The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current, October 23, 1987, Page 4, Image 4

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    Editorial_ —
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
I Mike Reilley, Editor, 4721766
Jeanne Bourne, Editorial Page Editor
Jann Nyffeler, Associate News Editor
Scott Harrah, Night News Editor
Joan Rezac, Copy Desk Chief
Linda Hartmann, Wire Editor
Charles Lieurance, Asst. A & E Editor
Reagan uncharitable
Gifts to poor must be counted as income
Twice recently the Re
agan administration has
shown its lack of con
cern forthe less-fortunate mem
bers of the nation it is supposed
to govern.
Many elderly, blind and dis
abled people who receive help
from charitable organizations
will get smaller welfare checks
because of a new Reagan ad
ministration policy.
Welfare recipients now must
count free food, shelter, fire
wcxxl and clothing as income.
The policy, which w as not pub
licly announced, ttxik effect
Oct. 1, the New York Times
“For every bag of groceries
we give these p<x>r people, the
government will reduce their
benefit checks,” Sharon M.
Daly ofThe U S. Catholic Con
ference told The Associated
Press. “The more we help these
people through local parish pro
grams, the poorer they will be."
Charitable organizations
such as those set up through
churches have meant to supple
ment the meager incomes of
welfare recipients. Now those
programs will work against the
people they aim to help.
Also, the Reagan administra
tion has opposed a congres
sional proposal to pay for Medi
care recipients’ major prescrip
tion dmg costs. Under the pro
posal, part of a catastrophic
health care bill, Medicare would
pay 80 percent of elderly and
disabled patients’ drug bills af
tcra $7(X)annual deductible, AP
reported. Medicare now covers
at-home drug costs only for
organ transplant patients.
Meanwhile, the administra
tion has requested S270 million
for the Contras in Nicaragua.
Reagan’s administration is
reluctant to help poor folks at
home, but it is all too willing
overeager, even - to shell out
money lor “peace-seeking” reb
els at war in a foreign country.
DN urges Massengale
to lift silence on office
r ■ i ne uduy in coras Kan ap
| plauds University of
^ Ncbraska-Lincoln
Chancellor Manin Massengale
for saying that officials in the
UNL Office of Scholarships and
Financial Aid arc free to talk
with the media.
Flowever, Massengale
wasn’t clear on whether he
removed a restriction requiring
Vice Chancellor for Student
Affairs James Gricsen be pres
ent when anyone in the office
spoke to reporters. Gricsen
made the request early this
Massengale encouraged the
media to interview “manage
ment” ratherthan regular staff in
order to give workers more lime
to help students. However, a DN
reporter who attempted to inter
view William McFarland, di
rector of financial aid, on Mon
day, was told that Gricsen had U
be present.
Placing a restriction of any
kind on a person’s freedom of
speech isadirect violationof the
First Amendment, no matter
what the circumstances.
There’s more to this mess
than just dealing with the media.
It’s a saga of misinformation
between the administration and
one of its main offices on cam
pus. A recent accreditation re
port revealed that UNL’s central
administration suffered from
communication problems
and this case is a classic ex
The administration has
drawn heat through a student
circulated petition requesting
improvements in the office.
About 1,000 students sig jJ the
In the wake of the petition,
several members of the media
nave interviewee students, ad
ministrators and financial aid
office workers to keep readers
posted on what’s going on.
Massengalc has said Griesen
needs to be present during inter
views to provide more informa
tion. That’s hogwash. Reporters
are intelligent enough to get
both sides of the story. They
don’t need an administrator to
make sure they do.
A good example of respon
sible reporting of the financial
aid office problems ran in the
DN last week. Reporter Lee
Rood interviewed Larry Apcl,
assistant director of the finan
cial aid office, and then talked to
Griesen. She didn’t interview
them at the same time, and their
comments contradicted each
Griesen said the administra
tion has done everything it can
to appropriate extra funds and
search for additional space for
the office.
However, Apcl said the ad
ministration hasn’t done
“We’ve pushed for changes
for years and years and years,’’
Apcl said, “and we’ve watched
other people get improvements,
while we slay the way we arc. 1
feel like we’re the plague.”
The story was objective re
porting. Both sources had an
equal chance to present their
perspective of the situation
without interruption by another
parly. In short, the story was
reported fairly.
U.S. Supreme Court Justice
Byron R. White has said, “It is
the purpose of the First Amend
ment to preserve an uninhibited
marketplace of ideas in which
truth will ultimately prevail.”
And UNL needs to keep that
communication flowing freely.
Welcome to the new Borscht
Columnist: 'Commies who don't act like 'commies' main US. threat
Many years ago there was a
best-selling book called
“You Can Trust the Commu
behind this seemingly redundant title
was that the commies might be a
treacherous, cowardly, bloodthirsty
lot, but they were also so thoroughly
politically conditioned that their ac
tions were easily predictable to the
informed observer.
For years the right-wingers have
taken comfort in this belief. “Yeah,
them commies are tricky, but we
know what they’re really up to.”
But now the Soviet Union is being
run by Mikhail Gorbachev.
All bets are off.
It’s no wonder Gorbachev scares
conservatives. Since he tookofficc, he
• moved to shift the arms race into
• allowed more dissidcncc and de
bate in the arts and media than the
Soviet Union has seen before;
• eased the pressure on organized
The man simply refuses to act like
a commie.
“It’s a trick,” the panicking hawks
cry. “It must be a trick.”
If it’s a trick, then it’s a mighty
good one. A big part of Gorbachev’s
doctrine of glasnost (openness) is to
allow the foreign press more access to
the common Soviet people. As far as
hard-nosed, suspicious Western jour
nalists can tell, and as far as the even
more suspicious Soviet people can
tell, Gorbachev is making genuine,
wide-sweeping changes in Soviet
I am scared of Gorbachev, but 1
don ’ t th ink he’s pull ing any sort of con
job on the Soviet people or the leaders
of the “free world.” 1 think Gorbachev
is a brilliant and honorable man. And
that makes him much more dangerous
than a con artist.
The term “honorable politician”
has, at best, a very limited definition.
S ince the art of world politics consists
mostly of lying, cheating, stealing and
killing, an honorable politician is
simply a politician who only lies,
cheats, steals and murders for the
benefit of the slate, rather than for
personal gain or in pursuit 01 ideologi
cal fancies.
Honorable politicians can only be
called statesmen when they have
Gorbachev’s genius for negotiation
and his almost uncanny ability to in
troduce radical reforms that
strengthen, not weaken, his power
base. And statesmen make dangerous
The United Slates used to have
statesmen at the helm. Roosevelt and
Kennedy were the last real statesman
presidents. But now we have Ronald
Reagan, with his knee-jerk aggression
and his party-line platitudes instead of
policy. Next year Reagan will be re
placed by any one of a number of
weak-willed, faceless party ciphers.
Gorbachev, a young man by the
standards of world leaders, could
remain in power for another 10,20,30
years, and who would sUtnd against
McCubbin .>•;
I don’t know whether Gorbachev
wants to lake over the world. I doubt
that he docs. But he’s certainly inter
ested in seeing that the United Slates
is not an obstacle to the growth of
Soviet political, ideological and eco
nomic influence.
What are we to do? If we oppose
Gorbachev actively, he’s smart
enough to outmaneuver us and make a
fuss that will completely obliterate
whatever ragged shreds of interna
tional credibility the United States has
left after the Reagan years.
If we lake a conciliatory attitude,
make friends with the Soviets, then
soon Gorbachev will be leading us by
the nose. The non-violent Soviet take
over from “Amerika” that seemed so
absurd a year ago now begins to look
like an ominous prophecy.
We’ll probably do what we’ve
been doing — dither, protest and
vacillate while step by step the Soviets
gam uswuu^iiv^y i7ii uie wuuu scene.
Of course, these days it’s hard to
tell whether things would really be
worse under the Soviets. Sure, they’re
still in Afghanistan, but we’re still in
Honduras. They still won’t let the
Jews out, but we won’t let the Mexi
cans in. There you can’t invite a friend
to church, but here you can’t mention
religion in a high-school textbook.
But I do love my country, and 1
don’t want to leave it. I’ve grown up
reaping the benefits that go with being
a citizen of the most prosperous,
powerful country in the world, and I
don’t want to lose them.
And 1 still sincerely believe that
our peculiar form of chaotic capital
ism is a more just, efficient and endur
ing government than any form of
Marxism that could possibly survive
in the real world.
But it’s not simply a battle of ide
ology. It’s a battle of will. And right
now will is in short supply in the U.S.
When Mathias Rust landed a small
airplane in Red Square, the Soviet
armed forces lost face. But Gorbachev
seized on the opportunity to purge the
military of dcadwood and strength
cncd his power base immensely.
When it was discovered that U.S.
military personnel were selling arms
to the nation’s enemies to fund a sc
cret, illegal foreign policy, the U.S.
armed forces lost face. Reagan denied
everything, played dumb, covered hi>
rear and Hushed his credibility in the
eyes of the American people.
Sec the difference? The Russians
have Gorbachev and will for many
more years. We have our forgetful,
cancerous, geriatric warmonger, who
next year will be replaced by some
indistinguishable party monkey.
The Russians have a real leader.
We have none, and none in sight.
Big changes arc in the air, and you
should prepare for them. Buy a can of
Campbell’s borsch t just so you can get
used to the taste. Picture an onion
dome on the Capitol. Next time you
see Gorbachev on the tube, hum a few
bars of “Hail to the Chief’ and sec how
it sounds on him.
And God help us all.
McCubbinis a senior English and philoso
phy major.
Sennett’s science knowledge ‘shallow’
In his piece,“Science vs. Creation”
(Daily Nebraskan, Oct. 15), James
Sennett goes far in instructing the
student of journalism how not to write
a cogent editorial.
Sennett would have done much
better to have merely stated some
thing to the effect that the views of
creationists arc being unfairly and
nonconstructively dismissed by
today’s mainstream scientific com
munity — and left it at that.
Unfortunately, either because his
grasp of the issue is embarrassingly
weak and m ust therefore be cloaked or
because his only real intention was to
cast more fuel on the fire, he proceeds
to bury the essential gist of his edito
rial beneath several paragraphs of trite
and meaningless blather.
He slates that “Creation science is
just that — a science.” This assertion
I ics at the very heart of the creationist
evolutionist debate, but if you read
Scnnctt’sarticlecloscly, you will note
that he is careful not to step into that
ring. Rather, he attempts to distract us
from the glass jaw of his shallow
understanding of scientific matters by
dancing in taunting circles around the
periphery of the issue. He does not
dare to step in and deliver a blow in
defense of the creationists’ claim to
“science” because he is afraid of the
laughter that will erupt when his
shorts fall down.
Ai one point near the middlc of his
commentary, Scnnctl vaguely wan
ders into “a general theory known as
catastrophism” only to emerge with
the inane conclusion that the now
famous meteor-dinosaur extinction
theory, because it involves the hy
pothesis of a naturally occurring cata
clysm, somehow abrogates a wide
range of universally accepted (“uni
formitarian”) scientific theories such
as plate tectonics, natural selection,
glacial advance and retreat, star for
mation, etc. Frankly, James, I think
you’re a wee bit out of your clement
Now, I can excuse Sennetl’s youth
ful ignorance of scientific theory and
history if I must, but I cannot swallow
the carping and self-damning state
ment he makes toward the latter third
of his piece: “The arguments of the
creationists, if not air-tight, areal least
worthy of response from the general
scientific community. But all that has
been forthcoming is derision, innu
endo and character assassination.”
Hmmm. If I were Sherlock
Holmes, I would postulate that Scn
nctl conceived this bold and tearful
statement between the hours of 5 and
6 p.m. and that he furthermore was
comfortably plopped in front of the
TV listening to President Reagan
berate the Congress for its unwilling
ness to accept hisnomination of Judge
Bork to the Supreme Court. Character
assassination? Innuendo? By the way,
James, what is all of this innuendo
business? Is there some sleeping
around, some sort of carnal tom-fool
ery going on in creationist circles wc
should know about?
Scnnctt had several pointed, but
essentially empty, cavalier remarks:
“Defenders of what Albert Einstein
called ‘the religion of science’ have
come out of the Bunsen burners to
defend the autonomy of their sacred
cow "(no derision there, huh, James?),
“the antiseptic veneer of contempo
rary science” (so nice to sec an ab
scnce of “namc-calling” here), or how
about “the sterile ivory-tower pontili
cations of the evolutionary scien
I don’t know. Maybe I watch too
many movies, but when I think of an
archeologist or a paleontologist, I
picture thisguy in dirty jeans with clay
under his fingernails and limestone
dust in his hair. It docs not occur to me
to wonder which religion he or she
might or might not be affiliated with.
Sennelt points out (and convinc
ingly demonstrates) that “Human
beings always react most violently
when their most treasured beliefs and
dogmas are threatened.” To this I
agree wholeheartedly. 1 would also
point out, however, that human beings
can also be counted on to react most
violently to the fears that have grown
out of their own ignorance.
Daniel Overton