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September 04, 2002 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2002-09-04

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, September 4, 2002


t lquinii AN N ARBOR, MI 48109

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 refect the opinion of The Michigan Daily.

((The Japanese
once practiced
suicide bombing.
Now they make
computer games."
- Newsweek International editor and
columnist Fareed Zakaria, in yesterday's
Washington Post. Zakaria argued that if
the many problems in the Middle East are
addressed, its residents, like the Japanese,
will find alternatives to extremism and violence.

We."uS+ 11 be. ded',co.4
-- i'IOR-
o as~

Radical chic and the state of student activism

April 17, 1969 -
The American
Council on
Education publishes its
"Declaration on Cam-
pus Unrest" criticizing
student activists as "a
minute group of
destroyers who have
abandoned hope in
today's society, in today's university and in the
processes of orderly discussion and negotiation
to secure significant change." University Presi-
dent Robben Fleming and the heads of 19 other
major institutions sign the document, creating
one of the most scathing and coordinated
attacks on campus activism to date. In the next
several months President Fleming's relation-
ship with activists will become increasingly
antagonistic as activists stage massive
demonstrations over the failure of the Uni-
versity Board of Regents to implement a stu-
dent-run discount bookstore and the ROTC's
presence at the University.
Juxtapose that image with one of the latest
pieces of University propaganda coming out of
the Office of the President. In a welcome video,
available at http://www.umich.edu/pres/welcome-
rm.html, University President Mary Sue Cole-
man urges new students to take part in the
University's storied history of activism.
"Whatever way you decide to contribute,
you will be carrying on one of the great Michi-
gan traditions - the tradition of student
Within approximately 30 years, student

activism has been attenuated from a force that
gripped the hearts of the University administra-
tion with fear to a force so powerless that the
administration is now able to cheerlead for its
resurgence without caution.
Either Coleman and her scriptwriters are
victims of stupefying naivet, who believe stu-
dent activism will mesh with their interests or
they are evil geniuses, prepared to exploit one
of the University's untapped sources of possi-
ble prestige. It's easy to imagine future
brochures appealing to the sentimentalities of
the echo boomers.
Right next to the seating capacity of Michi-
gan Stadium and the average starting salary of
a B-School graduate, envision an infographic
on the history of Students for a Democratic
Society and Ann Arbor's radical past. Color
sidebars giving wide-eyed high schoolers the
possibility of becoming the next Tom Hayden,
starting the revolution, ending oppression, etc.,
etc. The crass subtext of Coleman's message is
that the spirit of student activism is a commodi-
ty to generate excitement, a sense of involve-
ment and the feeling of community. In this
world, student activism exists for its own ends
and is praised by society as a trendy good.
Coleman's little welcome video illuminates
the crisis at the center of student activism. Why
do students become activists? Are their motiva-
tions often misguided? Prof. Donald Kagan of
Yale and others have criticized many activists
as the children of the privileged who seek an
escape from the banality of their lives with the
sound and fury of sit-ins, protests and marches.
As students at this University have occa-

sionally shown, Kagan's vision of activism as
decadent escape fails to recognize the real
good arises from their work. However, the
criticisms of the culture warriors remain rele-
vant. Activism, of both the left and right, is
often corrupted by individual motives, At the
University it can be a means for students to
stand out from their peers and achieve a sem-
blance of recognition in an often faceless
environment. In its current state, activism has
the difficult task of rooting out the glorymon-
gers in its ranks and rejecting any perception
that activism is stylish. The indulgent tenden-
cies of student activism provide activism's
critics with their most potent ammunition and
encourage individuals with questionable goals
to devote their existences to goal X. The worst
excesses of student activism on campuses can
be attributed to these conditions.
This academic year will give University
students the opportunity to show Coleman
wrong. Students can combat the University on
the vital, but unglamorous, work of disman-
tling the Statement of Student Rights and
Responsibilities, formerly the Code of Student
Conduct. Drafting position papers, arguing
over clauses in the Code or attending Michi-
gan Student Assembly meetings will never be
as invigorating as a siege of the Fleming
Administration Building, but these are the
necessities that will propel students' efforts to
success. It's time to embrace the pedestrian,
the tedious and the drudging.
Zac Peskowitz can be reached


Kiblawi's viewpoint
'appalling,' 'revolting,'
proves he is 'delusional'
I am writing in response to Fadi Kiblawi's
commentary piece in the New Student Edition,
Activist Manifesto: Divest from Israeli Apartheid.
It is clear from reading that article that not only
is Kiblawi delusional, but he is simply wrong
in the majority of his arguments. As a result,
one might brand him a supporter of anti-Jewish
racism based on some of his comments.
Kiblawi claims that "Jews dominate Pales-
tinians." First, Kiblawi uses the word "Jews"
when he should have used the word Israelis." I
find this appalling. Surely, Kiblawi, the leader
of several Palestinian movements on campus,
knows the difference between the two.
Similarly, I find it interesting that Kiblawi
says the Palestinians have been suffering for 54
years, which would bring us to 1948: The cre-
ation of the State of Israel. I wonder why he
doesn't mention the oppression of the Arab
people by the Jordanians or Syrians, the sup-
posed "brethren" of the Palestinian people? Is
he arguing for the sake of the Palestinian peo-
ple or for the sole purpose of the destruction of
Israel? I think the answer is obvious.

Moreover, for Kiblawi to deny that Israel is
fighting a waragainst terrorism is absurd. The
goal of the Israeli Defense Forces is obviously
to root out homicide bombers and the places
and people that harbor them.
Unfortunately, there are civilian casualties
as a result of some military actions: All of
which the IDF has apologized for. Organiza-
tions like the Palestinian Authority, Hamas and
Hizbullah on the other hand, rejoice to no end
when the news of the death of an Israeli child
hits home.
I find Kiblawi's dishonesty revolting.
LSA sophomore
Daily should 'consider
publishing the truth' if it
wants to be credible
Fadi Kiblawi wrote in the New Student
Edition: "To ensure a demographic majority
within the voting citizenry, Israel allows only
the immigration of Jews to the state, excluding
even the ethnically cleansed indigenous popu-
lation from reentering."
All I have to say about this statement is that
the Daily should really consider publishing the

truth if it wants to be considered a legitimate
newspaper and a valuable resource for the stu-
dents, as well as the community at large. Noth-
ing about this statement even resembles the
truth, nor does it support any fact.
LSA sophomore
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 pAnt
any letter containing statements that cannot be
Letters should be kept to approximately 300
words. The Michigan Daily reserves the right to
edit for length, clarity and accuracy. Longer
"viewpoints" may be arranged with an editor. Let-
ters will be run according to order received and
the amount of space available.
Letters should be sent over e-mail to
letters@michigandaily.com or mailed to the Daily at
420 Maynard Sr. Editors can be reached via e-
mail at editpage.editors@umich.edu. Letters e-
mailed to the Daily will be given priority over
those dropped off in person or sent via the U.S.
Postal Service.

Laying blame won't help ailing environment

N othing is going to happen here. All we developed countries in Johannesburg requested
can do is pray that others will one day last week that the phrase be renegotiated.
listen. Every country must agree to the language
The second United Nations World Summit produced by Agenda 21. Thus, its statements
on Sustainable Development concludes tomor- have a tendency to serve to the lowest common
row with 190 of its member countries present. denominator, further limiting their potential
The United Nations hopes that members will effectiveness.
agree to universal goals in the areas of health, Environmental activists blame governments
biodiversity, agriculture, water and energy. The and multinational corporations. Governments
20,000 registered attendees include 6,000 and businesses blame consumers. Consumers
members of major groups, more than 7,000 don't 4ppear to blame anyone. Agreements
government delegates, 104 heads of state and made from these summits will never be real-
3,000 members of the press. ized as long as
Although the United States is THE DAILY ILLINI consumers in rich
considered to be the worst offend- UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS countries are apa-
er of environmental pollution, thetic to nature.
President George W. Bush did not attend. The world population is expected to rise
The first summit was held 10 years ago in another 2 billion by 2025. By then, in order for
Rio de Janeiro. There, governments made mas- all of us. to lead the lifestyles of developing
sive gains in calling for a global reduction of countries, we will need four times the amount
pollution and an increase in the conservation of the earth can give us.
our natural resources. The document produced Currently, 2 billion of the world's 6.1 bil-
at the sumnit was called Agenda 21 and target- lion people lack access to nutritious food, with
ed the year 2000 as the deadline for implemen- 800 million considered malnourished. About
tation. 1.1 billion people are without safe drinking
Since 1992, progress has been minimal, water. Another 2.5 billion lack access to elec-
leading many critics to believe that this year's tricity.
summit is a show for the cameras more than Eleven thousand species of animals and
anything else. In fact, the gains made in Rio are plants are in danger of becoming extinct. In the
now in danger of being reversed. next hundred years, fuel emissions will cause
One of the greatest achievements produced the world's climate to rise between four and
in Agenda 21 was the implementation of "com- eight degrees. Americans, the earth's largest
mon but differentiated responsibilities," requir- consumers and polluters, are too busy living
ing rich countries, which were recognized as their own lives to care about any of these statis-
the world's biggest polluters, to play a much tics.
larger role in protecting the environment. Hop- Last year, the Kyoto protocol was intro-
ing to reduce the implications of this statement, duced in the United Nations, calling for a 5.2

percent global reduction of greenhouse gases
by 2012. In order for it to be effective, the pro-
tocol needed the ratification of 55 countries
including developed countries. The United
States produces more greenhouse gases than
any other country, almost 25 percent of all
global emissions. But, to protect American
industry, we refused to ratify Kyoto, causing an
international outcry.
Even last week, the Bush administration
gave a gift to logging companies by allowing
them access to previoitsly protected forest pre-
serves. The logic: You can't have dangerous
wildfires if you have fewer forests.
Bush was able to skip the summit because
there was no public pressure from Americans.
Environmental activism is unpopular in our
country. Awareness and acceptance of environ-
mental problems is a crucial step toward saving
the planet. However, making it attractive to
consumers proves to be the biggest hurdle.
Today, corporations keep the cost of prod-
ucts down by placing manufacturing plants in
countries with fewer environmental restric-
tions. Fossil fuels are dramatically cheaper than
clean alternatives such as solar, water and
All of our natural resources are consumed
faster than the earth can replenish them.
None of us are willing to sacrifice our way
of life to protect the environment. A sweeping
consciousness must occur around the globe
before progress can begin. The urgency of the
situation needs to be recognized. Unless we
lower our standards of living and habits of con-
sumption, efforts made in Johannesburg will be

STUFF - Kt ata. tsEAGE
clai. i me athis etial . ns s E5'ttl~a

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