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October 01, 2003 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2003-10-01

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4 -The Michiganf

Daily - Wednesday, October 1, 2003




SINCE 1890

Editor in Chief
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.

C(I know we take
football seriously in
the South, but that's
crossing the line."
- Sheriff's Deputy Randy Christian, on a
Pinion, Ala. man being charged with
attempted murder after allegedly firing
a gun at his son's head following
Alabama's loss to Arkansas on Saturday.


< 2


rcO te.cs a~vA'..eaw

What liberal academia?


few weeks ago,
my No. 1 fan,
David Horowitz,
was on MSNBC's "Hard-
ball with Chris Matthews"
ranting on how universities
are designed to indoctri-
nate students with the lib-
eral agenda. When
Matthews asked for evi-
dence about this conspiracy theory, Horowitz
backtracked, stammered, and finally conceded
that he didn't have a "blacklist."
While Horowitz represents an extreme in
American conservatism, this notion is endemic.
in the mainstream. It is for one, not true, and
two, an attempt by the right to subvert an insti-
tution that harbors dynamic thought, which is
dangerous to the status quo.
The conservatives are right about one thing.
Many university professors are left wing,
which is due to the fact that well informed peo-
ple in general tend to vote liberal. However, it
is also true that people in the professions of
avarice like business tend to be conservative,
so should I demand that corporate boards have
quotas for Democrats?
The truth is that conservatives aren't mar-
ginalized on college campuses. Conservative
activists have the same rights as Students
Organizing for Labor and Economic Equality
and Anti-War Actionl. In fact, the Collegiate
Network, a conservative organization, doles
out $200,000 a year to campus publications
every year, something the aforementioned left-
ist groups certainly do not enjoy. And
acclaimed conservative academics hold high

positions at their respective institutions. But
whenever an academic tries to critically ana-
lyze economics or public policy, even the most
mild-mannered Republican can seem to be
possessed by the soul of Joe McCarthy.
Here's just one example. Popular Univer-
sity history Prof. Matthew Lassiter recently
received an angry email from a University
alum and self-proclaimed freelance journal-
ist (psst: that's a euphemism for unem-
ployed) blasting his upcoming Michigan
Colloquium on Race and Twentieth-Century
American Political Development for a lack
of political balance. The colloquium, featur-
ing bad-boy urban scholar Tom Sugrue,
offers lectures on "The Struggle for Civil
Rights in the Suburban North" and "The
New African American Inequality."
At first, I was baffled by such a claim. Why
would this right-wing agitator want a colloqui-
um that is scholarly in nature to become a left-
versus-right political debate? Does one's
ability to educate depend on how one goes to
the voting booth? Did said right-wing agitator
want the colloquium to feature speakers
opposed to integration in the suburban north?
Or was said right-wing agitator merely
alarmed at the surnames Katz and Cohen on
the roster, fearing the ugly Jewish-communist
conspiracy theory that is still popular in right-
wing circles?
In short, there was no reason for this
incredible lecture series to warrant such an
accusation. And if analyzing strategies to com-
bat racism and inequality is part of the liberal
agenda, keep the accusations coming, as it only
proves hioW modern American CiierVatismi is

inherently racist.
There are two motivations for this conser-
vative backlash, one more frightening than
the other. The conservatives just hate it when
people are allowed to see when America has
made mistakes or how policy could be han-
dled better. This motivation is more or less
But there's another part of the backlash
that is much more discomforting that plays out
in a piece of academic lore where the waspy
founders of the University of California at San
Diego almost abandoned their project to build
a branch of the state system in La Jolla when
one of their cohorts notoriously warned,
"Jews, gentlemen."
Sadly, the tendency for conservatives to
attack things like Hollywood, the media, urban
centers like Manhattan and now academia for
having a liberal bias is rooted, historically, in
an ancient distrust for professions and areas
heavily populated by Jews.
There's a lynch mob out there hell bent on
silencing dissent in this country driven by its
uneasiness towards the presence of intellectual
discourse, bound volumes of prose and the
Yiddish language.
But if this lynch mob is correct, are we to
assume that debate, scholarship, diversity of
opinion and activism are inherently liberal?
Maybe so, as intransigence, single-minded-
ness, apathy and ignorance define the ends
these thugs wish to attain.
Class dismissed.

Paul can be reached at

Waving the bloody shirt

ictims are very
powerful people.
Two of Ameri-
ca's greatest victims are
Bill and Hillary Clinton.
Bill Clinton was the vic-
tim of a right-wing con-
spiracy; he didn't bring
any of his problems on
himself. Hillary was the
victim of her husband
and his infidelities. She would talk about
women's empowerment to feminist groups,
but when then-U.S. Rep. Rick Lazio (R-
N.Y.) walked over to her side of the stage
during their senatorial debate, she became
the poor victim of an angry man.
In the Middle East, there are no aggres-
sors, only victims. I was watching TV at
the beginning of the Intifada, which turned
three years old this week, and I saw a per-
fect example of this. A group of Palestini-
ans was carrying one of their fallen
brethren wrapped in the Palestinian flag in
front of Western television crews. He was
the victim of the Israeli military and its
harsh tactics. By accident, however, they
dropped him, and their P.R. move was
exposed. The man turned out not to be
dead at all; his comrades helped him back
up, and they carried on playing the role of
The Israelis are also victims because
they have to endure terrorism. They ignore
a few important facts, such as the incredi-
ble strength of the Israeli army and that
Israel's per-capita gross domestic product

is about four to five times higher than that
of its Arab neighbors.
Using their line of thinking, neither
side is to blame for the violence in the
Middle East.
The United States is a victim too. We
were the victims of a terrorist attack on
Sept. 11, and this justified attacking
Afghanistan. In that case, we actually were
the victims; poor foreign policy decisions
are no reason to kill 3,000 people. But we
should be careful about how far we extend
our victim mentality from Sept. 11. It is
not -easy for the most powerful country in
the history of the world to pass as a victim.
But the Bush administration played the
victim card when it was making its case to
invade Iraq. It tried to connect al-Qaida
with Saddam Hussein by saying that a
Qaida official had been in Baghdad before
the attacks. But we were not victims of
Saddam Hussein even though on balance, I
think it was still worth overthrowing him.
We controlled the northern and southern
portions of his country and whenever he got
out of line, we bombed him with advanced
fighter planes. The administration ignored
these facts and said we were Saddam's vic-
tims because he was building very scary
weapons that could kill Americans.
The Bush administration understands
how powerful the United States is as much
as any other administration in recent mem-
ory. Administration officials ooze mas-
culinity; no one in this White House
watches Bravo. Everyone exercises regu-
larly, and then they play cowboy at the

Texas ranch, wearing flannels and blue
jeans. Weekly Standard Editor Bill Kristol,
who has close ties to the administration, is
an advocate of a more "muscular" foreign
policy; working together with allies and
building coalitions are not for these peo-
ple, so you have to laugh when they whine
about being victims.
U.S. foreign policy is too often based
on this type of fear and desperation,
instead of the country's strengths: its ideas
and prosperity. But the administration
doesn't have the energy to craft and then
try to implement a comprehensive and
thoughtful foreign policy. Like all the
other "victims" around the world, it would
rather galvanize support for a narrow
agenda by hyping our vulnerabilities.
The far right in Israeli society will do
this to gain backing for its radical plans to
expand the size of its country. Palestinian
radicals will do the same so that they
never have to take responsibility for their
own strife and Hillary Clinton will garner
sympathy in order to ease her path to the
White House. Pretending to play the vic-
tim is the best way to get moderates on
board an agenda that cannot be sold at face
When you have the moral high ground
and people feel bad for you, you can get
away with taking actions that perceived
aggressors cannot because nothing is ever the
victim's fault. Playing the victim is so easy.

Pesick can be reached at


Greek community
irresponsible, possesses
'poor self-policing skills'
As a new slogan for Michigan's Greek
community, how about "Letters today, kid-
ney transplants tomorrow."
When I was in college in the early
1990s, I pledged a sorority whose philan-
thropy project was fundraising for the
National Kidney Foundation. They were

at their genitalia in the interests of "broth-
erhood." As an instructor, I've heard the
constant refrain that I should tolerate my
pledging students listlessness in class,
their occasional attendance while under
the influence of alcohol and their near-
incessant storytelling about who threw up
what over the weekend, because "Greek
organizations do so much good for the
I bought this kind of nonsense when I
was in college, but now that I'm older and
have had friends die while waiting for
organ transplants, I think there's no
amount of community service Greek orga-

ues - and about what its physicians will
tell the next hospital patient who can't get
a kidney to save his life.


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
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