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March 13, 2001 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2001-03-13

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4A - The Michigan Daily - Monday, January 29, 2001

L71 id i unt & tflg

420 MAyNRuSmhEd
ANN ARBOR~, MI 48109
daily. letter s@urnich. edu

The world as viewed through a kaleidoscope e
DUSTIN J. SEIBERT iH MAN FESTO

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.

n Nov. 14, 2000,
H.E.A.D.S., the
black male group
and Hillel, the Jewish com-
munity organization, met
for the first time in unity as
H2. We viewed the histori-
cal film, "From The
Swastika to Jim Crow,"
and participated in a discus-
sion following. Through
this, we found that there exist many more simi-
larities between blacks and Jews than previously
imagined. We have since met again and will
continue to assemble for future engagements.
Only at Michigan.
I happen to pride myself on the fact that I
chose a university accredited with such an ethni-
cally diverse environment to complete my colle-
giate education. Sure ... some of the powers that
be preferred for me to attend a historically black
university, but I always had the impression that
those universities did not represent the "real"
world. On that note, I also refused to attend any
small colleges, Catholic schools, or any other
relatively non-diverse university whose student
population I feel is not a substantial representa-
tion of the global population. I find all of that in
the University and I commend our generation of
young people for being among the first in the
country to be able to cross-culturally coexist
peacefully and harmoniously as we do (break
out into song here).
Yet I wonder if it is only a peaceful coexis-
tence and not much else. The truth regretfully
remains that relations are not as solid as they can
be, but my inquisitive nature forces me to pon-
der on any possible extent of ethnic unification.
Will there ever exist the unbridled unity that so
many civil rights activists fought and often died
for? Or is it just a massive pipe dream on the
same virtually unreachable plane as world
peace? I wish to dissect the issue of interracial
relations in the United States in an attempt to
gain a greater understanding.

I don't believe that there is one intelligent
mind on earth that does not harbor prejudices
for another group of people. So many don't real-
ize this and many refuse to accept it, but it is
almost undeniable. The latency of prejudice in
our country, however, is very beneficial, as they
certainly don't exist on unhealthy levels for
many people. Where do our prejudices form?
Sometimes they are gained through bad person-
al experiences with numerous people of the
same ethnic group. Oftentimes, however, our
prejudices are a result of our upbringing. If peo-
ple are raised by or constantly in the presence of
influential individuals who make attempts to
teach them so-called "values" that are ethnically
demeaning and antisocial, these ideas will
become incorporated into their way of thinking
at an early age.
The latter describes my beef with some par-
ents and certain other elders with influence. I
notice that far too many members of the older
generation still possess the "old-school" mental-
ity: That which refuses to let go of the social
standard that existed many years ago. These are
people who carry the belief that folks should
only date within their "race," and also have a
natural contempt for some other ethnic group. I
do understand that, with many people, such a
negative attitude that may never reside can
remain within people for a lifetime. Regardless,
parents who claim to ingrain positive values into
their children and at the same time breed ethnic
contempt into them, are doing their children an
ultimate injustice, contradicting their hopes to
raise their children with a proper outlook of the
world.
Cultural differences play the most vital role
in the difficulty. As long as different ethnic
groups with different lifestyles coexist on the
same plot of soil, there are bound to be compli-
cations. The psychological idea of ethnocen-
trism - the belief that one's ethnic group or
religion is superior to all others - is the ulti-
mate issue, as most of the world's population
carries this idea. The close-mindedness of

humans allows us to believe that our way is the
right way and the next man is wrong because he
isn't doing it my way. For example, when I was
younger, I was "taught" by a close white person
that the way I spoke was "ignorant," and that it
had nothing to do with my ethnicity or the cul-
tural norms with which I was born and raise
The latter example is trivial, yet the same co
cept works on such a wider scale and it leads to
often ill results. To spite someone automatically
on sight of skin color is entirely absurd; unfortu-
nately it is an all too common ritual, even in our
so - called "civilized" society.
Another related problem is frequent mis-
judging of other cultures. Stereotypes are a dis-
tortion of cultural differences that people often
get hung up on; many of them are ludicrous
nevertheless. I witness such ridiculousness
every time a white person tells me that they
scared or nervous to go to my hometown
Detroit. Every time a young black person
expresses a "natural" distrust of all white peo-
ple. Or for every other ridiculous assumption
about a group of people that has no true merit.
Many of us do it jokingly, but it often becomes
ingrained, leading to trouble.
I'm not saying that I have the answer ... I
don't think anyone does. Alleviating the situa-
tion is a matter of the individual allowing his o
herself to open up to new things and differeW
people. Ignore what youmay have been raised
to think about different people, throw all of your
inhibitions out of the window and step out of the
comfort zone that is comprised of those that
look only like you do. And to Hades with the
stereotypes -judge the character of the person,
because in our society, not enough weight is put
on the individual. Me, I don't discriminate: I
trust no one.
Knowledge.
Dustin J Seibert 's column runs eveP
other Tuesday. Give him feedback at
www.michigandaily.com/forum or
via e-mail at dseibert@umich.edu

CSJ ruling prevents
Election Board from
running a clean race
TO THE DAILY:
I cannot sit quietly after reading the arti-
cle about Central Student Judiciary ruling to
reinstate all candidates that were disqualified
from the Michigan Student Assembly elec-
tions ("Dowdell, Curtin allowed to return,"
3/12/01).
CSJ says that the MSA Election Board
has "overstepped" its powers. This is incor-
rect. The Board's function is to state rules for
the elections and enforce them. A crucial
moment in MSA elections is the candidates
meeting, in which the Election.Director dis-
cusses all the important rules, as well as cer-
tain areas the board wants to focus on
enforcing. Because this is vital information
for the candidates, it is of the utmost impor-
tance that all candidates are present.
The Election Board is a "living" group -
each board interprets MSA Election Code
and rules differently. So, a candidate claim-
ing that he or she has been to the meeting
before does not excuse him or her from atten-
dance. CSJ has upheld this notion that the
Board is not bound to previous interpreta-
tions.
As in the past, the candidates meeting has
been mandatory. When I served as Election.
Director, I made it clear that any candidate
who was not present at the meeting would be
disqualified, if he or she did not let me know
in advance of the absence. All candidates
who were not present did indeed let me
know. From my understanding, all the candi-
dates who were disqualified from the election
did not inform Election Director Ryan Nor-
folk of their absence. Defendants claimed
they thought the rule wouldn't be enforced
because it wasn't in the past. The truth is that

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the rule hasn't needed to be enforced in the
past.
Also, to claim that the board was biased
against the Defend Affirmative Action Party
is wrong. The board disqualified several can-
didates from all parties. It just so happens
that one of DAAP's candidates was running
for president. To call the board racist or
biased is simply a way for DAAP to express
disdain for a ruling that DAAP does not like
in the hopes that it will cause a change in
their favor. Unfortunately, CSJ has affirmed
this by not allowing the board to exercise its
powers, even though the board did this with-
out regard to party.
In sum, I think Alok Agrawal is right in
that "MSA elections are slowly going down
the tube," and what makes it worse is that the
board in charge of keeping things clean has
been stripped of its power. One final note, I
must commend DAAP for representing all
parties in this case, not just itself.
STEPHEN LUND
LSA sophomore
The letter writer served as election director during
the Fall 2000 Michigan Student Assembly elections.

NAACP's accusation
may hurt the next
basketball coach

1

To THE DAILY:
I found the story "Martin to decide on
Ellerbe's future: Some call firing of coach
racial discrimination" (3/12/01) to be very
depressing. This is not because I can, with-
out a doubt, say that the firing has no raciaL
motivation. I can however, say tha
Brian Ellerbe is not a competent coach.
When Ellerbe is fired, and a new head c.oach
is hired, if this new coach is black, his
appointment will somehow be tarnished as a
"racially motivated" hiring.
There are several excellent black coaches
who could be given this job. It is unfortu-
nate that the representatives from the
NAACP cannot have the foresight to se
what these accusations will do to the ne
head coach.
FRANK SANT
Alumnus

The class politics of 'objective' journalism
NICK WOOMER BACK TO THE WOOM

here is no such
thing as "objective"
journalism now and
there never has been.
Objectivity in reporting is a
value that never should
have existed and certainly
f' shouldn't any more.
These are not the angry
ramblings of a leftist react-
ing to the success of the blatantly ideological
Fox News network, whose anchors and reporters
have a curious tendency to confuse conservative
rhetoric with empirical facts and then tell their
viewers "we report, you decide." Rupert Mur-
doch's right-wing propaganda machine is far
less insidious than this ossifying value among
liberal elites that "reporting with integrity"
equals "objective reporting."
Journalism, like every other communicative
medium, is necessarily subiective but the imoli-

is quoteworthy or whether it ought to be para-
phrased. It is here that the reporter's personal
psychology and value system comes into play.
Clearly, a number of factors shape the way
an individual views (and reports) the world, not
the least of which is his or her socioeconomic
class. As with just about every other professional
career, a college degree is basically a prerequi-
site for getting any type of reporting job in the
mainstream media. It ought to come as no sur-
prise, then, that the people who bring us the
news every day are almost exclusively white and
almost exclusively hail from upper and upper
middle class backgrounds.
But if this is true, then the American news
media is run almost exclusively by a very specif-
ic class - the same class that controls the vast
majority of the world's capital. Naturally, what
is important to a typical person might not be
nearly as important to a rich capitalist. Despite
this, the overwhelming majority of stories in the

ues framing the way news is presented is the
recent conflict between Northwest Airlines and
the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Associatiol
the mechanics' union, where coverage is primar-
ily focused on how the strike affects "you"
("you" meaning upper or upper-middle class
professionals who fly frequently). I suppose a
potential strike is more "objectively" important
than the mechanics' complaints about wages and
their pension benefits - assuming you have
enough money to fly in the first place.
It could probably be argued that we need not
worry about these types of "objective" presen
tions. If a reporter is good, he or she will be abl
to divorce himself or herself as much as possible
from his or her class biases and decide what is
"worth reporting" from a neutral standpoint. But
while there might be degrees of objectivity
reporters can attain, the modem value ofjournal-
istic objectivity, even when it is acknowledged
to be a mere ideal, breeds popular complacency

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