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November 20, 1981 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1981-11-20

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Page 4

Friday, November 20, 1981-

The Michigan Daily


Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

Is Reagan's

foreign policy


Vol. XCII, No. 62

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

hurting-or helping-Castro?

Editorials represent a majority opinion of the Daily's Editorial Board


ratings time again

R EMEMBER last August?
Remember those hot summer
nights, when there was nothing to do
but stay inside -with the air-
conditioning? And remember how the
only shows on TV- were "Godzilla
Swallows Hoboken" and reruns of the
Compare that to this month. The
networks are showing "Grease," "10,"
"Every Which Way but Loose," and
"Close Encounters of the Third Kind,"
In other words, we're getting a
massive dose of fairly good-and very
The reason? It's ratings time again,
and the three commercial networks
are falling all over themselves trying
to lure viewers and boost their
showings in the polls.
Three times yearly-in February,
May, and November-two firms con-
duct surveys of Americans' viewing
habits to help advertisers plan their
marketing strategies. While the
pollsters keep track of the relative
strengths of the three networks on a
national level all year round, it is only
during these three "sweeps" that ad-
vertisers get a look at what is going on
station-by-station, market-by-market.
Since higher ratings allow a station to
ask more money from advertisers, the
stations go all out during the period to
raise their ratings.
During these sweeps, the networks
do all they can to bolster their viewer-
ship by airing their most popular
shows, but the changes that occur
during a ratings sweep go beyond the
movie selection. Local stations attem-

pt to increase their share of the ratings
by "improving" their local news
coverage. The "improvements,"
however, often make the news shows
concentrate on the semi-lewd or the
outright ludicrous.
Here are a few examples of what
some local stations are doing during
this ratings sweep: In Los Angeles, the
local stations are now covering stories
on erotic home video cassettes and
seminars on human sexuality; in
Chicago, one station is featuring a
series narrated by Dr. Joyce Brothers
entitled "What Every Woman Should
Know About Men;" and in New York,
WABC's star anchorman, 53-year-old
Roger Grimsby, jumped out of an air-
plane and risked life and limb in a
speeding race car-all for the sake of
the ratings.
It's an amusing system we have, to
be sure. But it would be a great deal
more amusing if it didn't mean that the
only times when commercial television
rises even slightly from its usual in-
sipidness are during the ratings
In the end, the whole system itself is
a marvelous argument for continued
support of public television.
Instead of being encumbered by
ratings races, the Public Broadcasting
Service strives to present quality
programming all year round. Instead
of being forced to sink to the level of
crass commercialism in its news
reports, PBS is able to maintain a level
of decorum in its newscasts. It stands
as an island of relative quality in a sea
of commercial mediocrity.

By Robert Wesson
The U.S. Navy sails around
Cuba in a demonstration of
strength. There are mutterings in
Washington of drastic action
against the Castro government if
it persists in trying to export its
politics to Latin America.
The embargo on trade with
Cuba is tightened and it is made
more difficult for Americans to
receive Cuban publications. New
broadcasting facilities are to be
constructed to transmit the
American message to the Cuban
undertaken what it views as a
dynamic policy to weaken Castro
and reduce his influence in Latin
America. But to Fidel Castro, it
surely is flattering to be the ob-
ject of so much attention by a
power so vastly stronger and
richer than his island nation,
which has a population about
equal to that of greater Los
Angeles and an economic product
about a tenth as large.
On the maps of the State
Department, in fact, Cuba ap-
pears to have become the major
U.S. antagonist, figuratively
enlarged.to at least the size of
South America. There is reason
enough to broadcast the
American message more amply
to Mexico and many other Latin
American countries that fail to
fully understand Washington's
Yet Cuba alone gets a transmit-
ter for its sole benefit, despite the
fact that Cuba is the only Latin
American country already
adequately covered by American
radio (from Miami).
WORSE, THE cost of the new
anti-Cuba station is to come out of
the funds for the Latin American
visitor's program, under which
thousands of influential or poten-
tially influential persons have
become acquainted with the
United States.

Fidel Castro

In the end, these anti-Castro
policies may well operate to
strengthen him and increase his
influence. He grows in Latin
American eyes as the United
States makes military demon-
strations, while he, playing David
to Goliath, stands unmoved.
Even firm anti-communists,
because of their almost
inevitable discomfiture with the
predominance of the United
States in this hemisphere,
probably take quiet satisfaction
in a fellow Latin American's
defiance of the angry super-
MOREOVER, such acute con-
centration on- Cuba effectively
entails neglect of the 97 percent of
the people of Latin America who
are not Cubans, and of the .mat-
ters which are important to them.
It seems to give substance to the
left's concentration that the pur-
pose of the United States is only
to beat down Castro, not to assist
the other nations of this
hemisphere in finding a better

Except in a few Central
American countries, Castroism
simply is not the major worry
today. For example, Vice
President George Bush recently
warned the Dominicans of the
danger of Castroism when they
wanted to talk about a rise in the
U.S. tariff on sugar now
threatening their chief industry.
And U.N. Ambassador Jeane
Kirkpatrick suggested that Costa
Rica be armed against
guerrillas, presumably Cuban-
backed, when the Costa Ricans
have no guerrilla movement-but
do have mountainous economic
Most of all, the anti-Castro
campaign ser4es to strengthen
Castro's position at home. He has
used the threat of U.S. attack to
proclaim an emergency and call
upon Cubans to prepare for the
final and decisive battle for in-
dependence: the conclusion, in
his interpretation, of the fight
against Spanish rule begun a cen-

tury ago.
ARTILLERY HAS been placed
along the coast; anti-aircraft
batteries are manned; men and
women drill; tanks have been
drawn up. In the meantime, we
may assume, chronic consumer
shortages have been more or less
Probably Castro would
welcomeba shooting encounter
with U.S. forces short of an in-
vasion of the island. This, he
doubtless knows, is improbable
for a country that finds it difficult
to send a few dozen military ad-
visers to a friendly government
in El Salvador.
SOME 22 YEARS ago, Castro
took up anti-Yankeeism to
establish a control over his island
far more complete than that
exercised by any previous Cuban
ruler. It was a clever tactic
because it made use of resen-
tments built thanks to the long
U.S. domination of the Cuban
economy and politics.
But Castro hardly could have
guessed how helpful successive
American administrations would
be to him-cutting off U.S. in-
fluence while they kept tensions
high through pinpricks and
threatening actions which seldom
really hurt Havana. It was
altogether too clear that a suc-
cessful attack to bringhhim down
would demand a high price in
blood and would be very risky on
the international scene.
This general policy has been
little changed over 22 years of
failure, during which it has saved
Castro from his own errors and
helped make him and his poor
nation giants on the world stage.
Wesson is a professor of
political science at the Univer-
sity of California in Santa
Barbara. He wrote this article
for Pacific News Service.





\ ,
e K
r f , C

Racist film shouldn't have been shown

To the Daily:
What was the City of Ann Arbor
thinking of when it let the city-
owned Michigan Theatre show
the blatantly racist, offensive
film Birth of a Nation?
Has the City of Ann Arbor lost
total respect for black people?
These and other angry questions
come to mind as members of the
Washtenaw County Chapter of
the National Black Independent
Political Party and other black
organizations learned of the Oc-
tober 29, 1981 showing of the
racist film Birth of a Nation.
Birth of a Nation began as a
novel, The Clansmen, which was
written by Thomas Dixon in the
early 1900's.
During an intermission of the
play The Clansman in 1906 Mr.
Dixon made this blatantly racist
statement: "My object is to teach
the North, the young North, what
it has never known-the awful
suffering of the white man during
the dreadful reconstruction
period. I believe that the
Almighty God annointed the
white man of the South by their
suffering during that time. . . to
demonstrate to the world that the
white man must and shall be

The film portrays three types
of black people: the submissive
mammy and pappy; the con-
fused, evil mulatto; and the
shadowy menacing mass of black
The only good blacks are the
submissive blacks and they are
portrayed as dying off. The only
hope of these "good darkgies"
came from the "good white
people" in white sheets who even-
tually came to calm them down
and "save" the white race and
the black race.
The fact that this type of racist
violence in the media can
provoke racist violent behavior
and attitudes has been documen-
ted repeatedly. Therefore there
can be no excuse for the son-
tinued showing of films such as
Birth of a Nation.
The fact that the film was
presented at taxpayers expense
(and we assure you that black
people are taxpayers) is
Why anyone would consider
racist propaganda that glorifies a
murderous, racist group such as
the Ku Klux Klan as entertain-
ment is beyond the scope of
decency. To ask people to pay for
such trash-with their tax
dollars-is ludicrous.

The dangerous activities of the
KKK increased after the
1915 showing of The Clansmen,
KKK activity has been increasing
from 1975 until now.
Surely the City of Ann Arbor is
not recruiting for the KKK, or is
The increased activity and
violence of the KKK and other
murderous racist groups in
recent years is clear indication
that the situation is nothing to be
taken lightly. The recent inciden-
ces of violence such as: the mur-
ders of black men in Boston by
racist whites; the murders of
black men in New York by racist
whites; the bombing of the hom-
e of a black family in Detroit by
racist whites; and the murders of
members of the Communist
Workers Party in North Carolina
by KKK members, as well as the

subsequent acquital of the Klan-
smen involved, are nothing to be
advocated in any media format.
Yet by the City of Ann Arbor
letting taxpayers' money sponsor
a blatantly racist and offensive
film such as Birth of a Nation, the ,
city is condoning the racist acts,
and ideas esposed in the film. The
City of Ann Arbor owes black
people an apology, and its,
assurance that the blatantly
racist, offensive film is never
shown in Ann Arbor again, and
most certainly not with tax-
payer's money.
-Regina Hunter
Patrick Mason
Washtenaw County
National Black Independ-
ent Political Party
November 18


Crew coverage inadequate

To the Daily:
I was rather disappointed by
your coverage (Daily, Nov. 10) of
the men's and women's crew
meet at Michigan State on Nov. 7.
One member of the team repor-
ted all the results and times
(men's, women's, varsity, and
novice) to you, yet you printed
nnlv the men's scnres

I never would have accused the
Daily of being sexist, but I'm
beginning to wonder. The
women's teams and their coaches
work equally hard as the men and
they deserve equal newspaper
coverage. I think you owe these
women, their coaches, and their
fans an apology.

- , ,
any -

-Marv Cella



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