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March 29, 1979 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1979-03-29

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Page 4-Thursday, March 29, 1979-The Michigan Daily

420 Maynard St., Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Eighty-Nine Years of Editorial Freedom

Holocaust memories must
never be forgotten

Vol. LXXXIX, No. 142

News Phone: 764-0552

Edited and managed by students at the University of Michigan

Court opens the way for
capital punishment

T HREE DAYS ago, the Supreme
TCourt declined to hear the appeal
df John Spenkelink, a Florida man who
wyas sentenced several years ago to die
in the electric chair for first-degree
murder. The high court's ruling makes
it very possible that Spenkelink will
become the first person in the country
to be executed since Gary Gilmore was
killed by a Utah firing squad two years
ago.
While the Supreme Court's rejection
of the Spenkelink case set no legal
precedent that could affect the cases of
482 other men under sentence of death
across the country, it should have
broad implications within the six-state
Jurisdiction, from Georgia to Texas, of
the United States Court of Appeals for
the Fifth Circuit, which had affirmed
his conviction. Of the 363 in the Fifth
Circuit, only Spenkelink and two others
have exhausted the final stage, known
as federal habeas corpus, of the three-
tiered review process for state
'riminal convictions. But the ruling
will make it more difficult for death-
sentenced individuals to obtain habeas
dorpus.
Opponents of capital punishment
feared that Gilmore's death in 1977
would start a flood of executions across
the country. Fortunately, that hasn't
Happened. But this week's court
decision will raise similar fears.
Despite the support of a majority of
Americans, the death penalty should
not be exercised in any case. It is bar-
baric, it incites other murders, and it is
.rreversible in cases of erroneous con-
viction.
aeSupporters of the death penalty most
frequently cite its deterrent value as
ts strongest point. Claiming to use
common sense," proponents argue
that the, threat of the electric chair
.iaturally deters potential killers from
committing the crime. Supporters
point to the 1973 study conducted by
rUniversity of Chicag economist Isaac
Ehrlich which indicated that capital
punishnmient served as an effective
deterrent. But since Ehrlich's study,
literally dozens of erroneous
rocedures have been found in his
'analysis. Most recently, Lawrence
:Klein, president of the American
economic Association led a team of
tesearchers that detailed many
methodological and statistical
pjroblems with Ehrlich's study. Brian
Forst, one of Klein's colleagues and the
director of a further study of his own,
said, "The findings give no support to
*Ae hypothesis that capital punishment
eters homicide."
More importantly, however, is the
fact that the nation's criminal justice
4.'

, I
{ 2 ii

system should be more heavily geared
toward rehabilitation than punish-
ment. And capital punishment cer-
tainly does not give a criminal a chan-
ce to become rehabilitated.
There is even some evidence that
capital punishment not only fails to
deter murder, but that it actually
brings it about. There are often
'suicide-murder" cases, many
clinically documented, of persons who
wanted but feared to take their own
lives and committed murder so that
the state would execute them. There
are imitative killings by the weak-
minded, who are incited by the sen-
sational publicity surrounding murder
trials and sentencing. And, while there
is no direct way of proving it, there are
certainly murders which would never
have occurred if not for the in-
creasingly violent atmosphere in
American society. Killing, legal or not,
is a violent act, and contributes to that
atmosphere.
Behavioral 'psychologists have con-
clusively shown that the important fac-
tor in deterrence is not severity, but
promptness and surety of punishment.
But execution is never prompt: the
Supreme Court does recognize the
necessity of extensive reviews of every
imposition of, the death penalty and
this takes years. In the meantime,
hundreds of murderers are on death
row awaiting extermination.
Spenkelink has only one more chan-
ce to be saved from execution.
Florida's governor, Bob Graham, has
said he would review Sp~enkelink's case
and decide within 50 days whether to
grant executive clemency.-
But Spenkelink was already denied
clemency under the previous ad-
ministration of Governor Reubin
Askew. Graham should ignore that
decision and grant clemency to
Spenkelink so that the inhumane death
penalty can be avoided.
But even if clemency is granted in
this case, what about the other 363
mem sentenced to death in the six-
state jurisdiction of the United Court of
Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Would
they also have to be granted special
clemency from the governor? And is
there any guarantee that they would
also receive it?
"As of today, there is no longer any
legal barrier toathe execution of John
Spenkelink," said Andrew Graham,
one member of the national defense
team that has been fighting the death
penalty in Florida.
Others may not follow, but
abolishing the legal barrier to the
execution of one man is a dangerous
and barbaric crime.

"Those who cannot remember
the past are condemned to repeat
it." This warning of George San-
tayana is often used in reference
to the memory of the Holocaust.
To think of the Holocaust as a
"memory" or as the pst" is not
fully accurate. For the Holocaust.
is much more than an ugly chap-
ter of "past" human history.
Last year's television produc-
tion of "Holocaust" popularized
the subject for American audien-
ces. Through the experiences of a
fictional family - but by no
means fictional experiences -
"Holocaust" portrayed for the
American public the German
destruction of European Jewry
from 1933-1945. Whatever its
drawbacks, the TV show did ser-
ve as an important reminder and
a primary teacher for those who
never lerned about the Holocaust.
BUT THE production of
"Holocaust" - as with all media
programs - came to an end.
When the credits came on the TV
screen at the end of the final
episode, "Holocaust" was abrup-
tly over. Many viewers returned
to their normal routines
recognizing the evil they had wit-
nessed but left with a feeling of
catharsis because the evil had
come to an end. Their lives were
not really touched because their
impression of the Holocaust was
that itwas an ugly event of the
past, just like the TV show.
But the Holocaust was not
merely an isolated historical
event.Recent showings of the
American production of
"Holocaust" in West Germany
were received with hostility by
many German individuals and ,.
groups. Neo-Nazi groups
threatened many of the television
stations that aired the program
and actually bomber others. The
growing strength of such
organizations in recent years not
only in Germany but in the
United States alarms us that
Nazism is not a phenomenon of
the past. There are those today
who seek to finish Hitler's work.
To. dismiss this fact is not only
short-sighted but blasphemous.
STATUTE OF
LIMITATIONS
And yet next year the Statute of
Limitations for prosecuting Nazi
war criminals is set to go into ef-
fect in Germany. So few of the
murderers responsible for the
destruction of six million Jews
and others during the Nazi
regime have ever been brought to .
justice. Unless the West German
Government responds to world
opinion, these criminals, guilty of
the most bestial acts, will be free

By Jeffrey Colman

of any calls to justice. It is bad
enough that the postwar world
abandoned its promise to pursue
these criminals to all ends of the
earth. It is unforgiveable that
soon the past will be pushed even
further behind and that it will be
impossible to bring the guilty to
face judgment.
ANTI-ZIONISM IN
1970's
THE NAZIS ARE not the
only ones today who threaten to
fulfill Hitler's work. One need not
only listen to the constant anti-
Jewish remarks emanating from
what former Israeli Ambassador

linked to Jewish history, both
past and contemporary. For the
Holocaust was the culmination
(though not the finale) of cen-
turies of anti-Semitism and anti-
Judaism. The crime Hitler
executed had been contemplated
for years and years. That's why
the world let him do it!
JUST AS THE Holocaust can-
not be separated from the past, it
cannot be separated from the
present. When President Jimmy
Carter visited Israel recently, he
was taken to the Yad Vashem
Memorial for the six million
Jewish victims of the Holocaust,
as was President Anwar Sadat

''The

gro wing

strength

of

such organizations

in

recen t

years not only in Germany but in
the United States alarms us that
Nazism is not a phenomenon of

the past.

There are those today

who seek to finish Hitler's work.
To dismiss this fact is not only
short-sighted but blasphemous. "

happen again. We un-
derestimated humanity's poten-
tial for evil and destruction even
as we witness countless
genocides in the "post-Holocaust
world."
WE KNOW TOO little about
how the world let Hitler institute
his "final solution" to the Jewish
problem. Because we do not
know-or because we prefer to
forget what we distastefully know
- we fail to prevent (and ac-
tually encourage) future oc-
currences. We do not know
enough about the complacency of
the Church which hardly did
more than watch as European
Jewry was destroyed. We do not
know enough about how little the
United States did to save Jews,
even with full knowledge of the
concentration camps.
Not only are we unfamiliar
with the history, but we do not
know enough about the personal
side of the Holocaust. We do not
know enough about personal ex-
periences. We do not know
enough about individual acts of
heroism and even artistic ex-
pression that occurred in the
midst of darkness.
"A Glimpse Into Darkness: A
Conference on the Holocaust" at
the University from Sunday,
April 1 to Tuesday, April 3 will
explore all these subjects. The
program of the Conference is
mixed to include many perspec-
tives: historical, Jewish
theological, Christian and per-
sonal. Three highly acclaimed
scholars- Emil Fackenheim,
Rev. John Pawlikowski and
Henry Feingold - will be
featured speakers at the Con-
ference. On Sunday evening, a
Multimedia Program will ex-
plore the Holocaust through ar-
tistic expression and the personal
experiences of two Holocaust
survivors.
Passive remembrance of the
Holocaustrwill not prevent the
"past" from being repeated.
Only an active commitment
during one's life not to allow
Hitler's successors to succeed is
sufficient. The primary
obligation of such a commitment
is to teach others, to bear wit-
ness, to open for others a glimpse
into darkness. That is what this
Conference on the Holocaust is all
about. As ElidWiesel has said:
"Anyone who does not engage in
keeping these memories alive is
an accomplice'of the killers."
Jeffrey Colman is the coor-
dinator of "A Glimpse into
Darkness: A conference on the
Holocaust," an upcoming
forum to discuss various
aspects of the Holocaust. *

Chaim Herzog labeled the "world
center for anti-Semitism": the
United Nations. Quadafi from
Tripoli, Khomeini from Teheran,
Arafat from whatever capital
he's courting support from, echo
Gobbels' calls for the destruction
of the Jews. Theodore Bikel, the
actor and prominentJewish ac-
tivist, answers: "In the wake of
the Holocaust, it was for years
unfashionable and impolitic to
say anything insulting and per-
jorative against Jews. Now once
again you can say anything you
like about a Jew as long as you
call him a Zionist."
Continuing in his open letter to
actress Vanessa Redgrave an
outspoken supporter of the
Palestinian Liberation
Organization, Bikel writes: "You
dishonor me as a human being
and as a Jew by distorting history
and by pretending that there is a
difference between those Jew-
haters who destroyed Jerusalem
2,000 years ago and those who
seek to destroy it now." 4
The Holocaust, though unique
in its magnitude and destruc-
tiveness, was not an isolated
historical event. It is .inherently

when he visited Israel over a year
ago. The Israelis were trying.to
show both leaders and the rest of
the world that- if they wanted to
understand Israel and the Jewish
people, they would first have to
look at the Holocaust.
For the Israelis, there is no
such thing as the "post-Holocaust
world." The same people that
survived the concentration cam-
ps of Europe were never allowed
to live in peace. Only a few years
after Auschwitz, they faced both
threats and military actions from
Arab countries trying to "drive
the Jews into the sea." And as
ther world remained silent-ex-
cept to condemn Israel as the
"agressor"-thee Jews found
themselves alone again like they
had been not only from 1933-1945
but for all of Jewish history.
MORE KNOWLEDGE
NEEDED
We do not know enough about
the Holocaust. We tend to explain
its causes as unique to a par-
ticular society as a particular
time in history. Such explanation
serves to comfort us that the
Holocaust ended and never could

Letters

MSA needs internalfunding

To the Daily:
In an editorial published Sun-
day, March 25, the Daily suppor-
ted the concept of Michigan
Student Assembly .(MSA) inter-
nal funding but urged the defeat
of the ballot proposal for the MSA
election which would allow inter-
nal funding to be initiated. The
Daily, however, misunderstood
the ballot proposal and unfor-
tunately may have misguided its
readers.
The ballot proposal in question
would eliminate a constitutional
restriction upon payment of fun-
ds to MSA members and impose a
3.9 per cent ceiling on the total
amount of funds available for
this purpose.The Daily viewed it
as a plan to allocate 3.9 per cent,
or roughly $9,000, to its officers.
The editorial focused upon little
other than that figure; it ignored
the substantive issues involved.
The 3.9 per cent figure is a ceiling
rather than an allocation. It
would simply permit the newly
elected Assembly to implement a
plan of subsidies-or salaries if
you prefer-but nothing would
become effective without sub-
sequent Assembly action. The
political process would then be
use to work out the details.
BEFORE GIVING my reasons

ficers to do this. Since the vast
majority of the Assembly would
not be paid, the membership
would have, no interest in over-
compensation. An example of the
frugality of the Assembly in
"taking care of their own" was
its great reluctance to do so much
as purchase bagels for its Budget
Committee, which holds four and
five hour meetings through din-
ner-time. If a rip-off is feared, the
solution is to elect responsible
representatives.
Internal funding is important if
the organization is to function
more efficiently and
dynamically. In the past year,
four different officers have
resigned, a somewhat
debilitating turnover. An officer
who is paid would be more ac-
countable to those who pay him
or her. Furthermore, volun-
teerism excludes or limits those
who must work to remain in
school. A great number of
Assembly members have part-
time jobs that limit their time
commitment to Assembly duties.
We envision an Assembly
capable of responding to every
shallenge and initiating action for
the benefit of all students. I am
proud of the way the Assembly
has grown in the past year. But
our canabilities are limited hby

and coordinate an alternative
work study program to research
the problems confronting it. It is
time for MSA to mature.
-Jeffrey Supowit
MSA, Law School
Representative
March 27,1979
Deer Hunter
To the Daily:
The Deer Hunter, as Daily
reviewer Christopher Potter
suggests, is indeed cinematically
magnificent, yet ambivalent in
its depiction of its American
heroes. It is also a morally and
politically reprehensible film, in
that it attempts-to make a point
about the effect of the war on
Americans by vilifying the Viet-
namese. I agree with the
reviewer that The Deer Hunter is
about "bonds of human frien-
dship and love." But Potter
betrays a blind spot in failing to
acknowledge that the "forces
....alien to all that is familiar
and good" which threaten those
bonds are represented by a real
people worthy of our respect.

victims-presumably victims of
other Vietnamese, since-
Americans are only seen shooting
in self-defense. They are por-
trayed, as, in a word, "Gooks."
The audience recognizes this
typical war-movie racism even if
Potter does not. When Robert
DeNiro, at the end of, an ex-
crutiatingly long scene of
psychological torture (which so
far as I know has no basis in
reality), blows away his Viet-
namese captors, the audience
cheers. They know what they
have just seen - John Wayne,
Erroll Flynn, the archetypical
brave American overcoming
great odds of trick and then ex-
terminate the sinister yellow
bastards who embody evil.
This may not be the "True sub-
ject" of The Deer Hunter, but it is
its unconscious, and uncon-
scionable, message. The viewer
shows that he has received this
message by twice referring to the
NLF soldiers as "the Cong,"
echoing the racial-political slurs
of war. In dealing with American
and Americans, The Deer Hunter
is a sensitive film and Potter is a
sensitive reviewer. But we can no
innop nl ra ,sineh hruetaliain

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