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June 18, 1968 - Image 4

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Michigan Daily, 1968-06-18

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a4'e mSt ron Da t
Seventy-seven years of editorial freedom
Edited and managed by students of the University of Michigan
under authority of Board in Control of Student Publications

SDS convention:

The road to radicalism


420 Maynard St., Ann Arbor, Mich.

News Phone: 764-05521

Editorials printed in The Michigan Daily exp ress the individual opinions of staff writers
or the editors. This must be noted in all reprints.

TUESDAY, JUNE 18, 1968


S pock-Coffi convictions:
The politics of justice

NOTHER LINK was added to the grue-
some chain of political repression last
Friday as Dr. Benjamnin Spock, Rev. Wil-
iam Sloane Coffin, Mitchell Goodman
and Michael Ferber were convicted in
Boston of conspiring to counsel young
men to avoid the draft.
The small degree of shock registered
by these convictions indicates how ac-
customed we have become to the pres-
ence of political prisoners in this bas-
tion of the free.
The list of those recently convicted
on political grounds in this country is
staggering. Black leaders ranging from
California's controversial Black Pan-
thers to the irrepressible H. Rap Brown
have been singled out for punishment
because of their political notoriety.
Over two and a half years ago Ann
Arbor was the scene of some of the first
arrests arising out of the Vietnam War
when 39 students and faculty members
were convicted for trespassing after
staging a sit-in at the local draft board.
Since then, countless others like the
over 500 arrested during the Pentagon
March last October have been added to
their number.
A little more than a year ago Captain
Howard Levy was convicted by a military
court for refusing to train Green Berets
headed for Vietnam. He is merely the
most famous of the long list of resisters
both in and out of the armed forces
who have been imprisoned over their
objection to the Vietnam War.
MANY WILL focus on the constitution-
ality of the Spock-Coffin convictions.
The intricacies of conspiracy law are
such, however, that it would be pre-
sumptuous for anyone less than a legal
expert to offer a definitive opinion on
the constitutionality of the convictions.
It would appear that the alleged con-
spirators did little more than strongly
assert their conviction of the bestiality
of the war. Thus, any non-devious inter-
pretation of the free speech provisions
of the Constitution would protect their
Yet it is unwise to expect the con-
victions to be overthrown on appeal. The
recent string of court cases culminating
in the Supreme Court's decision to up-
hold the Constitutionality of a law for-
bidding the burning of draft cards, in-
dicates the futility of depending on the
courts to right political wrongs.
The major issues behind the Spock-
Coffin conviction transcend the rather
narrow question of constitutionality. In-
stead the discussion should focus on the
basis for punishing any political crimes
in contemporary America,
IN A POLITICAL case such as Spock-
Coffin, the aggrieved party is the

United States Government. However, as
the steadfast and heedless waging of
the war in Vietnam has indicated, the
government has at its disposal seeming-
ly unlimited power to operate independ-
ently of any and all checks by the citi-
As a consequence, when one contrasts
the awesome power of the government
with the miniscule political leverage of
a Dr. Spock or Rev. Coffin, the concep-
tion of the United States Government as
an aggrieved party becomes almost ludi-
With the balance of power so unjustly
weighted against the individual, the dan-
ger to society as a whole from political
crimes against the state borders on the
non-existent. As a consequence the dam-
age to the body politic should be mea-
sured against the injury to the defend-
ants. Using this scale, the punishments-
or any punishments for that matter -
levied against the four alleged conspira-
tors were manifestly unfair.
YET THERE is another form of injus-
tice operating within the Spock case.!
Justice does not stem from statute law
alone. Rather it results from the selec-
tive application of statute law by the
judge and prosecuting attorney which
tempers the legalistic considerations of
the written law with human considera-
tions of justice. In general, this de facto
protection against the dangers of merci-
lessly applied statute law has been rela-
tively effective in this country.
However, when the government is the
aggrieved party - as well as the prose-
cuting attorney and the judge - it is
impossible to apply these extra-legal
traditions of justice and fair play. Instead
as was the case during the Spock-Coffin
trial, opponents of the state are merci-
lessly subject to the letter of the law.
Although the violations are merely sym-
bolic, the punishments are fearsomely
By convicting Spock, Coffin and the
others the government indicated that
theoretically all signers of The Call To
Resist Illegitimate Authority are also
guilty. But there is little indication that
the government plans to prosecute any
other signers of this heinous document.
This is because the government can easily
afford to let them roam free in their
political impotence.
country with merely a semblance of
freedom. But underneath one must rec-
ognize that America's unique libertarian
potential has been thoughtlessly squan-
Associate Editorial Director

FEDERAL Bureau of Investiga-
tion Director J. Edgar Hoover
has called Students for a Demo-
cratic Society a Communist in-
filtrated if not Communist dom-
inated organization and has said
its members are dedicated to the
overthrow of the American gov-
ernment and the American way of
In reality, however, SDS bears
very little resemblance to the
highly disciplined revolutionary
organization that Hoover would
have us believe it is.
SDS is a mass-based, very loose-
ly organized group whose only
dedication is to radicalizing Amer-
ica and thereby causing a basic
change in the way this country
operates. A "New Left" organiza-
tion, SDS ideology can really only
be catalogued as that of the left
of the political spectrum. And
since its membership policy (writ-
ten into its constitution) prohibits
exclusion of anyone from mem-
bership, nearly all facets of the
political left-wing are represent-
ed in the organization,
This, of course, includes Com-
munists as well as liberals, an-
archists and every other politi-
cal faction left of center.
And all the political differences
of these left-wing groups are pres-
ent within SDS. This is precisely
why there is no national political
policy formulated by the organi-
In this sense SDS resembles the
major political parties. But while
the political tone of the Demo-
cratic and Republican parties can
probably be characterized as sta-

perialism, anti-racism, anti-op-
pression of all peoples everywhere,
and the like. All of these are based
on the SDS philosophy stated at
the organization's inception: "Let
the People Decide."
That the ideal of participatory
democracy is generally accepted in
SDS is evidenced by the organiza-
tion's fear and mistrust of bu-
reaucracy and the elites which
bureaucracy spawns.
For this reason, SDS has never
delegated much authority to its
central offices or officers. The or-
ganization, as well as the mem-
bership is very loose. This loose-
ness of organization annoys many
of the SDS members who would
like to see more direction in SDS
activities, and each year at the
SDS national convention propos-
als to change the structure of SDS
are made and debated at length.
This year was no exception.
At the convention held last week
on the campus of Michigan State
University, several s t r u c t u r a 1
changes were proposed, but all
were defeated after lengthy de-
Those who want SDS to formu-
late a coherent political stance
have, over the years, introduced
structural proposals calling for
more unity and communication
among the various local chapters.
They seem to feel that a coherent
ideology would flow from an al-
tered structure.
A PROPOSAL which was de-
feated at this year's gathering
stated that the "challenge at this
juncture in Movement history is
to change - the emphasis from
building a radical Movement to

MANY TABLES were set up at the national SDS convention for the dissemination of radical liter-
ature. The distributors did a brisk business.

SDS's strong suit in introducing'
members to radicalism. And the
"general discussion" that goes on
within SDS exposes the less radi-
cal to the more radical thought
of their brothers in the organiza-
For example, a middle class

The only real problem that the political amorphousness of SDS causes
is one for the media, which must have a label. But they find that SDS can-
not be characterized as easily as other political groups.

The only real problem that the'
political amorphousness of SDS
causes is one for the media, which
must have a label. But they find
that SDS cannot be characterized
as easily as other political groups.
Nonetheless, they attempt to
generalize and distortions are in-
Yesterday, for example, the New
York Times claimed that the SDS
convention "removed any linger-
ing doubt about the purpose of its
The Times, looking for the label,
for the easy analysis,tassumed
that since two of the three new
national officers claim they are
communists (with a small 'c'),
the entire organization can also
be labeled communist.
Just as there are members of
the Democratic Party who dis-
agree with Lyndon Johnson's pol-
icies down the line, so are there
members of SDS who totally dis-
agree with the specific political
philosophy of their leaders.

ceives at the hands of the media
has had the effect of making
them non-communicative with the
"outside." At their convention
this year, nearly all press was
either barred or restricted (al-
though not very effectively).
SDS's major function is one of
internal education, or radicaliza-
tion of its own membership. And
the SDS members do talk best
with each other, just as is true
with other basically homogenious
groups. (The members of the
Young Americans for Freedom
very likely communicate best with
each other, too) But this charac-
teristic is particularly noticeable
in a leftist group like SDS. A
long-haired, bearded SDS spokes-
man whose political arguments
are liberally sprinkled with four-
letter words, would have more
success in a discussion with fellow
SDS members than, for example,
with the delegates to the 4-H con-
(Continued on opposite page)


tus quoism, SDS's has to be
JUST HOW radical SDS is de-
pends on who you talk to in the
organization. But a few basic
things are agreed upon, things
which in principle are acceptable
to all members of the left. They
include such things as anti-im-

using the -radical Movement in
the work of making revolution."
This measure criticized the fact
that members "talk randomiy
about their work and leave the
' convention without any sense for
common strategy or even general
Yet this very lack of strategy
and specific direction has been

student who has liberal tendencies
can join SDS in good conscience
when he would shy away from
contact with other organizations
represented in SDS. But after
several years of exposure to and
acceptance of radical ideas, he
may find that he ridicules as hope-
lessly backward the liberal he once

Poor People's Campaign: The meaning of success

Daily Guest Writer
SIX WEEKS ago the first ply-
wood tent of Resurrection
City went up, and three weeks
since the Poor People's University
was inaugurated, and there are
now many people originally sym-
pathetic to this venture who fear
that"the last chance for non-
violence in America" is destined
to fold-up with a whimper.
There are, to be sure, real
grounds for disenchantment with
the way the Poor People's Cam-
paign has taken its course. From
the start, the Southern Christian
Leadership Conference failed to
single out specific demands and
to concentrate on them. They
presented, instead, a patch quilt
of grievances which, however
valid, was tactically unsound be-
cause it prevented the develop-
ment of a climate favorable to a
negotiated solution by smothering
the always limited ability of fed-
eral bureaucrats to think ra-
tionally about their faults.
From the start, too, much of
the potential and dynamic of the
campaign was squandered in
leadership squabbles. The Rev.
Jesse Jackson was removed from
his office of "City Manager" and
sent back to Chicago as "field di-
rector," because, as one campaign
marshal put it, "a cult of per-
sonality" had developed around

In his place was named the
Rev. Hosea Williams, an equally
eloquent preacher, but a more ef-
fective organizer and less sen-
sitive to personal wants of the
city residents. Rev. Willams' in-
temperate remarks on Bayard
Rustin's role in the Solidarity
Day "March and his argument
with Reies Tijerina, leader of the
Mexican - American contingent,
over financial matters in the mid-
dle of a press conference, under-
mined the image of a united lead-
ership of the poor people.
The Poor People's University,
the student adjunct of the Poor
People's Campaign, is also plagued
with organizational and admin-
istrative problems. The lack of
coordination between the two or-
ganizations is underscored by the
encounter of Dave Dellinger, or-
ganizer of the Pentagon Mobil-
ization, with Rev. Andrew Young,
a top SCLC staff member, while
strolling along the Reflecting Pool
on Memorial Day.
Since Young expressed surprise
at his presence in Washington at
this time, Dellinger explained that
the Poor People's University had
asked him to come down and lead
some seminars. "The Poor Peo-
ple'e University," e x c 1 ai m e d
Young, "What is that?"
Given this dissenssion and dis-
organization at the higher eche-
lons, it is a marvel how the uni-
versity and Resurrection City

have come to be at all, to say
nothing of the relative smooth-
ness with which they manage to
carry out the day-by-day opera-
ALMOST 500 college, students
have been registered with the
University (though not all at the
same time) to attend workshops
on racism, non-violence, and pov-
erty, led by outside speakers and
local faculty members from
Howard and George Washington
Universities. And the daily chores
of the city-sanitation, food serv-
ices, entertainment, s e c u r i t y,
child-care-are somewhat accom-
plisched, and with surprising ef-
ficiency, by the haphazard process
of bellowing for volunteers over
the P.A. system when a job needs
to be done.
The fact, then, that there is
poor planning and weak leader-
ship, that the Solidarity March
on June 19th will draw numbers
nowhere near that of August 1963,
and that the present Congress will
not respond meaningfully to the
demands of the poor, has resulted
in the disillusionment of many
supporters of the campaign who
feel that this last hape for non-
violence has, on the whole, been
a failure.
My feeling, however, is that de-
spite poor organization and Con-
gressional inaction, Poor People's
Campaign has accomplished
something creative. Indeed, the

MSU: Instigating a revolution

THE MOST outrageous aspect of the
response of the Board of Trustees to
the recent demonstrations at Michigan
State University at their meeting Friday
was that the students' demands were
completely ignored.
Instead of responding to those de-
mands, the board was swept up in the
paranoia which characterizes the atti-
tude of most middle-class adults con-
cerning student activism.
The result: The board tightened up
its already harsh restrictions on student
demonstrations and issued a unanimous
warning that disruptive activities "will
not be tolerated."
Perhaps the board feels this response
will deter students. from continuing with
the protests in the fall. In making this
judgement, however, they have sadly
miscalculated the nature of student sen-
Many MSU students feel they are liv-
ing in a police state - a situation they
see in the country as a whole, but one
they feel is especially apparent and es-
pecially odious in an academic com-
The sentiment of the students is, in-
deed, grounded in their day-to-day
They point, for example, to the campus
....7:....- - --...... - - --1 _ _ A VA V ctr~

When students sat-in at the school's
administration building after the regu-
lar closing time, they were automatical-
ly breaking an MSU Ordinance and,
without consulting any university offi-
cial, the campus police were able to call
in officers from four state and local
forces to help make arrests.
TO REMEDY this situation, the demon-
strators have proposed the formation
of a faculty-student committee which
would have complete control of the cam-
pus police.
Some may doubt the validity of the
demonstrators' complaints, but clearly,
by ignoring them completely, the board
has only further alienated the students
and faculty. No attempt was made to
justify the existence of the campus police
except that they help maintain "order
and discipline," so the university may
continue to stand "for freedom of speech,
freedom of inquiry, freedom of dissent
and freedom to demonstrate in a peace-
ful manner."
And by tightening the restrictions on
demonstrations, the board has only
further demonstrated its unwillingness
to meet with the protesters on peaceful
MSU will be peaceful his summer. But

question of success or failure must
be asked in the context of the
current black liberation struggle,
with the recognition that the crit-
eria by which success and failure
were defined in Birmingham and
Selma are no longer applicable in
Washington, D.C.
The often heard statement that
this campaign is the last stand
of non-violence in this country is
partly false, and partly true. It
is sheer tommyrot to conclude
that failure of the campaign
would imply the end of non-vio-
lence. If failures of military cam-
paings are blamed on organiza-
tion, strategy, and resources,
rather than on war itself as the
method, shouldn't the failures of
non-violent campaigns also be ac-
counted for by its leadership
rather than by non-violence as
Considering the Poor People's
Campaign a last stand of non-
violence is valid to the extent that
it recognizes that the liberation
movemtnt has entered a new
phase, and henceforth, the simple
repetition of old actions under
these new conditions is not going
to be effective.
For example, in 1963 in Bir-
mingham there were three dis-
tinct actors on the scene: the
forces of SCLC; the local polit-
ical, business, and police estab-
lishment; and a mediating third
party that included the Attor-
ney General, the Defense Secre-
tary, and the president of U.S.
Steel, among others, who put
personal pressure on the local
leaders to accede to the demands
of the protesters.
BUT IN 1968 in Washington
D.C. there is only one distinct ac-
tor: the poor people under SCLC.
The demonstrators have tried,
in vain, to resurrect another
"Bull" Connor, to have a tangible
symbol of their oppression. First
this symbol was the Secretary of
HEW, then it was the attorney
general, now, on sudden inspira-
tion, a round-the-clock vigil has
crystallized outside the office of
the Secretary of Agriculture.
The character and conditions of
confrontation today, then, are
quite different from what they
were five years ago. At that time,
a specific figure blocked the side-
walk to the five-and-dime for a
cup of coffee; now, the confron-
tation challenges the distribution
of economic power of the system
itself, and assaults the racism em-
bedded in the social and educa-
tional institutions.
While SCLC is fully aware of
this new phase in the struggle,
thus far it has continued to re-
peat old actions and failed to
create new alternatives to meet
the changed situation.

able in Washington D.C., so too
must the criteria of success and
failure be redefined.
Five years ago, when the de-
mand that the local five-and
dime lunch counter be opened to
all was met, this was defined as
a victory. But today, when the
demand for guaranteed annual
income for those who cannot work
is ignored, it cannot be defined
as a failure. ' In this beginning
phase of direct confrontation
with the system itself, immediate
and clear-cut feedback cannot be
However, if by success we mean
an awakening of white Americans
to their complicty-either by in-
action or uncaring-in the sys-
tematic exclusion of poor people
from the political and economic
life of this natiop, if we mean a
dawning that it wol d be to their
own interests to clear the ghet-
toes and have a strong, viable
black community,* if we mean a
re-examination of one's own at-
titutdes-not the arousal of the
sense of charity but the sense of
justice-and the new awareness
that whites as well as blacks and
browns are in need of liberation,
if by success we mean the begin-
ning of any of these things, then
the Poor People's Campagin has
indeed been successful.
THE CAPACITY to listen, es-
pecially to unpleasant facts, has
never been an American virtue.
White Americans typically have
to be forced to pay attention to
the injustices around them. It
requires riots to communicate to
whites that ghetto dwellers are
hurting badly and that they are
not being heard.
The Poor People Campaign is a
creative,, dramatic attempt at
communicating the problem of
poverty. The Time cover story on
hunger, the CBS report on pover-
ty, the vogue of terms such as
negative income tax-these and
like events have been directly pre-,
cipitated by the Campaign, and
as such, they are witness to its at-
tempt at communication.
young, fiery director of non-vio-
lent education of SCLC ,accurate-
ly pin-pointed the purpose of the
Poor People's Campaign when he
describedtResurrection City as "a
live theater to educate the Amer-
ican people."
Most people, he said, are so used
to vicarious experiences that they
don't even recognize a live thea-
ter when they see one. "The poor
people in Washington are a live
theater. They are a drama about
reality, about a country that does
not have the capacity to face the
truth, a country where we have
more proteins than we can use


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