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November 08, 1984 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1984-11-08

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4

OPINION

Page 4

Thursday, November 8, 1984

The Michigan Daily

A

mixed

review

for

the 'Review'

By Brian Leiter
Having received the dubious honor of
being named "the most entertaining
writer in town" in the most recent issue
of The Michigan Review, I feel com-
pelled to return the favor with an
assessment of Michigan's own conser-
vative forum. What does The Review's
"alternative direction" offer to the in-
tellectual climate of the University?
On the front page appears the paper's
motto: "We seek the truth, and will en-
dure the consequences." It is a bold
motto, but one ill-matched to the con-
tents of the paper. The "Truths" the
Review offers are by and large
repetitions of the omnipresent conser-
vative rhetoric of our era and the "con-
sequences" are non-existent: what
could possibly come as a result of
repeating shop-worn Reagan themes?
THE REVIEW deserves, however, to
be commended on two points. The best
articles are the ones dealing with local
issues. Steve Angelotti, abandoning his
characteristic hysterical slander
(which I guess he reserves only for
responses to my columns in the Daily),
presents a thoughtful and informative
piece on PIRGIM. And on the editorial
page, The Review offered some in-
teresting, albeit naively optimistic,
reasons for voting for Proposal C.

The Review should also be commen-
ded for basically avoiding the striden-
cy, insensitivity, and cruelty charac-
teristic of many collegiate conservative
journals (e.g. the infamous Dartmouth
Review). An exception is the silly
"Serpent's Tooth," a page that might
be entertaining to staunch conser-
vatives but annoying and meaningless
to anyone else. For example, this page
includes two shallow attacks on Perry
Bullard which don't even consider his
reasons for opposing Proposal C; there
are condescending wisecracks about
the Progressive Student Network which
give no idea of what is either right or
wrong with that group; and there is a
similarly condescending paragraph
about my columns in the Daily which
quotes a remark that is supposedly
illustrative of their tone but which in
fact is a distorting paraphrase. Sniping
remarks do not further the pursuit of
truth and alienate more readers than
they convince. Unless The Review
wants only a conservative readership
(and maybe this is the case), they
should do away with "Serpent's Tooth."
I have spoken so far only rather
generally about the negative aspects of
the paper; I will turn now to some
specifics.
EUGENE MEYER'S "Criminal
'Lawyers?' " is far and away the worst
article in the paper. According to
Meyer, Harvard Law School is

THE
MICHIGAN

r '
R
' x
. N

R E V IE WWe seek the truth, and will endure the consequences;
Vol. 3, No. 1 Ann ArborMI
Does the Michigan Review live up to its motto, "We seek the truth, and will endure the consequences?"

this plane protecting us they wouldn't
have the freedom to protest. But
clearly a protest in front of a fighter
plane is a protest of a variety of things:
America's militaristic imperialism, the
suicidal arms buildup, wasteful defense
spending etc. There is a great differen-
ce between these things (which one
could legitimately object to) and wan-
ting to disarm the United States so it
could be invaded. Michaels shows no
awareness of this and settles instead for
a black-and-white view of matters.
What is really wrong, then, with The
Michigan Review is that it does not con-
tribute much to the intellectual climate
because it relies heavily on popularized
Reagan rhetoric and platitudes, and
shies away from serious, thoughtful
and probing commentary. I would like
to see a conservative paper address
issues like "The Value of Capitalism"
or "The Meaning of Freedom" in a way
which tried to come to terms with Marx
and leftists instead of writing them off
or just caricaturing them. To really
seek the truth. means being willing to
expose the hidden assumptions of con-
servatism and then defend them.
This may be a weighty task for a
newspaper; The Review, however, is a
good-sized paper with room for
lengthier articles. Let us hope they will
undertake these tasks in the future.
Leiter is a graduate student in law
and philosophy.

dominated by a minority of leftist
professors who identify themselves
with a movement called Critical Legal
Studies. It is true that two of the senior
faculty at Harvard are key figures in
this movement, but this hardly con-
stitutes "domination." What it means
is that the political spectrum there is
somewhat broader than it is at most
American law schools. Meyer talks
only abut Duncan Kennedy, the less in-
tellectually credible of the two, leaving
out any mention of Roberto Unger
whose work is sophisticated and widely
respected. For Meyer to assert,
without any substantive discussion of
either Kennedy's or Unger's views, that

"their ideas should not be taken
seriously" is an affront to the purpose
of the university. What his article
reflects is a complacency with the
status quo in legal scholarship and a
desire to ignore any alternatives.
Similarly shallow analysis and com-
ments abound. The editorial "This
Parrot is Dead" asserts that voters are
realizing that "government's doing
good things for people have real costs
that the economy cannot always bear."
Voters have certainly been told this
frequently enough by Reagan; its truth
is another matter. In recent years a
variety of people, from Harvard
business professors to Congressional

subcommittees, have suggested that
what the economy really can't bear is
businesses that invest only for short-
term profit, a private sector that
wastes billions on corporate mergers,
and corporations that use their money
for non-productive investments like
real estate (the trend throughout the
'70s). Conservative economic commen-
tary that is worth the time would have
to come to terms with these criticisms.
Kevin Michaels offers a comparably
simplistic analysis of defense-related
matters in "Eagle Attracts Bir-
dbrains." Michaels equates the PSN's
protest in front of an F-15 fighter plane
with a failure to realize that without

Cramer

01r Midii3au ?aku1
Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

1,

Vol. XCV, No. 55

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

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

T he contrast between this nation's
elections on Tuesday and Sunday's
farcical elections in Nicaragua should
inspire a profound appreciation of the
American political system and in-
tolerance toward those who fail to par-
ticipate. Democracy should never be
wasted.
In his concession speech Tuesday
night, Walter Mondale's first message
was to "rejoice in our democracy.''
These words should be heeded. Long
lines at the polls may be a nuisance,
but they should also remind the
American people of their fundamental
freedom and the need to participate in
the political process.
In many areas the number of voters
going to the polls was encouraging, but
overall the statistics were disappoin-
ting. Washtenaw County was reflec-
tive of the nation as a whole: only
about 60 percent of eligible voters par-
ticipated. This means that even in a
landslide year such as this only about
35 percent of the eligible public ac-
tually voted a president into office.
Turnout is reflective of the ap-
preciation for this nation's political
system. Obviously too many people
take it for granted.

Such neglect is unconscionable when
one recognizes just how rare true
democracy is. The Sandinistas claim
that their elections Sunday were
democratic and that President-elect
Daniel Ortega's popularity was affir-
med. Such claims are impossible to
support, however, since the San-
dinistas did everything in their power
to stifle any legitimate opposition.
The most promising alternative can-
didate, Arturo Cruz, sought a delay of
the elections until January in the in-
terest of fairness but was denied. Or-
tega's opposition consisted of four small
left-wing groups and splintered fac-
tions from two more traditional par-
ties. Even with such weak opposition,
the Sandinistas got less than 70 percent
of the vote. A mandate it was not.
Nicaragua's problems are complex,
and ridiculous elections do not excuse
American military intervention. Their
elections do, however, show how easily
the ideals of democracy can be war-
ped.
America complacency toward polit-
ical inaction should not be tolerated.
Every eligible citizen of this country
has a duty to vote since so few people in
this world have the right to vote.

LETTERS TO THE DAILY

Price overstepped his bounds

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To the Daily:
I was astonished to read Alan
Price's article " 'U' official
replies to charges"(Daily, Oc-
tober 28) attempting to justify his
conduct in using University
facilities to promote his op-
position to the Nuclear Free Zone
Act. The Attorney General has
already given an opinion that
Price abused his authority in
sending a memo to faculty mem-
bes which included material from
those who opposed Proposal 1. In
deed, what other conclusion could
he reach? I hope that students
will imagine their feelings on
receiving a memo from their boss
instructing them on how to vote
on a ballot question. Remember
that Price is a member of the
University administration and as
such has precisely that relation-
ship to faculty and staff mem-
bers. Sending out material
produced by advocates of one
side of a debate under such cir-
cumstances is clearly abuse of
authority and of University fun-

Chamber of Commerce and the
Citizens against Research Bans
(CARB), who are spending hun-
dreds of thousands of dollars to
defeat Proposal 1. If Price
wished to provide "information"
he surely ought to have called the
Campaign for Nuclear Free Ann
Arbor and asked us to provide
literature to be sent out with that
produced by CARB. Or, he could
have sent a memo to faculty
providing addresses and
telephone numbers for both cam-
paigns so that they could obtain
any information they wanted.
Price claims that he simply
expressed his personal views on
the issue. However, he did not
use means available to every
citizen to express that "per-
sonal" view. Certainly he is en-
BLOOM. COUNTY

titled to write letters to the editor
or use his own (or CARB's) funds
to print and distribute materials.
Instead, he used his University
title and University facilities,
still claiming that he acted
correctly.
Unfortunately, Price's conduct
is not atypical of the way in which
the University chose to deal
with the nuclear free zone
proposal. Harold Shapiro
published an article in the July 6
Science Magazine in which he
wrote: "I believe that a university
remains a creative part of society
only as long as it remains an in-
tellectually open community and
not the ally of a particular point
of view." He seems to have
forgotten that laudable view,
however, since Shapiro, like

Price, has used his position as
head of the University to
disseminate a "personal" view in
ways unavailable to the ordinary
citizen. He held a press con-
ference during the working day to
express those views, and
published them in a University
organ, The University Record.
Both of these administrators are
entitled to their views. However,
expressing those views in a way
which made them appear to be
University policy was an egregious
abuse of authority.

-Steve Latta
November 6

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Latta is co-coordinator of
the Campaign for a Nuclear
Free Ann Arbor.
by Berke Breathed

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