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January 05, 1989 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1989-01-05

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Thursday, January 5, 1989

The Michigan Daily

Poage 5

But Black's book is
more than a brilliantly
conceived photo album.
His evocative pictures
are accompanied and
strenghtened by a
cogent, concise nar-
rative of U.S. involve-
ment in the region from
the building of the

Panama Canal to


The Good Neighbor:
How the United States
Wrote the History of
Central America and
the Caribbean
By George Black
Did you know that the song
"Cuban Moonlight," one of
many Depression era hits depic-
ting Cuba as a sensuous land of
romance (for U.S. tourists, of
course), lifted the melody and
replaced the lyrics of a song
lamenting the depressed eco-
nomic condition of Puerto Rican
peasants? That the U.S. media
used Charles Lindbergh's cele-
brated Pan American tour to
divert attention from Wash-
ington's murderous war against
Nicaraguan nationalists? That
Ollie North based his "proof" of a
Cuban presence in Nicaragua on
satellite pictures of baseball dia-
monds outside of Managua ("Nic-
araguans don't play baseball,

Cubans do," crowed North) -
obviously unaware that U.S.
Marines had introduced baseball
to Nicaragua during their quarter-
century occupation?
George Black's new overview
of U.S. involvement in Latin
America manages to distinguish
itself from the floodtide of
similar accounts in-recent years
by using scores of anecdotes such
as these - along with numerous
well-chosen quotations, cartoons,
and pictures. What emerges is a
surprisingly fresh portrait of the
United States' fascination with
the countries to its south - as
well as what that fascination can
tell us about the malaise gripping
the North American psyche. Next
to a quote claiming the moral
superiority of the United States, a
current U.S. military advisor to
El Salvador reclines on his cot, a
pistol by his side and porno-
graphic pictures pinned to the
wall behind him. Beside a horrific
picture of burning bodies in
Esteli, Nicaragua - the
consequence of Somozan torture
in 1978 - we watch Secretary
of State Al Haig proclaim that

the very same picture proves how
genocidal the Sandinistas can be.
But Black's book is more than
a brilliantly conceived photo
album. His evocative pictures are
accompanied and strenghtened by
a cogent, concise narrative of
U.S. involvement in the region
from the building of the Panama
Canal to the present. Rather than
provide a blow-by-blow political
and military history of that
involvement-already well done,
in any event, by landmark works
such as Walter LaFeber's
Inevitable Revolutions - Black
concentrates on general patterns
and specific images marking U.S.
.Black focuses on the paradox
inherent in the United States'
actions in Central America -
how the United States can invade
a region so frequently and still
preserve a sense of Edenic
innocence regarding its behavior.
Repeatedly, he demonstrates,
U.S. governments would claim
to be "turning over a new leaf,"
distancing themselves from their
past atrocities toward countries
such as Haiti and Nicaragua in
the firm conviction that "Now"
- whether "now" be 1928 or
1977 - things would be
But things never were. For,
Black argues, all U.S. foreign
policy debates about the region,
from Cuba in 1898 to Nicaragua
today, are more about a struggle
for the "soul" of the United
States than an attempt to address
the social realities of Central
America, which "seemed to exist

in some disembodied parallel
Perhaps the biggest problem
with Black's book is that he
paradoxically duplicates the pat-
tern he so accurately indicts.
Boxed in by his analysis of the
U.S. mind, he too occasionally
ignores the social realities of
countries such as Grenada and
Nicaragua. While he condemns
U.S. aggression against both
countries, he is less than fair to *
their respective revolutions, swal-
lowing CIA propaganda about the
Soviet infiltration of Grenada and
referring to Nicaraguan leader
Daniel Ortegafas adictator.
Black's powerful criticisms of
U.S. aggressions against such
countries are undercut by this
failure to analyze or defend
positively their revolutions.
Still, Black's valuable and
unique book provides a powerful
introduction to the consequences
of misinformation, not to men-
tion a source of guaranteed out-.
rage for its readers - itself valu-
able, to the extent that it pushes
those readers to explore heyond
the boundaries of Black's story in
an effort to understand the cown-
tries of Latin America them-
selves. At the very least, Good
Neighbor's tremendously
powerful photographs highlight
what a very bad neighbor the
United States has been - and
how our "free" press has system-
atically distorted the history of
U.S. intervention in an effort to
claim otherwise.
-Mike Fischer

Awww... this cuddly corgi is William hurt's best friend in
The Accidental Tourist, University alum Lawrence Kasdan's
latest film, which makes its Midwestern premiere tonight.

Continued from Page 1
volved with an unconventional wo-
man named Muriel (Geena Davis),
whom he had hired to train his dog.
Already released on both coasts,
Tourist has won the New York Film
Critics Circle Award for the best
film of 1988.
The combination of acting talent
in this film is an incredible asset.
Davis, the least experienced of the
three leads, is most known for her
role in The Fly. Kathleen Turner has
had numerous successes in such
films as Romancing the Stone and
its sequel, as well as Prizzi's Honor.
In 1986, she received an Oscar
nomination for Peggy Sue Got
William Hurt, however, has come

the farthest. He won an Academy
Award in 1986 for his performance
in Kiss of the Spiderwoman. The
next year he was nominated for his
part in Children of a Lesser God,
and last year he again received "a
nomination for Broadcast News. It is
expected that he will garner his
fourth nomination this year.
And then there is Bud - the
lovable but unruly corgi and the
reason that Macon and Muriel meet.
Profits from tonight's benefit
showing will support the Michigan
Theater and Winterfest: Ann Arbor
Festival of the Arts, which debuts
this year.
mieres tonight at the Michigan
Theater at 8 pm.Tickets are $10, and
students with I.D. can get two
tickets for the price of one.


Army ROTC scholarships pay tuition
and provide an allowance for fees and
textbooks. Find out if you qualify.
Find Out More. Call Captain O'Rourke.
Visit 131 North Hall or Call 764-2400.

Join the Front Line...

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