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April 17, 1989 - Image 4

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4

OPINION

Page 4

Monday, April 17, 1989

The Michigan Daily

4

Edited and managed by students at The University of Michiyan
420 Maynard St.
Vol. IC, No. 135 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.
Remember genocide

Censorship

not answer

APRIL 24TH commemorates the first
genocide of the 20th century. From
1915-16, over a million Armenians
were murdered by orders of the Young
Turk government as part of a deliberate
attempt to rid the Ottoman Empire of its
indigenous Armenian population.
The gruesome fate of the Armenians
was witnessed by hundreds of Euro-
pean and American diplomats, mis-
sionaries, military personnel, and
engineers, then resident in the Ottoman
Empire. Yet despite the #facts, the
Turkish government continues to deny
the occurrence of the Armenian geno-
cide.
The genocide occurred when the
Young Turk leadership justified a se-
ries of wholesale measures against the
Armenians by accusing them of
disloyalty to the empire during World
War I. Armenian soldiers serving in
the Ottoman army were disarmed,
placed into labor battalions, and
ultimately shot. Armenian civilians
were "deported" in convoys to
imaginary destinations in the deserts of
Syria. Victims of these convoys either
starved to death or were murdered.
Many thousands of Armenian women
and children were abducted into
Moslem households. By the end of
1916, no Armenians remained in
three-quarters of historic Armenia.
Since the Armenian genocide, suc-
cessive regimes in the Turkish Repub-
lic have lived up to the legacy of an
"Armenia without Armenians." They
have prevented the return of Armenian
survivors to their homes, and elimi-
nated the very name of the Armenians
from what is now called "Eastern
Turkey." The Ottoman-Turkish
archives still remain closed on the sub-
ject of the Armenians.
In addition, the official line of the
present Turkish regime still denies the
existence of 25 centuries of Armenian
civilization in modern Turkey. This

effort has been complemented by the
systematic destruction of ancient Ar-
menian monuments, churches and
monasteries, and the Turkification of
the Armenian heritage in art, architec-
ture and music and in the renaming of
sights in historic Armenia. Ninety per-
cent of historic Armenian sights in
Eastern Turkey have been renamed in
the past 60 years. The actions of suc-
cessive Turkish regimes constitute the
full parameters of the Armenian geno-
cide, its subsequent denial, and the in-
dignity with which Armenian survivors
still have to live today.
The Turkish state, which is the third
largest recipient of United States for-
eign aid, spends millions of dollars on
public relations to repair its damaged
credibility. However, a U.S. travelling
exhibit on the Age of Suleiman the
Magnificent and other tributes to Turk-
ish culture, cannot mask Turkey's po-
litical and human rights record.
Turkey is a despotic state which op-
presses its people and its constitution,
legal system and academia curtail free
debate and criticism. Executions,
purges, and torture have been incorpo-
rated into Turkey's political process
since its adoption of "democracy" in
1946. Turkey has to be recognized for
what it is: an undemocratic state guilty
of a genocide.
This month commemorates the 74th
anniversary of the genocide of the Ar-
menians by the Ottoman Turks. The
first step in fighting against genocide
and affirming the rights of all people to
exist is to acknowledge and condemn
the occurrence of such crimes. Other-
wise the world is condemned to repeat
them, as the history of the 20th century
has shown. The Armenian genocide
concerns us all.
There will be a vigil commemo-
rating the 74th anniversary of the
Armenian genocide at the Diag on
April 24 at 9 PM.

By Donald Unger
Pornography has long been the
obsession of various conservative and,
religious groups, who see it as one of the
major symptoms of, and contributing
factors to, a perceived erosion of moral
values. In the 1980's, however, links have
been forged between unlikely allies; a
significant segment of the women's
movement has made common cause with
these groups. Moreover, the idea that
censorship is the solution to this problem
has become acceptable to large numbers of
people. It is understandable that people
concerned with misogyny, objectification
of women, and the sexual violence that
permeates our society would focus on this
issue. But the approach they have taken is
a serious mistake.
The anti-porn feminists are primarily
concerned with three areas: 1) The content
of some of the more violent pornographic
magazines and films is alleged to be real
rather than acted, depicting actual rape or,
in the case of "snuff" movies, the
dismemberment and murder of women; 2)
Pornography is held to be one of the
primary causes of violence against
women; 3) People see pornography as
degrading to women and therefore as
fostering or perpetuating misogyny in
society at large.
The first claim is the most sensational.
The anti-porn movement has long
concentrated disproportionately on violent
porn and the "snuff" movie has long been
the holy Grail of this focus - much more
talked about and rarely, if ever, seen. The
question here is not pornography but
assault, rape, and murder. If these things
are actually going on, they should be
stopped. But the representation of these
acts is not the same as committing them.
The second idea, that pornography
causes violence against women, is not
new, but neither has it ever been proven.
The Meese Commission, the most recent
group to postulate this connection, started
out with this cnnclusion and then went
Donald Unger is a graduate stu-
dent in Rackham's Creative
Writing program.

looking for evidence to support it; most
social scientists take neither its methods
nor its conclusion seriously. It is true that
various disturbed people-rapists and child
molesters among them-are attracted to
pornography. But this does not mean that
the relationship between the two is causal,
that pornography is what leads them to
commit their crimes. On the contrary,
there is a great deal of evidence to be
found-in northern Europe, for example-
that would indicate that the abolition of
obscenity laws leads to a decrease in sex
crimes.
The last point is difficult to dispute.
Most pornography degrades women. But,
in sheer numbers, we are far more affected
by mainstream images-in news,
entertainment, and advertising-than by
anything else.

threats of violence that most women live
with are largely caused by pornography.
By policing this one area, then, we could
immeasurably improve the quality of life
of more than half of our population. But,
if pornography disappeared tomorrow, the
effect would be minuscule; we would still
live in an essentially sexist, misogynistic
society. The threat to women would not
be lessened at all. It might well be worse.
What the anti-porn groups are asking is
the criminalization of images, of words,
ultimately of thought, something that we
as a nation have traditionally - at least in
theory - opposed. If only this power is
granted, we are told, it will be used
exclusively against the "bad" images and
ideas, not against anything with artistic,
cultural, or social merit. Reassuring

I
I

'...if pornography disappeared tomorrow, the effect would
be minuscule; we would still live in an essentially sexist,
misogynistic society.'

4

One of the central problems with the
question of regulating pornography is the
fundamental one of definition. What is
pornography? And, just as difficult, how
do we differentiate between pornography
and erotica? Pornography's conservative
critics whose motivations are moral and
religious, are at least clear on this
question: for them, eroticism is sin, sex is
exclusively for reproduction. Presumably
the majority of pornography's feminist
critics are not seeking to abolish the erotic
but simply to separate it from the violence
and misogyny they see as pornography's
dominant theme. But once this process
starts, who will control it? And who
should? Is it the province of the state -
or even of the majority -- to regulate the
erotic, to decide what is sexually correct?
It would be a relief to believe that the

words? They have been said before, back
into history, by oppressive groups from
both ends of the political spectrum,
groups which promised to cleanse society
of dangerous influences, dangerous ideas. 4
These solutions have invariably
themselves become nightmares.
To stand up for the right to present
these images should not be confused with
an endorsement of the ideology they may
be said to represent. Nor should any of
this be read as a glossing over of or
insensitivity to the very real threats that
women face on a daily basis. Actions
against women, actions that attempt to
marginalize any group, should be dealt I
with in the strongest possible manner. But
the battle against images is of a different,
more complex character. Censorship is not
the answer.

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NCAA exploits Blacks

IN A SOCIETY as fundamentally racist
as the United States, it seems ironic that
eight thousand upper middle class
white students would be overjoyed to
the point of "rioting" by the accom-
plishments of a primarily Black basket-
ball team. However, when the struc-
tural dynamics of this country's colle-
giate athletics are looked at more
closely, the "riot" was actually quite
intelligible.
Collegiate athletics in this country,
according to sociologist Harry
Edwards, possess fundamental dy-
namics similar to a "plantation system."
Black athletes have become modern
day gladiators whose function is to
make money for and entertain primarily
white, upper class communities.
Most Black athletes are systemati-
cally brought to this campus for the
express purpose of performing in the
sports arena. Academics become a de
facto secondary priority. For example,
the way the athletic department
structures the day to day schedules of
athletes leaves them little time to excel
as students. A surprizing seventy-five
percent of Black athletes do not
graduate from the universities they
represent.
When a Black athlete arrives on cam-
pus he - and the emphasis is on men
because the NCAA puts far lessprior-
ity and makes far less money on
women's athletics - stands a good
chance of being admitted automatically
to the Department of Physical Educa-
tion. The courses suggested often em-
phasize physical education, coaching,
sports communications, or other less

marketable skills. Genuine kinisiology
and management degrees which are
useful as pre-med or pre-MBA de-
grees, although available, are often de-
emphasized.
While avoiding a 'blaming the victim'
analysis of the problems of Black ath-
letes, it should be noted that some ex-
perts, such as Edwards, have pointed
out that students who come from com-
munities afflicted by vicious cycles of
poverty face unique problems, such
as the prioritization of athletics over
academic achievement.
Black athletes receive close to three
quarters of the scholarships for
basketball and football - the revenue
producing sports - but only five
percent of all NCAA scholarships.
These sports produce, in turn,
practically all of the monies needed to
support the rest of the sports teams in
the association. As a result, more than
nine-tenths ofthe collegiate athletes on
scholarship in the United States -
most of whom are white - are being
put through school by a small group of
revenue athletes, the majority of whom
are Black.
Further evidence of the systematic
institutional racism within the NCAA is
the fact that ninety-five percent of
NCAA coaches, college presidents,
and others in athletically related deci-
sion making positions are white males.
This country's elitist athletic hierar-
chy and the disproportionately small
Black population on its campuses are
simply aspects of the racism which
pervades our society. Hence, the once
ironic and confounding "victory riot,"
seems now obvious and expected.

Greeks, not
Cameron,
sexist
To the Daily:
I am writing in response to
the editorial titled "How Great
is Great Books?" (Daily 4/12).
While this article did give
some valid criticisms, I feel
that your overall assessment of
the course was unfair.
At the beginning of the edi-
torial, you criticized Dr.
Cameron for saying, "If you
are looking for feminist issues,
don't read Greek literature."
While it is true that he did say
something to this effect, I be-
lieve that you have greatly
misconstrued the meaning of
his words. In saying that the
course material does not con-
tain feminist issues, I believe
that he was not trying to de-
tract from the female characters
in Greek literature; rather, he
was stressing that the ancient
Greek society was sexist and
that its literature reflects this.
While the professor may have
chosen his words poorly, I be-
lieve that his point was
important. In order to truly
understand the images and
symbols presented in works
such as the Odyssey or the
Oresteia, we need to understand

the Greeks' sexist image of the
woman.
In the editorial, you valiantly
attempted to find examples of
feminist issues in the works
we have studied. However, the
examples you give seem mis-
guided. For instance, you stated
that the Lysistrata was about
"women's struggle for power."
Yet the Lysistrata is a comedy,
and in the play Aristophanes
treats the women's actions sar-
castically. Furthermore, in the
play, the women's rise to
power merely helps to bring
across the play's anti-war
statement. Interestingly en-
ough, in the editorial, you
failed to mention that the way
that the women accomplish
their goals in the Lysistrata is
by withholding sex from the
men. Thus, arguing that the
play is about women's rise to
power seems to imply that a
woman's major source of
power is her ability to provide
sex -- an absurd idea.
I realize that reading sexist
literature could be very frus-
trating for women. I further
realize that as a male, I cannot
fully understand your feelings
on the matter. Yet I believe
that the challenge in reading
any great work of literature is
trying to identify with the ideas
which it presents. While sex-
ism is one aspect of Greek lit-

erature, it also contains other
themes such as honor, justice,
and wisdom, which are appli-
cable to all of humanity. For
example, I believe that anyone,
regardless of sex or race, can
relate to the moral dilemmas
which Achilleus faces in the
Iliad. You say that the sexism
in Greek literature threatens
your sense of identity. Yet I
think that this need not be the
case. While the Greeks did not
often attribute values such as
honor and glory to women, our
society does. Thus, in our
analysis, the ideas presented in
Greek books are applicable to
men and women alike.
Another argument in your
editorial was that we should
not accept all of the values of
great authors unchallenged. On
this point, I agree with you
completely. It seems that often
we are too passive in our anal-
ysis of past cultures. By at-
tempting to be open minded in
our assessments, we often lose
our ability to think critically.
Perhaps Dr. Cameron should
criticize the sexism in Greek
literature more often. Yet I be-
lieve that reading great litera-
ture is a 50/50 proposition. On
one hand, we should not be
hesitant to criticize it in terms
of our own values. On the
other hand, we must also be
willing to look beyond its ob-

jectionable elements and learn
from its positive ideas.
-Dan Friedman
April 14
Anti-gay
statements
ignored
To the Daily:
I feel invisible, I am very
angry and I don't know who to
blame.
For the last week I have
heard and read about the racist
flyers on campus. Seems to me
that at least one flyer had an
anti-gay male remark, some-
thing about faggots.
I'd rather not believe that
such "progressive" organiza-
tions as the Daily and UCAR
are ignoring homophobia and
gay men. I guess I'll blame it
on society. It's not your fault
you're homophobic, is it?
Please, don't belittle or ig-
nore the needs of lesbians, gay
men, and bisexuals. The Uni-
versity and the general public
do this enough. We must all
work together, empowering
ourselves and one another for
survival.
-Mark J. Chekal
April 11

4

7t C'i "SI T RS"OIIN \ jNRs",F1 a'KfN" t° I'{!"

Stop the violence
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The Daily is actively seeking infor-

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