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September 10, 1987 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 1987-09-10

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PERSPECTIVE

The Michigan Daily

Thursday, September 10, 1987

Page 5

Talking

'bout

our

generation...

By Timothy Huet
.The press and popular commen-
tators never miss an opportunity to
eulogize the death of student acti-
vism - indeed, they sometimes go
so far as to fabricate such opport-
unities.The New York Times took
the racist incidents on campus in
spring as such an opportunity. The
newspaper wrote of the irony that
such incidents would be occurring in
Ann Arbor, a center of student act-
ivism in the 60s. The true irony of
the situation deals with why The
.dew York Times would be writing
an article about racism on
Michigan's campus.
The racial insults and threats that
gearnered such national publicity were
only symptomatic of the greater
yalaise which is racism. Blacks in
the United States, as other groups,
are regularly subjected to racist har-
assment. Even at the University -
this supposed bastion of civilization
-*- insults and threats of the kind
exposed last year are not uncommon.
What was uncommon about these
incidents is that they were exposed
=s people vocally objected to them.
ITit were not for the sustained and
irrepressible moral indignation of
sbveral concerned individuals, the

racist incidents of last spring would
have been added to the endless list of
insults unknown to the majority and
familiar to the minority. As it was,
protests were organized and the
blissful ignorance of the majority
was disturbed. The irony of the
Times piece which "bemoaned" the
University's demoralization since the
60s is that the article was evoked by
student protest in the finest tradition
of that decade.
It is true that Michigan should be
ashamed of the racist incidents that
have occurred on its campus. Yet,
those responsible for the vocal re-
pudiation of these incidents, can be
proud. Other campuses should be
more ashamed than ours to the de-
gree that they have racism and have
tolerated it without protest.
Some seek to hide the shame of
racism at Michigan. The more
liberal of these say they fear that"bad
publicity" will discourage Black
students from applying here. I hope
an opposite effect will occur. I hope
that students eager to fight racism
read about events at Michigan and
recognized an opportunity to work
with people of similar passion and
determination. I hope young people
who understand that a disease like

racism will only fester if uncovered
have come to give publicity-
conscious administrators something
to worry about.
During the 60s, many students
were attracted to Michigan as much
by its political reputation as its
academic renown. Politically-
conscious or awakening eighteen-
year-olds from across the country
made the pilgrimage to the Uni-
versity whose students had wrought
the Port Huron Statement and the
Students for a Democratic Society
(SDS). These talented and committed
activists left a significant mark upon
the University of Michigan.
During the sixties and early
seventies, activists at Michigan un-
dermined the in loco parentis system
by which administrators had assumed
parental control after students left
home. Rules regarding curfew for
women and extra-curricular student
activity were abolished. Protest led
to the establishment of a "end-use"
clause which prohibited University-
sponsored research that could result
in the harming of human life. And a
strike, led by the Black Action
Movement (BAM), after effectively
shutting down the University for
two weeks, elicited a promise from

the University to increase Black
enrollment to 10 percent.
Yet in the mid-seventies and into
the eighties protest decreased. With-
out the continued threat of mass
protest, administrators began to
erode gains made in the sixties. After
serving the purpose of defusing a
crisis situation, the promise to
increase Black enrollment became
quickly forgotten by administrators.
Indeed, Black representation at the
University fell from almost 8
percent in the mid-seventies to
below 5 percent. In the last year, the
University has eliminated the rules
which prohibited research harmful to
human life and made moves toward
implementing rules which would
increase control over students' non-
academic behavior. And there are
some indications that a full-fledged
Code specifying sanctions for non-
academic student behavior may be
announced within months.
Michigan appears to have come
full circle in a common political
cycle. At the height of protest,
certain concessions are forced from
those traditionally wielding power,
in this case, the administration. But
as activism wanes, administrators are
left to engage in what I call "reform

rollback." By bureaucratic machi-
nations the University has dismant-
led restrictions placed upon it in
times of greater student vigilance and
vigor.
But, as I have said, this is a
cyclical process. Eventually, groups
which initially imposed the restrict-
ions on bureaucratic power become
sufficiently angered by reform roll-
back that they strike back. Admin-
istrators exceed the patience and
threshold of offended groups. One
can see an indication of this in the
anti-racism movement on campus in
the spring. The racial insults and
threats on campus were seen by
activists within the context of the
University's institutional racism that
has allowed Black enrollment to
decline to such shameful levels.
Although the insults and threats
were precipitating events, the
University's betrayal of its promises
was an underlying cause and quickly
became a focus of the movement.
This should continue to remain an
impetus to the movement as the
administration seems to being doing
little of substance to honor its
promises made in spring. If allowed,
the administration will resume its
practice of "studying the situation"

and, by effect, minimize the extent
of announced programs to promote
racial equity. In other words, after
momentary interruption, reform
rollback will continue.
As discussed here, the cycle of
reform and retreat is a process of two
steps forward, one step back.
Although this is an oft-repeated
cycle in history, there is nothing in-
evitable about it. If students
acquiesce in the face of further ad-
ministrative challenges, we could
move two steps and decades back-
ward, surrendering the rights won by
our predecessors.
Such a disgrace would result if
students were to meekly accept im-
position of a Code of Non-academic
Conduct. Not only would a Code
represent the abdication of student
rights but it would make possible
retribution against future activists
that may attempt to regain what we
did not have the will to defend. Our
generation of students would be re-
membered as the nadir in Michigan's
progressive lineage. Such is the
challengeand choice we are faced
with at the beginning of this fateful
year: to march forward or to be
stepped upon.
Huet is Daily Opinion Page Co-
editor.

L

SAUDI ARABIA
SUDAN Io~~t
E YEMEN 04
ETHIOPIA

20.

0'1

!0.1

a

Activists in the anti-racism movement push their demands before University administrators. Daily Photo by SCOTT ITUCHY

Views and arms clash over the

future state of Eritrea

The following interview was conducted
with the Eritrean People's Liberation
Front (EPLF) by Henry Park, a Daily
Opinion Page staffer.
P: What is the current role of the
Soviet Union and Cuba in Eritrea?
EPLF: The Soviet Union has been
intervening in the war in the Horn of
Africa since 1978 and they have poured
military weaponry into the war, and have
,helped in prolonging it and escalating it,
escalating it to the abomination o f
chemical warfare.
So as far as we're concerned the Soviet
Union is on the side of the Dergue
government against the struggle of the
Eritrean revolution.
P: You mentioned chemical warfare.
The Soviets have napalmed Eritrea is that
correct?
EPLF: They have napalmed Eritrea
on several occasions. It may not be direct,
but the chemicals were bought from the
Soviet Union and the strategies were
outlined by the Soviet Union.
P: And Soviet military forces have
shelled you from the Red Sea, is that
correct?
EPLF: That's correct.
P: I talked to the Conservative Action
Foundation (CAF), and they said that as
far they know no conservative groups aid
you. Is that correct? Do you receive any
aid from conservative groups or the U.S.

the longest war in the whole world, but
it's the least known war. Other people
who are fighting on the forefront are the
second generation since the start of the
revolution.
I guess the question has to be answered
by those people who label themselves
conservatives why they're not really
helping or aiding Eritrea.
P: Do you have relations with
Savimbi in Angola, the religious rebels
in Afghanistan, RENAMO in
Mozambique or the Contras in Nicaragua?
EPLF: Not that I know of.
P: The Conservative Action
Foundation (CAF) supports all those
groups against what they call "Soviet
imperialists," but they don't support
yours. What do you think of that?
EPLF: Well like I said, maybe they
don't know enough about it for one
reason. But it is more appropriate to put
the question to the CAF.
I don't think any other independence
movements are giving as much of a blow
to the Soviet Union as we are giving, but
for some reason we are not supported.
P: Scott Hughes at the CAF admitted
that he didn't know very much, but he
implied that as far as he knew, neither
you nor the Tigrayan struggles or any
other groups in the area were democratic
and that's why they don't support you.
They said that you were not democratic,

of the United States. So the Eritrean
revolution was sort of labeled as a Soviet-
backed revolution, when as a matter of
fact, they didn't put a single cent into the
Eritrean revolution.
If you read the program and resolutions
of the Second Congress, you will see that
we are not socialist, but we are
nationalists fighting for the independence
of Eritrea. But I don't want to talk as far
as TPLF [Tigray People's Liberation
Front-ed.], is concerned. They can talk
about themselves.
So I would say it's a sort of
misconception, but generally speaking,
the Eritrean community is communal in
nature. Even prior to the start of their
revolution, most of their land was owned
by the village. What they do is every
seven year period they divide the land. So
this can be looked at as socialist, sort of,
but not from the classical definition. So
we're just a national movement to free
Eritrea from the colonialism of Ethiopia.
P: In your new program, what do you
call the government that you want?
EPLF: We want to establish Eritrean
Peoples' Government. This government
will allow free election of the people and
will allow the existence of different
political parties or organizations and it
will allow the private and governmental
sectors of economic development and it in
fact allows foreign investment in Eritrea.

The following are interviews done with
spokesperson Scott Hughes of the
Conservative Action Foundation by
Henry Park, a Daily Opinion Page staffer.
Park: Do you support rebel activities in
Angola, Mozambique, Nicaragua and
Afghanistan?
CAF: We certainly do. Our policy here
at CAF is that if we are to ensure that
freedom is going to survive throughout
the world, we have got to do something
other than merely talk about it. It's great
for Democrats to get up on stage and say
we've got to support democracy around
the world, etc. Well, you're not going to
do that if you're going to have the
continued creation of Third World Marxist
states supported by the Soviet Union and
its allies.
P: What is your position on that?
CAF: Details are so sketchy about
exactly what's going on there. I have
spoken to a number of people active in
that guerrilla movement. To the best of
my knowledge though, all the guerrilla
groups fighting against the Mengistu
communist government in Ethiopia are at

best socialist and at worst trying to
replace that government with another
Marxist one. But I'm not sure at this
point whether or not they would actually
replace the government in Ethiopia with a
democratic one. So we're going to hold
- our bets on that one till we know more
about the actual group.
P: The Eritrean People's Liberation
Front has been active in the armed
struggle for 25 years now; you claim to
oppose Soviet domination of countries in
the Third World, and yet, the Eritreans are
being napalmed and bombed from the Red
Sea by the Soviets directly. Of course,
the Cubans have had a role from time to
time in propping up the Ethiopian
regime. Can't you say anything more
definite about that situation?
CAF: Well, as I said, that's one of the
few areas where I haven't really researched
it completely. However, it's really our
policy and my own personal belief that it
really makes little sense to support one
people who believe in communism just
to defeat a Marxist government.
This interview will continue in future issues.

they have forgotten the interests of the
indigenous peoples. Millions of them
have become refugees in neighboring
countries, the United States or Europe
because of the Soviets' policy. So we do
cnduemn what thev're dine in the~ Horn

to the Horn of Africa. Further, we
proposed in 1980-1 a peaceful solution
proposal where we said the Eritrean
people have to determine their own
destination, whether it be independent or
federated with Ethiopia or remain with

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