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October 09, 1977 - Image 9

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Michigan Daily, 1977-10-09
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J

Page 8-Sunday, October 9, 1977-The Michigan Daily
m--itford-,

(Continued from Page 4)
Mitford is not a writer, and this book
desperately needs some stern editing.
In the course of 333 pages, I gagged my
way through some of the most puerile
puns and juvenile limmericks I have
ever had the misfortune to read. The
grammar, to those who still cherish
their Mother Tongue, will bring a tear
to the eye: "The neighborhood club to
which Bob and I were transferred.
was pronounced Tween Picks by the
Russian-born comrades, of whom there
were not a few," is a choice, but hardly
isolated, example.
THE CONTINUAL intrusion of the
Mitford family life was a bane and
a boon. It provided some moments of
high comedy and wit-particularly with
the infuriating equanimity of Lady
Redesdale, the author's mother:
Bob told her about the then immi-
nent passage of the Mundt-Nixon
Communist registration bill; should
it pass, he said, there was a real
ktan
(Continued from Page 3)
he exclaimed, and the crowd roared its
approval.
"We have got to institute a white
awareness program in this country,"
he remarked, and the audience respon-
ded enthusiastically.,
As Rogers spoke, a cameraman from
a local television station began panning
the crowd with his camera, contrary to
prior warnings from Klan officials who
said they didn't want any pictures
taken of the audience. "Turn that thing
out or I'll turn it out for you," yelled a
male voice from-he stands. The
cameraman quickly heeded the advice.
Rogers turned to yet another piece of
humor. "I saw one book called The Ac-
complishments of the American Negro.
I turned the book to the first page and it
was blank. I turned to the next page and
it was blank. I turned to all 50 pages and
they were all blank and the last page
said, 'the end."'
The audience was convulsed with
laughter.
H E CONCLUDED with a call to
action. Groups that have made
gains for themselves have always been
ready ~to make sacrifices, he said.
Whites, too, must be willing to
sacrifice. "Let's stand up and be
proud," he concluded, and the crowd
gave him a warm round of applause.
The group was less receptive to the
next two speakers, a local Klan official
and Robert Shelton, imperial wizard
(head) of the United Klans of America.
The hour was late, the rhetoric dry and
many people decided to get up and
stretch their legs. The event they had
come to see wouldn't begin for a while.
anyway.
"If you're going to join the Klan," the
local leader said, "be prepared to work
within the system. Don't expect to join
the Klan and the next day be knocking
foo d
(Continued from Page 6)
"Leopold Bloom is a character in the
book," the hostess explained.
A character in the book. Poor Bloom,
the essence of 'man reduced to "a
character."
I wiped a tear from my eye and nod-
ded in understanding..
"I see," I said, "but there is nothing

likelihood that we would all be
hauled off to prison or concentra-
tion camp: "Oh, dear, yes, I sup-
pose you will," she said impertur-
ably. "What a pity. But of course
I'm quite accustomed to my chil-
dren going to prison."
But, at the same time, I have to admit
I often found them tiresome, vain,
shallow, and egomaniacal. I cannot
regard sisters Diana and Unity's-and
yes, even Mama Mitford's-pro-Hitler
involvement with an indulgent chuckle.
Jessica Mitford, at times, seems to
slough off these issues-or at least I
was quick to accuse her of this until I
tallied up the years she cut off all com-
munication with her mother and
sisters. .
There is an underlying note of
anguish in these relationships which
Mitford tries to disguise-a decision
both brave and foolish. In foregoing
sincerity for levity, she denies the book
some of the truth and depth it might
otherwise have had, and which is essen-
tial for a book of the what-it-was-like-to-
some nigger on the noggin. We don't
have much use for night riding these
days."
This was a theme repeatedly stressed
by Klan Spokesmen-lynchings were
out, lobbying was in. The New Klan.
Shelton's speech touched on a wide
range of topics, from interracial blood
donations to the parentage of Jesus.
"Some people say Jesus was a Jew.
There's nothing in the Bible that says
he was a Jew,. My Bible says he was the
son of God, born to Mary," he argued.
Finally, the moment long-awaited by
the audience arrived. "Will all Klans-
men report to the center of the track,"
an announcer requested. Men began
trickling out of the bleachers. They
stepped behind a van parked in the cen-
ter of the track and emerged clad in
white robesand pointed white hoods.
When some 25 to 30 were assembled,
they picked up wooden torches and
walked in a wide circle around the
towering cross. As they passed a small
fire, each lit his torch. Tlie smell of
kerosene wafted into the air.
Suddenty, lights dimmed all over the
raceway. The hooded men stopped and
began circling in the opposite direction.
Then the circling stopped again.
One of the Klansmen walked toward
the cross and lit it at the base. The
dampness slowed the growth- of the
flame, bt it eventually enveloped the
vertical pole and crept along the cross-
bar.
On signal, the robed men tossed their
torches into the center of the circle at
the base of the cross. The raceway
lights were turned on and the ceremony
ended.
"I've never seen a cross-burning
before,"' a male spectator said to a
companion. "I've seen one in pictures.
I've seen in the old days when they used
to put somebody on it. They don't do
that now . . do they?"
here that is Bloom-like Nothing here to
suggest, er, the character."
"Of course not," she said. "A friend
of the owners just liked the novel and
suggested that name."
I turned around and headed out
across the street to the Fleetwood
Diner. Maybe I would find Bloom there,
I hoped. Eating ohili dogs.

be-in-the-middle-of-it genre.
This desire to be a "Good Sport" is an
insidious thing. I wonder if it accounts
for Mitford's utter lack of sympathy for
feminists within the Communist Party.
At times, her attitude verges on not
only indifference to feminism, but op-
position to it. She disparages the
feminist issues that arose, and repeats
with relish the sexist jokes of CP "Good-
Ole' Boys." It is almost as if she were
trying to prove she was just "One of the
Guys" to compensate the sometimes
lugubrious intensity of thie Communist.
Party. It is a peculiar problem
prevalent among women in politics and
other seious concerns. This "Good
Guy" syndrome often masks the deeper
need of an oppressed people to dump on
another oppressed group-even it it's
their own. Thus, the Pole tells "Polack,
jokes" to prove he's a Reg'lar Guy, and
women guffaw at locker room jokes.
T HE SINS OF THIS book, like those
of the Biblical woman taken in
adultery, are many. Perhaps foremost
among them is the fact that Mitford's
grasp of political realities is slight: as if
she were afflicted, at once, with tunnel
vision and myopia.
She doesn't see the methods of

totalitarianism that existed even within
her own small corner of politics; she-
doesn't question the methods of Stalin,
who she reads and admires, even when
they were at least partially responsible
for the Red Scare, which in turn per-
secuted her; and even when such
atrocities became public knowledge in
1956 with Khrushchev's announcement,
her-nswer is too ready, too pat:
I did not shasre this (public)
anguish to any marked degree,
perhaps because I had never been
as thoroughly convinced as most
comrades of Soviet infallibility.
Terrible as the revelations' were,
it seemed to me that the very fact
Khrushchev had seen fit to lay
them out for all the world to see
signified that the Soviet leader-
ship was set on a course of funda-
mental change.
Still, in an era when the Communist
Party was consistently tackling the
humanitarian, progressive issues that
the liberals consistently avoided in this
country, there is a certain validity to
Mitford's defense: "Despite all the
evidentdrawbacks, I can hardly
imagine living in America in those days
and not beinea member."

go

qll

I-

I-

kopelev

(Continued from Page 5)
Unlike most of those Soviet dissidents
who draw the attention of Westerners in
the media, Kopelev remains a Marxist
despite all. -In To Be Preserved
Forever, he himself does not clue us in
to the state of his current political
views. But journalist and author Robert
Kaiser fills in the blanks, in his after-
word to the book. Writes Kaiser,
"Today Lev is a profoundly tolerant
man, and a practicing humanist. His
values are the values-of the early Karl
Marx who has been compared to an Old
Testament prophet."
What Kopelev does describe-at the
very end of the book, very concisely but
nonetheless with precision-is the in-
tellectual process by which he freed
himself from the internally consistent
but devilish logic of Stalinism. He
recalls wistfully:
I came to understand that my fate,
which had seemed so senselessly,
so undeservedly, cruel, was actual-
ly fortunate and just. It was just
because I did deserve to be pun-
ished-for the many years I had
zealously participated in plunder-
ing the peasants; worshipping Sta-
lin, lying and deceiving myself in
the name of 'historical necessity,'
and teaching others to believe in
lies and to bow before scoundrels.
It was fortunate because the years
of detention and the labor camps
helped me later. Gradually I was
able to free myself of the sticky web
of dialectical sophistry and syllog-
ism which cantransform the best
of men into villains and execu-
tioners. Gradually I lost my awe

for those ideas which, in' 'captur-
ing the masses,' can become ruin-
ous to whole peoples."
THE STYLE of the book is superb.
Kopelev as narrator is very like-
able and engaging-he is a chronicler
one feels one can trust. His narration-is
in many ways reminiscent of George
Orwell's in Homage to Catalonia:
Kopelev comes across as an intelligent,
well-intentioned aid sincere socialist,
aghast at what he finally recognizes as
the consequences of Stalinist policy,
ready with constructive criticisms for
which there is no audience at the-time
the events of the story are in progress.
Kopelev was expelled from the
Communigt Party and then re-admitted
several times. He repeatedly sought re-
entry into the party, partly, Robert
Kaiser says, for the sake of those who
testified on his behalf during his trials
and who could (and did) later suffer for
speaking up in favor of a man convicted
of anti-Sovietism. But Kopelev's desire
to remain in the party, and his avowed
determination to remain in the Soviet
Union, cannot be fully explained in
simple terms.-He seems fixed on taking
a stand in his country as tenaciously as
he took a stand on the front throughout
World War II. He seems fixed on
fighting as hard as he can to do what he
can to improve life in the Soviet Union,
to push the party, the government, the
country, in the proper direction.
Kopelev was finally ejected from the
party in 1968, according to Kaiser,
because of his condemnation of the
Soviet government's persecution of in-
tellectuals. But through works like this
book Kopelev continues to make his
voice heard.

Susan Ades Jay Levin
Co-editors
Elaine Fletcher Tom O'Connelly
- .Associate Editors:
Brian Blanchard
- Eileen Daley
Julie"Rovner
Sue Warner
Copy Editors
Cover photo of swan drinking from
fountain by Andy Freeberg
...... ..............: ..........................-b .

Inside:

Books: Two,
dissidents part.
with the Kremlin

Klan jam:
Old ideas in
the New South

Cinema
schlock
addict c

''.t

Supplement to The Michigan Daily

Ann Arbor, Michigan-Sunday, October 9, 1977

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