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October 11, 1999 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1999-10-11

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4A - The Michigan Daily - Monday, October 11, 1999

C l e aictigFnt :4Dtctllj

420 Maynard Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
daily.letters@umich.edu
Edited and managed by
students at the
University of Michigan

HEATHER KA.MINS
Editor in Chief
JEFFREY KOSSEFF
DAVID WALLACE
Editorial Page Editors

Fighting for God,
c an we talk about the Bible? Better yet,
let's not.
There are dozens upon dozens of catego-
rizations and issues that are just itching to
cause arguments and divisions among the

Unless otherwise noted, unsigned editorials reflect the opinion of the maority ofthe
Daily's editorial board. All other articles, letters and cartoons do not necessarily reflect
the opinion of The Michigan Daily.

members of our won-
derful community.
But one thing that
nearly all can agree on
is the utter futility of
the Diag preachers'
mission. Christian.
Jewish. black, white
or whatever,
Wolverines almost
universally find the
Diag preachers more
annoying than help-
til.
Day after day, they
come to our campus
with signs decrying
we horrible sinners.
("Go to hell. Go

Just did i t

Jack
Schillaci

country and the Diag preachers
And like teeny-boppers at an LFO concert, crutch for the "weak-minded." Oh the
most studens walk through and wonder drama. but does anyone esides red-faced
what the hell it is they're yammering on Minnesotans. who by now have uot to want
about. him to shut up) really care what he has to say
There are those that stop. They listen. about this subject?
They yell back. Sometimes they get really Al Gore and Georue W Bush have both
angry. They walk away. In the end, just like spoken about our nation's spiritual basis and
those that walk on by they find it as convinc- the importance of god as a cement to build
ing as when a Bush asks us to read his lips. communities. For example. both have made
Part of this has to do with the speakers' expansion of public support for faith-based
method of argument and their audience. organizations a significant component of
Academic types are notoriously critical of their campaigns. According to GW's
things they can't dissect into a proof, empir- Website, government must turn "first to
ical test or thesis. Mix in the fact that most faith-based organizations. charities and com-
Diag dwellers answer pointed philosophical munity groups to help people in need.
questions by screaming, ignoring the ques- Through these "armies of compassion," we
tion or just repeating what they've already can overcome societal problems and rebuild
said. usually verbatim, and you have a recipe our sense of community. Blah. blah, blah,
for wasted time. In-depth theological discus- blah, blah.
sion this is not. This isn't the Great Awakening. Politicos
Using religion as a way to create a public and the ritfraff in the Diag are not Jonathon
fervor is not limited to Ann Arbor, however. Edwards. We're not on a spiritual highway to
Unfortunately, it's just as ubiquitous else- hell, though much of Washington's lip ser-
where. We've all witnessed the recent explo- vice on the topic suggests otherwise.
sion of religious trendiness with Cosmo, Religion was not meant to be a punch
Details and their ilk printing articles about line or a campaign slogan. It wasn't meant to
which stars believe what, complete with be something to bring up when you run out
paragraph-long sidebars (poorly) summariz- of talking points. Religion. roughly, is about
ing the basic tenets of Scientology, the a very personal connection one feels
Kaballah. Buddhism and so forth. between themselves and a higher power. It
And of course, religion has always been a will necessarily be debated publicly, but it
big issue in politics, be it the much-fabled should not be wielded like a sword against
separation of church and state, or campaign hapless political enemies or unwitting col-
funding for and perhaps influence over many lege students trying to get to class.
candidates. Lately, indeed, there has been a Discussion among faiths is vital, but it
surge in the number of politicos who call on should not take the form of screaming and
religion to ease our woes. Numerous politi- jumping. up and down. Understanding and
cians on both sides of the aisle have capital- tolerance are important if we are to prevent
ized on the immorality of the Clinton White the religious conflicts that have plagued
House to call for a return to our spiritual human history, but they cannot be achieved
roots. by fiat or through politics.
Jesse Ventura made headlines two weeks -.Jack Schillaci can be reached via
ago when he called organized religion a e-mail at jschillaa unich.edu. .Jmen.

Nike finally responds to labor activists

01

F or years, Nike has been the leader in
the world of athletics. But despite its
industry dominance, Nike's labor record
has been shameful. It was only last
Thursday that Nike gave in to lengthy
activist pressure and publicly disclosed
the locations of factories that produce
University-licensed apparel.
Historically, with its high-profile
image and marketing campaigns, Nike
had always sought to advertise its prod-
ucts - while avoiding tough questions
and allegations regarding the production
of those goods. But Nike has taken an
important step and given activist groups
such as Students Organized for Labor
Equality the full public disclosure they
spent hours protesting for.
Of course, it is natural to question
Nike's motives. Would Nike have taken
this step in the absence of pressure from
human rights activists around the country?
Is Nike simply interested in improving its
tarnished image? Probably so. But Nike's
motives are less important than its actions.
Regardless of Nike's intent, several things
are clear.
First, activist groups such as SOLE
deserve recognition for providing an
effective stimulus to push Nike into
action. They have proved that student-led
protests are not a relic of the past. Instead,
student activism remains an important
force in upholding human rights world-
wide. The countless hours of protests.
shouts on the Diag and the siege of
University President Lee Bollinger's
office did not all go for naught. These pas-

sionate maneuvers provided the impetus
to action. And in a world of stodgy beau-
rocracy and slow-moving institutions that
tend to resist change, that difficult first
step is often the most crucial.
Nike has reduced workers' hours, raised
the minimum working age, significantly
curtailed the use of toxic substances to
equal or exceed the standards set by OSHA
and decided to buy only from contractors
who pay "at least the minimum wage, or
the prevailing industry wage, whichever is
higher," according to its 1998 Annual
Report. Nike also terminated contracts
with eight factories in four different coun-
tries that refused to meet its labor stan-
dards. And now it has agreed to full public
disclosure - all notable, but overdue and
imperfect. It is necessary for the rest of the
apparel industry to follow suit.
One would be foolish to pretend the
end of the fair labor practices crusade is
near. Ignoble conditions do not arise
overnight, nor do they disappear with the
crack of dawn. But as Eric Brakken, an
organizer for the United Students Against
Sweatshops, said in Friday's New York
Times, "What Nike did is important. It
blows open the whole notion that other
companies are putting forward that they
can't make such disclosures."
The precedent this situation has set is
most important. We have now seen once
again the power of concerned citizens to
spearhead positive change across the
globe. Times like these make one believe
not only in the power of free speech, but
also in the ability to rectify past evils.

directly to hell. Do not pass Go! Do not col-
lect S200," would be a good one, though
they're usually less whimsical, more fire-
breathing.) They want to save us, to deliver
us from the horror of our debauched
lifestyles before the fiery pits of the under-
world engulf us.
After all, the millennium and ensuing
apocalypse are near. And if there is any one
place that is categorically void of spirituality,
it's got to be large public universities.
Student life is a cesspool of youthful excess
and we hedonists need to be put back on the
path toward enlightenment.
At least that's what I've gleaned of their
thinking while walking through the Diag.
Out of this misguided sense of urgency and
necessity, the Diag religious folk try to con-
vert the preached to at least five days a week.

THOMAS KULJURGIS

..Nc AT1 E1Y S.EAK. NG

c

Poatential fallout
Senate must ratify nuclear arms treaty

Mental illness is a
social movement
To THE DAILY:
After a week of events for Mental Illness
Awareness Week, I want to acknowledge
and thank the Daily for playing a role in
promoting awareness and education about
mental health and mental illness.
Historically. the only information that
the media has disseminated about issues
regarding mental health has been negative
and stereotypical. In the past two weeks.
however. the Daily has risen above such
narrow-minded and stigma-producing
thinking, by printing three well-written arti-
cles about the stigma surrounding mental
illness and about the events on campus for
MIAW.
In organizing these events, Mentality's
goal was and is manifold. Among others,
the major reasons were to promote and cre-
ate awareness about the realities of mental
health and mental illness, to educate stu-
dents about the many available mental
health resources, to support and give a voice
to those with mental illness, and to "break
the silence" and create a dialogue within
our own community about mental health. To
suffer from a mental illness is enough of an
isolating experience on its own; we hope to
create a dialogue so that the experience of a
mental illness doesn't have to be comn-
pounded by the present need to hide it. In
addition, the more comfortable that people
feel with the rue concepts that mental
health is something that everyone has, that
mental illness doesn't discriminate and that
there is no shame in seeking help, the more
likely it is that people will recognize poten-
tial threats to their mental heaith before the
threats become problems.
Again, we applaud and thank the Daily
for helping us to raise these issues, and we
also thank all of those who attended and
expressed interest in the week's events. As
the Daily's Sept. 30 editorial said. "Get
involved and stay informed. Mental illness
may not feel like a social movement, but it
is. It's everyone's responsibility."

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.

t shouldn't be a controversial issue. Ever
since the ratification of the nuclear non-
proliferation treaty nearly 30 years ago, it
has been a consistent policy goal of the
United States to limit the development and
spread of nuclear technology throughout the
world.
Few things would be more effective at
doing so than a ban on nuclear weapons
testing, and yet the current proposal to do
just that, the Comprehensive Test Ban
Treaty, seems unlikely to be ratified by the
Senate, and may be killed outright. This
would be a grave mistake: our leaders in
Washington should consider the future of
the people they represent and pass this
treaty.
The CTBT would extend the current
international ban on open-air nuclear testing
to underground explosions, resulting in a
complete testing ban. Compliance would be
monitored with seismological equipment
that can pinpoint the location and magni-
tude of any nuclear test. Supporters argue
that without the ability to test nuclear
weapons, it would be almost impossible for
rogue nations to develop an effective
nuclear program, stopping proliferation in
its tracks and locking in our current nuclear
edge.
Nations that already have a nuclear
capacity, like India and Pakistan, would be
unable to modernize their stockpiles with
any confidence in the effectiveness of their
weapons, making the current possibility of a
nuclear arms race in the region that more
unlikely. A world without nuclear testing

would be safer and secure, supporters
assert.
Critics point out that the treaty would
also hamper our ability to further develop
our nuclear technology, threatening our
national security. They doubt whether or not
we would be able to detect an underground
nuclear explosion, despite past successes
with India and Pakistan, and equate the
treaty with unilateral disarmament.
As the treaty comes up for debate this
week, senators like Jesse Helms (R-N.C.)
and James Inhofe (R-Okla.) are intent on
killing it, setting a dangerous precedent.
After pushing so long and so hard for
nuclear restraint, after slapping trade sanc-
tions on India and Pakistan in the wake of
their nuclear foray last year, after painstak-
ingly making clear to nations like Iraq and
North Korea that attempts on their part to
develop nuclear technology would not be
tolerated by the international community, a
turnabout now would be hypocritical and
invite a renewed fervor in every nation with
nuclear aspirations.
The United States has already survived
nearly a decade without a nuclear test,
thanks to advanced computer technology
that can simulate testing in the lab.
Our nuclear stockpile remains as effec-
tive as ever, and the CTBT would do little to
change this. An express provision of the
treaty allows the United States to withdraw
from the pact if our stockpile's effectiveness
can no longer be scientifically certified. Our
future is secure. The only thing that might
threaten it is the defeat of the CTBT.

playing field for everyone. Universities in
this country are the only group that would
ever consider such an action.
In the real world, people are graded on
performance. At work, when a supervisor
writes your review, it is based on your per-
formance -- not on your performance com-
pared to other people from a specific ethnic
group and background that you happen to
be in. Yet the ETS wants to start grouping
people together to make the system as fair
as possible. Well, the system isn't always
fair. That's the way it is. This has nothing to
do with diversity. This has everything to do
with changing how we as a society evaluate
people: Do we evaluate people based on
who they are and what they've done (cur-
rent system). or do we evaluate people
based on where they came from and people
who are similar to them (proposed system).
Sooner or later you're going to have to be
graded against everyone, and not just the
people who are from your socioeconomic
background.
It is time we put a stop to this fairy tale
world that some people wish to create and
welcome everyone to reality.
MIKE DAUBER
ENGINEERING SENIOR

not deserve the right to higher education
(just maybe not here). Nor am I saying that
this is an elitist institution, but it, does
attempt to maintain some degree of excel-
lence. So why turn away excellence in favor
of diversity?
My apologies to those minorities here
who do excel on a daily basis, and who,
even with the disintegration of Ann Arbor,
would still be here. Thanks also, though, to
those of you who should not be here. The
curve in Econ would not have been the
same without you. Mark another one up on
the transcript.
DUSTIN LEE
LSA SOPHOMORE
Muir's column was
stereotypical
To THE DAILY:
I would like to thank The State News' Pat 0
Muir for his wonderfully insightful comments
in his Oct. 7 column, "A2 not as diverse as
you'd think." It's nice to know that someone in
today's society is still able to stereotype peo-
ple (in case you can't tell, I'm being sarcas-
tic). If this is the way Muir sees the world, I
suggest that he talk to the American Nazi
party or the KKK - they're always looking
for new recruits.
ERIK ZEMPEL
ENGINEERING JUNIOR
MSU student:
Campus vandalism
was 'childish'
TO THE DAILY:
I would like to take this opportunity to
sincerely apologize to the students, staff and
faculty at Michigan.
The defacing of your campus was noth-
ing more than a foolish and childish prank.
Though we cannot be sure that it was current
Spartan who did it, I feel compelled to apol-

JULIA KLEIN
RC SOPHOMORE Affirmative action
detrimental to 'U'

SAT is accurate
method for
comparing students
TO THE DAILY:
I have to strongly disagree with the
Daily's Oct. 7 editorial "Strive for Equality."
I can't believe they are considering
implementing a system where the students
are put into categories based on 14 criteria
(such as household income, ethnic back-
ground, etc). The SATs serve as a means to
compare all students on the same scale.
Some people do better on it than others -
that's life. We as a society can't continually
try to level the playing field. When you

TO THE DAILY:
As a true advocate of civil rights, and
one who would like to uphold the constitu-
tional belief that both all men are created
equal and that equal rights and opportuni-
ties should not be denied to anyone, I am a
staunch believer indthe fact that affirmative
action must go. This is, in part, in response
to the Daily's editorial "The verdict is still
out" (10/6/99).
Wah, wah, cry, moan, tear. I am sick and
tired of hearing people at the University
whine and complain about how we must
maintain diversity by any. means necessary.
Since its inception, affirmative action
has done nothing but detrimentally affect
this University. Sure diversity has increased
but at what cost? At the cost of more quali-

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