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February 04, 1988 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1988-02-04

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I

OPINION

Page 4

Thursday, February 4, 1988

The Michigan Daily

a._-_.

Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

Media ignorance on

display

I

Vol. XCVIII, No. 87

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.
Big Brother is watching

ACCORDING TO FBI files recently
made public, opponents of the Rea-
gan administration's policies in
Central America were the target of a
massive surveillance campaign by
-the FBI from 1981 to 1985. The
«-Federal Bureau of Investigation
(FBI) was forced to hand over its
files to the Center for Constitutional
-Rights, a New York lawyers group,
under the Freedom of Information
: Act. The FBI's probe is a violation
of peoples' right under the First
Amendment to disagree, dissent,
and demonstrate.
These documents show that 52 of
the FBI's 59 field offices took part
in the tracking of hundreds of U.S.
citizens and groups opposing Rea-
gan's Central American policies. It
infiltrated organizations which op-
posed U.S. policy in order to gather
information and circulated pho-
tographs of people who attended
legal demonstrations to other federal
agencies.
License-plate numbers of partici-
pants in rallies and meetings were
also recorded and the owners
entered into bureau files. At least
one political activist had his home
wiretapped, and college students
were included as subjects of covert
surveillance. The FBI also asked
private right-wing political groups
:uch as the Young America's
Foundation to act as informants on
#leftist and liberal protestors.
4: The FBI project initially started
out as an investigation of the Com-
:.mittee in Solidarity with the People
;.of El Salvador, CISPES, charging
that links existed between some
CISPES members and Salvadoran
ebels. The bureau asserted that
CISPES itself contained terrorist
:rmembers, but was unable to sub-
-stantiate its allegations. CISPES
provides humanitarian aid to El
Salvador and engages in human
rights campaigns and public, legal
protests.
Yet the FBI went on to accuse
:,138 religious and political groups of
being "connected with CISPES."
"The list included organizations such
as the American Civil Liberties
Jnion, Oxfam America Inc.,
,Amnesty International, the Southern
Christian Leadership Conference,
the American Federation of Teach-
trs, and the Hospital Workers
JAP is
HE MICHIGAN STUDENT Assem-
.ly should be commended for its
.;ecent passage of a resolution con-
semning usage of the term "JAP."
ithe term most frequently means
"Jewish American Princess" and
:haracterizes women as snobbish,
:naterialistic, and intellectually vac-
* ious.
Although people sometimes apply
the term to others 'and even them-
slves without cruel intent, that
:dpes not negate the racist and sexist
:imensions of the term itself. The
*ualification of "Jewish" would not
:e relevant at all if there were not

connections being made between
snobbishness, materialism, and
~TJewish descent. This is clearly an
Appreciate
:FEBRUARY IS NATIONAL BLACK
"History Month, and the University

Union.
A Pittsburgh office reported that it
was targeting members of CISPES
with "strong communist or socialist
beliefs." Clearly the FBI linked
CISPES to terrorists and to socialist
or communist sympathizers as a
pretext to investigating innocent
groups and citizens who had no
connection whatsoever to terrorism
or to illegal activities.
The FBI's probe is an irremissible
attempt to curtail the freedom of
speech and opinion and to monitor
the activities of private U.S. citi-
zens. It is reminiscent of the illegal
activities of the bureau from the 50s
to the 70s under J. Edgar Hoover.
Once the extent of the FBI's
surveillance of anti-Vietnam
demonstrators and civil rights ac-
tivists was exposed, new rules were
established limiting its use of tactics
such as surveillance, wiretapping,
break-ins, and undercover work
without the auspices of an official
criminal investigation. President
Reagan reversed many of these re-
strictions, however, in a 1981 ex-
ecutive order which gave the bureau
the power to conduct break-ins
without a warrant and to receive
stolen information.
William Sessions, the new direc-
tor of the FBI, while not a party to
the probes, defended the bureau's
activities, calling it a mistake to
conclude that groups were watched
due to their political views. The
next day, however, he announced
that the surveillance took place be-
cause of CISPES' aid to an El Sal-
vadoran "terrorist organization."
On the other hand, White House
Spokesperson Martin Fitzwater an-
nounced that no one in the White
House knew about the spying.
Reagan has acted to increase the
powers of the FBI while not re-
quiring any accountability - even
he does not seem to know what the
FBI is doing.
People have the right to engage in
peaceful demonstrations against
government policies. Authorizing
government surveillance against the
people shows a disrespect for the
U.S. populace. Spying by the gov-
ernment is a violation of civil rights
only interested in suppressing pub-
lic opinion. Laissez-faire treatment
of the FBI must end.
dero gatory
incorporation of traditional anti-
Semitic stereotypes.
Likewise, even though the word
"JAP" is sometimes applied to men
as "Princes," it is normally reserved
for women and builds upon char-
acteristics which are stereotypically
attributed to women.
Unfortunately, many people are
not even aware of these ethnic and
sexual implications. In addition to
the Michigan Student Assembly,
Hillel is trying to raise conscious-
ness on this issue. They are spon-
soring a forum tonight at 7:30 p.m.
in the Henderson Room of the
Union entitled "JAP: Ethnic Slur or

Harmless Fun?" Hopefully, in-
creased awareness will lead to de-
creased usage.
Black culture
the University community has put
together an interesting, informative,
aindivairied gono f nre-,en toti nnQc

By Thea M. Lee
I would like to correct a number'of
misleading impressions and garbled quotes
that appeared in an article entitled, "Grad
Student Condemns U.S. Aid to the
contras." (Daily 1/28/88)
In the course of a discussion about U.S.
policy in Central America on Jan. 27, I
cited figures from a recent report by the bi-
partisan Arms Control and Foreign Policy
Caucus to support my contention- that
El Salvador is extraordinarily dependent on
U.S. aid. For the first time in the history
of U.S. foreign aid, U.S. aid to El
Salvador in 1987 exceeded that country's
contribution to its own budget.
Somehow, this dependency was reported
as a fact about Nicaragua, and not El
Salvador. The article quoted me as calling
Nicaragua a "puppet" of the United States.
Common sense, or a modicum of
background knowledge, should have alerted
either the reporter, or at the very least, the
editors, to the improbability that anyone .
would argue simultaneously that
Nicaragua is fighting a war against U.S.-
backed mercenaries, and is yet somehow
totally dependent and subservient to the
United States.
The second misleadinglimpression given
by the article is that I am embarked on
some sort of one-woman crusade to end
contra aid. It is true that for the last few
years I have been very active in the anti-
intervention movement in the U.S.;
fortunately, however, I have not had to
work alone. As I mentioned several times
during the evening's discussion, I work
with the Latin American Solidarity
Committee (LASC) - one of the most
active and effective organizations on
campus. LASC has about one hundred
active members and hundreds of others
who participate in educational events,
lobbying efforts, or protests. LASC is one
of many local groups, including the
AMISTAD construction brigade, the
Interfaith Council for Peace, and the
Nicaragua Medical Aid Project, that work
locally to change U.S. policy towards
Central America.
On the national level, the coalition
against U.S. intervention in Central
Lee is a Ph.D. candidate in economics
at the University and works with the Latin
American Solidarity Committee.

America now includes many established
churches, labor organizations, and other
peace-related groups. It is one of the
broadest-based grassroots movements in
the U.S. today. This is evidenced by the
fact that repeated polls have shown over-
whelming opposition to contra aid. The
most recent poll (New York Times)
showed the American public opposed to
contra aid by an almost two-to-one
margin. Even Republicans oppose contra
aid by 51 percent to 38 percent.
The Daily article reported that my
"participation in discussions and protests
has landed (me) in jail three times." It may
be the case that the federal government is
growing increasingly intolerant of
political dissent (New York Times
1/28/88), but I have not yet been arrested
for participating in any discussions about
contra aid. I have been arrested three times
for participating in non-violent civil dis-
obedience at the office of Congressperson
Carl Pursell, who - despite his big talk
about cutting the budget deficit - has
voted repeatedly for military and so-called
humanitarian aid to the contras, as well as
for extravagant aid packages to El Salvador
and Honduras. As I made clear during the
talk, I was only one of several hundred
people in Ann Arbor alone (and many
thousand at the national level) who felt
strongly enough about the immorality and
illegality of our country's actions in
Central America to make such a strong
personal statement.
Although I was embarrassed by the
many inaccuracies that appeared in the
article, I would like to make it clear that I
don't feel that the reporter involved should
be singled out for criticism. Her lack of
understanding about the political situation
in Central America, as well as her
ignorance about the state of political
movements in the U.S., are by no means
unusual.
The article illustrates two problems that
exist well beyond the Daily and its staff.
The first is a stubborn inability or
unwillingness on the part of the American
public to educate itself about the rest of
the world, even (or especially) in those
countries whose daily existence is pro-
foundly affected by U.S. foreign policy.
This is reflected by polls showing that
over 80 percent of U.S.citizens don't know
"what side" the U.S. is on in Nicaragua

and El Salvador. This is not simply a
question of people flunking a geography
quiz; its relevance is, that in the absence
of an historical perspective or an overall
picture of U.S. policy, the American
public's basis for making decisions is
reduced to a primitive "labelling" of
governments or guerrilla organizations.
This labelling is usually assisted by an
equally shallow and ignorant mass media
that rarely, if ever, challenges the labels
printed by the U.S. State Department.
Thus, if the Nicaraguan government can
be labelled "communist" and the
Salvadoran "an ally of the U.S.," the
rationale for doling out military aid
becomes implicit. When people hear the
facts about Nicaragua: that the present
government was elected by 63 percent of
the voters in 1984, that Nicaragua has
been commended by the World Health
Organization for its successful efforts to
reduce infant mortality, and that illiteracy
was reduced from 50 percent to 13 percent
in the first two years after the revolution
- they often are forced to reexamine both
the labels and the policy.
The second problem illustrated by last
Thursday's Daily article is that of treating
individuals with views that are critical of
the "conventional wisdom" as isolated (but
valiant) nutballs. Not only is opposition
to contra aid a majority, and hence
"mainstream" position, it is also a demand
which has been repeatedly put forth by the
United Nations, the World Court, and
virtually all Latin American and West Eu-
ropean countries. There is probably no
other foreign policy issue on which the
U.S. is so isolated in terms of world
opinion.
I would like to take this opportunity to
invite all Daily reporters and editors, as
well as other interested individuals in the
University community, to attend LASC
meetings on a regular basis. LASC meets
every Wednesday evening a 8:00 in Room
2435 Mason Hall. Newcomers are
welcome. LASC (along with MSA's
Peace and Justice Committee and Greeks
for Peace) is planning a series of educa-
tional events about El Salvador for the
week of March 6-13. LASC also organizes
a Speakers' Bureau of people willing to
address groups or classes about a variety of
topics concerning Latin America. Call the
LASC office for details at 665-8438.

LETTERS

Daily

mi

To the Daily:
This letter is written in re-
sponse to recent Daily editori-
als and articles which I believe
serve to misrepresent both the
personal character of Robben
W. Fleming and the nature of
the work he should be doing as
Interim President of this Uni-
versity.
In the first place, the Daily
paints a picture of Robben
Fleming as a historically
racist, sexist, narrow-minded
authority figure intolerant of
the concerns of the greater part
of the University community
(i.e. a real nasty guy). Is this
the same man who, shortly af-
ter becoming the President of
the University of Michigan in
1970 called the faculty and staff
together to announce a five-
point plan for immediate with-
drawal of U.S. troops form
Vietnam, which, by the way,
earned him a spot on President
Nixon's list of the 10 most
dangerous people in America?
Is this the same man who re-
ceived a hearty and sincere
standing ovation from the
BAM members in 1970 at the
press conference which they
gave to announce the resolu-
tion of the conflict? Is this the
same man who received a
commendation from the Amer-
ican Civil Liberties Union in
1970 for his "complete com-
mitment to the protection and
enlargement of civil liberties
on the university campus?"
Clearly the writers and editors
of the Daily have been ignor-
ing some of the facts concern-
ing President Fleming's past in
order to paint a decidedly one-
sided picture of him. Perhaps it

represents
nity. For Pete's sake, Fleming
is not a Kelly person, he is the
president of this University and
should be allowed to pursue the
sort of work which befits such
an office. If anything, given
the legacy of his esteemed pre-
decessor, Hal Shapiro, Fleming
should be extremely busy dur-
ing the time he spends with us
"undoing the bad and making
way for the good."
What really disappoints me
about the Daily's coverage of
President Fleming and the code
is the knee jerk journalism
hinted at in Professor Horn-
back's letter ("Hornback con-
demns Daily code coverage,"
Daily, 1/19/88) "Did I hear the
word 'code?' God, Fleming
must be a totaliarian." There
seems to have been a lot more
name calling than sound
analysis of the issues involved

Fleming's character

in the article and editorials
concerning Fleming and the
code. Most of your writers
seem to forget (or choose to
ignore) that the Fleming code
was set in the table for discus-
sion, insures that "necessary
components of procedural due
process will be followed," and
suggests that the panel try the
accused "contain representatives
of the race, gender, and status
of both victim and the ac-
cused."
I find serious fault with
mainstream, journalism in this

country due to one-sided ac-
counts of issues and the lack of
serious analysis which it gives
to important events. One of the
reasons I used to enjoy reading
the Daily was that it gave me
the opportunity to get a less
biased and more serious analy-
sis of the issues at hand. Un-
fortunately, this seems no
longer to be the case. The op-
pressed has now become the
oppressor.
-Christopher M.
Nicholson
January 21

Think

about

it

To the Daily:
Yes, some tactics used were
wrong.
Yes, it was wrong to call
students and faculty racists.
Yes, they apologized.
No, it was not wrong to ask
for a boycott on Martin Luther
King Jr. Day to show the uni-
versity that students want the
administration to stand behind
their presently empty prom-
ises.
No, it was not wrong to
blockade doors and force stu-
dents and faculty to make a
conscious decision about com-
batting institutional racism.
No, it was not wrong to stir
things up at this university and
nt, .-.1at hi.,0. eeo nnt lflnm a

-y
Fat Al would like to hear from you. To let Al know
what you think about his column, the 'U, or life in
general, send a letter to him, c/o the Daily's Opinion
page, 420 Maynard St, 48109. He's waiting.
Zinn
SUPPORT T4E JOA...
OR WE'LL SHOOT THIS
N F WSPAPER.
*
s

I

I

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