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4

4A - The Michigan Daily - Monday, September 8, 2003

OP/ED

R &
le ato
atchwam 11

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

EDITED AND MANAGED BY
STUDENTS AT THE
UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN
SINCE 1890

LouIE MEIZLISH
Editor in Chief
AUBREY HENRETTY
ZAC PESKOWITZ
Editorial Page Editors

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
I was wrong
and you
were right."
- Former New York Times Executive
Editor Howell Raines on his tumultuous
tenure at the paper. According to
Newsweek, the quote will appear in an
essay that Raines wrote for the Sept. 15
issue of Details magazine.

SAM BUTLER Tiw SOAXPBOX

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ThIar

4
4

Q..

Allow me to opine
JOHANNA HANINK PARLANCE OF OUR TIMES

his summer was a
tough one - or at
least should have
been a tough one - for
people who like to char-
acterize themselves as
politically opinionated.
F FLast April, when I
left Ann Arbor, who
walked which side of the
line was clear: there were
pro-war-in-Iraq and anti-war-in-Iraq booths on
the Diag. The "pro-Israel" contingent rallied
on the Michigan Union side of State Street,
while the "pro-Palestinian" crowd opposed
them from the art museum corner. For such
nuanced issues, there was a remarkable amount
of black and white.
Last April, I also thought that I knew on
which side of the street I stood with respect to
these two fundamental elements of the Ann
Arbor-University political (and too often, social)
scene. But after all that happened this summer,
from the presidential quasi-acknowledgement of
our rather un-intelligent Iraqi intelligence, to the
escalation of the Palestinian-Israeli struggle -
which, for a few hopeful months, had looked
like more like a straight road than an unbreak-
able cycle of violence, I find myself in the
Socratic tent of Paul Wolfowitz and Donald
Rumsfeld's in-vogue Platonic camp. After the
last few months, I feel like the only thing I know
is that I know, well, nothing.
The question that I found myself asked a lot
this summer (usually by people who are not
American) was, "So what do you think about
the situation in Iraq?" Lately I've taken to giv-
ing in, and conceding without apology: "I don't
know." People often esteem sharp opinions as

the mark of someone who is politically and
intellectually engaged. But it seems that the
more I read about Iraq or Israel or Afghanistan
or Liberia, the more difficult it becomes to
process my point of view. "I don't know" stands
in as the answer that is easier to give than would
be the half-hour, irresolute and probably incon-
sistent explanation of my position.
I've learned, only too recently, that a firm
opinion is not necessarily the mark of knowl-
edge. This summer, I took an Italian class at
the University of California at Berkeley.
When we hit chapter 16, "Per chi voti?" (Who
are you voting for?), of our textbook, we
talked about American politics using our new
Italian political vocabulary. The consensus of
the class seemed to be one of general, and fair-
ly aggressive, pessimism - about the econo-
my, about President Bush, about the United
States' international involvement. But when
our instructor got down to the question - per
chi voti? - no one in the class could name a
single presidential candidate, except George
W. Bush, running in the 2004 election.
Opinions are important things to have, but I
think that in the student activism world of this
university, there is often more pressure to have
a strong opinion than a smart one. Outside the
classroom, there is a strange temptation to look
at a complex situation and react with a one-
word evaluation: "good," or, "bad." We polar-
ize each other for the sake of opposition. Last
year, I went to a club to practice a foreign lan-
guage every Wednesday. A friend of mine
speaks this language very well, and every
Wednesday I asked her to come. By the end of
the year, it had become a joke - whenever I
saw her on Wednesday afternoons, I would
say, with extreme gusto: "Shira, you know

what day it is ... let's go!" at which she would
groan exactly proportionally to my own
feigned enthusiasm.
I didn't want her to come as much as I pre-
tended, and she didn't want not to come as
much as she pretended. The same thing happens
at Michigan, and really everywhere: groups who
consider themselves in opposition to each other
also drive each other to the extreme ends of the
spectrum: They effectively shoot themselves in
the proverbial foot with their own rhetoric,
which, if they took a step back and a deep
breath, they might not even agree with them-
selves. Student groups that have formed around
controversial opinions too often define them-
selves by conflict: the conversation stops, the
yelling begins and political disagreements - a
very positive staple of University and intellectu-
al life - become very, very personal.
This has got to be something that we watch
out for more this year. Last year there were too
many personal attacks, and too many people
driving each other to absurd extremes. Like
Socrates says in the Euthyphro, knowing that
you know nothing reflects more knowledge
than does believing in something that is wrong.
For us, this means recognizing that the things
we argue about are not easy and obvious, and
that the people we attack and go out of our way
to hassle because of their opinions are students
trying to pass classes at the same time they're
organizing vigils and rallies and protests. Start-
ing at zero this year with campus politics will
be easier than starting with a negative number
- and would make student activism a lot
friendlier pastime.
Hanink can be reached
atjhanink@umich.edu.

E

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Kerry is the best choice for the
University's Democrats
TO THE DAILY:
Zac Peskowitz's column, John Kerry is -
gasp - running for president (09/04/03) failed to
articulate the true leadership possessed by Sen.
John Kerry (D-Mass.) and was grossly short
sighted in its portrayal of former Vermont Gov.
Howard Dean. I understand and empathize with
all the liberals and common-sense independents
who, fed up with the bumbling President Bush,
are finding Dean to be a breath of fresh air. I
implore them to take a closer look at Dean and
see what this man truly stands for. Dean was the
type of leader who, while supporting a 1996
welfare-reform bill, said welfare recipients
"don't have any self-esteem, If they did, they'd
be working." Does this sound like an individual
who understands the needs of Americans in job-
less economy?
As governor, Dean advocated dumping
nuclear waste to the poor, mostly Hispanic town
of Sierra Blanca, Texas - an act that Sen. Paul
Wellstone (D-Minn.) called "blatant environ-
mental injustice." Dean never got the endorse-
ment of Vermont's Sierra Club - not once in
his five bids for governor! Teachers did not sup-

port him either, after that they saw his big words
did not amount to actions, and his actions turned
out to be more like stature. Dean did, however,
render support from everyone's favorite liberal
organization - the National Rifle Association--
once he proved himself as an enemy of common
sense gun laws. People need to look beyond the
patina of leadership exhibited by Dean to see the
true leadership of Kerry. To say the man never
stood for anything is baseless and borderline
offensive. As a Vietnam veteran, Kerry brought
the wrongs happening in Vietnam to the fore-
front while testifying before the Senate Foreign
Relations Committee at the age of 28. In 1982,
Kerry was elected to the Senate, where he has
continued to be unafraid to stand up and
unabashedly support what he believes is right. In
1985, he supported the Employment Nondis-
crimination Act -long before Dean realized that
supporting LGBT Americans was the right thing
to do - not to mention long before LGBT
issues were accepted to the degree that they are
today. Kerry fought the unsuccessful battle to
increase funding into renewable sources of ener-
gy, and called to question those in his own party
about their positions on the environment.
I understand the frustration of Peskowitz and
others. We all must suffer through this last year
with Bush. Do not allow your suffering to blind
you to the allure of Dean, or the truly great

leader that America has in John Kerry.
PAUL SPURGEON
LSA senior
Students for Kerry co-chair
Stadium replay inadequate
TO THE DAILY:
Am I the only one starting to get annoyed
with the Michigan Stadium scoreboard replay
booth? On several close calls where there may
have been interference or a weak block in the
back, the replay booth decided not to project the
replay on the scoreboards for the fans to see. It's
nice to see big hits and plays on the scoreboard
but several times when I want to see a possible
no-call or weak call I feel cheated by the replay
booth.
The result of a missed replay inside the stadi-
um leads me to call one of my friends not at the
game to ask about the play in question which is
only second best to seeing it myself. I can under-
stand that the stadium staff doesn't want angry
fans and a stadium full of boos, but I can't help
but to boo the replay booth when they fail to
show questionable replays.
STEPHEN WISE
LSA senior

0

4

VIEWPOINT
Blogging for America

BY SUMON DANTIKI
The world changed on Sept. 11, 2001. Ever
since that fateful day, Americans have been
repeatedly told that they are in a battle for the
hearts and minds of faceless foreigners around
the world. The security and prosperity of these
United States, we are told, will depend upon
our ability to harness both technology and the
media to win a global clash of ideas.
In fact, a grand ideological battle over the
future of our country and our world is loom-
ing. It will not, however, be fought in the
streets of Baghdad and Kabul but on those of
Battle Creek and Kalamazoo.
The 2004 presidential election will be one
of the most divisive, and important, ones of
our lifetime. At stake is the very essence of our
democracy: can a president who has governed
with reckless abandon win reelection by
manipulating the fear of the American public

Critics of the campaign have come fast and
furious. From within the Democratic Party,
fellow presidential candidate Joe Lieberman
has attacked Dean for being an unelectable
firebrand liberal, who lacks the Clintonesque
ability to attract swing voters. His reasoning is
wrong on two counts.
First, while Democrats have an understand-
able inclination to craft campaign strategy in
the mold of Bill Clinton, much has changed
since "the natural" won the presidency. As
Stan Greenberg, a top Clinton pollster, recently
noted in The New York Times: "Things have
changed over the decade since 1992. The parti-
sans are much more polarized." This means
Democrats, especially in the primary season,
should focus on mobilizing their party base
rather than seeking swing voters. Dean is cur-
rently the only candidate who has captivated
the Democratic base and the voters who might
have supported Nader in 2000. As Joe Trippi,
Dean's campaign manager, is fond of observ-

the Bush administration's spotty case for war.
Lieberman and other Democratic critics
have in large part missed the most important
part of Dean's campaign. At heart, Dean's can-
didacy is a civil-rights-style fight for the notion
of American community. Dean wants to build
community domestically by giving everyday
Americans health insurance and job security.
He would offer their children real opportuni-
ties by increasing funding for education and
directing the finances of the federal govern-
ment toward job creation, not tax cuts for
wealthy donors. Finally, he would mend
fences internationally in the belief that a united
community of free people is the best means to
deal with the likes of Saddam Hussein and
Osama bin Laden.
Dean and his supporters will fight to make
this idea of community a reality. When Bush
was vacationing in Crawford, Texas, Dean ran
television ads in the state, saying "Has any-
body really stood up against George Bush and

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