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March 19, 1990 - Image 4

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1990-03-19

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Page 4 -The Michigan Daily - Monday, March 19, 1990

aE Lidjigan arIt
EDITED AND MANAGED BY STUDENTS
AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN
420 Maynard Street
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109

Viewpoint
Eating bugs for money could have possibilities as a TV show

ARTS
NEWS
OPINION

763 0379
764 0552
747 2814

PE IOTO
SPORTS
WEEKEND

764 0552
747 3336
747 4630

Dave
Barry,

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.

I

Democracy?

U.S. media skew the true meaning of freedom

WHAT IS DEMOCRACY? MOST PEO-
ple would include in their definition
some basic rights like free elections,
freedom of assembly, and the right to
express one's opinion without fear of
violent retaliation. Others would go
further and argue that real democracy
includes the right to meaningful partici-
pation in the decisions that affect one's
life - for example, at the work place.
The corporate-controlled media in
the United States, however, have
arrived at a much simpler definition:
democracy means the side favored by
the U.S. government is in power. This
definition has become increasingly
clear in the media's reporting of events
in Central America and elsewhere.
A recent New York Times article
(3/14/90) titled "Bush Urges Congress
to Act on Aid to New Democracies" il-
lustrates this definition. The "wobbly
new democracies" referred to in the
headline are Panama and Nicaragua.
Never mind that Panama is under mili-
tary occupation by a foreign power,
which has closed down radio stations
:and had trade union leaders fired from
their jobs. And Nicaragua is now a
"new democracy" because the candi-
date backed by 12.5 million U.S. dol-
lars won the elections. Nicaragua's
freely-contested and internationally-
monitored 1984 elections did not qual-
ify that nation as a "democracy" in
U.S. mediaspeak, because the "wrong"
party won.
The media are very consistent in ap-
plying this definition. El Salvador,
Guatemala, and Honduras are routinely
referred to as democracies, without
quotation marks. In El Salvador and
Guatemala, military forces routinely
murder political opponents of the gov-
ernment. The same is true for Hon-
duras, although the violence is on a
smaller scale, and the U.S. embassy

there has virtual veto power over presi-
dential decisions.
In keeping with this definition, the
Sandinistas are still being held to a very
high standard, much higher than even
that of our own country, to be judged
democratic. Thus it is not enough that
they have allowed foreign funding of
their opponents in the election (which
is illegal in the U.S.), moved the date
of the election up nine months, and
agreed to turn over power to the win-
ning party, including the ministries of
defense and the interior. They are now
being portrayed in the media as
"undemocratic" if they do not agree to
all of the constitutional changes neces-
sary to eliminate Sandinista influence in
the military.
But no one would expect a newly-
elected U.S. president to purge all of
the officers of our own military. And it
would be difficult, if not impossible,
for a new President to accomplish this
without having a two-thirds majority of
Congress. Violeta Chamorro's coali-
tion did not get the two-thirds of the
legislature that she would need to make
constitutional changes. She and her
U.S. financiers will just have to live
with this fact - after all, 41 percent of
the people voted for the Sandinistas. It
is hypocritical and irresponsible of the
U.S. media to deny the legitimacy of
the Sandinistas' position.
Ironically, the mainstream media's
definition of democracy in other coun-
tries reveals more about the nature of
our own democracy than anything else.
For without a press that is independent
of State Department manipulation and
corporate control, the ability of our
own citizens to even acquire the infor-
mation that would be necessary to their
participation in a democratic political
life is extremely limited.

There comes a time in the life of ever
American citizen when Duty calls. "Hey
YOU!!" are Duty's exact words, and unles
you're some kind of flag-desecrating pe
vert, you're going to stand up, as American
have stood up for more than 200 years, an
you're going to say, "Yes, I will participa
in the Arbitron television-ratings survey.
I answered The Call one recent afte
noon. The phone rang, and it was a
person informing me that I had been
selected to be an Arbitron household
based on an exhaustive screening
process consisting of being home
when my number was dialed at ran-
dom. As you can imagine, I was
deeply moved.
"Do I get money?" I asked.
The reason I asked this is that a
couple of years ago I was a Nielson
ratings household, and all they paid
me was two lousy dollars, yet they
wanted me to write down EVERY
PROGRAM I WATCHED, which
was virtually impossible because I'm
a guy and biologically capable of
keeping track of huge numbers of
programs simultaneously by chang-
ing the channel the instant some-
thing boring happens, such as dia-
logue. Whereas women, because of
a tragic genetic flaw, feel compelled
to watch only ONE PROGRAM AT
A TIME, the way people did back in
the Middle Ages, before the inven-
tion of remote control.
Anyway, it turns out that $2 is
also all you get for being an Arbitron
household. But, I agreed to be one
anyway, because, let's face it, when
anybody connected with the televi-
sion industry asks you to do some-
thing, no matter how stupid or de-
grading it is, you do it. This is why
people are willing to openly discuss
their secret bodily problems in com-
mercials that are seen by the entire natio
These people become FAMOUS for havin
secret bodily problems. When they go outt
dinner, large celebrity-worshiping crow
gather to stare and point and whisper exci
edly to each other, "Look! It's Elston
Quadrant, Hemorrhoid Sufferer!"
At least these people get paid, whichi
more than you can say for the people who g
on the syndicated TV talk shows and seekt
enhance public understanding of variou
Dave Barry's column will be a weekly fe
lure in the Daily beginning today.

ry
ss
r-
ns
te
r-

AR51T~oN
LOG
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tragic psychological disorders by candidly
revealing that they are total wackmobiles
("I'm Geraldo Rivera, and these men are
commercial-airline pilots with live trout in
their shorts.").
So I figured the least I could do, for
television, was be an Arbitron household.
This involves two major responsibilities:
1. Keeping track of what you watch on
TV.
2. Lying about it.
At least that's what I did. I imagine most
people do. Because let's face it: Just because
you watch a certain show on television, that
doesn't mean you want to ADMIT it. Let's
say you're flipping through your8,479 cable
channels, and you come across a program

$20,000.
My point is that you'd watch this pro-
gram, but you wouldn't tell Arbitron. You'd
claim that you watched a National Geo-
graphic special with a name like "The
Amazir.g World of Beets." In my Arbitron
diary, I wrote that our entire household
(including Earnest, who is, legally, a dog)
mainly watched the network news, whereas
in fact the only remotely educational pro-
gramming we watched that week was a
commercial for oat bran, which by the way
is clearly no more intended for human con-
sumption than insects are.
Speaking of which, here is a Late Bulle-
tin: My wife - this is the wonderful thing
about Free Enterprise - has considered

i

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Ig
to
ds
t-
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is
go
to
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a-

1990 Tribune Media Services, Inc.
All Rights Reserved
called "Eat Bugs For Money," wherein they
bring out a large live insect, and the contest-
ants secretly write down the minimum
amount of money they would have to be
given to eat it, and whichever one has the
lowest bid has to actually do it. Admit it:
YOU would watch this program. In fact,
right now you're saying to yourself, "Hey, I
wonder what channel that's on." Unfortu-
nately, at present it's still in the conceptual
stage. It's based on an idea from my editor,
Gene Weingarten, who has publicly stated
that he would eat a live adult South Florida
cockroach (average weight:11pounds) for

Gene Weingarten's bid and announced that
SHE would eat a live adult cockroach for
just $2,000. If you sincerely feel you can
beat that price, drop me a linec/o The Miami
Herald, Miami, FL 33132, because I'd like
to produce a pilot episode of "Eat Bugs For
Money" with an eye toward - call me a
Cultural Pioneer -advancing the frontiers
of my income. I would also appreciate your
lowest price on eating a nonpoisonous but
hair-covered spider. Thank you.
©1990 The Miami Herald
Distributed by Tribune Media Services, Inc.

CVictimizing
Disabled deserve compensation for discrimination

THOUGH THE BUSH ADMINISTRA-
tion has strongly supported a bill in the
Senate to extend civil rights protections
to 43 million Americans with disabili-
ties, it is now backing away from ef-
forts to toughen the punishment of
businesses that don't comply. A new
bill has been introduced in both the
House and the Senate that would
toughen the penalties provided in the
Civil Rights Act of 1964 to allow for
compensatory and punitive damages, a
measure which would effect disability
legislation as well. Senior officials in
the Bush administration have threat-
ened to withdraw support for the dis-
abilities bill if its backers continue to
seek penalties for job discrimination
that are harsher than those now pro-
vided for in the Civil Rights Act.
If passed in its current form, the
Americans With Disabilities Act would
mandate that all new buildings used by
the general public provide disabled
people with access; further, existing
businesses would be required to make
modifications to buildings if the
changes can be made without creating a
financial burden. The bill would also
require trains and buses, both public
and private, to be accessible to people

with disabilities, and would force
phonedcompanies to provide public
telephones that can be used by those
with speech and hearing impairments.
The White House and Senate Re-
publicans have agreed to support the
bill if its backers agree to link penalty
provisions to those in the 1964 civil
rights law. But proponents of the bill
are seeking to provide recourse for dis-
abled people in cases of willful job dis-
crimination, and shouldn't be limited
by the constraints of other laws.
Instead of trying to weaken the de-
mands made by the bill's backers, the
Bush administration should support in-
creased punishment for discriminatory
businesses. All victims of such dis-
crimination should be allowed to sue
for punitive and cormpensatory dam-
ages.
The Civil Rights Law of 1990 was
introduced in Congress with the back-
ing of numerous civil rights organiza-
tions, which include groups represent-
ing people with disabilities. This law
would allow victims of discrimination
to sue for monetary awards. It is time
to recognize the severity of the burden
placed on people with disabilities and
to strengthen their legal rights.

Arab stereotypes need to be fought.

By Dina Khoury
Suppose a survey were conducted of
University of Michigan students to deter-
mine their attitudes towards Blacks, both
African-American and African. Suppose
that roughly one-quarter to one-third of the
respondents said that Blacks in general
were violent or prone to crime. Among
any enlightened university community,
such results should be met with alarm and
despair.
Such a survey was recently conducted
on campus, but instead of testing student
attitudes about Blacks, the survey was
concerned with Arabs. Roughly 90 percent
of those responding agreed that Arabs were
both intelligent or competent and hard-
working or diligent.
And roughly 90 percent disagreed with
the statement "Arabs are unclean."
However, a core group ranging from 20-35
percent of the respondents consistently
agreed with negative statements such as
"Arabs are terrorists," "Arabs are warlike,"
and "Arabs hate Jews."
While these statements might cause
other ethnic groups to bristle, the Arab-
American Anti-Discrimination Committee
(ADC), the group conducting the poll,
was somewhat encouraged by the results.
Khoury is an LSA junior.

The figures represent an improvement
over broader surveys conducted in the past.
However, we remain deeply concerned that
approximately 30 out of every 100 people
on this campus continue to believe in
these racist stereotypes. This can only
breed further tension on campus.
The ADC conducted the survey to de-
termine what stereotypes are most preva-
lent among University students and there-
fore in what ways we must educate the
community to help end these stereotypes.
The survey was conducted by phone and
the respondents were chosen at random
from the University student directory.
The students were provided with
statements and were asked to agree or
disagree with each statement. After
compiling raw percentages, we correlated
various statements to show significant
tendencies among the respondents replies.
Our goal is to humanize Arabs in the
face of traditionally dehumanizing media
portrayals. To have 20-35 percent of those
polled holding such negative attitudes to-
wards Arabs in an educated community is
unacceptable. In order for us to move for-
ward to an atmosphere of greater tolerance,
we must strive to understand one another
rather than condemn in ignorance.

Anti-Arab stereotyping is not a new
phenomenon or on unto itself. Rather, it
is deeply embedded in the ever-present
intolerance of societies against those who
are different.
Education provides the best path to-
wards the dismantling of stereotypes.
March 19-23 marks Michigan's Arab-
American Awareness Week, first declared
by Governor Blanchard in 1988. Through-
out the state, various activities will honor
will Arab-Americans and their contribu-
tions to American society.
In Ann Arbor, the Center for Near
Eastern and North African Studies will
present a conference entitled: "Confronting
the Past: A Century of Arab-American
Experience." Four panel discussions and a
poetry reading will take place Friday,
March 23, in Rackham Amphitheater be-
ginning at 9 am.
For further information, please contact
the Center in room 144 Lane Hall. In
addition, the ADC wild sponsor a lecture
by University of Chicago Sociology
Professor John Woods on Arab
Stereotypes in the media. The lecture will
take place in room 132 Hutchins Hall of
the Law School at 7 pm. Everyone is
welcome.

I

1

GREAT MOMEHTS IN UISTORY

I

I

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VNOLy oW!~FgMFo ECTIONS
f r~~u t1U.S _R~s~

Perkins ignores issues
To the Daily:
I would like to nominate History Prof.
Bradford Perkins for the "pompous ass"
award for 1990. His letter (2/13/90) im-
nlorinp' the former Daily Oninion Page ed-

Regental by-laws by refusing to recognize
student representatives and illegally ap-
pointing members.
Rosenthal has expressed his hostil-
ity to the Daily in the media. He has re-
cruited professors for the Board who have
also shown previous hostility to the

other well-documented incidents raised by
the former editors but rather dismisses
them as "paranoid" and "wallowing in self-
pity." It is interesting that he mentions, in
an attempt to disparage the former editors,
the Daily of "long ago," which he notes .
"was an effective voice of protest."

I

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