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January 19, 1987 - Image 4

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1987-01-19

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OPINION
Page 4 Monday, January 19. 1987 The Michigan Dily

t dsgan tlu
Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan
Vol. XCVII, No. 77 420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Unsigned editorials represent a majority of the Daily's Editorial Board
All other cartoons, signed articles, and letters do not necessarily represent the opinion of the Daily.

Why

civil

disobedience?

King whitewashed

TRAGICALLY, Dr. Martin Luther
King's holiday is being celebrated
with as much hypocrisy as heartfelt
emotion. This hypocrisy has been
raised to an obscene art by
President Reagan. Reagan, who
has staunchly opposed civil rights
legislation, including the Civil
Rights Act of 1964 and the 1965
Voting Rights Act, has suddenly
become effusive in his praise of
King. In a televised address to
high school students, Reagan
eulogized King, saying "His
memory should serve not just as an
inspiration to black Americans, but
to each and every one of us, to
stand firm for our principles and to
strive to better ourselves and our
country." He added, "A good
place to start, a tangible
contribution each of you can make,
pis to be totally intolerant of racism
:anywhere around you." Anyone
acquainted with the real King, not
the anesthetized image of him
currenty being promoted, knows
that he advocated more "tangible"
,contributions than being
"intolerant."
The President's platitudes are
especially naueseating considering
the fact that he opposed the creation
of a holiday to commerate King.
Reagan's opposition on civil
rights, -and minority issues in
particular, continues into the
present. The day before King's
birthday, the National Urban
League released a report analyzing
the injustice and harm that has been
visited upon the black community
by Reagan's economic and law
enforcement policies. The report,
based heavily on census data and

Department of Labor statistics,
decries the myth promulgated by
the administration of increasing
economic equity between races.
The paper also links Justice
Department action, or lack there of,
with racially motivated attacks like
the recent incident in Howard
Beach, Queens. The White House
spokesman, Larry Speaks, in an
unintentional spasm of honesty,
responded "President Reagan
wants us to stand as a symbol of
those who would condone and
condemn any acts of racial
violence." The Reagan
administration condemns acts of
racial injustice in words and
condones them in actions.
Yet, Reagan is only the worst
example of those opportunists who
manipulate King's memory.
Former friends and foes alike
whitewash the great man's life
leaving only a pallid caricurature.
The King who struggled for
concreted changes is replaced by
the 'the man who hoped for racial
harmony and brotherhood.' Many
would like to freeze King behind
the podium making his "I Have a
Dream" speech, and let everyone
forget or never learn of the man,
involved with Democratic
Socialists, who condemned the
Vietnam War and worked for the
causes of organized labor. If King
were alive today, he would not be
participating in hollow ceremonies,
he would be working to eradicate
imperialism and poverty, as he was
doing before he died. Those who
are the true inheritors of King's
legacy will, as he did, not only
praise, but live the dream.

By Dean Baker and
Mark Weisbrot
"There is nothing wrong with a traffic
law which says you have to stop for a red
light. But when a fire is raging, the fire
truck goes right through that red light,
and normal traffic had better get out of its
way. Or, when a man is bleeding to
death, the ambulance goes through those
red lights at top speed.. .
Disinherited people all over the world
are bleeding to death from deep social and
economic wounds. They need brigades of
ambulance drivers who will have to
ignore the red lights of the present system
until the emergency is solved." --
Martin Luther King Jr. (December, 1967)
As we honor the birth of the great civil
rights leader, it is striking to see how
much his words ring true for us today.
On April 4, 1967, exactly a year before
his assassination, King spoke out with
force and eloquence against the war in
Vietnam, carefully explaining the
importance of the anti-war struggle to the
civil rights movement. In a speech
entitled "A Time to Break Silence," for
which he was vehemently denounced in
the press, he said:
"There is at the outset a very obvious
and almost facile connection between the
war in Vietnam and the struggle I, and
others, have been waging in America. A
few years ago there was a shining
moment in that struggle. It seemed as if
there was a real promise of hope for the
poor-- both black and white-- through the
poverty program. There were
experiments, hopes, new beginnings.
Then came the buildup in Vietnam and I
watched the program broken and
eviscerated as if it were some idle
political plaything of a society gone mad
on war, and I knew that America would
never invest the necessary funds or
energies in rehabilitation of its poor so
long as adventures like Vietnam
continued to draw men and skills and
money like some demonic destructive
suction tube. So I was increasingly
compelled to see the war as an enemy of
the poor and to attack it as such."
: The total cost of military and related
policies in Central America for 1985
alone was recently estimated to be enough
to restore all the cuts in Aid to Families
with Dependent Children, food stamps,
child nutrition and vocational-education
programs, Low Income Energy
Assistance, Medicaid, social-services
block grants, and Guaranteed Student
Loans. Six years of Reagan's military
build-up and domestic spending cuts have
made the connections between poverty,
racism, and militarism as clear as ever.
And the growing use of non-violent civil
disobedience, in the tralition of King, is
proving to be a necessary as well as
effective tactic to confront these systemic
injustices.
The need for such actions today can be
seen as the Contra-gate scandal unfolds,
bringing to light the evil criminal
conspiracy in which the President and his
staff immersed themselves. At first
Dean Baker was the Second
District's Democratic congressional
candidate in 1986. Weisbrot was
Baker's campaign manager.

glance it seems that some important
truths about our government are finally
being disseminated to a wide audience.
And we would not want to underestimate
the shameless deceit and hypocrisy of
Reagan and company. What kind of
people could travel around the world
appealing for a boycott on weapons sales
to Iran, and for "not giving in to
terrorists," all the while trading arms to
Iran for hostages? To those who believed
that the Reagan administration's "anti-
terrorist" crusade was anything more than
a cynical fig leaf for their own state-
sponsored terrorism, this behavior must
have provided for a rude awakening.
But the real danger in the current
situation is that the great crimes of our
government, from which this scandal
arose, may emerge unscathed, and perhaps
even unquestioned, when the smoke
clears. These crimes which are committed
in our name and with our technology and
tax dollars, are the result of a brutal
attempt to deny Central Americans their
right to self-determination. It is because
this effort has no public support that
Reagan was forced to work through sleazy
criminals like Oliver North.
In El Salvador, this denial of national
rights has required the virtual elimination
of human rights. Government-sponsored
death squads have murdered tens of
thousands of civilians since 1979. By
1984,.with the threat of urban popular
opposition thus physically exterminated,
the focus shifted to the aerial
bombardment and army ground sweeps of
rural areas. With the silent complicity of
a cowardly news media, the U.S.-
sponsored attacks have succeeded in
driving hundreds of thousands of rural
civilians, many of whom sympathize
with the guerillas, from their homes.
Although the reporting on El Salvador's
human rights abuses has virtually
stopped, the terror continues in both
country and town: On November 13th,
Salvadoran Armed Forces bombed the
villages of San Antonio, La Junta,
Toncontin, and Taulapa. And Amnesty
International's most recent report on El
Salvador accuses the government of
"practicing arbitrary arrest, torture, and
selective assassination of civilians
suspected of opposing the Christian
Democratic [Duarte] regime."
In Nicaragua, where a popular
government took power against the will
of the United States, our government's
intervention has taken the form of
organizing and funding a brutal army of
counter-revolutionaries-- or contras, as
they call themselves. Here, too, there are
thousands of victims who would be alive
today if not for the U.S. aggression
against Nicaragua. What the military
planners call "low intensity warfare" is
just another euphemism for the strategy
that has determined our nation's response
to revolution for generations: if you
cannot prevent a national liberation
movement from coming to power, then
bleed it slowly so that it appears as a less
desirable example for others to follow.
Our government seeks nothing less than
the destruction of all hopes on the part of
the impoverished majority of Latin
Americans for a better world. The
architects of our foreign policy understand
completely the powerful inspiration that
revolutionary movements like the
Sandinistas, if they are left to develop on
their own, could provide. This is the real

domino theory.
How can we break throught the walls of
official lies and silence that allow the
U.S. government to commit such crimes
in the name of democracy?. Civil
disobedience is one way to do this. On
February 12, more than 100 people who
were arrested at the office of U.S.
Representative Carl Pursell last March
will stand trial in Ann Arbor. They were
arrested in an unsuccessful attempt to
persuade Pursell to vote against aid to the
terrorist contras (or even meet with his
constituents about the issue). This will
be an unusually large criminal trial that
cannot easily be ignored. Furthermore, as
the awareness of the Ann Arbor
community increases on this issue, it
becomes more and more difficult to find a
jury that will convict people who acted
on their consciences. Of the more than
200 Central America-related arrests in
Ann Arbor over the last two years, the
city has yet to win a conviction. This
inability to sucessfully prosecute people
who commit civil disobedience creates a
further expression of community rejection
of our government's foreign policy.
In confronting a policy that thrives on
ignorance, civil disobedience can bring
important facts to light. The January 8
protest at the National Guard Armory (at
Fifth and Ann) highlighted the role of the
U.S. National Guard in the war. (The
weekly Thursday protests have been
endorsed by a number of local groups
including the City of Ann Arbor's Sister
City Task Force. This Thursday's
demonstrations will be at the Navy.
recruiting station at 211 E. Huron,
between Fifth and Fourth streets, at 5
p.m.) Since the budget and deployment
of the Guard are not subject to
Congressional oversight, the Reagan
administration can use the Guard to avoid
restrictions on expenditures for its
regional military buildup. According to a
recent study, the cost of war-game
exercises, military construction, and
deployment of U.S. forces (including the
National Guard) amounted to over $3
billion dollars for 1985 alone. While
denying that it is establishing permanent
bases in Honduras, the U.S. government
is building ammunition warehouses,
aircraft hangars, and barracks, as well as
air strips that are used by the contras.
Governors of 7 states have refused to
send their National Guard troops to
Honduras. Governor Blanchard, however,
sent Michigan Guard troops last year,
and now Congress has just recently
passed a law that removes the governors'
power to refuse to deploy troops on
foreign soil in peacetime. Blanchard
should join other governors in
challenging this law [called the
Montgomery Amendment], and more
importantly, he should publicly state his
opposition to future use of the Michigan
National Guard. In addition, our
Congresspeople, including Rep. Pursell
and Senators Levin and Riegle, should
introduce legislation -to nullify the
Montgomery amendment.
The logical consequence of the Contra-
gate scandal would be to cut off aid to the
contras and enforce this decision, as well
as to re-evaluate the rest of our destructive
policy in the region. However, this is
not the likely political outcome unless
we make it happen. There are many
innocent people whose lives may depend
on what we do.

Honor Dr.King

TO DAY, FORTY STATES WILL
commemorate the life of the Rev.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., as a
national holiday. Though intended
to be a day of joy, celebration,
love, and human togetherness in
the fight against racism and
poverty, the holiday is challenged
on all fronts.
This Monday seems like any
other dreary, wintery day at the
University of Michigan. Trudging
to class, it doesn't feel like a
national holiday. Students and
faculty at Howard,>Morehouse,
Spellman, and other Black
Universities and Colleges don't.
attend classes on Dr. King's Day.
At a white University, this day
unfortunately seems the same.
The holiday faces more serious
opposition from states, including
North Carolina, Texas, Montana,
and Arizona, which refuse to adopt
the holiday. Governor Evan
Mecham of Arizona questions the
validity of the holiday which has
not been ratified by all fifty states
and claims that King should not be
considered a national hero. In spite
of a consensus by other states that
'Dr. King should be remembered,
Arizona will not acknowledge the
holiday and Gov. Mecham is
requiring all state employees to
.rm*to ~xwr r nthe. 1 9th_

United States between the rich and
the poor, the U.S. funded contra
war in Nicaragua, or the suicidal
plight of the American family
farmer.
Rep. William Gray III (D-Pa.),
said in Ann Arbor Tuesday that Dr.
King wanted America to live up to
its own standards, challenging the
nation to honor its own Judeo-
Christian ideals. President Reagan,
who disliked Dr. King in the '60s
and disapproved of the national
holiday before its inception, has
since praised Dr. King's "dream."
King's ideal was much more than a
platitude of fairness or the desire to
stop racism, it was a genuine desire
for social equity that Reagan could
not subscribe to. We must not
respond to this challenge by
dreaming.
Racism surrounds us. On
December 20, in the Howard
Beach neighborhood of Queens,
whites assaulted three black men.
White supremacist groups still
exist, and racist graffitti is common
on campus. More pervasive are the
subtler forms of racism such as the
shanty's being repeatedly torn
down. The current administration
appears to be more concerned
about reverse discrimination from
Affirmative Action than equity in'

i

LETTERS:

Reader responds to Palestinian cartoon

To The Daily:
In response to Bering's
cartoon (Daily, 11/25/86), why
has the Israeli government
imprisoned this Palestinian?
It is because:
(A) He participated in the
slaughter of innocent children
in a school in Maaloth.
(B) He heroically hijacked
the plane to Entebbe.
Bering

(C) He bravely attempted to
bomb an airliner carrying his
pregnant fiance and 250
innocent passengers in London.
(D) He courageously pushed
Leon Klinghoffer and his wheel
chair off the Achille Lauro ship
in a show of Palestinian
nationalism.
(E) He attempted numerous
killings of civilians across the

globe. world, we remember on:
(F) Any and all of the November 29 ('Palestiniay
above. Solidarity Day') and ever.
These acts, which have other day of the year.
tragically changed the lives of -Harry J. Nelson
countless innocents across the November 27
CDLA supports the contrasA
To The Daily: liberal front is designed t$
Despite its recent disavowal, conceal the CDLA's support:
the Coalition for Democracy in for the contras and other:
Latin America (CDLA) reactionary causes. For exM*
supports the mercenaries, ample, the author stated his
known as the contras, who are intention at the meeting -I
trying to overthrow the Nicara- attended to get the Michigpi
guan government. (Daily, Student Assembly to finance
1/14/87) the visit of a prominent contra
At a CDLA meeting I leader to campus by posing as
attended last term, the issue of a liberal. He also said that
support for the contras was CDLA's recommendation that

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