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April 04, 1985 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1985-04-04

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OPINION

Page 4

Thursday, April 4, 1985

The Michigan Daily

U

ie aa ytugane o M
Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

MSA must serve all students

0

Vol. XCV, No. 146

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

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

Silent scream

'T HE RECENT release and showing
of the anti-abortion film, Silent
Scream has met with a great deal of
controversy. In the film, Bernard
Nathanson, an obstretrician in a white
coat, intones that new technologies
have convinced the medical
establishment, "beyond question that
the unborn child is simply another
member of the human community."
Through ultra sound, the film shows
the inside of a womb during a 12 week
old fetus' abortion. The pictures are
not vivid but Nathanson provides ex-
planation which he claims is based on
conclusive scientific evidence.
"We are going to watch a child being
torn apart, dismembered, disar-
ticulated, crushed, and destroyed by
the unfeeling steel instruments of the
abortionist," Nathanson says in the
film. He points to a vague image on the
screen and continues, ". . . it (the
fetus) senses mortal danger. It opens
its mouth in a horrible 'silent scream'.
Other members of the medical
establishment question the validity of
'Silent Scream'. The 'facts' which
Nathanson reports are disputable
among experts and many feel that he is
misusing the credibility given to him
as a physician. The camera work and
special effects used in the movie con-
tribute to the misconceptions of fetus
response to the abortionist. Says Dr.
John Hobbins of Yale School of
Medicine, "The fetus appears to be ac-
ting-in a perfectly normal fashion. It's
just technical flim-flam."
Neurobiologist David Bodian, of
Johns Hopkins, asserts that the silent
scream may be a fetal yawn because
"the fetus spends lots of time with its
mouth open."
Because of the conflicting medical
viewpoints on the question of a fetus'
development at 12 weeks, Nathanson's
assertion that evidence has convinced
the medical establishment, is patently-
false.
However, both President Reagan,
and Jerry Falwell, leader of the Moral
Majority, endorse the film as a
valuable method of supporting the an-
ti-abortionist view on the rights of un-

born children.
As an executive in the highest
position of United States government,
President Reagan has an obligation to
his constituency, the people of
America, to present a realistic picture
of abortion. By supporting a film that
is based on emotional argument, the
President is shirking that respon-
sibility.
Like Nathanson, President Reagan
is misusing his powerful position to in-
fluence people. The President is cer-
tainly entitled to his personal beliefs,
but as a government official, he over-
steps his bound by advocating anti-
abortion propaganda.
It is not the government's role to dic-
tate the public's beliefs, but to ensure
that citizens have the right to believe
what they choose. Thus, they are free
to practice any religion, profession, or
lifestyle they choose.
In the 1983 Supreme Court ruling of
Akron v. Akron Center for Reproductive
Health, the Court justices ruled that
several state laws which imposed
severe burdens on the right to choose
were unconstitutional. Among these
burdens was the requirement that
physicians inform women seeking
abortions that "human life begins at
conception." This kind of stipulation,
the Supreme Court found, was
representative of religious or moral
beliefs in which the government has no
legal jurisdiction.
The task of government is to provide
an atmosphere of tolerance for the
opinions and values of every in-
dividual. That is the premise that the
United States Constitution was founded
upon.
Women must retain the fundamental
right to exercise control over their
bodies. President Reagan's ad-
vocation of an emotionally biased film
about abortion imposes unfair restric-
tions on women to exercise their basic
reproductive rights. Every woman
has the right to decide whether she
wants to bear a child. The President's
support of propaganda perpetuates
discrimination and, inequality which is
intolerable in a democratic society.

By Steve Angelotti
Second in a series
Student government should serve all
students and their collective interests.
Student government should not be used by
groups with narrow ideological agendas to
promote their generally unpopular causes. I
have been at the University for six years and I
have seen both the good and the bad sides of
student government - more often the bad.
Before I proceed with my criticisms and
suggestions I must commend this year's MSA
leadership. This year, MSA has been much
more productive and responsivetthan in
previous years. We should note that respon-
siveness and productivity go hand in hand -
without student support very little can be ac-
complished (and by student support I don't
mean the incessant whining. of campus
radicals).
In the past, student governments have
represented and encouraged the most vocal
elements, the so-called campus activists, at
the expense of the much larger student body
that they were elected to serve. Members of
such governments have viewed the ad-
ministration and the Regents as the adver-
sary (who must be fought) and criticize op-
posing candidates on the ground that they'll
"sell out" to authority. Certainly the ad-
ministration will be on the "wrong side" of
some issues; the code, for instance. But to
permanently cast the administration in such
a role - and, face it, many parties have run
against Hal and the Big Bad Regents - is
unrealistic and hinders any chance of
cooperation.
Another example of past MSA irrespon-
sibility involves the military research issue.
Certainly there are students on this campus
who feel strongly about the issue. The fact
that MSA would consider military research to
be a legitimate campus issue is not sur-
prising; its past actions, however, have been
rather silly. MSA has twice apppointed paid
military research "researchers", one of
whom bragged that he "couldn't tell a test
tube from a carburetor." This particular
technological illiterate was paid hundreds of
dollars by University students to "research"
Angelotti is a graduate physics student.

an issue on which he had already made up his
mind.
That same year MSA began to make vile at-
tacks against the College of Engineering,
blaming the University's problems on those
dastardly engineers doing military research.
Students in the College eventually became
angry and thousands signed protest petitions.
At the MSA meeting where the petitions were
presented, one so-called representative
stated that the petitions should be ignored
because "engineers just want to build bombs
and kill babies."
Such infantile banter might be expected in a
high school student council and my own ex-
periences indicate that some past MSA
governments have been little more than
student councils with big budgets and gran-
diose ideas. Parliamentary procedure is a
joke, speakers are often ignored if their
message isn't fashionable, and outside
student input is usually limited to those
hollering the loudest. Abuses of power are
ignored. MSA's printing press is the only one
which could have been used to print the in-
famous Consider insert, but MSA took no ac-
tion against those responsible. How can MSA
have any credibility when its members waste,
student funds for private projects without any
subsequent investigation or punishment?
Even more grating are the pre-occupation
with outside issues and the past abuse of the
MSA News by self-styled activists. Student
governments have a responsibility to deal
with national student issues such as financial
aid. However, this year's government
wouldn't even partially fund a lobbying trip.
At least this year MSA hasn't taken a stand on
the MX missile. Previous governments have.
Now what in hell does the MX have to do with
student government? If we're for or against
the MX we can join lobbying groups dealing
with military concerns. We elect MSA to deal
with student concerns. (Ah, but we hear the
government: Money for MX could mean less
money for education. One could argue in
similar fashion about Social Security).
MSA should not be a moneychanger.
Groups should not be indiscriminately gran-
ted funds. If a group requests money for a
forum on, say, Central America, MSA should
see that a variety of opinions will be represen-
ted - that a true educational experience will
take place. MSA should. educate. But
education is not a propAganda blitz.
Education is presenting people with many

ideas and relevant facts and allowing them to
make up their own minds. MSA should
promote openmindedness and growth, not a
narrow ideaology. Doctoring a photo of Al
Haig, as MSA News did 18 months ago, did
nothing to educate students. Placing
propaganda in a paper involuntarily sub-
sidized by students does little to promote
education or MSA. Endorsing political can-
didates, as the MSA News has done, is silly. A
student government elected by 10-15 percent
of the students recommending candidates for
public office? Come on.
With all of these problems getting in the
way of effective student government, we
shouldn't be surprised at the amount of
apathy about MSA. I speak from personal ex-
periencewhen I say that general student
apathy can be, and has been, broken byl
focusing on true student concerns. MSA can
make a lot of progress on issues central to
students such as rape and the code. MSA
would have widespread student support to
take action on these issues if only it had more
credibility. It's the outside nonsense, the need
to kowtow to the radicals, the need to plunge
into national issues and propagandize on local
issues - it's the lack of clear focus on studen-
ts' interests that has crippled MSA.
MSA should continue to fund programs that$
serve the students' interests, such as Student
Legal Services, the Ann Arbor Tenants'
Union, and ADVICE. MSA should support
more education forums instead of leftist
propaganda barrages. MSA should be stricter
about parliamentary procedure. MSA News
should cut the politics and become a student
paper; one that educates by welcoming and
soliciting input from the entire campus com-
munity. MSA should stick to student issues -
such as financial aid, campus rape, and
academic integrity. Future MSA candidates
should have broad interests and a willingness
to serve students, not a need to pad resumes
and reputations. MSA parties should
represent coalitions, not narrow ideaological
biases.
No government should exist unless there is
a need for it. By cutting out the past
ideaological nonsense, MSA can begin to ser-
ve all students. Once it begins to represent
more students, MSA will be supported by
more students. Student apathy is not a cause
of MSA's problems; it is a symptom. By
'healing itself MSA can heal student apathy.

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14

Letters
R efugees describe Salvadoran horrors'

Good news, at least

-

T HE U.S. SOVIET summit meeting
that President Reagan is calling
for received a great boost on Tuesday
when Soviet Premier Gorbachev
agreed in principle to a summit.
Reagan's call for a summit meeting
is an appropriate action in working to
reduce tensions between the super-
powers. Direct communication bet-
ween world leaders is one of the most
effective ways of developing and im-
plementing innovative solutions to
world problems.
During the last summit between the
two nations, President Carter and
Premier Brezhnev signed the second
Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty that
bound both nations to reduce their
stockpiles of some types of nuclear
weapons.
It has been six years since the SALT
II summit, and in spite of Reagan's
sporadic efforts to arrange a sub-
sequent meeting, none has
materialized.
When Andropov succeeded
Brezhnev, Reagan announced his in-

tention to hold a summit with him. The
lack of such a meeting contributed to a
rapid deterioration of U.S.-Soviet
relations.
Reagan encountered similar dif-
ficulties with Chernenko. Although
relations between the two countries
stabilized a bit, there were still Sub-
stantial tensions that might have been
released had a summit been held.
At last, however, Reagan has
become serious enough about his call
to receive some response. Although
Gorbachev has yet to specify a time or
place for the summit, his general
agreement to the idea suggests the
summit will eventually he held.
Reagan's recent increased emphasis
on a summit is a welcome change.
Gorbachev's response to his invitation
creates the possibility that the United
States and Soviet Union might come to
a better understanding of one
another's goals and might begin to
reduce some of the tensions that the
last seven years of failed com-
munication have created.

To the Daily:
On March 21, I attended a
meeting at the Friends Quaker
House concerning the sanctuary
movement in the U.S. for
refugees from Central America.
As a part of the on-going ac-
tivities during Central America
Week (March 17-24) here at the
University, this event focused on
the current situation in El
Salvador.
The film, Witness For War, was
shown, which details Charlie
Clements' (an ex-Air Force pilot
in the Vietnam War) experiences
as an American doctor in the
liberated zones of El Salvador for
two years. After the film, Raoul
and Baleria Gonzales,
Salvadoran refugees now living
in Detroit, gave their impressions
of the movie. With the aid of a
translator, they went on to give
their personal accounts of this in-
terminable war in El Salvador
and their process of resettlement
in the U.S.
The Salvadoran Army conducts
regular searches throughout the
neighborhoods in San Salvador,
said Mr. Gonzales, looking for
arms or any other tangible
evidence of support for the
guerillas. Because Gonzales was
a professor of literature, the ar-
my found only books when they
searched his house. Later, three
men, "not dressed in uniform but
fully armed," came to his office
and took him to a barracks for
questioning. During his six day
stay there, he was systematically
tortured and interrogated for up

cused of treating wounded
guerillas and appeared in the
newspaper as "commandants" of
the revolutionary movement.
When asked about the methods
of torture, Gonzales explicitly
described the indiscriminate
brutality inflicted on all those
who were under suspicion. "They
throw you against the wall and
when you get up, they kick you in
the stomach. You are blindfolded
and your hands are tied, so you
can never see who is doing it."
This would usually go on for
about 3 minutes, said Gonzales.
Another common torture
device is electric shock, which is
administered to both men and
women. They give electric shocks
"to your eyes, nose, ears, and
genital parts," Gonzales
remarked. When the shocks are
received, the person usually bites
his tongue. "And when the body is
still trembling, they throw water
on you and do the electric shocks
again." In the case of women,
Gonzales revealed that up to
eight of them are raped at the
same time." And you can never
complain . . . you can't say
anything at all."
In January of 1984, Gonzales
left El Salvador with his wife and
children and went to Mexico.
There he met an American Bap-
tist minister who told him about
the sanctuary movement in Nor-
BLOOM COUNTY

th America. "As a Christian and'
a Salvadoran," stated Gonzales,
"I have an an obligation to tell
the truth about the situation in El
Salvador."
"After you are a political
prisoner, there are only two
alternatives: either you go into
the mountains and take up arms
or leave the country. The brave
ones have stayed to fight."
As I listened to what this
determined couple has endured,
and what the Salvadoran people
must face every day in their war-
wounded country, I was angry
with myself. Angry at being so
reconciled to a feeling of
helplessness , regarding a
situation I have no control over.
Angry at thinking that I do my bit'
for peace and justice by grum-
bling at U.S. newspaper reports
on Central America, by attending
meetings and watching films.
I had to wonder what it will
take for me - and others - to
realize that the direct U.S. in-
volvement in El Salvador (and
elsewhere in Latin. America) is
both illegal and immoral and we
must stop it. Does it take looking
into the eyes of Raoul and Baleria
Gonzales to realize that our
country is responsible for their
pain? Must we witness first-hand
U.S. planes flying over El
Salvador and follow their path of
death and destruction after our'

bombs have been dropped on
civilian targets? Must we endure
the same agony as the
Salvadoran mothers who must
look through the "Book of the
Dead" at the human rights com-
mission office to identify their
husbands and sons? Must we
watch our children slowly die of
malnutrition?
For refugees like Raoul and
Baleria Gonzales, sanctuary is
not an escape from economic
pressures, as the Reagan ad-
ministration contends. It is a
matter of life and death. There
will be no end to this human crisis
unless we directly confront the
realization that it is their or
their death that we are partially
responsible for. With the impen-
ding vote in Congress to
reestablish military aid to the
Contra forces in Nicaragua., it is
imperative that we write to our
national representative im-
mediately. Urge them to oppose
all military assistance to both the
Salvadoran government and the
Contras. I also urge readers to
support the sanctuary movement
in Ann Arbor by donating money,
material goods or volunteer time
to: The Committee for Central
American Refugees, Ann Arbor
Friends Meeting House, 1420 Hill
Street, Ann Arbor, Mi. 48104.
- Mig Little
March 25
by Berke Breathed

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