles
the Grad, Nick Katsarelas has
reached a new level in the art of
the subtle wit; in my opinion, he
has never been better. I wish Mr.
Katsarelas the best of luck in the
future as he inaugurates a new,
"Golden Age" in newspaper
humor.

-Philip Kwik
Feb. 6

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