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October 31, 1985 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1985-10-31

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OPINION
Thursday, October 31, 1985

Page 4

The Michigan Doily

Stagnating protests

A disease is infecting Ann Arbor. It tends
to affect people with soft hearts and a
passionate desire to be arrested.
It's called protester chic, and it's
playing at a sit-in near you.
In the past few weeks, I think we've all
gotten a little bit sick of seeing stories
about protesters. They're everywhere: in

EriC
Mattson
front of the Union disrupting George
Bush's speech, at Carl Pursell's office
protesting about Central America, at the
Student Activities Building protesting the
CIA.
But now they've gone too far. Tomorrow,
they will be on President Shapiro's front
lawn during his open house to express their
feelings on a potpurri of issues. You name
it, they'll protest it. The agenda for
tomorrow's protest includes the code, Star
Wars, and "repression of political
dlissent."
I don't buy that knee-jerk reaction -
that the protesters complain, complain.
complain and they just don't know when to
shut up. But I can understand the sen-
timent that a lot of students are irritated
by the protesters. The act of protesting has
become an issue by itself, and it becomes
more and more complicated the more you
think about it.

One of the biggest arguments so far has
been over the First Amendment, which
really has very little to do with what's
going on. Everyone invokes the First
Amendment when it's convenient and
disposes with it when it gets in the way.
The protesters claim that they had a First
Amendment right to interfere with Vice
President George Bush's speech at the
Union, and they claim they had a First
Amendment right to interfere with CIA
recruiting on campus.
Another group, the "anti-protesters,"
say that the protesters interfered with
Bush's right to free speech, and the CIA's
right to recruit students for their
organization.
Neither side is right. Actually, the con-
troversy is over whose rights prevail. It's a
very, very funny line between legitimate
protest and simply angering people who
want to hear all sides of the issue.
The vast majority of students, however,
are just bored. Let's face it, all these
protests are getting dull. The same old
chants, the same old slogans, and the same
old forms of protest just don't cut it
anymore.I
Back in the good old days (i.e. the 1960s)
protests were new and original. They were
a great way to meet new friends and buy
new drugs. The onlookers always had
something to look at, too, because history
was being made.
But now, we need something more ex-
citing than sit-ins - like a "No Code!"
square dance on the Diag. Or a "Free
Nelson Mandela" bonfire, with toasted
marshmellows. Maybe even a "U.S. Out of
El Salvador" bake sale.
Another reason most students are tired
of protests is that the same courses are
discussed over and over: El Salvador,
Nicaragua, South Africa, the -code, and

"Star Wars." These issues are too impor-
tant for most people to handle, because if
you think seriously about one, you might
start to think seriously abut the rest. And
that can drive you crazy.
That's really the main problem. It's easy
to be apathetic because it's hard to think
seriously about the world's problems
without getting so frustrated that it doesn't
seem worthwhile to even try to do anything
about it. Even back in the "good old days"
of the '60s, the greatest protests in the
history of the United States didn't end the
war in Vietnam.
So the easiest way to avoid the
frustration is to be sarcastic and fatalistic
about all the problems.
I'm sure some of the accusations people
level at the protesters are valid. Some
protesters like getting their names and
faces in the Daily. Some protesters enjoy
martyring themselves by getting arrested.
Nearly all of them misunderstand the idea
of free speech and interpret the First
Amendment as if it were made exclusively
for their benefit.
They also tend to overestimate the
esteem other students hold for them.
At the Shapiro's house tomorrow, the
main thing on most students' minds will be
the brownies and what the big white house
looks like on the inside. The protesters are
walking on a tightrope. If they protest too
softly, nobody will hear them. If they make
too much noise, nobody will like them. Un-
til' students give a damn about "the
issues", the protesters can't afford to be
obnoxious.
I wonder what Tom Hayden would do.
Mattson is a Daily reporter. His
column appears on alternate Thursdays.

Chassy
'9r

I A

I

Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

Logocide threatens language

0

Vol. XCVI, No. 41

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

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

Understanding obj ectives

T he recent arrests at the CIA
protest might have been
avoided if protesters and the ad-
ministration were more aware of
each other's demands.
The Administration wanted to
insure that the interviews would go
uninterrupted, and the protesters
wanted, first to educate potential
CIA recruits to the policies of the
organization and, second to hear
from the CIA representatives
themselves some justification for
the organization's activities.
The arrests might have been
avoided if there had been some sort
of forum, where protesters and job
candidates could ask questions of
CIA officials. Such a forum was
disrupted last year by protesters,
yet there were no arrests.
The CIA is not the only recruiter
that protestors might be interested
in confronting. Some students
have considered similar demon-
strations for companies doing
business in South Africa or holding
large defense contracts.
It would seem appropriate, then,
that the University's Career Plan-
ning and Placement Center
develop some mechanism for
bringing about such forums.
This suggestion is, in. fact, an
established policy at Brown
University. As a result of similar
concern at Brown, students have

been granted the right to demand
an open forum with any private or
government organization
scheduled to recruit. Their career
planning and placement center has
agreed to wage recruiters to hold
such a forum if students can gather
petitions with a minimum of 75
signatures.
The Career Planning and
Placement office would then serve
all students' needs. The office is
obliged to provide as much infor-
mation as possible about potential
recruiting organizations for all in-
terested students-regardless of
whether a student is an immediate
job candidate.
A policy like Brown's could prove
to be a very valuable precedent for
similar policies at universities
nation-wide.
The, key, however, lies with
student initiative. Responsibility
falls primarily on the students to
generate 'awareness and support
among the University community
in order to present any substantial
request to the Career Planning and
Placement office.
Nevertheless, such efforts would
be indisputably worthwhile. -If
student efforts should prove suc-
cessful, the adminsitration and the
student body will be taking a
significant step toward understan-
ding each others' concerns and ob-
jectives.

By Ron Schechter
"I think the Daily has been really
fascistic lately."
This is what a young woman told me the
other day on hearing that I write for the
Michigan Daily. My immediate reaction
was one of amusement. I had heard
disparaging remakrs about the newspaper's
political leanings in the past, but "fascistic"
was a word I had never encountered. Ob-
viously this woman was so narrow in her
political outlook that virtually anyone who
did not agree with her was fascistic, and I
felt that arguing with her would lead
nowhere.
But later that evening I regretted my
silence. Political bias had nothing to do with
my change of heart. On the contrary, I felt
that I had missed the opportunity to defend
the honor of my favorite language, English.
I had tacitly witnessed the violation of my
mother tongue.
On what grounds do I base this charge of
assault and battery? On the grounds that
my interlocuter had taken a word generally
agreed upon to denote a specific meaning,
and deliberately misused it for the ignoble
purpose of- casting a political aspersion.
Although a definition of "fascistic" as it
applies to persons is open to interpretation,
most English speakers would agree that the
word suggests support of a totalitarian
police state characterized by extreme
militarism, chauvinism, xenophobia, a
notable lack of human rights, tight cor-
porate control, and usually a program of
state instituted racism. According to this
Schecter is a Daily associate arts
editor.

generally accepted definition, the Daily is
hardly fascistic. So what is my point in at-
tempting to prove what is obvious to nearly
all educated speakers of English?
What I venture here is neither an ex-
pression of partisan opinion nor an ex-
position on the editorial righteousness of the
Michigan Daily. My point is that political
name-calling, from the right and left alike, is
a dirty business, and that is implications are
detrimental, both to political awareness as a
practice, and even more seriously, to the
human thought process itself.
Consider first the damage inflicted on
political sensitivity. The ability to discern
among the various shades of ideological
thought is vital to the intellectual health and
sophistication of decision makers. By
dismissing opponents as fascists or com-
munists, reactionaries or radicals, we lose
the ability to perceive subtle distinctions in
the political spectrum, and we ignore the
specific issues over which we disagree.
Political insensitivity emerges in the sambe
way that artistic insensitivity sets in when
all non-white colors in a painting are
referred to as black.
As John Stuart Mill pointed out in his
argument for free speech, our decision
making mechanisms, like muscles, require
exercise lest they atrophy. We benefit by
examining our adversaries' opinions,
because in doing so we force ourselves to
reassess our own assumptions. Even if we
continue to accept our original principles,
we espouse them with new understanding
and commitment rather than stale com-
placency. Political name-calling means
closing the mind to ideological discrepancy.
It indicates a refusal to think, an intellectual
lassitude that results ultimately in bigotry.

A far more serious implication of political
name calling is logocide, or word-murder.
The word, either spoken or written, is the
physical expression of a thought. Occuring
at the juncture between a thought's incep-
tion and its subsequent comprehension, it is
the most fundamental element, the very
stuff of human communication. Without
words, our thoughts would be a jumbled,
primitive blur.
If a word is repeatedly misused, however,
it loses its ability to transmit meaning. In
other words, it is murdered. If, for example,
the word "fascistic" is used to describe the
Michigan Daily along with Franco,
Mussolini, and Hitler, what meaning does
the word actually contain? What thought does
it convey? Eventually, if this word is
repeatedly abused, the language suffers the
loss of an accepted expression signifying
fascism in the meaningful sense.
In Orwell's 1984, logocide is a chief weapon
of the totalitiarian government of Oceania.
By "vaporizing" such words as honor,
justice, morality, internationalism,
democracy, science, and religion, the
leaders eventually destroy their subjects'
ability to conceive of these notions, and the
ultimate result is a language devoid of
meaning, appropriately called "duckspeak."
I am more optimistic about the future of
language. The word is durable, resilient. It
can suffer a great deal of abuse before it
dies. Many words, however, such as
fascism,; communism, imperialism,
chauvinsim, Marxism, alienation, and love
have been so consistently battered that
today they are in critical condition. We can
nurse them back to health if we follow this
simple prescription: learn what they mean,
and do not exhaust them through misuse.
After all, their death is our loss.

LETTERS:

Bush deserves courtesy

0'

To the Daily:
We, the College Republicans of
Central Michigan University,
would like to publicly issue a
statement deploring the actions
of the students of the University
of Michigan during the recent
visit by the Vice-President of the
United States, George Bush. We
feel it is a blemish for the college
students of Michigan that a
minority of students could show
such a blatant disregard for the
office of the Vice-President.
We do not deny the right of
students to speak out or demon-
strate; however, certain common
courtesies shnld hE hnwn hv

Bush will not take this as a
representation of all ,students
from Michigan colleges and
universities.
In conclusion, we realize that
every issue has many sides and
supporters that range from liber-
al to moderate to conservative,
and each has the right to voice
their opinions. Although we, the
Central Michigan College
Republicans represent the con-
servative side of the spectrum,
we are willing to offer a speaker
BLOOM COUNTY

the courtesy of listening to his
argument without
simultaneously interjecting our
own views and opinions.
We believe that there are more
suitable and persuasive forms of
rebuttal. In the end, all the
students at the University of
Michigan did was tarnish the
image of students at Michigan
colleges and universities.
Mr. Bush, out of respect for the
office of the Vice President, we

believe that the students of Cen-
tral Michigan University would
welcome you with open arms.
-Michael Nunnely
Michael Riemersma
Suzanne Bovee
October 17
Nunnel is chairman of CMU
College Republicans, Riemer-
sma a committee member, and
Bovee the public relations
secretary.
by Berke Breathed

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