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October 29, 2002 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2002-10-29

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, October 29, 2002

OP/ED

aloe £irbiuau &1iIu

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
Viewers could
decide for themselves
if the inspectors are
being allowed to do
their jobs."
- Fox News Senior Vice President John
Moody in a letter to U.N. Secretary Gener-
al Kofi Annan, as reported in yesterday's
Washington Post. Moody hopes to create a
reality television program in which a
Fox camera crew would broadcast U.N.
weapons inspections in Iraq.

SAM BUTLER CIASSI :SXAPB i:X
/O te oie
4-~ ',octA
. 4 f

There's self-defeating, and then there's Jim Crow
JOSEPH LITMAN Y HE LOW END THEORY

Ihate idiots. Those who
have decided to be
absolutely devoid of
redeeming qualities like
thoughtfulness, intelli-
gence or judgment com-
pletely irk me. And yes, I
write "decided" because I
am not trying to hate on
people who have innate
shortcomings which place them in disadvantaged
positions. Rather, I have no tolerance for individ-
uals who, knowing better, choose narrow, limit-
ing niches.
With that caveat in mind, I offer this state-
ment: I hate Jim Crow. The Jim Crow familiar to
most refers to the blatant racism of the United
States South in the 20th century. I certainly hate
that Jim Crow. In fact, that Jim Crow and the scar
which his brand of racism left in this country is
precisely why I hate the other Jim Crow so much.
Who is this other Jim Crow? More accurately,
who are this Jim Crow? Mr. Mo, Polow and
Cutty Cartel are the members of an Atlanta-based
rap group that goes by the infamous name and
their latest single, "Hot Wheels," is a prime
example of idiocy and self-defeatism.
Three black men calling themselves "Jim
Crow" is idiotic because it trivializes the histori-
cal implications of the name, especially when
they know what it means. (Jim Crow have said
that their struggle for notoriety as Southern rap-
pers is akin to the African-American struggle for
legal equality). While only a miniscule percent-
age of the high-school-educated population will
ever associate the term with the "musicians"

before thinking of history, there are still younger
people who can watch TV tonight and decide that
Jim Crow is their favorite rap group, ignorant of
the weight which the name carries. This circum-
stance should concern people the same way that it
might were a child to say, "Oh, Hitler? Yeah,
they're my favorite band. I love Hitler." Simply,
people shouldn't be learning that Jim Crow is
about candy-painted cars and jewelry.
Aside from potentially changing the context
in which people are introduced to the term,
making "Jim Crow" part of the public's active
lexicon is dangerous because it diminishes the
term's significance. Slowly, if "Jim Crow" is
said enough, the discomfort that might current-
ly accompany any invocation of the term will
fade away.
A similar argument can be made against
using the word "nigger" colloquially, a common
practice in rap music. Those who support its use
in new contexts argue that it helps to ease the
pain experienced when the word is heard and also
takes ownership of the term from those who used
it for oppression and gives it to the oppressed.
That argument is valid enough until one hears
Jennifer Lopez or too many white kids referring
to friends as their "niggas." Then, it becomes
frighteningly clear that many people have
become desensitized to the word's original mean-
ing. Do all people no longer care when the N-
word is used? No. And more importantly, most
educated people still find it deplorable. However,
the United States is a place where the gap
between the learned and the unlearned is woeful-
ly wide and this latter group does not always per-
ceive the many facets of pop culture. It is

harrowing to think, then, that another term, still
painful for many, could become a commonly
used part of some people's personal idiolects.
"Hot Wheels" compounds these problems.
The song's primary foci are cars and the lyrics
are everything which one might associate with
the mindless hip-hop that has become too popu-
lar. Exhibit A is the song's chorus, "The ladies
they chose / they love when I cruise / they all
want to sleep/with me because of twenty-twos
on my car / Some ride twenty-fo's / Avalanche
with TV's/When you get up inside/don't spill
no liquor on the seats of this car." Exhibit B is
the rest of the song, replete with misogyny, idi-
otic assertions ("got a crib, but the car's where I
live") and a ripped off melody from Fear Facto-
ry's "In Cars." (Sampling and stealing are dif-
ferent, and this song features larceny).
The nature of the song is so damning
because it perpetuates the worst stereotypes
about hip-hop. Critics cite the culture as one
that promotes blind consumerism, sexism, and
compromised values. Advocates have respond-
ed that the music is an avenue through which
social issues can be addressed and many kinds
of people can be heard. These counters are cor-
rect, yet when MTV is playing Jim Crow
instead of Talib Kweli, the supposed merits of
hip-hop seem obsolete. Instead, critics can
focus on a group stupidly called Jim Crow and
the vapid substance of their work when arguing
that hip-hop is bad. Self-defeatism has found
new champions and I hate them.

Joseph Litman can be reached
at litmanj@umich.edu.

If this is the real world, sign me up
JON SCHWARTZ Two SIDES TO EVERY SCHWARTZ
A round this time ting out of bed. After considering my options for sy world, it's relatively easy to protest the war
four years ago I about 20 minutes before finally realizing that I in Iraq -at least you don't have to deal with
was hard at work, really did have to shower and get to work, I fig- the bombs when they start falling. It's not that
getting my college applica- ured that tying shoelaces was just not a possibili- hard to bring together several thousand students
foryasag bu 20mty sbfr ial raigta inqposst ieaseverdnt a odal wA~ ith
tions done. Like most East ty at the moment. So I found a pair of loafers and for a vigil on Sept. 11 - at least you weren't in
Coasters, it seemed like I left the house. the World Trade Center.
was applying to every If this is the real world, then sign me up. Ann Arbor is to the real world like the Wash-
school in the country (with It's obviously not, though. In the real world, ington Navy Yard is to a Rifle Security Compa-
the obvious exception of nature is not your restroom. In the real world, ny in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. As Daniel Kaffe
Michigan State). complexity of footwear is not directly propor- put it, "We have softball games and marching
Almost without exception, every application tional to alcohol intake. bands. They work at a place where you have to
told me a few things that I could expect from These are just two examples from a sea of wear camouflage or you might get shot."
college life. Looking back four years later, they ridiculousness in my world. I'm sure that all col- In the real world activists fight for their
were right in nearly all of their assertions, except lege students, past and present, can relate similar causes. And I will never have anything but
a particularly notable one. tales. But you don't need examples of stupidity admiration for a well-conceived protest, even
The best four years of my life? Absolutely. to see my point. Many of us were devastated Sat- when I don't support the cause. But at this Uni-
Opportunities beyond anything I could imagine? urday night, victims of a vicious beating by Iowa versity it too often seems like these groups' real
Check. My introduction to the real world? Wait at Michigan Stadium. A few hours earlier, Rus- fights are to build resumes and portfolios.
just one second. sians were learning that due to the ineptitude of Instead of going into an architecture firm with
If there's one thing I've learned since coming their government, over 115 hostages in Moscow blueprints and models, these student leaders go
to the University, it's that college is a fantasy had died during a failed rescue mission. to law schools with stories of leading 2,000 peo-
world. Our actions may resemble reality, but We claim that the world is against us when ple in a rally on the Diag.
they're glazed with some substance (often alco- we do poorly on a couple of tests. Iraqi citizens What most of these leaders fail to mention is
holic) that lets repercussions and judgment slide claim the world is against them when the world how lucky they are. They sleep in comfortable
right off. considers dropping bombs on their houses. beds every night. These people have the luxury
Two examples: On my first night back in See the difference? of rallying behind a public university's admis-
town this fall, I was sitting with two friends on a We live in a community where activism is sions standards. Not once have they worried
porch, just chatting about typical nonsense. My glorified beyond my comprehension. Which is about their government turning its weapons on
friend Sam started talking and - in mid-sen- not to say that rallying for a cause is not a good them. They've never involuntarily gone days
tence - stood up. He proceeded to step off the thing. Quite the opposite - there are few things and weeks without legitimate sustenance. But
porch, walk about five steps away from us and more representative of freedom than gathering in they're out there every day, desperately trying to
take care of some business against the side of a public space and voicing concern or anger over make a difference.
the house - all while discussing his concerns the policies of some administrative body, be it I only wish them luck when they find their
for the Washington football game. And this govenunent or the University Board of Regents. way to the real world.
didn't faze us! What many of the activists on this campus
No. 2: After a long Saturday night, I woke up don't realize, however, is that trumpeting a Jon Schwartz can be reached
Sunday faced with the terrifying prospect of get- cause is not about personal glory. In this fanta- atjlsz@umich.edu.
VIEWPOINT
MSA executives clarify Daily boycott resolution

BY SARAH BOOT AND
DANA GLASSEL
Last Wednesday, the Daily printed a mis-
leading article titled "MSA joins boycott
against Daily." First of all, we would like to
make it very clear that the Michigan Student
Assembly did not vote to boycott the Daily,
nor did it vote to encourage other students on
this campus to do so. Rather, the resolution
that was passed by a 2/3 majority on Tuesday,
Oct. 22, stated that MSA supports the stu-
dents who are, in fact, boycotting. MSA feels
that the minority students on this campus who
have qualms with certain aspects of the

along with the resolution to support the boy-
cott. Yet only those present at that meeting
would be aware of this given that the Daily's
coverage of it was centered completely around
the boycott.
We passed a resolution for a ballot initia-
tive that will allow students campus-wide to
advocate to the administration for a later
spring break. Two weeks ago we allocated
money for a trial program that will allow stu-
dents to evaluate their Graduate Student
Instructors early in the semester - before it is
too late for them to change. Last Tuesday we
passed a resolution for a ballot initiative that
will allow students to make it permanent. We

serve to make MSA more responsive. We've
set up a student bus to the airport for Thanks-
giving, registered voters, advocated to bring
wireless web to campus and started an on-line
book exchange. We are in the process of
implementing a student Newspaper Reader-
ship Program and brining an "After College
Financial Planning Seminar" to campus. These
are only some of the projects that have been
working on ... and we're only two months
into the school year!
Once more, we would like to reiterate that
MSA is not boycotting the Daily. While cov-
erage from the Daily is rarely free from error,
we appreciate their attendance at our meetings

1.

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