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November 30, 1990 - Image 16

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1990-11-30
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No guns, no cops, no
code... No war?

The recent explosion of student
protest against the administration
around the issue of deputization had a
direct impact on another campus
event: the teach-in on the Persian
The drive toward war in the
Middle East, with all of its moral
contradictions and policy ambiguities,
and the subsequent teach-in to
address it, in turn contribute to the
activist atmosphere which has thus far
centered around deputization.
While a debate rages over the
question of whether or not the
deputization movement should be
addressing a wider variety of related
social issues - repression of students
in other countries, police brutality
generally, the war and University
military research contributions to it,
etc. - the decision to "make
connections" has already been made
by students themselves.
"The connections are clearly there
and need to be made," says Corey
Dolgon, chair of the Students' Rights
Commission, and deputization is "a
good way to start making those
"For once we have an issue that
we have incredibly broad-based
support for," he says. "Campus
democracy - the students should be
part of this debate."

Students are affected by the
outcome of the conflict whether they
oppose deputization as a further
infringement on free speech by the
University, or as one more reason for
tuition increases. The involvement of
students in the University decision-
making process is relevant to
students of all political persuasions.
The University is still unlikely to
back down on its decision to further
arm and deputize its police force.
But there is a good chance that local
elected officials, especially the city I
and the sheriff, will be able to use
the student movement to further 1
limit University plans which they
have objected to all along. And the
administration is making noise about
spending more time with students,
even possibly creating a police review
board with student representation.
These are in themselves victories
for the students who organized and
participated in the No Code
movement. But we are still a long way
from a democratic campus.
Enter the war.
I don't believe that thousands of
students have stood up to voice their
opposition to the University because
they oppose deputization and feel
that reversing the decision to
deputize campus safety will complete

the construction of a perfect society.
That issue was the catalyst, but the
conditions for a return of student
activism have their origins in conflicts
ranging from the neglect of AIDS
treatment by the University and
government to the greenhouse effect
to the threat of hundreds of
thousands of deaths in the Persian
Gulf area.
English Professor Bert Hornback,
an organizer of the teach-in last week,
was surprised by the turnout at the
"I think we all were," he said. "I
was hoping we'd
get 500. We ended
up getting
between 1,500 and
So, despite the
University's (and
sometimes our
" " own) best
attempts to
Cohen squelch critical
thinking, the
wondrous ability of the student mind
to make connections has once again
Students learn lessons from our
own movements more directly than
from the annals of history, which are
chock full of them. So anti-war
protests and civil rights activism in
the 60s brought students into the
political arena, but it was only at the
end of the 60s - as the Vietnam War
raged on and the great liberal leaders
fell or were felled - that many
students broadened their horizons.
In 1970, one million enrolled
students reported that they

considered themselves
revolutionaries. One member of the
national student activist group
Students for a Democratic Society
(sDS) quoted in 1968, by Ronald
Fraser, said the group "went from
being students with a moral vision to
realizing we were up against the
heaviest power structure in the world.
We were seeing blacks that we
associated with killed by the
government. It was life or death
And after Robert Kennedy's
assassination in 1968, former SDS
President Carl Oglesby asked, "What
do you do?... do it all over again
while the people are dying in
Vietnam and how many other
countries? That's why people started
talking about revolution, because
reform had been made to seem like a
dead-end street. How many times do
you climb that tree just to have it
chopped down beneath you?"
All this is by no means to suggest
that revolution is prevalent in the
minds of most members of the
campus democracy movement - or
even that it necessarily will be as the
movement progresses. But there is a
war of major historical significance
waiting to break out (Panama was
unleashed over Christmas break -
remember?) and unless I miss my
guess, students will once again
provide the rank and file of the initial
oppositional response. And that's
something the latest campus
democracy movement will have
contributed to, even as the war's
approach may have helped stop the


o n the Arabian P e n i n s u l a

could n
bag pla
CBS or i
a millio
name o

When the leaders speak ofp
The common folk know,
That war is coming.
When the leaders curse war
The mobilization order isa
written out.
- Be
There was a tremendou
drama and impending doo
news this week. World lea
being crushed like twigs, a
and Hussein were snarling
another like gamecocks. T
are finally finished - "Dui
on the ranch, reading his
autobiography, and marvel
detail and Margaret Thatc
the House of Lords, to dro
among her own kind.
I called Dublin to hear d
to Thatcher's demise. Myc
Barry Murphy said that in
London, people were
weeping wretchedly, and
cursing Heseltine and his
bawdy friends; but in
Dublin, they were
cheering like Eagles fans
at the Superbowl, and
buying pints of Guinness f

peace, assembled troops that Saddam might
not give in to the sanctions, and that's
where they came in - donating their
r, lives and limbs, as it were. They
already cheered him, for reasons that remain
unclear, but Bush owes the Saudis for
more than expensive oil -the Saudi
rtolt Brecht royal family kindly donated money to
the contras when Congress was being
s sense of obstreperous about opening the u.s.
m in the coffers for ammo funds.
ders were Dan Rather, meanwhile, was
.nd Bush streaking around the desert floor in
at one his Banana Republic 'Safari Traveler'
he eighties Jacket, looking increasingly unstable.
itch" is off He interviewed a few soldiers who
said that all they wanted was to go
[ling at the home to their families, but Rather
her is off to wanted none of it. He was more
ol and froth interested in the flyboys who were
refuelling the fighter planes, and
he reaction reloading the Sidewinder missiles.
old friend They ran a mock reload for the
cameras, and Rather got
so excited that he
practically volunteered

things, like fast machinery, sunshine
and highly amplified rock'n'roll
music. It looks like a fairly good gig at
the moment, but you can be sure that
Bush won't be spending Spring Break
in the Gulf.
Hussein is a strange piece of work.
Being so skeptical of anything that
appears in the media that I scarcely

believe what I write myself, I tend
not to believe that Hussein is as
crazed as the government (and thus,
the media) would have us believe. He
has a fine oratorial touch, reminiscent
of the Book of Revelations, and his
people seem to like him; but his
public relations people aren't up to
scratch. Hussein's penchant for


or total


Milii Vanilli for President

A month or so ago, the world, or
at least those who purport to speak for
it, was shocked when it was revealed
that pop band Milli Vanilli's concerts
were pre-recorded. More recently,
nine-year-olds across the globe have
been traumatized by the admission
that the duo did not even sing on
their own album.
As for me, I'm pleased as punch.
When the first scandal hit, I felt left
out, since at that point in time I had
never heard a Milli Vanilli song. Now,
thanks to the later revelations, I can
be one of the crowd again, since no
one has heard a Milli Vanilli song.
Still, not everyone is as good-natured
as I am, and quite a few of them are
plenty pissed. For example, whoever
it is that gives out the Grammy
awards evidently does not appreciate
the Zen beauty of all this, and has
revoked the pairs Best New Artist
prize for 1989.
Well, if there ever was a case of
an inappropriate response, this is it.
Milli Vanilli deserves a Grammy. In
fact, they should be given a special
award for Most Exemplary Artists of
the 1980s. So what if they were
nothing but a tool in the hands of
faceless producers and engineers
trying to appeal to the lowest
common denominator? All that

demonstrates is that, more than
anyone else, Milli Vanilli felt the
zeitgeist of the Reagan era. Indeed, I
can think of no experience more like
that of listening to Milli Vanilli than
that of hearing a television image
tell me that not only did it not know
of an arms-for-hostages trade, but
that there was no arms-for-hostages
trade. If that was the case, then the
administration might well have
traded Milli Vanilli records for
hostages. Except that there were no
Milli Vanilli records back then.
Except that there never were
any Milli Vanilli records, period.
Oh, dear.I
The funny thing is, Reagan
was undoubtedly being completely
honest, since he no more wrote his
own speeches than Milli Vanilli sang
their own songs. Every word Reagan
said, like every phrase Milli Vanilli
lip-synched, was put together by the
aforementioned faceless producers
and engineers trying to appeal to the
lowest common denominator. For all
I know, they were put together by the
same faceless producers and
engineers trying to appeal to the
lowest common denominator. It
wouldn't surprise me. Both groups
had the same knack for producing
vacuous hit singles.


Don't get me wrong. I'm not the
least bit happy about this. As a
Romantic, I would much prefer to
believe that these mysm i us Yance-
me- behind the scenes were part of
some ancient cabal
that used people
like Reagan and
Kennedy as fronts
for their power and
put subliminal
messages into Top
40 songs. But I
simply can't. The
producers are just
average Joes, trying
Va I r to sell their product
from 9 to 5 before
going home to
watch television. Whatever successful
conspiracies there are out there are no
different from any other business;
they're just more covert. I'm sure that
the Nazi Party's inner sanctum's
conversations weren't all that
different from the talk you hear in the
back of a supermarket, except that
when Joseph Mengele asked how
many units they had moved that day,
he was nonchalantly inquiring as to
the number of innocents the State
had put to death. The people who
choreographed a Nuremburg rally

were undoubtedly more concerned
with crowd control than with the
archetypes they were invoking. And,
if I may briefly speak from a moral
vacuum, they did a good job. Hitler
stayed at the top of the charts for 12
years, which is a pretty good record,
especially considering that, unlike
Reagan and Milli Vanilli, he played
his own instruments.
Still, it was the 1980s that saw
the faceless production business at its
peak. To this day, most people still
believe that Reagan cut taxes, that
Reagan trimmed government
spending, that Reagan brought
freedom to Central America, that
Reagan was a great defender of family
values, that Reagan had the ability to
speak in complete sentences without
the assistance of a trained
professional. How this tax-hiking,
free-spending, dictatorship-
supporting divorce's producers
managed that is beyond my
comprehension. Not everyone is so
talented. Look at Walter Mondale or
Michael Dukakis. Both of them were
every bit as much the product of a
team of speechwriters and polltakers
as R.R. was, but to this day they
remain about as successful as New
Coke. Still, the fact that they were as
open as they were about having their

strings pulled - I can still remember
Time doing a profile of the person
who wrote Mondale's "where's the
beef' gag - puts them squarely
within the 80s tradition.
I probably shouldn't try to
speculate as to what actually goes on
behind the scenes. The possibilities
are endless. Was Ronald Reagan
really president for eight years, or was
he, as the Church of the SubGenius
suggests, replaced by a clone after the
real McCoy dropped out to join a
punk band? If he did leave the
presidency to pursue a musical career,
is it possible that it was his voice that
was used on the Milli Vanilli record?
And how do we know that all those
people dying of AIDS aren't really
the victims of that swine flu epidemic
Ford was so up in arms about a
decade and a half ago? Do we know?
More importantly, do we care?
Probably not, at least so far as
most of us are concerned. Which may
be for the best. It certainly makes the
producers' jobs easier for them, and I
will not begrudge them the results of
their labor. After all, they mean us no
harm, so long as we are accurately
reflected by the Nielsens. It's only
the people without television sets
who have to be careful.

But enough about Thatcher. She
will not be missed, and John Major,
the ignorant young yahoo from
Brixton will not make it past the next
election. The real excitement was
going on at points far east, on the
Arabian peninsula, where George
Bush was 'visiting' American troops.
Bush did not look happy - he had
spent the previous three months
calling Hussein a dangerous sot, and
he was prancing nervously around the
desert within easy reach of the Iraqi
missiles. Some called it brave, but
wiser minds knew that Bush was
paying his respects, and getting the
hell out before the bomb doors
The American public has at best a
dim understanding of the crisis, but
they aren't getting any help from the
media. Liberals are not sure who to
blame, and conservative
commentators are so divided that
even the normally witless Vice
President recognized a "Buchanan-
Safire" split.
It was even harder to tell the
villains apart on television. Col.
Quadaffi at least had the decency to
dress like our image of a blood-crazed
fiend, but Saddam was striding
around Baghdad in a three-piece suit
from Saville Row, looking like Merill
Lynch's Middle Eastern Portfolio
Manager. Bush was dressed in a golf
outfit of some sort, telling the

on-camera to fly a night-
time raid on Baghdad,
[19, where Muhammad Ali
I was roaming the streets,
preaching peace to
anyone who would listen.
On NBC, a soldier was explaining
earnestly that he was there to defend
Kuwait, and the higher principles of
democracy and human rights. There
was a cruel irony in all of this,
considering that the deposed Emir of
Kuwait was a raving slut worse than
Caligula or Hugh Hefner who took
himself a new wife every week, and
almost accidentally married his own
daughter last year. Foreigners were
allowed to work in Kuwait for a
couple of months, and then tossed
back into the sands before they got
uppity. The Kuwaiti royal family was
never a flagbearer of participative
democracy, and when the Iraqis came
crashing over the border, the Royals
bagged all the gold bullion, froze
their bank accounts, and fled -
leaving Saddam a country which,
economically, was about as useful as
tits on a bull.
The American troops are facing a
war that bears few similarities to
Vietnam. An old friend of mine who
fought in Vietnam swore that were it
not for drugs, he would never have
lasted. Many a night on patrol, he
would toss his M16 into the
undergrowth and smoke off a big
chunk of Saigon red, while the guns
boomed around him. But there will
be no hiding in the desert.
The troops on the Arabian
peninsula are being denied some of
life's necessities - beer and sex -
although they have plenty of other



WEEKEND November 30, 1990


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