The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour
Intro JIM LEHRER: Good evening. Leading the news this Tuesday, in the Persian Gulf conflict, Iran attacked two neutral tankers, and the search continued for a missing U. S. helicopter. Elsewhere, Israel deported eight more Palestinians. And in New York there was the important Democratic presidential primary. We'll have the details in our news summary in a moment. Charlayne Hunter Gault is in New York tonight. Charlayne? CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: After the news summary, what next in the Persian Gulf. We'll have excerpts from the Iranian Ambassador's news conference, and views from a former Iranian official, a former U. S. official and a journalist. Then, Education Secretary William Bennett and Stanford University's president debate how broad the college curriculum should be. And finally, a report on a modern day explorer.News Summary LEHRER: There was more military action in the Persian Gulf today, but not between the United States and Iran. Iran attacked two neutral tankers, one of them being a 12,000 ton ship of the United Arab Emirates. It was set afire, but the crew was rescued without injury. There was no immediate word or identification on the second ship. Also, in the Southern part of the Gulf, three new mines were spotted by French forces. And U. S. ships and helicopters continue the search for a U. S. Marine helicopter and its two man crew, still missing from yesterday's combat with the Iranians. Iran claims to have shot it down. U. S. ships destroyed two Iranian oil platforms yesterday. Also six counterattacking Iranian ships were hit, including two frigates. A Pentagon spokesman said today one of the frigates probably sunk during the night. President Reagan said this morning he hoped the action was over.
Pres. RONALD REAGAN: Everything seems to be quieting down in the Gulf. We hope that it continues that way -- REPORTER: Do you have any news about the missing helicopter? Pres. REAGAN: I have to answer that in the sense that there are nine ships right now trying to find the answer to that. LEHRER: The Iranians vowed revenge for the U. S. actions. They disputed U. S. claim that it was legitimate retaliation for last week's incident, in which ten U. S. sailors were injured when a U. S. frigate hit an Iranian mine. The Iranian Ambassador to the United Nations held a press conference in New York today. He called on the U. N. to condemn the United States for yesterday's actions.
MOHAMMAD MAHALLATI, Iranian Ambassador to U. N. : The Secretary General and the Security Council should condemn the United States for, among other things, explicit violation of United Nations Charter, resort to use of force, violation of national sovereignty and territorial integrity of a member state. The United States should be held responsible as the primary party for the continual escalation in the Persian Gulf. LEHRER: Also Teheran radio said today the United States has been notified officially through Swiss intermediaries of Iran's intention to retaliate for yesterday's attacks. Charlayne? HUNTER-GAULT: Israel today expelled eight more Palestinians, including six Arabs suspected of inciting a clash in which a teenage Jewish girl was killed recently. Israeli soldiers sealed parts of the Occupied Territories, imposing a curfew on 24 towns and refugee camps for a third straight day to quell rioting. The rioting was touched off by the assassination Saturday of a PLO official. Today, the body of the official, Khalil el Wazir, was flown from Tunis to Syria, where his family joined Syrian officials in the motorcade for his funeral. The 52 year old Wazir was said to be the man responsible for coordinating the Palestinian protests in the Occupied Territories. Israel hasn't responded to charges that it was responsible for the assassination, which was carried out by a commando band at Wazir's Tunis home. LEHRER: A West German judge today sent the brother of accused TWA hijacker Mohammed Hamadei to prison for 13 years. Twenty nine year old Abbas Hamadi was found guilty of helping abduct two West German citizens in Beirut. The judge said the kidnappings were part of a plan to force the West German government to release his brother Mohammed. One of the two West Germans has been released, the other remains a hostage in Lebanon. Mohammed Hamadi is awaiting trial on charges of participating in the 1985 hijacking ofa TWA jetliner in Beirut that resulted in the death of a U. S. Navy diver. HUNTER-GAULT: In Algiers, a 20 year old woman related to the Emir of Kuwait became the fifth hostage to plead for her government to meet the hijackers' demands. She and her 22 year old sister are the only two women left among some 35 hostages on the jumbo jet. This was the first time either of them had been made to plead the hijackers' case. At one time during the day, one of the gunmen holding the hostages peered out of the jet's cockpit to observe some movement on the tarmac. So far, Kuwait has refused to meet the hijackers' demands to free 17 men convicted of terrorism. LEHRER: Secretary of State Shultz left for Moscow today. His main mission is to resolve differences in U. S. and Soviet versions of a new arms control treaty to reduce the number of long range nuclear weapons. Reagan Administration officials told the Associated Press there are more than 1200 disputed items in the two drafts of the treaty. The hope is that they can be resolved in time for President Reagan and Soviet leader Gorbachev to sign the document at their Moscow summit in May. Shultz will meet with Gorbachev and Soviet foreign minister Eduard Shevardnadze while in Moscow for three days beginning Thursday. HUNTER-GAULT: Back in this country, four people were killed and at least 15 others injured when a tornado touched down near the town of Madison in North Florida. The pre dawn twister hit just west of Madison and slashed a 12 mile path of destruction. The tornado was part of a general storm system that buffeted the Southeast with hail, high winds and lightning. Madison has a population of 3500 and is located in a tobacco growing region near the Georgia border. LEHRER: There was a battle of Washington news conferences today over safety record of Eastern Airlines. Frank Lorenzo, Chairman of Eastern's parent company, Texas Air Corporation, had one to claim unions were out to destroy Eastern with slanderous misinformation. He said the federal inspections now underway will prove the wrongness of union charges about Eastern. The head of the Airlines Pilots Union countered with an attack of his own.
HENRY DUFFY, Pres. Airlines Pilots Asso. : What I hope that this inspection is thorough enough to turn up is management pattern we're concerned with. We've got an airline who's trying to intimidate its employees into taking airplanes into the air that have safety problems. That's a management pattern that we want corrected. FRANK LORENZO, Chairman, Texas Air Corp. : What is at issue is the role of labor as industry meets the competitive challenges that have come to characterize this decade. What is equally at stake, I submit, is how far a union can be permitted to go in weakening a company by harassment, based almost exclusively on misinformation, disinformation and misrepresentation. There are two basic reasons we welcome this FAA inspection that is now underway. One is that it will help us quantify and verify the progress made at Eastern over the past couple of years. The other is that it will put in perspective the misinformation that's been circulated recently about Eastern and about its parent company, Texas Air. LEHRER: Lorenzo was supported at his news conference by Eastern's former President Frank Borman who serves on the Texas Air Board of Directors. HUNTER-GAULT: It was a heavy turnout in New York today as voters took part in a primary that could produce an undisputed frontrunner in the Democratic race. Vice President Bush had no contest onthe Republican side, but with ethnic pride and tensions on the rise, the Democratic contest has been a raucous affair. All three candidates were highly visible in the city today. Jesse Jackson appeared early at an East Harlem polling place, while Michael Dukakis greeted commuters in Queens. Senator Albert Gore did the same at Penn Station in Manhattan. About 2. 5 of the states 3. 5 million voters live in the city. Pollsters said Dukakis had a lead of anywhere from 10 to 17 points, but warned about the volatility of the race. That's our news summary. Still ahead on the NewsHour, what next in the Persian Gulf, to change or not to change the college curriculum, and a modern day explorer. What Next? LEHRER: They say the next move is up to Iran. A U. S. frigate hit an Iranian mine in the Persian Gulf last week. The U. S. retaliated yesterday by destroying two Iranian oil platforms. Iran fought back, but got the worst of it, losing six ships to U. S. counter counterattacks. So what next? How will Iran most likely continue this tit for tat exchange with the U. S. ? And why? Those are the questions we explore first tonight with two American analysts of Iran and an Iranian. They will follow some official words from Iran delivered this afternoon at a New York news conference by the Iranian Ambassador to the United Nations.
MOHAMMAD MAHALLATI, Iranian Ambassador to U. N. : With regard to yesterday's America's dastardly attack against two commercial oil platforms, I would like to make the following remarks. The United States' open and direct involvement in the war on behalf of Iraq clearly illustrates the bankruptcy in Iraqi military machine and it proves that mere military intelligence, financial and logistical assistance to Iraq will not be able to save the criminal Iraqi regime. The American administration decision to directly attack the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Islamic Republic of Iran can have only one objective. And that is to divert international attention from the massive use of chemical weapons against military and nonmilitary targets by Iraq, a regime that the United States Administration has sold to support. The Islamic Republic of Iran has always expressed its willingness to observe a total cease fire in the Persian Gulf, and thereby maintain freedom of international commercial navigation. The Secretary General of the United Nations is well aware of the position of the Islamic Republic of Iran in this regard. On the contrary, the government of Iraq has persistently opposed the idea of cease fire and freedom of navigation in Persian Gulf. The Islamic Republic of Iran declared on a number of occasions here in the United Nations that it is ready to participate in any international effort to sweep the mines from the Persian Gulf. The United States has not even once in Security Council welcomed this proposal of Islamic Republic of Iran. REPORTER: Is Iran responsible for laying mines in the Gulf? Are we likely to see reprisals in the form of attack against American interests throughout the world? Mr. MAHALLATI: Well, this has been always the position of the Islamic Republic of Iran that we have never accepted laying mines in the Persian Gulf. Well, definitely our authorities have clearly stated that we have every right to retaliate this act of hostility by United States in whatsoever proper field. REPORTER: Since Secretary Carlucci said that your decision to retaliate against the United States was both foolhardy and illogical, and certainly in military terms it was irrational. Would you respond to that for us? Mr. MAHALLATI: Well, I should say that what was done in Persian Gulf, irrespective of the calculation of the damages on both sides, has proven our determination for self defense. With whatsoever price. This is a principle that we have adhered to since the onset of the revolution, and we will continue on this line, and as I said, irrespective of the price. We don't care about the price. And we abide by this very important Islamic and national principle. HUNTER-GAULT: We get three perspectives now on what the Iranians might do next. Howard Teicher was a member of President Reagan's National Security Council staff from 1982 to 1987. He's now a consultant in Washington. Robin Wright is a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, and most recently reported from Iran last August. Monsour Farhang was the first U. N. Ambassador from the Khomeini government in 1980 and '81. He is now a professor of politics at Bennington College in Vermont. Monsour Farhang, first to you. You just heard in the news conference the word irrational, as Defense Secretary Carlucci used it. Is that the right word in your view to describe Iran's retaliation yesterday? MANSOUR FARHANG, former Iranian Ambassador to U. N. : If we use the welfare of the Iranian society and peace as a value, the Iranian government is definitely acting irrationally. But if they considered the Iranian action as an instrument of maintaining cohesiveness within the existing regime, without any regard for human and material cost for this purpose, then it was rational. In other words, it really depends on our definition of rationality. Khomeini is totally and completely oblivious to the suffering of the Iranian people and in that sense his behavior in this war is completely irrational. At the same time, as a Machiavellian politician, he knows how to maintain a sense of order among his own constituency. This action was directed to achieve that purpose. HUNTER-GAULT: Robin Wright, what's your view of that? Irrational? ROBIN WRIGHT, Carnegie Institute: No, I think it has a different perspective. Iran in many ways, ironically, feels that it has been the victim both of Iraqi aggression and of U. S. crossing into Iranian turf, feels that it didn't want this war with Iraq, and it feels that it shares an interest in freedom of navigation with the U. S. , because unlike Iraq, which has pipelines through Turkey and Saudi Arabia, it is totally dependent on the Gulf waters. So it doesn't see any need for conflict, and yet it's come under increasing pressure in recent months. And so I think it's decided to strike back. HUNTER-GAULT: Howard Teicher, do you have a view on that? HOWARD TEICHER, former NSC official: I think we have to look at the situation in terms of the variety of interests that Iran is trying to pursue. They're engaged in warfare on several different fronts. They're engaged in warfare with Iraq, they're engaged in a more subtle form of warfare with the Arab states of the lesser Gulf, they now see themselves engaged in warfare with us. They are exporting revolution. I think their behavior was consistent with the pattern of behavior we have seen in the past. And should not have come as a surprise to U. S. officials. HUNTER-GAULT: So in your view -- I mean, do you feel that from their perspective, inasmuch as you can project an educated guess, that their attitude would be that this was a rational act on their part? Mr. TEICHER: From the point of view of the leadership in Teheran, this was a very rational act. HUNTER-GAULT: Monsour Farhang, of course we're all guessing, I suppose. But how do you think the decision to retaliate was reached? I mean, was this something that was formulated at the highest levels of government? And results, is the result of a change in policy? Or do you think that this was freelance activity on the part of the revolutionary guards cruising around in the Gulf? Mr. FARHANG: The decision was made by the person of Khomeini. There is absolutely no question about that. But we have to unders -- HUNTER-GAULT: Why is there no question about that? Mr. FARHANG: Simply because such massive decision, given the nature of the Iranian political order, has to be accepted by the entire elements of the regime. There are different factions and different personalities who suggest a variety of tactics in order to pursue this war. Some of them even are interested in the settlement. So when a critical decision has to be made, the only way to maintain unity within the regime in support of that decision, it has to be approved by the person of Khomeini. And all significant decisions concerning this war are actually made by Khomeini. But we have to understand the larger context. Over the past six months to a year, the war has been going very badly for Iran. The so called big offensive of the year did not materialize. Recruitment for soldiers in Iran has been extremely difficult. They have been actually busting people in the streets, going to some home in the middle of the night in order to maintain the level of recruitment. They have shortage of weapons, definitely shortage of spare parts to airplanes and so forth. At the same time, they have promised their own constituency that the war will end soon and victory is ours. Now that objective cannot be materialized. The one way they can justify the defeat, that is the frustration of their promises, is to claim that the United States has intervened in this war militarily, on behalf of Iraq, and that is the reason for the inability of Iran to achieve its stated purpose, which is winning the war by the end of the year, as they had claimed earlier. This is really the context of the Iranian behavior. In that sense, obviously, challenging the United States would give them the kind of excuse which they regard as an effective instrument of maintaining cohesion within the regime. HUNTER-GAULT: Do you see it that way, Robin Wright? Ms. WRIGHT: Well, I tend to disagree just a little bit about the cohesion within the regime. I suspect there are tremendous divisions inside Iran. It's been evident in the power struggle that began at the beginning of the revolution and continues to this day, in many ways more violent than ever before. And it involves not just the rivalry among personalities about who will run Iran in the post Khomeini regime, but also about rival visions of how Iran should be run. Is it to be a revolution that settles down and gets back to the business of reform, which has been put on hold since the war began? Or is it to engage in perpetual revolution? And I think that much of what we have seen in the Gulf in the last few days has to do with domestic politics. HUNTER-GAULT: And do you agree with Mansour Farhang that this decision to retaliate probably came from the highest level of the government, probably Khomeini himself? Ms. WRIGHT: Well, he's correct that Khomeini still has absolute power. But I think that in recent years we've seen increasingly the fact that the lower level clerical bureaucrats or technocrats have increasingly been the ones to make the decisions and then presenting them to Khomeini. Kind of not a fait accompli, but this is what we want to do, do you approve it, and he goes along. So I think that there is more latitude in this government for kind of unilateral decisions or division than there had been in the early stages of the revolution. HUNTER-GAULT: Do you agree with that? Mr. FARHANG: Well, it depends on what issue we are talking about. With respect to the war, Khomeini is the uncontested and absolute decision maker. There are many other socioeconomic issues that Khomeini has no interest in. In those areas technocrats, other clerical elements definitely make decisions and suggestions and present options to Khomeini. But not in regards to the war and confrontation with the United States. There, Khomeini is his own decision maker and pays absolutely no attention to the suggestions which are contrary to his view of what ought to be done. HUNTER-GAULT: President Reagan said today -- you may have heard him a few moments ago -- that things seem to be quieting down in the Gulf. The Christian Science Monitor said that the next step today depends on how serious Iranian officials view the damage to their forces and prestige. Do you have any sense of what might happen next? I mean what Iran might be expected to do next? Mr. FARHANG: I think Iran will continue to capitalize on shooting down of the American helicopter and hitting neutral vessels, and present these actions into their propaganda within Iran as actions taken against the United States. No matter what ship they hit in the Gulf these days, on Teheran radio, and in Teheran newspapers, it will be presented as an attack against an American target. And for their constituency, it would be extremely difficult to verify the claim. HUNTER-GAULT: Mr. Teicher, do you have a view on that? Mr. TEICHER: I think that he's absolutely right. HUNTER-GAULT: Robin Wright? Ms. WRIGHT: Well, I expect this may be played out not in conventional military terms, because Iran clearly can't stand up to the United States. I suspect we're more likely to see it played out in acts of violence against American interests elsewhere in the Middle East, or -- HUNTER-GAULT: Terrorism -- Ms. WRIGHT: Yes. HUNTER-GAULT: You started to say -- I interrupted you, and you said, and perhaps -- Ms. WRIGHT: Well, I think one of the important things to remember is that Iran has also just gone through what appears to be a major loss in the Iraqi offensive, the first one in two years, at the strategic Fao Peninsula. And so it's going to have its hands full in terms of responding in conventional military terms. It's going to want to get back something of Fao Peninsula and not divert forces to the Persian Gulf. HUNTER-GAULT: The Fao Peninsula being up at the tip of Iran, right near the border of Iraq, right? Ms. WRIGHT: Yes, it's the mouth of the shuttle Arab waterway. HUNTER-GAULT: What do you think about this terrorism thing that Iran would strike out -- Mr. FARHANG: First we have to understand, experience of the past ten years demonstrates quite clearly that the Iranian regime has no moral or legal objection to using terrorism as an instrument of its foreign policy. The only concern they have is they don't want to be caught coldhanded. In other words, they want the capacity to deny. Ayatollah Khomeini is the master of plausible deniability. It was not at all invented in Washington, but in some of the classes of Khoum, where the Khomeini and other Shiite theologians propagate their values. Now, at the same time that Iran is accepting terrorism as an instrument of its foreign policy, so long as it does not get caught. And they also want to maintain normal relations in international politics. That is to say both bilateral and international. Iran does not want to be known as a (unintelligible) so they have to walk a very thin and difficult line. Otherwise it is ironic that the Iranian representative at the United Nations refers to international law and the sense of justice in order to condemn American action. The reality is that Iran has consistently (unintelligible) international law, either by arresting or keeping diplomatic personnel as hostage, which is the most sacred principle of international law, or when they actually arrested supposedly the hijackers of the TWA, one has to ask the Iranian authorities what happened to them? Were they charged with a crime, or they were released to go back to their previous activities? HUNTER-GAULT: Let me ask Mr. Teicher, you know, given, especially given the difference in perceptions, I mean, here is Defense Secretary saying the Iranians are being irrational. You all have made a plausible case that what they have done is rational to their way of thinking. Given these vast differences in perception, what happens next in the United States? I mean, is there any way that the United States can influence what Iran does? Mr. TEICHER: I think there are a variety of ways that we can influence what Iran does. And we've begun to take the kinds of measures that are necessary to get that message across. I think we have to expect a period of testing by Iran of our resolve to begin now. The Iranians remember well what happened in 1984, when pressures on the U. S. forces and the U. S. presence in Beirut brought about a relatively speedy withdrawal of the U. S. forces, and a defeat for the United States. There is no question that their goal is to push the United States out of the Gulf and to undermine our credibility with our friends in the region. So we have to look for a variety of measures, both overt, direct military measures, to make it clear to Iran that it will pay an increasing price for irresponsible international behavior, as well as indirect measures that make clear our readiness to maintain our presence, and if the Iranians are interested, to undertake a dialogue. Iran is still the most important country in that part of the world. It's the largest country, it has the most people, it has the most resources, it has the longest border with the Soviet Union. It's important that we reach out to them as well. HUNTER-GAULT: Robin Wright, does the United States have the credibility, given all that's going on with the arms for hostage deal and everything else, to have any influence on Iran in the way that Mr. Teicher has just described? Ms. WRIGHT: Well surprisingly enough, I think there still is a great deal of interest in the United States in part because of the superiority of our technology, superior education and so forth. Because of a longstanding relationship between the two nations, I think they would be more prone once they end their period of isolation to lean toward the West vs. the East. I think unfortunately because of a series of actions that began not with the arms for hostage swap necessarily, but earlier, in 1953, when the U. S. through the CIA became involved with putting the shah back on the throne, that we have a kind of murky record in Iran that dates back several administrations and decades. And so it's going to be very hard to recoup. HUNTER-GAULT: What do you think should be our next step, very briefly, because I'd like to get Mansour Farhang in on this before we have to go. Ms. WRIGHT: I think quiet diplomacy and trying to send messages to Iran that the two nations need to coexist. HUNTER-GAULT: What do you think? Mr. FARHANG: So long as Ayatollah Khomeini is alive, the United States leverage, in fact the leverage of the international community, to influence the course of events in Iran is very limited. Simply because Khomeini's tactical philosophy of government is reduced to the more you suffer on earth the greater your rewards in heaven. Therefore, there is nothing that could influence him in terms of the welfare and the peaceloving aspirations of the Iranian people in order to settle this conflict. However, there is a very practical effective way for the United States to dramatically de escalate the violence of this war, and that is to ask Japan, West Germany, Italy, any of these three countries, to boycott buying Iranian oil, and therefore reducing the economic capability of the Islamic regime to continue this war, which is the killing of brothers. HUNTER-GAULT: Well, Monsour Farhang, on that note, we'll have to end it there. Thank you for being with us. Thank you, Howard Teicher, for being with us, and Robin Wright. LEHRER: Still to come on the NewsHour tonight, a debate about Western civilization between a cabinet member and a university president. And a report about preparing to go to the South Pole. Contentious Curriculum LEHRER: Next, a rare event. A member of a president's cabinet and the president of a major university disagreeing in public about something that matters. The something is what constitutes Western civilization. The cabinet member is Education Secretary William Bennett. The university president is Donald Kennedy of Stanford University. The specific issue that brought them to disagreement was a recent Stanford decision about a required freshman course. Peter Graumann of Public Station KQED, San Francisco, has a setup background report.
PETER GRAUMANN: For the last eight years, Stanford has required all incoming freshmen to study the great ideas of Western civilization. As represented by 16 works ranging from Plato's Republic, to Freud's Outline of Psychoanalysis. The class was intended to acquaint students with the foundations of modern American thinking. PAUL SEAVER, professor of history, Stanford: We're trying to give our students some sense of where their culture comes from. We're also concerned to give them some sense of the sweep of history that will give them at least in some outline sense a familiarity with the roots of their own culture.
GRAUMANN: But as Stanford student body has changed to include more students of Asian, African and Latin heritage, pressure has grown to recognize the contributions that these cultures have made to the West. Objections focused on the course reading list, entirely composed of works by white European males. NOMI MARTIN, Black Students' Union: We get the message that those are superior works and works that aren't written by white European males are inferior works.
GRAUMANN: Nomi Martin and Mary Dillard are members of the Stanford Black Student Union, which has led a movement to abandon the Western culture course. MARY DILLARD, Black Students' Union: It's rejecting the notion that Western culture is from one place on this globe, you know? Or that our society has only been made up from one place. Or one group of people. And that's what we're rejecting.
GRAUMANN: After months of intense debate, a compromise was reached last month to replace the Western Culture class with a new course, called Cultures, Ideas and Values. While retaining a shortened list of classics, the new course will also examine non Western ideas. And the role of race, sex and class and ideology. As the debate at Stanford has unfolded, Education Secretary William Bennett has been following te controversy. Last night, he came to the Stanford campus to express his displeasure with the results, charging that liberal and minority students used intimidation to get their way. WILLIAM BENNETT: Stanford's decision of March 31 to alter its Western Culture program was not a product of enlightened debate, but rather an unfortunate capitulation to a campaign of pressure politics and intimidation. Does anyone really doubt that selecting works based on the ethnicity or gender of their authors trivializes the academic enterprise? Does anyone really doubt the political agenda underlying these provisions? The events of the past two years at Stanford therefore in my mind strikes as an example of what Alan Bloom has called the closing of the American mind. In the name of opening minds, and promoting diversity, we have seen in this instance the closing of the Stanford mind. The loudest voices have won not through force of argument but through bullying and threatening and namecalling. That's not the way a university should work.
GRAUMANN: While Bennett's remarks drew applause at last night's forum, which was sponsored by the Stanford Republican Club among others, his charge of intimidation is rejected by most of those involved at Stanford. Craig Heller is a biology professor who chaired the faculty committee deliberating the issue. CRAIG HELLER, biology professor, Stanford: The only intimidation that I see was the intimidation coming from outside the university of people making false accusations. GRAUMANN: Did you feel intimidated at any point? Prof. HELLER: At no time. Students would come to meetings and would wish to be heard. They were invited in and they would state in very rational terms what their opinions were, and they would let the committee go about its work, and eagerly anticipate the result. And it was a very democratic process. LEHRER: And now to Secretary Bennett and President Kennedy. President Kennedy, how do you react to Secretary Bennett's charge that this change was made as a result of pressure politics and intimidation? DONALD KENNEDY, president Stanford University: In the first place, I want to thank the Secretary for going to Stanford, and sorry I couldn't be there to welcome him myself. I think that the speech he made and the reception it got added constructively to the discussion we're having. As to the discussion itself and the outcome to which it led, I disagree with Secretary Bennett's assessment on two grounds. The first is process, the second is outcome. He doesn't like the outcome, which we viewed as a very marginal change in what is predominantly a Western culture course and still will be. And he criticized the process, claiming that it involved intimidation, and no one who participated in it, including those who took the status quo side in the beginning, can be found who will say that they were intimidated. The decision makers really operated in a very free and very rational and very constructive environment. LEHRER: The decision makers being members ofthe faculty. Mr. KENNEDY: The academic staff. LEHRER: Academic staff. Mr. Secretary, what is the basis for your use of the word intimidation then? WILLIAM BENNETT, Secretary of Education: Last night, I said -- one student responded much the way President Kennedy has just responded, and said, I don't think there was any intimidation. This was a student who was in favor of pushing these changes through. I said, Well, was there any intimidation? Did anyone sense any intimidation? And voices started coming out in the audience, I did, I did, I did. Until we have a very loud chorus. In terms of the faculty, afterwards, I spoke to several faculty members. One faculty member from your French Department said to me it was like Vichy, France here. If you stood up and challenged the reformers, you were called racist and sexist. That's not the way a university should behave. Mr. KENNEDY: Those of us who were around in the late 60s and passed through that difficult passage really did experience some intimidation. I think we know what it's like. And I just don't see any resemblance between what went on at Stanford and what any reasonable person could call intimidation. I'm not surprised that Secretary Bennett got that reaction last night. LEHRER: Why? Why does that not surprise you? Mr. KENNEDY: Well, the occasion was constructed by the Young Republican Club, those who were assenting to that view I think wanted very much to please him. I would still like to know the identity of any member of the faculty senate who brought, who participated in the process that brought about this change who felt intimidated. Professor Arral, who was one of those who disagreed with the outcome and said, Why, says that he did not feel intimidated. Sec. BENNETT: He said, exactly, he did not feel physical intimidation. I never argued there was physical intimidation. But it was quite clear that if you disagreed with the proposal being pushed, you would be called a racist. And that's a matter of the public record, President Kennedy. That's in your newspaper, not in a Republican newspaper, it's in the Daily, it's in the San Francisco press. I will give you the name of the faculty member, I will not give it to you on television, provided you promise nothing will happen to that faculty member. Mr. KENNEDY: (laugh) Well -- Sec. BENNETT: Because there was a lot of this last night, and it was quite distressing to hear. But there are other parts of the record. There was an occupation of your office, there was an occupation of the provosts's office -- LEHRER: On this issue -- Sec. BENNETT: Yes. Quotes from student leaders, quotes from student leaders in the public record, saying the faculty was getting a little timid, so we thought we ought to put a little pressure on. At the last meeting, March 31, as you know, 300 students were waiting outside, and as the press reported, they said if the faculty was going the wrong way, they were going to march in. Mr. KENNEDY: Two corrections of that record. First, the university news service didn't even report the students outside and the faculty inside never heard them, were unaware of their presence, until they greeted them with a light scattered applause on their exit. There were nothing like 300 people there. And the sit in last spring, which lasted four hours and did not outstay the time by which they could legally be present in the reception area, was about 10 issues, one of which was this one, and it was never discussed and was plainly low priority at the time. So I justthink that mischaracterizes the climate as it actually existed during this conversation. Sec. BENNETT: Well, again, a substantial press record. You may want to turn this frog into a prince, but you can't. A frog is a frog. The press accounts are there. All one has to do is go back and examine the record. The people I talked to last night certainly were at Stanford every bit as much and felt this intimidation. LEHRER: Let me turn the frog and the prince in any order y'all want to identify -- Sec. BENNETT: Don't you get into (unintelligible) LEHRER: (laugh) Okay, sorry. Into the substance of what the debate was all about. And the Secretary said, Mr. Kennedy, that this trivializes the academic enterprise. Mr. KENNEDY: Well, we spent five full meetings of the academic senate, two hours plus each, in really the most thoughtful debate that you can imagine. I don't think that's trivializing anything. Indeed, the entire campus was swept up into a concern about what I think te Secretary and I agree is the most important thing that can take place in a academic setting, and that is a discussion of what ought to be the common intellectual property of educated men and women. Now, the outcome is not to junk Western culture. The tracks in the course now called Culture Ideas Values, will still consist of most of the same materials, but there will be added to it significant work from other cultures and from other kinds of authors. I don't think anything has been thrown overboard. I think what we have has been enriched. LEHRER: I want to get the Secretary's response on that. Just to make sure I understand your position, Dr. Kennedy, you did not vote on this issue? You're not a member -- Mr. KENNEDY: I'm not allowed to. I chair, but I can't vote. LEHRER: Okay. If you had voted, would you have voted with the majority? Do you believe this was a just and right decision? Mr. KENNEDY: Plainly. How does this trivialize the academic enterprise? And what's the harm of what Stanford has decided? Sec. BENNETT: Well, again I think that the means in here is the end. Right from the beginning this was an assault on Western Culture and Western civilization, and if you look at the Stanford newspaper editorials, and other things, you will see that over this period of time there were many editorials saying Western culture is sexist, racist, imperialistic and so on. All sorts of things written out of ignorance, which demonstrated the need for students to study Western culture so they would understand that it is Western culture which taught the rest of the world how to overcome many of these things. But the process of course then therefore was a problem. But so was the end. This was no trifling change. There were 15 books in the original course. LEHRER: To make sure we understand -- to go over, that was -- the core course, the Western Civilization course, there were 15 core books. Okay. Sec. BENNETT: Right. The so called modest change dropped nine of those books. That's pretty substantial. Dropping Homer and dropping Dante and dropping Freud and dropping Darwin and Luther and Thomas Moore, I think is -- LEHRER: And to be replaced by? Sec. BENNETT: Well, that's to be decided by a group of the faculty each year. This year they decided to keep six of the books, but next year they could drop them all if they wanted to. Now, let me make it plain. I think that students at Stanford should study non Western culture. In fact, when I was Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, I gave Stanford a grant to develop a course in non Western culture. But you don't make the case for studying non Western culture by trashing Western culture. And you don't know non Western culture any better by knowing Western culture less. Mr. KENNEDY: I want to promise everybody that we didn't trash Western culture. Sec. BENNETT: Check the record. Mr. KENNEDY: That Secretary Bennett's grant was and is very much appreciated and that we do have a separate non Western culture requirement. And finally that the enrichment of this course retains 90% of what was there, that -- LEHRER: Is he wrong when he says 15 books, nine of them were cut? Mr. KENNEDY: It is correct that we cut the core list a bit more than in half. That is the absolutely required list that must be included in all of the so called tracks. There is a whole additional list of strongly recommended works that our faculty have always drawn on, including the one, now, the ones that were deleted from the absolutely required list. The faculty teaching that course actually asked for a marginal increase in flexibility because, for example, philosophers interested in studying the relations exposing the history of the relationship between state and citizen wanted a little more freedom to assign Locke and Hobbs and Rousseau, which weren't on the original absolutely required list. So this was the Stanford faculty deciding how it best could teach. LEHRER: Mr. Secretary, what about the basic complaint that has been made about your position, and the Western civilization core as it existed before Stanford changed it, which was it is basically a European white male civilization? Sec. BENNETT: Well, yeah, as one of the editorials said, We're tired of reading books by dead white guys. The problem is a lot of dead white guys wrote very important books. They wrote very important books which all of our students should study. The fact that they were white is irrelevant, as is the fact that they are dead. If the books are important, they should be read. Should books about other societies and cultures be read? Of course they should. But again, it's like saying we should study French or we should study a foreign language. I believe in that. But I don't make the case for studying French by saying we shouldn't study English. We should study both. Again, the whole temper of the debate and the conclusion was that the West really has too important a place, when in fact I think you can argue that it didn't have an important enough place, and that this whole thing was a process of thrashing Western culture and putting something else in its place. LEHRER: Is he right when he says that it's irrelevant that these men, that these are in fact men and that they were white and that they are dead? Mr. KENNEDY: I pretty much agree with that. I don't think there's any reason for us to trash Western culture and that's why we haven't. That buzz word just doesn't make a case. All it does is to reflect the Secretary's annoyance at an outcome that I think is actually much less of a change than he has perceived it to be. Let there be no mistake about it, we do believe that the study of even Western culture, considered by itself, will be made more valuable by the introduction of some of these other strands more meaningful to our students, and that it will make this kind of study more exciting and spread it more broadly. And I hope -- I just wanted to express the hope that the whole debate at Stanford will be made available to a wider audience and that people can judge that for themselves. LEHRER: Is it your position, Mr. Secretary, that books by, say, women writers and black writers, to use two examples, were chosen just because they were written by women and blacks and not because they were of the quality that should be included in a Western civilization course? Sec. BENNETT: Sure. That's what it says, that's what the new guideline says. Books will be selected based on the ethnicity and race and gender of the authors. That's not a sound criteria? LEHRER: Is that a sound cri -- Sec. BENNETT: Now to teach a good course in Western civilization. You will have books by women. But you will have books by women because they are great books. And that should be the criteria. You don't go around saying, as the new requirements says, we're going to pick them by race, ethnicity and gender and the second part we will be sure to pay attention to the issues of class and race and gender. I think any academic looking at this knows what tis is. This is a political agenda. It's not an intellectual agenda. It is a political agenda. LEHRER: Dr. Kennedy? Serious charge? Mr. KENNEDY: I respectfully disagree with that. I think the agenda really is one that seeks to grapple with some of the complexity and the diversity of contemporary American culture and values, and I furthermore think it is possible to enrich this course by the careful and thoughtful selection of works that the Stanford faculty believes are there and can be selected to make this a stronger curriculum. Sec. BENNETT: Please take that enrich a second. Because when you enrich and start by removing nine of 15, you've got to make up for an awful lot once you've eliminated that nine. As I said last night to the students, if the study of non Western culture, for example, is important to Stanford, then increase the quarter requirement in non Western culture. But don't do it at the expense of studying people like Homer and Dante and Luther and Moore. There are important reasons to study these people. And again, they deserve better on the treatment they got during this debate. Mr. KENNEDY: Those authors are on the strongly recommended list, their works and their contributions are deeply respected in this debate. But we think they will be made more meaningful and that the course of which they are a part will be more meaningful by the introduction of what you must admit realistically are strands that are non Western that contribute significantly to the way or institutions are now and the way they've evolved from those traditions of which you speak. Sec. BENNETT: I am for inclusion, not exclusion. But when you start by gutting the number of books and people to be read, that's a mistake. LEHRER: We have to leave it there. Dr. Kennedy, Secretary Bennett, thank you both for being with us tonight. Polar Persuasion HUNTER-GAULT: Finally tonight, a story about preparations for a 1990 dog sled expedition across Antarctica. The leader is Will Steger, explorer and author who reached the North Pole by dogsled in 1985. The first person to do so since Commander Perry discovered the North Pole in 1909. We have a report on such frigid adventure from Fred Sam Lazaro of Public Staton KTCA, Minneapolis, St. Paul.
FRED SAM LAZARO: The setting is deep in the Minnesota North Woods, a place often called the nation's icebox. It looks somewhat like an army winter training camp, and the daily routine is every bit as rigorous. It begins early in the morning with chow, most of it dog food, but from this canine corps, there is no complaint. After their own breakfast, a dozen or so human drill sergeants set off on a variety of tasks, constructing temporary housing, building dog sleds, and most importantly training exercises for the dogs. And eight to 12 hour a day rigor. They are preparing for a 1990 trek across Antarctica. The journey will take a team of six humans and 80 dogs from the West to East coast of the continent via the South Pole. It's a 3000 mile distance, and will take about six months and a lot of money. Although it is their livelihood for the next two years, members of the expedition and employees here work for little more than good food, fresh air and a sense of adventure. None has a family to support. Still, the total cost of the trans Antarctica will reach $8 million. To raise that kind of money, expedition leader Will Steger often has to switch from parka to pinstripes to take his idea to the real world. To corporate advertising and marketing people, like those gathered here in Minneapolis. WILL STEGER, Trans Antarctica expedition: The area of inaccessibility is the big problem in planning the expedition.
LAZAR: The Fortune 500 would seem equally inaccessible to something as farfetched as a South Pole expedition. But Will Steger has some rare credentials. Most of them are on film, like this, which he shot with fellow explorers in the Arctic two years ago. In 1985, Steger led a team of five that reached the North Pole. That journey took 60 days. The average temperature was minus 70 with wind speeds up to 50 miles per hour, and the threat of a break in the ice that covers the Arctic Ocean never let up. Mr. STEGER: Accomplishing something that was supposedly impossible. That of course builds your credibility. And that helps in the marketplace when you're raising sponsorship dollar.
LAZAR: Steger has already raised more than half the money he needs to go to Antarctica. His success at raising sponsors has made camp mates back home concentrate on their chief tasks, raising the dogs that will go to Antarctica. Each has been carefully bred and chosen by Steger. Mr. STEGER: More important than the physique of the dog is the spirit. When you're out on your 50th day, when you're hooking up the dogs, this dog is literally pulling you to the lines rather than you having to pull it. I've traveled in the Arctic about 12,000 miles with my dog team over the last six or seven years. And during that time, I've brought back to Minnesota some of the higher spirited, strongest dogs that I could find. If you have a good rapport with your dogs, the dogs will want to work for you. They are always attuned and everything you're doing they're attuned to the group mood. Dogs usually know the people better than the people know themselves.
LAZAR: That's a very real concern for Steger's trip to Antarctica. Although each of the 16 members of a seasoned explorer, each comes from a different country, and they have never worked with each other. Mr. STEGER: Well, Victor will be coming up in another two weeks along with Constantine, who is one of his comrades. There's an added challenge of mixing the cultures. I actually think that the international aspect of different cultures is a real plus for the expedition. It's, for me, it's a way I'll grow tremendously through these other people by learning their perspective of the world, rather than being with five other friends that see the world as I see it.
LAZAR: Steger's choice of an international crew has its financial benefits as well. The Soviet Union, which is sending scientist Victor Boyarsky on the trip, is chipping in with more than a million dollars of in kind help. Most of it will be in the form of resupply and standby rescue assistance from the Soviet Antarctica base. A French insurance company is putting the cost of a specially designed ship that will take the team to Antarctica. The ship will then monitor its progress by radio and satellite from offshore. JEAN-LOUIS ETIENNE, trans Antarctica Expedition: She was designed in case of pressure the whole camp (unintelligible).
LAZAR: France is represented by physician Jean Louis Etienne, who himself reached the North Pole on skis in 1985. About the time Steger's dogsled expedition did. The two men's paths actually crossed along the way, and it was on the Arctic that they decided to tackle Antarctica together, opting for Steger's mode of transportation. While the dogsled expedition will use one of the oldest means of traversing the polar caps, team members will have at least one foot in the late 20th century. They will be monitored closely by leading hypothermia researchers. Dr. Robert Pozos of the University of Minnesota, Duluth, says that the continuous monitoring of team members, which will be done by satellite, offers rare insight into the human body's ability to adapt. Baseline testing has already begun, like this cold water endurance exercise on the fingers of Japanese team member Keizo Fenatsu. Dr. ROBERT POZOS, University of Minnesota: There are individuals we've had here in our lab that don't seem to respond to the cold the same way as others do. It doesn't bother them. If you think about what he's basically doing, he's going over long, he's going to be gone for long periods of time, very severe, demanding climates, and while he's there, his temperature has to be regulated by his body, obviously. So what kind of food does he eat? How much water does he drink? How is this individual and the crew with him able to survive?
LAZAR: Although the immediate concern is to find the most suitable food, clothing and equipment they will need to get to the South Pole, getting there is only part of the much larger goal of the expedition. Mr. STEGER: Our goal is to just to bring out awareness of this continent and the crisis with the ozone layer is a very serious one.
LAZAR: It's a problem that will get the special attention of Soviet expedition member Victor Boyarsky, who has spent several years in Antarctica studying the environment. Steger hopes the publicity surrounding the expedition will help drum up support to renew the International Antarctic Treaty, which has spared the continent from commercial exploitation. The Treaty, like the expedition, he says, is a product of international cooperation. It comes up for renewal in 1991. Recap HUNTER-GAULT: Again, the main news of this day. In the Persian Gulf conflict, Iran attacked two neutral tankers, and the search continued for a missing U. S. helicopter. In New York, a heavy turnout in the important Democratic presidential primary. Polls gave Michael Dukakis a ten to seven point lead, but warned about the volatility of the race. Good night, Jim. LEHRER: Good night, Charlayne. We'll see you tomorrow night. I'm Jim. Thank you and good night.
- The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour
- Producing Organization
- NewsHour Productions
- Contributing Organization
- NewsHour Productions (Washington, District of Columbia)
- AAPB ID
- Episode Description
- This episode's headline: What Next?; Contentious Curriculum; Polar Persuasian. The guests include In Washington: ROBIN WRIGHT, Carnegie Endowment; HOWARD TEICHER, Former NSC Official; WILLIAM BENNETT, Secretary of Education; DONALD KENNEDY, President, Stanford University; In New York: ANSOUR FARHANGFormer Iranian U.N. Ambassador; REPORTS FROM NEWSHOUR CORRESPONDENTS: PETER GRAUMANN, KQED, San Francisco; FRED SAM LAZARO, Minneapolis/St. Paul. Byline: In New York: CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT, National Correspondent; In Washington: JIM LEHRER, Associate Editor
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- Global Affairs
- Military Forces and Armaments
- Politics and Government
- Copyright NewsHour Productions, LLC. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Public License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/legalcode)
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- Moving Image
Producing Organization: NewsHour Productions
- AAPB Contributor Holdings
Identifier: NH-1191 (NH Show Code)
Format: 1 inch videotape
Identifier: NH-3112 (NH Show Code)
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- MLA: “The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour.” 1988-04-19. NewsHour Productions, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. November 28, 2023. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-507-d21rf5m25d>.
- APA: The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour. Boston, MA: NewsHour Productions, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-507-d21rf5m25d