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July 15, 1992 - Image 5

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Publication:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 1992-07-15

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Wednesday, July 15, 1992- The Michigan Daily Summer Weekiy - 5
Viewpoints

*Africa's unheard cry for help
by David Shepardson Sadly, this isn'tthe firstsuch case of in Russia or the rest of the Common-
An entire growing season without widespread famine in the horn of Af- wealth of Independent States (CIS).
rain has left hundreds of millions of rica. For over two years, the Sudan has The proposed U.S. aid package would
inhabitants of the poorest continent on been in a similar situation. Civil war total$24billion,withtheU.S.contribu-
Earth once again on the brink of starva- prevents relief supplies from arriving. tion being $500 million in direct for-
tion. It is Africa- with so many coun- Children are drafted into the army on eign aid and a $12 billion contribution
triesbesiegedbycivilwar,drought,and sight.Hundredsofthousandshavedied to the International Monetary Fund.
famine-thatisthe forgotten continent in the Sudan, and the fighting goes on, While aiding the former Soviet Union
that now looks to the United States and with no United Nations mediation to is noble, many question its relative sig-
the world for desperate help. Help that end the bloody fighting. nificance to those dying in Africa.
in light of the stormy mood of the In Southern Africa at least 17 mil- The International Red Cross is ask-
American electorate may not come. lion people are under direct threat of ing - or begging - the world for an
Since January of last year Somalia starvation. In Mozambique, one of the additional $1 billion in aid. Already,
hasbeeninaclan-basedcivilwarstarted countries in Southern Africa most af- one third of its total budget is ear-
whenPresidentMohammedSiadBarre, fected by the drought, civil war and marked for humanitarian aid for Soma-
the leader for 21 years, was ousted by a severe transportation problems have lia - less than five percent of the
coup d'dtat. In the past year, 30,000 trapped hundreds of thousands of refu- proposed aid package for the CIS.
people, mostly women and children, gees. Bulawayo, the second largest city Last week, Congress violated the
have died during the brutal fighting. in Zimbabwe, has a 40-day water sup- stringent regulations of the 1990 Bud-
Somalia has no government or public ply left.This is an area that had not get Agreement by transferring $400
services such asbanks,telephoneselec- previously known famine.Thestarving million from the foreign aid budget to a
tric power plants, or schools. and dying goes on. surface transportation bill. "America
Egypt, has the sole remaining em- The situation is much worse quanti- First"has been a dominant theme of the
bassy in Somalia - the rest of the tatively than that of Yugoslavia, since 1992 presidential campaign, leading to
world has long since gone. Down the millions more are in perilin Africa than a renewed focus on domestic problems
road from it, the multi-million dollar in Europe. Yet in Yugoslavia, thou- in the United States, and our economy.
U.S.embassylies in ruins, amonument sands of U.N. troops ensure that relief Yet, the economic problems of the
to failed leadership. supplies get to war-torn regions while United States seem minor in compari-
Officials at the International Red the UnitedNations works with vigor to son tothestarvationof Africa.Wehave
Cross predict that another 500,000 will mediate asolution. The United Nations a stable government that has programs
starve within the next several months is pursuing a seemingly racist that provide assistance to the hungry.
unless theireffortisredoubledimmedi- Eurocentric policy that deems the hor- One in 10 Americans receive food
ately. In the meantime, 2.5 million rors in Yugoslavia as desperate, while stamps from the federal government.
people search for safety and food in the ignoring the plight of Africa. The United States and the world con-
countryside outside Mogadishu, the Where is the leadership and the tinue to ignore Africa. We will see the
capital of Somalia. political might of Congress and the pictures, again, of the starving and look
president to provide humanitarian aid the other way. A sad comment on the
David Shepardson is an Opinion Edi- to Africa?It is instead focusedon an ex- state of the world and the lack of lead-
tor of the Summer Daily. Soviet aid package. Few people starve ership the United States provides.
* Who needs Boris Yeltsin?)

Ancient prejudices
afflict the gypsies
by Gil Renberg manifesteditselfin pogroms, which are
It is time to pay attention to the usually thought of as auniquely Jewish
endlesssufferingofthegypsies.Among experience. Infact,thegypsies' tribula-
the most ubiquitous of peoples, the tionscanonlyberivalledby theJewsof
many ethnic groups that have been Europe; that the Nazis murdered gyp-
lumped together as "gypsies" can be sies and Jews with equal fervor says as
found throughout much of the world. much for Europe's deep-seated preju-
And yet, though they live in dozens of dices as it does for the Nazis'.
countries, they have yet to find a home In Europe, gypsies are not the invis-
in a land whose other citizens do not ible men that they are in the United
despise them. States. A visitor to Europe cannot help
In the United States, gypsies seem but witness the appalling situation of
to be an invisible minority, for they the gypsies. In Moscow, the walls of
have yet to begin a movement for re- underground pedestrian walkways and
spect and equality similar to the move- subway stations are lined with desti-
ments of Blacks and other peoples who tute, dirty gypsy beggars whose hands
also have traditionally faced discrimi- seem permanently extended in vain
nation. It is a little-known fact that pleas forcontributions; the Muscovites,
many states still have laws that are most of whom are themselves desper-
thinly-disguised measures to segregate ate for money, usually walk right by. In
gypsies. Americans whoprobably have all the sites frequented by tourists one
never even meta gypsy make deroga- can see roving bands of gypsy children
tory and insensitive comments about who beg for money or try to pickpocket
"gypsy cab-drivers" and the reputed foreigners. All of Russia is suffering,
dishonesty of merchants who "gyp" butthereisnomorepitifulsightthanthe
their customers.For comparison, imag- children who are taught how to beg and
ine the immediate and angry response stealat an age when American children
one would encounter upon using the are learning how to color.
word "Jew" in a similar context. The Russians still feel they have the
Bleak as the situation of American luxury of treating their gypsy popula-
gypsiesmay be, European gypsies face tionasanignorablenuissance,butcoun-
even greater hardships. Usually found tries in which gypsies comprise a sig-
among the lowest classesof society, the nificant percentage of the population
gypsies are looked uponby many Euro- are discovering that they must act in
peans as unwanted and inferior people. order to help the gypsies lift themselves
from the cycle of poverty. In Hungary,
Poland In reCent years has for example, where gypsies account for
seen f e-ups aimed at roughly 10 percent of the population,
successful gypsies. attempts have been made to provide
various forms of support, including
The well-to-do, white majority often schools for gypsy children. Such pro-
views the gypsies as lazy, dangerous, grams are the least these countries can
worthlessparasiteswhoaremorelikely do,butitwillnotbepossibleforgypsies
to turn to crime than make an honest to coexist peacefully with neighbors
living. Their extreme poverty and pa- whose prejudices remain.
riah statusparallelthesituation in which It seems that gypsies are stuck in a
African Americans historically found Catch-22situation,sinceacceptingsuch
themselves; indeed, the gypsies have assistancemay well leadtoadilutionof
become the "niggers" of Europe. their culture. In trying to survive as
The increasing poverty of Eastern distinct ethnic groups, gypsies have
Europe, where the majority of Europe's faced the dilemma that by standing out
gypsies live, is having astrong effect on they suffer for being different, while in
the gypsies. In addition to becoming trying to fit in they risk losing their
even poorer, theharsheconomic condi- identities. During 70 years of commu-
tions have caused a recurrence of anti- nist rule, the authorities tried many
gypsy violence, which is perpetrated by methods of forcing the gypsies to as-
others who seek a scapegoat or punch- similate, and yet the gypsies did not
ing-bag with which to exorcise their lose their identity. Now, governments
frustrations. Poland in recent years has seeking to improve the position of gyp-
seen significant flare-ups aimed at suc- sies by integrating them into the rest of
cessful gypsies whose wealth is re- society may be achieving the same re-
sented by Poles who must deal with an sult.
economy near collapse. However, it How the gypsies will escape from
certainly is not the case that a gypsy theirunfortunate position is amystery,
must be financially successful to pro- and it's far from certain that anyone
voke thehatred of his orherneighbors. readingthispiecewillbeinapositionto
Since first appearinginEuropeover effect change. However, it is an old
500 years ago, gypsies have been vic- truism that the first step to a cure is
tims of persecution, hatred and dis- recognition of a problem. Most people
crimination. Up until the last century are not aware of the tragic history and
some European governments encour- current oppression of gypsies. Without
agedviolenceagainstthegypsies,whom the understanding of the rest of the
they viewed as foreign intruders. Gyp- world,gypsieswillcontinuetosufferas
sies were accused of a variety of un- they have for centuries.
natural crimes and met with the resent-
mentthatoftenarisesfromthemajority's GilRenberg isan Opinion Editorofthe
fear of the unknown. That fear even SummerDaily.

by Jesse Walker
In Russia, yesterday's radicals are
today's conservatives. It took Mikhail
Gorbachev only six years to change
from abold, anti-Stalinist young turk to.
ahateddefenderofthe Marxist-Leninist
Old Order. Boris Yeltsin's transforma-
tion may be even quicker. Just as
Gorbachev allowed Eastern Europe to
" breakup but would not let the USSR's
internal empire go free, Yeltsin's will-
ingness to disband the USSR does not
mean thathe will accept the dissolution
of the Russian Federation.
Recently, Tatarstan, locatedrightin
the heart of Russia, voted to become a
sovereign state. Conquered by Ivan the
Terrible in the mid-16th century, the
Tatars have long been subject to rule
from Moscow; now, rich in oil and
productive capacity, they have decided
* to go their own way. If they make any
Jesse Walker, a recent ISA graduate,
is a enntrihutino editor ofL ihertv.

significant gains, even temporary ones,
others trying to free themselves from
the Russian bear will be given a signifi-
cant boost. Yeltsin will thus be forced
into the same dilemma Gorbachev
faced: either allow the-captive nations
to go and risk being deposed by more
conservative elements of his govern-
ment, or waste precious national re-
sources fighting a destructive and in-
evitably unsuccessful civil war. Judg-
ing by Moscow's angry proclamations
that Tatar independence will not be
allowed, Yeltsin will probably be as
unable to maneuver his way through
this sort of crisis as his predecessor was.
Whatishappening in Russiaisdevo-
lution and decentralization of power-
something that is, in general, a very
good thing. Indeed, with Yeltsin pre-
paring to sell his country into inden-
tured servitude to the International
Monetary Fund, the new nations will
undoubtedly be better off without their
economic policies being set by Mos-
cow. The one great danger is that these
countrieswill fall into thesametrapthe
Eastern-European nations liberated af-
ter World War I. Convinced that self-
determination required economic
autarky, they imposed ridiculous trade
barriers, creating a crazy-quilt of eco-
nomic restrictions that severely weak-
ened their economies and paved the
way for fascism and war. The current
conventional wisdom is that the ex-
Sovietrepublicsare"notstrongenough"
to "sustain" vibrant economies; in fact,

strong governments are the last thing
these emerging nations need. If Coun-
try X lacks certain necessary resources,
that does not indicate that it should
remain in the Russian Empire. It means
that it should maintain open trade with
its former overlord.
But wouldn't free secession pro-
voke constant inter-ethnic warfare, as
already appears to be the case in
Moldova? Would the CIS become an
enormous Yugoslavia? Possibly. But
the problem in the Balkans is not that
too many people want to secede; it is
that too many people are trying to pre-
vent others from seceding. Again, the
best way to promote ethnic harmony in
the old USSR is not to prevent people of
different nationalities from going their
own way, but to remove the barriers
that keep them from cooperating.
There's no point in firebombing the
guy who sells you your milk.
What isclear is that the status quo is
toounstabletocontinue.Russiaisbound
to disintegrate atleast partially; the only
realquestionishow.Willitmoreorless
peacefully break apart, as the Soviet
Uniondid after the conservatives' failed
coup, or will it turn into a blazing com-
bat zone? If Western policy makers
prefer the first option, they should make
it clear that they will not support
Yeltsin's regime against secessionist
ferment If they prefer civil war, they
should stay on their present course of
proclaimingYeltsinaforceforstability
and showering him with aid.

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