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January 12, 1982 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1982-01-12

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N

a

OPINION

Page 4

Tuesday, January 12, 1982

Th Mchga aill

The Michigan Daily

What if a Klansman ran for president?

Let's imagine that one day the Ku Klux Klan
will run a candidate for president. I mean, let's
just suppose that the Klan will wise up one of
these days and realize that a few isolated
cross-burnings or lynchings is no way to run a
really successful hate campaign. National
politics, these shrewd bedsheets will even-

Howard
Witt

without seeming to legitimize racism-that's
what he must do.
TAKE SCHOOL desegregation, for exam-
ple-an aborrent practice to any red-blooded
American racist. The old-fashioned Klansman
might picket a particular desegregated school,
or incite a small riot, or blow up a few buses
used to transport black children. All highly
inefficient, and in the end, usually futile
assaults. Besides, they give the Klan a bad
name.
The new Klandidate, however, will shun such
primitive tactics. He knows the federal
judiciary can stop pursuing desegregation
programs across the country with just a stroke
of a pen. Without a drop of blood or an inch of
bad press.
All the Klandidate has to do is start talking
about cutting the bloated federal budget or
restoring the independence of the states-two
big crowd-pleasers-and voila, the federal
government gracefully exits from the
desegregation business. Busing costs lots of
money, the Klandidate will point out. So does
federal litigation to impose it, he will say: And
besides, the federal government shouldn't be
sticking its nose into the business of the in-

dividual states, he will add. All legitimate-
sounding arguments. All popular. And all
racist.
HAVING HERDED the nation's black
children back into horribly inadequate urban
schools, the Klandidate might next decide to
torture them a bit through starvation. And
again, he needn't dirty his hands. He can sim-
ply point to all the "waste" in school lunch
programs and advocate stringent eligibility
restrictions, all in the name of a balanced
federal budget.
And, to torment those children he can't
eliminate outright, he can propose absurd
restrictions in the food portions served and
substitution of ketchup for vegetables. Another
noble budget-cutting measure.
The really sophisticated Klandidate, not con-
tent with striking merely at children, can en-
courage racial discrimination at private
schools and colleges. He can suggest that the
federal tax laws, which prohibit tax exem-
ptions for private schools that practice
discrimination, be altered so that such schools
are granted tax-exempt status. Offering some
mumbo-jumbo about how one arm of gover-
nment (the Internal Revenue Service) should

not be responsible for enforcing laws passed by
another (the Congress), the Klandidate can
once again neatly gloss over his racist inten-
tions.
IN FACT, WAVING the banner of a smaller
federal government and a magically balanced
budget, the creative Klandidate can put forth
an endless variety of proposals designed to
erode civil rights and subjugate the nation's
blacks.
He can oppose strengthening of the Voting
Rights Act and affirmative action programs.
He can slash CETA, the federal job training
program, and cut federal subsidies for public
transportation and urban development (all of
which benefit poorer blacks more than richer
whites), replacing them with miracle "block
grants" that can't possibly begin to fulfill the
needs of the cities. He can drastically reduce
federal financial aid for needy college studen-
ts.
He can propose simple across-the-board in-
come tax cuts that benefit the rich more than
the poor. Then he can propose new gasoline
and liquor excise taxes that hurt the poor more

than the rich. Then, with exorbitant outlays for
defense, he can plunge the country into a
recession so that blacks suffer an unem-
ployment rate twice that of whites.
ON THE FOREIGN policy front, he can
propose stronger ties with the racist gover-
nment of South Africa, for "national security"
reasons.
Yes, the savvy -presidential Klandidate can
propose all of these measures without being
hooted off the podiums of America. And he can
win.

* * *

r

4

tually discover, is far more efficient. And
J respectable, to boot.
a 4So let's pretend it will be out with "nigger"
,and in with "minority" for thisnew presiden-
tial Klandidate, who will certainly realize that
. he can't win an election by spouting such social
crudities. No, his task will require a whole lot
*inore subtlety ,and nuance. To formulate a
i.-political platform that legitimizes racism

Of course I don't believe that Ronald Reagan
is an outright racist. Nor do I believe that his
program for a New Beginning" was
motivated by racist intentions. But regardless
of the purity of his motives, the results of his
policies are certainly harming the black
population of this country.
The Klan doesn't need to run a candidate for
president. Reagan is doing just fine.
Witt's column appears every Tuesday.

0

% '. _ _. I 1

1ie a m dtati e n i
Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

Weasel

Vol. XCII, No. 83

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

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

WM T I 'T JmP6ATE ThE
Yap- . MONOR.
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Obscene silence

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LTHOUGH IT is surprising enough
that a blatant and puritanical act
of censorship occurred at the Univer-
sity's Power Center last month, what is
even more shocking is that it has
aroused very little University respon-
se.
On Dec. 17 the Professional Theater
g'ogram removed its art exhibit from
the Power Center lobby weeks before
its scheduled) close. The closing was
prompted by two paintings-including
Mars by William Girard-which
showed male and female frontal
'nudity. PTP manager Jean Galan
reportedly labeled the works obscene
and inappropriate for theater audien-
ces.
Galan admitted her lack of aesthetic
judgment, saying, "I am not an artist.
I am not a connoisseur of contem-
porary art." This ignorance made it
impossible for Galan to distinguish
between pornography and serious
works of art. The paintings described
as obscene actually contained nudes
rendered in a classical tradition dating
back to the Renaissance era.
Even more appalling than the
ludricrous grounds for the exhibit's
removal was its occurrence at the
Power Center, a University-owned
building. One of the most important
duties of a University is promoting and
protecting the unimpeded traffic of
il ideas. The Power Center's censor-
ship violates this basic principle by
declaring certain new and shocking ar-
tistic ideas unacceptable for display.
When such censorship is exercised, the
ossibility of growth in the arts, or any
discipline, is lost.

a

Sun

- belt free en terp rise

and the demise of the famil

'Mars' by William Girard
The lack of University response to
this inhibition of freedom of expression
is discouraging. Officials at the Power
Center have failed to condemn the in-
cident, claiming that sole discretion
for art exhibit contents belongs to the
theater's renters, such as PTP. And
artist Girard received more complain-
ts on the removal of his controversial
works from those at Detroit colleges
than from the University.
It is intolerable that such restrictions
on artistic freedom can take place at
the University and escape censure.
The Power Center officials should
reassess their policy for the future.
And students and faculty members
should join in protest to prevent any
similar outdated judgments from
being imposed upon works of art.

HOUSTON-Deep in the prosperous heart
of the Sun Belt, unhampered free enterprise
has long been embraced as an article of faith.
"It's the Houston ethic," said former city of-
ficial Leonel Castillo. "We're all out there
dealing and hustling."
That ethic, of course, is a major element in
President Reagan's own vision of a
revitalized America, along with something
else taken very seriously in this part of the
country: conservative social values.
HOUSTON-STYLE free entertprise would
not only bring prosperity back to America,
the president argued. It also would reinfor-ce
the American family-which the president
and other conservative spokesmen charged
had been undermined by liberalism.
But as the recent landslide victory of "con-
trolled growth" mayoral candidate Kathy
Whitmire demonstrated, here in the city
that made hustling a way of life people are
beginning to have their doubts about the con-
sequepces.
For in the midst of a no-holds-barred
economic boom, Houston and other
Republican-dominated Sun Belt cities are ex-
periencing a vast social breakdown, with the
impact falling heaviest on family life. In
Houston and Dallas-Fort worth, a record 8.2
of every 1,000 citizens now seek divorce each
year.
WHAT EXPLAINS the worst family crisis
in the United States? It could be the destruc-
tive influence of social welfare programs,
which scarcely exist in these south Texas
bastions of Reaganomics.
In fact, say many Houstonians, the real
culprit is money. Houston is seized with a
fierce competition for dollars that places little
importance on other concerns.
"The competitive economic climate makes
incredible demands on time and energy," ex-
plained Sam Caldarera of the Houston
Family Services Center, a private agency
that counsels Houston residents who are ex-
periencing severe family difficulties. "The
level of careerism is appalling-a lot of men
in Houston are neglecting their families
altogether. Or worse yet, they are taking out
the pressures on their wives and children.
"GENERALLY WE see middle- to upper-
middle-income professional people in our
agency," said Caldarera. "But the crisis in
this city clearly cuts across economic.lines.
No one is really immune."
The widespread nature of, the problem is
nnhp nr p ea.u jii. ~tritr*.than inUAni tnn.

By Frank Viviano
in our own country. Wives are saying 'good
bye' to their husbands. Children no longer un-
derstand their parents."
"There is a big difference between the
refugees in Houston and the other large group
in San Francisco," said a West Coast U.S.
resettlement official. "In San Francisco the
Vietnamese still depend on public assistance,
but they are holding onto their traditional
family ties. In Houston they are getting rich,
relatively speaking. But their families are
falling apart."
Although there are no exact figures
available for divorce among the Indochinese
in Texas, YMCA' refugee resettlement direc-
tor Ron Luce confirmed that "a very large
percentage of our crisis intervention relates
to divorce and family conflict."
Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth have the
questionable honor of leading the nation in
failed marriages, but the problem hardly is
theirs alone. Indeed, it is fast becoming one of
the defining characteristics of Sun Belt life.
Miami, Atlanta, Anaheim (California),
Riverside-San Bernardino (California), and
San Diego also appear in the top rank of U.S.
divorce rate statistics.
THESE CITIES ALL. are fixtures in
the southern and western sectors of the coun-
try which voted so heavily for Ronald
Reagan. Like Houston, all are longtime
strongholds of free enterprise and conser-
vatism-and all have divorce rates between
6.0 and 8.2.
By comparison, the divorce rate in New
York City-the supreme capital of postwar
American liberalism-is 3.7. In 1970, when the
liberal influence of the Great Society
programs was at its peak, the New York rate
was just 1.3. The rate is similarly low in
Boston, Philadelphia, and other East Coast
cities.
The discrepancy cannot be explained sim-
ply by citing the large Roman Catholic
populations in the Eastern cities, for Houston,
Miami, and San Diego have many Catholic
residents of their own.
Moreover, observed Houston family coun-
selor Sam Caldarera, "Divorce is just part of
our problem down here. You drive down

Westheimer (a major east-west avenue) any
night of the week and you see thousands of
kids with money, just floating around looking
for attachments they never seem to find.
They're products of the social crisis, too."
THERE ARE OTHER indications that all is
not well in the Sun Belt. In San Diego, the
suicide rate is a startling three times the
national average. On the FBI's list of the 10
worst metropolitan crime rates, no fewer
than six cities are found in Florida.
What does all of this mean? At the very
least it raises questions about the legitimacy
of our current political dialogue, which so
strongly emphasizes the detrimental effect of
liberal social welfare programs on the basic
values of Americans. Without testing its
validity, Republicans and most Democrats
alike have simply accepted the thesis that the
social legislation of the New Deal and its heirs
somehow carried the nation into an era of in-
decency and family decline.
The burgeoning family crisis and social
deterioration in the Sun Belt, where those
programs had little or no impact, suggests
that the equation may be false.
At the very worst, however, the crisis in the
Sun Belt may mean that the equation has
been turned inside-out. It may be, in other
words, that the conservative social values
embraced in the first half of the Reagan
vision for America actually being undone by
the second-half-the celebration of personal
success.
Despite their gratitude for material oppor-
tunities, some of the Vietnamese in Houston
are beginning to voice just that conclusion.
"There is no family pressure here," sighed
Khoi Tien Bui, "only the pressure of in-
dividualism."
"You think of your own personal needs a lot
more than we did in Asia," agreed Pauline
Van Tho, a placement counselor with Houston
Catholic Charities who was a senator in her
native Vietnam.
"Americans have been good to us-they are
a wonderful people. But the constant struggle
to get ahead hurts. And it hurts our families
the most.
Viviano wrote this article for Pacific
News Service.

IN 1i964-, 1 VOTED
FOR JOHtN ON
AND GOT GOLIWAR !

I KNOW. LASt YEAR
1 ,TE ro%?FMREA.GAN
AND O,r QCARTER

r.
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