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March 06, 2003 - Image 15

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The Michigan Daily, 2003-03-06

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10B - The Michigan Daily - PerSDCtivSe- Thursday. March 6. 2003,

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The Michigan Daily - PrS pectil
A long, strange tip

The Muslim Community Association Presents

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By Zac Peskowitz
Daily Staff Writer

"Your Muslim Neighbors: A Window to the World."

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Saturday, March 8th 2003
From 12pm-8*3Opm

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Islamic Center of Ann Arbor
2301 Plymouth Rd. Ann Arbor, MI 48105
A cross from the University of Michigan North Campus Fire Station
Buses: UM Northwood or the AA TA #2

ast August, I stood in a packed
Arbor Brewing Company as the
comfortable environs of Ann Arbor
unceremoniously collided with the rough
and tumble world which surrounds our
bustling hamlet. Forty-five-year-old Ann
Arbor resident then U.S. Rep. Lynn
Rivers had 'ust conceded victory to Rep.
John Dingell (D-Dearbor) in her bid for
the Democratic nomination for Michi-
gan's 15th Congressional District and the
city's politicos were in shock.
Although many had expected this outcome, the
prospect of John Dingell, the man who had called
agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and
Firearms "jack-booted thugs," serving as their rep-
resentative was beyond comprehension. Thanks to
the Republican-controlled state Legislature's
redrawing of Michigan's congressional districts,
their beloved bastion of social liberalism, progres-
sivism, bohemianism and cosmopolitanism would
now be identified with the uncouth Dingell. The
endorsements of EMILY'S List, the Sierra Club and
an unbelievable margin of victory in Ann Arbor,
this city's voters chose Rivers with a 4-to-1 majori-
ty, could do nothing to save Rivers from her fate.
The heterogeneous collection of University activists
in their bright red "Rivers for Congress" T-shirts, dot-
ing yuppie couples with their children in tow and aged
hippies milled about as this reality sunk in. Listening to
those conversations it would be impossible to imagine
Dingell as anything
but a bestial ogre. -
But this was the
nation's most uncom-
promising advocate
of a single-payer uni-
versal health care
system, the man who
almost single-hand-
edly passed the landmark Clear Air Act and who
cherished the legacy of the New Deal more than any
member of Congress. Despite his accomplishments
and abilities, Ann Arbor resoundingly, practically
unanimously, rejected Dingell for his social positions,
most notably abortions and guns. With the exception
of a few university towns consisting of fellow travel-
ers, it would be impossible to find any locale where
these divisive issues were not met with fiery conflict,
but yawning consensus.
The first step to understanding our consensus is the
recognition that the entire premise of "campus versus
Editors:
Charles Pard.s
nd
Weekend
MAGAZINE Rebecca
Writers: Sravya Chirumamilla,Joseph Lit-
man, Ellen McGarrity, Neil Patel, Neal Pais,
Zac Peskowitz
Photo Editors: Tony Ding, Brett Mountain
Photographers: Brett Mountain
Cover Photo: Tony Ding, Brett Mountain
Arts Editors: Todd Weiser, Managing Edi-
tor, Jason Roberts, ScottSerilla, Editors
Editor in Chief: Louie Meizlish

community" is hopelessly flawed. In
the most rudimentary sense, Ann
Arbor feeds off the University and
vice versa. There is no place in the
country where the transition from
town to gown is as seamless as the
intersection of North University
Avenue and South State Street.
Over Spring Break, a friend from
back East forced me to describe Ann
Arbor. I was reduced to a stammer-
ing and cliche-ridden depiction. It's
difficult to do justice to the spirit of
38,000 young people, all suffering
from an excess of hormones, post-
teenage angst, hopped up on caf-
feine and crammed into
sub-standard living conditions.
In the city's suburban outskirts this
vibrance may be impossible to dis-
cern, but even in the Levittown-style
developments this vibrance colors the
city politically, socially and cultural-
ly. Even here, away from the Marxist
bookshops and boutiques, the con-
sensus rules unchallenged. The story
of how this came about begins with
another epoch of pacific tranquility. U.S. Rep. John
It is 1960. Robert Strange McNa- University ove
mara, an Oakland, Calif. native,
World War II veteran and president of Ford Motor
Co., drives from his home in the Geddes neighbor-
hood of Ann Arbor
to Ford's world
headquarters in
Dearborn. McNa-
mara is the embodi-
ment of post-war
America - an
innocent faith in
the ability of "nod-
ern technology, the mixed economy and govern-
ment regulation to achieve prosperity and stability
in an industrial urban nation. Within a year he will
be President Kennedy's defense secretary.
Tom Hayden is editor in chief of The Michigan
Daily. In his time in Ann Arbor he has cultivated
an interest in the budding civil rights movement.
He becomes associated with the local chapter of
the Student League for Industrial Democracy,
which will eventually morph into Students for a
Democratic Society.
Their paths crossed in strange ways in the com-
ing years. When John Fitzgerald Kennedy called for
the creation of the Peace Corps from the steps of
the Michigan Union, it marked the last time that the
youth of the '60s and their elders were in genuine
agreement. Within two years the sea change was
made perfectly clear. In 1962, McNamara returned
to Ann Arbor to deliver the commencement address
to the University. McNamara's speech was not a
paean to volunteerism, soaked in the elevated prose
that was Kennedy's trademark. Instead the speech
was a calculating examination of the North Atlantic
Treaty Organization's nuclear strategy. Later that
summer, Hayden drafted the majority of the Port
Huron Statement, the document that defined the
New Left, with the apocalyptic horrors of nuclear
confrontation fresh in his mind.
By the end of the decade, the popular imagina-
tion will identify the two men as adversaries.
McNamara, the dignified statesman whose hubris
led to disaster in Vietnam, against Hayden, the hero
of the New Left and the revolution of youth that

i

n Dingell (D-Dearborn) communes with members of the
r the possible war with Iraq.
promised to shake society to its foundation.
The stolid consensus of the early '60s gives
way to the Technicolor disputes of the late '60s.
The apex of that generation was realized on May
10, 1968, the "Night of the Barricades," when
60,000 youthful revolutionaries marched through
the Latin Quarter of Paris demanding freedom for
a coterie of jailed activists. Charles De Gaulle's
Fifth Republic trembled and almost fell. In 1968,
the thundering reverberations of the student
movement were intimately felt from Chicago to
Mexico City to Prague. Throughout the vast
majority of the world the promises of this move-
ment were left unfulfilled, as the youth were dis-
credited and grew bitter with their failure.
Pockets of this failed revolution endured, strug-
gling against the tide of history, they stubbornly
fought against this tide. And something unexpect-
ed began to happen. Ideas and mores flowed out of
the University, serving as an incubator, for the
temperament and spirit of the city. From lenient
marijuana laws to a living-wage ordinance to its
permissive atmosphere, that generation achieved
victory after victory.
They didn't end poverty, their methods didn't
lead to nuclear disarmament, but they altered the
contours of everyday life in a fashion that upheld
the spirit of Port Huron. And as they exercised
power and became a part of the political establish-
ment, the idealistic desire for revolution gave way
to the practical work of governance. There was
nothing left to gain and revolutionary zeal replaced
itself with establishmentarian orthodoxy.
This is a long journey ending in sterility. Look-
ing at the present state of Ann Arbor I am remind-
ed of Francis Fukuyama's warning that "the end of
history will be a very sad time." The battles have
been won and won and won, but there is no tri-
umph. The smugness and complacency that Hay-
den once railed against in the Port Huron
Statement now surround us.
Until a few more Dingells are willing to climb up
on the barricades and challenge that certitude and
inextricable boredom will reign.

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