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February 23, 2001 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2001-02-23

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Friday, February 23, 2001
(be £kbigunR DaI

420 MAYNARD STREET
ANN ARBOR, MI 48109
daily.letters@umich.edu

Activists need to broaden their horizons
AMER G. ZAHR T HEi PR~oGRESSIVE~ PEN

EDITED AND MANAGED BY
STUDENTS AT THE
UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN
SINCE 1890

GEOFFREY GAGNON
Editor in Chief
MICHAEL GRASS
NICHOLAS WOOMER
Editorial Page Editors

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

".don't get women ... I
mean ... I don't under-
stand them, not that I
don't "get" them. Anyway,
they confuse me. Immense-
ly. And I consider myself
to be a pretty smart guy.
But whatever. Uncle. OK?
I think I'm going to put
together a parody of
"Jumpin', Jumpin"' that starts, "Ladies don't
leave Amer at home ..." That leads me directly
into my column this week on campus activism.
We definitely have an abundance of causes
on this campus. Not an overabundance to be
sure, for there are many issues that are ignored,
but I think it is fair to say that most people can
pretty much pick their poison. Hate hunters?
Not a problem. Cuban defector? No sweat. Do
you agree with Scott? I don't care. Do you agree
with Amer? You should. The point is: You have
a cause, we have a group. There are many fall-
outs to this kind of environment, and not all of
them are all that desirable.
Surely, this glut of organizations helps keep
many educated on many subjects. But it also
encourages another uninviting phenomenon:
"Specialization." In other words, people get so
focused into one cause that they lose the big pic-
ture. We have a lot of "activists" on this campus
that are "involved" in many organizations. The
problem is that we hit roadblocks when it comes
to seeing the bigger theme. So, if you are a
member of the Native American Student Asso-
ciation, are you protesting the specific oppres-
sion of Native Americans by white settlers, or
do you protest the general imperialism of the
strong against the weak? If you are a member of
the Black Student Union, do you protest the
racial profiling of young Black men by middle-
aged white cops, or do you stand against the

racial tagging of any group by the majority?
This is the dilemma. Where do we stand? It
would seem logical that he who supports the
rights of Native Americans should also support
the rights of oppressed Irish peoples. Rationality
begs me to think that she who objects to the
racial profiling of Blacks would also voice her
opposition to the airport profiling of Arab-
Americans.
The thrust here is not to specialize. Don't be
a "Black" activist, don't be a "Latino" activist,
just be an intellectual activist. And don't pay
any attention to those abounding on our campus
who love to tell you that you jump at every
cause. You tell them that your causes are one.
How are you being intellectually honest with
yourself if you visibly voice your support of one
cause, and then shy away from another simply
because the actors have changed? Don't special-
ize. Don't be a professional. Be an amateur.
Be general. Sure, you can be knowledgeable
on one cause in particular, speak more on that
one, write about it, educate others, and so on.
But when you shy away from other subjects
simply because the oppressed is no longer your
brethren, you lose integrity and sincerity, if not
with others, then at least with yourself.
It is this "specialization" that bothers me
most about our campus. And it's not because we
have too many organizations or too many caus-
es, but rather because it is "specialized" activism
that hurts all activists. It divides us. Activism,
and intellectualism for that matter, needs to rise
above ethnic affiliation.
What's wrong is wrong. We cannot fall into
the trap of being convinced by interest groups
and our government that who the victims are
actually matters. We cannot stray down the path
of believing that who the oppressor is should be
some kind of factor in our intellectualization of
a certain situation. Surely, each predicament has

its own unique nuances, but most times there are
underlying themes that need to be grasped onto.
Are you a progressive "liberal" or are you a
"liberal"? Surely, they have different connota-
tions. The former is the kind of activist I am
advocating: the one who finds the truth in each
impasse and sees the bigger picture.
Unfortunately however, we seem to have a
bounty of the latter: The "Liberals" who only a
few months ago were telling everyone nothing
should change in the face of the "Conserva-
tives" who were promoting massive reform. It's
quite ironic. It's a kind of neo-liberalism that
tells everyone "you never had it so good!" It is a
liberalism that settles and is not worthy of sup-
port by any kind of true progressive.
The major political discussion on our cam-
pus needs to be not only about specific issues
and how they relate to specific groups, but also
about larger motifs and how they affect us all.
Questions about affirnative action, for instance,
need not be discussed vis-a-vis Blacks, Latinos,
and women only. Instead, we must view such an
issue in the scope of social suffering. The same
goes for the situation of the Palestinians, the
Irish, the Native Americans, and so on. When
we frame the issues in this light, our success
becomes more of a reality, and our ability to
speak out about the suffering of others is
refined. Perhaps I speak in this light because I
am of a people that have suffered and are suffer-
ing, and I feel it has made me sensitive to the
agony of others. But it leads me to a deeper
question. How much social anguish is tolerable
before the need for change actually causes
change? This is what I see as the major political
question of our generation.
Amer Zahr's column runs every other Friday. Give
him feedback at www.michigandailycom/forurnor
via e-mail at zahrag @umich.edu.

. ,,

JI

t' q 3.1
: pN R+

Last MSA election
was no joke for many
To THE DAILY:
Contrary to the imaginations of the truth-
mongers at the Daily, the election of Hideki
Tsutsumi in last year's MSA election was not
merely come kind of campus-wide joke ("No
joke," 2/22/01). It was an overt expression of
support for a new regime and discontent with
the old that inspired a record 23 percent of stu-
dents to vote. I greatly respect the job that Tsut-
sumi and Vice President Jim Secreto have done
and I think the Daily would find that their
administration still garners an unusual amount
of popularity.
JONAH VICTOR
LSA senior
Blacks, Hispanics
have themselves to
blame for low status
To THE DAILY:
Affirmative action. Black and Hispanic
people are poorer than white people and thus go
to worse elementary and high schools and need
a little help to get into prestigious Universities.
Is it my fault your parents were so poor they
could not provide you your so-called "fair shot"
and you were thus provided with an inferior
education than I? No. Is it my fault they chose
to bring you into this world anyway? No. My
parents dedicated their whole lives to making
sure I could have the absolute best schooling
possible and I would get my "fair shot" at get-
ting into places like the University.
In the United States, people are rewarded
for what they achieve, not what they try to
achieve. If you are a product of generations of
attempts at getting out of the slums, then so be
it. Attempts are just that, attempts. The fact of

/~" t'L IN T-OfS LAST DRAYS."

the matter is, you still live in a poor neighbor-
hood, your taxes provide you with bad schools
and as a result you can't get into the University.
This is America. Is it right that I should
have to sacrifice the spot at the University my
parents paid for with years of hard work and
success just so you, the disadvantaged, can
finally claim your rightful "fair shot?" I think
not. If your parents can't provide you with a
proper education, why should I?
Don't blame white people, blame your par-
ents.
ADAM WILSON
Engineering junior
Queer Visibility Week
an overal success
To THE DAILY:
I'd like to take this opportunity to thank the
University community and Ann Arbor commu-
nity for the strong support they provided to the
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender com-
munity during Visibility Week 2001. When
members of the LGBT community discovered
that Fred Phelps would be protesting our week

of events, there was great fear, but also a great
excitement surrounding his visit. Our campus
truly united against this bearer of hatred. We
were nearly 500 strong at the Rally/Kiss-In -
an astounding and inspiring number.
I would like to thank the many people and
organizations that helped in planning the week's
events and securing the safety of all involved,
including The LGBTA Office, the LGBT Com-
mission of MSA, WRAP, Michigan Peace
Team, AHAVA and the Q-Vis Caucus.
I would also like to thank the Daily for its
fair and straightforward coverage of the week.
Thanks also to the many friends and allies of
the LGBT community who came to support the
community during the week. When we realize
that hatred wounds us all, we can accomplish
so much more.
Visibility Week is a poignant reminder that
hatred and intolerance are all too real in our
world. As individuals, we must continue to
demand that all people be treated with dignity,
respect, and kindness. The struggle continues
each day.
JIM LEIJA
Music senior
The letter writer is co-chair of the MSA
LGBT Commission and a co-organizer of
this year's Queer Visability Rally/Kiss-In.

There is a huge jackass right above me
PETER CUNNIFFE .OSrN I T GAmE

Sitting here on the
brink of spring
break (and being the
day before spring break, I
realize no one is reading
this) in the second semes-
ter of my senior year, hav-
ing just come through
several papers, a torment-
ing series of midterms and
a harrowing stack of law school applications,
I'm sitting around doing nothing for the first
time since December. And it's starting to sink
in that I won't be around here much longer. So,
since it's now five hours past my deadline and
no one is reading this anyway, here's a list of
some of the lessons I learned in college.
Squirrels are fun!
During my time living in West Quad, there
were a number of squirrels that spent a good
deal of their time on the roof outside my win-
dow. Never one to miss a chance to get bitten
by something, my roommate decided it was a

a.m. While standing at one of the urinals, the
door to the bathroom suddenly burst open and
in walked a large, dreadlocked man wearing a
T-shirt. Just a T-shirt. He was babbling unitelli-
gibly, but my friend figured this wasn't too big
of a deal and he'd just finish up and leave. But
within a few seconds, his pantsless visitor
began urinating on the floor. My friend just
thought, "OK, no problem, I'll be out of here
soon." Before long though, Mr. No Pants laid
down face first in his rapidly expanding pool
and began flailing about. As my friend was try-
ing to leave, carefully making his way past the
newly formed puddle, edging carefully toward
the door, the man on the floor began violently
defecating, the shit arcing through the air.
North Campus is a good place to sleep.
I don't know from experience, but it must
be true. I've spent the last several nights study-
ing in the Media Union and never are any less
than a third of the people there sleeping. And
sleeping for hours, they're sleeping when I get
there and sleeping when I leave. You always

been problems at all of them. One even tuned
out to be some sort of Christian group-spon-
sored bash. Woohoo, or something.
Parties in your own house suck.
At least the day after. There's a thin layer of
sticky beer residue on everything and assorted
puddles of things you can't identify (and proba-
bly wouldn't want to) and unless you have a
psychotic roommate (thanks Kirk), you're
cleaning it up. And after going all out at your
own house, you're usually not feeling too good.
Oppenheimer properties is Satan.
If you've ever wanted a paper-thin door to
your room with two inch spaces between it and
the top and bottom of the frame, Oppenheimer
is who you're looking for. Or perhaps having a
floor that gently bows upward and ceiling that
gently bows down is more your style. Well,
you're in luck, Oppenheimer has'plenty of
those too. Or maybe you like having a stove
dragged into your bedroom one morning at 6
a.m. because the building inspector is coming
and your house isn't supposed to have as many

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