Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 27, No. 14. 1964.
I have read the article on South African Apartheid policy in the September 7 issue. The headline, "every New Zealand University student is asked to boycott South African goods." printed in such prominence on the back page of the issue, is obnoxious and indicates tendencies which modern education should have eliminated.
The gullibility of the reading public is well known. It is not limited to those without University education, and every newspaper has a moral obligation not to misrepresent situations, or make statements insinuations etc. which are easily misunderstood. Yet this blatant request is made on the back page of the issue.
I call it a request, but it is framed pointed and emotionally overtoiled so as to almost ensure the reader's reply There is no reason why stated with it. There is one, but the lazy readers would not sec it.
The Salient should have noted its report of the NZUSA meeting on page 10, saying "it was resolved that the boycott should be on a personal level." A nation-wide boycott is not a matter of principle as the political editor suggests on page six. We certainly do not implicitly condone apartheid by not having a boycott. Neither is it prostitution because it looks like profit comes from something that is immoral. As the Massey delegate at the NZUSA meeting said. "the natives would be the first to suffer from a boycott."
This headline, by means of the slanted presentation often found in the poorer popular Press exhorts man's action and with it man's feeling. It takes advantage of susceptible people. It offends against individualism, promotes further prejudice and clouds the intellectual reasoning of which we seem so proud. Everyone should be assisted to a free unbiased view of the matter, not pushed.
Such methods for gaining support of views held by a few should not be used by a University newspaper. I am, etc,
N. B. Dunning
The statement gave prominence to a notable policy decision of the official national student body, of which you are presumably a member. It was not just the view of a small group of Salient writers: Some of us, in fact, are uncertain as to the merit of a boycott. But the best way to stimulate thought, discussion and rational decisionmaking is by the vigorous presentation of a case: Clothing views in cotton wool in deference to the "gullibility of the reading public" is likely to befuddle any issue-Ed.
Political Editor comments: Despite Mr. Dunnings protestations. I still consider the refusal to profit from a system of oppression a matter of principle. As I said in my article, the practical effects of a New Zealand boycott would be negligible, so the question of who gets hurt most is irrelevant. Nevertheless, I am convinced it would not be the Africans—and It will take more than the authority of a Massey NZUSA delegate to dissuade me from this.
NB—For a discussion of the boycott issue, we refer readers to an article by Colin Legum and Anthony Sampson, and the correspondence following, in the British "Observer" of Sunday. April 12 and 19, 1964. Copies are filed in the periodicals room of the library.