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February 29, 1988 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1988-02-29

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OPINION

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Page 4

Monday, February 29, 1988

The Michigan Daily

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Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

Institutional racism

defined

Vol. XCVIII No. 99

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.
PLO eaceplan ignored

IT HAS BEEN OVER A MONTH since)
Yasser Arafat offered to recognize
the State of Israel in exchange for a
peace conference. Since then, Israel
has only continued killing and
beating Palestinian youth, indicating
that it chooses to ignore Arafat's
overtures. This lack of response
demonstrates Israel's unwillingness
to negotiate a solution to the Pales-
tinian problem.
Yasser Arafat called for an inter-
national peace conference including
all, nations concerned with the
Pilestinian problem in exchange for
ile PLO's (Palestinian Liberation
Organization) recognition of Israel.
By attending the conference, Israel
would be giving de facto recogni-
fion to the PLO, and reciprocally,
the PLO would officially recognize
Israel.
;'his is not the first time such of-
fers have been made. For example,
then-senator Paul Findley received
a similar proposal for mutual
recognition between the PLO and
Israel several years ago from Yasser
Arafat. Even though Findley di-
tectly relayed this to the to the State
Department, no response from the
Viaited States or Israel was elicited.
' Tere is no doubt that the PLO is
Wling to recognize Israel today,
ai&d has done so in the past. Criti-
cigms of the PLO on this basis are
baseless.
.Another concern of many PLO
critics has been that the PLO must
give up all violent means of over-
throwing Israel. This issue has also
been addressed by the legislative
body of the PLO, the Palestinian
National Congress, which along
with Yasser Arafat and other Pales-
tinians, has made several resolu-
tions and statements to this effect.
These statements are much more
recent than the decades old rhetoric
about throwing Jews into the sea,
and reflect more accurately a trend
in the PLO to seek diplomatic
means of securing a homeland.
It is impossible to compare the
scale of the violence between the
Patestinian rioters and the Israeli
Artiy. Palestine is under military
©Ccupation and any means people
ise' to defend themselves from hos-
tili: beatings, jail without trial, and
r*,dom killings cannot be juxta-
posed to one of the largest standing

armies in the world. Israel does not
need a beating policy and live am-
munition to defend itself from rocks
and bottles.
In spite of all these signs that the
PLO is looking for new solutions,
Israel has continued to ignore them.
Israel and the PLO have a responsi-
bility to look into any potential offer
by either side. Israel's evident re-
fusal to do this can be taken as an
indication of Israel's true intention:
maintenance of the oppressive and
economically parasitic relationship
with the West Bank and Gaza at the
expense of the Palestinians.
Claims that the PLO is a "terrorist"
organization are just attempts by Is-
rael and its proponents to discredit
the PLO politically, so nobody
would have to deal with the content
of what the PLO is proposing.
There are no angels in the Middle
East: the word "terrorist" is a politi-
cal label which could just as easily
be applied to Israel if you consider
killing innocent civilians objection-
able.
Alarmed by the extent of discon-
tent in the occupied territories, the
United States proposed a peace ini-
tiative of its own. This initiative has
a basic flaw in that it asks Jordan to
negotiate with Israel about the
Palestinians, rather than the Pales-
tinians themselves. The PLO has
showed many times that it has the
overwhelming support of the
Palestinians. Until a new election
can be held, the PLO should be
considered as the spokesperson of
the Palestinians, not some fat
monarch whose treatment of the
Palestinians 20 years ago was not
much better than their condition to-
day.
The United States and Israel have
no excuse not to grant the Palestini-
ans a homeland, and recognize the
PLO or any other group which can
prove support through elections in
the territories. The representatives
of the Palestinians are willing to sit
down at the negotiating table, but
neither the United States nor Israel
is willing to join them, much less
acknowledge them. Evidently, the
United States is too busy closing
down their offices, and Israel is too
busy burying alive protestors or just
beating them to their senses.

By Walter Allen, Vonnie
C. Mcloyd, Aldon Morris,
and Ernest Wilson
this is the first of a two-part series
Is the University of Michigan a racist
institution? Are most whites at the Uni-
versity - administrators, faculty, stu-
dents, etc. - racist? What is racism? Is it
possible that Blacks, because of their his-
tory of oppression, are quick to overreact
to words and deeds and falsely label white
institutions and individuals racist?
Presently the University community is
caught in the clutches of a dilemma: a
significant segment of that community is
convinced unequivocally that the Univer-
sity and its policies are downright racist
while another equally significant segment
is convinced that the institution is not
fundamentally racist. A large number of
people, especially young white students,
are not sure what to believe. The net
product of this situation is confusion and
polarization. The purpose of our remarks
is to bring clarity to this confusing debate
and to take a principled clear-cut stand
based on reality.
In our view most whites at the Univer-
sity of Michigan are not racist bigots. It is
absolutely true that a few whites, such as
those who consciously hate Blacks, slip
racist flyers under doors, and encourage
racial animosity, do fall in this category.
Such racism is not openly fashionable nor
is it easily condoned at a University whose
stated mission is the quest for knowledge
and intellectual pluralism.
Yet, it is our view that institutional
Walter Allen is an Associate Prof. of
Sociology. Vonnie C. Mcloyd is an
Associate Prof. of Psychology..Aldon
Morris is an Associate Prof. and the
Associate Chair of Sociology. Ernest
Wilson is an Associate Prof. of Political
Science and Public Policy.

racism is entrenched throughout the very
fabric of the University of Michigan and is
far more dangerous to Blacks and whites
than individual acts of racial bigotry could
ever be. We contend that institutional.
racism is the culprit that allows well-
meaning decent whites to implement racist
policies on day-to-day basis while admir-
ing Martin Luther King, Jr.'s speech, "I
Have a Dream." Institutional racism seeps
into the brains, practices, and beliefs of
individuals undetected. Institutional racism
grips its victims in such a disguised and
insidious manner that they are convinced
beyond a doubt that in no way could they
be racist. Institutional racism is the re-
spectable force that causes human suffer-
ing and racial inequality. Institutional
racism at the University is not only alive
and well; it is arrogant, defiant, growing,
and dangerous.
But what - we all ask - is institu-
tional racism and how is it stamped into
every brick of the University's foundation?
This is a legitimate question that must be
asked at a University and it deserves an
answer. Yet, the concept is not new. To
the contrary, it has received much schol-
arly attention and research (Hamilton and
Carmichael, 1967; Knowles and Prewitt,
1969; and many others). The most funda-
mental meaning of institutional racism is
as follows: a set of stable policies, beliefs,
and behaviors within institutions that re-
sult in practices whereby citizens of color
in America are consistently penalized be-
cause of the color of their skin. People
who engage in institutional racism often
do so unintentionally. Thus the driving
force behind institutional racism need not
be conscious intentions. Moreover, even
when institutional racism is detected, it is
seldom clear who is immediately at fault
(Knowles and Prewitt, 1969) because it is
ensconced in the history and the very deci-
sion-making bodies, committees, ahd de-
partment of institutions.
How are we to recognize institutional
racism at the University? It is easy if one

understands what it is and has the courage
to point to it and say, "There it is." Let's
start at the top. Throughout the Univer-
sity's history there has never been a Black
president or academic provost and there
have been very few Black deans of crucial
colleges. The result is that these high
level decision-making bodies have been
systematically void of minority
representation for over 100 years. Yet, this
reality has rarely been seriously questioned
by whites at the University. Last year
there were no Black department chairs and
few associate chairs. Department chairs are
key actors, for they set the intellectual
tone and play key roles in the hiring of
faculty. There can be little doubt that the
absence of minority faculty at this level is
correlated with the small numbers of Black
faculty found throughout the University.
Yet, white faculty, administrators, and
students have found little wrong with this
practice and have not spoken out. How are
we to explain this except to suggest that
institutional racism is at work?
Let's examine LS&A for a moment
because it is the largest College at the
University. One of the most important
decision-making bodies of LS&A is its
College Executive Committee. This
elected committee sets policy for the col-
lege and plays a crucial role in determining
which faculty will receive tenure. There
are currently no Blacks on this committee
and only-one or two have ever served. No
whites-on or off this committee-have
publicly raised the issues of exclusion.
The tacit assumption is that whites can
serve the interests of people of color. Is
this not an arrogant assumption given the
history of race relations in America? At
the present time there is only one Black
female member in all of LS&A. Yet white
faculty, administrators, or students have
not stepped forward and said this must not
be tolerated nor have they proposed insti-
tutional mechanisms to remedy these
kinds of problems. Institutional racism is
alive and well at the University of Michi-
gan.

Wasserman,

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LETTERS

Daily forfeits freedom of

Stop military research

RAGICALLY, the military-indus-
trial complex has invaded another
area of the University in the form of
chemical and biological weapons
research. This ongoing research
into chemical weapons has explic-
itly stated military significance and
is funded by the U.S. Army Medi-
cal Research and Development
Command (USAMRDC).
Research into chemical blistering
cgents, toxic defoliants, nerve. gas
deection systems,and nerve gas is
taking place in the University
Medical School, the School of
PIfarmacology, and the School of
Public Health. This research vio-
lates the fundamental mission of
these institutions which are
supposedly dedicated to the im-
piovement of human life.
:Empirically, chemical and bio-
logical weapons are used in the
Third World or against defenseless
adversaries. Korea, Vietnam, Iran,
I][q, and Afghanistan have all been
_& u - - 1-- 3 I _ 1- - -- - - I - - - - -

ological weapons demands a politi-
cal, not a scientific, solution. A
worldwide solution to the use of
chemical weapons will only be
possible if states realize the in-
evitability of their effects.
The Army cannot be allowed to
set research priorities at universi-
ties. If the military is allowed to use
its immense budget to establish
which endeavors are useful, then
the University becomes a tool of the
military-industrial complex.
Although the initial outlays for the
two nerve gas projects alone exceed
$1.5 million, the University should
not prostitute the values of students
and faculty endeavoring for social
progress by acquiescing to the de-
sires of the Army. If research had
positive implications, money could
be made available through alterna-
tive channels.
Necessary research into health
care can find funding through other
government sources. Further. the

To the Daily:
It was with great interest that
I read Muzammil Ahmed's (a
Daily opinion page staffer) in-
terview with former U.S.
Outrage!
To the Daily:
As Jews, we are outraged by
the threatening racist posters
distributed at the University of
Michigan and pained that Black
students were confronted by
such hatred.
We believe that America's
strength lies in its commit-
ment to equality, a value which
lies at the heart of the Jewish
understanding of the story of
Adam and Eve, in which the
Bible teaches that we humans
are all descended from the same
ancestors and are therefore one
family.
We deplore the vicious
racism of the posters and urge
all other of good will to speak
out strongly against racism
whenever and however it is ex-
pressed.
-Judith Seid
Rabbi Allan D. Kensky
Rabbi Robert Levy
Dr. David E. Schteingart
Benjamin Ben-Baruch
Joseph Kohane
February 8

Congressman Paul "Pete" Mc-
Closkey (2/16/88). I believe it
is both important and interest-
ing to learn the views of
American politicians on
important issues. However, I
take exception to the fact that
while on January 21 Mr. Mc-
Closkey was given an oppor-
tunity to speak on peace
prospects in the Middle East,
ten days earlier Mr. Zvi Brosh,
Israeli consul-general to the
U.S. from Chicago, was denied
that very right. I was quite sure
that if nothing else the Daily
would advocate free speech, a
first amendment right which
allows you to print "Ninety-
eight years of editorial free-
dom" each day and mean it!
Not only was Zvi Brosh denied
his right to speak but the Daily
endorsed the protest(see
Protest Israeli rights abuse,
1/11/88), and encouraged stu-

Accusations subvert cause

To the Daily:
The column by A. C.
Townsend, "Whites blind to
racism," (Daily, 2/17/88),
seems to do whites a disservice
by implying that, by the very
fact of being white, one is
naturally blind to racism. I
think this is an insult to the
many whites who are aware of
the problem, and a r e
sympathetic with the anti-
racism movement. A person
critical of a group's actions is
not necessarily against that

dents to protest in the name of
human rights. The ultimate
irony is that the American
right to free speech was for-
feited in what the Daily defined
as a human rights issue. Fur-
thermore, since Zvi Brosh was
denied the right to speak, I

group, Mr. Townsend's
opinion to the contrary.
Ultimately, his implying that
all whites are part of the racism
problem could quite possibly
undermine the white support of
the fight against racism. This
is precisely the kind of wild
finger-pointing that our cause
can do without, as it only adds
to the problems it claims to be
destroying.
-Sheldon Robertson
February 18

speech
challenge the Daily to attempt
to interview him on your
opinion page or at least print a
transcript of his speech which
was buried amidst anti-Semetic
slurs and profanity.
--Lance Pacernick
February 16

Hl A S M , ~

I

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