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October 08, 2001 - Image 4

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0

4A - The Michigan Daily - Monday, October 8, 2001

OP/ED

ate lNtirbigau Dil,,

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

__ _ _.

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.

NOTABLE
QUOTABLE
'(America is
terrified from north
to south, east to west,
and we thank God
for that. Today,
America is tasting
what Muslims have
tasted for decades."
- Osama bin Ladin, in a pre-taped
response to the American attacks on
Afghanistan, broadcasted via
the Qatari news service Al Jezera.

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0

Steer, bold mariner, on! or, no mis dia de Columbus.
JOHANNA HANINK PARLANCE OF OUR TIMES

T oday at the Uni-
versity of Con-
necticut, classes
are cancelled for the "Fall
Recess." This means that
the majority of my friends
are still sleeping right
now. Only this weekend
did I realize the reason
that they didn't have to set
their alarm clocks last night - today we, as
a nation (are supposed to, at least) celebrate
the 509th anniversary of Columbus sailing
the ocean (blue) and "discovering" Ameri-
ca.
If you're reading this publication,
chances are that you've made it past your
fifth-grade teacher's October lesson plans
and could readily correct anyone misin-
formed enough to think that Columbus set
out to show the world that it wasn't flat.
And at this point, we're all sick of the
countless reminders that Columbus in no
sense of the word discovered America.
But there is more to the myth of Colum-
bus than simple geometry or general knowl-
edge can account for. Christopher
Columbus, a slave trader even before his
famous trans-Atlantic voyage, bears much
of the responsibility (an understatement) for
the systematic genocide of the indigenous
populations of the Caribbean.
Again, most of us know this or, even if we
don't buy into it, have been exposed to the
idea. Which means that I can pass over the
statistics and would only be wasting space to
write that under Columbus' administration of

the Caribbean islands, more than eight million
native people were killed, five million within
the first three years. And perhaps it doesn't
bear mentioning that torture, rape and enslave-
ment became the modus operandi in the New
World in no small part due to the unutterable
mores of one individual.
But it is worth noting that Columbus' style
- his importation of the encomienda tributary
labor, i.e. slave, system from Spain and his
exportation of slave labor back to Spain (as
well as from Africa to the Caribbean) - set
and justified the devastating precedent for bru-
tality and slaughter in the Americas; a prece-
dent which Ieft the Western Hemisphere, after
only a few centuries, over 100 million people
smaller.
So today the protests, the biggest of
which will be in Colorado, will pass by with
a headline in The New York Times and a
sound byte on National Public Radio. And
perhaps there will be a network news spe-
cial, where a member of the American Indi-
an Movement will face off with a wrinkled
white man that counters humanitarian argu-
ments with cries of "revisionist," declaring
that political correctness has once again
gone too far.
But what's more frightening than that
scenario is that the protests may go by
unnoticed. In the midst of our new war on
terrorism (yes, it had to be mentioned), the
rights of American Indians might not be the
sexiest cause to pick up. For the mainstream
media, issues of activism go in and out of
style as shares are calculated and ratings
give the orders.

And Columbus Day doesn't really bother
most people - especially those who get a
few more hours of sleep on its account. For
most of the University community, that our
Sept. 29 football opponent, the University
of Illinois, is still represented by the "Fight-
ing Illini," and mascotted by "Chief' Illni-
. wek, detracted nothing from another
Wolverine victory.
We need to be bothered that we're not
bothered. The blind celebration of Colum-
bus Day - the songs and plays and art pro-
jects that accompany it in elementary
schools across the country - falls under the
category of big problems with a fast fix.
Like the Confederate flag that still flies in
South Carolina (also a cause that seems to
have gone out of fashion), a simple action
would make so many thousands feel more at
home in the United States. Considering the
history, it's the least we can do.
And while we wonder why, if it is so con-
troversial, if it is so hurtful to some, there is not
as much media-grabbing resistance to Colum-
bus Day as we might think there would be, we
have to factor in that unfortunate human ten-
dency to only devote ourselves and become
impassioned about issues that affect us in the
most direct of ways.
And in asking why the voice is so small,
why there are so few of us that are affected
directly enough to take action, we can only
find ourselves having come full circle to
why Columbus Day needs to go.
Johanna Hanink can be reached
via e-mail atjhanink@umich.edu.

Y LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

0

0

Y IN PASSING

BRAY V. WILSON ON WJR
For those who may have been listening to
WJR AM 760, you heard a debate on the David
Neuman Show Friday night between two out-
spoken University students: LSA sophomore
Jackie Bray of the Alliance for Peace and Justice
and LSA junior James Justin Wilson, former
Michigan Student Assembly Peace and Justice
Commission chairman and member of the
Young Americans for Freedom.
The topic? (This isn't hard to guess.) None
other than the new war, peace activism and and
the conflict's consequences. For most of the
45-minute debate, Wilson essentially stayed
silent while Neuman grilled Bray about peace
activism and issues surrounding alternatives to
armed intervention in Afghanistan. Bray stood
her ground and came out the victor in this par-
ticular fight.
Why? It wasn't necessarily based on Bray's
rhetoric or the strength of her argument - it was
based on the fact that Bray surprised everyone.
When Neuman introduced Bray as a "peace
activist," the common conception of a spineless
"wishy-washy/why can't we all just get along"
type of activist was automatically pinned on her.
But in her first answer, Bray laid out her
beliefs which surprised many, including Neu-
man. Bray called for some type of international
response rather than sitting back and doing noth-
ing. Another misconception of peace activists is
that they believe the U.S. undoubtedly deserved
the horrors of Sept. 11. Bray clearly deconstruct-
ed this saying that she and many of her fellow
activists believe the U.S. in no way deserved to
be attacked. While Wilson was silent for much
of the show, Bray laid out interesting points that
haven't been heard in the mainstram media.
Bray recognized that Osama bin Laden
wants the U.S. to attack to destabilize the Mus-
lim world and therefore spark a "clash of civi-
lizations" as Bray put it. (A good point, but of
course, Neuman cut her off at that instant before
she could elaborate further.) Bray urged caution
as we enter the new war, because U.S. actions in
the near future could initiate a very ugly conflict

between the West and the Muslim world - a
good point that hasn't been aired in the main-
stream media too often.
Bray took a different approach and surprised
everyone, painting a different picture of the
peace movement. But I'm sure that is a concept
many of WJR's listeners had difficulty under-
standing. When someone bases an argument
only on buzzwords and catch phrases that every-
one has heard over and over again in the media,
it's not very interesting or compelling. Wilson
didn't contribute much more to the conversation
beyond the obvious arguments. Perhaps that's
why Neuman payed more attention to Bray and
why Wilson was mostly silent on the other line.
- Michael Grass
NEGOTIA IONS WITH TERROR:
NOT AN OPTION
Yesterday, President George W. Bush started
a "war" that we have been expecting. The days
ahead will undoubtedly see peace activists advo-
cating that the U.S. stop shooting and starts talk-
ing. While negotiations are normally the
preferable option, Americans should ask
whether or not negotiations are advisable under
these particular circumstances.
The Taliban is a authoritarian regime which
supports terror attacks in the United States, Rus-
sia, Israel and numerous other places. Unlike
mainstream Islam, the Taliban's version of
Islamic fundamentalism is similar to Nazi ideol-
ogy in that it is based on notions of superiority
and the hatred of all who are different from
them. These beliefs have no place in the modern
world. History demonstrates that negotiations
with people driven by this type of hate are futile.
Like the Munich agreement of 1938, such nego-
tiations are likely to result in more violence and
more deaths.
- David Livshiz
In Passing views are those of individual
members of the Daily 's editorial board,
and do not necessarily represent
the opinion of The Michigan Daily.

So, L
Columbia? Been
there. Done that.
To THE DAILY:
Of course I wish President Bollinger well
and congratulate my alma mater, Columbia,
on the wit and wisdom of its choice of a new
leader. After all, one of the reasons I came to
Michigan this year was that Lee Bollinger is
president. How can I begrudge my old school
seeking the best? But even though he received
his law degree in Morningside Heights, I
thought it might be worthwhile for one
Columbian to remind another about life on the
Upper West Side -just in case he forgot.
1. If you think parking is bad in Ann
Arbor, forget the Heights. Broadway? River-
side Drive? Impossible. As for the side
streets, every other Columbia faculty member
is trolling them, too. Even College Walk, one
of the grandest entrances to any campus in
the country, is wall-to-wall cars. And don't
expect special favors. I once watched the
Emperor of Japan's limousine waved away
by a Columbia guard.
2. Nicer house? True, you can't beat
Columbia's President's House for space. It's
one of the last free-standing mansions left in
Manhattan, and designed by McKim, Mead
and White to boot. But as Mike Sovern, one of
your predecessors, discovered, the neighbor-
hood is so boring that it was better to keep his
place on the East Side, a mile away but eons
beyond 116th Street in prestige, amenities and
access to big donors. And I understand that the
ghost of Dwight Eisenhower, who never liked
being Columbia's president (it was easier win-
ning World War II), haunts the place.
3. And as for the prices! Dinner for two at
a so-so Midtown restaurant: 300 bucks!
Monthly charges for indoor parking (if you
can find it): So high that some people ask if
they can sleep in their cars! Housing (because
you won't want the President's House): $5
million-plus for a Park Avenue apartment
with a dining room big enough to invite a
trustee and his wife over for a meal!
4. Fewer pesky undergraduates? Granted,
there are only about 3,000 of them at Colum-
bia, a fraction of the number at Michigan, but
what they lack in quantity, they more than
make up in whining entitlement (as in they all

ee is leaving

0.

9*

FILE PMUIU
Lee Bollinger, the University of Michigan's 12th president and soon to be Columbia
University's 19th president.

serenely confident of their place in the world
and consequently gentle and high-minded.
Well, don't confuse Columbia for Dartmouth.
In a city full of billionaires, power brokers
and celebrities, university types fall near the-
bottom of the social pyramid. Stand clear of
any New Yorker denied a table at Elaine's,
which at Columbia is just about everyone.
7. And yes, Columbia's graduate student
assistants are organizing.
President Bollinger, may your ship sail
happily east and may alma mater envelope
you in her warm embrace. Just keep your
eyes open. (And while you're at it, please
look into the situation at the Columbia Club
on 43rd Street. Sharing a house with Prince-
ton is tacky.)
RoY STRICKLAND
The letter writer is the director of the master of
urban design program at the University's
A. Alfred Taubman College of
Architecture and Urban Planning.

president who can specifically relate to the
problems, needs, strides and successes of
minorities. The University needs a minority
president.
Brown University has a new African
American female president and has experi-
enced great success already less than a year
into her term. Bowling Green State Universi-
ty, a MAC school, has experienced such great
success under its African American leader
that the Board of Trustees have given him a
raise more than two times already. It's time
the University does what it does best, and set
a precedent for the rest of the country to fol-
low. The University is doing so in its pending
affirmative action cases, it has done so with
its Life Sciences Initiative. It's time to do it
up top.
With the anticipated absence of current
University President Lee Bollinger next year,
the Board of Regents will be meeting time
and time again to seek a great replacement for
an unfortunate loss.

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