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October 04, 2002 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2002-10-04

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Friday, October 4, 2002


ahbe AEtibiWau itt uitig


SINCE 1890

Editor in Chief
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.

A president against a
president and vice
president against a
vice president, and a
duel takes place, if
they are serious ..."
- Iraqi Vice President
Taha Yassin Ramadan in an interview with
Abu Dhabi television that was also
broadcast by CNN.



been k oa i'eGe, n tv._.)
ova-' -4- na} 5
+t"' i diLv 1ovS.
Y7 stir



_ .P'.

Fundamentalism demands a change in tactics

ou know how
some people
you look at and
you just kind of know
what they ought to be?
That guy is built to be a
football player or that
guy looks like a molec-
ular biologist or that
guy should be a used
car salesman. When I saw'Preacher Stephen
White on the steps of the Graduate Library this
week, spitting and stammering with his thin-
ning yellow hair and patriotic necktie, I
thought, "My God. This is exactly what this
dude was put on this Earth (or at least on the
steps of God's green, uh, Graduate Library
steps) to do." And I thought that not because I
believe God puts people on this Earth to do
particular things - and not because I thought
Mr. White was particularly good at proselytiz-
ing. I thought that because every liberal uni-
versity that's supposed to be a hotbed of
debate and conflict needs a conservative fun-
damentalist (a "Jesus freak," as such people
are sometimes called), and Mr. White fit the
bill perfectly.
I climbed up the steps and watched Mr.
White's "sermon," and watched hordes of
smart, undereducated and sophomoric students
pick up their intellectual swords and attempt to
duel. I have never been so amused and embar-
rassed to be a University of Michigan student
as I was watching my classmates try to reason
with a man-for whom reason is a nonentity.
John Dryden once wrote, "Great wits are
sure to madness near allied/And thin partitions

do their bounds divide."
John old boy, you should have seen what I
Having an ongoing discourse with your
roommate on the existence/benevolence/role
of God over Saturday night kegs and Sunday
night joints is a defining part of college for stu-
dents who have a certain cerebral muscle that
needs to be flexed. And while all the philoso-
phy and theology classes in the world are won-
derful fodder for those ripe brains, they do
nothing when it comes to dealing with the Mr.
Whites of the world.
Why are you arguing with him, dear class-
mates of mine? Do you want him to leave? Is
he intruding on your liberal turf with his
Byzantine arguments about martyrdom and
sin? This is an environment where free speech
is sacred and Mr. White will always be wel-
comed to shout from the rooftops (or the
library steps). Do you~want to change his
mind? You won't - he's got God on his side
and all you have is John Locke and a philoso-
phy lecture you blew off most of the time
because it started before noon. Nevermind that
when you start trying to convince him of the
validity of your own faith you've become as
annoying and intrusive as he is.
The lesson here is one that extends beyond
the chaotic bounds of the Diag. Religious
fanaticism - indeed fanaticism of any kind -
is a delicate beast and one that, if it is decided
that it is to be fought, must be approached with
caution and with tactics different from the ones
we ordinarily employ. When students started
attacking Mr. White with all the logical tools
they had, they became fuel to his fire. Mr.

White's message (which I never quite got my
head around) was only strengthened (in his
eyes, at least) when he saw the anger and fer-
vor he spurred.
Fundamentalism is often completely
illogical, albeit self-empowering. As Ameri-
cans, or as college students, or maybe as lib-
erals, the weapons in our arsenal are often
insufficient to combat them. And whether
we're dealing with Islamic fundamentalists,
Christian fundamentalists, Hindu fundamen-
talists or Jewish fundamentalists (haven't
heard that one before? They're out there), it
is important to realize that not everyone
grows up with the benefits of our education,
where the glorious perfection of reason sci-
ence is constantly reinforced. To prove a
point should never take gunpowder, but
sometimes it takes more than a logical proof.
I hope that for the students frustrated by
their inability to convince Mr. White of the
charms of atheism or Judaism or homosexuali-
ty, they realized why their tactics were flawed.
It's not that you're not smart - you are. And
it's not that he's stupid - he's just a different
kind of smart than you are. He's smart enough
to not answer direct questions, to carry and
wave around his Bible at all times, to set up
shop on the Diag and to hide behind the patrio-
tism of the red, white and blue. It's fearful and
irresponsible, and I don't condone fundamen-
talism, but understand that when they don't
play by our rules, the rules - and our tactics
- have to change.


David Horn can be reached
at hornd@umich.edu.


Peskowitz makes good
points, but The Nation
magazine still worth reading
While I take issue with Zac Peskowitz'
assertion that Christopher Hitchens' depar-
ture from The Nation makes that venerable
publication "no longer worth reading," the
basic point of his column is absolutely cor-
rect (Liberals just don't want to have fun,
10/2/02). As a general rule, humorous com-
mentary on the left has indeed become
crushed under the weight of the knee-jerk,
relativistic pieties generated by postmodern
liberalism's "ethics of otherness." This
becomes even sadder when one considers
how easy it ought to be to make fun of the
never-ending stream of idiocy offered up by
the free market flag wavers at Fox News.
Still, I think Peskowitz' analysis was a
little too shallow and grim. For one thing,
Peskowitz understates the fact that the pre-
vailing "solemnity" and "gallows humor" on
the left is clearly a reaction to the machina-
tions of American political elites in both par-
ties. Sorry Zac, but perpetual imperialist war,
environmental degradation, increasing eco-
nomic inequality and the gradual abolition of
civil liberties just don't tickle my funny bone.
Secondly, Peskowitz fails to notice that,
while genuinely exciting leftist writers are
presently few are far between, there are liber-
als and radicals working in other mediums
which have not lost their edge: Tom Tomor-
row's comic strip "This Modem World," the
satire of "The Onion," Comedy Central's
"The Daily Show," and Aaron McGruder's
"The Boondocks" have all consistently
demonstrated that a progressive critique of
the emerging quasi-fascist agenda can be
both trenchant and amusing. Recall, for
example, the recent return of "Flagee and
Ribbon" to "The Boondocks" or The Onion's
lead story this week: "Bush Seeks U.N. Sup-
port For 'U.S. Does Whatever It Wants'
The letter writer is a former
Daily Editorial Page Editor
Michigan needs to keep
MEAP scholarship money

is often the only money available for many
Take my case, for example. A National
Merit Finalist, I ranked in the top one per-
cent of my class at a competitive public
high school. I have kept my grades above a
3.9 throughout my University career. Yet I
received only a very small scholarship from
the University and my parents' income dis-
qualifies me even from student loans. Just
because a student's family earns money
does not mean that that money is readily
available to the student; studies show that
rich people are just as prone to credit card
debt as poor people. At the best of times,
my family has paid about half of my costs. I
have at times worked three jobs simultane-
ously to keep up.
Students like me, whose only mistake
was being born white and "rich," still have
a choice whether to work hard or not. The
strength of the American system has tradi-
tionally been that those who work hard to
get ahead are rewarded. The state of Michi-
gan needs to keep the MEAP scholarship as
an incentive for our best students to stay in
Michigan schools. And besides, it's nice to
get a pat on the back. That's why my vote
this November will go to Dick Posthumous.
LSA senior
Impossible for a single Jew
to offer 'Jewish perspective'
I am writing in response to Jeremy
Berkowitz' article in yesterday's paper
(SAFE event offers Jewish perspectives). I
found both the event itself and the headline
in the Daily particularly offensive for several
Firstly, just because you are Jewish
does not mean you represent the Jewish
people. This is an inflammatory remark.
You cannot pull a random Goldberg,
Schwartz or Herskovitz off the street and
classify him or her as an example of a Jew.
Trotsky was a Jew and he killed his own
father for being a rabbi. Was he indicative
of the Jewish majority? This is like pulling
a random African American off the street,
and asking his opinion on a subject. Is it
legitimate to then say this- individual repre-
sents a black opinion on subject matter?
Hogwash. To say that Students Allied for
Freedom and Eaulitv offered any sort of

stunts to attract apathetic students. The
SAFE boycott of The Michigan Daily is
another such event to divert attention from
the recent anti-Semitic scandal that has been
attributed to some of its leadership. In their
upcoming divestment conference, SAFE will
attempt to bring in a few Jewish speakers to
prove they are "balanced" as an organization.
This too, is flawed. Two of their speakers,
Shamai Leibowitz (the current lawyer for
Marwan Barghouti, a convicted terrorist) and
Adam Shapiro (a self-hating Jew) cannot
provide reasonable Jewish perspectives on
I urge SAFE to think more logically in its
programming agenda.
LSA sophomore
The author is the chair of Hillel's
Orthodox Minyan
Columnist confused about
days of week yet attractive
In response to Greifinger's article in yes-
terday's Weekend Magazine Addicted to
Greifinger's desperate search for a cross-
word puzzle took place on what she claims
was a Wednesday. But scattered all over the
auditorium were "sports sections." Either she
does not know the days of the week, or she
does not know the Daily, because any Daily
reader knows there is no Sports section on
Wednesday. The only day there is a Sports
section is on Monday. There may be a sports
page in the Daily every day, but I doubt
everyone opened their papers to the sports
pages, folded the paper and left it in the audi-
torium sports-page-up.
Besides that one flaw, it was a nice article
to which many LSA slackers can relate.
LSA senior
The Michigan Daily welcomes letters from all
of its readers. Letters from University students,
faculty, staff and administrators will be given
priority over others. Letters should include the
writer's name, college and school year or other
University affiliation. The Daily will not print
any letter containing statements that cannot be
Letters should be kept to approximately 300




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