FAMED NOVELIST TAKES ISSUE WITH HISTORICAL REVISIONISTS

BY ERICKA SCHICHE

CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Herbert Mitgang, the man who launched a probe into the FBI's surveillance of writers, lectured on the topic of historical revisionism Tuesday.

Mitgang is the cultural correspondent and book critic for the New York Times and a prominent researcher of Abraham Lincoln. He addressed a captive audience of about 70 people in the Brown Room of M.D. Anderson Library.

Mitgang said a thread of historical revisionism is perceptible when there are conflicting reports about the same historical figure.

"While he seemed like a bumbler in his press conferences, he was really being very shrewd in covering up his real sentiments," Mitgang said, referring to former President Dwight Eisenhower. "That would be interesting if it were valid."

Only occasionally veering off course -- by delving deeply into his WWII experiences -- Mitgang, 72, always returned to his subject, discussing it and other related topics.

Mitgang said revisionism is also evident in some reports about Eisenhower's competence as a military leader.

"If you read what the British commanders thought of him, you'll notice that they said Ike was terrible, that he had never been in combat," he said. In contrast to what British revisionists have said, Mitgang asserted that Eisenhower had indeed been a skilled allied commander.

Another example he gave of how revisionists attempt to re-script history is the perception of Lincoln. He said the view that the president had not defined a position on slavery, coupled with the idea that he

espoused racist beliefs, cast Lincoln in a negative light.

"Lincoln's consistent view was that saving the Union came first; that was his constitutional oath and obligation," Mitgang wrote in an introduction to a book he edited titled Abraham Lincoln: A Press Portrait. "This, too, has caused misunderstanding by revisionist Lincoln-bashers."

Other examples he gave of historical revisionism include director Oliver Stone's point that President John F. Kennedy was staunchly opposed to the Vietnam War, the way Lincoln's wife has been perceived and the attempts of some anti-Semitic people to disprove the occurrence of the Holocaust.

A playwright, novelist, editor, journalist, researcher and non-fiction writer, Mitgang began what might have been a promising career as a lawyer after graduating from St. John's University Law School.

However, the day after he passed the New York Bar exam on June 5, 1942, Mitgang enlisted in the Air Force counter-intelligence in North Africa; he later received six battle stars for air and ground combat in the Mediterranean arena.

Since his days as an army correspondent and managing editor of Stars and Stripes, Mitgang has served as executive editor and assistant to the president of CBS News, a documentary film writer, credited with such works as D-Day Plus 20 Years and Carl Sandburg: Lincoln's Prairie Years.

He also served as editor of the Sunday drama section of the New York Times, deputy editor of The Times' op-ed page, guest lecturer at Yale University's Silliman College and as a contributor to such publications as The New Yorker and Art News.

Of the books he has written, the one that Mitgang discussed most during his lecture was Dangerous Dossiers: Uncovering the Secret FBI Files of America's Greatest Authors.

Published in 1987, the book documents Mitgang's findings, which include files on such writers as Ernest Hemingway, Pearl Buck, Sinclair Lewis, William Faulkner, Archibald MacLeish, Carl Sandburg, Truman Capote and Tennessee Williams.

"Here's a writer who probably held the highest stature of any poet or playwright in the United States," Mitgang said of MacLeish, who once served as former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's speech writer and as Assistant Secretary of State.

"He was writing the president's speeches, and at the same time, he's being watched as an un-American by J. Edgar Hoover, which, to say the least, was hypocritical and ironic," he said.

Mitgang said the Freedom of Information Act, which he said gained restrictions in the hands of former President Ronald Reagan and former Attorney General Edwin Meese, could be a powerful tool for both journalists and historians.

Other works written by Mitgang include The Man Who Rode the Tiger: The Life and Times of Judge Samuel Seabury, Freedom to See: Television and the First Amendment, Working for the Reader: A Chronicle of Culture, Literature, War and Politics in Books, a two-act play titled Mister Lincoln and such literary writings as The Return, Get These Men Out of the Hot Sun, The Montauk Fault and Kings in the Counting House.

Mitgang said scandals in Seabury's time don't compare with those of today.

"Fifty and 75 years ago," he said, "when people talked about corruption in government, it was small-time -- they spoke about bribes of inspectors, paying small amounts of money to get a license to do something.

"But today, when you talk about corruption, you're talking about something far, far worse and that is the corruption of bankers and lawyers, the corruption of bigbusinessmen who became involved in things like the Lincoln Savings Bank and the BCCI scandal, which eventually, the American people will pay for."

In an interview after the lecture, Mitgang said his favorite authors are

Graham Greene and John Le Carre. "They never disappoint me," he said.

When he is not reading, Mitgang said he likes to study politics.

"I try to figure out who should be president, and she handles the law," he said, referring to his wife Shirley. Mitgang is working on his second play, which is about "a mythical president who might have been in the White House and would have been better than his predecessors."

 

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STAFF, STUDENTS SURVEYED ON UNIVERSITY SMOKING POLICY

BY MEAGAN MCGOVERN

DAILY COUGAR STAFF

Should UH be a smoke-free campus? That's the question posed by a survey sent out to all faculty, staff and some students by the president's office.

The survey was sent out March 9, with a letter spelling out the present smoking policy and the proposed change.

Elwyn Lee, vice president for Student Affairs, said the purpose of the survey is to find out exactly how members of the UH community feel about smoking on campus. "My feeling is that this is an issue that touches everyone."

He said when the results are tallied, if enough people feel there should be a no-smoking rule, the president will take action to institute a smoke-free policy.

The proposed policy states, in part, "Smoking shall not be permitted in any building on the campus of the University of Houston. This policy applies to all rooms, including private offices, dining facilities and accommodations (such as student housing and the hotel)."

Sanctions against violators of the policy would not be imposed for at least six months after its adoption.

The current policy prohibits smoking in all public areas, including classrooms and the library, but allows smoking in designated areas. Each department not open to the public currently develops its own rules. People are free to designate individual offices as either a smoking or a no-smoking area.

Lee said in addition to faculty, staff, and student responses, other factors will be considered in the final decision. If the hotel or student housing would lose money because of the smoke-free regulation, this needs to be taken into account, he said. "Money is tight -- we need to know the financial impact of this policy, he said."

The survey, which was sent to about 900 students in a scientific sampling, as well as to all faculty and staff, is due to be completed in late March or early April.

Other changes proposed in the new policy would include a ban on the sale of all smoking materials on campus and the institution of programs to help faculty, staff and students quit smoking.

David Small, assistant vice president for Student Services, wrote the survey with Lee. He said the initial response was "very heavy. In the first two days, we had over 950 surveys returned. Now, into the fourth day, we've received over 1600."

Small said from what he's seen of the responses, the "views are highly polarized. People feel very strongly one way or the other. Smokers feel they have a right to smoke, and non-smokers feel they have a right to be in a smoke-free environment."

The cost of the survey has been minimal, according to Small. "The major costs have been postage and data input. Total cost is under $1,500," he said.

In the Students' Association election last week, 42.9 percent of the student body favored a smoking ban, and almost 27 percent favored further regulation. Only 25.9 percent favored maintaining the current policy.

 

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NEW GENERATION OF FANS CARRY ON TREK LEGACY

BY COUGAR NEWS SERVICE

Twenty-six years after Star Trek premiered on national television, the series has turned into an international phenomenon that is alive and well, not only among those old enough to remember the original shows, but to those now in college who watch the original reruns and are avid fans of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

"Star Trek has really struck a chord for an enormous group of people," said Lisa Hielbonn, a sociology and pop-culture professor at St. Lawrence University.

For those who wish to remain politically correct, the newer breed of fans call themselves Trekkers (not Trekkies), and just like the latest Star Trek film (number six), these fans are perhaps looking toward a kinder, gentler, friendlier galaxy to explore, where Klingons and Romulans share ale with Captain Kirk and his crew.

According to the national Star Trek Fan Club, based in Colorado, college-age people make up a large percentage of the fan base, but few schools have their own official chapters.

James Doohan, the Canadian actor who plays Scottish engineer Scotty, said he is amazed at the reaction to the show and particularly his character over the years.

"People will wave their arms at me and yell, `Hey, beam me up Scotty,' he said.

Doohan, 71, estimates that about 85 percent of the people who now attend Star Trek conventions around the world are newcomers and that the phenomenon "is just getting bigger and bigger all the time."

Although no one is certain why the show is so popular among so many different age groups, many have theories.

According to Doohan, "one of the things that is good about Star Trek is that they're all morality plays. People don't pooh-pooh morality things, and that's why it's good for all ages."

"It's good over evil, and people just love that sort of thing. Maybe that is the magic of Star Trek," he said.

Gene Roddenberry, the series' creator who died in October, has said the show's popularity lies in its optimistic vision of the future.

Bill Kraft, a St. John's University alumnus, agrees and thinks the Enterprise should be honored on a postage stamp. Kraft, in fact, heads a group called the Enterprise Stamp Committee.

Kraft, who attended Mankato State University for the summer session, spoke to the Mankato student newspaper: "Roddenberry was a true visionary... He was the first -- and maybe only -- (science fiction) creator of his time to envision a future in which humanity learned from its mistakes and improved the human condition, rather than deteriorating (it)."

 

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ISLAMIC PERSPECTIVE OF JUSTICE TO BE EXPLORED

BY KATHERINE PURCELL

NEWS REPORTER

With criminals being let out of prisons and jails early, the justice system is a big concern today, leaving students to wonder if there is an alternative.

On March 19 at 1 p.m. in the World Affairs Lounge in the University Center, the Muslim Students' Association is presenting a lecture to discuss an "Alternative Justice System" using an Islamic perspective, Yassar Tolba, president of the Association, said.

"We've noticed there is a lot of concern right now on the subject matter of justice. There are a lot of people who deserve to be (in jail)," but they're not, Tolba said.

Nagib Sashraf, an electrical engineering senior, said the program will present the Islamic legal system as an alternative to the American system. He said capital punishment in America is not really imposed, as convicts get out of jail early and commit more crimes.

In most Islamic countries, "the punishment for murder is death," Sashraf said.

Nadir Shah, business sophomore, said the punishment for murder can be decided by the victim's family, which can ask either for money from the murderer, life in prison or a hanging.

"The person who has committed the crime really can't have any way out," like with the American parole system, Shah said.

MSA originally planned to have Yahya Abdullah speak at this program. Abdullah is the director and co-founder of the African-American Men Against Narcotics and author of Elements of Progressive Leadership. Due to a scheduling conflict, Abdullah's assistant, Abdul Rahmankarim, will speak instead.

The purpose of this program, Tolba said, is to "give a more comprehensive view of what Islam is."

Shah said the program is just an information session. The purpose is not to change the current American system, but to present people with an alternative. It's up to the people to decide what justice system they want to use, he said.

Tolba said everybody is reviewing their political and justice systems these days. Because of the current elections, justice is a big topic. "We thought we might bring somebody who would talk about a different view of crime and punishment. What are the causes and effects and how to cure it, obviously from an Islamic perspective."

Tolba said Rahmankarim will show how the Islamic perspective can make sense for both Muslims and non-Muslims. "He will show people that Islam is a comprehensive system of life. It's not just theology or a personal relationship between man and God."

He said Islam also fosters relationships among people. "It enables a justice system among many other systems," Tolba said.

Although this program is not related to Ramadan, the Muslim holy month going on now, Tolba said both Ramadan and the program stress discipline. "One of the good things about Ramadan to us Muslims is that it teaches us discipline. That's very important for any citizen of any country to learn."

 

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PHYSICAL PLANT, FACULTY SENATE DISCUSS RECYCLING

BY CROSBY KING

DAILY COUGAR STAFF

In an effort to increase the recycling activity at UH, Physical Plant Director Herb Collier recommended to the Faculty Senate that the following campus-wide changes be made:

Avoid making a lot of scrap paper. He said circulating one report to 10 people beats xeroxing 10 copies.

Keep excess phone books to a minimum. He recommended ordering only enough for each department or office so surpluses aren't left lying around campus.

Be diligent in recycling cans and paper within the department. He said he hoped the process would eventually earn a small profit which could pay for campus beautification.

Come up with your own ideas.

Collier's recycling statistics for last year were significant: 22 tons of office paper, three tons of computer paper and 900 pounds of aluminum cans.

But as impressive as those numbers are, he said they represent less than 5 percent of the total amount of cans and paper used by the university.

The Physical Plant operates the recycling program, and its custodians take the trash to a central location on campus then sell it to two recycling companies. Last year's amount brought $3100 to the university.

After the meeting, Collier said although his unit centralizes the process, it's up to each department head to improve the recycling at UH. He said the Physical Plant can help by supplying information about separating paper.

"We need to communicate what rules there are for office (paper)," he said.

Collier said last year, UH recycled more than 55 tons of paper and metal, an amount that would form a cube measuring 15 feet on each side. He stressed the Physical Plant is not interested in saving money, but in preserving Houston's landfill area.

But Collier said his goal was to get UH to save a third of its recyclable material. He said the money generated from this could pay for a tangible reminder of recycling, such as a flower bed.

"If we could just (recycle) a half (of all recyclable material) back," he said, "it would be very profitable."

Frank Colson, senior buyer at the Physical Plant, said the complicated nature of buying paper kept him from giving an accurate cost of the recycling processing. But he said UH emphasized the good that came from it, not the cost.

"With a community-wide effort," he said, "it will amaze you how much pounds we keep out of the landfill."

Colson said only the toilet paper and paper towels UH buys are already recycled, about 10 percent of the total. He said that figure should improve to 15 percent in a year.

Most of the paper used in newspapers, including The Daily Cougar, comes from paper used over and over again, said a source from the UH Printing Department. This is an age-old process, he said.

"Before we even knew what the word recycling was, it was being recycled."

 

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MORE TEXANS EYE THE PRESIDENCY

BY REBECCA MCPHAIL

DAILY COUGAR STAFF

Texas may wind up the winner in the 1992 presidential election no matter what the outcome.

Two prominent Texans, billionaire H. Ross Perot and U.S. Senator Lloyd Bentsen, are poised on the periphery of the 1992 campaign.

Perot was encouraged to run after an interview last month with CNN's Larry King. During the course of their talk, Perot indicated he would serve as president if elected. He added, however, that he would not actively work to place his name on the ballots of the 50 states.

The ensuing deluge of calls and letters from enthusiastic supporters prompted Perot to set up a toll-free hotline last week. Volunteers staffing the line instruct callers on the ballot-petition procedures of their states.

According to Perot Group employee Cynthia Engles, the response has been tremendous.

"We have a huge phone bank set up in the back, and we've received a lot of calls," she said.

The public's response has not gone unnoticed by Perot.

"He's very encouraged by this grass-roots movement," Engles said.

Perot rose to prominence in 1962 when he founded Electronic Data Systems Inc. He later sold the company to General Motors in 1984.

Because Perot's candidacy is not official, he has not come forward with a political platform, Engles said. However, she added, he will be delivering speeches and appearing on talk shows in the near future to clarify his positions on the issues.

U.S. Senator Lloyd Bentsen shares Perot's dark-horse status in the 1992 bid for the presidency.

According to the Houston Post, during a Texas AFL-CIO meeting last week, Gary Mauro, Texas Land Commissioner and chair of Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton's Texas campaign, allegedly hinted to the small group that if Clinton was forced to withdraw his bid for the presidency, he would throw his support to Bentsen.

Mauro believes the issue has been blown out of proportion.

"It sounds like a reporter who hasn't been on the front page for a while and is looking for a sensational story," Mauro said.

However, Mauro does not deny that there is a strong rapport between Clinton and Bentsen.

"What Clinton has been telling anyone who will listen in Texas, since October, is that he didn't want Bentsen to close the doors on the presidency if his (Clinton's) campaign fails," Mauro said.

The issue of Bentsen was brought up at the meeting because people are afraid of another scandal, Mauro said.

However, Mauro is certain of Clinton's political footing.

"These are all old attacks they're using. People in Arkansas have been calling Clinton a draft-dodger and a womanizer for years," he said.

Bentsen, himself, has no comment on the issue; however, Bentsen spokesperson Jack DeVore believes the senator has no interest in the presidency.

"Bentsen has said that the decision not to run was the hardest political decision he's had to make," DeVore said, "but he's very happy in his current position as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. He feels he can do a lot of good in that position."

According to Mauro, there is little doubt that Clinton will take the Democratic nomination.

"If you know how to count the delegates, it is obvious that we're going to make it," he said.

 

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SCHOOL OF MUSIC FORCED TO HALT FUNDS TO HOUSTON OPERA STUDIO

BY REISHA VIRATA

NEWS REPORTER

The UH School of Music will cancel its financial support of the Houston Opera Studio at the end of the semester, said Carlisle Floyd, an M.D. Anderson professor of music.

David Tomatz, director of the School of Music, said, "It's the kind of thing that breaks our heart," in reference to the school's $100,000 support.

UH co-sponsored the HOS with the Houston Grand Opera. The HOS enables gifted, young artists and singers who are almost ready for the professional world to have more training and an opportunity to work with HGO, Tomatz said.

"It was a role model for a university and a professional opera company to work together. People come to the University of Houston to see how it works," Tomatz said.

Floyd said "I feel very sad that it was necessary.

"It's (HOS) proven itself, and the opera studio is extremely well known by the city (of Houston)," he said.

The School of Music will be withdrawing its financial support from HOS because of a lack of state funds. The school was asked to have a 5.27 percent budget cut and had an option to cut its

faculty or the amount of money it contributed to its HOS student salaries, according to Tomatz.

The ten students (eight singers and two pianists) in HOS are paid stipends because they are on the same level as research assistants, Tomatz said. All the students in HOS are post-graduate; eight of the ten have master's degrees.

The collaboration of UH and HGO to support the 15-year-old studio will remain the same. The only difference is that UH won't be contributing money to the studio, Tomatz said.

David Gockley, general director of the Houston Grand Opera, said, "UH withdrawing will mean we will have to raise a mess of money to cover what UH has stopped funding."

Gockley said the HGO will try to raise more money through private-sector fund-raising.

Tomatz said UH will waive tuition and fees for the students.

The UH School of Music and HGO are making plans for the time when the economy gets stronger and there are more resources, Tomatz said. Some of the plans discussed are summer internships and a minority-internship program.

This program will be comparable to the School of Music's Houston Symphony Minority Internship in Orchestral Performance program in which minority graduate students are able to study music and gain experience by performing with the symphony.

Tomatz said that HOS "is just one victim" of the lack of funding.

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