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February 27, 1996 - Image 4

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1996-02-27

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4 -The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, February 27, 1996

(Itw £itigan ?§fllg

420 Maynard Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Edited and managed by
students at the
University of Michigan

Editor in Chief
Editorial Page Editors

Unless otherwise noted, unsigned editorials reflect the opinion of a majority of the Daily's editorial board. All
other articles, letters and cartoons do not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Michigan Daily.
Crime for crime
Death penalty protest held in appropriate place

'(GEO's striking) depends on what the University is
willing to move on at the table.'
- GEO spokesperson Peter Church,
announcing GEO's willingness to strike
GET of M

Moving from
the high school
valedictorian to
T he movie "The Breakfast Club"
opens with a montage of scenes
that could come from any high school:
a trophy case, a newspaper with a
headline about the
wrestling team, a
wood panel on
which someone
has carved "I'm
eatinmy head"and
a sign encouraging
us to "'Vote for."
your Prom
Queen." It's the
director's final
touch I like the



O n Thursday night, several students chose
to upset University students' quiet ac-
quiescence to violence, and call attention to
its consequences. Their activism is a striking
departure from the apathy that so often plagues
this campus. They could not have chosen a
more appropriate venue - the Law Library
is a physical testament to the American jus-
tice system. The students,
who are part of a Univer-
sity class, "Theater and So-
cial Change," were clad in
black and danced noisily,
interrupting the pristine
setting, like a mold on an
otherwise perfectly rip-
ened fruit. With flashlights
in hands and lions roaring
in the background, they en-b
acted an execution scene,
while the "murderer"
spoke against capital pun-
They targeted students
who will someday work
within the justice system.
The metaphor was perfect: Capital punish-

system is far from perfect. Sentencing is
often inaccurate. In contradiction of current
laws, criminals are sent to death row without
murder-one convictions. Innocent people get
caught in the system. If even one person is
wrongfully accused, sentenced to death and
executed, the state has committed an irrevo-
cable wrong.


Moreover, the death
penalty is unevenly ap-
plied. Depending on the
quality of one's lawyer,
the chance of survival is
variable. Thus, it's no sur-
prise that 99 percent of
death row inmates are
poor. Skin color plays an
unexpected part. While
blacks are more likely to
receive a death sentence
than whites, the color of
the victim matters most.
Gender factors in as well
- a black man who killed
a white woman can ex-
pect a death sentence. The


ment is a cancer on American justice.
Murder is violent. Whether by knife or
gun, lethal injection, electrocution or noose,
it is inhumane. But it is especially violent
when committed by the state. The U.S. gov-
ernment sanctions a form ofmurder, sending
the message that it is an acceptable solution.
A society founded on the preservation of
life tries to justify killing human beings with
a complex mechanism. The system murders
as punishment for murder. Under these pain-
fully ironic circumstances, Americans wit-
ness an excess of violence.
Along with this fundamental defect, the
justice system has other flaws. The judicial

United States has executed few women. In
1994, there were 2,802 people on death row
- only 44 were women. America does not
kill its murderers on equal terms; it kills its
poor and its minority murderers.
To kill a human being is a crime against
humanity, no matter the killer, the circum-
stances of the killing or the justification.
When society turns to murder as a quick fix
for violence, it compounds the problem by
sanctioning such acts of violence. America
must put an end to its cruel and unusual
disregard for life.
A few University students ought to be
commended for having the courage to march
into the Law Quad and upset the silence.

Politicians must address changing economy

A s the presidential campaign heats up,
one issue is coming to dominate all
others in the minds of voters and, thus, can-
didates - the economic insecurity of the
American middle class. This insecurity is
brought about by enormous changes in the
global economy. The United States cannot
afford to fight these changes; instead, the
government should work to ensure that all
Americans have the opportunity to succeed
in the new economy.
At the end of the last century, the United
States underwent the industrial revolution.
Changes of a similar scope are occurring
today, as the economy becomes increasingly
reliant on high technology and globalization.
Automation and downsizing have eliminated
many low-skilled manufacturing and ser-
vice-sector jobs. At the same time, the
economy has generated many new high-
skilled jobs. With complex global transpor-
tation systems and the free-flow of informa-
tion over the Internet, it has become difficult
for nations to justify and enforce protection-
ist trade policies.
Low-skilled laborers - who were once
the backbone of the American economy -
have lost out in this transformation. Since the
early 1970s, the real wages of blue-collar
Americans have stagnated. At the same time,
the earnings of the highly educated at the top
of the economy have grown at a steady pace.
In addition, economic restructuring has led
to a precipitous decline in job security-job
insecurity that spreads to middle-managers.
As a result, the American middle class feels

However, no intervention would leave the
needs of millions of Americans unmet. Inac-
tion would bring about damaging repercus-
sions to society and the economy. Another
- even more dangerous - approach is that
of presidential candidate Pat Buchanan. It
calls for America to retreat into economic
isolation and fight the changes occurring in
the economy. In its essence, "Buchananism"
encourages the government to set itself di-
rectly opposed to the market - a strategy
that, more often than not, led to disaster in
American history.
The wisest course of action - the one
supported, by and large, by President Clinton
- is for the government to accept the fact
that the changes America is experiencing are
real and permanent. The government must
then take steps to ensure that all Americans
can participate in the new economy with a
solid chance of success. Some workers will
lose their jobs; the government should help
to retrain them for employment in emerging
career fields. Worker retraining can succeed
- in Germany, where similar economic
forces have been at work for the past 20
years, wages at the bottom of the pay scale
have grown along with those at the top.
Wage stagnation and the loss ofjob secu-
rity have been a source of anxiety in America
since they appearedabout 25 years ago. While
these issues have not always been acknowl-
edged by politicians, they have been a silent
motivator behind the cynicism of many
middle-income voters. The problem has been
acknowledged. Now, the voters will decide
between ignoring the problem, reactionary

'U' trend
As someone who has
known and interacted with
John Matlock (director of
the Office of Multicultural
Affairs and Initiatives) for a
number of years here at the
University, I hope that the
situation that occurred at the
Central Campus Recreation
Building recently is clarified
and resolved fairly. No one
should undeservingly have
to endure such actions. To
that point, several comments
should be made.
Unquestioningly, African
American males are all too
often treated as criminals
regardless of the situation.
Examples of this occur
everywhere from Los
Angeles to South Carolina to
Ann Arbor (where not only
many African American
males were harassed but
actually "kept on file" by the
authorities refusing to return
blood samples even after a
conviction). This prejudicial
stereotyping has been
allowed not only to continue
in American society, but
actually flourish.
Unfortunately, instead of
rejecting society's actions,
the University often mirrors
them. For example, doesn't
it seem as though extra
security are often assigned to
events involving black
students? Another example,
that in fact brings up some
interesting points relating to
the recent CCRB incident, is
the reaction of the police
(including the use of mace)
at a party at the Michigan
Union several years ago
involving African American
students. As a result of these
actions, the students
appropriatelydemanded that
the University "deal" with
the incident. If memory
serves me correctly, the
major difficulty encountered
by the students related as to
where the meeting with
University President James
Duderstadt was to occur,
since he did not want to
meet in the William Monroe
Trotter House, but rather the
Fleming Administration
Building! (As a result, I do
not know if such a meeting
ever did occur.)Now, in this
incident involving Matlock,
Duderstadt is bringing in the
Michigan State Police. Quite
a contrast in the president's
response to two similar
incidents, with a major
difference being the victims:
Black students versus a
"top" black University
official. Based on the
general problem of racism as
alluded to above, do not both

incident deters future ones;
however, if other ones do
occur, let us hope that they
will be handled in a manner
similar to the recent one,
whether it involves a "top"
University official, a faculty
member or even a student!
Letters only
appeal to
On February 5, three
letters were published in the
Daily respectively by Rami
Kishek (Israel's policies
hurt Arabs"), Haytham
Bahoora ("Arabs are victims
of racism") and Amer G.
Zahr ("Mideast article
inaccurate") that were
nothing less than gross
distortions of the truth. First
of all, Kishek writes without
any sort of rational thought
- he relies simply on
emotional appeals. Conse-
quently, the "facts" that he
wants to report are com-
pletely out of context.
Bahoora is worried about
people's stereotyping Arabs
as backward and living in
barbaric nations. Let me ask
you a question: Can Hafez
Assad and Saddam Hussein,
the leaders of the most
militarily powerful Arab
countries, be called great
humanitarians? Be reason-
able, for you succumb, like
Kishek, to arguing on the
basis of emotion. You claim
that the motivation of the
article is racism. The
American population as well
as the Daily is not targeting
Arab Americans.
Also, the article in the
Daily ("Israel a lonely
champion of democracy" I/
2496) was hardly offensive
to Arabs. It was merely
praising Israel and criticiz-
ing those excesses of certain
Arab states.
Lastly, Zahr, who not
surprisingly resorts to
emotional appeal in his
haste to respond to the
original Viewpoint, does not
even make any ascertainable
claims. Thus, I urge all
potential letter writers to
exercise some calm and
argue rationally when
addressing volatile issue like
the Arab-Israel conflict.
Savic is a
good choice
for MSA VP
We are writing in

defense, jury and judge in
these cases.
How can you contradict
her views when she has been
through the training? If you
haven't been through the
training yourself, how can
you judge the adequacy of
the Code of Student Conduct
arbitration procedure and
training? You lack the
experience to make this
judgment call. If anything,
we feel that by speaking out
against the Code, she
actually shows that she is
willing to stand up for and
represent the student body.
How can believing in
"student rights" and wanting
"to insure as fair a process as
possible," be negative?
Column was
not serious
I am a bit befuddled by
the letters written in
response to Michael
Rosenberg's article ("Sports-
men of the beer salute Sports
Illustrated," 2/15/96). Am I
the only reader who appreci-
ated that nearly every word
in the article was written
completely tongue-in-cheek?
Come on now, if you didn't
get it three quarters of the
way through the article, the
following sentence should
have tipped you off: "really
now - wouldn't you exploit
your daughter to help pay for
her swimming lessons?"
Food choice
is plentiful on
N. Campus
As a long-time member
of the University commu-
nity, I read with amusement
your call for more North
Campus food choices ("The
greasy spoon: North Campus
needs more food options," 2/
20/96). While I doubt
anyone would turn down
other dining options, the
current situation is a lot
better than it used to be.
When I first came to
North Campus 10 years ago,
Leonardo's and Wok
Express were the home of
the North Campus book-
store. Espresso Royalewas
a video game arcade. Little
Caesars was a greasy-spoon
(the "Common Denomina-
tor") with cheap but hardly
annealing food.

best, however: JEAN
three pictures of TWENGE
various graduating
classes' "Men of
the Year." The picture in the center,
the most popular and well-liked of
his class, is the man who appears
later as the school janitor.
It's a telling comment on high
school competition, and a fitting an-
notation on what happens to high
school heroes after they walk away
with diplomas in their hands. Kurt
Vonnegut once said that high school
is "a microcosm of the American
experience," and that's precisely the
problem. (Matt Groening calls high
school "the second deepest pit in hell"
-junior high is the deepest pit-but
that's another story.) In most high
schools, adolescent egotism and pa-
rental pride swell the high school
experience to incredible proportions.
There's the big game, the prom, vale-
dictorian, the big prank or nothing
in other words, the jock, the princess,
the brain, the criminal and the basket
case. For each, the events are the be-
all and end-all of their young lives,
the culmination of years of competi
Like a lot of graduate students, 1
was a "brain" in high school, and my
goal was to be class valedictorian -
first in the class academically. Un-
fortunately, I had some keen compe-
tition - my friend Stephen. He was-
not only smart but also looked the
part with his short-cropped hair, high-
belted pants and ultra-logical man-
ner. ("But frogs don't talk," he said
once when I tried to tell him a joke
involving a loquacious amphibian.)
He was also properly conservative
and an active member of his church,
a near-requirement for acceptance in
Texas. I was none of these things:
Early on, I'd gained'a reputation as
(horrors!) a feminist and a liberal.
And after a first year spent geeky and
dateless, I had become a slave to hot
rollers and started watching what I
wore. The guys at my high school
were still afraid to date me, but at
least now I looked like all of the other
girls - in other words, dumb and
By our junior year, who would be
valedictorian becamea matterofsome
speculation. Kids used to come up to
me and say things like, "So, you're
pretty smart, huh?" (How do you
reply to a question like that? I finally
settled upon saying, "Depends on who
you ask," which still sounds pretty
stupid, but better than "I guess so.")
Now kids would come up to me and
say, "So you think you can beat
Stephen to be valedictorian?" The.
bolder ones would say what every-
one else was thinking: "There's no
way you can beat him."
Well, they were wrong - some-
how I managed to edge him out. To
me, it represented four years of hard
work and dedication; all ofthe people
who'd said I couldn't do it made the
victory that much sweeter. Every
year in my memory, only the class
valedictorian received a standing
ovation at the assembly. But when
they announced Stephen as saluta-
torian, something funny happened:
A few of his longtime supporters
stood up, and then a few more, until
everyone was standing. Then it was
my turn. In that moment, I was
terrified-what ifthey didn't stand
up for me? Even after I'd won, fair







and square?
In the end they did stand up, but I
have never shaken the feeling that I
spent my one moment of glory in
high school afraid that I still would
not be accepted by my classmates.
All the years of studying and har,
work didn't matter in the court of
my peers, where image was every-
Seven years later, I take a number
of things from this experience. First
of all, high school is not the real
world, and when the microcosm
wirn the Ma nofte Yearv can

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