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November 30, 1987 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1987-11-30

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I

OPINION

Page 4
Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

Monday, November 30, 1987

The Michigan Daily

4

Faculty condemns racism

Vol. XCVIII, No. 56

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.

a et s public violence
LAST WEDNESDAY students and him will be dropped.
members of the University commu- The Department of Public Safety
nity protested recruitment by the supposedly exists to protect the
Central Intelligence Agency at the University, not to assault students.
Student Activities Building. In the Students should realize the neces-
course of the protest a University sity to protect themselves, because
student was brutalized, according to University security feels justified in
several witnesses at the scene, by physically harming members of the
Assistant Director of the Department University community.
of Public Safety Robert Patrick. In Protesters entered the Career
a cowardly display of cruelty, Planning and Placement Office with
Patrick kicked protester Harold the intent of speaking to a CIA rep-
Marcuse in the groin, knocking him resentative. When the students tried
to the ground for about 45 minutes. to walk past Director of Public
This type of unprovoked vicious- Safety Leo Heatley toward the in-
ness is disgusting and from a per- terview rooms he said, "You're
son in Patrick's position of respon- going to have to assault me to get
sibility, itis inexcusable, in."
Also inexcusable is the Ann Arbor University students should have
Police's retaliation against the stu- access to University buildings
dent for attempting to file assault without fear of physical confronta-
charges against Patrick. After stu- tion with officers of the Department
dents demanded Patrick be charged, of Public Safety.
,the police came up with an assault The participation of two of the
charge against Marcuse for an inci- highest ranking officers in Public
dent earlier in the protest. Since the Safety indicates that they approve of
police made no indication that they this type of activity and feel free to
intended to arrest the student at the use violence against the student
time of the incident, it seems as if population.
the police and University security Heatley had no comment on the
are using that same old trick that has incident. If Heatley had his way,
served them well in the past: when a the guards involved in monitoring
University security officer assaults the protest would be deputized and
a student in front of numerous wit- armed with guns. It is inappropriate
nesses, the victim is then charged for Heatley to be asking for deputi-
with assault. Then the victim is of- zation and arming of his officers
fered a deal that if he or she drops when he can not even offer a rea-
charges against the officer, the sonable explanation for this use of
newly created charges against her or violence against students.

By Ann Marie Coleman, Don
Coleman, Miriam Greenberg,
June Howard, Bonnie Kay,
Bruce Manheim, Debbie
Poole, Peter Railton, John
Vandermeer, Alan Wald, and
Tom Will.
This is thefirst of a two part series.
As faculty and staff, we would like to
express our concern over the character of the
response of the administration of the
University of Michigan to the anti-racist
movement formed during Winter Term 1987.
A general summary of the administration's
response appears as the "Progress Report:
Six Point Plan of Action" in the University
Record, 14 September 1987. The report
strikes us as an attempt to reformulate the
central issues as well as to reinterpret the
history and nature of the controversy in a
manner that obscures rather than clarifies the
actions that need to be taken.
What is most peculiar about the report is
that it focuses exclusively on the
administration's "Six Point Plan" of action,
never mentioning the political demands that
mobilized the campus population - and that
achieved national and even international
attention - such as the twelve (now
thirteen) proposals of UCAR. The lead
article, "Duderstadt Underscores
Commitment," goes so far as to refer to
"The University's drive to stamp out racism"
without ever mentioning that the "drive" was
a long over-due reaction to the efforts of
hundreds of students who mobilized day after
day, blockaded buildings, disrupted regents
meetings, contacted state government
The authors of this guest editorial are
members of Concerned Faculty. The late
appearance of this piece is the fault of the
Daily, not the authors.

officials, and finally went to the national
press and called upon the assistance of
national civil rights leaders for aid.
Indeed, the tardiness in the
administration's response, coupled with the
incomplete character of the "Six-Point Plan"
(it meets only three of the UCAR demands,
and, according to UCAR, two of these are
not met satisfactorily), and now the attempt
to obscure the role of UCAR and other
groups in initiating and playing the central
role in the "drive to stamp out racism on
campus" all suggest the University
administration acted largely out of
embarrassment, rather than a full
engagement with the extraordinarily
damaging and persistent problem of racism
in U.S. society and its institutions.
Such worries are reinforced by the way
that racism and the groups affected by racism
are redefined throughout the five full pages
devoted to the progress report. For example,
the statements in the "progress report"
repeatedly refer to "the need to include
diversity along side other top priorities" and
for all of us to "increase sensitivity" and
"discover prejudicial attitudes." Yet, at the
time that UCAR and BAM III raised the
issue of racism, it was clear that the overt
incidents of "insensitivity" and "prejudicial
attitudes" were the symptoms, not the root
cause, of racism - a far more deep-seated
and complex matter than is ever recognized
in the "progress report." These "prejudicial
attitudes" are continually reinforced by
fundamental structural features of U.S.
society, and of the University of Michigan
itself, as well as by long-standing ideologies
and historical mythologies in U.S. culture.
Attempting to reform these attitudes in
isolation, ignoring the larger structures and
ideologies, is a largely fruitless exercise.
Any effective approach must take into
account the historical origins and structural
character of racism in contemporary U.S.
society. Ignoring this background is part the
same institutional politics through which
the cultures and histories of those affected by
racism have been buried or at least distorted
in traditional University curricula. But it is

not only the legacy of racism past with
which we live today. Racism continues to
play a dynamic role in national and
international politics effectively preserving
and extending the power of those who have
held it historically. The same basic methods
- which minimize and distort the distinct
and complex history and present-day cultures
of people of color - remain central to the
spreading of "racism" even though the
ultimate function is a very "material"
exploitation. This is why there was a natural
confluence of interests among those
participating in the anti-racist movement at
the University of Michigan, and those
concerned about apartheid in South Africa -
which is part of the reason that the demand
for an honorary degree for Nelson Mandela
became a central rallying cry of the
movement. To exhume and clarify those
histories, and to analyze, in its full
complexity, the continuing role of racism is
the responsibility of an institution of higher
learning.
But the administration's progress report
acknowledges none of this complexity nor
does it suggest that the administration
intends to promote a full and serious
analysis of the problem. Indeed the report
fails to recognize the most elementary fact
from which a serious analysis might
proceed, namely that racism is not simply
about the treatment of Blacks. Throughout
the report the victims of racism are referred
to alternately as Blacks or "minorities," with
only one reference in passing to a meeting
held between Charles Moody and the
Council of Hispanics in Higher Education.
In fact, the targets of racial discrimination
and harassment are a diverse group including
Afro-Americans, Chicanos, Puerto Ricans,
Asian-Americans, Arab-Americans and
Native American Indians from within the
borders of the U.S.; and Africans, Asians,
Latin Americans, Arabs, and others from
without. The multi-racial character of UCAR
and the -participants in the struggle against
the University administration proved before
the whole University community that the
issue did not only concern Blacks or some
vague category of "minorities."

LETTERS

Treat graffiti of all stripes equally

Wright was right

OVER THE PAST few weeks, House
Speaker Jim Wright (D-Texas) has
faced a torrent of criticism over his
negotiations with Nicaraguan Presi-
dent Daniel Ortega. This is unfortu-
nate because the Speaker deserves
praise for his efforts to advance peace
in that embattled area.
Critics of Wright's negotiations
claim he has usurped the executive
branch's constitutional prerogative to
conduct foreign policy.
The administration; however, has
created an atmosphere of suspicion
and distrust in the field of foreign
policy.
-When selling arms to Iran and se-
pretly funding the Contras, the ad-
ninistration ignored congressional
oversight. The administration itself
has proved that it is not deserving of
public and congressional trust when it
comes to the Constitution and has
created an atmosphere in which con-
stitutional restrictions are not taken
seriously. The Reagan administration
is merely reaping what it has sown.
Reagan could have participated in
the negotiations with Ortega. Ortega
invited both Speaker Wright and
President Reagan-to aid in the imple-
mentation of the Arias peace treaty.
Reagan has refused to meet with Or-

tega, however, apparently preferring
the back-door route of funding the
Contras to working with political and
religious leaders for a peaceful end to
the war in Nicaragua.
The Central American countries
which surround Nicaragua have
signed on to the Arias plan as a way
to solve the conflict by peaceful rather
than military means.
Wright was correct when he ac-
cused the Reagan administration of
being afraid "that peace might break
out" in Central America.
Nicaragua has been abiding by the
peace plan. Ortega has allowed La
Prensa to begin publishing again and
recently released almost 1,000 politi-
cal prisoners.
One the reasons that the Reagan
adminstration puts forward to justify
continued funding for the Contras is
that the Sandinista government must
be forced to negotiate. However,
Reagan's refusal to meet with Ortega
shows that he is the party that does
not want to negotiate. Wright is
therefore quite justified in his criti-
cism of Reagan, and in attempting to
do the job that the administration is
unwilling to do: pursue a peaceful
settlement to the war in Central
America.

To the Daily:
Why must the University
constantly squelch any discus-
sion of the problems of violent
sexist, homophobic and racist
attacks? As an institution of
higher learning, we expect the
University to prepare us for the
realities of today and tomor-
row, not insulate us from the
world and its problems.
Why then, when a resur-
gence of violence against
women, the gay community,
racial and ethnic minorities is
being witnessed all over the
country (NOT just here on
campus), must the University
continue to block out as much
evidence and discussion of
such?
A recent example of this is
found in the University's reac-
tion to the recent graffiti on the
Diag and elsewhere around
campus. The spray-painted
messages read: Stop Violence
Against Women, Gays and
Minorities. Sensible enough.
I don't think it hurts anyone on
campus to be reminded of the
need for such action. (Except
for, perhaps, those reactionary
few for whom the message was
probably intended.) Yet the
University, as early as eleven
a.m. Monday morning (11/16),
had already enlisted its custo-
dial staff in the use of acids to
burn this "radical" message off
the pavement in front of the
Fishbowl.
University cover-ups such as
this are not unusual. Just a few
years ago, it was a fairly com-
mon occurrence to see Univer-
sity custodians quickly scrub-
bing the words "A Woman
Was Raped Here" off t h e
pavement. These messages
were stenciled by feminists

Center could be opened, the
University had to first admit
that a high percentage of rapes
(relative to other areas of the
country) were occurring on
campus. The discussion
sparked by the stencils was,
therefore, a necessary begin-
ning for dealing with the prob-
lem.
This most recent cover-up
smacks of the same initial un-
willingness to acknowledge and
confront the pressing problems
of our day. Does the Univer-
sity feel threatened, perhaps, by
independent student actions
such as this that expose the
need for continued dialogue and

action in the fight against in-
tolerance and hatred? Does it
feel it's solved all the problems
of society that encourage vio-
lent and hateful acts to occur
on campus and that any further
discussion of the matter is a
mute point?
Furthermore, I'm not sure
what it says about the Univer-
sity that it has not chosen to
acid-out the paranoid scrawl-
ings of someone who wrote
"You Have AIDS" on the cor-
ner of South and East Univer-
sity streets. Even if the Uni-
versity's hesitation in cleaning
tk s mess rested on property
rights (maybe the pavement

belongs to the City or to
Baskin Robbins), I don't see
why it hasn't made a friendly
gesture toward the owner of
this corner by offering to blot
out the reactionary drool
sprayed there. If the University
feels it must erase any form of
discussion on the topics of
racism, homophobia and sex-
ism, it seems only fair that it
obliterate in equal terms the
words of both progressives
AND reactionaries.
-E. A. Sullivan
November 16

I
I

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