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October 09, 2003 - Image 4

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4A - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, October 9, 2003


UII~~e SicWguag


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.

We have
something to
celebrate tonight."
- California Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante,
in his concession speech Tuesday, on the
defeat of California Prop. 54, as
reported by the San Francisco Chronicle.


With all the chalkings for"coming out Week" and shows like
"Will and Grace" and "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy,"
there seems to be "gayness" everywhere. Isn't
there a place I can go where people
forget about homosexuals?
L Th /5/



Yeah, it's called Congress.


Recall Columbus

alking home
Sunday night, I
came across a
series of flyers equating
Christopher Columbus
with Ted Bundy and
Charles Manson. Divert-
ed, I wondered how one
could responsibly com-
pare a 15th-century
explorer to 20th-century
serial killers. A few feet further, I found the less
incendiary "Columbus was a murderer." Near
the Cube, I passed the axiom "Columbus =
Genocide" and, writ large in incongruously pink
chalk, the point of the raucous sidewalk cam-
paign: "Murderers don't deserve holidays."
Until that moment, I hadn't even realized that
Columbus Day is nearly upon us.
Well aware that I had fallen victim to the
chalkings' rousing tactics, I dug out my cell
phone and left a message with my usual political
sounding board - my brother. I wondered
aloud: is it reasonable to demonize Columbus for
the destructive consequences of the collective
European arrival in the Americas? Can we
responsibly reduce this historical period to a sim-
plistic causality between Columbus' landing and
the eventual destruction of several Native Amer-
ican societies? Aren't we conveniently dismiss-
ing other major factors? Moreover, wasn't a
similar series of events somehow inescapable?
In an online exhibition entitled "1492: An
Ongoing Voyage," the Library Of Congress
writes that the indigenous peoples of the
Americas had "experienced virtually no
recorded, sustained contact with other parts of

the world - Europe, Africa, or Asia" prior to
Columbus' landing. As much of world history
is built on the human desire to keep searching
and exploring, contact between the two hemi-
spheres was inevitable. I'm not arguing for the
existence of some sort of Renaissance Mani-
fest Destiny, but for the reality of human inge-
nuity and spirit. While this certainty does not
excuse the deplorable actions of many of
Columbus' followers, it does obscure the clari-
ty with which the campus chalking campaign
condemns Columbus.
Despite these musings, I did and do agree
that there is something fundamentally offensive
about celebrating Columbus Day. Sunday night,
I was anxious to hear back from my brother and
hoped he would categorically deny the legitima-
cy of the questions I posed in that long, convo-
luted voicemail. I expected him to point out that
the very premise of Columbus Day - to honor
the explorer's "discovery" of the Americas -
was Eurocentric and racist. As millions of peo-
ple lived on the American continents for thou-
sands of years prior to the sailing of the Nina,
the Pinta and the Santa Maria, calling Colum-
bus' achievement a "discovery" is grossly inac-
curate. I thought my brother would argue that
Columbus' landing had tremendous conse-
quences - both constructive and destructive -
that made it a watershed event in world history
and, as such, it would more judiciously served
through study than celebration.
When we finally spoke, we did cover such
standard arguments for the abolition of Colum-
bus Day, but my brother raised a more interest-
ing point: There isn't a case for celebrating the
disputed holiday. Columbus Day has become a

second-rate Independence Day. Despite being
designated a federal holiday less than 35years
ago, the archaic Columbus Day serves little pur-
pose other than to slow the mail and inspire
school pageants on American history - which
can easily attach themselves to other sentimental
anniversaries. Compared to other federal holi-
days, Columbus Day has little salience in
today's world beyond offending our American
Indian populations. Unlike Memorial or Presi-
dents' Day, this annual October celebration does
not honor those who played key roles in the
shaping and preservation of our democracy.
Instead, it seems a poorly executed attempt to
honor our European roots - a part of American
history we're not likely to forget any time soon.
Before federal employees and students grow
nervous that I'm going to suggest abolishing one
of their few days of freedom, let me suggest we
move Columbus Day from the second Monday
in October to the first Tuesday after the first
Monday in November, and rename it Election
Day. Instead of honoring a historical turning
point of dubious merit, let's honor the incredible
right we have to democratic elections. The
severe voter apathy that plagues this nation is
reason enough to underscore the importance of
voting through the establishment of a federal
holiday. Besides, the government has a responsi-
bility to improve the accessibility of the polls to
Americans with demanding and inflexible jobs.
In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue,
In 2003, he should ease the vote for you.
and me.



Strayer can be reached at


Fairness isn't enough

In his own Wall Street Journal, columnist
Robert Bartley made an interesting case
that the days of objective journalism are
"It's simply not true," he wrote July 28,
"that journalists conspire to slant the news in
favor of their friends and causes. Yet it's also
true that in claiming 'objectivity' the press often
sees itself as a perfect arbiter of ultimate truth.
This is a pretension beyond human capacity."
I've often thought of journalism as trying
to look into a frosted glass and trying to figure
out what's going on. We know what we see
will be skewed in some way, because of the
structure of the glass and the refractive nature
of the substance inside. But good journalists
report what they can see and do their best to
get a better picture of what's going on inside,
clearing away some of the frost in the process.
Of course one can never be perfectly objec-
tive, but it is something to strive for.
Bartley distinguishes between "objectivity"
- extensive reporting uninfluenced by person-
al passions and biases - and "fairness" -giv-
ing all sides and viewpoints a fair shake when
putting together the story. He argues that since
perfect objectivity is impossible, journalists
should forget it and just focus on being "fair."
But there are problems with fairness. Here's
fairness taken to an extreme: Instead of sending
reporters into Iraq for the second Persian Gulf
war, the major media simply attend U.S. mili-
tary briefings in Qatar and get response quotes
from the Iraqi information minister. The Ameri-
cans get their say, then the Iraqis (or vice
versa), and thus the coverage is "fair."
That's the oversimplified problem with "fair-
ness." A real example is the media's treatment of
the red scare of the 1950s: Report Sen. Joe
McCarthy's accusations, then ask the accused if
they're Soviet spies. McCarthy says "yes," they
say "we're not." It's "fair," but is it fair?
The beginning of the end, in fact, was when
Edward R. Murrow on CBS's "See it Now"
rather "unfairly" showed McCarthy for the evil
man he was.
The problem is that fairness, or "both
sides," is too often an excuse for poor reporting.
The networks seem to have taken Bartley's
advice to an extreme. Rather than striving to
present a story completely, their practice quite
often is to do a brief intro story and then have
talking heads sound off. It's fair, I guess, but its

Here's part of a transcript
from a Jan. 24,2003, CNN
show, "Showdown: Iraq"
with Wolf Blitzer. One of the talking heads Blitzer
interviewed was a conservative radio talk-show
host, Armstrong Williams, who was qualified to
discuss the matter because of his extensive knowl-
edge of foreign affairs and defense issues (I'm
kidding). Asked whether he thought the expected
war in Iraq was a war for oil, as some peaceniks
had charged, Williams said:
"Wolf, I go back to the last 12 years and this
cat and mouse game with Saddam Hussein. I
mean listen, the United States is not the only
country that believes that Saddam Hussein is
trying to develop weapons of mass destruction,
even the Soviets and the Chinese believe this,
and I eventually believe they will come around
to our position."
One can only hope that CNN was fair and
gave equal time to the Soviets.
The death last week of former Arkansas
Gov. Sidney McMath brings back the
issue of the Southern power structure.
As reported by The New York Times, McMath
was in a pretty exclusive club of progressive
Southern Democrats during his two terms from
1949 to 1953. He worked to abolish the whites-
only Democratic primary and fought to make
sure the first black applicant to the state med-
ical school was admitted. He fought Strom
Thurmond when the latter started the segrega-
tionist Dixiecrat movement in 1948.
McMath was defeated for reelection after a
scandal broke alleging corruption in the award-
ing of state road contracts. Three aides were
indicted for crimes, all acquitted. From the
Times: "For years, he (McMath) had worked
for public electric power in rural areas and had
alienated the private power company that had
dominated Arkansas politics for years. The
investigative commission included a number of
men with ties to that company."
This kind of stuff still continues, the most
recent example being Republican Saxby Cham-
bliss' campaign last year to unseat Sen. Max
Cleland (D-Ga.), who the Southern establish-
ment charged with a lack of patriotism (though
he lost two legs and an arm in Vietnam). The
charges stuck and Cleland went down.
Meizlish can be reached at

Cultural and ethnic differences
affect medical treatment
A recent article, Ethnicities differ in treat-
ment for pain (10/07/03), denotes a huge
step in acknowledging cultural differences
as they relate to medical treatment. This is
an especially timely issue because we are
living in an era of "cookbook" recipes for
treating medical ailments. Many clinicians
seem to take a standard approach for
addressing the needs of all of their patients,
despite ethnic and cultural differences;
such practices cannot continue to be toler-
ated. As the research by Carmen Green, et.
al asserted, not all persons report, respond
or react to a particular medical condition in
the same manner. As human beings, we all
ascribe to a particular set of values, tradi-
tions and beliefs that affect our health and
healthcare decisions. In addition to making
various health choices based on our cul-
tures, there are innate and learned charac-
teristics that influence our perception of
pain and illness. These personal attributes
and beliefs also serve to shape our perspec-
tives on medical treatment. As health pro-
fessionals, it is imperative that we
recognize the existence of differences from
one race to another and employ culturally
relevant interventions to address the needs
of our patients.
I encourage all clinicians to do the
research and become more informed about
the population they serve. Prescribed treat-
ments will be more effective if medical
professionals have an understanding of
their patients' beliefs and cultural para-
digms. Incorporating culturally relevant
interventions into professional practice will
lead to higher patient satisfaction and more
optimal illness recovery outcomes.
School of Public Health
Article on medical effects of
cultural differences
contains valuable informat
I want to commend the Daily for pub-
lishing Ethnicities differ in treatment for pain
(10/07/03). As the article states, it is a
myth that "we are all alike on the inside."

values or communication barriers.
Anne Fadiman's book "The Spirit
Catches You and You Fall Down" (The
Noonday Press, 1997) demonstrates a
striking difference in the way two cultures
may perceive and treat a particular illness.
The book also points out that not everyone
understands, agrees with or utilizes the
Western medical system. While a person
of one culture may believe a girl's epilepsy
was caused by metabolic abnormalities or
abnormal electrical excitation in the brain,
a person of a different culture may believe
the epilepsy started when a door was
slammed too loudly and the girl's soul was
frightened out of her body. In fact, Ann
Fadiman's book shows that a doctor's lack
of respect for or ignorance of these striking
cultural differences could be detrimental,
dangerous and even deadly to his patients.
Again, thanks to the Daily for acknowl-
edging and reporting that people of differ-
ent ethnicities and cultures "experience,
express and get treated for pain" in various
ways. Now that we know these differences
exist, I call on medical practioners, health-
care providers, social workers and public
health professionals to be aware of, knowl-
edgeable about and sensitive to these dif-
ferences. In the multicultural world in
which we now live, we can no longer
assume that one size fits all - particularly
when it comes to medical problems and
School of Social Work
50 Cent for president! Political
decisions make no sense, based
on celebrity, not substance
I must say that I am only partially
informed about California politics. Yet, I
have educated myself enough to see that
there are many reasons why Californians
think Gray Davis has failed as governor.
Thus, I am not trying to suggest that Cali-
fornians made the wrong decision in
choosing to recall Davis.
However, what I want to point out to all
my counterparts is a phenomenon emerg-
ing in America. It seems that images
become more influential on people's politi-
cal decisions than do ideas. One of the
major points brought up across news chan-
nels Wednesday morning was how Arnold

plans about how to deal with important
issues facing California?
I feel pretty comfortable answering that
question with a "hell no." Hence, what
becomes evident is that more and more
Americans are voting with their fantastical
emotions, rather than with their carefully
reasoned political opinions. I say "Ameri-
cans" for good reason.
The political rise of George W. Bush
seemed to have followed a similar path: He
did not have any political experience
before being elected governor in the other
"biggest" state in America, and he did so
by lining up his political image (that of a
cowboy-like politician) with the Holly-
woodized spirit of Texas. Then he
achieved greater political success, as his
"cowboy" image appealed to Americans
much more than the "sissy-b*@ch" image
of Al Gore.
These observations have really nothing
to with me not liking Republicans (or,
should I say, not despising Democrats as
much as I do Republicans). This has to do
with me seeing my fellow Americans hav-
ing too much alpha waves zapped into
their brains so that they no longer base
their political decisions on reasoned opin-
ions, but on their desires to have John
Wayne as the United States's president and
the Terminator as governor of one of the
most influential states in America.
What really needs to be pointed out is
that the Democratic strategists are failing
to jump on this opportunity. Therefore, I
think they should be fired, and I should be
hired. My first decision: 50 Cent as the
Democratic presidential candidate in 2004!
LSA senior
'Partial-birth abortion'is a
politically charged term that
Daily reporters should avoid
There is no such thing as "partial-birth
abortion." Since 1995, when attempts to ban
the method of abortion known medically as
intact dilation and evacuation first began, jour-
nalists have been careful to note - often by
using quotations and preceding it with the
phrase "so-called" - that "partial-birth abor-
tion" is an inflammatory term invented by anti-
abortion forces. The Daily, in Abortion foes try
to keep issue in spotlight (10/06/03), was not so





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