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December 09, 1985 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1985-12-09

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4

OPINION
Page 4 Monday, December 9, 1985 The Michigan Daily

bre £idiigan IaOlu
Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

Racism: A silent

By Barbara Ransby

Vol. XCVI, No. 66'

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

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

PACs and pols

kLAST TUESDAY the Senate
L successfully avoided voting on
an amendment which would have
limited Political Action Commit-
tee's contributions to congressional
candidates. There just wasn't suf-
ficient incentive.
Instead of voting on a proposal by
Sen. David Born (D-Ok.), the
,Senate managed to ferry the finan-
:cially threatening legislation back
into committee, where it will likely
languish for a long while.
Basically, Boren's proposed
legislation calls for a halt to the ob-
scenely exaggerated contributions
labor, business, and ideological
PACs are able to channel into the
coffers of Congressional can-
didates who champion some pet
causes of theirs.
The Federal Elections Com-
mission reported last week that
$104 million or 26 percent of all
Congressional candidates con-
tributions come from PACs.
Boren's amendment modestly
suggested that PACs be limited to
spending $100,000 on house races
and $750,000 on contenders for the
Senate - still a hefty, helpful sum
when compared to the typical
private citizen's contribution of
less than $100. Boren's amendment
failed despite a provision for post-

poning the effective date of the
legislation until after the next
round of Congressional elections.
In short, the present system
allows PACs to have a dramatic
impact on the outcome of Federal.
elections - a circumstance which
is inherently unfair as the voice of
the single voter is effectively pre-
empted by the economically ad-
vantaged PACs.
One graphic example rests in the
gun lobby. The National Rifle
Association contributed to the
campaigns of over 250
congresspersons in the last elec-
tions, and many more accept
regular contributions. It should
come as no surprise, then, when
legislation that would potentially
strengthen gun control laws
reaches the floor of the House or
Senate, it fails miserably. On the
other hand, the McClure-Volkmer
bill which was passed by a vote of
79-15 this summer, further relaxed
the minimal laws that exist to
restrict gun ownership.
The unfortunate reality is that
many politicians' allegiances are
dictated primarily by economics. If
Boren's bill ever emerges from
committee, each American citizen
shoud remind his elected officials
who their constituents are, and call
for a vote of conscience.

As an Afro-American and an anti-apar-
theid activist who sees the struggle against
apartheid in South Africa as an extension of
the struggle against racism at home, I am
angered and disgusted by the recent up-
surge in racist, sexist, and anti-semitic
"violence" on this campus.
One such example of what I am referring
to is the recent vandalization of the carrel of
a Chinese graduate student and the racist
and threatening graffiti the vandals left
behind. A second and more recent example
is the defacing of two fraternity/sorority
houses with anti-semitic and sexist graffiti
over Thanksgiving vacation.
It would be dangerous for us to ignore or
minimize these racist attacks in spite of the
fact that the perpetrators are undoubtedly a
miniscule and cowardly bunch. Never-
theless, these two acts of violence against
property are only one step away from
violence against people. The kind of men-
tality that can justify a death threat against
people of color or conjure up memories of
the Holocaust by painting swastikas on a
building is likely capable of almost
anything.
Ransby is a member of the Free South
Africa Coordinating Committee.

Students, faculty, and staff on this cam-
pus must make it absolutely clear that we
cannot and will not tolerate this type of
public display of racial hatred. A first step,
it seems, is to demand accountability from
the University in term of guaranteeing more
careful and systematic monitoring of this
type of activity. A formal procedure for
students to report such incidents would be
one positive step toward more careful
looking at and evaluating the problem.
In addition to what the administration can
do, students must begin to seriously explore
ways that we can aggressively combat
campus racism, in its blatant as well as
more subtle forms. Some minority
representatives and other concerned
students have been meeting with the
Michigan Student Assembly to do just this,
and I applaud their initiative. Some specific
suggestions for student action are as follow:
*The formation of a permanent ad hoc
task force to combat campus racism.
*The establishment of a monitoring
program to involve 99 percent of the student
body, if possible, in reporting any offensive-
graffiti writing they observe or have any in-
formation about. Although vandals do not
generally publicize their actions, the fact
that any passerby may be monitoring them
may deter future incidents. We may also ob-
serve a pattern through reporting.
eAll recognized student groups to take a
public stand condemning racist, sexist, and
anti-semitic graffiti. Racists and sexists
should be made to feel like the outsiders, not
the rest of us. Such a joint statement could

storm
be published as a full-paged Daily ad.
These are only a few suggestions. I'm sure
that more could be generated if we see it as
a priority. The bottom line is that campus
racism must not be written off as harmless,
because unfortunately it is not isolated from
the resurgent racism in society at large.
For example, the recent apartheid
segregation of Dearborn's parks and the
racist harrassment of black residents in
Southwest Philadelphia are but variations
of the same thing. These attacks are not
Black, Jewish, or Asian problems, they are
social problems and all progressive forces
on this campus and in society must be a part
of the solution. If we have any doubts about
the danger of our silence in the face of
racism and injustice, the message of a poem
by Bertolt Brecht is a good reminder. A
paraphrase of the poem's message is as
follows :
I was at my window and in the
early afternoon, they came
in the afternoon for the Blacks, the
Africans.
I turned my head and I said nothing.
They came again in the evening,
this time they came for the Jews,
I turned my head and I said nothing
And then they returned -
This time they came for the Arabs, the
Native Americans, the Latinos, the Asians,
the others.
I turned my head. I wept,
But I said nothing.
In the morning, they came for me.

Wasserman

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Protests and Police: Shapiro 's turn

Honoring Mandela

UNIVERSITY HISTORY
professor Tom Holt's
nomination of jailed South African
leader Nelson Mandela for an
honorary degrees is yet another
positive step in bringing the
University's influence to bear on
ending South African apartheid.
Holt's nomination will be con-
sidered by the honorary Degree
Committee at its meeting this
spring. In the mean time, members
of the Free South Africa Coor-
dinating Committee have pledged
to circulate petitions to demon-
strate widespread support for the
move.
Mandela, imprisoned since 1961
(?), is the acknowledged leader of
the African National Congress, a
biracial movement calling for a
South African government that
represents all of the country's
population as opposed to the
present apartheid government
which has full representation only
for whites, and limited represen-
tation for "coloureds" and Indians.
The largest apparent issue that
would discourage the University
from offering such a degree is the
fact that Mandela and the A.N.C.
have used violence in their struggle
against the South African police
And government and the University
will probably not want to become
associated with a violent
movement.
While violence is always a
disturbing tactic for a political
organization to utilize, it is impor-
tant to remember that Mandela
and the A.N.C. were one of the last

important groups in South Africa to
turn to violence. The A.N.C. was a
non-violent organization for over a
half a century until the 1968
Shapreville massacre when gover-
nment troops opened fire on
peaceful protesters. It became ap-
parent then that the South African
government would not react to
peaceful protest and so the
organization was forced un-
derground. In the following years,
most* of its leadership was im-
prisoned, and those few who were
not were forced to flee the country.
Nevertheless, the A.N.C.
remains popular amongst the
people of South Africa. A.N.C.
rallies held before a recent state of
emergency was implemented at-
tracted large crowds, and the
exiled leadership of the A.N.C. has
indicated that Mandela is still their
leader even though he is unable to
take part in day-to-day decision
making.
If the University were to grant
Mandela an honorary degree. it
would call further attention to the
bigotted apartheid government and
might help to further establish
Mandela as the rightful leader of
his people.
The situation in South Africa
demands that the University take
action. The regent's decision to
divest 90 percent of the Univer-
sity's remaining holdings in South
Africa was an important economic
step. An honorary degree for man-
dela, in spite of his organization's
use of violence, would be an impor-
tant political and intellectual one.

An open letter to President Shapiro:
In the last several months serious
questions have been raised concerning the
conduct of the police and University
security forces at demonstrations on cam-
pus.
During the filming of the Today show two
individuals were forcibly removed by cam-
pus security because they were holding a
protest sign, while two others were
physically prevented from displaying a
protest banner. At the CIA recruitment
police were called in, before protestors even

arrived. Eventually 26 protestors were
arrested at what had been planned as a legal
non-violent protest.
The way in which campus security and the
Ann Arbor police were used at these
protests gives the appearance that the
university is attempting to suppress the
right of students to protest lawfully. The
Michigan Student Assembly has condemned
the way in which the police and security for-
ces acted on these occasions and called on
you to explain their behavior. The Daily has
made a similar request, as have numerous

individuals who have written to you
privately. Even the city of Ann Arbor has
taken upon itself to investigate police con-
duct at these protests. Given the importance
of this issue and the level of concern, both on
campus and in the surrounding community,
we feel that it is imperative that you resond
to the questions that have been raised. Your
failure to clearly address the issue is both
irresponsible and an insult to those who
have expressed concern about maintaining
free expression at the university.
-Rackham Student Government
December 4

I

LETTERS:

I

Better understan ding of gays needed

I

To the Daily:
As a group of lesbian and gay
male professionals and students
encompassing all allied health
fields we have worked together
since 1977 to meet the health con-
cerns of the Ann Arbor area gay
community. We were par-
ticularly glad to noterrecently
that the UM School of Public
Health is offering a program on
"Coping with AIDS" Saturday,
December 7.
However, we are concerned
that the opening remarks will be
made by June Osborne, M.D.,
Dean of the School of Public
Health. It is appropriate that the
Dean welcome program par-
ticipants and that Dr. Osborn,
given her professional training as
an epidemiologist, speak to
aspects of AIDS. Our concern
centers on comments that Dr.
Osborn is reported to have made
to the Ann Arbor News, the
Michigan Alumnus, and the
University Record.
In the Ann Arbor News (August
15, 1985) Dr. Osborn is quoted as
saying, "I don't go along with the
argument that if the victims had
been bankers [instead of gay
people] more [scientific research
on AIDS] would have been done.
It is silly for gays to make that
argument - it just enhances the
level of terror in the general
population." In the Michigan
Alumnus (Sept.-Oct. 1985) Dr.
Osborn is quoted as stating that

disease, and the tests for the an-
tibody and the virus. Of course
Dr. Osborn may have been
misquoted, but no statement to
that effect has been printed in the
Record..
Dr. Osborn has spoken in the
Record of the risk that a "15-or-16
year-old kid who's going to
declare his same-sex preferen-
ce" will assume. Dr. Osborn is
presumably referring to the risks
of sexual activity, although
"declaring a preference" does
not imply a decision to engage in
sexual intercourse. In any event,
the term ''sexual orientation"~ is
accepted by most lesbians and
gay men, whereas the terms
"sexual preference" and "same-
sex persuasion" (Ann Arbor
News) make light of the factors
that determine a person's
sexuality.
IN a recent issue (November
27, 1985) of the New York Times,
Robert E. Pollack, Dean of
BLOOM COUNTY

Columbia University and
Professor of Biological Sciences
there, sugests that one reason for
our nation's reluctance to begin a
national effort to develop a vac-
cine againstg AIDS is "irrational
fear and hostility directed at a
minority [gay people of both
sexes] . . . our political leaders
apparently do not wish to be in-
volved with this minority." We
wonder whether Dean Osbornm
who labels gay people "silly" for
raising this issue, will similarly
label Dean Pollack.
In sum, Dr. Osborn's comments
about the necessities of limiting

the spread of AIDS might have
been better received by lesbians
and gay men had she offered
more evidence of an understan-
ding of gay people and their con-
cerns.
-Peter Waters, Pharm. d.
Robert C. J. Boblett
Cleveland K. Evans Ph.D.
Thomas M. Gaughan
Robert C. Victor
December 2
The cosigners of this letter
are members of the Lambda
Health Project.

Letters to the Daily should be typed, triple-spaced, and
signed by the individual authors. Names will be withheld only
in unusual circumstances. Letters may be edited for clarity,
grammar, and spelling.

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