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October 17, 1986 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1986-10-17

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OPINION

Page 4

Friday, October 17, 1986

461e icbi!an hai13
Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan
Vol. XCVII, No. 32 420 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.
Media irresponsibility

Baker

T HE RECENT discovery of the
Reagan administration's "disin-
formation" campaign regarding the
activities of Libya's Col. Muammer
Khadafy and U.S. plans against
him is disturbing-but no more so
than the press's failure to question
the reliability of "official" sources.
The sad reality is that public
manipulation by the United States
government is commonplace, and
the national press has too often
served as a conduit for this policy.
The large-scale U.S.-backed
bombing missions against the
Salvadoran guerillas are virtually
ignored by the national press.
Such convenient omittance dimin-
ishes public awareness of the
government's policy in El
Salvador, and reduces the press to
nothing more than a public
relations agency for the admin-
istration.
The press is open to
manipulation by the government
and, consequently, public know-
ledge remains limited. The media's
coverage of human rights vio-
lations in Nicaragua is an extension
of the government's anti-Sandinista
propaganda. The fact that a report
which was issued by Nicaragua's
Commission on Human Rights
was written by an advocate of
Contra aid was not reported widely
in the U.S. press. The report
exaggerated the human rights
abuses of the Sandinistas while
underplaying those of the Contras.
More disturbing is the way in
which outside controls on the
media are established. Often, the
local journalist will have reported
an event accurately and objectively,
only to have the story suppressed
or censored by a "politically
conscientious" editor or bureau
chief. Many major newspapers
and television news agencies are
owned, in part, by corporate
conglomerates. Thorough invest-

igative reporting is restrained, as
journalists struggle to avoid issues
which implicate these controlling
businesses.
It is also important to recognize
that "disinformation" can be
maintained through phraseology.
The Reagan's description of the
Contras as "freedom fighters" is
misleading and is not challenged
often enough in the press, serving
only to aid the government in its
efforts to build support for its anti-
Sandinista campaign. Language
can serve as a powerful tool for the
perpetuation of government sup-
ported stereo-typing and misre-
presentation.
For lack of accessible,
alternative news sources, the
public can respond to only what is
presented to it by the mass media,
particularly in regard to foreign
events. These subtle controls on
the national consciousness are
difficult to distinguish, but
nonetheless exist in all levels of the
media.
Governmental disinformation
policies are long-standing; what is
unique, is that the Reagan
administration attempts to justify its
deceptions to "accomplish policy
objectives." It appears that the
government is eager to enlist the
public in its policy of international
deception and aggression. This
fact, above all others, is perhaps
the most threatening-for the
government is confident that the
public will accept this position. The
media can challenge this
presumption, as it did in the past
when it brought the true nature of
the war in Vietnam to the public's
attention. A free press which
exhibits independence and will-
ingness to challenge government
policy is the best defense against
disinformation campaigns.

By Mark Weisbrot
What may be the most important
Congressional race in the country is
taking place right here in Ann Arbor, and
although the media has politely ignored
it, the race is already affecting many
thousands of people.
Dean Baker's bid for the U.S. House
of Representatives grew out of the
struggle for peace in Central America and
has itself become something of a mass
movement. Incumbent Carl Pursell, who
had originally hoped to dismiss Baker
with the same contempt he has shown for
his constituents, now finds himself
embroiled in the toughest race he has seen
since he was first elected 10 years ago by
a slim 344 vote margin.
But there's a lot more at stake here
than just a seat in the 435 member House
of Representatives.
The campaign presents a challenge to
Reagan's attempt to substitute militarism
and right-wing nationalistic ideology for
an actual improvement in the well-being
of the populace. Political observers have
wondered for six years when Reagan
would "step over that line," and become
discredited along with his policies. They
have shaken their heads with disbelief as
the professional actor has weathered one
storm after another. From the firing of
the air traffic controllers to the record-
breaking number of scandals in his
administration, from Bitburg to Johan-
nesburg, from the lies and covert (as well
as overt) wars in Central America to the
Mark Weisbrot is a graduate student in
economics.

-epresents
foreclosed farms and idle factories at
home, Reagan has emerged unscathed. Or
so it seems on TV.
But beneath this surface
complacency, where the mainstream
media begins and ends its analysis, the
opposition has been growing. In Ann
Arbor, this resistance can be seen in the
more than 180 arrests for non-violent
civil disobedience at Congressman Carl
Pursell's office, in a futile attempt to
persuade him to stop sending weapons to
the terrorist contras. In the rest of the
second Congressional district, the Baker
campaign has found its support from
otherwise "conservative" farmers who are
threatened with ruin from a farm policy
which favors big agribusiness at the
expense of small farmers, and workers
whose unions and jobs are under attack.
Reagan has stepped over that line, and
Pursell has crossed it with him. By
voting to cut Social Security and
Medicare, while contributing to a $200
billion federal budget deficit with his,
votes for the MX missile and Star Wars,
Pursell has placed himself in some mean-
spirited company.
The Baker campaign also challenges
the prevailing notion of what constitutes
a congressional campaign. The typical
campaign consists primarily of raising
funds and spending them on advertising or
direct mail, and a challenger for the U.S.
House of Representatives can be expected
to spend $400,000 if he or she is to be
taken seriously. This level of financing
has effectively disenfranchised most
citizens, to the benefit of the corporate
PACs (Politicai Action Committees),
whose increasing share of campaign
contributions ensures that their needs will

The Michigan Do ily
peace
prevail over those of the general public.
Having won the primary election
with less than an eighth of his opponeot's
spending, the Baker campaign is spending
a tiny fraction of what, the typiec
campaign spends. And yet we now see
Pursell panicking, engaging ;in
McCarthyite tactics, and attacking Dean
Baker as if Baker were the incumbent 9nd
Pursell the challenger.
The secret, of course, is the hundrds
of committed volunteers who have already
knocked on tens of thousands of doers
throughout the district. And everywhere
they go--Jackson, Plymouth, Livonia,
Ann Arbor--they find that most people:de
not want to see Social Security,
Medicare, and educational funding cqt in
order to pay for an illegal and immndral
war in Cental America.
Such is the historic significance of
the campaign. Six years of Reagan liave
spurred the growth of a number of single-
issue movements whose oganization and
political sophistication continues to
increase. The time is ripe for thes
movements, and the peace movement
particular, to elect their own candidates to
national office.
There's no need to settle for holding
your nose while you vote for the
opportunist politician that represents the
lesser evil. A movement that can bring a
million people to a demonstration
demanding a nuclear freeze, or sign up
tens of thousands of people who pledge to
use civil disobedience to resist the war i1
Central America, ought to be able to
show its strength at the ballot box. And
come November 4th, it will.
To get involved in the Baker
campaign, call 747-8211.

PV1IWFegOAWIOT OwAoT VCMAA~y. r
A~NY DIFERENT?

T6 AMN 15TQIrnI NW4SLIED TO 'YOU
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Letters:

Peace more important than Star wars

To the Daily:
As of late, I personally
have become increasingly
alarmed at the politics being
played in the name of the
defense of this country. What I
am speaking of, in particular,
is the recent "summit" held in
Reykjavik, Iceland.
Before this weekend's
summit took place, I became
extremely upset over President
Reagan's attempt to unify the
country. In his eyes, I
suppose, his own view is by
far the most correct on all
issues. As I see it, however,
he should be standing for what
we the people believe in,
not what his warped sense of
world politics dictates as
reasonable. The United States
is a democratic republic. By

likely to be in touch with their
own individual constituencies
better than the President; for
this reason, the House is better
suited to represent public
opinion. As our President, he
should conform to public
opinion rather than expect the
public to conform to his own
views. After all, the President
is elected to represent the
people of this country.
Recently, the House
passed several measures aimed
at curtailing this nation's
appalling warlike stance. To
this end, nuclear tests were
banned, funding for SDI
research was severely cut, final-
stage tests for SDI and the
production of chemical
weapons were banned, and
President Reagan was forced

infinite wisdom, to cut these
aforementioned measures,
excepting only the ban on SDI
testing. I was astonished at the
stupidity involved in such a
maneuver and further incensed.
when I heard that the summit
was deemed a failure. What is
the rationale for giving
President Reagan extra rope if
he's only going to hang
himself and unfortunately our
whole nation with him. As
I see it, the only solution to
this bungled affair is for the
House to take the rope from
the President by reinstating the
measures that previously,
existed. The President is
saying that "untying" his hands
enabled him to "deal effectively
with the Soviet Union." The
two leaders were prepared to

disarmarment, in ten years,
would -be jeopardized bk,
Reagan's obsession with: a
program that might serve as a
defense against nuclear attack
in twenty years.
-Hobbie Perry
October 14
Animal rights
To the Daily: '
The article, "Animals dbn t
have rights, 'U' prof says"
(Daily, 10/7/86) presentF a
position which essentially
gives human-indeed only
humans-the right to dedide
the life of other living thugs.
Even if animals have no rights
(Professor Cohen present a
philosophical argument wliich
I find persuasive), humans itillj

- r. '

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