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July 31, 1969 - Image 2

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1969-07-31

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94c £fid4igan &atly
J e ei ght yr C(Is of e(ditoril freedomn
Edited and managed by students of the University of Michigan

walter shapiro
On the art of self-delusion


in washiiigtoiu -.1

420 Maynard St., Ann Arbor, Mich.

News Phone: '764-0552 1

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

[THURSDAY, fU LY 31, 1959


! 1

R ecorder s


Iiother assa It on justice

YET ANOTHER glorious act of justice
came out of Detroit's Recorders Court
yesterday as Rafael Viera was ordered to
stand trial on second' degree murder
charges for the slaying of Patrolman
Michael Czapski in the March New Bethel
Church shootout during a meeting of the
black separatist Republic of New Africa.
Recorders Court is the/place where just
last week archcriminal John Sinclair was
sentenced to 10 years in prison for offer-
ing pot to undercover police. Not only did
Sinclair 'receive that incredible sentence,
but he was also subjected to the senile
preachments of the judge, ,who warned
him sternly that his day had come and
justice would always conquer over "John
Sinclair and his ilk."
The couirt's notoriety goes back to the
1967 Detroit riots, when all the judges ex-
cept George Crockett, who is black, were
sharply criticized for what were said to
be wholesale violations of the rights of
defendants-black defendants? including
de facto suspension of habeas corpus, set-
ting of unusual and possibly unconstitu-
tionally high bonds, and extremely irreg-
ular judicial procedures such as deciding
cross-examination by the de'fense was not
The Rafael Viera case is an extremely
questionable one for two reasons. First,
the prosecution's star witness, David
Brown, is himself under arrest for assault
with intent to commit murder. He was
apprehended during the exchange of fire
which police said took place in the church
when they shot their way in searching for
the assailant of Czapski's partner, Rich-
ard Worobec. Worobec had been wounded,
BUT SINCE it was determined that
Brown also witnessed the shooting
S1itu ['1er S/aff
MARCIA ABR AMSON............ .... . Co-Editor
CHRIS STEELE.....-........ . . ...Co-Editor
MARTIN HIRSCHMAN .. Summer Suppleinent Editor
JIM FORRESTER. .......,..... Summer'Sports Editor
LEE KIRK ...........ssociate Summer Sports Editor
ERIC PERGEAUX ... . .......-...... . Photo Editor
NIGHT EDITORS: Nadine Cohodas, Martin Hirsch-
man, Judy Sarasohn, Daniel Zwerdling.
Kahn, Scott Mixer, Bard Montgomery.
Business Staff
GEORGE BRISTOL, Business Manager
STEVE ELMAN .. Administrative Advertising Manager
SUE LERNER.................Senior Sales Manager
LUCY PAPP. ,.... .... Senior Sales Manager
NANCY ASIN.... , ..........Senior Circulation Manager
BRUCEHAYDON.................inance Manager
DARIA KROGULSKI....,.Associate Finance Manager
BARBARA SCHULZ,... ..........Personnel Manager

outside the church, he is being treated as
a juvenile. Since he is 19 years old, police
have that option open-although they
originally charged him as an adult.
Even more crucial is the testimony of
Czapski's partner, Worobec, who admit-
ted that he could not identify Viera as
the man who killed Czapski. If Worobec
cannot verify the killer's identity, how
can a judge reasonably expect a jury to
find Viera guilty?
Attorney Milton Henry, who is also
president of the separatist Republic of
New Africa, was stunned by the deciison
to bind Viera over for trial. He was-and
rightfully so - expecting a dismissal.
Henry himself also took the stand be-
cause, he said, he had been with Viera
inside the church when Czapski was killed.
Henry and Viera's other attorney, Shel-
don Halpern, have both said that they are'
certain Brown is lying. But Judge Robert
Evans said he was satisfied with Brown's
testimony as evidence that a trial was
warranted. He did not mention Worobec's
testimony. Henry also testified that Brown
had earlier told him of a beating he had
received in jail before becoming star
Viera was arrested during the hysteria
which followed the shootout, chiefly be-
cause of false reports that Crockett had
set up court after police arrested all the
140 people in the church at the time and
released them all overthe objections of
the police.
IN REALITY, Crockett had released only
10 of those arrested without police con-
sent, because they were not informed of
their right to counsel during nitrate tests,
which Crockett considered a key part of
the police investigation. All the others,
were released with police consent. But
the Detroit news 'media-notably the De-
troit News - continued to repqrt that
Crockett released all those arrested, who
included women, children and the church
Crockett's action has been vindicated
by almost every legal and judicial au-
thority and association in the city and
the country, despite the' outcry raised by
the Detroit Police Officers Association.
PERHAPS VIERA has replaced him as
the most convenient scapegoat in a
city which is rapidly becoming divided
into two armed camps. It is too bad for
Viera, whose fate may now depend on the
color lines of his jury.

AT FIRST GLANCE the results of the
1965 Voting Rights Act seem impres-
Before the Act, black registration in six
Deep South states - Alabama., Georgia,
Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina and
Virginia - was estimated to be 877,000.
Between 1965 and the summer of 1968,
black registration rose by more than 800,-
000 in these six states and the 39 counties
of North Carolina covered by the Act.
Black registration in these six states now
ranges from a low of 50.8 per cent in South
Carolina to a high of 59.4 per cent in Mis-
The 1965 Act, perhaps the most radical
of the decade's retrospectively pallid at-
tempts to legislate equality, was seen at the
time of its passage as providing the black
man with the political leverage w h i c h
would eventually ensure his social and ee-
onomic equality.
The Act empowered the Attorney Gen-
eral to oversee almost all election and reg-
istration procedures in t h e most retro-
grade Southern states. But despite the al-
most touching faith of its adherents in the
power of the ballot, the actual political
effects of this landmark legislation have
been surprisingly small.
NO BLACK MAN holds statewide office
in the South. And outside of Georgia, there
is no more than one black member in
any state legislature covered by the Act.
The only places where blacks have achiev-
ed any political power are small towns like
Fayette, Miss., which are largely under the
sway of the white-controlled county and
state governments.
Registration drives and similar projects
have been successful in temporarily politi-
cizing large numbers of Southern blacks.
But a continued lack of substantive change,
will return many of them to the relative
political apathy of the dispossessed. And
in view of the continuing homogeneity of
Southern white politics, the prognosis for
the future is less than encouraging.
Traditionally, minorities have -been in-
fluential when they had some social and
economic, as w e11 as electoral, leverage.
But the black,.man in the South merely
has only the less than adequate power of
his numbers. And experience seems to in-
dicate that in modern America, economic
and social position lead to political ad-
vancement, rather than the reverse.
NUMBERS LIKE registration figures
have a persuasive value far beyond their
statistical importance. And the Nixon Ad-
ministration is composed of men who are
easily persuaded on the subject of voting
They saw these registration figures as
evidence that the strong provisions of the
1965 Act were no longer needed. On June
26, rather than supporting a five year ex-
tension of the 1965 Act - scheduled to ex-
pire in August of 1970 - the Nixon Ad-
ministration presented a series of amend-
ments which would'substantially alter the
The Nixon bill provoked harsh attacks
from Democrats and a surprisingly large
number of Republicans. The bolder among
them contended that the Administration
bill was merely a campaign debt owed Sen.
Strom Thurmond. -
The Administration proposals, so the ar-
gument went, were not to be taken ser-
iously themselves, but were designed to de-
lay and hopefully divert passage of a sim-
ple five year extension of the Act.
Such cynicism is much too charitable.

The Nixon proposals were designed by
well-intentioned men who expected to be
taken seriously. The resulting piece of leg-
islation provides an excellent example of
the intellectual and technical slovenliness.
of the new Administration.
Rep. John Conyers of Detroit, the de
facto leader of the House's nine Negroes,
said in a recent interview, "I'm amazed
that they were so unsubtle. If they wanted
to be racist, they could have supported
simple extension and just not enforced it."
ed the Justice Department under the 1965
Act are broad. In the states covered by the
Act, the Attorney General'c a n appoint
Federal registrars and observers with au-
thority over state officials.
Even more potent is Section 5, which
requires that the Attorney General approve
all changes in election and voting laws in
areas covered by the Act.
No one would have bothered to examine

According to the ever-shifting figures
provided by Atty. Gen. John Mitchell, the
Justice Department has in the past four
years voided only 10 of 345 election laws
submitted under Section 5.
- DESPITE THIS relatively mild enforce-
ment, anyone but the most doctrinaire lib-
eral will admit that the 1965 Act is a con-
trived and messy piece of legislation. The
elaborate triggering mechanism was de-
signed to apply only to the Deep South -
and some say that Lyndon Johnson rigged
the formula to exempt Texas from cover-
age by the Act.
The Attorney General, under questioning
from Sen. Edward Kennedy during Senate
hearings on July 11, admitted he would not
have favored the Act in 1965. To many of
the intellectually prosaic a piece of con-
trived legislation seems a greater injustice
than the abuse it is attempting to remedy.
Some provisions of the Nixon proposals
seem sincerely designed to improve the
coverage of the 1965 Act. Under the Ad-
ministration bill, literacy tests would be
banned nationally (but only until 1974),
the Attorney General empowered to send
voting 'examiners anywhere-even Cook
County-and a uniform national residency
requirement created for voting in Presi-
dential elections. ,
However, the triggering mechanism is re-
moved from the Act, eliminating the spe-
cial Federal scrutiny of the seven Southern
states. Under the Nixon bill aggrieved par-
ties must file suit in local Federal court
rather than in the highly sympathetic Dis-
trict of Columbia court system. And most
important of all, Section 5 is scrapped.
The deficiencies of the Nixon bill should
not imply that the 1965 Act is beyond
repair. Rather they tend to suggest that it
is the Nixon Administration which is un-
The haste with which the Justice Depart-
ment appears to have prepared their ar-
guments adds credence to the claims of a
leading civil rights lobbyist that until re-
cently Nixon was totally unaware of the
whole issue-even though the bill to ec-
tend the 1965 Act was introduced in Con-
gress is early January.
DURING HIS Senate testimony on July
11, the Attorney General seemed awed by
his vast power under Section 5. Mitchell
complained that the Section "results in
arbitrary decisions based on insufficient in-
formation" by the Justice Department.
Mitchell inadvertently hit upon one of
the key weaknesses of broadening the cov-
erage of the 1965 Act when he argued,
"With the entire nation covered, it would
be impossible . . . to screen every voting
change in the nation."
Birch Bayh, who along with Kennedy is
the only liberal in the nine-member sub-
committee, circuitously attempted to force
Mitchell to admit that if the Justice De-
partment cannot properly evaluate legis-
lation under Section 5, it could not be able
to intelligently file suit under the Nixon
Finally the Attorney General responded
lamely, "There is no problem finding dis-
criminatory laws; they become public is-
When Attorney General Mitchell later
tried to buttress his arguments by bemoan-
ing the Justice Department's small in-
vestigatory staff, Kennedy asked in mock
innocence, "Didn't you just ask for more
FBI agents?"
There was something vaguely amusing
about Mitchell's inability to cite any causal
evidence linking Northern -literacy tests.

with low voter turnouts in ghetto areas,
Without citing any factual basis other than
wishful thinking, the Attorney General
continually referred to the "psychological
effects" of literacy tests.
MEN LIKE MITCHELL seem to take
comfort in believing that black electoral
apathy is a legal problem subject to a
simple legislative remedy, rather than an
indictment of our entire system of un-
representative politics.
Statistically a ban on literacy tests
would seem to have little impact. New
York, with the most rigid literacy test in
the nation, administered its written exam-
ination to 15,089 prospective voters in 1968
and 96.2 per cent passed.
The Census Bureau estimates that in-
cluding the institutionalized; there are only
750,000 illiterates of voting age in the 10
Northern states with operative literacy
The carelessness of the Nixon Adminis-
tration became almost embarrassing when
one examines the proposal for a uniform
residency requirement for Preidential elec-
Twenty-nine states have special resi-
dency provisions for voting in Presidential
elections which are more lenient than those
proposed by the Attorney General.
And even the effects of these special
residency; provisions are minimal. Of 7.3
million people who voted in California' in
1968, only about 20,000 took advantage'of
the-special residency requirement for voting
for President. The rest, presumably' spent
election day unpacking the dishes. .
To buttress his argument Mitchell re-
peatedly cited a Census Bureau estimate
that 5.5 million people of voting age were
unable to vote in the 1968 election because
they could not meet local residency require-
ments. While a report issued by the Census
Bureau last October does cite this figure,
an apparently overlooked footnote explains
that "no allowance was made for those
eligible to vote for President, under special
residence provisions."
In the 21' states and the District of
Columbia where the Nixon residency pro-
posals would mean a liberalization, less
than 1.5 million voters failed to meet
residency requirements last year.
CURRENTLY both the Nixon proposals
and simple five-year extension of the Act
are bottled up in Sen. Sam Ervin's Judi-
ciary subcommittee. The subcommittee,
proceeding with all deliberate speed, has
held several hearings primarily highlighted
by displays of Ervin's encyclopediac knowl-
edge of North Carolina political trivia and
his repertoire of rustic humor.
Five-year extension has been favorably
-reported out by the House Judiciary -Com-
mittee and the Nixon proposals may be re-
submitted to that Committee as, a supple-
mentary bill. While simple extension faces
relatively smooth sailing in the House, the
tedious and rather anachronistic charade
of the Senate considering civil rights legis-
lation may produce sporadic headlines well
into November.
Extension of the 1965 Act will protect
and probably promote black registration
in the South. But there is little that can
be done legislatively which will make these
voting rights politically meaningful for
Southern blacks.
The voting rights bill can be seen as a
test of what Congress has learned from this
cataclysmic decade. Not a test of their at-
titude toward civil rights, rather it is a
'test of their capacity for self-delusion
about the efficacy of the power of the



Aty. Gen. Mitchell

the Nixon record of enforcing the 1965
Act, if the President had done the:expect-
ed and. supported a simple five year ex-
Few noticed that Attorney Generals
Nicholas Katzenbach and Ramsey Clark
were not totally distinguished in adminis-
tering the Act.
The Civil Rights Commission has con-
stantly complained of the shortage and
timidity of Federal examiners dispatched
under the Act. According to the Commis-
sion, voting examiners have been sent to
only 2 of the 43 Southern counties where
,black registration is less than 35 per cent.
Clarence Mitchell, chief lobbyist for the
NAACP, acknowledged and exonerated the
weakness of the Act's enforcement when
he said in an interview, "The 1965 Act has
not been utilized to its maximum capabil-
ity. But the primary failure to make use
of its provisions, is due to the taking of
every opportunity to allow the states to
take action without Federal intervention."
A stronger view was expressed by David
Hunter, staff attorney for the Civil Rights
Commission, who said, "There hasn't been
the progress one might have expected in
four years. Examiners have not been sent
in sufficient numbers. And Section 5 was
. . . 'not applied to Mississippi until this


Blac buesmen: They're bringing it home to Ann


Daily Guest Writer
Within the past year, America has
suddenly found time to experience
something called the "rebirth of the
blues." On magazine covers, in un-
derground journals, in popular mus-
ic - the blues. Blues has surfaced
into the popular culture. It has sur-
faced not from the so-called under-
ground or "hip" subculture but from
an underground far deeper - t h e
black culture. For blues, the on I y
purely native American music, iron-
ically was spawned and nurtured by a
man often considered as less than an
American, the black man.
Blues was born of people poor and
hungry but now, in the midst of the
revival, answers needs for those who
are rich but still hungry, hungry in
spirit. And those who are hungry in
that way, who view the blues revival
as more than a passing commercial
fad, feel an obligation to look into
those black roots and listen to what
the surviving black musicians a r e
A group of such blues enthusiasts
has formed in Ann Arbor, and with
the help of a grant from the Univer-
sity has planned a three-day excur-
sion into the b 1a c k origins of the
blues, the Ann Arbor Blues Festival,
to be held this weekend. The lineup

Mama" Mae will be at Ann Arbor to
sing her "Ball and Chain," which be-
came Janis' encore number. The re-
cent publicity splash on Johnny Win-
ter has not produced a similar splash
for Muddy Waters, to whom Winter
owes an incalculable debt. But not
everyone is ignoring Muddy's Chica-
go version of amplified blues. He will
be at Ann Arbor along with his con-
temporaries such as James Cotton,
Howlin' W o If, Junior Wells, J. B.
Hutto, and Otis Rush.
Although there are m a n y white
musicians who h a v e gained great
popularity with their version of the.
blues, Ann Arbor is designed primar-
ily as a tribute to the black blues-
men, the originators of the blues.,
But any act, musical or otherwise,
can be meaningless unless it can be
understood in its context. For t h e
blues, the context has always been
the black American sub-culture, but
that sub-culture has not been a con-
stant thing and neither has the style
of the blues.
The earliest spawning ground for
blues lies far south of Ann Arbor in
the humid delta countryside of Mis-
sissippi. There, throughout the black
man's itinerant wanderings from
slavery to sharecropping, the old Af-
rican chants took on new rhythms.

ton, Son House, and Robert Johnson.
Of this triumvirate only House re-
mains alive and will make one of his
rare appearances at Ann Arbor.
Charley Patton, in forming what
was at times a prototype blues and
sometimes a refined music, applied
his knowledge of popular songs and
spirituals to lay the bedrock of re-
corded twelve-bar blues. His music
was very much tied to the land and
his community, but it is mainly the
legacy of his vocal style and guitar
playing t h a t he passed on to Son
House that has immortalized h i m.
Son moved more closely to a set pat-
tern of blues but still left a lot of lee-
way for himself for spontaneous
emotion, and certainly that leeway
never has really left the blues. He
became and remains a virtuoso of
"bottleneck" guitar, a blues style in
which the guitar is tuned open to a
chord and the fretting is done with
a glass neck of a whiskey bottle or
with a metal pipe.
The story of Son's relation to the
young Robert Johnson is perhaps the
most important in blues history.
Johnson, an eighteen year old genius
fresh from a plantation, listened ex-
tensively to other bluesmen, espec-
ially to Son House. He took Son's
music and tightened it and refined

thins, but it still can be at times thq
most powerful blues of all: a solitary
man and his guitar. I once heard a
man say of Son House's Perform-
ance: "It's like he dies onstage."
But from Robert Johnson through
Elmore James, B. B. King, Howlin'
Wolf, James Cotton, and especially
Muddy Waters, the blues took on its
amplified "Chicago" sound. Muddy
Waters first recorded as a Mississip-
pi bottleneck guitarist, but by 1949

still does. But its influence has ex-
tended beyond Chicago, beyond the
black community.
The rock 'n roll sound of the fif-
ties and sixties was just an up-tempo
of the Chicago blues sound. But de-
spite its contribution to the rock cul-
ture, the Chicago style has itself re-
mained intact.
The new blues audience, and the
new white musicians have found out
that all those words like alienation


A;: :/

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