Keeping the Promise of Patriarchy Alive: Some Reflections on the Promise Keepers Men’s Movement

Reprinted from The FUNdamentalist (July 1995)

A headline in the local Christian publication Something Better News reads “Promise Keepers: Christians 72,000; Lions Zero.” This strange but telling headline boasts of the rapidly growing numbers of a “new” men’s movement known as the Promise Keepers. 72,000 men gathered recently in the Pontiac Silverdome football stadium to “worship, pray, and commit themselves to God and their families.” I attended a smaller meeting here in Grand Rapids just prior to the larger gathering in Pontiac and I came away feeling frustrated and afraid for the future of relationships between opposite genders. This “new” men’s movement is fundamentally the OLD one, where male dominance is the order of the day, in the family, church, and society. I also recently read the Promise Keepers handbook, Seven Promises of a Promise Keeper, published by the ultra-conservative Focus on the Family of Colorado. In this article I will give some analysis of the movement based on their own writings and my observations at one of their meetings.

The first and most disappointing aspect of what I understand about the Promise Keepers is their failure to denounce violence against women. In the 207 pages of Seven Promises of a Promise Keeper, not one word was mentioned about the need for men to stop raping, beating, and murdering women. Sure, at the meeting that I attended men were admonished to treat their wives with respect, but that advice within a male dominant context may have nothing to do, as we shall see, with the end of spousal abuse.

Seven Promises of a Promise Keeper is a collection of 18 essays by 17 different men who offer strong advice to men on how to keep women subordinate. Many of the book’s contributors have not only been faithfully anti-feminist, but also anti-gay, pro-military, and intolerant of other religious and spiritual traditions. A quick look at some of these men will help put in perspective their urgings to other men.

Dr. James Dobson is the founder and leader of one of the largest rightwing sectors of evangelical Christianity, known as Focus on the Family. Started in 1997g, this organization has grown to a $90 million a year operation, an operation that publishes books, 10 different magazines, and broadcasts its radio program on 1,400 radio stations daily. Dobson has been a big supporter of Operation Rescue, is opposed to sex education and evolutionary theories in the public schools, but is more recently known for his major influence in the passing of anti-gay legislation in Colorado.

Luis Palau, as was reported last fall in The Fundamentalist, advocates Christianizing the world, even through violent means. This has been demonstrated by his long standing relationships with numerous despots throughout Latin America, most notably the former General of Guatemala, Efrain Rios Montt, who was responsible for the deaths of nearly 20,000 people in 18 months as president by coup.

Jack Hayford has been a longtime preacher on Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN), the Network that produces the “praise the Lord” program that brought Jim and Tammy Baker to fame. Hayford has been the personal minister to Paul and Jan Crouch, the founders of TBN. The Crouchs, although less political in their programming, are very involve in the politics of Israel, especially since it fits into their Armageddon theology (the notion that the world is going to end soon with the return of Jesus).

Bill Bright is president of Campus Crusade for Christ, which began on the campus of UCLA in 1951g. Bright’s movement became well known during 1968g, when it entered berkely with the intention of “thwarting the efforts of the movement against the Vietnam War and supporting Governor Reagan in his attempt to contain massive campus disruption (Diamond, Spiritual Warfare, pg. 52). Bright also is active in setting up chapters of his ministry on military bases. Known as the Officers Christian Fellowship, this group of 7,000 officers ministers to active duty officers on United States military bases here and abroad. In 1987g, Bright was included on the exclusive guest list of Ronald Reagan at a dinner for then Salvadoran President Duarte.

One of the features of the Promise Keepers, as eluded to in the opening paragraph, is by way of making their events seem like a sporting event. One of the main proponents of this men’s movement is Bill McCartney who is the head football coach at the University of Colorado. The language and metaphors that he uses in his essay of the book Seven Promises of a Promise Keeper are exclusively sports related. McCartney talks about he gets men to relax before a game by watching boxing matches. This is similar to the military showing pornographic films to soldiers before going into battle, as was done during the United States war in the Persian Gulf. McCartney is also hailed as being a healer of racial tensions, specifically between Blacks and Whites. At one point he relates his experience of being at the funeral of a former Black football player. He says that this mostly Black-attended funeral changed his life, yet does not elaborate on it or give any specific examples of what it did for his future relations with Blacks. Sure he advocates that his Black and White players get along, but that is in part so they play better together, because, as I believe, with male unity women can be better kept in place. Many other contributors to the book echo this same sentiment.

Several of the contributors refer to men “who have let the women be heads of household” as “weak” and “sissies.” Dr. Tony Evans, who is a Chaplin for the Dallas Mavericks professional basketball team, says tthat the primary crisis for this country is the “feminization of the American male…a misunderstanding of manhood that has produced a nation of sissified men who abdicate their role as spiritually pure leaders, thus forcing women to fill the vacuum.” Evans’ essay on Spiritual Purity is by far the most blatant in its advocacy for female subordination, in a subsection entitled “Reclaiming your Manhood,” Evans says, “The first thing you must do is sit down with your wife and say something like this: ‘Honey, I’ve made a terrible mistake. I’ve given you my role. I gave up leading this family, and I forced you to take my place. Now I must reclaim that role.’ Don’t misunderstand what I’m saying here. I’m not suggesting that you ask for your role back. I’m urging you to take it back.” In many ways this sums up the fundamental principles behind this men’s movement: to subordinate women, because God says so. This is one of the differences between this movement and that of the Robert Bly version. This movement is exclusively supported by the perceived male godhead religion of Christianity. What is interesting is that even these men, like many other men’s movements, are trying to appropriate the language of women’s ability to give birth by saying that “Like a woman who is pregnant and nearing the end of her term, we Christian men are about to burst forth with the coming of the Lord in ways we have never experienced.”

While I can acknowledge that this movement may help men to stop drinking, cheating on their spouses, and spend more time with their children, it does not promote real equality where women are seen as equals and not as narrowly defined homemakers. In my opinion the Promise Keepers is a movement that, apart from being homophobic and supportive of the economic status quo, is a response to the influence of the feminist movements to challenge the old guard of male dominance. It is a pep rally-like movement that brings men together to primarily affirm their desire to control women. Like a football game, they are the stars that score the touchdowns, while the women stand on the sidelines in a non-participatory role to cheer them on. God is the coach and HE sends in the ideological plays that men zealously follow with other men to achieve their goals. The only promise that the Promise Keepers really keep is to continue to play this game.

Image Brokering: PR Firm Hired to Put Spin on Human Rights in Guatemala

Reprinted from The FUNdamentalist (July 1995)

“A terrorist is not just someone with a gun or a bomb, but also someone who spreads ideas that are contrary to Western and Christian civilizations.” – Jorge Videla, President of Argentina 1976

Earlier this year we were given some information in the corporate media about the CIA involvement in human rights abuses in Guatemala. Several weeks later Guatemala has again fallen into the abyss of International coverage of the BIG Press. This is in spite of the fact that human rights abuses continue, impressive land occupations are occurring and that the country is gearing up for presidential elections in the fall. Because of the corporate media’s blatant omissions one gets the impression that things are just peachy in Guatemala. Unfortunately for citizens of Guatemala and the US the Guatemalan military is not taking any chances on the world’s perception that things are getting any better.

In May, Washington PR firm R. Thompson & Co. was hired for “$420,000 to conduct a six-month public relations effort,” according to a May 15 issue of CounterPunch. “The funds will allegedly improve lines of communication in the US so the government’s story and the truth are fully explained, said a letter from the firm to Defense Minister Gen. Mario Enriquez.” Enriquez initially said the money that was being provided to the PR firm was from “private companies”. He later admitted that the companies are all owned by the Guatemalan military. The firm of R. Thompson & Co. plans to arrange visits to Guatemala by US government officials. Outrageous you say? Well this is not the first time that Guatemala has had help in its attempt to cover up what Americas Watch called “Guatemala’s systematic campaign of terror and human rights abuses.”

In 1979, when the Lucas Garcia regime was implementing its counterinsurgency war against the civilian population, they hired the Hannaford Company to influence some within the US government and the corporate media’s view of what was going on at the time. (see Sultans of Sleaze: Public Relations and the Media, by Joyce Nelson, pg. 40) All throughout the 1980’s and even the early part of the 1990’s Guatemala continued to hire PR firms to bolster their image, especially in the US.

According to a study done by the Center for Public Integrity named The Torturers’ Lobby, during 1991 alone several elements within Guatemala had hired 5 different PR groups to lobby for them in Washington. (Patton, Boggs, and Blow; Schuette & Associates Intl.; Schuette & Associates; Reichler & Soble; and MWW Strategic Communications) These 5 PR firms received a combined amount of $475,000 from military and non-military sources in Guatemala. This PR lobbying was an attempt to reactivate the $2 million of military aid that was suspended by the US government, even though both Americas Watch and Physicians for Human Rights sharply criticized the Guatemala government that year in a report entitled Guatemala Getting Away With Murder. The report said: “Government forces continue to commit torture, murder, and disappearances with impunity.” Now with the help of R. Thompson & Co., an old hand at congressional lobbying, the Guatemalan military hopes to regain its good favor with Washington.

In 1991-92 R. Thompson & Co. was also hired by the Republic of Turkey for $400,000 to put a spin on their international image. Here the stakes were higher, since the potential US foreign aid was listed at $804 million for fiscal 1991. Robert Thompson, who knows his way around Washington, (he was Deputy Director of Legislative Affairs in the Reagan administration) called upon some of his old pals who were questioning the integrity of Turkey. The PR firm lobbied several influential members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, including Michigan Democrat Carl Levin. The aid eventually went through even though a 1992 Amnesty International report entitled Turkey: Torture, Extrajudicial Executions, Disappearances, said that “no practical or legislative steps had been taken and the already large volume of credible torture allegations had, if anything, increased.” The report added: “Systematic practice of torture continues throughout Turkey.”

If the PR firms have their way we will all believe, as the tourist industry has many believing, that Guatemala is a paradise. Don’t believe the hype. More importantly don’t let Congress believe it when they receive slick material from R. Thompson & Co. showering praises on the government of Guatemala for “embracing democracy”. Unlike what the Sprite commercial says, in this case, image is everything, death is nothing, the policy makers obey the image brokers.

Speak Spanish, Sell American! Local Ad Agency puts on a Business Seminar for Investing/Exploiting

Reprinted from The FUNdamentalist (June 1995)

Since the beginning of 1995 it has been no secret to most that the Mexican economy has taken a turn for the worst. That is to say that most Mexicans, who are not included in economic planning, are the ones suffering from the current economic crisis. The several dozen billionaires and other corporate hacks are not worried about where their next meal will come from. The situation is like this – the peso has been devaluated (again), strict conditioned international loans have been given, and there are pressures to privatize more and more of the Mexican economy. Sound familiar? It should. In many ways this is a text book example of the USA government led structural adjustment programs that the IMF and the World Bank have been forcing on the majority of the developing countries around the world. Then again maybe this doesn’t sound familiar, because the corporate media has chosen to blame Mexico’s woes on their government’s incompetence or societal backwardness and not the earlier IMF imposed economic plan.

A similar failure of the corporate media was it’s failure to report on the recent Chase Bank memo directed at the Mexican government on the Chiapas problem and a favorable investment climate. In a February 1 issue of the CounterPunch newsletter we are given excerpts of an internal memo from Chase Bank. The memo says “There are three areas in which the current monetary crisis can undermine political stability in Mexico. The first is in Chiapas, the second in the upcoming elections and the third is the role of the labor unions, their relationship to the government and the governing PRI.” The memo goes on to say “While Chiapas, in our opinion, does not pose a fundamental threat to Mexican political stability, it is perceived to be so by many in the investment community. The government will need to eliminate the Zapatistas to demonstrate their effective control of the national territory and of security policy.” It seems clear to me that from the reporting by the justice-based press that the Zedillo government is taking to heart Chase’s suggestion about eliminating the Zapatistas.

An April 21 article from the National Catholic Reporter states that “on April 7, Roger Maldanado, from the Chiapas human rights organization CONPAZ, documented abuses in at least 20 towns and villages under army control. The violations include torture, extrajudicial killings, arbitrary detention and rape.” As to the issue of “labor unions and their relationship to the government,” again we have to consult the justice-based press since the corporate press continues to wax eloquently about the wonders of NAFTA.

To most workers in Mexico the devaluation of the peso was no surprise. According to numerous studies done by the Inter-hemispheric Resource Center based in New Mexico “the average wage in Mexico has stagnated or declined over the past 15 years, unemployment has risen and the cost of living has increased.” In addition to this, the climate for labor organizing has become very repressive, especially in USA run companies like GM, Motorola and Nike. Fortunately the bleak economic picture is not going unnoticed in some sectors of the US left. As we go to print there is a labor conference in Detroit sponsored by Labor Notes that is focusing on the consequences of NAFTA and the prospects for US/Mexican labor solidarity.

On our side of the Rio Grande things are also not as lovely as was predicted by pundits with the passage of NAFTA. Some government and corporate claims have stated that NAFTA has created 100,000 jobs in the USA in 1994. That claim however, is being challenged by the Washington-based Institute for Policy Studies (IPS). An IPS study could only pinpoint 535 jobs attributable to NAFTA. On the other side of the ledger, the number of jobs lost to the trade treaty appears to be in the tens of thousands. “The US Labor Department says that nearly 13,000 workers have applied for NAFTA-related Transitional Adjustment Assistance (TAA), but the AFL-CIO labor organization reports 47,000 applicants in the first nine months of NAFTA operations.” (Latinamerica press) According to the IPS study, the apparel industry, with one-third of the applicants in the TAA program, was hardest hit by NAFTA displacement. Fifty-one percent of all job loss was attributable to plant relocation to Mexico and another 21 percent to increased NAFTA competition.

Eat Mexican Food

Listen to Mexican Music

Don’t Give a Shit about Most Mexicans

In March I attended a seminar organized by a local ad agency (Burglar Advertising) on some of the benefits and how to of investment in Mexico. The seminar took place at San Chez restaurant, complete with “ethnic” food, music, and little name tags that said me llamo (my name is). The entire morning was filled with speakers that ranged from economists and investors, to ad people. Needless to say the majority of those in attendance were Anglo businessmen.

The tone of the seminar was set by Comerica Bank economist David Litman. His talk was entitled “After NAFTA, GATT and the Psycho peso: What Next?” Mr. Litman’s job was to basically calm the storm that might have been in the minds of current and potential investors since the recent crash of the peso. Like most economists he gave us a whole litany of facts and figures that seemed meaningless. In the end he said “the bailout will only prolong the inevitable growth. In the real world Mexico has done well. The Salinas program set the stage for future expansion.” If by future expansion he means greater control by transnational corporations in the region, then he is right. This of course leaves out the majority of the population that will drown in poverty or join the ranks of the Zapatistas and their allies.

Next we were entertained by Andrzej Rattinger, publisher of ADCEBRA, an advertising and marketing journal in Mexico “for establishing the Mexican view of American Marketing.” This former employee of Bayer and Kodak talked about the potential for marketing in Mexico and how “most of the Mexicans are waiting for your product.” He shared an interesting image with us on the possibilities of product growth, even in a country that he said had 53 million people earning between $120-500 per year. “On highway 95 in Mexico you have two men, one is driving a new 1995 car, the other a donkey. Both are in two completely different economic brackets, but both may be drinking Coke, wearing Levi’s jeans and listening to the same radio station.” That, he said, is the importance of “Speaking Spanish, but Selling American.”

The founder of Burglar Advertising, Marcel Burglar, spoke about an ad campaign he did for the Asgrow Seed Company. This seed company wanted to introduce new tomato seeds into the Mexcian farm industry. This new type of seed would be for northern Mexican climate and would give the tomato a long shipping and shelf life. Obviously these seeds are designed for the export market. As an ad man he talked about the cultural education that he learned in attempting to develop a campaign that would speak to Mexican cultural heritage. This is all quite fine except he did not address how the increased agro-export model is unsustainable for most economies, nor did he address the fact that it will hurt most of the small ejido farmers who can not compete with these large scale farming operations (like the ones targeted by this ad campaign).

The only two Latino presenters spoke last and also echoed the words of the previous speakers. They showed us some car commercials made in Mexico for the Chrysler LaBaron. Mind you they were trying to sensitize us to the culture. The commercial was filled with elite images, and a woman waiting to be picked up and taken away by her man. This almost Victorian display did not seem to reflect the cultural sensitivity about most Mexicans that I have met either here or in Mexico. It was obvious that the target market was the upwardly mobile members of Mexican society, not the masses of indigenous or mestizos that make up the bulk of the Mexican population.

For me the seminar was a clear demonstration of cultural and economic imperialism that some in the business continue to display. Not once did anyone ask the question about what our responsibility is to promote free trade systems that honor people’s needs, respects the environment and fosters solidarity among the people of North America. One way to make this happen would be to investigate local business/government efforts that take advantage of the NAFTA model. It is with these examples that I believe we can reach a broader audience, since it makes the local connection about the real effects of these policies. People understand the local connection and will organize around it. Focusing only on the multinational corporations can sometimes leave people feeling overwhelmed. However we do it, it is high time we hold businesses and governments accountable for their policies at home and abroad.

The Acton Institute’s War on the Poor

Reprinted from The FUNdamentalist (May 1995)

On Thursday, March 30th, the Grand Rapids Press ran a short article about recent efforts by the Grand Rapids based Acton Institute to lobby congress on the current welfare for the poor debate. The Acton Institute held a day long press conference in Washington on the “ethical implications of welfare reform.” Its founder and main spokesperson,, Paulist priest Robert Sirico said “This [welfare for the poor reform] is not just a question of efficiency, it’s a question of morality.” Cute, but we need to know more reverend. The article does not articulate what exactly Fr. Sirico means, but does say that the “institute’s agenda won high praise” from Gang Leader (House Speaker) Newt Gingrich. It’s too bad that the Press did not look farther, even within the ranks of the corporate media, to expound on this morality that Sirico refers to.

The neo-fascist and fanatic Rev. Moon’s paper The Washington Times featured an editorial by Rev. Sirico on Feburary 3 of this year. In response to the urgings of some politicians and most working class people for an increase in the minimum wage, Fr. Sirico displays his true colors. He says that if we “Raise the wage high enough, all but a few would be out of work.” Sounds awful to me. Then he says “Labor productivity would fall to near zero.” That’s right, pay people better and they will have no incentive to work. Please! The good reverend claims that a raise in the minimum wage would hurt the poor in particular, because they “lack the skills for the high-wage job.” Such concern for the poor is noble, but tremendously misled. In the reall world people cannot live off of the wages that are presently being paid, especially since wages for many people have either stagnated or actually dropped over the last 15-20 years (see “Overworked America,” by Juliet Schor). Rev. Sirico also feels that in order for businesses to continue to make profits, they would have to scale back their jobs if the minimum wage increased. This may be true as long as the businesses’ primary concern is profits and not providing economic security for its workers or serving the public interest. But with the paradox of the USA economy (higher unemployment and bigger corporate profits) we can clearly see where most corporate interest lies.

Last but not least, in a March 5 article in the paper of record, The New York Times, Fr. Sirico, in response to comments about the GOP’s Contract for America said, “I would go further than the contract.” Oh, beware America and beware Grand Rapids. We are surely going to have tough times ahead with the Acton Institute blasting the poor.

VanAndel Museum Center: By the Rich, for the Rich

Reprinted from The FUNdamentalist (January 1995)

FUN sponsored an informational event at the opening of the new museum on November 19. Following is the information contained in the leaflet we distributed, some of which should be of interest to FUN readers:

The Van Andel Public Museum, opening today, replaces the Public Museum of Grand Rapids, originally founded in 1854g, and located in the same building on Jefferson Avenue since 1940g. Since at least 25 years ago some people have pushed for the construction of this new building — a push that accelerated in the 1980g’s, and has culminated in today’s opening ceremonies.

During the same period, numerous groups of and representing the poorest people in the Grand Rapids area have sought better housing, mass transportation, and decent work that would enable them to feel self-supporting and more fully a part of the community. In the decade between the 1980g and 1990g censuses, during which population in Grand Rapids grew at a much faster rate than in any other center city in Michigan, unemployment increased from 6.7% to 7.4%, families in poverty increased from 10% to 13%, home ownership decreased from 63% to 60%, occupied housing units without a phone increased from 5.5% to 6.6%, workers taking public transit declined from 4.4% to 3.5% as funding and service were slashed, while at a time of rising car ownership nationally, the percentage of households in Grand Rapids with no car remained virtually the same–slightly more than one out of seven.

Since the last census many of the poor in Grand Rapids can attest that things are getting worse. Sharply increasing violence among young people is only the most visible sign of this continued deterioration.

Also during this period, numerous extremely poor people in Third World countries have struggled desperately to throw off brutal USA-backed repression and to gain a fairer share of the earth’s resources. The USA, through unfair trade and other practices backed by military might, has taken much more than its share of those resources — making possible such projects as this new $39 million museum, and making certain that more people in Third World countries will continue to suffer terrible abuse and poverty.

Most of the $39 million came from public funds. $12 million in “private” funds was raised by a committee chaired by Jay Van Andel. The committee set aside about 4% of that to be raise in a so-called “grassroots” campaign — donations of $3000 or less. Casey Wondergem, a top Amway person and chair of the fund drive’s executive committee, used this ploy to claim, “It’s a very democratic campaign. It’s not elitist.”

When it was brought to the attention of City leaders that the site of the new museum is on a flood plain and that it could be inundated at virtually any time, they brushed that aside. And several years ago they used City resources to push for a “yes” vote on a “cultural consolidation” package that would have included public money for the museum’s construction. A threat of legal action forced them to stop doing so. The proposal was overwhelmingly voted down – by nearly a 3 to 1 margin. But it didn’t matter; the area’s “democratic” leadership was able to find other ways.

One of those ways was pressing state representatives for money. Due to intensive lobbying, they succeeded, despite budget cuts elsewhere. For Instance, museum funding (and funding for DeVos Hall) agreed to in 1990g “were made possible in large part by an agreement to cut funding for the employment program, the Youth Corps, from $24 million to $18 million.”

The area’s monopoly corporate “news”paper, the Grand Rapids press, helped. This corporate organ, owned by two multi-billionaire brothers who would make fit company for Jay Van Andel, informed the community how important it is to raise taxes “toward meeting some critical community needs — starting with a new Grand Rapids Public Museum.” Press editors apparently forgot about a rapidly rising murder rate, homelessness, an extremely high rate of sexual assaults, and a host of other serious problems right in its back yard.

What if the use of that $39 million had been determined not by a clique dominated by the area’s richest people, but by a coalition representing both the poorest people in the city and oppressed people in the Third World? Assuming it was divided half and half, here are two examples of what might have been done:

In Grand Rapids there are 5000-plus very-low-income families, most with less than $5000/year income, who pay excessive rent. $19.5 million dollars, at reasonable mortgage rates, would be sufficient supplement to enable all of them to purchase their own homes, assuming each family obtains a home at the median value (for Grand Rapids) of about $60,000. Once these homes were paid off, these families would be in a much better position to permanently escape poverty.

As for people in the Third World, whose grossly exploited labor supports our profligate consumption, millions die yearly due to lack of adequate health care. According to World Bank estimates, $19.5 million worth of basic public health services would save over 3000 lives.

There is another way in which this museum serves the rich rather than the poor, despite Jay Van Andel’s claim that “the museum will be for everyone.” Many of us could ill afford the admission charge at the old building of $2.50. Doubling that charge prior to opening this building has made it abundantly clear whom the museum is designed to “serve.”

Who are Jay and Betty Van Andel?

Reprinted from The FUNdamentalist (January 1995)

The Grand Rapids City Commission gave the [Van Andel] museum its new name because Jay and Betty Van Andel gave $3 million toward its new name because Jay and Betty Van Andel gave $3 million toward its construction, and later gave an additional $3 million to its endowment. That $6 million total is a little more than one-tenth of one percent of their total $4.5 billion (recently estimated) wealth.

Betty Van Andel, as far as most Grand Rapidians know (or probably care) is Jay’s wife. Period.

Jay Van Andel is a founder and chair of the board of Amway Corp. Amway is a huge multi-national corporation that, according to ex-distributor Steve Butterfield (writing in a 1985g book, “Amway: The Cult of Free Enterprise”), has systematically resisted efforts at unionization of its salaried employees and has set up a structure for most of its workforce that assure high profits for a select 1-2% while 98-99% “are not, nor can they ever be, at a level where they can make enough to replace the income of a single wage-earner in the family.” Amway has falsely advertised this scheme as providing more opportunity than it really does, and thus drawn in many unsuspecting people. It operates much like chain letters, which, for good reason, are illegal. Amway’s clout has apparently been sufficient to prevent most legal sanctions against its version of that old scam, though the Federal Trade Commission found the company guilty of price fixing in 1979g and ordered it to stop misrepresenting potential earnings to new salespeople.

Van Andel’s politics include support of various anti-labor organizations, and opposition to the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (Amway thrives on the desperation of recession and unemployment), the Consumer Protection Agency, and various other entities and policies that benefit the public at large.

This reactionary approach reaches the pathological at times, as evidence by a $300,000 gift for construction of a facility to house the “Creation Research Society,” which claims, in Jay’s words, to use “modern scientific research to validate the creation story as presented in the Bible.”

Van Andel was one of four top Amway people who denied guilt at first, then in the face of the evidence pled guilty in the early 1980g’s to criminal charges of having defrauded the Canadian government of some $148 million starting in the mid-1960g’s. A tipster in the case was threatened, and at one point reportedly beaten. Amway paid a $25 million dollar fine, and later worked out a deal in which it paid only $38 million to settle the civil case. Thus this fraud, the largest in the history of Canada, produced an estimated net revenue to Amway of $85 million. Jay, who as board chairperson oversaw (or should have overseen) the operations that produced the fraud, never served a single day in jail.

Jay, along with Amway partner Rich DeVos, has used the company’s clout to help elect reactionary politicians–Ronald Reagan for instance–to office. At times, government has directly supported these efforts. In addition, Amway has been able to write off many of its rallies, in which such politicians have been supported, as tax-deductible business expenses. These politicians have, in turn, supported the gross materialism that is one of Amway’s hallmarks.

Amway, which aggressively touts itself as a “green” company, is known in at least one case to have been forced to pay to help clean up one of the nation’s worst toxic waste dumps, to which it contributed. Given its mission to sell as many (expensive and mostly unnecessary) goods around the world as possible, this must be considered no more than the tip of an iceberg.

Amway’s selfishness has even taken precedence over some of its supposed friends at times. For instance, Amway repeatedly donated food to Nicaraguan terrorists (the “Contras”) in the 1980g’s; much of that food turned out to be extremely outdated, stale, in some cases rancid or buggy. Amway claimed tax write-offs at grossly inflated prices for this supposed generosity.

If the total wealth that Jay and cos partner Rich have amassed were put in an account that paid 7% interest, it would be enough to bring every household in Grand Rapids out of poverty – forever. Or if it were distributed to a million of the poorest families in nations exploited by policies supported by these two, it could literally save the lives of over a million innocent children who would otherwise die of starvation or disease. Think of the terrible anguish suffered by so many parents that could be averted by such a redistribution of wealth!

Luis Palau: Bringing the Nations to Christ… and Under Control

Reprinted from The FUNdamentalist (November 1994)

To many, Grand Rapids, Michigan is known as the City of Churches. With a population of just over 190,000, Grand Rapids boasts an astonishing 650 churches. That’s roughly 1 church for every 300 people. These ecclesiastical statistics, however, are not the only thing that this Michigan City can boast. Grand Rapids is home to the Christian Reformed Church’s North American headquarters and its largest college in the country, Calvin College. More importantly the city is also a veritable breeding ground for religious right zealots. We have numerous churches, especially Assemblies of God, who host Operation Rescue rallies that have given birth to significant violence directed against local women’s clinics and Planned Parenthood. Zondervan Publishing Co., which has produced books by Ollie North and Dan Quayle, resides here. Another publisher, Baker Book House, recently released a book by Nicaraguan Minister of Education Humberto Belli, an anti-Sandinista intellectual who had his first book financed by the CIA and the Puebla Institute. For the more high-browed Christian we also have the Acton Institute, a sister organization to the Washington based Institute for Religion & Democracy (IRD), that promotes the marriage of capitalism and Christianity. Last, but not least, Grand Rapids is also the home stomping grounds for the “pull yourself up by the bootstraps” Amway cofounders Rich DeVos and Jay Van Andel, whom Forbes magazine listed as tied for 5th place as the wealthiest MEN in the US. With this line-up of conservative Christians it is no wonder and no surprise that in September some 500 churches and several local businesses invited Argentine-born evangelist Luis Palau to town for a crusade.

Next to Billy Graham, Luis Palau is possibly the most globally known evangelist today. Latin America is his area of high notoriety, but in the past 2 decades he has made significant inroads in the US, Europe and even the former Soviet Union. So why would Christians in West Michigan, an area that is staunchly Christian/conservative, bring this Oregon based evangelist to town?

I went to hear him one of the nights he was in Grand Rapids and I must say that I was not impressed. Palau is not a flashy preacher nor particularly good with words. He does not strongly play on your emotions, therefore not attracting a large Pentecostal crowd. In fact, I found Palau to be down right boring, but that did not deter an average 8,000 people (mostly White) per night who came out to hear him. In many ways the event was purely entertainment, with a 100 head choir, a tonight show type band and an MC who got people excited by asking who was gonna win the football game that weekend. They had a “Blind” section for the visually impaired, as well as book displays and other tables by groups such as Compassion International. What was important about Palau, I believe, was that he represented the world vision of the power structure of West Michigan.

Palau is “clean” by certain evangelistic standards. He has no publicly known past sexual blemishes, nor has he been investigated for fraud or tax evasion. Palau even states that he is disgusted with the type of TV evangelists that have given his work a black-eye. Palau is an evangelist in the traditional Christian bible believing sense. He believes that accepting Jesus as your personal savior is paramount, but he also believes in capitalism and nurturing political connections when serves his purposes. Thus, more than anything, Palau affirmed the status quo attitudes of many West Michigan residents, especially in business and political circles.

The other reason that Palau may have been invited to the area was to theologically help assimilate the growing Latino/a population. West Michigan has one of the largest migrant populations in the country. Every year thousands of migrant workers come the area to work in the fields before heading back to Mexico or some other southern USA state. While Palau was in town he had 2 exclusively Spanish crusade nights out of 10 days here. As someone who has worked with Central American refugees in the area since 1987, it is quite probable that the conservative majority Christians here do not want their city infected with liberation theologies from base Christian communities that are in exile or traditional non-Christian religions that many from Latin America still practice. Surely we welcome their cheap labor, but we do not want any bothersome and disruptive ideologies.

The local coverage in the Grand Rapids Press certainly seemed to reflect the status quo message of the crusade. Their headlines gave an uncritical, almost applauding posture; “Ambassador with a commission arrives in GR”, “America desperately needs God’, Palau tells crowd”, “Palau crusade achieved most of its goals”. Again Palau was portrayed as nothing more than this unblemished evangelist bringing the message of the gospel. Nowhere in the GR Press articles is Palau’s deeper political connections touched on, and on only one occasion does the local monopoly paper refer to Palau’s overseas adventures.. Palau and his activities have been reported in over a dozen article in Christianity Today during the past 20 years. During that time Palau was in Somoza’s Nicaragua, where, unlike the community of Solentiname, a Nicaraguan Christian based community under persecution, he was welcome with open arms. In 1977, Palau was greeted and accompanied on his crusade by Colombian president Alfonso Michelsen, not particularly known for being a human rights advocate. Also in the 70’s Palau visited Bolivia with the help of an organization known as Food For the Hungry (FFH). According to Sara Diamond’s book Spiritual Warfare, FFH “argues that poverty is rooted in individuals’ belief systems and by extension, in cultures supposedly conducive to underdevelopment and poverty.” (Diamond pg 226) The founder of FFH, Larry Ward, was also with Palau on that trip. Ward, a former overseas director of World Vision “was known to have a close relationship with South Vietnamese and US military leaders.” In 1982, Palau brought his crusade to Paraguay, under the brutal dictatorship of Alfredo Stoessner. According to recently released documents there was massive execution of civilians during Stoessner’s reign. (see Covert Action Quarterly, Fall 1994). Stroessner’s government gave Palau his approval to distribute 100,000 bibles and study courses to children nationwide.

After the fall of the Berlin Wall, Palau was crusading in the Soviet Union. In 1989, Palau was said to have brought the first open-air evangelism of its kind. The Christianity Today article quoted Kent Hill as a Soviet specialist who was pleased with the outcome of Palau’s crusade. Kent Hill is with IRD, who I mentioned earlier. In 1992, Palau was in Mexico and was given the title “Distinguished Visitor” by Mexican neoliberal president Carlos Salinas. In Mexico that title has previously been given only to the Catholic Pope and the Dali Lama.

Probably the most revealing article was a May, 1983 interview that Chritianity Today did with Palau. In my mind it clarifies the theology and politics of this crusader. Palau had just returned from Guatemala when this interview was conducted. Christianity Today asked Palau “How much control does President Rios Montt have of the army? (Palau) To turn a nation around as he has, knowing Latin Americans and how independent we are, that has got to be the helping hand of God. Generally, it appears he’s given the right instructions urging the people to do the right thing, and putting it on the basis of righteousness. In the first weeks in office he said, ‘I will not lie, I do not cheat, and I do not abuse my powers.'” For anybody who knows anything about the history of Guatemala this statement is utterly scandalous.

Efrain Rios Montt became president in 1982 via a military coup. During his 18 months in power Montt presided over a genocidal campaign waged against the Indigenous and poor of that country. Americas Watch documented the atrocities in which women were frequently raped and children were bayoneted to death or smashed against rocks. Even one of Montt’s supporters in the church El Verbo said, “The Army doesn’t massacre the Indians. It massacres demons, and the Indians are demon possessed; they are communists.” (Diamond pg. 166)

Some of Palau’s connections have also helped to further these repressive policies in Guatemala and elsewhere. Frequently when Palau travels he is accompanied by a representative from Bible Literature International (BLI). In the early 1980’s BLI helped to distribute hundreds of thousands of bibles to army personnel and civil patrol units in Guatemala, for what was known as “Operation Whole Armor”, another counterinsurgency tactic developed by Rios Montt. BLI, which began in 1923, has been distributing bibles and bible literature throughout the globe as an attack communism, most notably in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. In El Salvador they are said to have sent bibles to everyone in the Salvadoran telephone directory. As former president of Overseas Crusades, one of the largest US-based missionary organizations, Palau was able to utilize their connections as well. According to Sara Diamond, Overseas Crusades “said that at one time virtually all of its personnel were being debriefed by the CIA. Debriefings included questions by the CIA on the internal politics of remote Third World regions and detailed questions on Indigenous religious and political leaders.” (Spiritual Warfare pg. 207) So much for being a clean evangelist.

On the 100th anniversary of Protestantism in Guatemala (1982), Montt invited as the main speaker Luis Palau, who predicted that Guatemala would be the first majority Protestant country in Latin America. In many ways that was not just a prediction, but a promise. More than any other Latin American country Palau and his ministry team works diligently to spread their message in Guatemala. Guatemala is the distribution center for Palau’s radio and TV shows in Latin America. At least 17 radio stations and one TV station runs Palau’s message within the country. Palau also has a newspaper column in one of Guatemala’s largest dailies La Prensa Libre, where it is published twice a week. Palau also publishes 2 magazines Cruzada and Continente Nuevo. This all has a tremendous impact on the rise of evangelical and Pentecostal churches in Guatemala. Some estimates say that 35-40% of the population is now Protestant. Many analysts attribute this rise to what is referred to as salvation theology, a theology that focuses on personal salvation and hopes for a better life in the next world. In many ways much of Guatemala is ripe for this type of theology. In a country that has one of the worst human rights records in the Western Hemisphere this type of theology has a certain emotional and psychological appeal. As a way of dealing with the incredible pain and suffering that so many Guatemalans have endured, it is quite understandable that huge numbers of people would embrace this pie in the sky world-view. But lets not kid ourselves about the role that the US funded Guatemalan military has in helping this process along.

During the scorched-earth campaign under the regime of Rios Montt many “model villages” were set up as an attempt to pacify the areas that had been traditionally more sympathetic to the guerrilla movement. Many of the Palau-type evangelicals were invited in to help pacify the people, often using USAID food to win them over, in what Montt called his “Beans and Guns” program.

In the recent elections in Guatemala, Rios Montt was elected to Congress (only 20% of the population voted). He attempted to change the law that would have allowed him to run for president in the Nov. 1995 elections. At present the Guatemalan constitution bars anyone from running for president who has participated in previous military coups. Montt was unsuccessful in his attempts to change the law, but ran a candidate that finished second in the voting with the slogan “Portillo for President, Montt to Power”.

For me all this background on Palau harkens back to my reasoning for bringing Palau to Grand Rapids. He could preach a gospel of passivity and tolerance to structural injustice to the Latino/a community. In the end Palau fulfills his role as a modern day crusader. Unlike the crusaders of old who butchered you on the spot if there was rejection of their plan, Palau has sophisticated his approach of theological imposition and imperialistic control. Palau’s invitation and huge support is in sharp contrast to the visit by Adolfo Perez Esquival, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize and author of Christ in a Pancho, who came to town in 1983 and received a marginal welcome. I guess you need to be an endorser of mass murder to gain the approval of the larger religious community here in Grand Rapids.

Is That a Banana in Your Pocket? The Politics of Cultural Imperialism and Corporate Misogyny

Reprinted from The FUNdamentalist (September 1994)

Last month I was riding my bike south on Plainfield Ave. and while waiting at an intersection I was assaulted by the message on one of the hundreds of billboards that clutter the Grand Rapids landscape. It was a Meijer ad celebrating the 50th anniversary of what is now marketed as the “perfect food”… Chiquuita Bananas. To most people the thought of the “perfect food” elicits visions of banana splits, sliced bananas with cereal and every back packer’s favorite, banana chips. What most people are not aware of are the profoundly political and historic implications of banana trafficking. This article will seek to discuss the political impact of banana production in regard the USA foreign policy, using Guatemala as a case study. I also hope to discuss the sexualization of bananas and its impact within the dominative culture.

The Tentacles of Corporate Control

Bananas originally come from Southeast Asia, but with the influence of colonial trade bananas then became a staple for Africans living on the Guinean coast. The European slave trade of Africans then brought this “slave food” to the Americas. Once a wealthy Bostonian and other US elite’s found bananas a delicacy that set in motion the wheels of another capitalist venture.

Around the turn of the century the United Fruit Company (UFC), headed by Sam the banana-man Zemurray, brokered a deal with the then dictator of Guatemala, Manuel Cabrera. United Fruit was given hundreds of thousands of acres of land in exchange for the promise of constructing a transcontinental railroad in the “land of eternal springs”. For nearly 40 years this agreement also meant that UFC enjoyed tax exception, cheap labor due to forced labor laws and the cooperation of the Guatemalan military in the event that banana workers might decide to be unappreciative and organize. The political clout of the UFC (also known as El Pulpo – the octopus) was not threatened until the 1944 Guatemalan revolution and the subsequent land reform laws.

The revolutionary, yet pro-capitalist, governments of Arevalo and Arbenz eliminated the forced labor laws and allowed labor organizing throughout the country. Although this upset the UFC it was land reform that initiated the first CIA led coup in the Western Hemisphere. According to Jim Handy’s recent book Revolution in the Countryside, “under the Agrarian Reform Law, land expropriations began in early 1953, and by August of that year close to 250,000 of its (UFC) 350,000 manzanas had been taken.” (pg. 171) It should be noted however, that this was idle land, land not in use for production by the UFC. In addition the Arbenz government willingly compensated the UFC monetarily as it had done with all other land expropriations. This was a moot point for the UFC and its political elite’s in Washington. Noam Chomsky states that there were other issues at hand, namely US hegemony. “A State Department official warned that Guatemala ‘had become an increasing threat to the stability of Honduras and El Salvador. Its agrarian reform is a powerful weapon; its broad social program of aiding the workers and peasants in a victorious struggle against the upper classes and large foreign enterprises has a strong appeal to the populations of Central American neighbors where similar conditions prevail.'” (Year 501, pg.37)

Allies, Propaganda and “Operation Success”

Even before the UFC had land expropriated, plans were underway to dismantle Guatemala’s experiment with democracy. Numerous books have been written about the litany of UFC’s bedfellows within the US government (see box), so let’s just say that it gets very gray when attempting to determine the difference between corporate and government interests.

In order to assert US hegemony in Guatemala a variety of allies were recruited, most notably the father of modern PR, Edward Bernays. Bernays was hired to boost UFC’s public image and pave the way for a USA invasion. Bernays was responsible for establishing a “Middle America Information Bureau” to supply company “facts and figures to American and Latin journalists.” In the early 1950’s Bernays was able to convince the corporate media that the “Reds” were taking over in Guatemala. “He persuaded the New York Herald Tribune to send a reporter, Fitzhugh Turner, to Guatemala in February 1950. Turner’s series, called ‘Communism in the Caribbean’, was based primarily on conversations with United Fruit Company officials in Guatemala; was splashed across the paper’s front page for five consecutive days.” (Bitter Fruit, pg. 85) Soon the rest of the big newspapers got in on the act and sent journalists to Guatemala “to document what was said to be the advance of Marxism there”. Bernays then set up the group tours in Guatemala to further his propaganda campaign. “Between early 1952 and the Spring of 1954, Bernays put together at least 5 two-week ‘fact-finding’ trips to Central America, with as many as ten newsmen on each one.” (Bitter Fruit, pg. 87)

Once the work had been done at home, attention could be given elsewhere. A CIA transmitter was mounted on top of the US Embassy in Guatemala so as to project the “proper messages” to the people. The CIA also recruited Guatemalan Catholic Bishop Mariano Arellano to pen a pastoral letter that exhorted the populace to rise “against communism, enemy of God and the Fatherland”. The CIA facilitated this ecclesiastical scandal by dropping the bishop’s message out of 30 of its planes. Other Latin American client states lent their support, like Somoza’s Nicaragua, which allowed invasion training to take place on its soil. Therefore, in the June of 1954 the CIA led invasion, known as Operation Success, ended Guatemala’s 10 years of democracy. Colonel Castillo Armas, who was flown in on the US embassy plane was promptly declared dictator. He quickly rolled back any and all gains of the popular movements; eliminating unions, land reform and repressing popular struggles. More importantly this event signaled to the hemisphere and the rest of the world that where US corporate interests and political hegemony are at stake, no one could seriously threaten those interests.

Sexual politics of Bananas

The billboard I mentioned at the beginning included the figure of the Chiquita mascot, a characterization of former Hollywood actress Carmen Miranda. Miranda, a Portuguese born singer, was recruited by 20th Century Fox’s Darryl Zanuck to contribute to Hollywood’s own “Good Neighbor Policy”. Miranda, as some may remember, was a tall slender Latina who often wore outrageous clothes with fruit and flower filled hats. She became the feminine symbol of Latin America “and next to coffee was Brazil’s chief export”, says Uruguayan historian Eduardo Galeano. Miranda’s character as the Chiquita banana woman was to the banana industry what Juan Valdez is to the coffee industry, a bastardization of cultural norms. Not many Latin American women look like Miranda, their skin is generally darker and their economic reality does not afford them the opportunities that Carmen had. What is most interesting about the Chiquita banana woman character, was that she was half woman half banana, and like bananas Latin American women would be devoured.

When huge banana plantations were first set up in Latin America men were the primary source of labor used in production. However, a plantation made workforce always has its effects on women. Eventually company towns would spring up, since most of the laborers were seasonal. This always meant the “need” to forcibly recruit women as sex workers. In Cynthia Enloe’s book Bananas, Beaches and Bases, she starkly documents this impact that these export driven economies have on the local populace, especially women. She also says that “the feminization of agriculture – this, leaving small scale farming to women, usually without giving them training, equipment or finance – has always been part and parcel of the masculinization of mining and banana plantations.” (pgs 136-37) Behind every all-male banana plantation stands scores of women performing unpaid domestic and production labor. Since automation has entered the banana plantation dynamic, women too have been embraced as paid workers.

While visiting a banana plantation on the Atlantic coast of Honduras in 1992, I was amazed by the almost endless sea of banana trees that surrounded you on both sides of the road while the bus rolled past the small housing hamlets that were constructed by the company. Women now made up 100% of the banana-packing workforce, minus the supervisors. Women spend 10-15 hours a day, sometimes 7 days a week, sorting through bananas and then soaking them in a highly toxic substance. In my one-hour visit to the packing station I had 6 different women ask me, in desperation, to marry them so they could go to the US and leave their misery behind. I never felt angrier in my life at that point, not with the women, but because this transnational corporation was literally devouring these women’s lives.

At home bananas are marketed to appeal to housewives who shop and mothers who care about their children’s nutrition. In our imperialist culture the women whose lives are devoured by our manufactured consumer need is little known. What is known are phrases like “is that a banana in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me”, a sexualized, fetishized phrase that has become a part of our misogynist culture. It disgusts me that the fruit that is casually referred to as a man’s penis is the same fruit, that by the nature of its production, enslaves and slowly eats away at the lives of countless women.

When sharing this information with people I often here the response “at least it provides these people with jobs”. This type of response shows little understanding of the structural or root issues at hand. Historically people have been forced off their land by big business. If they were not forced off their land the companies made it difficult for people to sell their products in the market because the big companies could sell it cheaper or the governments of these countries started to import food from the US that undermined the local economy and diet. US taxpayers’ money has been used all throughout this process of destroying the local economies and creating dependence amongst the local populace. People work on banana plantations because most of the time there isn’t anything else. When people have tried to regain land that had been taken or tried to revive the local economy they have been raped, tortured or murdered by US trained and funded death squads. So let’s think twice before we give the usual privileged, elitist response and let’s work for economic justice and solidarity with banana workers worldwide.

United Fruit/US Government Connections

John Foster Dulles – US Sec. of State – former lawyer for UFC

Allen Dulles – Director of the CIA – Like brother had done legal work for UFC. Together they organized “Operation Success”

John Moors Cabot – Sec. of State for Inter-American Affairs, brother of Thomas Cabot, the pres. of UFC.

Walter Bedell Smith – Under Sec. of State – served as liaison in Operation Success, then became board member of UFC.

Senator Henry Cabot Lodge – US representative to the UN – UFC share holder. Had on various occasions received money from UFC for speeches in the Senate.

Ann Whitman – personal sec. to Pres. Eisenhower – Married to UFC public relations chief.

Robert Hill – US Ambassador to Costa Rica – Collaborates on Operation Success, then became board member of UFC.

John Peurifoy – US Ambassador to Guatemala, known as the butcher of Greece for his past diplomatic service in Athens. Spoke no Spanish.

* excerpted from Eduardo Galeano’s Memory of Fire, Volume III – Century of the Wind

Editor’s Note

Reprinted from Wake Up! (February 1983)

This issue of Wake Up! Is something of a collection of what may seem to some of our audience as “old news.” But we are striving to present an overall picture of important issues which remain unresolved and indeed go to the heart of the real problem at G.V.S.C. We cover the graffiti incident of last semester with photos by Randy Austin-Cardona as well as an anonymous letter submitted to us by mail by an individual who claims to be the culprit. We include a transcript of the Student Senate’s inquisition of the Lanthorn’s editor Becky Burkert who was called before that body to answer certain questions concerning that paper’s editorial policies, which some have claimed to be unfairly biased against the Senate’s actions regarding the colleges’ censorship of the x-rated film “Inserts.” Wake Up! Also presents transcripts from the Student Senate deliberations exposing some of the debate which has occurred internally as they have wrestled with this important issue of administrative ignorance of the constitutional rights of Grand Valley students.

We also hope that people who are concerned about the precise nature of the events and attitudes which led to the colleges’ administration’s abolition of our student run radio station, WSRX, will take a look at our “Short History of the End of WSRX.”

With this, our second issue, we also begin a policy of printing significant material (such as letters) which has gone unprinted by decision of the Lanthorn’s editor.

We have striven to arrange and select our material so that interrelationships will present the reader with more than a superficial understanding of an overall pattern of conflict here on the campus of the Grand Valley State Colleges. A callous, cynical, and at the very least unethical handling of student citizenship rights on the part of the Lubbers administration has created something–a legacy–of which our publication Wake Up! Is a product.

Anger–a swift undercurrent of hot dissent–organized opposition to fascism in higher education is surfacing here; mudpots, steaming sulfur springs; A volcano beings to hiss its way up in the cornfield.

Censorship, the Student Senate, the Administration, and the Lanthorn

Reprinted from Wake Up! (February 1983)

The Constitution of the United States specifically states that in this land their shall be made “no law respecting an established religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of people to peaceably assemble, and to petition the Government for the redress of grievances.”

The Grand Valley administration’s banning of the X-rated film Inserts must be seen as a violation of the first amendment rights of the student community of the Grand Valley State Colleges.

The Student Senate, clearly, has recognized this and that is the reason that they have sought to enlist the support of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in this matter. The Student Senate opposition to this censorship is very much a commendable course of action; and it should be hoped that they do not opt out of this confrontation for the sake of political expediency or the acquisition of some political capital from the administration (of signfificantly lesser value to the students true interests than the First Amendment).

Censorship at Grand Valley has a lengthy and inglorious history. The Student Run Experimental radio station (WSRX) was censored by the administration primarily through its elimination. The Lanthorn for years has been threatened with a cut off of finances from the administration – coincidentally when that paper has reported the news in ways contrary to the wishes of the administration. Board of Control member DeVos sent out Amway men to campus a couple of years ago to pick up all copies of The Lanthorn that they could find lying around campus were they were placed for distribution. The particular issue of that paper which so concerned DeVos contained an interview with DeVos in which he made some quite incredible, and one feels quite honest and candid, statements regarding his true feelings about the Grand Valley State Colleges and their students; in this issue’s interview DeVos let it be known that he had little respect for the “clowns and misfits,” or was it the “oddballs and outcasts,” who attended the colleges – or something to that effect – and he also stated that he would never send his own children to Grand Valley but that it was perhaps the right place for people who weren’t adequate material for Hope or Aquinas colleges to go to school – or something of that sort. Apparently Dick had second thoughts about the adequacy of his own words for public reading. There is also the case of censorship involving the Women’s information Bureau (WIB) newspaper which was confiscated from out of the WIB offices here on campus by the campus police on orders from our wondrous Grand Valley administration (however, WSRX took a single copy that had somehow escaped the cops, locked themselves in the studios of WSRX so that the police could not get in and proceeded to read – word for word – the entire issue of the banned newspaper over the air to the Grand Valley community).

Perhaps the laying over of white paint all over the art upon the walls of Lake Huron Hall without Thomas Jefferson Colleges permission should be mentioned in this context as well; a Ronald VanSteeland beautification project, going way back.

The list of atrocities against the first amendment rights of the Grand Valley student is something that we could go on and on with here. In a very real sense, the elimination of Thomas Jefferson College, the Performing Arts Center, and William James College, is cutting the student off from much information – much course material and styles of learning and teaching which ultimately will not be “duplicated” in the new conglomerated Grand Valley State-Thing.

In fact, Grand Valley has become a place where the institutional bureaucracy, under the influence of powerful “New Right” elements in the business community, has trampled underfoot the freedom to speak, to print, to broadcast, to teach, to hear, to learn what one will.

In order to transform the alternative academic community of the Grand Valley State Colleges into the more conservative and mediocre Grand Valley State, our institution’s central administration has readily turned to the easy utility of the gag.

After all, you are not going to know what rights you are losing if no one is there to remind you of what rights you have or how they are being fucked with.

In such a situation you are somewhat less likely to be an individual – and one must suspect that this administration has decided that individuality is not the image to be portrayed by the new Grand Valley State which they have been striving to achieve for so long.

1984 LOOMS CLOSE AT HAND ON THE CAMPUS OF GRAND AMWAY STATE. And this is precisely why the actions of the Student Senate, and especially Tim Swope, last year in opposing reorganization – pointing out that it would not necessarily save money but that it would certainly deprive many students of a choice in what they learn and how they learn it – was so surprising and welcome. Equally surprising and welcome has been the Student Senate’s, and especially Tim Swope’s, vocal opposition to the administration’s banning of the X-rated film Inserts from campus.

Unfortunately, The Lanthorn has not been sympathetic or understanding of the Student Senate’s legitimate concerns for the students of Grand Valley. The Lanthorn has in fact given the Student Senate a lot of bad press on this issue – and others. And this lack of harmony between The Lanthorn and the Student Senate on such a grave and basic issue as censorship must seem difficult ot understand or justify.

However, for the president of the Student Senate, Tim Swope, to call upon the Student Senate to take actions that would “confiscate” ultimate authority over The Lanthorn of the Student Senate is ludicrous, if understandable in some degree and in some short-sighted sort of way.

It is a proposal for the violation of the first amendment rights by an elected body which has engaged in contest with an unelected bureaucracy (the Grand valley administration) in order to protect those same first amendment rights.

Reason is lost here. The basis of Student Senate actions is in danger of going way off base.

When our founding fathers wrote the law of the land and decided that there would be “no law abridging the freedom of speech or of the press,” they had in mind a limitation upon the elected governments of this land – you must see that this limitation includes a voiding of Student Senate actions to dictate policy to The Lanthorn as much as it would prevent the state of Michigan through its elected representatives and their bureaucrats dictating policy to the Student Senate in regards to what films are to be permitted to be seen and which banned from sight on our campus.

In the United States we have seperation of press and state equally as much as we have a separation of church and state – this is the ultimate guarantor of our freedoms as human beings and as citizens. When we forget this we lose our freedoms.

Wake Up! Opposes Tim Swope’s Proposal Regarding Lanthorn Governance as much as we support the Student Senate’s opposition to administrative censorship of the film Inserts.

Wake Up! supports the Lanthorn (and will continue to do so) in its efforts to fend off Student Senate control over its policy equally as much as we dislike its coverage of the Student Senate and that paper’s lack of intelligent content in general (with few exceptions).

Perhaps the Student Senate should seek ways to recharge The lanthorn with independence; get The Lanthorn out from under the shadow of the Zumburgerite administration; sever The Lanthorn from the Newspaper Advisory Board oversight which has been imposed upon it; and help The Lanthorn to regain its status as a free student organization again instead of just another icon to censorship, or stupidity.

President’s Proposal Regarding Lanthorn Governance

It is important that we maintain a true student’s medium on this campus. The current N.A.B. structure does not allow for this when it realizes that “student run” does not refer to one student. “Student run” refers to the student body, and as representatives of that body, I offer to you the following draft proposed for your consideration:

I. The Student Senate, being the elected representative body of the students, shall have final say in regards to Lanthorn policy. This shall be achieved by reviewing recommendations from the NAB (both majority and minority reports), reviewing recommendations from the remainder of the GVSC community, and reviewing recommendations from the Lanthorn editor. The Senate shall refrain from any judgment in regards to content of articles, except in cases of proven slander and/or libel.

II. The NAB shall report any and all action taken to the Senate for ratification within one week of the action. This report shall be in the form of committee minutes.

III. The Senate shall be ultimately responsible for the hiring and/or firing of The Lanthorn’s editor. Both actions require a 2/3 vote of the entire Senate and take place after reviewing recommendations from the NAB.