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October 05, 1982 - Image 4

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1982-10-05

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A

OPINION

P~age 4

Tuesday, October 5, 1982-
Smiling American

The Michigan Dailyf
faces,

Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

far away from home

Vol. XCIPI, No. 23

420 Maynara St.
Ann Arbor, M1 48109

6

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

By T.D. Allman

i

Justice Department
takes a wrong turn

T HE JUSTICE Department pro-
claimed the other day that it
might, when asked, enter school
busing cases on the side of those op-
posing integration.
The department insisted that the an-
houncement was not a change in
policy, and the announcement itself
received scant attention in the press.
But despite the claim to the contrary,
the announcement does indeed
represent something new and
dangerous, in the administration's ap-
proach to integration.
The administration says that the
very people who are supposed to be
benefiting from desegregation-
minorities-are often the people who
are filing suits to end busing. "The
black community is the one that is
protesting," said the president at his
news conference.
That's a very strange perception of
reality. It might be worth considering
if the president's new approach to
"helping" blacks fight integration
hadn't met with condemnation from
civil rights groups-or if his own
record on race relations weren't so
abysmal.
The president, along with his con-
servative allies in the Senate, has
already made a number of attempts to

gut affirmative action and
desegregation programs. Most of those
have failed, so it appears that the
president's new tack will be to lend the
legal resources of the government to
those who wish to undo progressive
legislation through the courts.
No one claims that the nation's
programs to right discrimination are
perfect. They're not. They do cause
difficulties for both white and
minorities, and, despite the years
which have passed since the beginning
of the civil rights movement, the
programs remain inadequate.
But the president's approach to the
problem is perhaps the worst possible
under the circumstances. Motivated
(at best) by a frustration with the
problems in the current programs, the
president seeks to dismantle all those
portions of the civil rights policy which
trouble him. He seeks to leave in their
place not any new, brilliant plan for
solving the nation's racial difficulties,
but the empty shell of well-intentioned
programs.
Given the president's record, the
Justice Department's claim that the
policy is the same as before rings
hollow. It smacks of another attempt to
undermine civil rights and the hope of
a more just society.

HO CHI MINH CITY- Nearly seven years
after the end of the Vietnam War, the streets
of this city still are full of American faces.
Once they belonged to young GIs, but today
the American faces one sees in Vietnam are
even more youthful.
In a new kind of postwar baby boom,
thousands of sons and daughters of U.S.
citizens are growing up in Vietnam-
abandoned by their American fathers, their
needs and rightsmuntil now totally ignored by
the U.S. government. No one knows for sure
how many births the conflict generated. But
estimates range in the tens of thousands.
AS AN AMERICAN visitor strolls through
downtown Ho Chi Minh City (formerly
Saigon), it seems that at least half those
American children of the Vietnam War are
following him down the street.
Typical is the young boy who shines shoes in
front of the Continental Palace Hotel. He has
blond hair, blue eyes and his light brown skin
seems no more than a tropical suntan.
"Russki?" he inquires as he is paid for the
shine. When he learns his customer is an
American, his face lights up with the
gleaming optimism of some American
suburb. "Me too!" he exclaims. "Someday I
go stateside, see my papa."
A whole world has been scattered to the
wind since these children were conceived.
And now that the storm has abated they cover
the streets here-selling cigarettes, polishing
shoes, running errands-like fallen leaves.
They are living momentos of a time most of us
would like to forget ever existed at all.
"THE VIET Cong gave us exit visas years
ago," says a woman with four teen-aged sons
who calls herself Rosie. "What I cannot u'n-
derstand is why theAU.S. government refuses
to let my boys go to America."
Another woman, whose daughter is now 13,
shows copies of the dozens of letters she has
written. "They say my daughter is ineligible
to goto America," she comments. "Yet every
month thousands of 100 percent Vietnamese
go to America. Why can't the child of an
American go?"
Rosie looks at her four sons-named Gary,
Lee, Jack and John, and ranging in age from
11 to 16-with concern. "We came to Ho Chi
Minh City in hopes we could go to America
soon," she says. "But since we have no
residence permit for the city we receive no
ration cards, the boys can't attend school, and
I cannot find work." To survive the boys run
errands downtown.
"WE WAIT," Rosie continues, "and my
sons are growing up as street children,
without proper education."
Meeting these American children and their
mothers dispels a number of myths about this
living legacy of the Vietnam War. Amerasian
children may be orphans of the storm, but
most of them, in the strict sense of the word,
are not orphans at all.
"I wrote to my children's grandmother,"
another woman said. "She wrote back, en-
closing $50, and said nothing could be done."
OTHERS HAVE stacks of letters returned
from the United States stamped "Moved, Left
No Address." Some keep up sporadic contact
with the fathers even now.
.Nor are most of the children the offspring of
prostitutes, who often used American birth
control devices. Instead, most of the children
one meets were the products of long-term,
stable liaisons.
But the more than three million Americans

a
0

Eager, American faces on the streets of old Saigon: "Someday I go stateside, see my papa."

Happy Millken Week

who came to Vietnam between 1965 and 1975
all went home long ago-some in body bags,
but very many more alive and eager to put
the trauma of Vietnam behind them forever.
AS ROSIE sums up her family's plight, she
might also be delivering a summation of
America's desire to forget: "The Vietnamese
don't want us here, and the Americans don't
want us there," she says. "It is as though we
don't exist."
But no amount of forgetting can change the
fact that thousands of children of U.S. citizens
do exist in Vietnam-and that, in the most
literal sense of the word, they are our cousins,
nieces and nephews, grandchildren and, in
the case of tens of thousands of Americans,
our children.
For years U.S. officials have made U.S.
Missing in Action in Indochina a major issue
in U.S.-Vietnamese relations. At the very end
of the war, President Ford authorized
Operation Babylift, which spirited away
Vietnamese orphans. Hundreds of thousands
of full-blooded Vietnamese have immigrated
to the United States in the years after the war.
BUT UNTIL now, the children of American
fathers have been totally ignored. Even U.S.
consular officials say the explanation lies in a
combination of regulatory irrationality and
political opportunism. "Under current U.S.
law," one consular official said, "the children
you met in Vietnam have no rights, and their
fathers have no obligations toward them
either."
Asked why some 2,000 Vietnamese-
ranging from infants to great-grand-
mothers-nonetheless are permitted to leave
Ho Chi Minh City for the United States each
month, the official replied: "They are
allowed entry under the family reunification
provisions of our immigration law because
they have relatives in the United States." He
added: "If you discover the logic behind the
laws we have to enforce, please explain it to
me."
Among the chief reasons the plight of the
American children in Vietnam has been so
ignored are that young children are in no
position either to take to the sea in boats or to
navigate the equally perilous morass of U.S.
immigration law-and that, until now, no

sizable body of public opinion inside the
United States has mobilized political support
on the children's behalf.
ALL THAT may be changing, though it is
unclear whether it is changing enough to
benefit a whole generation of children who0
are rapidly coming of age in a society where
they feel unwanted.
"A grass-roots movement has gradually,
taken shape," says the Rev. Alfred Keane, a
Maryknoll priest who has worked with
American children for more than 20 years.,
"There are literally hundreds of thousands of
American families willing to take them in.
The question is whether they will be let in."
Among the several Amerasian proposals
before Congress, one of which seems certain
to pass soon, some would actually make it
almost impossible for the children ever to
leave Vietnam. According to one plan, the'
children would have to prove they were vic-
tims of political, religious, or racial per-
secution, which without doubt would ensure
Vietnamese hostility to their departure, or
that they are orphans, which most of them are
not. Others would simply put the children in:
the "first preference" category of the U.S.'
immigration quota for Vietnamese, limiting
them to 2,000 per year.
One planeload of 63 children will arrive in.
the United States within the next few months.
they are being accepted under current law,
and all have been adopted.
So far as Vietnam is concerned, the.
children's plight seems more one of neglect
than active persecution. Hanoi has made it
clear it is willing to let the children leave. And
'unlike in Korea and Japan, where the
children of American servicemen often suffer
overt discrimination, racism is not a strong
factor in life here.
In fact, the American children's main
problem inside Vietnam seems to be one that
afflicts millions of Vietnamese as well-a
cumbersome bureaucracy that has no place
for those who don't fit into the officially
prescribed niches.
Allman wrote this article for Pacific
News Service.

OV. WILLIAM Milliken ha
reached deep into the unlimite
goodness of his heart, and declare
Oct. 2-9 as Higher Education Week i
Michigan.
Isn't that nice?
Declared Milliken: "The continue
strength and economic vitality of thi
nation and the state of Michigan are
dependent upon the capacity of ou
colleges and universities to develop the
mindpower of our citizens."
Nicely put, especially for a leade
whose executive order budget cut
have wreaked havoc on the Univer
sity's money supply. Milliken's Sep
tember proposal to cut $112 million
from the state's higher education
system was rejected by the state
legislature because of its harshness.
Said Milliken: "The goal of the cam
paign is to enhance the public under
" SP E AL

s standing and appreciation of higher
d education's value to American society
d and the contributions of college-
n educated citizens to all aspects of
American life."
Very, very nice. The parts about
"American society" and "American
d life" are really moving. Regardless of
s Milliken's incessant hacking at the
e University's already endangered fun-
r ds, he writes a nice proclamation. This
e man definitely understands the con-
tributions of higher education to the
r American way of life.
s What a Governor, what a man, what
- compassion.
If Milliken did anything else for the
n University, we'd have to build a
n sewage treatment plant in his honor.
e He's done such a good job with higher
education, the state's just dying for
- Unemployment Week. That'll come in
- late November, after the elections.

LETTERS TO THE DAILY:

Khomeini imposes more controls

f-

To the Daily:
The Iran-Iraq war is now nearing
the beginning of its third year,
and although much has been said
about the recent turn of events
and ramifications of the Iranian
advances on the geo-political
state of the region, little attention
has been paid to the effects of the
war on the stability of the two
warring governments and
especially the Khomeini regime.
It has indeed become a custom
to brush on this subject by merely
asserting that despite Iran's con-
siderable losses in human and

economic terms, Khomeini has
retained his popularity and has in
fact used it to draw hundreds of
thousands of people to the war
fronts.
A deeper analysis, however,
points to the contrary. The recent
legislation passed by the Iranian
Parliament entitled "The Law of
CompulsoryConscription," is
a clear indication of the
desperate need for soldiers in the
"holy war" against the "infidel
Iraqis."
According to this law, refusal
to participate in compulsory con-

scription can lead to such
punishments as loss of water,
gas, electrical, and telephone
service as well as restrictions on
receiving medical treatment or
going abroad. In fact, permission
to carry out transactions, to
receive any loans, to receive
business or work permits, to
receive graduation certificates,
to find any employment, or to get
insurance or pension benefits all
require the person to take part in
compulsory conscription. In one
word, refusing to go to the war
fronts means becoming an out-
cast in society.
The fact that the Khomeini
regime has resorted to forcing

people - and reportedly 9 to 14
year-old children-to fight at the
fronts clearly refutes the myth
that the people support his
regime's policies. In fact, though
his fundamentalist policies and
his campaign of terror against
his opposition, Khomeini has
managed to become as hated as
the Shah, if not more.
Yet, futile though it is,
Khomeini hopes to prevent his
regime's collapse by creating
more crisis and instituting more
political repression. So easily has
he forgotten the fate of his
predecessor, the Shah.
-Nancy Keydemann
September k9

Coverage inappropriate

To the Daily:
When I read your article on the
suicide of a Stockwell resident
(Daily, Oct. 1), I was at first
shocked and then angry.

That's wrong. All of us on her
hall were stunned by what hap-
pened-we had no idea. And yes,
so many of us felt guilty-but
l~onyc "~n ~i/~..00 ,o nA^

Bad spelling

To the Daily:
Some of the advice given to

are not proof-read." Three
paragraphs later the word in-
cAitfi i s nld "insitfil " "

L I~.) r i

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