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October 27, 1988 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 1988-10-27

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PERSPECTIVES

The Michigan Daily

Thursday, October 27, 1988

Page 5

Pw

Is

'Quayleism'

on

the

rise?

They can be counted on to tell us
who our enemies are,
But they're never the ones to
fight and to die."
- Jackson Browne, "Lives in the
Balance"
BY MARK WEISBROT
Dan Quayle is a symbol. It's not
just his politics, or his ignorance or
stupidity. In these aspects he's
nothing more than a younger and
less sophisticated version of the fool
who has occupied the White House
for nearly eight years.
He's a symbol of everything ugly
in America in 1988. And it's not
just that fact that the enormous
wealth and privilege of his family
got him a seat in the Senate at a
young age. John F. Kennedy had the
same advantages.
Quayle's uniqueness is his atti-
tude. Watching his debate with
Bentsen, I couldn't help being im-
pressed with his mean-spiritedness.
There was not even a half-hearted at-

tempt to cultivate an image that he
cared about human beings. This is
rare for a politician seeking high of-
fice.
I LIKE to think this is why he
receives such low ratings in the
opinion polls. People who are very
alienated from politics in general,
and especially from an election in
which the candidates offer relatively
little choice on the issues, can
nonetheless perceive his basic inhu-
manity.
There are a significant number of
Dan Quayles on this campus. I don't
like to make too much of this fact
- they're still a small minority.
They're the people who will tell you
it doesn't matter how many people
are cut down by U.S. bullets in
Central America, or how many
democratically elected governments
are overthrown by the CIA. As long
as they perceive some material
benefit from these actions, they will
support repression, murder, and even
genocide. I have seen students ex-

press such views even in front of
others, in the classroom. To a cer-
tain extent they are abetted by the
standard "realpolitik" views advanced
in political science classes and the
supposed "ethical neutrality" of the
social sciences in general.
I only mention "the Quayle phe-
nomenon" because its open
propagation as a legitimate moral
philosophy seems to be on the rise.
Not too long ago, conservatives had
to at least pretend that their concern
was for the general welfare, and not
just themselves.
FROM A practical standpoint,
the worst part about the growth of
Qualyeism is that it's nearly impos-
sible to get through to someone who
feels comfortable in their material
existence and has no regard for hu-
manity. Paul Baran, in an essay
written in the early 60's, summed up
the futility of arguing with such
"ethical neutralists" who ask "why
some people shouldn't starve if their
suffering allows others to enjoy af-

fluence, freedom, and happiness."
Baran's response was as follows:
"Some thirty years ago I was asked
these questions by a Nazi student
leader (who eventually became a
prominent SS man and functionary
of the Gestapo), and the best answer
I could think of then is the best an-
swer I can think of now: a meaning-
ful discussion of human affairs can
only be conducted with humans; one
wastes one's time talking to beasts
about matters related to people."
The Quayle/beast phenomenon
can be seen in the current U.S. re-
sponse to the hurricane damage in
Nicaragua. It's even more striking in
an area that depends for its legiti-
macy on being "above politics" -
i.e., that of genuine humanitarian
aid. The Reagan administration on
Monday, almost immediately after
the extent of hurricane damage to
Nicaragua was known, announced
that it would not extend emergency
assistance to this impoverished
country.

AS OF TODAY, there has
been no criticism of this callousness
by any public figures deemed worthy
of quotation by the U.S. media.
The hurricane killed at least 50
people and has left an estimated
300,000 homeless in Nicaragua. The
U.S. response to this disaster is in
striking contrast to their assistance
to Jamaica for hurricane damage ear-
lier this month. Reagan committed
more than $125 million in food,
medical supplies, and communica-
tions equipment, and sent teams of
American technical experts to help
with the rebuilding. This is because
the Jamaican government was
brought to power with the help of
CIA-sponsored destabilization efforts
in the early '80s.
This latest disregard for human
suffering is consistent with U.S.
policy in Nicaragua over the last
several years (or the entire century,
for that matter). Our government
seeks to punish the people of
Nicaragua for having chosen inde-

pendence and non-alignment. A ma-
jor part of this strategy has been to
destroy the advances in health care
and human services that the revolu-
tionary government was initially
able to implement. Nicaragua is
currently suing the U.S. for $12
billion in damages resulting from
the war of the contras.
For those who care, the Latin
American Solidarity Committee is
collecting money for emergency
materials, to be shipped with the
Pastors for Peace Convoy to
Nicaragua. They can be reached at
665-8438 and will be collecting
money on campus this Monday.
Mark Weisbrot is a Daily news
staffer.
WEEKEND
MAGAZINE
Fridays in The Daily
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Bain & Company, Inc.
Management Consultants
cordially invites
The University of Michigan
Classes of 1989 & 1990
to a presentation and reception on
Associate Consultant Career Opportunities
and Internships in
Corporate Strategy Consulting

- Boston
* San Francisco

Thursday, October 27, 1988
The Michigan Union-Anderson Room

,,

I

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