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April 04, 1996 - Image 13

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1996-04-04

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Zbe 3idllan Bali

Roses Are Read
oesn't it offend you to be
called a racist?" a friend
asked me this week.
Uh, yes, actually.
I have been called a lot of names in
my lifetime. Most were trivial insults
'the "geek"-"loser"-"dork" variety.
is week, protesters have added
"racist" to the mix, claiming that The
Michigan Daily systematically
discriminates against minorities.
Well. Having been in charge of this
system, I am more than a little
insulted by the accusation. But not
surprised. There is a certain contin-
gent of people on this campus that
likes to protest, and a certain contin-
St that likes to find fault with
a ything and everything in the Daily.
When those two forces collide,
accusations fly across the Diag.
When I saw that the president-elect
of the College Republicans was
protesting alongside members of
Alianza, I realized that we have truly
managed to piss everybody off.
Or have we?
The situation's preposterousness
brings its legitimacy into question. Is
*ossible for the Daily to hold
'ibera viewpoints," as the aforemen-
tioned College GOP man claimed,
and also to "censor people of color,"
as another protester argued?
I wonder how many political issues
these people agree on. I also wonder
if it matters. Calling the Daily a
bastion of liberal viewpoints is one
thing. Throwing around accusations
'racism is quite another story -
that threatens to belittle more
serious racial problems.
If you accuse a newspaper of
institutional racism because of a
quote or a cartoon, perceptive people
who read that same newspaper are
going to raise their eyebrows. And
they may raise them again if you
accuse a police officer of beating you
because of the color of your skin -
even if that charge is warranted.
veryone has the right to protest,
ut not everyone is right to protest.
It says something that some people
are more concerned with a Daily
cartoonist's opposition to affirmative
action than the presumptive nominee
of the Republican Party's opposition
to that same social initiative. And
holding that view doesn't make either
man a racist. If we are going to define
racism as being opposed to affirma-
*e action, then are we going to
define drug addicts as people who
believe marijuana should be legal-
Besides, some would note that The
Michigan Daily has on numerous
occasions come out in support of
affirmative action. Should the Daily
insist that its columnists and cartoon-
ists all share the same political views
as its editorial board?
I'm not going to waste your time
Oking about the steps that have been
taken to increase the number of
minorities at the Daily. Critics will
argue that these steps were not
enough - and they may be right. But
there is a huge difference between
being racist and not doing as much as
you can to increase the number of
minorities in your workplace.
Members of Alianza opposed the
ily's use of an anonymous quote in
ich a member of their group was
alleged to have stolen 8,700 Dailys

last week. Fair enough. But now that
the accuser has come forward and the
accused has been named, will those
same protesters try to find out if the
thief is in fact a member of their
Racism is an immense problem in
our society, but it is not as dangerous
ehreat to our freedom as the
triction of speech. Without free
public discourse, social progress is
impossible, and racism (not to
mention sexism and classism and
homophobia) cannot be challenged.
Without free public discourse, we
would have no integration, or voting
rights laws, or minimum wage. These
social improvements, once the beliefs
of a vocal minority, are now accepted
# an important and necessary
mponents of life in the United
States. Come to think of it, without
free public discourse, there would be
no United States.
The freedom to air unpopular views
has been more valuable to this
country than any social program or

Ginsberg, Patti Smith to perform at Hill Auditorium
By James Wilson, Daily Books Editor

Patti Smith will Join Allen Ginsberg at Hill Auditorium tomorrow nigh'

Allen Ginsberg, whose influences range from Bob Dylan to Walt Whitman, captures life and spirituality in his poetry.

U.S. is 'beat' in the sense of realizing that the era of
American imperialism and prosperity is over. The decline
of empire begins and people have to adjust to that." Thus,
the proclamations of Ginsberg, Gary Snyder and his other
contemporaries have, to some extent, proved true.
Ginsberg will give further examples of his politics when
he reads his new poem "The Ballad of The Skeletons." It is
a rock'n'roll poem that will be publicly set to music for the
first time at Hill. The poem is intended to eventually be
recorded and released as a single.
He was quick, when asked, to trace the origin of music in
his poetry. Unlike your typical singing poet, Ginsberg can
claim his composing began with lessons from Bob Dylan.
"When I started writing songs (in 1968) ... Dylan taught
me three-chord blues form ... (laughs) It was.really simple-
minded, I didn't know anything about what I was doing
except that I liked to sing in the shower like everybody
else." Ginsberg went on to compose music for William
Blake's "Songs of Innocence and Experience" and eventu-
ally to record with such bands as The Clash. The results of
this can be found in his CD collection, released last year,
titled "Holy Soul Jelly Roll: Poems & Songs 1949-1993."
But Ginsberg's work is hardly limited to songs and
lyrics. The reading at Hill will demonstrate his prowess at

Allen Ginsberg, poet laureate of the Beat Genera-
tion, comes to Hill Auditorium April 5 for the
third year in a row, to do a benefit reading for
Jewel Heart, a Tibetan Buddhist organization. In addition to
the reading, Ginsberg will be signing copies of his books
(including a newly released edition of "Journals Mid-Fifties
1954-1958") at Shaman Drum Book Shop on April 6.
The reading comes at the end of an extensive tour through
Europe, where translations of his most recent book, "Cos-
mopolitan Greetings," have been published. His tour through

sense of distance was most clear. He does not simply trace
the movements of the political world in even his most
political poetry. "It's more a picture of my own mind,
really. You know, I might have sex, politics, meditation,
metaphysical stuff, intimate thoughts, worst-case worries
about who Iam, how I'll die and how I'm living on my mind
... On the other hand, like any normal person, politics goes
through my head."
While never completely losing his detachment, Ginsberg
is more than willing to give his honest opinion on the state

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