4A - The Michigan Daily - Friday, February 9, 2001
hie Jirbigtuu &ilg
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Doom, American style
PETER CUNNIFFE LOST IN THE GAME
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STUDENTS AT THE
UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN
Editor in Chief
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Unless otherwise noted, unsigned editorials reflect the opinion offthe majority of the
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necessarily reflect the opinion of The Michigan Daily.
funny thing hap-
pened in the in the
wake our last elec-
tion. Even as the chaos
unfolded in Florida,
scarcely a day went by
where one couldn't read
yet another commentator
marveling, yet again, at
what a great place the
United States is. "The election dispute just
shows how strong we are," everyone said.
"Most other countries would have seen vio-
lence if confronted with the kind of election
debacle that took place here." And besides,
"we've got the money, the power, the respect,"
as so many opined. "Sure everyone snipes at us,
but it's all just jealousy."
While it was particularly loud then, this
isn't just a messy election phenomenon. You
still hear the self-congratulating allthe time.
And why not? There's no denying that
America really is unique in the world today. As
the preeminent economic, political and cultural
power, more influential in the world than any
nation in human history, why should we ever
tire of the endless compliments we are so fond
of paying ourselves?
Maybe because that's the trap everyone
who ends up on top eventually falls into. Suc-
cessful nations usually become quite enamored
of the way things are. Why change when you're
doing well? But this means throwing off the
dynamism that makes for successful societies in
the first place and rabidly guarding the status
quo even as it becomes progressively less bene-
ficial to do so. Thorstein Veblen called it "the
penalty of taking the lead." You become depen-
dent on obsolete practices because that's what's
always worked before.
Think Chrysler, the Soviet Union and hair
bands in the '80s. Megalithic entities that stood
tall in their respective fields, looked invulnera-
ble and fell from glory with startling swiftness.
Chrysler didn't respond to changing con-
sumer preferences, ran an outdated manufac-
turing operation and still exists only because
of a government bailout. The Soviet Union's
moribund governmental structures and
unworkable command economy were so
hopelessly stagnant, a superpower vanished
before anyone knew what was happening.
And Motley Crue and Poison were rocking
along without a care in the world when those
Seattle upstarts with their flannel shirts and
songs with plots stole away America's heart.
Capitalist, communist or vapid musical
hacks, institutions that don't change, that
get too attached to their usual way of doing
things, don't last.
Which brings us back to the United
States, currently the center of the world,
unchallengeable, our commercial, cultural
and military might inexorably reshaping
humanity in our image. But despite what
some say, there is no end to history. The
United States is not eternal and cracks in
the Pax Americana are already beginning to
Most notable is the aforementioned "elec-
tion." When it didn't turn out clean and sim-
ple like we're used to, we panicked. Well,
not everyone. In fact, almost no one. But the
political class of this country, the politicians,
special interest groups and media that run our
nation compensated for everyone else's calm
with an apoplectic six-week orgy of hysteria
and fear. "How could there not be a win-
ner!?" they exclaimed. "By God, that's not
how this works!" Incredulous at the horrify-
ing irregularity of the whole situation, a sick-
ening drumbeat arose from politicians and
the media, self-proclaimed protectors of the
public, that this had to end. We needed to
move on, to get back to normal.
And move on we did. We accepted finality
over counting votes. We turned our democracy
over to an unelected president. And we may
have started paying that penalty.
It's not this particular event that's the real
problem, it's the precedent we've set. That hav-
ing elections is secondary to having leaders.
That we respond to disenfranchisement with a
shrug. That it's not the will of the people th
matters, but the will of James Baker and Chr
Matthews. (It's unlikely the Supreme Court
would have had the balls to stop votes from
being counted if Jim and Chris and their ilk
hadn't hectored the public into believing it was
inevitable and right):
A strength of the United States has always
been an emphasis on ideals over tradition.
We've made our own future, unlike European
countries and most other nations that have their
eyes ever fixed on the past, the centuries and
millennia of wars, royal feuds and ethnic stri
an omnipresent burden of inescapable traditio
People in the Balkans just can't seem to
stop killing each other over old grudges.
Canada's head of state is appointed by the
queen of England.
The French have laws restricting the names
of children to keep out anything "non-French."
Sound absurd? Well, here's another one.
In the United States, having any president-
elect now is preferred to waiting to see whl2
really won. W
Like other countries, we are sacrificing
what is right to what has always been.
Choosing not to find the best solution, only
the easiest one. We came to believe, correct-
ly, that this is a great country and we were
talked into believing, incorrectly, that con
vention is more important than justice.
France used to be a great nation too.
Peter Cunni e's column runs eve
other Friay. He can be reach
via email firstname.lastname@example.org
>1004t, +PNtS 'tis
.......... .................. ...............
TO THE DAILY:
I want to offer my congratulations and
thanks to the students and administration at
the University for their hard work.
I attended the University from
1997tol999 and during that time was
active with the Michigan Student Assem-
bly and several other campus projects.
Though I came late to the process of
reforming the Code, I became very heavily
involved in the process changes that ulti-
mately resulted in Wednesday's announce-
ment. I thought then, and am sure now, that
the modifications we made will continue to
make the Code (now renamed) process
more fair, more representative, and ulti-
mately better for the University and all its
It is by no means a perfect document.
But our work to date - along with the
work of hundreds of others over more than
a degade - have kept this process moving
in the right direction.
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State will be the lth and final to visit in 2
weeks), the Ann Arbor media were the only
ones to mention alcohol in every article I
read about the crowd from every online
media source, including The Michigan Daily
("Omaha not too far for Michigan faithful,"
2/6/01) and The Ann Arbor News and were
the only opposing team radio announcers
I've ever heard comment on alcohol being a
major factor in the crowd.
If all I knew about Omaha was from the
Daily's articles and the comments of the
WTKA announcers, I'd have thought the
crowd was a bunch of drunks, when in
reality they're far from it. Plus it'd be
pretty damn tough to get drunk at the
arena when beer is $4.75 a cup.
I even heard reports that the 200 Uni-
versity of Michigan fans at the Bullpen
this past weekend were consuming the
alcohol as much as or more than the Uni-
versity of Nebraska at Omaha fans.
Despite Daily's claims,
Omaha not filled with
drunk hockey fans
TO THE DAILY:
I have to ask, as Omaha has been my
hometown for almost 15 years now, why all
the beer references by Ann Arbor media? Of
the 10 CCHA teams to visit Omaha (Ohio
'Racializing,' and its downfalls
AMER G. ZAHR TIlE PROGRESSIVE PEN
Not to mention from all indications
I've read anid heard about, Yost is a much
more profane arena than the Bullpen ev
will be or want to be, beer or no beer.
Just because there may be competition
from the new guys, and just because the
atmosphere isn't a traditional college one
since UNO doesn't have a typical college
student body, doesn't mean the Daily has
to qualify our fandom by claiming that
beer is the most prominent reason our
crowd gets into it.
I think the fact a 4-year old program has
given a spanking to the Wolverines two of the
last three times they've played probably h
more to do with it than a single drop of Coors.
I hope the Wolverines enjoyed their trip
to the 'drunken' arena, and I'd like to
extend a belated, "Welcome to Nebraska.
You'll never lose in a friendlier place."
The letter writer is a resident of Omaha.
methods of racialization are encouraged either
by 1960s civil rights throwbacks, or by groups
that do not have any campus ties and whose
members (and many times leaders) are full-time
paid activists of socialist-leaning organizations.
There's nothing wrong with being a socialist or
a civil rights recollector. But to speak for stu-
dents here is dishonest and destructive.
I personally believe that people who oppos
affirmative action are misled, misunderstanW
American history, do not grasp race theory, and
so on. It is quite possible to be a progressive
race activist and not believe that all your ideo-
logical opponents are racists. Surely, race is a
paramount issue in our society, and it will
remain as such, and perhaps become more cen-
tral than ever.
But are vouchers only about race? Are tax
cuts only about race? Have Democratic admin-
istrations really made race relations more ha
monious? Did race relations get better in the
past eight years? Ask yourself these questions.
Then ask yourself if they will get better.
Luckily the second question is something
we can affect very sharply, and it is up to us to
Perhaps the biggest issue in the coming
What does it mean
hen you ask a girl
if she would like to have
dinner on Valentine's Day
and she says "let me see"?
It happened to "my friend."
If it ever happens to you,
just keep your pride and
don't ask again.
Now to business. When asked about faith-
based programs, W. said, "well, I believe in the
separation of church and state, but this is feder-
al." Yes, yes. Jokes abound. I don't think any-
one is going to say we have some kind of
intellectual ideologue in office. That guy lost.
Instead, we got W. But I am a bit disturbed by
recent goings-on after the election and now. Let
me tell you about it. g
No doubt. This election was educational.
People were into it, talking about it everywhere.
The Union, Amer's, Rendezvous. Hell, I even
heard people talking about it at Backroom. Back-
room! Not exactly a bustling hub of political
frenzy. Let's be real though. Does anyone, Rev.
Jesse Jackson included, think that this is the first
time since the '60s that blacks were turned away
and groups like Jackson and the NAACP. This
is by far the most lopsided proportion for any
political party in any minority group.
The result unfortunately is a lose-lose situa-
tion. Jackson and the NAACP become moral
bullies for the Democratic Party, and the black
community as a whole is completely discounted
by the GOP. Reports of police putting up road-
blocks, polling places moving without notice
and Haitian voters being left without translators
abound in our most recent election. But does the
Reverend really think that this is the first time
all of this has happened since 1965? We all
know it isn't.
What happens is that many black leaders
end up in the hip pocket of the Democrats, and
they take their community along with them.
Was Al Gore's campaign, as the NAACP por-
trayed it, a struggle for black liberation? Does it
help the cause of black-Americans, and all-
minorities for that matter, to brand a presidential
candidate as a racist?
Many minority leaders like-Jackson make
the grave mistake of "racializing" every differ-
ence between them and the Republican Party.
This condition also exists right here on our
campus, in a very acute way. Certain groups