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October 31, 1980 - Image 4

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1980-10-31

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OPINION

Page 4 Friday, October 31, 1980 The Michigan Daily

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The Tisch plan: A mutated plebeian fervor

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"The U of M's been putting it over on us for
years," declared Bob, my workmate at a local
golf course. "They don't need half the money
they squeeze everyone for. Hell, if they'd spend
within their means like the rest of us, they
wouldn't have to go crying to the goddamn
government."
He hunched forward intensely, surveying the

Coming
Apart
By Christopher Potter

thirsts for revenge for a multitude of socio-
economic slights, real or imagined. And he has
found his elixir in Robert Tisch's Draconian
Proposal D.
The Tisch proposal's mass-propelled
momentum is fraught with poli-
tical irony. It is participatory
democracy in the most basic sense, the kind of
movement your junior high civics teacher used
to patriotically bill and coo over: "Isn't-it--
wonderful-we-have-a-direct-voice-in-our-gov-
ernment." Letthe Europeans keep their class-
based societies; let the communists keep their
masses enslaved. America was different.
Politicians could come and go-still the basic,
homely wisdom of the common man remained
sacrosanct.
We boasted a sagacity canonized in the music
of Aaron Copeland, in the films of Frank
Capra: You might fool the people for a while,
but eventually they'd catch on to any
megalomanical phoney who might temporarily
catch our collective ear. Sure, we had our
problems, but nothing that a little down-home
common sense couldn't set to rights. We were
Americans. We were special.
AND NOW WE have Tisch. In conception
and in campaign format, the proposal is the
quintessence of the mystique so championed in
word and song by our national poets: A group
of fed-up Americans determine to stand up to

the biggies, to break free from the entrenched
establishment. Few in number but high in
ideals, they form a grass-roots movement
which soon begins to spread across Michigan.
It is a movement financed not by corporate or
government, interests, but by small con-
tributions from average citizens disgruntled
with what they perceive as economic op-
pression.
The movement gains more and more
momentum, marching bravely in the face of
the combined opposition of virtually every
government-business-labor 'interest in the
state. The struggle continues neck-and-neck
into the final week, with no sure victor in sight.
Will the bosses maintain control, or will the
people emerge triumphant? It's enough to
make your eyes mist over while you break into
a chorus of "God Bless America;" it is also
enough to render conventional logic almost im-
potent.
Tisch is the populist mystique run amok,
plebeian fervor mutated into a crusade of
prideful, trumpeted ignorance. The proposition
is the latest Frankenstein monster begat by the
current, torrid American love affair with
government-by-referendum. It is a par-
ticipatory democracy at its most basic, a living
emblem of the system we haughtily cherish as
unique. And, like many a good idea carried to
its extreme, it threatens someday to destroy

the very system that spawned it.
IT FAZES TISCH'S' disciples not one bit
that Proposal D (which would cleave property
taxes in half with no provisions for making up
the subsequent lost income) is maliciously
bankrupt in both philosophy and implemen-
tation; that if enacted it would effectively
destroy Michigan's higher education system,
its social services, its already beleaguered
mental health program. They see only a vision
of swift, magically painless tax savings and,
more deeply, a-.chance for a little vengeful
bloodletting.
My friend Bob resents both the elitism of the
collegiate upper crust and the welfarism of the
unemployed. If Tisch were to bring both
classes down, he wouldn't mind a bit. He is
symptomatic of thousands, perhaps millions of
members of the middle class who have
coalesced around Proposal D-a solidarity only
dreamed of by the '60s anti-war activists, who
labored endlessly and futilely for mass blue-
collar support a decade ago. Tisch's emotional
motivations are drenched in paradoxical
similarity to the old American Left: 'An infec-
tious up-the-establishment romanticism, a
conspiratorial us-vs.-them zeal firing the
movement to a near-religious pitch. The virtual
unanimity of opposition to Proposal D from
Michigan's organs of media, commerce, and
officialdom have doubtless served to unite and

spread the movement even further. Everyone
loves to root for the underdog.
TISCH'S PARTISANS are in essence the new
American revolutionaries, bent on changing
our way of life. Yet their battle cry rings ofc
ignorance, vengeance, and parsimony. They
have come to symbolize the small-spirited, me-
first domestic xenophobia that has continually,,
warred with Americans' nobler instincts these,'
200 years.
And they may win this war. Tisch failed<,
decisively at the ballot box two years ago..
Though its specifics are even more extreme;
this year, if it fails it will be by a frighteningly c
smaller margin. It will doubtless than be back-.
two years hence for a third try, then a fourth-,. i
and a fifth if necessary, until its crusdaders y
finally ram home their blueprints for a new
state and nation.
And before that moment arrives, the rest of
us ought to resolve to do all in our grasp to per-.
suade, to educate, to instill in others a sense of
logical pride in our structure of a' represen-
tational form of government-or the day may
come when our righteous democratic ardor gives
birth to a mob rule so virulent that an American
Mussolini may provide the only orderly antidote.

twelfth green. "All those students bitchin'
about higher tuition if Tisch passes. Hell, most
of them never worked a day in their lives.
Walkin' around with their noses in the
air-hell, let 'em go out and work their butts off
the way we do! They'd learn more doing that
than they ever learned at the goddamn U of
M!"
MY FRIEND BOB is most assuredly mad as
hell and not going to take it any more. His
passion is commensurate with the words he
speaks, his fury scornful and boundless; he

Christopher Potter is a Daily staff critic.
His column will appear every Friday.

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ix

Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

Vol. XCI, No. 50

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

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

Weasel.
WHAT T141i5?y UT AAN~ OTHRoF.?
ON4 GREAT, YUEAAM S O RW
LOAN WAS EWW0o9ou14N ON
APPROVEQ .A N flEt'
cH tI KNOW 2L
PROBLEM FCKME.

How so?
5 wELL,1 ALWAYS UseD
-M WOP-R ( ABOUT MY
FUTURE, w[lAT I! P Do
AFTrmR 6RPOuATION,
WRF-RE VP 00, WDLX-D T
BCE ASIZ 'b FINP A lZ5?
BUT Nor ANYMORE! NOW
r KNOW OUST WAERE ILL
BE AFTER Z GRADUAlr- t
r

/""

by Robert Lence

W {Rf's THAT?

.

,,TACKOM Srlf- P I30W
Ime"1o

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A win for Tisch foes

ROBERT TISCH, the author of the
ballot proposal that could cripple
The University of Michigan and other
state institutions, took a fortunate loss
yesterday in an Ingham County cour-
Tis.h believes state officials are
u irg public funds in their campaign'
agairtst his tax-cut plan-Proposal D.
Those state officials-including
University. President Harold
Shapiro-have denied the charge.
(Shapiro has said he is using non-
restrictive gift funds to help in the fight
against Proposal D.) Yesterday, Cir-
cuit Court Judge Ray Hotchkiss ruled
against Tisch's request for an injun-
ction -that would keep Governor
William Milliken and other state
leaders from using the budgets and
facilities under their control to defeat,
Proposal D.
Interestingly, the same issue that
surfaced in Ingham County yesterday
has also been bandied around on cam-
pus. Wednesday night, for instance,
some students at the regental candid-
ates debate asked the candidates if they
believed the Michigan Student Assem-
bly should be able to sponsor anti-Tisch
propaganda with student dollars. All
four candidates in attendance indicated
they felt the studbnt government

should not use its funds, which are
drawn from students as part of their
tuition payments to the University, for
political purposes.
We could not disagree more. The
members of MSA are elected to serve,
studentrinterests in whatever way
seems appropriate. They are entrusted
to find the best methods possible for
advancing the cause of their con-
stituents. How could MSA do that job
any better than to put its resources in-
to defeating a proposal that could
mean the end of many students' stay in
Ann Arbor? V
The fact that there may be some
students on campus who support the
Tisch amendment, as the ones at the
debate did, is of no concern. The
Assembly members are not obligated
to poll the student body at every turn,
particularly when the response they
would get is so obvious.
It is a fact of life in any represen-
tative system of government that tax
dollars will sometimes be used in ways
some taxpayers might find objec-
tionalble. MSA should be commended
for subjugating the desires of the anti-
Tisch lobby to the pressing needs of the
majority. May their efforts only prove
to have been successful come Novem-
ber 4.

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LETTERS TO THE DAILY:

Column fraught with skewed logic

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To the Daily:
The title of Joshua Peck's
weekly column in the Daily,
"Obliquity," is certainly apt. Ac-
cording to Webster's New World
Dictionary, one definition of
obliquity is "a turning aside
from moral conduct or sound
thinking." His October 19
column, largely an attack on the
Spartacus Youth League, is an
anti-communist tract fraught
with inaccuracies and skewed
logic. Despite his protestations to
the contrary, the reason Peck
flails at us with such a vengeance
is not because of our public
speaking style, but because of
our politics: We hate the fasc-
ists and we defend the Soviet
Union.
It"is simply bombast and
brazen hypocrisy for Peck to
preach to us about "First Amen-
dment rights." As an editor of the
Daily, Peck has a consistent
record of refusing to print letters
we have submitted to him
because he does not agree with

the content. On the infrequent oc-
casions when he. has deigned to
print our letters, they often an-
peared in an "edited" or outright
distorted version. But worst of
all, as editor of the. Daily Opinion
page, Peck is directly responsible
for an insidious editorial printed
last winter (February 14, 1980)
linking us to a bomb threat called
into the Michigan Theater.
The SYL certainly sympathizes
with the sentiment expressed by
those people who heckled Muskie
several weeks ago. As secretary
of state, Muskie represents the
bloodiest imperialist power on
earth, the United States. He is a
central perpetrator of the anti-
Soviet war drive, aimed at the
destruction of the USSR.
Criminals like Muskie must be
exposed, denounced and driven
off campus!
In his column, Peck expressed
opposition to our position against
the "right" of fascists to free
speech. And this is the one thing

i

Oppose Proposal F

on which Peck is correct: the
only right for fascists that we
recognize is the right for all their
victims-blacks, Jews, workers,
and the Left-to strip them of
ther fascist insignias and teach
them a lesson they won't forget.
We seek to do this not because of
the fascists' reactionary ideas,
but because of their acts.
Unlike conservative bourgeois
politicians like George Wallace;
right-wing propaganda groups
like the John Birch Society, or-
reactionary academic charlatans
like William Shockley, fascist
gangs like the Nazis and Ku Klux
Klan are ultra-reactionary ar-
med thugs in quasi-political garb
who mobilize for action : terror
and genocide against black
people and Jews, smashing the.
labor movement, exterminatiion
of communists, and suppression
of bourgeois-democratic rights
and institutions. We of the SYL do
not live in cloud-cuckoo land
where there's an "open market-
place of ideas," but in racist
America where the KKK/Nazis
murdered five leftists last year in
Greensboro, where four older
black women were gunned down
in Chattanooga on Hitler's birth-
day, where there has been a
spate of bizarre and grisly racist
murders in Buffalo and Atlanta,
where cross-burnings and racist
attacks are reaching un-
precedented frequency.
\To argue for "free speech for
fascists" courts disaster and
gives a democratic cover to the
fascists' self-proclaimed open
season on blacks and leftists.
Peck proudly crows that he was
"the first Jew on my block" to
congratulate the American Civil
Vote for y
To the Daily:
The most discouraging com-
ment I hear regarding this fall's
election campaign is when
someone tells me that he is voting
for a candidate-either Carter or
Reagan-whom he does not like
because he thinks he has to vote
against the other man who is
worse. He forgets that besides

Liberties Union for defending the
Nazis in Skokie, Illinois. Was he
also the first Jew on his block to,
defend the fascist bombers of the'
Paris synogogue? Or the Bologna
train station? The Nazis are
serious about their program.
They want blood. They would be
happy to make Peck the first Jew
on his block a prisoner in the
American concentration camps,
despite his prattle about their
"First Amendment rights."
In contrast to Peck's starry-
eyed civil libertarianism, the'
SYL counterposes the only
strategy that can defeat fascist0
murderers-labor/black defense.
The capitalist government can-
not be relied upon to suppress the,
fascists, as any ban against ex~
tremist groups will always be
used as a bludgeon against the
left, not the right. Mass'
mobilizations of blacks and the
working class must crush the
fascistsin the egg. The Spartacist
League/SYL has taken the leads
in organizing such demon-
strations in Ann Arbor and,
Detroit last year, and in San
Francisco last spring.
Given the rightward political
motion in America, it is easy fors
yellow journalists like Peck to
hurl slanderous accusations of
"disrupter" and "loudmouth" at,
communists. Peck can wail and
weep about the Nazis' "rights"
from now until the Holocaust.,
The self-preservation of the:
working class and minorities
demands that we cut through this,
abstract chatter and smash the
fascist gangs by decisive and
relentless action.
-Michele Lubke
October 27
our beliefs
ween Carter and Reagan. The
reality of 1980, however, is a rare
opportunity to cast a meaningful
vote for someone other than the-
Democrat or Republican. By.
voting for a different candidate'
this year, the reality of 1984 or""'
some future election year may be
an alternative to the Democrats
and Republicans who have a good

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To the Daily:
Howard Witt's recent column,
"Some Mail from Prisoners"
(Daily, October 28) describes
some of his reactions to the mail
he receives from prisoners in
various institutions. Witt ex-
presses his surprise at one letter
that addresses a political issue,
another which expresses
"thoughtful sentiments," and at
the fact that one Jackson prisoner
is opposed to Proposal E, a ballot
proposal that would construct
new prisons in Michigan. As one
who works in the areaoftcriminal
justice and has a great deal of
contact with prisoners, I find that
these prisoners' opinions are not
at all surprising.
Developing a political con-
sciousness in prison is quite sim-
ple. All one has to do is to realize
that American prisons are homes
for the poor and minorities, our
society's solution to unem-
ployment. When the white-collar
crimes of corporations and

justice system. Certainly our
prison system is largely an-
tiquated and inhumane. Con-
struction of new prisons, though,
never results in the closing of
these older institutions. It merely
adds to the total prisoner
population.
Michigan and the U.S. have
already experienced an enor-
mous growth in the numbers of
people being incarcerated. While
victimization rates have
remained largely stable since
1973, the state prison population
has almost doubled during this
period from 8,000 to 15,000. The
U.S. as a whole now incarcerates
a greater percentage of its
population than any. in-
dustrialized nation except South
Africa and the Soviet Union.
This "tough on crime" policy
has had no positive effect on the
crime rate, but has caused the
taxpayers to spend millions of
dollars on new cages. Alter-
natives to incarceration do

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