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March 27, 2002 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2002-03-27

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4 -The Michigan Daily -Wednesday, March 27, 2002

OP/ED

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420 MAYNARD STREET
ANN ARBOR, MI 48109
letters@michigandaily.com

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

JON SCHWARTZ
Editor in Chief
JOHANNA HANINK
Editorial Page Editor

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
... The primary
reason to ordain
women isn't to create
a non-.abuse culture
- it's to have justice
for women."
-Interfaith radio talk show host and women's
ordination advocate Sister Maureen Fiedler, on
speculation that ordaining women as Catholic
priests would alleviate the problem of sexual
abuse within the Church, as quoted by the AP.

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Don't read this column unless you're brown
MANISH RAIJI NOTHING CATCHY

0

here were a lot of
things that got me in
trouble when I was
growing up; drawing on the
wall, running across the
street without looking both
ways, accidentally washing
my uncle's car with Comet.
But the real trouble got
started if and when I tried to
pin something I did on someone else. "But I
didn't start the fight, he did!" or "Everyone else
was doing the same thing!" were the sorts of
things that, once said, would turn a month's
grounding into a whipping. I learned my lesson
very quickly: Own up to your own mistakes
because no one is to blame except yourself.
But since coming to college, I have come to
suspect that my parents have stolen from me one
of the greatest things about being a minority in
America: Being able to escape any personal
responsibility, all in the name of race.
Racism has totally been marginalized by the
Boy Who Cried "Racist, Neo-Fascist, White
Supremist, Elitist Segregationist." So many -ists!
When someone (who is not racist) happens to
be on one side of a racially divisive issue and gets
called a racist, people in general tend to desensi-
tize themselves to the term.* When someone -
not racist - suggests that a cultural critique of
another society might be in order and then gets
called a racist (or Orientalist, cultural imperialist
or any other such euphemism for racist), the
entire concept of racism gets diluted. When
someone (non-racist) criticizes Jesse Jackson for
being a corrupt person (as compared to "a corrupt
black person,,just like the rest of them," which
would be racist) and then gets pegged as a bigot,
real race issues gets dumped into the pot with all
the Boy Who Cried Racism cases, and no one
takes race issues seriously anymore.

When people exhaust their efforts calling
Madeline Albright a racist, they negate the focus
on real racial bigotry coming from the likes of
Dick "apartheid ain't so bad" Cheney.
This all hit me a while back when I was
having a conversation about racial issues.
The discussion was about how people of dif-
ferent ethnic/religious backgrounds tend to
get treated differently; from the conversation
being had, I felt a serious, implicit sense of
racism involved in the conclusions my fellow
conversationers were arriving at. On the tip
of my tongue was that issue of race, but I
nipped that in the bud. Why? Why did I hesi-
tate to call racism where I perceived it?
I did so because I know that the company
that that puts me in is sorry company indeed.
And this distresses me because I know - every
minority knows - that race issues are alive and
well in this country. Racism exists, but it's been
pushed way off the scale of rationality and now
is taken with the same seriousness as Danny
Bonaduce's lucrative acting career.**
It doesn't seem like it's going to change - it
certainly hasn't in the four years I've been here.
So maybe I should just join in the game, flip the
ceremonial bird to all that "personal responsibili-
ty" hogwash that my parents tried to pass off
and dive head first into racial demagoguery.
Using race (whenever, wherever) is like playing
a game of poker with a stack of aces sitting on
your lap - you may have cheated, but damn it
feels good to win!
The funny thing is that the people with those
hidden aces don't even think they are cheating
- they honestly believe that trumping every
conversation with "Your point is useless because
you are racist" is valid, even though it is usually
not valid. And the kicker is this: The other play-
ers at the table know about the hidden aces,
watch it happen and are either cowed into allow-

ing it or are convinced that it is acceptable for
one player to have hidden aces. They don't even
think it is cheating!
So why should I take the moral high ground?
Why should I challenge myself to perform when
I can instead blame melanin (mine) for every-
thing bad that happens?
It is easy, of course. Because of the fact that I
am not white, screaming, crying or bemoaning
race (depending on the situation) is seen as
acceptable. It's become popular for minorities to
decide that every critique, every political stance,
every action and every reaction is explicitly tied
to and caused by race. Of course it is easy -
that is why the racial technique has converted so
many otherwise intelligent minorities into a sob-
bing puddle of escapists (rhymes with racists).
But I will not succumb to the ease of using
race as my excuse because, above all things, I
am proud of standing on my own feet and
demanding to be taken seriously as a human
being - who happens to be brown. Beyond
that, however, is the fact that I refuse to throw
race around as if it is meaningless because all
minorities who do so, along with all majorities
who allow it, are cheapening the real instances
of racism that occur.
Racial escapism may be the latest rage, but
it is a fad that comes with a high cost. When
people blame their personal failures on their
race, they are not only. clouding real race
issues, but they are also demeaning their own
racial heritage. To be taken seriously, people
need to face up to this fact: Bad things happen
to everyone; it's not always because of color.
* Dan Homing, for example, is not a racist.
** If you don't get the sarcasm, you are a racist.
Manish Rani can be reached
at mrayi@umich.edu.

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

White suburbanites 'have
valid opinions' about Detroit;
valid fears of crime
TO THE DAILY:
No matter what Dustin Seibert would
have us believe (West Seven Mile Forever,
3/26/02), the following things are true:
Detroit has the highest murder rate in the
nation for a city over 100,000. Its rate of
auto thefts is the laughingstock of the rest
of the nation. So don't tell me that peo-
ple's fears of crime in Detroit are
unfounded, even if I am a "non-urban
raised, non-black."
Next, Seibert should be reminded that
in a column against people who attack his
city, Detroit, it doesn't make any sense to
make fun of the suburbs of the city, i.e
"West Bitch."
More people than he knows, even from
the suburbs (and The Michigan Review),
go downtown for entertainment, business
and yes, just hanging around - they have
valid opinions about the city. Additional-
ly, if he is so adamant about how rock
solid Detroit is, then he shouldn't support
people who "come upon some money" and
want to get out.
Finally, he just needs some common
sense. Guys selling "The Matrix 2" at a gas
station, women with ridiculous hairdos and
"cats" in lime green suits are all no substitute
for a real city. Suburbs may occasionally
have massacres like Columbine, but we do
not permit our schoolgirls from getting raped
on the way to school, as has happened plenty
in Detroit. And yes, I go into the city plenty,
to respond to Seibert's expected knee-jerk
reaction.
DUSTIN ZACKS
LSA sophomore
Resident Advisers more
than 'dorm tattletales'
To THE DAILY:
Jeremy W. Peters in his Friday column,
RAs: There are better ways to spend tuition dol-
lars (3/22/02), after bashing Resident Advis-
ers, goes on to conclude that "the best RA is
no RA."

sonal crises, but who are lost at a large uni-
versity, need advice about which profes-
sors are worth taking, where to find a
particular building on campus and count-
less other things. While Peters is correct
that no amount of training will convert
RAs into competent social workers or
effective police officers, those are not the
goals for the RA role - nor do RAs have
to attain'that status in order to help stu-
dents having an emergency.
More than once I helped a student go to
the hospital - and accompanied him there
or counseled a student about resources to
deal with sexual assault on campus. RAs
aren't experts on such issues, but they
don't have to be to help a student find
those resources.
It's true there are ineffective RAs and a
common complaint is that RAs are used to
police the halls. That role, however, is not,
and never was, intended to be the main role
of RAs. RAs are far more than "dorm tat-
tle-tales," though undoubtedly certain stu-
dents only encountered their RA in this
capacity.
RAs are a live-in peer advisor and many
of them care very deeply about the lives of
their students and go above and beyond their
job expectations to make suse that students
get the help they need. MIAEDLNER
MICHAEL DEL NEGRO
Law School student
'U' wasting time, money
on mystery modular object
rising across from CCRB
TO THE DAILY:
I live in Couzens, so to get to class
(when I go ...), I often pass by that, er,
thing that is being built ever so slowly
across from the Central Campus Recre-
ation Building. You know what I mean,
right? No one really knows what it is.
Well, one day, my friends and I asked
one of the workers what it is. He told us
that they are building a model of the new
life sciences building that's going to be
across the road. He told us that it is being
built so that the builders know what the
building is supposed to look like.
Then, he told us something shocking. It
is costing the University $200,000. Two

One, this school has not yet made me
confident that it is willing to make
changes in any way and two, this school
has not provided the student population
with a well advertised, simple way to do
so. I think that it should be a top priority
of our University's head honchos to make
sure that every student is aware of and has
access to a system by which he may voice
his concerns.
MIKE AFFELDT
LSA freshman
Daily should provide better
coverage of NCAA women's
basketball tournament
TO THE DAILY:
I enjoy reading the Daily, however I do
have a complaint about its failure to
acknowledge the women's NCAA basket-
ball tournament.
I was reading Monday's Daily and
noticed a large color spread about the
men's tournament (The Michigan Daily.
Dance Floor, 3/25/02), then I looked over
the paper several times and noticed that
there was nothing said about the women's
tournament. I would really appreciate it if
there were articles about the tournament,
not only for me, but for all the other
women's basketball fans out there.
ASHLEY NORRIS
Engineeringfreshman

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