4A - The Michigan Daily - Monday, March 03, 2003
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Editorial Page Editors
Simply being a
Latino does not
make one qualified
to be a judge."
SAM BUTLER CLAsstc SOAItx
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.
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- Antonia Hernandez, president of the
Mexican American Legal Defense and Education
Fund, on why so many Latino groups oppose
the nomination ofMiguel Estrada to the D.C.
Circuit Court in this week's The Nation.
The price of zero-sum language
JOHANNA HANINK PARLANCE OF OUR TIMES
The "Other Views"
section of the Feb.
28 edition of the
Detroit Jewish News ran a
guest column by a 2002
high school graduate from
West Bloomfield. She's in
Israel this year, studying at
a Yeshiva, and wrote a
piece called "The Sweet
Sound of Zmirot" - a reference to her Sabbath
experience at Jerusalem's Western Wall.
What she felt at the wall, however, was
dominated by an abstract interaction - not
with Judaism, but with Islam and Christianity,
the two Abrahamic religions which also deeply
color the Old City.
What she felt was largely stirred by the
sounds she had heard. As she began to pray,
"From the mosque above me, perched upon
the Temple Mount, comes the low, sonorous
call to prayer ... The sound that surrounds
me takes my mind back through history,
from the present conflict to the centuries
before, years of oppression at the hands of
Ottoman rulers; even before that. ..."
As the sounds from the mosque dissolve, "a
new voice arises ... The bells of the churches
are ringing ... They seem unusually loud
today, strangely menacing ... I see in my
mind's eye the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisi-
tion and the most recent purgatory (sic) of the
Jewish nation, the Holocaust."
I first read this article at a friend's
kitchen table, sharing my irritation and exas-
peration at erratic intervals as I quoted from
what I perceived to be an egregious immatu-
rity and ignorance in the piece. For me, this
girl had thoroughly missed the point of per-
haps the most remarkable and wonderful
city block in the world.
Last August, I had the chance to watch the
sun set on Friday evening from the Kotel
Plaza at the Western Wall. With me in my
group were seven other college newspaper
editors - none of us Jewish and most of us
uneasy that afternoon in anticipation of what
we would see after we had passed through
security. In our minds, such a holy and for-
eign site cultivated new kinds of nerves.
But then we were there and it was a place,
not like any other but still far less spiritually
intimidating than most of us had expected. We
saw the boys from the Yeshivas come dancing
down, singing the Zmirot referenced in the
Detroit Jewish News article. As we left, we
heard the call to prayer echo through the Old
City - a sound I thought I knew with some
familiarity after a summer in 90 percent-Muslim
Dakar, Senegal, but which entirely redefined
itself for me as it echoed over the buildings of
Jerusalem stone, illuminated by the sunset.
I was aggravated that this girl had writ-
ten a piece that betrayed such distaste for
other religions - that in hearing the holy
sounds of minarets and church bells her
first and dominant reaction was one of sad-
ness, shaded with distaste and even con-
tempt for the presence of two substantial
and established religious communities.
In the same issue, Daniel Pipes, director of
the Middle East Forum, noted in another spe-
cial commentary column, "Where Terrorists
Hide," that three of the eight men indicted in
Florida as supporters of Palestinian Islamic
Jihad: "Their arrests reveal to what extent
Middle East studies is a field that serves as an
extension of the region's radicalism." Perhaps
we should be suspect of professors in our own
Department of Near Eastern Studies or of
Middle Eastern and North African Studies?
Of students taking Arabic?
Another column registered that Israeli
checkpoints are preventing some Palestinian
Muslims from making the hajj to the
"sacred sites" in Mecca. With "sacred sites"
in quotation marks - sarcastic and com-
On the flip side of the issue, I read in the
Daily's online forum a response to another
response to the article "Students react to, ques-
tion Al-Arian arrest" (02/21/03) - about the
charging of Sami Al-Arian, a former professor
who spoke at October's divestment conference,
as being the U.S. head and international secre-
tary of PIJ. The initial response had come from
a student who equated those defending Al-
Arian with terrorists.
To that, an anonymous LSA junior replied:
"No one is questioning this except those people
who see the truth, which is the most frightening
aspect of it all. The exploitation of the public's
fear by the government is so blatantly obvious
as to be almost morbidly ludicrous. History will
look back at this era with disgust and shame at
how this country treated its own citizens."
At the same time that the Detroit Jewish
News runs a "we told you so" article, others,
also entirely polarized along ethnic lines, are
jumping in the opposite direction, declaring
a total stranger's innocence.
The political climate here is intense; in a
fascinating way so much of what we feel
springs from the situation - matsav or naqba,
depending on who you are and whether you
seek euphemism or caricature, thousands of
miles and two continents away. But now, per-
haps like always, careless and hurtful words
are coming out of good people - people.who
are our friends and family, and people for
whom we want to have higher standards. A
change in the zero-sum game mentality can
only happen as a reflection - when we're no
longer mirroring the currents of an equally
dangerous zero-sum word game.
Hanink is a former Daily editoriql.
page editor and can be reached
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Residence Halls serve only
'token veggie' meals
TO THE DAILY:
Shame on the Daily for attempting to mis-
lead students into believing that there's an abun-
dance of vegetarian/vegan food available in the
residence halls (Vegetarian options increase as din-
ing halls follow trends, 02/21/03). Offering one
vegetarian entree out of every four entrees is
nothing to brag about, especially since it leaves
vegetarians with no choice whatsoever if that
entree happens to be bad. Nor do many vegetar-
ians like the token veggie meal, which often
includes eggs rather than tofu. Additionally, the
veggie side bar is nothing to brag about. Rice
and beans are not my idea of a good meal. Until
tofu is served more than once every other week,
and vegetarians actually have option out of the
available entrees, I would urge all vegetarians
(and certainly all vegans) do cancel their meal
credits and buy some real food.
Bake sale a 'revelation':
Review is conservative
TO THE DAILY:
I must admit The Michigan Review's bake
sale taught me something. For the last four
years I thought they were just some student
publication that I didn't read.
Then after hearing of their half-baked sale, I
checked out a little more about them to discov-
er that they're actually a right-wing publication.
What a revelation. All this time I thought
they were a news organization ("The Campus
Affairs Journal of the University of Michigan,"
their page reads) when in reality they're a
group of Republicans. I thank them for clearing
that up. Now I no longer look at their paper as a
benign publication. Also, the Review's James
Justin Wilson's letter to the Daily was quite
unnecessary and also false. First, they did not
account for, socioeconomic status, and second,
regardless of what factors they accounted for
the whole premise was rubbish. Equating racist
inequality and segregation with a policy borne
of the civil rights movement to partially negate
those things is nonsense.
ADAM DE ANGELI
Reparations lawsuit has greater implications
BY AYMAR JEAN
As U.S. foreign relations remain uneasy
in the face of war, U.S. domestic race rela-
tions seem to be just as rocky. At the end of
February, black-American descendants of
slavery filed a class-action lawsuit against
approximately 1,000 corporations for con-
tributing to slavery and therefore indirectly
causing the current state of the black popu-
lation - some of the corporations include
JP Morgan Chase, FleetBoston and various
tobacco, railroad and insurance companies.
The plaintiffs want reparations, but not
in the traditional monetary form. No indi-
vidual in the suit wants a check in his/her
mailbox. Instead, they request that any
money awarded be placed in a general fund
to improve the current conditions that place
blacks in the lowest percentile in almost
every facet of everyday life. Along with the
obvious legal consequences of such a law-
suit, the plaintiffs hope that the case will
affirm corporate accountability for slavery
and lead to an investigation of the specific
financial aspects of slavery.
Filed appropriately at the end of Black
History month and during the lawsuits
against the University, this lawsuit has both
Yet, the social psychological aspect of
this lawsuit is much more intriguing and
telling. On the surface, the lawsuit repre-
sents the residual anger about slavery and
its repercussions. It is also the embodiment
of the frustration felt by the community
because the last antidote - affirmative
action - to poverty's poison is in jeopardy
while no other solution is in sight.
The heart of the issue is a pervasive
minority mindset that in the legends of
American history never seems to die. This
is not a weakness or fault but a virtue, the
uniting of a population for solidarity, an
earnest attempt to be heard in a time when
voices are being silenced. It is a concept
evident in the civil rights movement of the
1960s, the slave riots of the nineteenth cen-
tury, and in the writings of W.E.B. Dubois
and other intellectuals. It is a rebellious zeal
that has kept and will continue to keep the
black community alive and growing.
Given the motivation behind the lawsuit,
the inevitable question arises: Is this lawsuit
justified? To answer this, we need to con-
sider two points. First, consider the pro-
posed goal of the lawsuit: the community
fund. The fact that the plaintiffs do not want
individual, monetary reparations but bene-
fits for the entire black population indicates
eral reparations is sticky to say the least.
Yet, by targeting corporations and showing
a close relationship between slavery and
corporate financial benefit, the plaintiffs
greatly increased their chances. In addition,
looking at the Jewish population who suf-
fered unfathomable atrocities during World
War II, they have also been successful in
gaining reparations. In 2000, the German
government and many German companies
laid out billions for Holocaust survivors.
Granted, the German government is decid-
edly more liberal, but private companies
gave money as well.
Are the companies indebted? This issue
is the most controversial. However wronged
the black community feels, however solid
the case, it is evident that these companies
are simply not the same as they were. Dur-
ing the 1970s, corporate witch trials headed
by the Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission provided financial dividends
for victims of discrimination. Many compa-
nies today give money to programs like
INROADS which offer internships to
minorities and have special minority
recruitment programs like JP Morgan
Chase's Honors Program. It is possible,
though not likely, that corporations are sim-
nlv scanegoats in the black qnest for justice.
THE BOONDOCKS AA-O "''LE
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