Clean Our Own Hands, Too
WE AGREE with the majority in what they say about Poland. That the brave men and women of Poland must now face new levels of oppression and institutional violence is cause for the deepest sort of concern; the situation shows everything that is wrong with Soviet Russia and the Eastern bloc.
It's what the majority voted not to say that bothers us. They refused to include a mention of America's own involvement in the repression of people's movements in El Salvador, the rest of Latin America, and other places around the globe. The argument may seem cliched, a cheap shot. But to us it underlines the real nature of Solidarity's shining example.
Like Solidarity, the men and women who fight in the Democratic Revolutionary Front of El Salvador represent most of their countrymen. Like the Poles, they face repression of the severest sort. In fact, one can argue that the situation in El Salvador, where 12,000 dissidents were murdered last year, is in some ways worse than the status quo in Poland, where so far the authorities have gone no farther than jailing union members.
And there is another similarity. Like Poland, El Salvador is a client state, but of the United States. It is our weapons, our capital, and our military advisers that make possible the repression of people's hopes and dreams.
If one favors people's movements in Poland, then one should favor them in Latin America. And if one favors American action to end repression in Poland, then surely one should favor American action to end its own repression. Indeed, it seems to us that cleaning our own hands will make us much more effective at pressuring others. If our allies and the non-aligned nations see us practicing in El Salvador what we preach in Poland, then they may summon the courage to back our efforts elsewhere. At the very least, we would rob the Soviets of their most powerful--and most correct--propaganda weapon: that we are often as bad as they.
We urge all Harvard students to demonstrate for human rights in Poland--and around the world--at 1 p.m. tomorrow on the steps of Memorial Church.