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December 11, 2002 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2002-12-11

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, December 11, 2002

OP/ED

cabIe I hriiutn iaailg

420 MAYNARD STREET
ANN ARBOR, MI 48109
letters@michigandaily.com

EDITED AND MANAGED BY
STUDENTS AT THE
UNIVERSITYOF 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
Trying to figure
out our relationship
with the rest of the
world is like trying to
figure out Father's Day
in West Virginia."
- Andisheh Nouree, on the United States'
role on the world stage, in his column
yesterday in Atlanta's Creative Loafing.

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"'G ood +tnrow, fMr. Presidevit"

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SAM BUTLER THE SOAPBOX

0

Thoughts on the next ruling class
ZAC PESKOWITZ TE LowER FREQUENCIES
"Amongst the novel kids with whom you once spent hours study- dubious proposition in the first place, this
objects that attracted my ing, and arguing with, now inhabit a world far type of social arrangement breeds a pervasive
attention during my stay removed from your own (and have become sense of entitlement. The individuals who
in the United States, self-absorbed asses in the process). will eventually occupy the most prominent
nothing struck me more In the history of the United States, never jobs believe that they are uniquely and solely
forcibly then the general before has so much intellectual capital been qualified for their roles. Instead of a culture
equality of conditions." concentrated into the fiber-tier of its colleges that critically looks at its leaders, the appear-
and universities. The sheer brilliance of a typi- ance of meritocracy institutionalizes the dis-
- Alexis de Tocqueville. cal freshman class at any one of these institu- tribution of power without protest. Humility
Democracy in America. tions is simply numbing. Unlike the days of falls by the wayside as smugness explodes.
S ometime during winter break, you'll be gentleman's C's and an Ivy League almost To see the grim conclusions inherent in
at a party. You didn't want to go to exclusively inhabited with wealthy scions and the spurious logic of meritocracy, just look at
this, but after deep reflection you prep school graduates, rarefied institutions are one of the Rhodes Scholars announced on
decided that you were somehow morally now the dominion of "resume gods." I would Saturday. Chesa Boudin of Yale University is
obligated to try and keep in touch with your guarantee that the Harvard class of 2005 will a member of the newest crop of the scholar-
friends. After one of the more awkward accomplish an exponentially greater amount ship. The twist, as The New York Times
moments talking to a girl that you don't of good in their lives than the class of 1935. Is reported this week, is that he is the son of two
remember so well, but you know that you it still substantially easier to get into Duke if x members of the Weathermen now serving
detest her for one reason or another, you see you're the descendent of a tobacco magnate long prison sentences for their role in the
two of your good friends who now study in and your last name happens to be, for exam- murder of three men in a botched robbery.
New Haven and Cambridge. ple, Duke? Yes, but the volume of these stu- Although a self-styled champion of the
After the standard routine of reintroduc- dents is probably at an all time low and will oppressed, Boudin is continuously insouciant
tions, the Harvard boy babbles on and on most likely continue to decline as competition over the tragedy that befell three working
about his government course with Harvey "C- for a slot grows more intense. class men as a result of the inhumane callous-
minus" Manfield, which he got an A- in, but By and large, the democratization and ness of his parents. The sparse website that
his girlfriend, who does a little modeling in opening of these schools to the middle-class honors Edward O'Grady, Waverly Brown
New York on her free weekends, earned a has been one of the major accomplishments of and Peter Paige stands as a somber rejoinder
solid A. Meanwhile, the peppy Yale girl, who post-World War II society. However, there is to the sparkling opportunities that Boudin
just spilled her Amstel Light on your coat, a troubling underside to these developments. will enjoy over the course of his life.
discourses on the opinion journalism seminar Many people, particularly those enshrined in An inability to identify with those outside
that she just took with David Brooks. She powerful and influential positions, have of your social stratum is a condition that the
plans on going to Iran this summer to brush uncritically accepted the conclusion that the next ruling class will be battling with
up on her Farsi, start an NGO and foment elite schools now represent a pure, unadulter- throughout its lifetime. Once elitism has
revolution. The banter grows stale, as they ated meritocracy. An incredible amount of earned a firm grasp on society, it is a difficult
talk faster and your eyes start to glaze over. faith has been placed in this new elite. They beast to tame.
You learn two things from these holiday are expected to atone for the failures of their
season ordeals. One, parties with your high parents and reach incredible heights. Zac Peskowitz can be reached
school friends are terrible. Two, a lot of the Even if a meritocracy was possible, a atzpeskowi@umich.edu.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Schwartz's stance against ganancy and infection from STDs won't his endorsement of the Dixiecrats. An infor-
either. Now that seems logical. mal poll on the Weekly Standard's website
abstinence ilogiCal RAHMAN WOODS - whose readership is overwhelmingly
LSA senior conservative - shows that, as of now, 52
percent of respondents want Lott to either
TO THE DAILY: Conservatives tired step down as majority leader or resign
This is in response to a comment in Jon from the Senate altogether, while another
Schwartz' column on yesterday (2003: A having to defend Lott 33 percent want him to retract his state-
Republican odyssey?) In it, he stated that the ment and apologize. Keep in mind that this
government's promotion of abstinence is the result of polling a population that is
among teens to curb teenage pregnancy and TO THE DAILY: almost without exception opposed to affir-
STD infection is foolish. Whatever one's Regarding Jon Schwartz's column (2003: mative action.
religious and moral affinities may be, that A Republican odyssey?, 12/10/02), I find it dis- Frankly, conservatives, myself included,
statement is just illogical. This is on par with appointing that he lumps all conservatives are tired of having to defend themselves
saying, "The government foolishly believes together with Trent Lott and his recent com- against charges that opposing both affirma-
that not drinking and driving is the best way ment about Strom Thurmond. tive action and segregation is incongruous.
to curb drunk driving accidents." Given that A quick perusal of articles on mainstream It's unfortunate that writers like Schwartz
condoms are not 100 percent effective conservative opinion websites, such as those seek to keep arguing against the straw man
against all STDs, nor are 100 percent used of the Weekly Standard and National that is segregation, and even more unfortu-
during sex, it seems to me that to prevent Review, shows quite clearly that conserva- nate that bigots like Lott keep giving them
teenage pregnancy abstinence is the most tives are as angry at Lott as anyone, and opportunities to.
effective way. If sex isn't occuring, the probably more so than liberals, since it is DAN LEVi
chances are more likely that teenage pre- conservatives Lott was misrepresenting with Rackam
VIEWPOINT
A hopeless situation?

0

BY JOSEPH LITMAN
Friday night was a special one for incoming Sen-
ate majority leader Trent Lott; the senator from Mis-
sissippi was afforded an opportunity to partake in
some of his favorite pastimes. At a party celebrating
pal Strom Thurmond's 100th birthday and retire-
ment, Lott fraternized with his conservative buddies,
cracked a few jokes, and insinuated that the United
States has suffered from desegregation. Just another
fun night for a Southern bigot. Speaking extempora-
neously, Lott said what any self-respecting, proud-
to-be-racist might: "I want to say this about my state:
When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted
for him. We're proud of it. And if the rest of the
country had followed our lead, we wouldn't have
had all these problems over all these years, either."
Shame on you, then, America. How could you
all have neglected to vote for Thurmond, the Dixie-
crat candidate in the 1948 presidential election? His
ignorant platform that condoned segregation and
maintaining "the racial integrity of each race" surely
had mass appeal. Any man who said, "All the laws
of Washington and all the bayonets of the Army
cannot force the Negro into our homes, our schools,
our churches," clearly would have averted all the
problems this nation has faced since 1948. Those

group from the 1960's. CCC chief Gordon Baum
responded to Lott's comments on Friday by declar-
ing, "God bless Trent Lott."
No one should bless Trent Lott. In fact, the man
should be damned - if not asked to resign - at
least by President Bush and the Republican National
Committee. However, neither G-dub nor the RNC
have issued any statements, and certainly the former
cannot plead ignorance (for once); he was in atten-
dance at Thurmond's fete. The silence from the
White House and the RNC speaks loudly.
Do this country's leaders truly regret the monu-
mental changes ushered in by the Civil Rights Move-
ment and forward thinkers like Lyndon Johnson?
Have they begrudgingly gone about their business,
privately ruing advances that made every restroom
and all the seats on buses available to all people? I
doubt very much that all Republicans harbor beliefs
akin to Lott's, and my GOP-voting friends certainly
do not. However, Lott's comments were particularly
distressing because they seem to hint at an awful
truth that too few of us acknowledge or discuss.
America remains a difficult place to exist as an
ethnic or racial minority. For instance, there are
entire states in which I would feel uncomfortable
because the nearest synagogue would perhaps be in
Los Angeles or New York. However, I am relative-

On a grander scale, similar barriers permeate
political culture, evidenced by the many bench-
marks that our country has yet to reach: We've seen
zero major-party black candidates for president or
his chief lieutenant; there has been one black sena-
tor, and she served one term; African Americans are
underrepresented throughout Congress. Hot-button
issues like affirmative action fuel vitriolic debates
and yield vituperative attacks often reserved for only
a few, highly contentious issues.
Similarly, public policy issues that are evocative
of blacks - often stereotypically and unfairly, like
Welfare - seem to gamer only begrudged, inade-
quate attention and effort. Attempts to ameliorate the
flawed areas of society associated with black Ameri-
ca, like the public education system now and crime
in the '80s, have been hasty and discriminatory;
school vouchers are both an ultimate copout (let's
circumvent the issue) and one of the great,
euphemistic efforts to reinstall segregation; the war
on drugs incapacitated the prison system, targeting
inner-city minorities.
These sorts of "coincidences" don't seem to
bother a healthy majority of Americans, and for that
we should all feel ashamed. Reality is far away from
the mythological meritocracy and egalitarianism
from which Americans routinely derive pride. Yet

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