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September 30, 1986 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1986-09-30

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Tuesday, September 30, 1986

Page 4

The Michigan Daily

34 sttian Btl
Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan
Vol. XCVII, No. 19 420 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.





Exploiting crises

IT SEEMS that media and gov-
ernment are constantly in -
forming the United States people
of some new crisis or insidious
danger, but the greatest danger
may lie in how the media and
government exploit crisis
situations. The Reagan admin-
istration in particular has
proven its virtuosity in man -
ipulating crises, the press, and
"public opinion to achieve its
L desired ends.
The issues that spring to mind,
attesting to the media blitz, are
terrorism and drugs. The per -
Ivasive "terrorism" hysteria
whipped up by President
Reagan and the popular press
.has generously served the
A domestic and international
.interests of the administration.
In the international arena,
Reagan has been able to attack,
verbally and militarily, his
hated enemy in Libya without
significant rebuke. Although
experts agree that Syria and
Iran are more responsible for
international terrorism than is
Libya, the voices of experts and
reason were drowned out by the
jingoistic clamor of the press.
Reagan got what he wanted-
military action against a vocal
and vulnerable critic.
On the domestic front,,
terrorism hysteria has created
support and justification for the
expansion of governmental
police and investigative power at
the expense of civil rights.
According to an American Civil
Liberties Union document,
"Using the threat of terrorism
as today's exuse,"
" Reagan has enacted an
Executive Order which, for the
first time, authorizes the CIA to
conduct covert activity inside
the United States-including
infiltrating United States organ -
izations and conducting secret
* The Attorney General has
issued new domestic security
guidelines, giving the FBI new
latitude in surveillance and
information gathering;
*The Defense Department has
been authorizedbyCongress to
Sconduct polygraph examina -
tions on 3,500 government
employees in non-intelligence
S*A special computer file has
been activated within the FBI's
National Crime Information
Center (NCIC) to keep track of
people who are described by the
* Secret Service as anti-authority
or anti-law enforcement;
" Another file has been pro-
posed to keep track of people not
even suspected of committing a
crime, but who are believed to be
"associated" with people
S"suspected' of terrorism..."

Reading over this list, one
senses the return to the days of
Cointelpro, J. Edgar Hoover,
and McCarthyism, when
government agencies were
granted free-reign to infiltrate
organizations of dissent and spy
on American citizens. The
return to such intrusive tactics
has already been indicated by
the extensive government in -
filtration of church groups
involved with the Sanctuary
movement, which harbors ref-
ugees from political repression
in Central America.
The creation of files on people
with certain political attitudes
and associations is also cause
for worry. Files have been kept
on people, such as Dr. Martin
Luther King, Jr., for. having
supposed "communist associa-
tions." These files have been
used in character assassination
Hysteria about the "drug
epidemic" is also being used to
justify violations of civil
liberties. According to the
National Institute on Drug
Abuse, drug abuse has recently
been on the decline, but the pro-
vocative exposes of a "drug
epidemic" have created an
atmosphere in which plans
have developed for mandatory
drug-testing, increased use of
the death penalty, and
employment of the military in a
policing role. These measures
have been properly opposed by
civil libertarians as violations of
basic constitutional rights.
Within Congress, however,
election-wary politicians com-
pete to appear most hard-line on
"the drugs issue." Within the
rhetoric-filled walls of Capitol
Hill, few have the courage to
inveigh against the superficial
and legally intrusive nature of
the "anti-drug" legislation. Few
dare to incur the stigma of
being labeled "soft on drugs"...as
few risk, the charge "soft on
terrorism"...as few dared to be
called "soft on communism" by
McCarthyites. The paranoia
and moral-rhetoric of Mc-
Carthyism has resurfaced once
again to mask transgression of
basic civil rights.
All this leads one to wonder
whether the most insidious
danger lies in how government
and media exploit crisis sit-
uations. A myopic focus on
terrorism and drug themes is
used to draw attention away
from issues more sensitive to the
administration, like Reagan-
supported terrorism in
Nicaragua and South Africa.
And the drug of morally-
charged hysteria is used to
render Americans senseless to
the theft of their civil liberties.

DR ! cz





. Q


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To the Daily:
Usually, movie reviews are
not the sort of thing that would
prompt me to write an angry
letter to the Daily. Normally,
I'd be tempted to write over
your usual practice of ignor-
ing, misrepresenting, or
misquoting of progressive
speakers and events on camp-
us. However, as Kurt Serbus'
pandering of the movie Short
Circuit (Daily, "'Short Circuit'
gives off faint glow" 9/24/86)
was extremely offensive in
its patronizing racist tone in
praising this piece of trash, I
felt that a response needed to
be made.
Unfortunately, I stupidly
subjected myself to this movie
on a six hour flight when I
should have spent the time
sleeping. Aside from the mo-
vie's inane predictability that
I'm sure most six-year olds
would find insulting to their
intelligence, the movie was
laden with racist and sexist
imagery in a blatantly dis-
gusting manner. Under-
neath the liberal veneer of a
sprung-to-life robot dodging
bad-guy army types, it's not
hard to find the movie
offensive - yet not untypical
of most of the shit Hollywood
churns out in the name of
entertainment. Mr. Serbus'
revelling in the blatant rac-
ism of the movie was particu-
larly disturbing. The only
non-white character of the
movie, besides the robot (who
acts sort of white anyway), is
an Indian scientist, or "that
little Indian guy" in Mr.
Serbus' words, who plays the
sidekick (of course) to the
white scientist. This charac-
ter is made out to be a buffoon
and appear foolish because he
constantly mixes up English
idioms and mispronounces
English words. A real
scream. In reality, it's just a
rehashing of the same sort of
racism that made Amos'n
Andy so popular with white
audiences 30 years ago.
Aren't those "little foreign
guy"s (again, Serbus' words)
so funny? They can't even
speak ENGLISH. And to
characterize racial minori-
ties with such words as "little"
is an old-standing, patron-

/I t /'Lt- t /to j vl/.'L LJ F ~ V~L

comes liberally sprinkled
with "cute" demeaning sexist
remarks made by the robot to
Sheedy. Again, a replay of
woman as merely a sexual
object that we see all the time.
This time it's supposedly ador-,
able because its being uttered
by a robot. Oh so funny!
Someone please stop my sides
'from splitting!
The extreme offensiveness
of the movie's key scene was
of course not noted by the re-
viewer. This is the scene
where the white scientist fi-
nally becomes convinced that
the robot really is alive. To
test the robot's "humanity," the
scientist tells the robot a joke
and if it laughs, it obviously is
living. The joke chosen for
this purpose is an anti-Jewish
joke in which the punchline
says something about Jews
being money-hungry. The
robot laughs. At this point,
there is muchrejoicing be-
cause the robot must be hu-
man. What the hell is this
movie trying to say? Anti-
Semitism is a natural human
trait that proves one's human-
ity?! This supposed joke
'Eyesore' fr
To the Daily:
This is a response to the
letters written by Drew
Stirton, "Shanty disgraces the
Diag," and Brad Foster "Sick
and tired of the shanty,"
(Daily 9/26/86). The points of
both letters are the same: the
anti-apartheid shanty should
either be destroyed or at least.
not be rebuilt. Both letters
contain 'a large number of
objection which cannot be
fully dealt with in a concise
letter. I will however focus on
their main objections.
The reason they stress the
most for removing the shanty
is that it is an eyesore.
According to Stirton if other
groups built shanties in order
to object to various injustices
the Diag "would contain all
the charm of an abandoned
tree fort collection" and "it
infringes upon mine and
everyone's right to enjoy the
central spot -*on the
campus...." It is highly

wasn't put there by accident
- it's the climax of the whole
film., It can't be dismissed as
a harmless slip. The history
of racism and anti-Semitism
in the world, and in this
country, absolutely forbid us
from doing that.
Mass-marketed popular
culture does not fall from tie
sky. It almost always "y-
flects the opinions, morals,
and values of the dominant
culture. Right now racism,
sexism, anti-homosexual big-
otry, and anti-Semitism are
being whipped up in order to
keep the oppressed divided
and fighting among our-
selves. The goal is to blame
each other, rather than the
system and those who profit
from it as their real enemy. It
is in the interests of the tiny
minority of the super-wealthy
bosses of our society to keep
workers and oppressed people
disunified, especially in a
future that they know will be
filled with sharper conflicts
and struggles against the in-
creasing attacks people are
facing all over the world.
The owners of the media and

the so-called entertainment
industry have a vital stake in
keeping these lies perpetrated
and they have a special role
in this process, that is, con-
trolling communication.
What gets produced and
marketed by the media mo-
guls is generally well-
planned, as is what never
gets'seen by the public (i.e. the
real histories of mass
struggle). A movie like Short
Circuit is just a small, yet 4
dangerous part of all this -
. all the more so because it's
dressed up as a kid's movie.
No, Mr. Serbus, it's not a
"pretty good flick" that's.back
by "popular demand" (it was
a big budget flop that they
needed to re-dump on us in
order to try and turn it profit-
able). Short Circuit is funda-
mentally racist, sexist, and.
anti-Semitic. For the re-
viewer to gloss over this and
,actually glorify the movie's
racism, is patently inex-
-Paul Lefrak

ee Diag


not a right

expression is a right.
Prettiness however is a
Stirton asks rhetorically,
"Shouldn't the majority of the
students decide on the future.
existence of the shanty...and
not an apparently stagnated
minority?" The majority has
the right to control the
political expression of a
minority. This is a
perversion of thesideal of
democracy and I trust that I
need not argue against such a
tyrannical view.
Nonetheless, both Stirton
and Foster insist that they are
not attacking the shanty on
political grounds. This is a
sly move. Not only does it
reduce the risk of people
labeling them "racist," it also
discourages anyone from
objecting-to their view on
political grounds. The
shanty, however, is un -
questionably a political
statement and their objecting

that politicalgraffiti on the
shanty encourages other
students to spray paint
graffiti on the University
buildings. He even hints
very strongly that those who
paint graffiti on the shanty.
are responsible fore
vandalizing other buildings.-
Both claims are unfounded
and the latter claim, even as
innuendo, is plainly
Foster in his letter
expresses only one point that
can be taken seriously.
When the shanty was
originally built the
University administration,'
stipulated that it be removed
after two weeks. It has
remained for five months.
This is a legal issue, but if
Harold Shapiro values
freedom of speech in protest
against tyranny, he will not
condemn the shanty. We can
only wait to see how he pg

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