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February 23, 1990 - Image 14

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1990-02-23
Note:
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# 8 9

'You hate me because I tell the truth.'

Given the one-sided nature of
the debate surrounding Minister
Louis Farrakhan, the leader of the
Nation of Islam, it seems
important to give as much first-
hand information as possible
about his talk at Michigan State.
Why not find out what he has to
say?
"I would pay for the tickets of
the leaders of the protests," he
said. "if they would come in and
listen, and then judge me."
"If I'm a nut," he added, "write
me down as that. But you can't
find me that... How did I come to
know what I know, and say what I
say? It's bigger than Louis
Farrakhan."
While he is often hostile,
Farrakhan offers one of the most
comprehensive and important
analyses I've heard of why he
might have that tendency.
Em.
Farrakhan was furious at the
efforts to stop him from speaking
at Michigan State (a group of
Jewish students convinced the
Trustees to withhold some of the
sponsoring group's money).
"You play basketball
beautifully, Brother," he said.
"You play football beautifully.
You make a lot money for
Michigan State.
"You got a lot of nerve! This is
a racist institution! You tell Louis
Farrakhan he doesn't deserve a
lousy 10- or 12-thousand dollar
honorarium... you bring speakers
here that are totally irrelevant to
the Black experience and you use
their money. And now you tell me
there's no money to bring a Black
man to this campus.
"How could you allow 12
Jewish students and a rabbi to
take away money from a
registered student organization,
and you call me a racist?
"I'm on a modern plantation,

that's what Michigan State is.
They're using your talent. They
don't care if you get a degree -
'just put the ball in the hoop,
nigger.' You use Black people to
fill your treasury and you're going
to tell me $10 thousand is too
much money?
President Reagan
gets $50,000 to say
nothing. Oliver
North, a convicted
criminal, to say
nothing he gets
$20,000. But a man
who can inspire
Black people to
make a change in,.
their minds... Phil
"'Farrakhan is a
bigot.' No! It's the Cohe
bigoted
administration, the
racist administration, the anti-
Black administration. We [Blacks]
ought to be so united as one that
if they ever do something like
that again, that if you thought
more for the good of your people
like those Jewish people think for
the good of their people that you
would tell Michigan State, 'I
won't put another ball in the
hoop.' "
One of the picket signs out
front read, "Farrakhan and the
KKK: No Difference." How many
people has the Nation of Islam
lynched?
"I don't know how you can hold
a picket sign saying 'Farrakhan
equals hatred,' " he said. "I just
got on the planet a few days ago.
Who brought it [hatred] here?...
This is madness, that you want to
put the evils of the world on a
poor little Black man.
"You must be angry with me
because I have solutions. You
must be angry with me because
you didn't teach me. You must be
angry with me because you don't

I

control me.
"God made man," he added
later. "White people made
niggers. This is your product. It's
a myth.
"That's why you don't want
Farrakhan around, because
Farrakhan is not your
nigger. You didn't
make me. This is a new
product made by a new
teacher."
Through all of the
harsh rhetoric (and all
the distorted press
coverage), it's hard to
realize that while he
rightly holds white
people collectively
responsible for the
n persecution of Blacks,
he does not condemn
everyone who is born
white.
For whites, it's easy to dismiss
past wrongs -'I didn't enslave
anyone...'- but who should pay
the debt today? Blacks continue
to pay for slavery. To understand
the nature of this bitterness is to
move closer to empathy with the
minister's message.
"You don't apologize to Black
people," he cried. "Not to this
day have I heard you say, 'we're
sorry for what we made of you...'
You're not sorry for textbooks that
made us Little Black Sambos.
You did this to us but you didn't
apologize. Why the hell do I have
to apologize to you?"
But getting whites to
understand Farrakhan is not his
responsibility, and for those who
work against him, rather than try
to understand, he has no
sympathy.
"You hate me because I tell the
truth," he said. "And my people
are listening to me. And you
know that if they start listening to
me they will stop listening to

you...
"You won't find us doing harm
to your people, but we will fight
like hell if anyone fights with us.
We are not going to tell our
people to be the aggressor, but we
will tell our people 'Stand up!'
And if you've got to die, dammit,
die fighting for your liberation!
"We know what Jews had to
suffer under Hitler. If I were
Jewish and I had suffered under
Hitler what Jews did, and
someone told me a new Hitler
was rising [as has been said of
Farrakhan], I would spend my life
trying to rid the world of that
man. So for Jewish leaders to tell
their Jewish students - no
wonder Jews react like this about
Farrakhan."
The overlap between Jewish
and Black oppression has left
open wounds. The unity of Jews
during crises has been a theme of
the Nation's since Malcolm X's
days as minister - as a model for
Black action.
"you abandon your woman -
who has been with us from the
cradle to the grave - because you
see an attractive white woman...
There's not a Jewish man in this
house who could bring a German
girl home to his parents -it's too
soon. You have to understand our
pain. I'm telling you it's pain. It's
not hate, it's pain.
"In those days [of slavery] you
would get hung for looking up a
white woman's dress hanging on a
clothes line, but today you walk
around with your slave master's
daughter."
From 4,000 Black people in the
audience, Farrakhan's call for
unity and dignity drew the most
applause. But with that call came
a warning.
"You are in the worst condition
as Black people," he said. "The

rest of the human family looks at
you and sees you in that
condition. White folks look at you
and they don't know what to
make of you... 'My God! I like
Michael Jordan. I like Michael
Jackson. I can deal with that,' but
the everyday Black person...
"Some of us are so inferior in
our feeling of self that we act out
our inferiority like little puppy
dogs on the strings of white
people. Some of you professors
are like that. You are not accepted
as a lap-dog puppy - they talk
about you behind your back.
They won't tell you so I have to
tell you that you are a fool."
Farrakhan is not opposed to
dialogue with whites. "I'm not
against human beings coming
together," he said. "But coming
together on the right terms. Not
coming together as a slave and a
master... Coming together as two
human beings who have learned
mutual respect.
"They call this Black History
Month," he charged. "We're very
happy the white folks have been
gracious enough to give us a
whole month to think about
ourselves. That in itself is sick."
U..
"The Government knows the
time," Farrakhan warned. "And
the Government is trying to move
you to keep you from rising up
according to the time. Brothers
and Sisters, mark my words, if I
never see you again: This
government is not your friend.
This government is a government
of the rich."
Farrakhan has been and
remains a threat to the prevailing
power structure in this country.
"The issue is not bigotry," we
heard in Farrakhan's introduction.
"The issue is power. The issue is
do Black people, do brown
people, do red people, do yellow
people have a right to say who
speaks to them - and who
speaks for them."'

It

all

with

began
a flusi

1'.

Robs tribulations as a tenant

it all began with a flush. One
day, my housemate Ken looked
up at the living room ceiling and
noticed a gray, wet spot directly
under our second-floor toilet.
"The toilet's leaking," Ken
said.
"Call the landlord," I
suggested. He called our landlord,
a major campus rental agency.
They said they would take care of
it right away.
Two weeks later, the spot was
bigger and wetter and the rental
agency was nowhere to be seen. .
We called again.
More time passed. One day, a
yard-square portion of the ceiling
fell to the floor in an avalanche of
plaster, dirt, water, and paint. Ken
got on the phone to the landlord.
Finally, two guys arrived
wearing work clothes and the
distinctive crest of the rental
agency. At last, I thought, help has
arrived. As I tried to study, I
heard the distinctive bang of a
hammer, the zip of a measuring
tape being retracted, and the
unmistakable whine of a power
drill. When it was all over, I went
out to see the results. The gaping
hole in the ceiling was still there,
Of course, all leases
expire in the middle of
August, and people rush
around desperately
trying to find a place to
stash their stuff for two
weeks while they sleep
in their cars or on the
floors of the lucky few
with continuing leases.
but on our staircase was a shiny,
new, artificial wood bannister.
"We didn't ask for this," I told
the man. "I know, but we had to
put one in. Got to keep these
places up to code, you know."
Landlord stories abound in Ann
Arbor, where so many of us rent.
In the campus area, it's a seller's
market, with rents to prove it and
competition for all the best places
starting early. I know several
landlords who start signing leases

in November and December -
ten or eleven months before the
new tenants move in. And I have
never once signed a lease in this
town where the rent
was negotiable. As
one local slumlord
said to me whenI
hesitated, "I can
always find someone
else to take this
place."
Of course, landlords
blame the market for
the high cost of Rob
leasing. Several
independents have Earl
told me that the only _______
reason their rents are
so high is to keep the value of the
property up "in case something
happens" to them. As if they
weren't making any money and
this was all a public service.
The high cost of garbage also
keeps rents up. Dumping the
mountains of waste rental units
generate is expensive, especially
for building materials and
appliances. I heard two local
landlords, Jack and Dan, have a
huge row over this once. Dan
accused Jack of telling his tenants
to dump their moving-out trash in
Dan's dumpster. Then Jack
accused Dan of throwing a
refrigerator in the front yard of
one of Jack's buildings. Then
Dan threatened to call the city
inspector to force Jack to pave
one of his parking lots. Then Jack
threatened to call the same
inspector to report a too-steep
stairwell in one of Dan's
buildings. And so on. It was hard
to believe these guys had worked
so hard together against the rent-
stabilization referendum two
years ago.
The migratory habits of
students also push rents up. I am
currently living at my sixth Ann
Arbor address in as many years
and I know a lot of people who
move more often than that. I can
hardly walk down a street near
campus without seeing a house or
building where somebody I know
lives or has lived and most of the
students in my address book have
three or four addresses under
their name. When this really gets

8

confusing is during the summer,
when the town is a hodge-podge
of renters and subletters and rents
are actually cheap. Of course, all
leases expire in the
middle of August, and
people rush around
desperately trying to
find a place to stash
their stuff for two
weeks while they sleep
in their cars or on the
floors of the lucky few
with continuing leases.
One summer I hid my
stuff in a darkroom at
the Daily. I know
people who make a
year's worth of beer
money by renting out their
pickup trucks and station wagons
that time of year. And all this so
the landlords have time to
"clean" the apartments that lay
vacant for those last few August
days. Then they charge you for
that cleaning.
I finally got tired of all this last
fall and moved out of the student
ghetto, to the neighborhood most
of my friends call "bum-fuck
Egypt," presumably because the
walk out there is reminiscent of
Moses crossing Sinai. My
apartment is near Michigan
Stadium, a situation which the
landlady told me "is only a
problem six days a year." I'm just
happy I didn't get season tickets
this year - if I just take the TV
in the bathroom and listen
through the vent it's just like
being at the game only a whole
lot cheaper. And it's impossible to
walk to the corner store without
being asked to buy beer for the
whole Pioneer High School
sophomore class. But the rent is
lower, the neighborhood is
quieter, and the landlady doesn't
hang around watching everybody
as if the only reason they moved
in was to torch the place, as some
campus property owners are wont
to do. And, I finally got smart: I
decided to shell out the extra
twenty bucks fcr a top floor
apartment. I don't know about
the folks downstairs, but there are
no wet, gray spots on my ceiling.

0_

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I
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U

rI061 DIET ORY

Down with holidays!

They say if you don't love my column,
get out, well I love my column!
In a recent piece on the Daily's
Opinion Page, someone
suggested we should no longer
celebrate Abraham Lincoln's
birthday as a national holiday
because despite Lincoln's
glorious achievements, he was
among other things a poor
commander-in-chief and a racist.
The writer, however, condones
the celebration of George
Washington's birth in the same
piece. But why stop at just
Lincoln? There are any number

of reasons to stop celebrating
Washington's birthday as well.
After all, if Lincoln was a racist
despite the Emancipation
Proclamation, what does that
make Washington,
who actually owned
slaves?
And didn't
Washington have
false teeth? By
having a day off of
school in honor of T
the father of our
country we're
practically condoning bad dental

'I'
C

hygiene.
With all the concern over the
environment and the
deforestation of tropical rain
forests, I find it incredibly
hypocritical that we
commemorate the
birth of a man who is
remembered for his
random, wanton
destruction of a cherry
tree.
f While we're at it, in
these times of growing
concern over animal
rights, it's disgusting the way we

exploit bunnies every spring for
Easter. For one day we cheer the
rabbit, then the next day I can
guarantee you those bunnies are
off in some lab having mascara
injected into their endocrine
systems.
Moving along the calendar,
Mother's and Father's Day
obviously are reinforcing
stereotypical sex roles. When was
the last time a father got pot
holders and a mother got a neck
tie on their holidays?
Forget about Flag Day once
June roles around. How can we
celebrate an object that we now
can lawfully ignite, burn, and
basically combust in any way we
see fit.

The Fourth of July is a
ridiculous celebration of the kind
of jingoistic nationalism that led
to the World Wars. Independence
Day? Let's try to be independent
of Japan for one day and watch
how the American economy
collapses. Most of us on this day
get in our foreign cars to drive to a
field to watch fireworks made in
the Far East.
Summer unofficially starts with
Memorial Day and ends with
Labor Day, but ask the average
American if he or she ever pauses
to think about the deceased or the
working class on these holidays.
Better to rename them Clean the
Hibachi Day and Hope You're
Invited on Your Neighbor's Boat
WE~kEND

1

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Fepray 24, 1990

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