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January 07, 2003 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2003-01-07

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, January 7, 2003

OP/ED

olhe A lbigatn :flaiig

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
One seldom
heard an unexpected
thought in the Bush
White House or met
someone who
possessed unusual
knowledge."
-David Frum, former White House
speechwriter and coiner of the term "axis of
evil, "in his forthcoming book "The
Right Man: The Surprise Presidency of
George W. Bush. "The Drudge Report
broke Frum's quotation on Sunday.

BONNIE KELLMAN MIXED NUTS

Everyone's religion is better than yours
AUBREY HENRETTY NEUROTICA

You can't speak
universally
about the reli-
gious epiphanies you
failed to have during
winter break. It's no
,useyour biases would
plaster themselves
across your forehead
and people would
shake their metaphorical index fingers at you
for waxing philosophical without a license. So
you decide to dispense with the authoritative
English major nonsense and openly possess
situation-specific and entirely fallible opin-
ions. Risky.
Though you come from a mostly Catholic
family (meaning most of the people in your
family are currently or were at some point
Catholic), you missed church on Christmas
morning for the second year in a row (the sec-
ond time in your life) last month, opting instead
to sit at the kitchen table with your grandfather
(who is Baptist) and drink tea and watch "How
the Grinch Stole Christmas" while your parents
and your brother were at Mass.
There are many reasons you might have
stayed home. Perhaps you're a walking
stereotype: a bitter (and guilty - don't forget
guilty) raised-Catholic who refused to ruin
this otherwise idyllic holiday morning by
spending it in church. Maybe you're an athe-
ist. Maybe it's something else entirely. Maybe
you think religion is by definition extremely
divisive and you're starting to wonder if it's
worth all the tribulation it causes.
That afternoon, you heard about a church-
bombing in Pakistan, a couple of malicious or

misguided miscreants playing God with
explosives. You had been slicing carrots next
to the small TV in the kitchen. The blast killed
a little girl. This gavb you pause. You literally
paused, furrowing your brow at the CNN field
reporter, struck by the tragic irony of the girl
who went to church to be saved and in actuali-
ty would have been safer at home.
What, you asked yourself, if you had
passed on church because you thought reli-
gion was inherently and often dangerously
divisive and your family had gone and been
vaporized by crazy fundamentalists without
you, thus proving your point on two levels
and leaving you sad and lonely (and guilty)
for the rest of your life? It could happen.
This sort of thing happens all the time, all
over the world. But why? You are not naive
(or bitter) enough to suppose that people
would stop hating each other if only they'd
resolve to give up their organized religions
along with their cigarettes (except during
finals) this new year.
Besides, religion brings people together,
right? Culture, tradition, inner peace, com-
munity, charity ... it would be wrong to sug-
gest that most religious institutions don't do
a lot of people a lot of good. They do. Even
religions criticized for having outdated rule
books do their part to raise awareness of
issues pertaining to their allegedly antiquated
rules; they provoke thought and discussion
and dissent where was none, which is more
than you can say for 90 percent of the cur-
riculum at your local public high school.
Organized religion feeds the hungry and
cares for the sick. If that's not reason enough
to keep it around, what is?

Salvation of course. Eternal bliss. Most
of the world's religions claim to hold the
key to ethereal happiness. In many cases,
the only key.
Back in the kitchen, you were staring at half
of an unsliced carrot and thinking about that
key, about the way people use "faith" and "reli-
gion" interchangeably. It makes sense. Faith,
defined this way, is devotion without reason.
Religious people tell you that they believe
wholeheartedly in their conceptions of God. If
this is true, it necessarily follows that they
believe any conception of God other than theirs
is wrong. You can't believe completely in two
religions at the same time. Even if there isn't
(and there often is) an old holy text under a rug
somewhere mandating the ruthless killing of
outsiders, the null hypothesis is that everyone
else is wrong. You will never see a sign in front
of a church, for example, that says "The Way,
the Truth and the Light ... we think."
In your experience, you've met two kinds
of people who are sure they know what hap-
pens when you die: those who exude calm
and those who exude the worst sort of arro-
gance - arrogance that can manifest itself as
smug piety, superior pity or violence. For all
the -good religion can do, having God on
one's side is the ultimate excuse to think
and/or act this way.
You don't know what the answer is; you
haven't been constructing an argument, here.
At best, you've set the stage for a question; at
worst, you've wasted a lot of words. In either
case, you're in no position to judge anyone.

0
0

Despite the related benefits to the
homeless bundled into the 1996 ordi-
nance, the city's current panhandling
restrictions are prone to capricious and
discriminatory enforcement. Arbitrary
and baseless criteria about whom to
arrest and how to enforce the ordi-
Dirupting
Engler's move a new low
Former Michigan Gov. John
Engler allowed petty politics to
mar the conclusion of his 12
year tenure as the state's chief execu-
tive. Two days before Gov. Jennifer
Granholm was sworn into office,
Engler vetoed House Bill 5467, a pop-
ularly supported transportation bill.
HB 5467 would have created the
Detroit Area Regional Transit Author-
ity, in an attempt to coordinate trans-
portation systems in southeast
Michigan. The transit authority, which
took legislators two years to develop,
must now be reintroduced.
Beside the obvious benefits of link-
ing Detroit's and the suburbs' bus sys-
tems, DARTA would have created a
vehicle for establishing a long-term
transportation plan for the Detroit area.
Metro Detroit's current system is a
completely inadequate tool to provide
transportation for the region's popula-
tion. Once the region begins to consider
this new transit option, an organizing
body such as DARTA is essential.
Engler had proposed the establish-
ment of 15 charter schools under the
direct control of Detroit Mayor
Kwame Kilpatrick. After much debate
on the House floor, the proposal
passed the House on Dec. 13, the same
day DARTA also passed the Legisla-
ture. On Dec. 30, the Senate voted
against the charter schools proposal
That same day, Engler vetoed the
DARTA bill, reportedly stating "that if

force claims it is seeking solutions to
safety concerns arising from panhan-
dling, for it knows all too well the
moral and legal implications of push-
ing the homeless "out of sight, out of
mind." This raises an important ques-
tion: are the homeless actually perpetu-
ating crime or are civic leaders simply
unwilling to look at the poor? Under-
standable, given that the image of a
man begging for change is one not eas-
ily forgotten from the comfortable inte-
rior of an Ann Arbor boutique.
DARTA
for regional cooperation
the region couldn't get its act together
on education, it didn't make sense to
help transit." Engler's rationale is dis-
concerting and indicative of the atti-
tudes toward Detroit that marked the
Engler era. The governor's decisions to
treat the city with kid gloves and
exploit tensions between Detroit and
its suburbs in order to generate politi-
cal capital led to sour relations
between Detroit and its surroundings.
The charter schools legislation
would have established schools in the
Detroit area, which would have been
detrimental to the public school system
in the state. Supporters of the bill claim
that students at these schools perform
better than those in the present public
school system. However, these charterj
schools would only be band-aid solu-
tions for the ongoing problems with
city schools. Instead of establishing a
few marginally improved schools, the
state should increase funding in order to
improve the entire system.
Incoming legislators should garner
the state's discontent about the veto
against DARTA in order to gain support
when reintroducing the bill. Promptly
passing it again with the new Legisla-
ture is necessary to get this authority off
the ground. A failure to pass this bill
relatively soon would hinder securing
federal funds for the authority. This link
would allow for a free flow of peoples
and ideas within the area, which would
help build a vibrant city and metro area.

VIEWPOINT
When you come to a forkinthe road ... go left

Aubrey Henretty can be. reached
at ahenrett@umich.edu.

BY JASON PESICK
John Edwards is running for president.
The former trial lawyer has all of the assets
that a presidential candidate should have.
He's from the South, he's articulate, he has a
nice family, he's intelligent and at 49 he
looks younger than some of the graduate stu-
dents attending the University.
In order to win the Democratic nomination,
however, Edwards will have to fight off a bevy
of presidential hopefuls, most of whom have
more experience in public service than the first-
term North Carolinian.
As the Democratic field begins to take
shape, political observers have found a com-
mon denominator among the candidates. The
primary might as well be called the good-hair
primary because most of the candidates have
great hair. Edwards has found his way into
GQ magazine, Sen. John Kerry's trademark is
the thick mop on his head and Senate Minori-
ty Leader Tom Daschle would be unrecogniz-
able without his dark locks.
While the fact that leading politicians have
great hair doesn't surprise anyone who has ever
seen a picture of John Kennedy, Jimmy Carter,
Ronald Reagan or Bill Clinton, the contrast
between this field and the man who just
announced that he will not be a candidate, for-
mer Vice President Al Gore, should make
Americans think twice about the current mood
within the country.
While Gore has his faults, unlike these
well-coifed Democrats, he is a man of ideas.
He was not - and likely will never be - the
natural politician that Edwards is. While all

the men vying for the Democratic nomina-
tion are extremely intelligent, none of them
have a vision for this country that rivals
Gore's in any way.
And the sad part about all this is that it
would seem that as the world enters a more
serious era, the country as a whole would want
to support more serious candidates. It must be
some sort of twisted irony that the beauty
pageant about to take place on the Democratic
side in 2004 would follow the serious debates
between Al Gore and Bill Bradley.
The problem is not that hair is bad. The
problem is that the country is at a fork in the
road, and it is trying to take it as Yogi Berra
likes to say. Neither the citizens nor the
politicians who lead us have decided
whether this is truly a dangerous era.
In the weeks immediately following the
Sept. 11 attacks, the conventional wisdom
was that the United States was facing grave
dangers around the world and that we
would have to make significant changes in
the way we ran our country. We started by
invading a country; then we were going to
search the globe for terrorists. We were
going to become energy independent. We
were going to spend more money on for-
eign aid, give up some civil liberties and
we were going to be at a constant state of
alert. The United States was poised to make
major changes even if that meant sacrific-
ing some of the cushiness of the '90s.
After having to endure listening to Tom
Brokaw and historians praise the Greatest
Generation for enduring during World War
II, the Baby Boomers, Generation Xers and

even the members of Generation Y had
found our moment of glory. We had found
our opportunity to escape from the world of
Starbucks and elliptical trainers in order to
be another great generation.
Then we lost focus. The president didn't
lead anyone to greatness the way that FDR
did. fIe told us to get back on our elliptical
trainers and to keep drinking our espresso.
We decided not to let anyone change our
myopic way of life, and then we lost focus.
We decided to invade Iraq, not to secure
Afghanistan. We forgot about the dangers of
foreign oil, and soon all of our grandest
notions degenerated into a frenzy of flag-
waving and patriotic halftime shows.
We also decided to go back to out, old ways
of evaluating candidates and shun the people
with ideas. Even though we are told ad nauseam
by the commentators on television that Sept. 11
changed everything, it does not appear that
anything has changed.
As a country, it is time to decide how seri-
ous this world in which we now live is or
whether we even live in a new world at all. We
need to evaluate the current situation and
decide how serious it truly is. If we decide that
the world is a dangerous place and that our way
of life is at risk, we need to be better citizens.
And if we decide that the threat is not quite that
imminent, we should work towards self-
improvement anyway because it shouldn't take
a grave threat to our civilization in order to find
some idealism in this country.
Pesick is an LSA freshman and a member
of the Daily's editorial board.

0

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Augusta National debate is
the result of bogus posturing
To THE DAILY:
Stephen Carley sums up his op-ed regard-
ing the Augusta National controversy
(Women shouldn't want to golf where not want-
ed, 1/06/03) in one sentence, "I am no great
golf fan." As his article is full of inaccura-
cies, let .me clarify. Augusta National is a
country club. The Masters is the most presti-
gious golf tournament in the world (with the
possible exception of the British Open) and
is played at Augusta National.
The controversytregarding the Masters
lies with the fact that Augusta National

approach in attempting to achieve country
club reform. In suggesting that The Mas-
ters should change locations, Burk showed
extreme disrespect for theagame of golf,
and alienated many golf fans who would
otherwise support her cause.
Furthermore, her attack of Augusta
National reeks more of a publicity stunt
that a true attempt at reform. Despite its
all-male membership, Augusta National is
very open to women, allowing over 1,000
rounds per year for women. If Burk truly
wanted reform, she would start with Shoal
Creek (as well as many other prestigious
clubs) that not only have an all-male mem-
bership, but also forbid women from play-
ing the course.
Women's rights in golf need to be

THE DEADLINE TO APPLY
FOR A WINTER 2003
COLUMNIST POSITION IS
APPROACHING QUICKLY.
E-MAIL YOUR SAMPLES TO
E'DnPAGEEp/iD @UMCffDt/
BY THIS FRIDAY, JAN. 10.
THE OPINION SECTION IS
ALSO LOOKING FOR NEW
EDITORIAL WRITERS. IF

0
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THE BOONDOCKS

APX)N ' f

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