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April 06, 1990 - Image 16

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Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1990-04-06
Note:
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0

9-

09

The liberation of
Passover

You may fasten my chains
Deprit me afmy books and
tobacco
You mayfillmy mouth with earth
Poetry wil/feed my heart, like
blood
It is salt to the bread
And li quid to the eye...
1 have a million nightingales
On the branches of my heart
Singing the song of liberation.
-Mahmoud Darweesh
According to the Passover story,
the Jews in Egypt were told not
to participate in or even observe
the divine vengeance to be
inflicted on their Egyptian
oppressors as they prepared to
make their escape from slavery -
"that there not be in your midst
the plague of the destroyer."
Abstention from the attack -
which can be read as
metaphorical - was to "prevent
the plague of vengeance from
stirring the power of the
destroyer which is in you,
yourselves."
So the tale includes a warning
against oppressing others within a
struggle for liberation. So that

although violence and bloodshed
were required to bring about the
liberation of Jews, their ultimate
trust should not be placed in
wealth or in the power of force,
but in the strength of truth and
justice itself: "for this
will serve to defend
them everywhere
against those who
would dominate by
the power of the fist."
The distinction
being drawn here is
subjective. Violence is
necessary to achieve
liberation, but
oppressing others Phi
negates the justice
behind the struggle Cot
for liberation. That's

to the fight for survival in Europe
during World War II.
"Most of the populace is set on
resistance," echoes a voice from
the Warsaw Ghetto in 1942.
"They want the enemy to pay
dearly for their lives. They'll fling
themselves at them with knives,
staves, coal gas. They'll permit no
more blockades."
Resistance is the inevitable
reaction to domination. Even
when oppression is at its worst -
in the Warsaw
Ghetto, or in the
American slave
South - the voices
of rebellion are never
altogether squelched.
"We have all been
down so low that
nobody thought we'd
ever get up again,"
said Sojourner Truth
at the Women's
Rights Convention in
1853. "[But] we'll
have our rights; see if
we don't. And you
won't stop us from them; see if
you can."
The inevitability of this
resistance has been a source of
inspiration, as witnessed by the
South African Steve Biko, during
testimony at his trial by the white
government:
"The struggle concept, which is
struggle for liberation of yourself,

from anything threatening you, is
continuous throughout history,"
he told the judge. "We certainly
don't envisage failure. We
certainly don't have an
alternative. We have analyzed
history. We believe that history
moves in a particular logical
direction... We are mere agents in
that history.
Or Malcolm X: "I believe there
will be a clash between the
oppressed and those who do the
oppressing. I believe that there
will be a clash between those who
want freedom, justice and
equality for everyone and those
who want to continue the system
of exploitation."
Em.
The history of liberation
struggle should serve as a tie
between Jews and people of other
cultures (it is no less a part of
Islamic tradition) and it need not
develop into competition.
The power of the just cause
runs deep. It's opponents face a
deserved death; it's advocates
fight and die - in victory or
failure - with the force of good
behind them.
Retelling the story of the
escape from slavery brings out a
tradition of support for resistance
to oppression which runs deep
through Jewish history. It can also
counter the tendency which the
story warns against: oppressing

others under the false banner of
liberation.
Because the power of truth and
justice honors no false pretenses,
takes no prisoners, as it brings
down the forces of oppression.
The vision of justice achieved is
always stronger than the twisted
imaginings of the oppressors.
Nat Turner, a revolutionary
leader of African-American slaves,
found liberation this way:
"I had a vision, and I saw white
spirits and black spirits engaged
in battle, and the sun was
darkened - the thunder rolled in
the heavens and blood flowed in
streams - and I heard a voice
saying, Such is your luck, such
you are called to see, and let it
come rough or smooth, you must
surely bear it."
This Passover, let's also face
the equally powerful vision of
Mahmoud Darweesh, assuming
the voice of revolutionary
Palestine, who writes:
"The Nile will not pour into
the Volga
The Congo and the Jordan
Rivers
Will not serve the Euphrates
Each river has its own
Our land is not barren
Each land has its own rebirth
Each dawn has a date with
revolution."

iii
hi

domination.
um.
Liberation struggle is given a
prominent and historic place
within the celebration of Passover
(which begins on Monday...). It's
part of the Jewish cultural legacy
which goes beyond the religious
practice itself: a living history -
from the legendary and
metaphorical escape from Egypt

Having lived in Ann Arbor
since 1%6, Rhodes decided to
apply to Michigan in 1987 after
"aimlessly wandering around" for
a few years. Armed with his
degree and two solid GPA's,
Rhodes impressed the admissions
committee and was accepted
despite his criminal background.
"They knew that I hadn't
graduated from high school, they
knew that I got my GED
(General Education Development
test) in the penitentiary," he said.
"I think the biggest part was that
I had enough nerve to go up there
and put my cards on the table and
ask them (for admission).
"I think they looked at it as,
like, 'Hey, let's give him a
chance."'
When Rhodes receives his
diploma, he will be fulfilling his
mother's dreams as well as his
own. All parents are proud when
their children graduate, and
Moszel Simmons, Rhodes's
mother, will be among the
proudest. It is safe to assume that
few parents have gone through
the ordeal Simmons has.
"I am proud... I am so proud
that I probably can't express
myself," Simmons said. "When
he first got in trouble I couldn't
hardly deal with it. I couldn't
hardly eat, I couldn't hardly sleep,
I couldn't hardly do anything. It
was just terrible."
Through the difficult years of
Rhodes' incarcerations, Simmons
never gave up hope for her son.
"Knowing what Martin had in
him, that he could do or be
anything that he wanted to, I
hoped and prayed that someday
he would (receive an education),"
she said. "It was in him all the
time."
According to Simmons, Martin
Rhodes used to be an excellent
student. "He liked to go to
school," she said. However, when
he was in fifth grade, "He just
didn't enjoy going to school
anymore." Simmons blames this
change on a teacher who's ill-
treatment of Rhodes caused him
to hate school.
A new crowd of older friends
introduced Rhodes to alcohol and
crime in junior high school. In
August of 1966, Rhodes was
arrested for two armed robberies,
the second of which, he
committed while waiting for his
trial to begin. As Rhodes said, "If
you're going to prison you're
going... (so) there's no need to
stop."
Rhodes was sent to prison
where he stayed until 1969. He
committed crimes because, "I
needed the money and I didn't
want to work for it.... I wanted
what everybody else had but I

V
didn't want to work as hard."
Upon his release, Rhodes begin
selling and using narcotics. He
became addicted to heroine and
to this day his left arm is scarred
from needle tracks.
Rhodes was imprisoned three
more times, and during his fourth
incarceration, decided to continue
with his education.
Becoming a student made a
significant difference in Rhodes'
life. He now spends time with
books and studies instead of with
old friends. "I've had to axe
them," he said. "I've had to pay
for... hanging around with them
for 30 years.... If I'm going to...
graduate from one of the most
prestigious schools in the country,
that's the price I'm going to have
to pay."
Rhodes pressures himself to
work hard to get good grades.
"It's been harder to stay in (the
University) than it was to get
there," he said. Rhodes applies
himself to his studies with "the
same kind of enthusiasm and
drive" that motivated his crimes.
"I just had misdirected
motivation," he said.
Rhodes spends a lot of time
with other students, especially
members of the United Coalition
Against Racism (UCAR) and the
Black Student Union (BSU), with
whom he discusses issues of
importance to Blacks. Rhodes
speaks from experience, since he
can remember the early days of
the movement for equality.
"I came up in a radical era...
when Black was established," he
said. "I came up in an era where it
wasn't a badge of honor until you
went to jail for demonstrating....
You couldn't call yourself a
militant (if you) hadn't been to
jail," said Rhodes.
In addition to participating in
civil rights demonstrations in Ann
Arbor, Rhodes joined the Black
Panthers. He said that he justified
some of his crimes as ways of
getting back at white society, and
when he was in prison he used to
consider himself a political
prisoner.
Rhodes takes pride in having
participated in the Black
movement when it was young.
"The people like me... we
contributed to the benefits of the
people today," he said.
He wishes for young Blacks
today to appreciate the struggles
of the past. "They are sitting
there on the blood, sweat and
tears of others that was lined up
like soldiers with me. They ain't
paid shit for the privilege to sit up
there," Rhodes said.
After graduating from
Michigan, Rhodes intends to join
the Department of Corrections

and work with inmates, for whom
he believes he could serve as a
role model. In doing this, Rhodes
intends to repay the community
for helping him turn his life
around and graduate from
university. "I want to take my
education back to my
community," he said, adding, "I
think I could be an asset in the
Department of Corrections."
There are many problems with
the prison system that Rhodes
wants to help change. "I think
that the criminal system should
emphasize education.... How is
making license plates
rehabilitation?" Prisoners must be
convinced that education is in
their own interest, he said.
Rhodes has serious doubts
about the usefulness of prisons. "I
don't think a criminal system has
ever been devised for
rehabilitation.... I just don't feel
like the criminal system will cure
crime," he said. His
recommendation is that
something be done to aid poor
people who ordinarily turn to
crime as a means of getting by.
Bob Hodder, Rhodes's
probation agent, feels that
inmates will easily relate to
Rhodes because of his past
experience. Rhodes's advisor,
Randy Skeet, agreed, saying: "His
practical experience would go a
long way in helping him to help
others.... His message is: If I can
do it so can you.'
Hodder, who has known
Rhodes for 15 years, called
Rhodes "self-rehabilitated," and
said, "I thought he'd get in there
(Michigan) and give up.... (His
success is) very surprising and he
deserves a lot of credit for it."
Rhodes shares the credit for his
success. He is grateful to the
admissions committee, for
accepting him despite his arrest
record, and to the Financial Aid
Office, since "It would have been
hard for me to stay at the
University of Michigan without
the Financial Aid Office."
In fact, Rhodes is pleased with
everyone who has helped him to
get through college. "Wherever
I've showed initiative I've
received a positive response at
the University of Michigan," he
said.
In one month, Rhodes will be
graduating and starting a career.
Although he may not have the
grades to be a Rhodes scholar,
Martin Rhodes Jr. has certainly
received a unique education. And
given his background, Rhodes is
correct in asserting that, "Just
graduating, for me, is (graduating
with) honors."
ly Gill Renberg

m

letterbox

Dear Weekend,
I am writing in regards to Alex
Gordon's "Grateful Dead
roadtrip: it had to be done"
column in the March 30th issue
of Weekend magazine. I too
attended the recent Hamilton run
of Dead shows, however I had
one advantage over Mr. Gordon: I
had a ticket before I left. At just
about every Grateful Dead
concert in the last few years,
hordes of "miracle seekers" have
appeared at sold-out shows,
convinced they can score a ticket
and get into the show.
Unfortunately, these ticketless
fans have caused numerous
problems in the cities that are still
willing to host Grateful Dead
concerts. In Pittsburgh last spring
as many people showed up
without tickets as those with
tickets. An unfortunate gate-
crashing incident led to a violent
clash with police.

The Grateful Dead have
requested on numerous occasions
that their fans not attempt to
attend shows unless they have a
valid ticket. Greedy scalpers reap
tremendous profits scalping Dead
tickets due to the incredible
demand at many venues. Often
tickets purchased through non-
authorized agents for a premium
price turn out to be counterfeit
and will not get the unlucky
buyer into the show.
It is not that difficult to buy
Dead tickets in advance. For each
show the Grateful Dead Ticket
Service sells thousands of tickets
by mail order to anyone who can
follow their instructions
(sometimes luck helps for the
tougher tickets, like New Year's
Eve). GDTS offers a 24 hour
hotline featuring new show
announcements and complete
mail-order instructions that can be
reached at (415) 457-8457.
Additionally, tickets for each

show are sold in the outlets local
to each arena. One can travel to
such a ticket outlet, or one can
charge by phone (which has the
additional bonus of not requiring
any cash, a critical commodity on
Dead roadtrips) on the day of
sale, sometimes using free 800
numbers, which one can learn
about by simply calling the arena.
All the Dead ask is that their
many fans do not attend without a
ticket. They are still well worth
seeing in their 25th year of
playing in the band together. A
week or so ago at Nassau they
even played the long lost "Dark
Star." Hopefully the music will
never stop, but if too many
people continue to overwhelm
every town the Dead play in, any
given show this year could well be
the last time.
--Brian Jarvinen

Singing
(A warningfor seniors. Before you
start to read this ifyou are still
denying thefact that we are all going
to graduate in a little less than a
month do not read on. This column
will only depress you. Ifhowever you
have come to accept thefact that come
May 5th we will be set astray into the
vast universe that is the real world
then go ahead and read.)
Ah spring, when a young
senior's mind turns to graduation.
Admit it seniors, you've been
thinking about graduation more
and more as we've headed into
our last month here. Pretty soon
we'll all be going through the
"last" syndrome.
You know the symptoms;
consciously thinking as you do
everything this month that it will
be the "last" time you'll be doing
it. " This is the last time I'll sit in
the Diag and blow off class. This
is the last time I'll worry about
walking on the 'M.' This is the
last time I'll spin the cube as an
undergrad. This is the last Daily
I'll read. This is my last class.
This is the last time I'll buy a

ANN ARBOR Sil
Anniversary
Saturday, April
Hill Auditoi
David Bron
Shawn C(
Duck's Breath My<
Ferror
John Pri
Cris Williamson
O.J. Ande
THEN
ANN ARBOR
763-TKTE
Tickets available at Michigan U
all Ticketmaster outlets. A Majc

16 ,WEEKENO

MOMEND:

March 30, 1990

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