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December 03, 1981 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1981-12-03

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...

OPINION

Page 4

Thursday, December 3, 1981

The Michigan Daily

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Times

By David Duboff
The following is the second in a two-part
series that looks at student apathy and ac-
:tivism from two different perspectives.
Many people feel that the cataclysmic
movement of the 1960s is dead, but the fact of
the matter is that this just isn't true-it's just
that we don't hear about it. For one thing, the
media hasn't been covering what the Left, the
progressive movement and the peace
movement have been doing, as they did in the
60s. For another, people oriented toward social
Change have been keeping a low profile,
working away silently in the communities and
the workplaces across this country.
On October 14 an event took place here on
campus that was not reported in the Daily. It
was an exciting and stimulating event that I
have taken it upon myself to write this article.
THE EVENT WAS a talk at the Residential
College by three people who were active in
Students for a Democratic Society in the 1960s.
SDS was the largest student organization in the
history of the country, with a membership of
100,000 at its height.
Two of the speakers, Richie Feldman and
Bill Ayers, were active in SDS here in Ann Ar-
bor. The third speaker, Bernadine Dohrn, was
a national leader of SDS who went on to
become, along with Bill Ayers, a leader of the
Weathermen, who went underground to engage
in acts of sabotage like the bombing of the Pen-
tagon in the early 1970s at the height of the war
in Indochina.
Two-hundred-fifty people jammed into an
East Quad lecture room to hear the three
veteran activists, and 250 more had to be tur-
ned away, for lack of room. Some who couldn't
gain entry stood outside, hoping to hear what
was said. Those inside engaged in a spirited
give and take with the speakers.
ALL THREE HAD come a long way since the
60s. Ayers and Dohrn, who now have two
children, "surfaced" last year after ten years
underground. They now live and work in New
York City where Ayers teaches in a day care
center. Dohrn is a waitress and teaches a cour-

change
se in Women and Law at New Haven Com-
munity College. In the early 70s, Feldman left
Ann Arbor for Detroit and began working in a
factory. To his credit, he is still working there
today. He now belongs to the National
Organization for an American Revolution,
which grew out of an all-black organization in
Detroit called The Advocators.
Feldman, who spoke first, talked about the
need to develop a vision of the future rooted in
the American experience, and described
mistakes that were made during the 60s when
people were too much into imitating what had
happened in other countries that had gone
through successful revolutionary struggles.
AYERS AND DOHRN provided a different
perspective. They talked about the importance
of action and militancy as a way of raising
people's consciousness of the need for struggle
to change social conditions Ayers described the
sense of moral outrage people felt during the
period of the Civil Rights movement and, later,
the war in Indochina, when there was intense
repression of blacks and other people of color in
this country. They also pointed out the impor-
tance of political prisoners to the struggle.
A central theme of both Ayers' and Dohrn's
presentations was the need to look outward to
the Third World for lea'dership. As support for
this thesis, they returned repeatedly to the
theme that ten countries have "liberated"
themselves from American imperialism.
Feldman pointed out that they seem to be
talking very much as they had in the late 60s,
and he urged the audience to think of revolution
in terms of American society and American
history.
THE SIGNIFICANCE of this event lies in the
fact that the panelists and the audience were
questioning the motives, values, and beliefs
that underlay people's actions during the 60s. It
became clear, during the discussion, that many
people who thought they were
"revolutionaries" at the time had failed to
distinguish between rebellion, liberation and
revolution.
People were so angry at the abhorrent things
this country was doing to Vietnam and to
blacks that they came to reject this country
totally. The Weathermen projected a picture
that there was nothing good about the United

States, that there was no hope for this country,
and that this attitude was mirrored in the way
many people on the Left treated each other at
the time-with vehemence and hatred,
"trashing" and "gut-checking" each other,
rather than with love and respect.
IN MANY WAYS, what happened to people
during the 60s was valuable, in that they were
forced to question their own largely middle-
class background, and to examine where their
allegiances lay. But, at the same time, the per-
sonal antagonisms that led to "brittle"
relationships crippled people emotionally in
many ways.
As a result, many people on the Left
recognized by the early 1970s that a healthier
approach towards solving the problems of
society had to be taken.
People turned to the communities, and
became involved in local issues and workplace
issues. They recognized that the greatest im-
pact can be made at the most immediate
level-where people live and work. They looked
at the 60s and learned some lessons: that all too
often people in the movement were not so much
acting for change as reacting to the daily
horrors of Vietnam; that many activists wan-
ted "instant revolution" just as so many people
in this society want instant gratification; and
that so much of what was done in the 60s was
done without a philosophy or well-developed
theory of how change occurs.
Paralleling this was the development of
"New Age Consciousness," an outgrowth of the
Counterculture movement of the 60s. Whereas
the Counterculture movement sought to be as
separate from the society as possible, the New
Age movement has gradually been integrating
itself into society by spreading an awareness of
the need for linking together spirituality,
community and politics.
AS FELDMAN pointed out, there is much to
learn from the 60s, but to do so we have to over-
come our romantic view of that period. Fur-
thermore,'we must get own to the hard work
of applying what we've learned to present cir-
cumstances. It's easy to throw up our hands in
despair, as so many people seem to be doing.
What's much more difficult is to take a positive
look, at a time when the future seems so
frightening.

People need to take a long view, and realize
that there have been hard times in this country
before, and that during these hard times
people pulled themselves together and
struggled successfully to survive.
WE'RE BECOMING aware of a new danger
on the horizon-the impending threat of a
nuclear holocaust that would destroy life on
earth as we know it. The movement for nuclear
disarmament that existed in the early 1960s has
re-emerged, and it is a movement that has the
potential of uniting everyone in this country.
A few weeks ago there was a convocation
here on campus attended by several hundred
people; it was part of similar events on the
issue of the nuclear threat to survival on over
150 campuses across the country-a monumen-
tal accomplishment.
After the convocation, 150 people held a can-
dle-light march to University President Harold
Shapiro's house to demonstrate against
military research on campus. But unlike the
demonstrations of the late sixties, which were
filled with such slogans as "Smash" and
"Destroy," this march had a different meaning
for people. It was a very graceful event, in
which feelings of desperation and urgency
were shared in a loving way that creates an
energy for change.
People are beginning to realize, just as they
did in the 60s, that what's happening here on
campus is directly related to what's happening
in society as a whole. The University is serving
the interests of the military-industrial com-
plex, just as it did at the time of the Vietnam
War. Students and faculty are becoming in-
volved in the debate over whether the Univer-
sity should be research-oriented or teaching-
oriented. The attitude of the University ad-
ministration seems to be that research, in-
cluding military research, will bring in more
money. But at what cost in terms of human
values?
THE ADMINISTRATION is prepared to shut
down whole schools and colleges if money isn't
forthcoming-under the "Smaller but Better"
philosophy. This, of course, can't be separated
from what the Reagan administration is doing
domestically and internationally.
So, the same kinds of value choices that
people were forced to make during the Vietnam
War have to be made today. Will we ignore

what's going on in society and the world, in the
hope that things won't get any worse, when
everything going on around us seems to in-
dicate that society is decaying economically,
politically and spiritually? Will we continue to;W
sink into apathy, despair and cynicism,
ignoring the fact that this is exactly' what
Reagan and the Right Wing want so that they
can continue to wield power? Are we willing to
accept our responsibility as social beings and
take action on what we believe is best for
society, and the world, as a whole?
What can we do? One thing would be to join
the effort to end military research in Ann Ar-
bor, and to make Ann Arbor a center for peace
research instead of war research. The
movement seems to be gaining speed and
might well take off in January.
One of the things we've learned from the 60s is
that significant change occurs through mass
mobilization. The entire institution of Jim Crow
in the South was destroyed by the Civil Rights
movement. And the massive mobilization
against the Vietnam War, which resulted in
over a half-million people marching on
Washington, played a significant role in
changing the government's policy. Now we see
an equal number of people marching on
Washington on Solidarity Day this past Sep-
tetiber. What's happening now is a resurgence
of the progressive movement and of the
people's movement-a direct result of all the
work that's gone on since the 60s.
The process of mobilization gives people a
sense of power-you can see that you're not
along, that millions of people are being affected
just as you are, and that there is strength in
numbers. Obviously, we shouldn't kid our-
selves that a movement to overturn the Reagan
administration is going to bring about the total
transformation of society-we have learned to
much about the resiliency of the American
power structure to deceive ourselves that way.
But we also know that mass movements have
the potential to significantly alter power
relationships in society and bring about an at-
mosphere where people will be more free to
develop themselves in socially responsible:
ways.
Duboff is a former contributing editor
for the Daily.

but activism lives on

-V

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Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

Weasel

By Robert Lence

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Vol. XCII, No. 69

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

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Editorials represent a majority opinion of the Daily's Editorial Board

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Faculty unionization

57

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A CAREFUL examination of the
recent petitions from University
faculty members on unionization shows
their focus lies not in plans for the for-
mation of any union, but in airing
discontent over current salary
policies.
The wording of the petitions from
members of the physics and the art
history departments was very
cautious. Both petitions asked faculty
governance groups only to look into the
possibilities of a faculty union at the
University. Neither supported
unionization outright; in fact,
professors who originated the respec-
tive petitions admit'they are undecided
themselves on the question of a union.
The one point both petitions made
without equivocation, however, was
the faculty's growing discontent with
the distribution of this year's low 5.5
percent salary increase. Many faculty
members voiced concern that the
University's merit-based system,
which rewards those showing ex-
cellence in teaching and research with
higher raises, may shortchange those

faculty members with high seniority
who are not considered academic hot-
shots. The merit system, the Univer-
sity's longstanding salary policy, is
creating new concern among the
faculty because low salary increases
make who gets how much even
more important.
The union petitions have received
little support from the faculty as a
whole. Most faculty members view
forming a union as a grave move, and
express reservations that the leveling
effects any union causes would turn the
University into a second-rate in-
stitution.
Even though the possibilities for
faculty unionization seem remote, the
administration should consider the
petitions as messages of faculty
discontent. Union petitions may be
nothing more now than a device to
draw attention to faculty grievances,
but unionization may become a more
serious faculty issue unless the ad-
ministration attempts to increase
faculty involvement in future Univer-
sity decisions.

--4Nw"E!J_ Fi r r

LETTERS TO THE DAILY:

Tenants union self-serving

To the Daily:
Those who, like this writer,
were out on the Diag Tuesday
noon to be informed by the Ann
Arbor Tenants Union must have
been disappointed by the
rhetoric.,
Disappointed, but not sur-
prised.
It was mentioned that people
are mainly uninformed about
what their rights as tenants are-
a rather vague generalization-

and how the main opposition to
tenants' rights is not so much the
evil landlord but apathy, since
the people most affected are
usually in town for no more than 3
or 4 years. Fortunately, that tired
canard, rent control, was left un-
discussed, a wise decision if one
did not want to be laughed off the
library steps. But was there any
relevant information?
Various and separate studies
have shown that high rents, scar-

Democracy in Israel

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To the Daily:
In an editorial which appeared
on November 11, you asserted
that Israel exhibits "a lack of
concern for the rights of the
Palestinian people." A careful
examination of Israeli policy,
however, demonstrates that this
is just not so. Indeed, Israel has
shown a high regard for
Palestinian rights, as the
following facts make clear.
Palestinians living in Israel are
entitled to become Israeli citizens
and thereby to enjoy full basic
freedoms and civil liberties.
Thus, for example, Arabs in
Israel not only vote in gover-
nment elections, but they have
*h :.. -- ..c--4: - rn re n~i a n h

more, Palestinians have their
own universities in the "Israeli-
occupied" West Bank.
Israel has committed itself (via
Camp David) to an arrangement
that would permit Palestinians
full autonomy in the West Bank
and Gaza Strip until negotiations
and agreement among Israel,
Egypt, Jordan, and elected
Palestinian representatives
determine the final status of
those areas. The Palestinians
alone would have the right to ap-
prove or reject any such
agreement.
If you are truly concerned
about suppression of Palestinian
self-determination, then you
-t --- .-_ -M O nTTs0%

city of housing, and poor upkeep
are mainly due to city gover-
nmentpinterference in the
marketplace. High property
taxes, veiled and not-so-veiled
threats of rent control, and con-
tinual hassling with quasi-
governmental agencies such as
historical commissions 'do not
promote an incentive to building
new units. Upgrading older units
or converting single dwellings to
multiple dwellings are
discouraged-anyone who has
ever made improvements on a
house only to have the city
reassess it (i.e., raise the taxes)
can see the point. And coops are
regulated out of existence.
Zoning, height restrictions, and a
general no-growth policy also
stifle new housing, particularly
low-cost private multiple
housing.
Addel to that is the fact that
the University has not provided
sufficient accommodations for
those wishing to live on campus.
In short, the demand for housing
far surpasses the available
housing, and the would-be renter
is caught in the middle of a
political squeeze play.
These issues, though, are
- ignored by those who profess to
be interested in the tenant.

authoritarian group, interested
more in regimentation than in the
problem.
There is also a bias to the
group, a trait or philosophy un-
fortunately shared by other so-
called consumer groups. The
average person is a boob, an
ignoramus, too stupid to make
decisions for her/himself, and
therefore it is the divine duty of a
small minority to dictate what
can or cannot be done. Reductio
ad absurdum, anyone who
dared to sign an unsanctioned
agreement with another person is
obviously a danger to him/her-
self as well as to others.
As an information group, poin-
ting out what to look for in a
lease, or even what landlords it
would not advise dealing with,
the Tenants Union can be ap-
plauded. But its hostility to
freeing up the system and its
counter-productive deter-
mination to promote actions that
will have just the opposite effect
totally outweigh any positive
qualities.

One could justifiably accuse
the Tenants Union of being self-
serving, as was mentioned above.
Is it interested in only keeping
the Tenants Union alive through
promoting policies that are
cosmetic and that will assure the

Al

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