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November 30, 1984 - Image 4

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1984-11-30

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OPINION

M

Page 4

Friday, November 30, 1984

The Michigan Datly

I

Creating a dangerous climate

of fear

4

By Madeline Kiser
Maybe Daniel Ortega is pretending to
prepare for a U.S. invasion as a ploy to
unify Nicaragua. Or maybe he really is
preparing to attack El Salvador and
Honduras with his almost-but not
quite-acquired MIG-21s.
Maybe the United States is preparing
to attack Nicaragua. Or maybe the
Pentagon really did send General
Paul Gorman down to Costa Rica just to
check up on how the Costa Rican nor-
thern guardia is doing. Maybe.
THE PRESENT Central American
situation is ridiculous. Soap-opera ab-
surd describes the present situation
rather well.
Is Reagan planning on invading
Nicaragua?
N Is Nicaragua planning on invading El
Salvador and Honduras?
Where are the MIGs?
6 News headlines about Nicaragua
would be downright entertaining if it
were not for the law of subatomic
physics that states that reality depends
p on the observer. With this in mind, the
Nicaraguan news headlines are far
from funny because really, in our
4 modern media-saturated world, per-
ceptions about reality matter more
than reality itself.
IN MANAGUA and Washington, the
people with the push are acting on their
perceptions. Subatomic physics in ac-
tion: Managua's reality says that the
United States is about to invade.
But the United States does not em-
phasize the possibility, that
Nicaragua's build-up is a defensive one.
No. The United States defines reality in
{ terms of box crates big enough to con-
tain MIGs and mobilized students who
are ready to attack El Salvador and
f Honduras.
t Thus, one week after Reagan was re-
elected, one week after a news article
3;iwfut
Edited and managed
Vol. XCV, No. 70

about possible shipment of MIG-21s,
Nicaragua declared a state of general
alert and Caspar Weinberger begins
mumbling "Monroe Doctrine." The
idea that reality is what we make it has
a dangerous Nicaraguan corollary
which states that adults playing childish
media mind games are dangerous in-
dividuals creating a real war.
NO ONE knows the real bottom line
because no one is communicating. And
rumors produce reactions. And reac-
tions to rumors produce more rumors.
Rumored reactions and reactions to
rumors make people afraid, and
frightened people create a climate of
fear. We have created a climate of fear,
and the problem with creating a
climate of fear is that frightened people
don't think very hard about what they
are doing. In place of thinking,
frightened people tend to act on their
worst fears. Scared animals fight.
Frightened people often fight as well.
It is possible that Reagan will never
invade Nicaragua because he is afraid
of public condemnation. The governments of
the w uwoid dprobably candmn an invasion
of Nicaragua even more than they con-
demned the Soviet invasion of
Afghanistan-and certainly more than
they condemned Reagan for mining
Nicaraguan harbors.
But Reagan also fears that Soviet-
born and Cuban-bred communism is a
creeping crud now incubating in
Nicaragua, and he feels that it is his
duty to eradicate this communist
disease from the Americas and from
the world. Reagan may be afraid of
popular opinion, but popular American
opinion just handed him a big victory.
And although the possibility of a world-
wide wrist-slapping after a Nicaraguan
invasion may intimidate him, Reagan
is a man with a mission. He is firmly
convinced that the American way of life
is threatened by Central American

paste , coffee-picking is an issue. Or-
tega may fear that his new government
won't be able to unite the country
without some rallying point, but
remembering that people are hungry
could make him fear more the reper-
cussions of initiating a state of alert.
BUT IT IS true that fear is making
Ortega mobilize. What is he afraid of?
Nicaragua is a third-world country.
The United States is a superpower, and
has invaded other countries when
spurred by communist paranoia.
America does not like Nicaragua.,Or-
tega has reason to be afraid. He stuck
his tongue out and nah-nahed the
United States by acquiring communist
friends and now he is afraid of the con-
sequences. Acting on this fear may
mean invasion.
Americans have created a climate of
fear.
Nicaraguans have created a climate
of fear.
We are all frightening each other and
creating one giant climate of fear. And
within that climate of fear, we are
making war evermore likely.
Nicaraguan headlines would be
soap-opera silly if everybody
recognized them for what they are:
part of childish war games and media
mind-maneuvers. But just let a few
people, a few significant somebodies
believe those headlines and act out of
fear and those silly headlines suddenly
become serious.
Subatomic physics theory says that
we make our own reality. With this in
mind, we should be thinking about .
making a table big enough to seat both
Sandinistan and American negotiators
instead of creating a climate of fear in
Central America.
Kiser is a graduate of the University
currently living in Costa Rica.

Earlier this month 10,000 students demonstrated outside the U.S. embassy in Managua after the
Nicaraguan government declared a state of alert against a U.S. invasion.

communism, and thus, the fear that he
will fail in his mission to protect the
United States from the Evil Empire and
its Libyan, Cuban, and Nicaraguan
comrades looms large over any of his
other concerns.
REAGAN MAY also fear military
failure. Twenty-thousand students,
MIG-21s, Libyan, and Soviet support
are indeed intimidating. But remem-
ber: America is number one. In
justifying a Nicaraguan invasion,
Reagan would use the same logic that
he uses in dealing with the deficit. The

deficit is getting better. Period.
Similarly, we would just out-mobilize
mobilized Nicaragua. Period. Although
Reagan may fear losing American lives
and military failure, he also fears
communist take-over in Central
America in light of the New MIG-24
helicopters and Congress's unwillingness
to continue supporting a secret war. Ac-
ting an these fears could mean in-
vasion.
Nicaraguans are also capable of
being frightened. Daniel Ortega may
fear that his newly-elected government

will not be able to unite Nicaragua and
may believe that pretending that the
United States is on its way down is a
good way to go about correcting that
problem. But Ortega must also fear the
economic repercussions of an invasion
fire-drill. It is coffee-picking time in
Nicaragua, but not very many people
are picking coffee because a lot of
people are guarding Managua. Lost
revenue from one coffee crop may not
seem like much, but in a country where
every week families stand in line for a
kilo of rice, no meat, and maybe tooth-

Ss.
by students at The University of Michigan

Wasserman

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

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

Not fit to print

Paula and Jim had a long
discussion with their son. Jim
said he was concerned that their boy
didn't have enough friends to play with
in the neighborhood. Paula suggested
that the boy could visit his cousin who
lives in a neighborhood full of healthy,
middle to upper class young people.
Meanwhile, Nancy is upset with her
stepson Michael. It seems that Michael
called her a jealous wife in response to
her statement that he had become
"estranged" from the family. But his
sister Maureen claims it isn't true that
her stepmother isn't jealous. Michael
just has a "vendetta" against Nancy,
Maureen says. This should be a drama
acted out in daytime soap operas. Yet
these personal issues and petty squab-
bles appeared in local and national
newspapers and magazines where the
names were not changed and the
resemblance to real people is ob-
vious.
It is not surprising to find contrived
stories about the sex lives of Hollywood
celebrities or famous political figures
in publications such as the National
Enquirer or the Weekly World News.
But when the New York Times, the
Ann Arbor News, and Newsweek begin
printing gossipy drivel on their news
pages something is really wrong. The
problem is not completely in the
newsroom or with the editors who
decide what should go in the paper.
Americans will read about the family
feud between Nancy Reagan and her
stepson before they will peruse the
contents of a story on U.S.-Soviet
realtions. And where there is a demand

Blanchard's decision to transfer his
son out of an inner-city school and into
a suburban one. It was an interesting
little story that implied more about the
decay of urban schools than it should
have. Ethically, however, it should
never have appeared in the press.
A parent's decision concerning
where his or her child will attend
school is a personal one and politicians
shouldn't be penalized for having
private lives. It is expected that every
aspect of a politician's work will come
under public scrutiny since such
scrutiny is a way of making an elected
official accountable to the constituency
he or she represents. But while the
governor and the president should
have to explain why they approve or
disapprove of a piece of legislation,
Blanchard should not have to reveal
why he choses to send his son to a
suburban high school and Ronald
shouldn't have to read about his son's
beef with Nancy in Newsweek. Such
journalism is an invasion of privacy.
Michael Reagan used the press as a
medium for communicating his dislike
of personal problems with Nancy
Reagan. A responsible editor or repor-
ter would have decided to keep
Michael's comments out of the press.
President Carter also suffered because
he had a brother who had some strange
habits. President Reagan has had to
contend with stories leveling un-
favorable questions about his son Ron
and his daughter Patti. It's no wonder
that many people shun politics for fear
that their personal lives will be
destroyed. The "responsible" press

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LETTERS TO THE DAILY
A ction needed to save old tree

To the Daily:
There is a rare Burr-Oak tree
that grows along the side of the
West Austin Road near the
Village of Manchester. This tree
has been determined to be over
300 years old and ranks as one of
the largest oaks of its kind in
Michigan.

Unfortunately, the tree is just
three feet from the county road,
and due to the Washtenaw County
Road Commission' s fear of
liability suits, they have decided
to cut it down. A local attorney
has fought for years to save the
tree, but feels he has exhausted
all legal avenues and, if the coun-
ty road commission has its way,
the tree will be removed within
the next few weeks.
Speaking for the residents of
Manchester, I feel this would not
only be a great loss to our com-
munity, but also everyone who
loves nature. It is my opinion
BLOOM COUNTY

that, in the interests of the en-
vironment, a guard rail or
caution sign would be a much bet-
ter solution. The county does this
for culverts and bumps in the
road, why not for this tree? The
county concedes that even though
the tree is close to the road, there
are no recorded traffic incidents
involving the tree.
This letter is an urgent plea for
you to use any resources
available to you to influence the
road commission and Man-
chester township board members
to change their minds. This tree
has stood over three centures

resisting the elements, now if a
miracle does not happen, it will
meet its end due to litigation
hysteria.
-Mick Lantis
November 26

Unsigned
pearing on

editorials ap-*
the left side of

this page represent a
majority opinion of the
Daily's Editorial Board.
by Berke Breathed

---ZJI

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TA4RT

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6

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