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March 29, 1981 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1981-03-29

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OPINION
Page 4 Sunday, March 29, 1981 The Michigan Daily
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Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

Vol. XCI, No. 145

420 Moynard St.
Ann Arbor, M1 48109

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

Helping the 'truly poor'

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T'S DIFFICULT not to crack a
smile at the idea of the ever-
judicious Sen. Jesse Helms leading his
Republican cohorts in a valiant
struggle over the Democrats to in-
crease federal funding for the school
lunch program.
The reality of the situation, however,
is indicative not so much of joviality as
it is of the realization - now dawning
on Republicans - of the real poverty
and impracticality of the Reagan
budget proposals.
What the Republicans did on Friday
was to restore - at the expense of
foreign aid - $200 million of the money
President Reagan had cut from the
school lunch program. Some
Republicans admitted that their sud-
den burst of generosity for the poor
was, in fact, an effort to derail a
Democratic move that sought to
restore $400 million to the lunch
program while keeping foreign aid in-
tact.
The fact that the $200 million will be
taken from the already small amount
allocated by the Reagan plan for
foreign aid is further indication of the
shallowness of the Republican action.
$100 million of the restored funding for
the lunch program will be hacked from

the Food for Peace Program.
The Republican position seems to
ignore the importance of both the
school lunch program and the foreign
aid program. The school lunch
program has been able to improve the
diets of hundreds of thousands of-young
Americans who otherwise would not be
fed adequately. Besides being a noble
humanitarian gesture, non-military
foreign aid of the sort the Republicans
are going to cut is valuable as a con-
structivepolicy tool.
Jesse Helms, who led the campaign
in the Senate to get the Republican
revisions passed, was perfectly frank
about his efforts, but Senate Majority
leader Howard Baker responded to
Democratic criticism of the changes
differently. "I believe," Baker said,
"the poor of this country are being
cruelly used in an attempt to restore to
the budget full funding for programs
that have failed."
Ready? One can only hope that
Baker and the other Republicans take
the same view as the failure of their
own program becomes more apparent.
Perhaps then the nation could start
making some real progress toward
helping the "truly poor" both in this
country and abroad.

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history of Polish revolution

Improving ties with China

T SEE1MS AS IF the Reagan
administration, after all, may be
concerned with maintaining' and
strengthening U.S. ties with the
People's Republic of China. Several
indications of strengthening relations
have surfaced due to talks with the two
nations in recent weeks.
Last fall then-presidential-candidate
Reagan vowed to beef-up unofficial
relations with Taiwan. Until recently,
Chinese leaders were quite apprehen-
sive about this defiance of the 1979
Chinese-American normalization ac-
cords. Following a two-week trip by
Former President Gerald Fort to
China as an envoy for Reagan, and the
president's meeting with the Chinese
Ambassador to the United States,
these apprehensions have been greatly
quelled.
The benefits of strong Sino-U.S. ties
are numerous. It is important that the

United States does not neglect the
world's largest nation. For instance,
the potential for increased trade is one
that cannot be ignored. Already,
possible long-range trade agreements
are being discussed. David Tappan,
chairman of the National Council for
U.S.-China trade predicts "explosive
growth" in Chinese-American trade
within three to five years.
Furthermore, it is important for
Washington to develop a strong frien-
dship with this eastern giant. As ten-
sion mounts between the United States
and the Soviet Union,-it is valuable to
have support from Russia's eastern
neighbor.
Officials in Peking are encouraged
by the past few week's developments.
The Reagan administration should
continue on this pattern, strengthening
and adding to relations with the
Chinese government.

' -

"Polonism is revolution," said the 19th cen-
tury Austrian Chancellor Metternich, in war-
ning Russia's Tsar Alexander against
political concessions to the Poles in 1815.
The tsar ignored the advice and granted a
liberal constitution to his part of Poland, with
an elected parliament, independent courts,
free speech, and a free press -all of which he
denied to his own people. But the concessions
not only failed to curb Polish nationalist
aspirations; the Polish example also inspired
the first Russian revolutionary movement,
the Decembrists.
AS POLAND TEETERS at the brink of full-
scale revolt today, Russia's current leader,
Leonid Brezhnev, must also be haunted by the
spectre of "Polonism." And he is probably
aware that, while the long national tradition
of pluralism and political participation that
has brought about the current crisis is
uniquely Polishain Eastern Europe, the Polish
example may spread dangerously today as it
did in Alexander's time.
Certainly, Poland''s tradition of indepen-
dence and participation is not the only factor
responsible for the fact that Poland, alone,
has translated its economic and social
grievances into a political revolution. The
more common explanations are also impor-
tant: Poland's relative openness to Western
influences, the role of the Catholic church
and the impact of the Polish Pope, and the
historical dislike of the Poles for the
Russians.
But these aspects are not sufficient to ex-
plain the political dimensions of the Polish
crisis. For this, one must look to centuries-old
political culture of Poland-a culture which
has susvived many periods of repression.
THE EXTENT to which political par-
ticipation has long been a distinctive feature
of that culture is especially evident in the con-
trast with Russian experience. "No taxation
without representation" became the law of
Poland in 1374; no segment of the Russian
people enjoyed a comparable right until after

By Roman Szporluk
1905.
In the 16th century, when the tsar was
being worshipped as a divinely ordained
being in Russia, subject to no legal restraints,
the Poles were transforming their king into
an elective president for life and closely
scrutinizing his policies at national and
regional representative assemblies.
Admittedly, only the nobility (about one-
tenth of the nation) enjoyed political rights in
old Poland. But it was from the nobility that
the masses Learned in the 19th century that
being Polish means being entitled to certain
civil and political rights. As they developed
social or class consciousness, organized
unions, demanded better wages, and land
reforms, the workers and peasants of Poland
cameto share withstherest of the nation the
principle which says "Nic 0 Nas Bez
Nas"-"nothing that concerns us is to be
decided without us."
IN THE EARLY 20th century, Poland, like
so many other European nations, was in the
hands of a dictator. In 1926 the parliamentary
government was overthrown by Jozef Pilsud-
ski. However, even he acknowledged publicly
that it was not possible to govern Poland with
a whip. Though burdened with unsolved
social, economic and ethnic problems, and
though certainly not a democracy, Pilsudski's
Poland remained a pluralistic state. Op-
position parties continued to function, as did
an independent (albeit censored) press.
There were pro-government labor unions, to
be sure, but they existed alongside indepen-
dent socialist, Christian-Democratic, and
other unions.
There was also a strong and vocal peasant
movement in pre-1939 Poland, which
sometimes erupted in strikes. The Rzeszow
region, which was recently in the news in
connection with peasant demands for the
legalization of the "Rural Solidarity" union,
had also been an area of peasant strike ac-

tivity in the 1930s. r .
Even under Hitler's terroristic regime,
when no legal avenues of expression were
allowed, the Poles organized not only a
resistance force, but created an elaborater
political structure in the underground, with
political parties, newspapers and journals of,
opinion which functioned completely freely -Uh
so long as they escaped the Nazis.
The peculiar instinct of the Poles for
political freedom has also characterized the
last 36 years of Polish history under com-0
munism. Between 1945-47 a peasant party en-
joyed the support of all strata of the
population. Even the socialist party, which
cooperated with the Communists, tried to
develop a Polish road to socialism that would
allow some measure of political pluralism.
Though all opposition was soon suppressed,
the Poles did not give up; after Stalin's death
their dogged spirit of independence asserted
itself in new ways, with worker uprisings at
Poznan in 1956.'
At the time of the Poznan riots, Leck Walesa,
the leader of today's independent worker's
movement, was a child. Many of those now
active in Solidarity had not yet been born. Yet
there is a direct line of continuity between the
events of the past nine months and those of 24
years ago. Indeed, the continuity - the
uniquely Polish obsession with individual
political rights - reaches back to the political
demands of the late medieval period.
Like Tsar Alexander, Brezhnev .must now"
decide whether to once again attempt to sup-
press that obsession called "Polonism," or to
meet the pressures with timely concessions.
Either way, Poland is again setting an exam-
ple, providing a lesson that may resoun'd
elsewhere in Eastern Europe.

Roman Szporluk is a University history
professor. He wrote this article for the
Pacific News Service.

4

LET

TERS TO THE DAILY:
Witt should consider all issues

MAO
0/

To the Daily:
Howard Witt's plaintive
question, "Why are blacks so
unhappy?" would be less mad-
dening were it not so familiar and
less frustrating, did it not reveal
a host of mistaken assumptions
about the point and process of
black solidarity and assimilation
into the dominant society.
Readily admitting that things
look bleak on the political
horizon, Mr. Witt says, in effect,
"Come talk to me, black people.
Tell me your problems, and let's
see what we can do about them."
But even overlooking such a
patronizing overture, what is to
be expected from such a
dialogue? Whites have a dubious
track record in undoing the
power structures that exclude
minorities and have been un-
willing to concede that assertions
of cultural values outside of the
majority culture could be
legitimate. It is hard to under-
stand that the true source of
sustenance and power for many
minority group members is other
members of the same group?
For black students brought up
in a black home, black neigh-
borhoods, and with other black
people entry into the almost ex-
clusively white university is a
change of life of no small propor-
tinns Perhann it has never ne-

places owned, run, and
patronized mostly by whites.
Mr. Witt's trepidation with
going into Trotter House is the
situation faced by black students
every day at the University of
Michigan, not just those who feel
inclined to walk into the Michigan
Daily office.
But the problem is more than
just one of devising coping
strategies; it involves the means
to support expressions of cultural
diversity. White leaders and fair-
minded individuals should be dis-
abused of the notion that
education as it is conceived at
this university is value-free and
unrelated to class and racial
issues.
It is not just "fear of
assimilation" that you see in
blacks, Mr. Witt, but a conscious
rejection of values that deaden
and structures that strangle. We
needn't fear black cohesion, but
we should fear the assumption
that group identity is in-
significant, that culture and
heritage are individual and
purely personal things.
Human existence is social and
we are all marked by the positive
and negative elements of group
experience. Blacks are coming to
terms with their heritage. The
tragedy is that many whites ap-
nparentlv feel thev have no need to

whites? As long as the University
seeks blacks and other minorities
are useful statistics rather than
as people with an essential con-
tribution to make, the recruit-
ment of blacks is bound to be th-
warted. As long at it dangles
scholarship carrots to entice at-
tendance, but questions the
usefulness of black support
programs, minority students will
be mistrustful of the motives of
University administrators. As
long as every concerted black ac-
tion is questioned or suspected as
nefarious and every black group
seen as an example of clan-
nishness and conspiracy, Mr.
Witt's question will remain unan-
swered - by Valerie Mims or
anyone else.
Mr. Witt, our suggestion to you
and the University is that we look
at the "black problem" as our
problem and that new efforts be
made to ensure that the 10 per-
cent commitment to black
enrollment is achieved and that

programs, supports and attitudes
be developed to insure that the at-
trition rate is drastically
reduced.
Your naive and ill-informed
statement is clear evidence of the
need for all University studenrts
to confront in a serious and
thoughtful manner the issue of
racism in society at large, in the
University and in interpersonal
relations. Consideration of these
issues ought to become an in-
tegral and required part of a
university education.
-Pilot Program Staff
Dick Brazee
Joe Denny
Josephine Hobson
Jan Kralovec '
Cece Lobin
Kathryn Miller
Willa Pressman
Tom Riis
David Schoem
Susan Sterner
Beth Yakel
March 28 I

Letter policies

Lette
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