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April 14, 1986 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1986-04-14

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0

OPINION

Page 4

Monday, April 14, 1986

The Michigan Daily

4

itebtna nv t Michigan
Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

Stop war against Nicaragua

Vol. XCVI, No. 132

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Unsigned editorials represent a majority of the Daily's Editorial Board
All other cartoons, signed articles, and letters do not necessarily represent the opinion of the Daily.

Honorary politics

T HE CONTROVERSY over
whom the University of
Michigan should recognize with an
honorary degree at next month's
commencement ceremony centers
on what the purpose of an honorary
degree is.
Regent Thomas Roach (D-
Saline) contends that the presen-
tation of the degree is "more an ac-
tual part of the ceremony than the
University honoring someone." He
believes that others on the Board of
Regents agree with his stand and
will block efforts to give a degree
to South African activist Nelson
Mandela. Mandela is currently
serving a life sentence in that coun-
try for leading the revolution
against South Africa's apartheid
-system of government. Roach
upholds a regents bylaw which
prohibits granting honorary
degrees in absentia, saying, "it
would be an exercise in futility to
offer someone an honorary degree
:when we knew they couldn't
come."
This same rule was invoked in
January when the regents repor-
tedly refused to honor Raoul
Wallenberg at May's ceremony.
Wallenberg, a University alumnus,
risked his own life to save more
than 100,000 Jews from Nazi death
camps in World War II. He disap-
peared at the war's end.
Surely, honoring such men could
not be "an exercise in futility."
Wallenberg, an architecture major
at the University in the 1930's, was
an attache of the Swedish gover-
nment in Hungary during the war.
Realizing the impending threat to
over one million Hungarian Jews,
Wallenberg hopped aboard trains
bound for concentration camps to
.hurriedly forge documents that
claimed individuals under the
'protection of the Swedish gover-
nment. Because of his work,
Wallenberg was made an honorary
U.S. citizen. He and Winston Chur-
chill are the only men to be so
honored.
Wallenberg cannot be honored by
the University, however, because
he was arrested by the Soviet Ar-
my and is believed by many to be
dead. Soviet officials claim that
Wallenberg died in prison of heart
failure. U.S. officials accuse the
Soviets of his execution. Whatever
the truth behind Wallenberg's
disappearance, his arrest should
not disqualify him as an honorary
degree candidate. Heroism on such
a large scale by a University
graduate deserves official
recognition, and his supposed
death in a Soviet prison does not
lessen the magnitude of his ser-

vice.
Similarly, the arrest of Mandela
should not keep the University
from honoring him. Mandela is a
symbol of the struggle of South
Africa's 24 million blacks, and he
has devoted his life to end the apar-
theid system which oppresses
them. Jailed in 1962, Mandela has
repeatedly denied government at-
tempts to weaken his strong anti-
apartheid stand in return for
release. His dedication, proved by
his continued imprisonment, to the
blacks' freedom and dignity should
be applauded by the University.
In limiting honorary degree
recipients to those who can attend
the ceremony, University officials
exclude all those imprisoned for
their work. Many who are fully
deserving of University
recognition will not receive it u n-
der this omission. The provision
reveals skewed priorities in exten-
ding these awards. Honorary
degrees should not be issued solely
to provide an entertaining
ceremony, as Regent Roach en-
courages. They should be awarded
to those whom the University
community judges most deserving,
regardless of the possibility of
their attendance.
The University should follow the
example of Mount Holyoke college
and grant honorary degrees for the
meaning rather than the ceremony
they provide to the commencement
exercise. Mount Holyoke has
already granted Winnie Mandela a
degree despite her inability to ac-
cept it in person. The ceremony for
Mandela at Mount Holyoke in-
cluded an empty chair on which
each senior placed a flower.
In the cases of Wallenberg and
Mandela, the degrees would not be
futile. A degree extended to Wallen-
berg could lead to pressure on
Moscow by U.S. representatives to
release conclusive information on
Wallenberg's death or in-
vestigation of the slight chance
that he may still be alive. A degree
extended to Mandela, as many,
such as South African writer
Nadine Gordimer, realize, would
add to the anti-apartheid
movement's efforts to gain his
release. Mandela is a recognized
leader of his black countrymen,
and until he is released from
prison, no meaningful negotiations
between the minority government
and the majority it oppresses can
take place.
In honoring such men as Wallen-
berg and Mandela, who are jailed
for their courage, the University
itself would take an honorable
stand.

By Mindy Williams
On Thursday, March 27, the World Hunger
Education-Action Committee presented a
public lecture by Frances Moore Lappe on
campus. Given "The news of the day," Ms.
Lappe chose to focus her talk, "Food,
Politics, and Hope," on the relationship
between the U.S. and Nicaragua with par-
ticular attention to the conditions in our
Central American neighbor and to the
common desire of these countries' people
for freedom and democracy.
On Friday, March 28, we were shocked
and disturbed, as was Ms. Lappe, to read
the Michigan Daily's account of her lecture
"Hunger expert says Mistrust of Nicaragua
is Misinformed." We found in this article
misinformation, misquotations, and overall
a gross distortion of the talk's theme and in-
tention. The review presented a damaging
representation of a leading spokesperson on
hunger and Central America, thus damning
Ms. Lappe's reputation and life's work.
Our object is not to crucify a reporter nor
the Daily. Instead we hope to restore and
clarify the complex issues introduced by
Ms. Lappe's lecture which were unfor-
tunately and unintentionally distorted,
muddled, or obscured by the article.
(The following quotations of Ms. Lappe are
from a tape of the 3/27 lecture.)
Let's begin with the reporter's claim that
"Lappe defended the Nicaraguan gover-
nment's human rights violations..."(em-
phasis added) To think and write such a
statement about any hunger activist, is of
course, absurd. And in print it conveys a
perverse meaning foreign to Ms. Lappe's
beliefs and intention.
It was while valuating the extent of
freedom in Nicaragua, specifically the
"freedom from terror," that she addressed
the government's human rights record.
"There have been and certainly the recent
Williams is a member of the
World Hunger Education Ac-
tion Committee.

Amnesty International report documents
abuses by the Nicaraguan government that
would mar this record...But what Amnesty
International pointed out is that the
Nicaraguan case, where military personnel
carry out abuses, they are tried and im-
prisoned and that there are several hundred
serving sentences in Nicaragua for these
abuses." (not "all" as the Daily also repor-
ted.)
These actual quotations express not a
defense of the violations nor an explanation
in the context of the Contras' pattern of un-
punished abuses (as the same reporter
stated in the article "Group tells about
World Hunger," (Daily, 4/1/86) in an at-
tempt to correct this particular goof). In-
stead they convey Ms. Lappe's and Amnesty
International's desire to acknowledge and to
report the abuses but also to show that the
Nicaraguan government is taking effective
steps to punish the offenders. So human
rights violations are neither encouraged nor
condoned in Nicaragua but are against an
enforced law.
Now the article on Ms. Lappe's lecture
also states that she defended press censor-
ship in Nicaragua. "I want to underline that
this (censorship of the press in Nicaragua)
definitely limits the possibility for
democracy," said Ms. Lappe in, yes, the
same lecture. "But I also want to point out
that it does not mean that within the
Nicaraguan press today that there is not a
considerable amount of debate, a con-
siderable amount of attack on the gover-
nment." Just weeks ago, Ms. Lappe told the
audience, a friend who works with a resear-
ch institute in Managua told her that a
direct attack they printed on the gover-
nment's provisions of the State of Emergen-
cy, calling them unnecessary and calling for
their repeal, has been distributed widely in
Nicaragua.
Another misinterpretation in the Daily's
article muddles another important point. "
'The opposition press, however, doesn't
choose to support freedom of the press,' Lap-
pe said." What? Ms. Lappe's actual
statement does make sense and it exposes a

reality unknown to most Americans.
"Another unfortunate part of it is the op-
position press in Nicaragua doesn't believe
in freedom of expression. "(emphasis ad-
ded) Specifically she cited La Prensa's in-
complete and misleading coverage of the
elections in Nicaragua. The opposition of-
fers no alternative but a daily effort to un-
dermine the government's credibility at the
expense of the free and accurate
dissemination of information.
Though not intentional like La Prensa, the
Daily's account of Ms. Lappe's talk under-
mines her credibility as an author and
spokesperson on this subject. It portrays
her as an extremist, as more for the San-
dinistas than they are for themselves.
This is especially unfortunate and ironic.
And we are taking the time to point this out
only because accurate an thoughtful infor-
mation about Nicaragaua appears so in-
frequently in our nation's media. Ms. Lap-
pe's analysis of the conditions in Nicaragua
and of the appropriate responses strikes very
important middle ground in an issue
characterized by polarization in this coun-
try and on this campus.
The major obstacle to freedom and
democracy in Nicaragua, explained Ms.
Lappe, is the offensive policy of the U.S. gover-
nment for Nicaragua, our successful effort
to block loans to and thus to economically
isolate Nicaragua and, most significantly,
our support of the Contras. We are conduc-
ting a war that polls consistently show does
not have the support of the majority of
people in our country. We are conducting
war at the expense of dialogue, of peace,
and of thousands of lives in Nicaragua. How
can we expect freedom and democracy less
than seven years old to flourish under these
pressures?
In the conclusion of her talk, Ms. Lappe
urged us to remove these pressures, "to
give change a chance" in Nicaragua. To do
so we must pressure our government to be
accountable to needs of its people, to tell us
the truth, to truly promote, at home and
abroad, the principles of freedom and
democracy.

Wasserman,
IX-tou&vr 1sy W~zs
GOING To SI IFY TAYSG
j-_ -
aQn~7
-_-

4

DIRSCTL.Y To
ill P.NTA Ar/
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LETTERS:

Research rights entail

JOHA NESBURG-
SOUTH AFRICA
.. .
:4 p - I - ?C:1:: ?;:;!; ; ::i " ;:;::i::}:::::{, 1:?;~,C:::[.(: If~~:;

To the Daily:
David Vogel's editorial,
"Military researcher rights"
(Daily, 3/31/86), urges Univer-
sity leaders to "dismantle the
current research guidelines"
because they deny professors and
students freedom to conduct
classified research. It is indeed a
worthwhile goal of any university
to give the maximum possible
freedom to its faculty and
researchers. Yet, as with any
democratic institution, with
freedom comes responsibilities.
For example, we have the con-
stitutional right to own firearms.
However, it is our responsibility
to follow safety precautions when
storing or handling them
keeping small children away
f.nm innarin Ind ainna e4 nn

matters little if what is being
taught or discussed addresses
military of civilian needs; the
principle is that in this open en-
vironment the fullest possible
flow of information occurs. The
current University guidelines
recognize this fact in limiting
classified research.
If we removed the guidelines
and allowclassified research
with longer limitations on
publication we are impeding the
very academic freedom that
should be encouraged. We
restrict the academic freedom of
faculty and students to learn, to
be informed. For example, sup-
pose a graduate student proposes
to a professor a certain research
technique to solve a problem en-
nn~nn~n Lnh... noa s.nl r i

Laboratories,]
more, etc. I
student chooses
to classifed re
free to reloca
stitutions, wher
teach and infor
In conclusion
leaders to alo

responsibility
Lawrence Liver- remain on our campus by
f a professor or establishing the responsibilities
s to devote efforts of faculty and students to educate
esearch, they are and inform. For without these
ate to these in- responsiblities freedom to
re the obligation to research is meaningless.
m is removed. Ramakrishna Kakarala
, I urge Universtiy Computer Engineering Senior
ow democracy to April 2

a
4

-~

i

Cartoon was cheap shot

To the Daily:
I think that it's fair to say that
cartoons are drawn to make light
of an accepted reality that might
be a problem in our society or of a
controversial individual - the
key word being accepted.
Bering's cartoon in the April 1st
editionnof the Dailv. "Ssame

Herzl, Weitzm an, Ben-Gurion or
Golda Meir to be placed with the
like of Lincoln, Ghandi and
Sadat.
If Bering has some serious
problems with Israel or its
government, let him articulate
his positions for responsible
discussion. Otherwise. his car-

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