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Speaking Out

Moral Distinctions?

Executive Vice President John Fry's response to the letter calling upon the University to divest its holdings in companies doing business in Myonmar suggests that there exists a serious moral debate about conditions in that country and that the University will be making a moral distinction by withdrawing support from the programs of genocide, forced and slave labor, imprisonment of dissenters, house arrest of an elected President, elicit drug trade.

These are the programs that the present military junta of Myonmar has put in place after deposing the democratically elected President, a government which can only exist as a result of the open and concealed subventions of Unocal, Atlantic Richfield, etc.

It may be a moral distinction for John Fry, but the genocidal attacks by the military junta on the Mon, the Arachnese, the Karen and other minority peoples aimed at seizing slave labor for forest clearing and pipe line construction are well known and well advanced. These actions are not mere moral distinctions but serious infringments of the international charter of human rights.

The University of Pennsylvania, to its everlasting credit, once before responded to the continued destruction of human beings and human rights by the system of apartheid in South Africa by divesting itself of holdings because of that system. Without suggesting any direct comparison between Myonmar and South Africa, nonetheless a similar principle is involved. Under this principle the University cannot continue to indirectly support the genocidal treatment of minority populations.

-- Robert Rutman, Emeritus Professor of Animal Biology, School of Veterinary Medicine

'Connections' in Art

This is a plug for the current art exhibit on view at the Arthur Ross Gallery in the Furness Building, titled Connections, Contemporary Japanese and Korean Printmakers. The artists whose works are on view are students from those two countries. Some have been associated with Penn's Print Studio and the Seoul Print Workshop.

For me, the show succeeded somewhat in demystifing the mysterious east. The works on view represent more than the mere mastery of the materials and technical equipment involved in printmaking. A thoughtful reading of these prints tends to to put a human face on the contributing artist. They speak of a love of nature, a sensitivity for color relationships, a respect for geometry and order, and reveal surprisingly, to the occidental viewer's mind, the artist's sense of humor.

Although the works were all of high quality, there are a few that I especially favored. "Night Landscape," a mezzotint by Kim Seung-Yeon, is a remarkable tour-de-force. It is a night street scene that one might swear was actually a photograph-Art imitating the machine, one might say.

Another large black and white print- "Colorful Box," an etching by Numi Mat-sumoto, is actually a series of small prints comprised of Aesop fable-like story pictures dealing humorously with animal behavior. I found myself chuckling with pleasure and returned to examine "Colorful Box" a second time. I recommend this print as well worth a viewer's scrutiny.

Connections will continue through April 5. It confirms, if further proof is needed, that the Arts speak a universal language, capable of transcending the barriers that separate the many cultures of the world.

-- Maurice S. Burrison, Art and Interior Design Consultant, Facilities Planning

Director, Faculty Club Art Gallery

Speaking Out welcomes reader contributions. Short timely letters on University issues can be accepted Thursday noon for the following Tuesday's issue, subject to right-of-reply guidelines. Advance notice of intention to submit is appreciated.--Ed.

Return to:Almanac, University of Pennsylvania, February 24, 1998, Volume 44, Number 23