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March 02, 1984 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1984-03-02

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A

OPINION
Page 4 Friday, March 2, 1984 The Michigan Daijy

4

An engineer's

view of humanity

By David Bloom
After years of complacency it ap-
pears that the American public is
finally taking notice of the threat of
global nuclear war. Cold war precedent
of nationalist propaganda has given
way to a new era of government
mistrust and outspoken criticism. As
the fallout from such media exposures
as the movie "War Games," the
television special "The Day After" and
the exploding EuroMissile debate
begins to settle on the national con-
science, we find ourselves asking once-
taboo questions. "Is any use of nuclear
weaponry thinkable?" "Isn't the very
existence of such an arsenal pretense
enough for its employment?"
The issue is an old one; its open
discussion is anomalous. The advocates
and opponents mass in the obvious
arenas for high media visibility. We are
not surprised to see the debate take on
an added dimension of depth and inten-
sity on campus-we are an intellectual
community, and heady issues are the
stuff of a good argument. The already
heated debate comes to a full boil when
the peripheral topic of military resear-
ch in universities is piggybacked to
bring the issues even closer to home.
The conflict over military research
on campus has been called a clash of
freedoms. Proponents argue that such
research is protected by the right to
study freely, while opponents stress
that efforts aimed at death and destruc-
tion (often euphemized "defense") in-
fringe on the very basic human right to
life. A battle of rhetoric ensues as the
camps, armed with such philosophical
jargon as political determinism, "big
stick" deterrence, academic freedom
and the role of the university in society,
engage in activism and political lob-
bying.
As thoughtful members of -an
academic community, we are under-
standably drawn to this fervent debate,

if not by the volatile issues it surrounds,
then by the sheer vehemence of the par-
ticipants. Whether it is an intellectual
or a humanistic interest, we are com-
pelled as responsible academicians to
reason out the opposing viewpoints and
form a rational opinion; moreover,
with such a conviction, to make our
voices heard.
Unfortunately, a- stigma is attached
to those who impose their views upon
public and policy maker: nobody likes a
whining activist. Add to this odium the
readiness on the part of the opposing
camps to denounce those who align with
their adversary, and the prospect of
educating becomes markedly less at-
tractive. How, then, to proceed?
One might begin with the lesson of J.
R. Oppenheimer, whose paradoxical
role as'both the greatest single con-
tributor and most outspoken opponent
to the A-bomb is exemplary of the type
of approach our activism should take.
When working on the Manhattan
Project, Oppenheimer had a captive
audience in the American government,
who sought to end with expedience a
lengthy, costly war. He worked
primarily as a scientist; in secret and
well equipped. After atomic bombs
were exploded over Hiroshima and
Nagasaki, he saw the horror of the em-
ployment of such devices, and like
Nobel before him, devoted his life to
peace. Both his audience and his mode
of communication then shifted. Where
once his closely-monitored technical
progress was eagerly lapped up by
zealous generals, the government tur-
ned a deaf ear to Oppenheimer's en-
treaties for sanity. He turned to the
American public with his cause, but un-
fortunately, the era was not sym-
pathetic to such pleas.
Thus, to bombard numbed policy
makers with demands is rhetorical
beating-our-heads-against-the-wall. We
must first educate the masses on the
implications of nuclear war. Only then
can we hope to sway a government of
the people, We are today but a few

voices cursing the sad state of affairs;
our goal should be to thicken our
ranks-to spread the word-the policy
changes we seek will then come
readily.
We at the University are fortunate to
have on campus an outstanding sub-
community of concerned activists from
which to gain inspiration and insight.
The local chapter of the Progressive
Student Network was founded on this
credo of education, and though it has
certainly not limited its functions to in-
formative efforts, all of the group's ac-
tivities stem from the mutual-
educational goals of its diverse mem-
bership. A non-hierarchical collective,
the PSN functions primarily as a soun-
ding board for topics pertinent to the
peace and security of the world, and

graduate, faculty or administrator,
each of us is both teacher and student,
offering to and gaining from the
University community ideas and
opinions on the world around us. We in-
cur little risk in the everyday exchange
of knowledge that makes up the concer-
ted education process, therefore we
may take for granted that precious
freedom that allows this to continue.
Andrei Sakharov's message is not
dissimilar from the PSN's. For his ef-
forts at educating a propagandized
Soviet, he was interned in Siberia for
"mental illness." Orwell's 1984 is not so
close that we need concern ourselves
with persecution for "wrong thinking,"
or is it? Of the hundreds of thousands of
men who refused to register for the
draft, the twenty-two who face

'If this message is to serve any purpose, let
it be a rhetorical call-to-arms: an entreaty
to you for support and action in the process
of infusing sanity back into society.'

ciation. The alternative is dependence
upon destruction for detente, the threat
of extinction for extortion and the
reliance on the makers of war to keep
the peace.
In our quest to educate we should
derive our conviction from the
magnitude of the issues. It is not suf-
ficient to post handbills, write editorials
and occupy laboratories; these media-
intensive efforts may provide a large
audience, but they necessarily diminish
the weight of the message. The best
way to discuss the issue is with in-
dividuals. Entertain a dialogue and en-
courage feedback.
The topic of nuclear war's imminen-
cy is fresh on the minds of all conscien-
tious citizens, what requires emphasis
are the implications of the military
research here on campus that supports
arms escalation. In the spring of 1983,
the regents discussed guidelines for
reseach activities lobbied for by the
PSN and thought them too restrictive to
be adopted. It was felt sufficient that
the government should curtail spon-
soring research activities on grounds of
security alone.
Parallel to these local efforts,
proposals for a nuclear arms freeze
(actually, a weak proposal to send such
a message to Washington) and more
recently, petitions to make Ann Arbor a
"nuclear-free" community have met
with some success. The former passed
overwhelmingly in the recent elections,
and the latter is gaining momentum. If
passed, the "nuclear-free Ann Arbor"
proposal would affect little military,
research presently being conductd at
the University, though such a move
would almost certainly be challenged in
the courts.
Military research projects are
presently sponsored in every college of
the University, ranging from EMP
hardening to biological-warfare defen-
se and from statistics to 'anti-satellite
technology. Peripheral research ac-
tivities in materials, communications,
and mathematics also support Depar-

tment of Defense interests. Thfs
research and similar projects at other
Universities support the notion that war
is thinkable, that death and destruction
is planable, and that we as
academicians are as much tools of the
war machine as the soldiers. Truly,,We
are being prostituted for our expertise.
Our goals and the goals of our employer
are not the same.
American militarism has opponents
here, as well as in the Middle East and
South America. But as humanists, ours
is not a protest against strategic policy,
it is rather against the acceptability, of
death and destruction as a means for
conflict resolution. The notion of
"might makes right" is the antithesis-of
"knowledge is power." We believe i , a
discussion as our means for confl ct
resolution, so we should spread tkis
conviction among the people of Oar
community. In numbers we can ton
tell our policy makers, both local apd
national, that we will not stand byt ed
allow their communication media tol~e
bombs and projectiles. We will te#h
them by our example, that war is
the way.
If this message is to serve any pur-
pose, let it be a rhetorical call-to-arras:
an entreaty to you for support and kc-
tion in the process of infusing sanity
back into society. We have the most
powerful weapons of all in our courage
of conviction and proven coin-
munication techniques. They must all
be employed-and employed now- to
put an end to this escalating geocidal
arms race.
Educate your students, professors,
and administrators. Involve your peers
in this most vital of issues. Learn all
you can about preventing the holocaust,
then spread the word. The alternativeis
being hurled over the precipice pf
ignorance into a sea of demise like' a
race of lemmings into extinction. ,
Teach peace.

secondarily as an activist organization
to press for the adoption of policies
favorable to these ends. Unfortunately,
it is the latter activities which gain the
PSN the most (and most negative) at-
tention. It is paradoxical that the
notorious PSN should be our model for
a self-educated and autonomous com-
munity. We are not protestors ...
But we are educators! Each member
of the University community has in
common the premium placed on
education, knowledge being valued
over power or material wealth. So
driven are the PSN members by the
harsh reality of nuclear war's even-
tuality that they risk outcast and arrest
to have their views heard. To divorce
ourselves for risk denies our com-
monality: whether undergraduate or

prosecution all have one thing in com-
mon: they all are outspoken opponents
to war and the draft. They key word
here is "outspoken"; were they to sit
quietly with their convictions, they
would join the other evaders in de jure
freedom from prosecution. "Big
Brother" picked these men for their ac-
tivism, just as the Kremlin silenced
Sakharov for his. Sakharov was a
university professor.
We are therefore united with the PSN
in risk as well as educational goals. The
same benign government that singles
out draft evaders on the basis of
decibels-yea the deployer of the
devices we deplore-will not stand
mute in the face of our concerted efforts
to thwart nuclear weapons' escalation.
We face ridicule, rebuke and renun-

Bloom is a graduate of
University engineering school.

the

Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

LaBan
8 QCLI

73AIMhYS-T HATS6
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Vol. XCIV-No. 119

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

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

THE REAGAN administration
delivered another blow to women's
rights. What's new. This time the blow
came as the U.S. Supreme Court ac-
cepted the administration's "program
specific" reading of a law prohibiting
sex discrimination. This means that
colleges who fail to obey the Federal
law which prohibits sex
discrimination will not have all of
their Federal funds cut, only that
program in which they receive federal
funds.
In 1976, a college in Grove City, Pa.
refused to sign forms assuring the
government of their compliance with
the law barring sex discrimination,
Title IX, because they believed they
didn't depend on Federal funds. Under
previous administrations none of the
college's students could receive
Federal financial assistance. Four
Grove City students challenged the law
which three previous administrations
had uhed in a broad interpretation of Title
IX, denying the college any Federal
funds.
But last November the Reagan Ad-
ministration reversed the -gover-
nment's position in favor of Grove City
College. This left the case with no
arguments supporting the earlier
rulings forbidding Grove City to
receive Federal funds. The high court
Wednesday has subsequently ruled in
favor of the Reagan administration's
narrow reading of the law, allowing
Grove City students to receive Federal
assistance in all programs, except
for the one the Federal government

dependent from government funds in
certain programs so they don't have to
obey Federal laws. A dangerous
precedent.
In effect, the high court's ruling
"Takes the teeth out of Title IX," as
the Director of the University's Depar-
tment of Women Studies noted.
Nor can women's groups depend on
the only woman presiding on the high
court, Sandra Day O'Connor, to sup-
port their rights. For she too voted in
favor of the ruling.
Another sinister angle to the ruling is
that it sends an open invitation for
colleges across the nation to openly
discriminate on the basis of sex. Who
knows what the next step by the
Reagan administration might be. Civil
rights advocates suggest that it could
lead to a similarly narrow inter-
pretation on race-discrimination
barriers in the civil rights act.
Three of the dissenting opinions in
the decision brought up other impor-
tant issues - the fact that the ruling
goes against Congress's intentionally
broad reading of the law. Last Novem-
ber, by a 414 to 8 vote, the House of
Representatives passed a resolution
expressing the sense that the law
should be given a broad scope. Also, in
friend of the court briefs, Senator Bob
Dole (R-Kansas) joined 48 other mem-
bers of Congress in declaring that the
purpose of the law was to "prohibit
gender discrimination in all aspects of
the American educational system."
The Reagan administration has delt
civil rights a crucial setback that

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LETTERS TO THE DAILY:
Depo-Provera comments n

Tod the Daily:
A week or so ago I spoke to the
editor concerning a quotation by
Law Professor Francis Allen in
the February 13 Detroit Free
Press.
Professor Francis Allen is
quoted in the Free Press article
in which he comments over the
controversial "sentence" of
Depo-Provera for child rapist
Rogert Gauntlett, in lieu of

protesting the sentence thus:
"I must say I believe this is a
very questionable kind of decree
to enter . . . there is a real
problem about the dignity of the
individual involved here . . . It
would be one thing if the defen-
dent had volunteered ... I really
think there is a question about the
forcible use of measures to
produce physical changes in

people . . . there is a con-
stitutional right to body integrity
The irony of these comments
concerning a convicted child
rapist, one who has been raping
his stepdaughter for a period of
seven years, is shocking and un-
believable. He should be taken to
task for his insensitivity to this
case.

isp laced
Will you join me in protesting
these statements by one who
teaches future attorneys, and con
only inflict his ignorance, insen-
sitivity and inhumanity on those
who are "paying through the
nose" for a quality education aid
being robbed of it?
- Nadine Feinberg
February 13
Southfield

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