The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current, February 26, 1998, Page 5, Image 5

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senior English and speech
communications major
and a Daily Nebraskan
This world is a very scary place.
No, I’d go a step further and say that,
this world is one (I wish I could cuss)
messed-up place.
I’ve known this for a while but
was smacked in die face with this
realization upon reading Monday's
Lincoln Journal Star.
Have you heard about Kris Ann
Haddad? Last Thursday morning, 25
miles north of West Palm Beach, Fla.,
Kris was seen throwing her 2'/2-year
old son out of her car window. She
was traveling at 90 mph down
Interstate 95.
As of Friday, the boy is in serious
condition with broken bones. Haddad
said she was trying to protect him
from pornography and was ranting
about a government conspiracy.
In Port Angeles, Wash., Dr.
Eugene Turner is under scrutiny for
manually obstructing the airway of an
A baby came into the emergency
Out of control
Tragic, bizarre news is only an escape from real life
room 39 minutes after he had stopped
breathing. The emergency room doc
tors were able to get the baby’s heart
working again, but there was no
detectable pulse and no signs of life.
The parents agreed to have him taken
off of life support. A half-hour later; a
nurse found the infant gasping for air
and regaining color. Dr. Turner and
another doctor spent an additional two
hours trying to revive the infant
After this failed, Dr. Turner was
seen, as described by one of the nurs
es, “plugging off the infant’s nose.”
Locally, an Omaha priest, the Rev.
Daniel Hereck, pleaded innocent to
fondling a boy and to making child
pornography. The prosecution’s case
includes two photographs and a video
found in the priest’s rectory.
He was sent for evaluation and
treatment at the St Luke Institute, a
treatment center in Silver Spring, Md.
This institution specializes in the
treatment of clergy members with
sexual disorders.
Stories that make the headlines are
not always about petals on roses and
whiskers on kittens. Newspapers only
have so much room, but I wonder if
more insane things don’t happen daily.
Did the story about the pedophile
clown who makes dirty balloon ani
mals get left on the newsroom floor?
Maybe the newspaper editors are
screening us from the truly bizarre.
In a world where insanity sells, I
doubt it.
As a literate person, you can read
these articles and feel empathy. You
can attempt to put yourself in the
shoes of a spectator at one of these
events. Can you really imagine being
a motorist on the interstate and seeing
a child come flying at you? Can you
imagine being on the side of the road
hearing the child scream, holding his
battered body in your arms and wish
ing his pain away? Can you imagine
being an emergency room physician,
so stressed out over your inability to
revive a baby that you decide to suffo
cate him? It brings these stories down
to a personal level, and that is really
What is the purpose of relaying
these stories to us? The answer can be
seen when you look at the articles that
appear next to these stories.
Next to the article about Dr.
Turner is a story of a tattooed guy who
has had his name legally changed to
“The Scary Guy.”
Next to the priest article is a cute
little story about a dog winning
$10,000 in a charity lottery. It seems
that the dog is the only lucky one in
the family, so the owner put the dog's
name on the ticket To top that off, the
dog has won lotteries before.
These stories, the tragic, the
bizarre, and the heart-warming, all
serve the purpose of taking our minds
off of our own problems. Reading
about these events makes people see
their own trials and tribulations as
rather insignificant You can sit
around and feel sorry and bewildered
about your life, but it pales in compar
ison to the events that make the head
lines. It makes you less concerned
about your problems, but it also raises
some questions. Has life really gotten
that confusing for all of us? Is normal
no longer the norm? Is the world evil
as well as messed up?
Greek tragedies were developed to
ease the mental anguish of its audi
ence. Movies and television are made
to make us laugh and cry but ultimate
ly to take our minds off of whatever is
bothering us. It seems that now the
news has replaced pure entertainment
Entertainment is good, I won’t
deny that The trap that we seem to be
falling into is that we are relying on
the news and entertainment to allevi
ate our problems. The responsibility
of curing ourselves has left.
Psychiatrists are being replaced by
books entitled, “Chicken Soup for the
Soul” or “1001 Ways To Make You
Happy.” Soap operas are counseling
people daily.
These things are not self-help
items; they only distract us from the
true problems. How can we as a soci
ety break out of this pattern? I have an
equation from a short story I read a
few years ago:
“Find the value for n, such that n
plus everything else in your life
makes you feel all right. What would
n equal? Solve for n.”
I don’t remember the name of the
story or the author, otherwise, I would
give proper credit to this passage. (I
think there might be something to this
whole “alcohol kills brain cells”
The essence of the quote is that
something is missing in your life if
you are not happy. It doesn’t condone
hiding from your problems; it propos
es that you fmd the missing part.
I don’t know what that missing
thing is. I know it’s not writing articles
like this because now I’m depressed.
What I do know is that the “n” to be
discovered will come from within
you. Hiding from your problems is
not the answer - exploration is.
sophomore general studies
major and a Daily
Nebraskan columnist
Former president Ronald Reagan
turned 87 this month, and to honor him
Congress renamed Washington, D.C.’s,
National Airport as Ronald Reagan
National Airport
It seems properly ironic to name
our capital’s airport after a man whose
greatest contribution to the history of
aviation was to fire 11,600 overworked
air-traffic controllers who are still bitter
about the whole mess.
With a rash of newly published
biographies, an immense new federal
building inscribed with his name and
suggestions to carve his likeness on Mt
Rushmore, Reagan is on his way to
becoming the most memorialized pres
ident in our history. We seem to have
entered a phase of nostalgia for the
In tiie decade since his presidency,
Reagan’s supporters have come to cele
brate him as a brilliant visionary who
profoundly reshaped our nation for the
future, returning America to its strength
and confidence as a nation.
Critics, however, regard the Reagan
era as a period of looming economic
disaster, unrestrained militarism and
ruthless insensitivity to social needs.
Reagan gave America the illusion
of growth and prosperity in the ’80s.
However, it was only an illusion—all
done with paste and glitter, mirrors and
lighting, and borrowed money. The
Reagan administration presented us
with a television pageant of patriotic
glitz and glamour. Meanwhile, the
social fabric rotted, the infrastructure
crumbled and the national debt grew
faster than everything else in America
(save the level of religious intolerance).
Reagan’s inauguration swore in
eight years of unconscionable greed
and consumption, ridiculous weapons
procurement and unprecedented bud
get deficits that will continue to burden
America for years.
“What I want for this country
above all else,” he once told us, “is that
it may always be a place where a man
can get rich.”
Our noblest principle. Our dream
of greatness. A tot ofpeople did get
The great pretender
Reagan's presidency was full of show business
rich in the ’80s, thanks to Reagan’s eco
nomic policies: tax cuts, getting the
government off the backs of the people,
prime die pump, helping the rich first,
trickle-down economics and laissez
These were Reagan’s
basic approaches to govern
ing. It was easy to make a
lot of money in the ’80s,
granted you had a lot of
money to start with.
The rich got richer,
and the poor and
middle class got
saddled with a
greater tax burden.
In 1986, Reagan
was told the
Budget Office
had statistics
showing a dra
matic redistrib
ution of wealth
poor to the
rich. “Oh, I don’t
think that’s true,” he
It was a typical response.
The Republicans never ques
tioned their faith in supply-side eco
nomics and die Laffer curve. They
haven’t bothered to notice that the
demand side never did catch up.
When Reagan was president all
things seemed possible - as they do in
fantasies. We could all be rich and pow
erful, and we could all sleep peacefully
at night, knowing we woe keeping the
spread of communism in check. No
effort would be required to partake of
this dream, just unquestioning faith.
Tax revenues \wuld rise when taxes
were cut The Soviets would be stopped
by our heroic conquest of Grenada. The
terrifying threat of nuclear holocaust
would be abolished by building a Star
Wars fantasy in outer space. Reagan
showedAmericathat wishing was
doing and that saying something made
it so.
Maybe it is possible to believe that
the’80s was a prosperous decade for
America if you don’t care about health
care, energy consumption, education,
the environment criminal justice, the
spread of AIDS, equal opportunity,
mismanagement or government fraud.
The Reagan administration’s conduct
on such issues ranged from merely
disinterested to actively destructive.
hi reviewing his presidency,
the most obvious
always has been dismissed: The man
was an actor. To recall his pre-political
career is considered somehow offen
sive, as though to evaluate Reagan’s
political leadership one should ignore
his training as an actor.
ButReaganfe histrionic past is
hardly insignificant to his role as presi
Reagan governed America through
the eye ofthe television camera. His
was a presidency of pictures, publicity
and staging. Every public act of his
presidency was planned by media
experts to have maximum impact on
the evening news clips. Evtery word he
uttered was scripted. Every presidential
appearance was conceived of in terms
of camera angles aid lighting
As a public speaker, Reagan was
legendary for his egregious misstate
ments. Facts never mattered to him.
are stupid things,” he once stat
ed in cme of his more memorable
But it seemed no matter how
many times Reagan was revealed trip
. ping over the facts or tying outright,
9 the public didn’t really care much.
Journalists were vexed by his Teflon
quality. They would scrutinize every
statement the president made for accu
racy and publicize every error, and
none of it had any impact whatsoever
on his popularity.
Reagan never realty believed he
was lying. For him, facts didn’t make
his beliefs true—his personal
tions gave life to the facts. If one tact
didn’t serve to support his beliefs, ;
another would do, even ifit was made
up. It wasn’t simply that Reagan was
ignorant of the facts; in his view of the
world, facts just weren’t
professed to
lead a moral crusade
but who himself held no great
moral convictions. He called him
self a conservative, but he was a con
servative of die new order, not die old
tradition - a consumer instead of a pre
Reagan told Americans what they
wanted to hear in a period of national
malaise: Bettor days were ahead,
national pride was being rekindled, and
faith in our future was restored. Reagan
accentuated the positive, encouraging
Americans to believe that all was well,
and their troubles were all behind them.
In light of the scandals, dishonesty,
greed and waste of his administration,
praise of Reagan rings hollow.
Expressing warm nostalgia for the ’80s
seems particularly demeaning for the
many less affluent Americans who
duty suffered from Reagan's politics of
die wealthy, for the wealthy.
Monuments to Reagan are kitsch,
m the truest sense of the word-a pre
tentious and hollow display, calculated
to have popular appeal. Perhaps in an
abstract, conceptual essence it is only
fitting to build empty tokens to an
empty presidency.
Reagan can die venerated for all the
things he only pretended to be, and the
lessons of reality can be ignored.