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February 23, 1990 - Image 4

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1990-02-23

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Page 4- The Michigan Daily- Friday, February 23, 1990

(M le £irbtgatwnatig
EDITED AND MANAGED BY STUDENTS
AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN

U

420 Maynard Street
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109

. 4

ARTS
NEWS
OPINION

763 0379
7640552
747 2814

PHOTO
SPORTS
WEEKEND

764 0552
747 3336
747 4630

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.

Shanties
University should not limit forms of expression

/ // // /, ~
141

' _
. -- - ,
_r. /

LAST WEEK, MEMBERS OF THE
University's Board of Regents ex-
pressed their unhappiness with the
continued presence of shanties on the
Diag. The regents and President James
Duderstadt appear to be poised to use
the construction of a new sidewalk
connecting the Diag to Ingalls Mall as
an,~excuse to "clean up" the long-
standing signs of political activism and
awareness.
Shanties have been erected in the
last few years to remind students of the
oppressive living conditions and liber-
ation struggles of Black South Af-
ricans. The first were built as part of a
campaign to persuade the regents to
divest University money from compa-
nies doing business in South Africa.
Recently, more. shanties have been
added by pro-Palestinian and pro-Is-
raeli activists.
While some regents claim to object
to the shanties on the basis of their un-
tidy appearance, clearly the political
causes behind the structures have been
a thorn in the side of the University.
Efforts to eliminate these outlets of po-
litical expression - especially given
the history of politically-motivated
vandalism against them in the past -
must be seen not only as suppression
:of free speech, but as a challenge to
:student activism on these issues.
If Regent Thomas Roach (D-Saline)
really believes the shanties should be
removed because they are an "unsightly
mess," as has been reported, then why
does he not turn his attention to the
massive invasion of banners during
fraternity and sorority rush which regu-
3arly fill the Diag, leaving behind an

"unsightly" residue of dangling ropes?
Even more revealing are Roach's
comments about protecting visiting
alumni from the inconvenience of
viewing these structures. Is it the
"untidy mess" the potential donors
might object to? Or is it rather the
reminder of political activism, often
directed against the University?
As Duderstadt and the regents know
quite well, the University administra-
tion has been lucky. At Dartmouth and
Cornell, for example, divestment
protestors built and lived in shanties on
campus in their efforts to bring pres-
sure to bear on their universities. These
demonstrations were protected by the
courts as legitimate expressions of free
speech.
The Ann Arbor News noted in an
editorial that Duderstadt "should con-
sider developing a policy about what
items are acceptable on the central cam-
pus." But the basis of free speech is
allowing a wide range of views and ac-
tions, and the University would be
doing a disservice to students by limit-
ing methods of political expression. In
addition to being illegal, such an action
by Duderstadt would be counter to his
numerous messages of "diversity."
Duderstadt and the regents may
want to live in a world where neither
they nor their cronies need be reminded
of the oppression and suffering which
this country contributes to, but students
have no obligation to help them in their
self-serving cover up. Not only should
students resist efforts by the University
to limit free speech, they should not let
the University dictate the kind of ex-
pression which is acceptable.

r
r

f ! l6

n'tfe EEiNNl %REnsinuJal
Don't forget kllings in Guatemala

By Ingrid Fey
With all eyes trained on recent events
in Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Panama,
the U.S. media has given scant notice to
the tremendous escalation of human rights
abuses in Guatemala, the largest and most
populous country in Central America.
Since last August, eight students from
the University of San Carlos (USAC) in
Guatemala City have been found dead,
some with signs of torture, while another
six remain "disappeared." Human rights
organizations have also come under attack.
The offices of both the Group of Mutual
Support and Peace Brigades International
(PBI) have been bombed, and members of
all organizations have had to face increased
intimidation, violent attacks, torture, and a
growing fear of being "disappeared."
While it remains unclear who is re-
sponsible for this violence, diplomats and
human rights groups assert that the killers
appear to be operating with current mili-
tary intelligence, a finding which would
implicate army officials. Guatemalan gov-
ernment officials, on the other hand,
blame the violence on rightest business
people and former military officers. These
groups, the government claims, hope to
muster support for a military coup by
plunging the country into state of political
chaos.
Fey is an LSA senior.

The L.A. Times has called this escala-
tion in human rights violations "the worst
wave of political violence to strike
Guatemala since civilian President Vinicio
Cerezo Arevalo [a Christian Democrat]
took office nearly four years ago"
(9/26/89). While it is true that few
Guatemalans seriously expected Cerezo to

shirk this responsibility. Since the C.I.A.-
backed military coup in 1954, and with
the exception of a few years during the
Carter administration, the U.S. has con-
tinuously supplied the Guatemalan army
with money, arms, and advisors, regardless
of its human rights record. Despite Con-
gressional hopes that continued U.S. secu-

This present escalation in political violence is but one
episode in Guatemala's long history of systematized
repression against its people.

investigate past crimes committed by the
military, most had hoped that human
rights violations would end under civilian
rule. Three coup attempts in the past three
years and uncontrollable death squad activ-
ity testify to the Cerezo government's
failure to affect a successful transition to-
ward a democracy conducive to improve-
ments in the human rights situation.
The coups have also underscored the
transparency of the democratic face con-
cealing the true political and economic
force in Guatemala - the military elite. It
is this power, deeply divided itself over the
course which Guatemalan politics is to
take, which must accept responsibility for
the fear and violence which characterize
Guatemalan life.
It is our own government, however,
that enables the Guatemalan military to

rity assistance to Guatemala might em-
power the "democratic" civilian govern-
ment vis-h-vis the military, such aid has
actually weakened the civilian government
by demonstrating once again that eco-
nomic assistance does not hinge upon re-
spect for human rights.
This present escalation in political vio-
lence is but one episode in Guatemala's
long history of systematized repression
against its people. Since 1954, over
110,000 people have been assassinated and
40,000 disappeared for political reasons in
a country the size of Tennessee. Today at
7:30 pm in the Rackham Amphitheater,
Jean-Marie Simon, a consultant with
Americas Watch and Amnesty Interna-
tional and author of Guatemala: Eternal
Spring, Eternal Tyranny, will discuss
both the history and present state of hu-
man rights in Guatemala. It is time that
we stopped ignoring Guatemala.

Prisons
System discriminates against people of color
IT TOOK AN 11-MONTH HUNGER addition, a disproportionate number of
strike to get his case heard, but Rene people of color are locked up - this is
Acuna has at last been freed from particularly clarified by their numbers
prison. Acuna was arrested and con- on death row, where Blacks constitute
Victed in Macomb County for allegedly a majority.
standing guard at the end of an alley The problem with the prison sys-
while a drug deal was taking place. tem, made worse by the drug war, is
:After a trial that lasted less than an that sentences handed down correlate to
hour, and in which Acuna's court-ap- race, class and prison vacancies, not to
pointed lawyer did not offer an argu- the crime. The end result is that the
ment, he received a sentence of two life prisons are filled with many like Acuna
terms. - poor, non-white men and women
It seems that Acuna, who was born subjected to excessive terms which do
in Cuba, could not communicate that he not fit their crimes. While the drug war
had been arrested for the crime of loi- hype has resulted in the increase of
lering and had no knowledge of the sentence time handed down to those
crime with which he was charged. convicted, it is only following the U.S.
Acuna's case is an exceptional one tradition of targeting the disempowered
in that his conviction was overturned; for the ills that plague the whole of so-
not all people who have been wrongly ciety.
convicted have had similar luck. The Michigan Gov. James Blanchard
fact that he was a Latino in a white plans to triple prison capacity in the
neighborhood made him a prime target state -- but that is precisely the prob-
for police; the occurrence of a crime by lem. The erection of new prisons here
a group of Latinos nearby made him and throughout the United States
implicitly guilty to both the police and promises a continuation of the trend
the courts. which Acuna exemplifies. The prisons
As a result of the "war on drugs," that get built will be filled predomi-
prisons are fuller than ever. Since nantly by poor people and people of
1980, the number of prisoners in state color.
and federal prison has risen from If people like Acuna are to be pro-
300,000 to 675,000. The average fed- tected from wrongful imprisonment,
eral prison is filled 60 percent over ca- steps toward a a more fair and less dis-
pacity; California penitentiaries are op- criminatory justice system must be
werating at 175 percent of capacity. In taken.

1

Engler is not a sexist
To the Daily:
In Wednesday's editorial, "The Wrong
Man" (2/21/90), the Daily misinterpreted
Senator John Engler's campaign slogan,
"Just think what the right man could do."
His statement is meant to reflect on his
character rather than the gender of those
capable of handling the job.
Senator Engler is the "right man for
the job," as he is definitely not the "right
woman for the job." Perhaps it would
have been wiser for him to use the phrase,
"the right person for the job," but as it
stands, his slogan should not be construed
as an insult to the women of the State of
Michigan.
David Snearline
First-year Engineering student
Racism and sexism
are hurled too easily
To the Daily:
As I skimmed through Friday's Daily
(2/16/90), I could not help but notice once
again accusations of racism and sexism
that are so easily hurled around. First, I
read that democrats call Senator John En-
gler sexist for his slogan, "Just think what
the right man can do."
I don't know or care much about En-
gler, but I pity the guy. The phrase "right
man" has nothing to do with sexism.
After all, Mr. Engler is - horror of hor-
rors -- a man. He could have said "Just
think what the right homo sapiens can
do," but it definitely lacks some zip.
On the next page, I read Spike Lee's
sister's comments on the movie "Do the
Right Thing." Why wasn't he nominated
for an Academy Award? The white mem-
bers of the academy discriminated against
it, of course. Perish the thought that it
may not have been one of the five best
movies of the year!

proven guilty. However, when it comes to
issues of sexism and racism, many of us
assume guilt unless one can prove his/her
innocence. Real progress in these areas
will not come until this "witch-hunt" at-
mosphere disappears..
Rick Ostrander
LSA Senior
Nicaragua distorted
To the Daily:
The Feb. 19 editorial about Nicaragua
("U.S. policy threatens integrity of elec-
toral process") is so distorted it is not
worth considering as a serious opinion.
For starters there is the statement that says
that "the main risk is not the risk that the
ruling Sandinista party might abuse the
powers of incumbency... the real threat...
comes from United States interference."
Anyone remotely familiar with the
Nicaraguan situation considers the Sandin-
istas as more than an "incumbent party."
You must visualize a country where
there are no distinctions between the State
and the ruling party. The army, immigra-
tion, and most media including both TV
stations are controlled by the Sandinista
Front. It would be the equivalent of the
Republican Party having its own army and
totally controlling all federal bureaucra-
cies. Electing a Democrat in those circum-
stances would be pretty hard.
Then there is the question of the San-
dinistas "remarkable successes." That the
Nicaraguan economy showed high growth
rates is attributable to the cycle that had
started in the '70s at the height of the
Somoza regime's power. Most Sandinista
economic policies were a total disaster,
not hard to imagine due to the prominent
role Cuban and East Block advisors played
in the early years of the revolution.
The much-praised Land Reform pro-
gram was heading on a destructive collec-
tivist course. This trend was stopped
largely by the efforts of individual peas-

Sandinistas were actively providing train-
ing and weapons for the Salvadorans. That
has been documented in the 1981 State
Department White Paper, its 1982 revi-
sion, and further corroborated by Senator
Boland in 1985.
What the Sandinista's have gained from
this is a good question. If they were as
flexible as their supporters claimed, they
would have tried less to alienate the United
States, the major power in the hemi-
sphere. The only reason they are having
elections is that the United States pres-
sured them militarily and economically.
Manuel Olave
LSA sophomore
Review local bands
To the Daily:
I read the Daily every day, and I am
displeased with the Arts Section's lack of
attention paid to the local band scene.
Most of the reviews and profiles are of
unknown bands (at least to the masses)
that come to town for one night gigs at
semi-local clubs.
I rarely see any coverage of the bands
that rock Ann Arbor every single week A
la mission: impossible, The Difference,
The Iodine Raincoats, Frank Allison and
the Odd Sox, Anne B. Davis, etc.
The Daily is for students. Many of
these bands contain present or ex-Univer-
sity students. These bands are the bands
that students at the University follow. I
know this because I play in mission:
impossible.
It would be great to see a Daily sec-
tion concerning Ann Arbor campus
bands, profiles of them, and a list of
when they're playing that week. I think
that it would be a very positive addition
to the Daily, a student newspaper.
Dave Gould
LSA sophomore
Get rid of ugliness

MSU Trustees dumped
THE MSU BOARD OF TRUSTEES HAS
proven to the nation that nothing - from
integrity to affirmative action -- is more
important to the University than sports.
By asking George Perles to become
MSU's new athletic director, the Board
told everyone who works and studies at
this University that honesty and fairness
are not part of the process. Getting the big

everything for sports
we supported his stance - no one should
be his or her own boss in a University ca-
pacity.
The battle - an ugly one, waged re-
lentlessly in the state's media - was not
personal, but philosophical. DiBiaggio
was simply an obstacle in the road, and
the Trustees ran him over. In the process,
they have undermined his authority at this
;niversit.

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