Chastisements

Polemicist hereby chastises...

"If, when a man has fallen into habits of idleness, of daydreaming, and of sloth, putting off his most important duties continually til the morrow, another man were to awaken him one fine morning with the heavy blows of a whip, and were to whip him unmercifully, until he who was unable to work for pleasure now worked for fear - would not that man, the chastiser, indeed be his benefactor and truest friend?"

-Charles Baudelaire
 Intimate Journals

 

November 1990; page 2; Volume 2, No. 2
Polemicist

Fraternity Apologists

"The Greek stereotypes - depicting us as racists, elitists, date-rapers, alcohol abusers, etc. - are grossly caricatured," declared veteran frat apologist Mark Brandon in the October 12 Daily Texan. Brandon and others have complained hotly about the Greek "image problem," which would presumably go away if the nasty old Texan would start putting Greek canned food drives on the front page instead of rapes, knifings, beatings and alcohol-related deaths.

This semester a Greek mob screamed "nigger" at an African-American bus driver, surrounded him, and threatened him with violence; a gang of Greek thugs falsely accused a non-fraternity member of belonging to a rival frat and beat the hell out of him; in a similar incident, another band of Greek thugs held a man down and carved Greek letters into his face with a knife; and a 19 year-old fraternity man recently fell to his death in a drunken stupor from the roof of a frat house.

On September 17, some 50 Pi Kappa Alpha members dragged a man out of bed, blindfolded him, bound his hands and feet with duct tape and hung him naked from the roof of the frat house chanting "We've got an Aggie!" Yet frat apologist Scott Lewis could still write in the October University Review that "The brutal hazing of yesteryear which led to intense criticism of fraternities is simply not around anymore."

All this comes after IFC president Larry Dubinski announced at a Friars breakfast last spring that the Greek system was "entering the '90s." In fact, his speech came days after Round-up, when a gang of Delta Tau Delta frat boys had scrawled "Fuck you nigs die" and "Fuck coons" on a car and proceeded to smash it with sledgehammers - an incident which Dubinski must have known about when he delivered his speech, although the press hadn't reported it yet. What he didn't tell his fellow Friars was that the Greeks were entering the 1890s, when mobs of white racists routinely and legally lynched and murdered black folks.

Indeed, that same week a 16 year-old girl was raped at the Sigma Chi house at a Round-up party, although predictably IFC representatives denied that fraternity members were involved. With a bitter touch of irony, The Daily Texan ran a police sketch of the assailant - the sketch depicted a young clean-cut white man with a square jaw and short brown hair. In other words, it could have been any frat boy in West Campus. The message sent to Austin women: "Be afraid when you see this man."

Indeed, we should all be afraid. West Campus is by far the most dangerous neighborhood in town. Last fall Austin police responded to West Campus complaints of homeless folk panhandling for change by beefing up patrols and making periodic sweeps. But if the cops are watching the homeless, who's watching the frat boys?

Peter Flawn
Author, Jackass

In a tiny book entitled The Uses of the University, former UC Berkeley president Clark Kerr laid out the intellectual and moral basis for the modern "multiversity," i.e., the university as servant to the economic and military needs of the ruling class. In his new book, A Primer for University Presidents: Managing the Modern University, former UT-Austin President Peter Flawn accepts Kerr's assumptions without question, and attempts to define the technocrat's role in managing the multiversity.

Flawn's book, which will be reviewed in full in next month's Polemicist, is indeed a "primer" for administrators in fending off what he calls, quoting Edmund Burke, "the presumptuous judgement of the ignorant" - i.e., faculty and students. Flawn emphasizes, for instance, the importance of paying "attention to the nature and direction of student political activity." He advocates fending off activist students by keeping them "under stress" about grades and advancement. "They should be under stress," he writes. "A student taking a full and demanding academic load is not likely to be planning a take-over of the president's office."

Not all of Flawn's political analysis is so sophisticated. At one point, he declares, "It is important for the university's image to have a first-class band director." His reasoning? "If you lose a football game, it will be some consolation if your band outperformed that of the rival institution." Clark Kerr he ain't.

Flawn launches virulent attacks on student press, singling out newspapers and student radio. "If you inherit an already established student-operated radio station, you can privately curse whatever president initially approved its license, but unless you can demonstrate flagrant abuses you will not be able to close it down." But Pete has a solution, perhaps based on his experience with Texas Student Publications. "Without running the risk of being accused of heavy-handed censorship, you can probably set up a board of responsible faculty and students to exercise oversight for operations and programming," he advises.

Flawn's book should cure any false nostalgia students may have for the pre-Cunningham days. But more importantly, student activists should read it (borrow or steal it - don't give this bastard your money), for it contains interesting if sometimes comically banal insights into the mindset of oppressive administrators.

"Dollar" Bill Cunningham
Sycophant to Power

"If you didn't look so senile," Sophocles' Oedipus assures an underling, "the lash would teach you what your scheming means." If John Connally hadn't acquired such vast wealth and power, the bitter lash of public retribution would surely now teach him what it means to rip off the people and plunder the earth.

Instead, Bill Cunningham has invited him to speak at this fall's commencement ceremony, declaring him an "admirable example of leadership and public service for our state and nation." What a horrific conception of "admirable." We don't have space to rehash the notorious real-estate scams and S&L frauds that catapulted this profane man to one of the most celebrated bankruptcies in U.S. history. But an excerpt from Ronnie Dugger's Our Invaded Universities should suffice to explain why Connally deserves scorn and not honor on this campus: "Early in 1972 William Arrowsmith, speaking in Cincinnati, charged that John Connally, then President Nixon' s secretary of the treasury, had, when governor of Texas, initiated a political takeover of the University of Texas through the regents, all nine of whom he had appointed. Connally, Arrowsmith charged, acted through [then-Board of Regents chairman Frank] Erwin and the regents to replace key administrators with a bunch of political operators 'who wouldn't make successful Shinola salesmen' because the university system represents 'a third of a billion dollars in patronage' in contracts and thousands of jobs.'"

Graduating seniors should educate themselves on Connally's financial gymnastics, his ties to S&L thieves like Charles Keating (Connally's presidential campaign manager in 1980) and his role in environmentally ruinous projects like the Southwest Road District out by the Barton Creek PUD. Don't quietly let sleaze like Connally disgrace your graduation. Demand the imprisonment of all white-collar criminals.

Lawrence Cranberg
Physicist, Warmonger

In a truly stunning column in the October 19 New York City Tribune - a newspaper produced by the political network of Rev. Sun Yung Moon - Austinite and rightwing gadfly Lawrence Cranberg provides the moral justification for the "Nuke Iraq" t-shirts. Not surprisingly it's a shallow one indeed. Cranberg declared himself in the Austin Chronicle "a colleague of Alan Gribben and other similarly devoted, high-minded academics" who are members of the National Association of Scholars, another Moonie-connected group.

Cranberg's column contains a number of bizarre logical twists that rival even those of his "colleague" Alan Gribben. He notes that radioactivity and X-rays have "revolutionized medicine" - especially cancer treatment. From there he points out that neutrons are used to treat prostrate cancer, using "the nuclear radiation which is the trigger of nuclear fission in atomic weapons." He then calls Saddam Hussein a "malignancy," and declares "To this observer, one whose main preoccupations for 20 years has been the use of neutrons for cancer treatment, the idea that they might be used to treat a form of social and political cancer that we should call Saddamism, seems poetically just."

Cranberg wants us to get over our "Nuclear Phobia" and realize that nuclear weapons are a "natural phenomena which pervade our environment." For him, nukes are also a catalyst for economic miracles. He ends his column by promising that "Forty years hence, the citizens of a democratic Iraqi republic will look upon us as saviors who not only freed them from a monster, but set the stage for an economic miracle such as Germany and Japan have experienced in the aftermath of our victory over them." Perhaps Cranberg could cut a deal with Mikhail Gorbachev to send an ICBM to Austin, whose economy has also been slumping recently and could certainly stand a "miracle."

Tracy Silna
Political Hack, Apologist

Tracy Silna thinks she deserves to sit on more student advisory committees. "I applied last spring for several committees," she whined to The Texan. "I have not received notification one way or the other."

We applaud whichever student bureaucrats are responsible for blowing Silna off. In her last stint on a committee - as chair of the student services committee - Silna opportunistically used her committee position as a springboard to campaign for SA president. In order to facilitate a "refund" of student services money in time to take credit for it before the election, Silna negotiated away student free rides on Capital Metro buses if the City stopped its free-ride program. Now that Silna has left that committee, students must scramble to save free rides for students, most likely nixing her self-serving "refund."

Even so, Silna still wants in on the bus action. She told The Texan that although no one has been appointed to the shuttle bus committee, she is still working on it herself. If this is true, we beg her to stop. This dreadful woman has done enough damage.