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December 04, 2003 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2003-12-04

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4

4A - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, December 4, 2003

OP/ED

UIietdt i t

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
The pictures should
not be able to
identify her, or are not
supposed to."
- Former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson,
one the appearance of his wife, and CIA
operative Valerie Plame, in the January
edition of Vanity Fair that will keep
Plame's face obscured, as reported
yesterday in The Washington Post.

OPERI( N PUSSYCAT

{

STEVE COTNER AND JOEL HOARD OPERATION PUSSYCAT

E

2 ~)3--0 )

Racism among friends
LAUREN STRAYER IN THE ACTniVE VOICE
recently made the to be racist. As pejoratives are equally offensive
disheartening dis- Conversation moved on without a pause. whether spoken purposefully or obliviously, I
covery that the word It was as if he had said, "Yes, there's a bal- quickly said that ignorance is not a legitimate
"Oriental" has not been cony right off the kitchen" - as if he hadn't excuse for using such language and suggest-
universally relegated to just used an ethnic slur. I turned to a friend ed that one has a personal responsibility to
: ;' describing rugs and fur- sitting next to me to convey my bewilder- keep abreast of such issues. Ever the diplo-
'niture.ment, and she furrowed her brow as if to mat, my friend agreed but pointed out that -
While on vacation, I say: "I understand but this is not the time or despite my idealistic morals - ignorance
was in a great jazz bar place to say anything." Though I made a will continue to exist.
overlooking Lake Supe- face to let her know I disagreed, I fumbled While I didn't and still don't like her
rior when a middle-aged for the proper words and before I could observations, I know the alternative - that
family friend dropped by our table. I should think of a polite way to object to his lan- such language is purposefully racist - is
say that I've always thought of this man guage, the offending friend said his good- worse. If people are unaware of the negative
affectionately as part of my childhood. I byes and left the table. connotations of the words they use, at least
spent many summer days at his home, play- I wish I had been paying better attention there is the possibility of easy education.
ing with his kids, and he has helped me find to the conversation from the start. I could Sadly, if people are knowingly and purpose-
two summer jobs. have interrupted right when he uttered the fully using such words, the problem is harder
On this occasion, a mutual friend sitting offensive word and said, "Oh, , you to fix as racism runs deeper than words.
with me asked the man under discussion can't use that word anymore. The preferred As for my wayward friend, I still can't rec-
how he liked his new apartment. He made term is 'Asian."' It would have been as oncile his character with his use of such an
the obligatory comments on the architec- simple as that, but, in my shock at hearing offensive term. Could he really have been using
ture and location before remarking on the the slur, I struggled to find the right words. the term without malice or awareness? He is an
diversity of the apartment complex- In trying to be respectful, I lost my chance intelligent and educated man who has otherwise
arguably a legitimate comment in Michi- to say anything at all. I hesitated, and in proven himself respectable. So, can I attribute
gan's homogenous Upper Peninsula. As that hesitation, began to wonder if I would his word choice to his living in rural America?
part of a brief list of ethnicities, he men- have been politely correcting his diction or I just don't know.
tioned that there were "Orientals" in his his bigotry. Was this pillar of my child- Despite all this ambiguity, I am certain of
building. Until that moment, I had been hood racist? two things: First, I will never again see this
watching the band and only half-listening Obviously confused, I turned back to my man in that naive and favorable rosy light in
to this small talk, but I snapped my gaze to friend sitting next to me. Having heard the which children often see the adults around
him when he used the pejorative. word in question used casually before, she them. I will always wonder if I should be dis-
I looked for any indication of his intent in wasn't nearly as surprised as I by our way- appointed in his social negligence or shocked
using the slur but could gather none. I was ward friend's language. She pointed out at his racism. The second certainty is that I'm
astonished - I'd never heard anyone outside that there are many people - especially sorry I let the moment and the pejorative pass
movies and books actually use the term "Ori- those uninterested in or uninformed on in that bar. I'll be ready next time.
ental" to describe people. Moreover, I was societal trends - who are not aware that
confused as the offensive word had come "Oriental" is a derogatory term when used Strayer can be reached at
from a man I respected and had never known in reference to people. lstrayer@umich.edu.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

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Plymouth Rd. trcafic a proven
danger, traffic light needed
TO THE DAILY:
When I lived in Bursley Residence Hall,
I crossed Plymouth Road many times. It
was an adventure every time. With cars typ-
ically moving at 50-60 miles per hour, it
was something of a game for me to dart
across the five-lane undivided road when
traffic momentarily cleared. The unlit cross-
walk was no help: drivers didn't even slow
down for it.
Then I bought a car, and I forgot about the
deathtrap until two students were run down
- after being trapped between moving traffic
coming from both directions for some time,
as footage has proven.
It's a disgrace that the Ann Arbor City
Council has broken its promise to put in a
traffic control device promptly. Every other
school zone in the city has every traffic
control device it could possibly need. And
yet the City Council claims it has to be
mandated by the Michigan Manual of Uni-
form Traffic Control Devices.
If this was a legitimate concern, the City
Council would be hurrying to replace the
hundreds of speed limits in town that are
below MUTCD regulations - the 75th per-
centile of free-flowing traffic speed, round-
ed up to the nearest five miles per hour. On
S. State Street, near Briarwood Mall, the
speed limit is 35 while motorists drive 45-
50 in that area. Thousands of tickets are
written at this patch of road, among many
other non-compliant speed zones.
The City Council expects residents to
believe that they couldn't conduct the need-
ed tests because "their instruments froze up
in the cold." How could the planning
department net have not planned for Michi-
gan November weather?
More importantly, who needs tests? The
necessity is obvious, from unanimous testi-
mony of the residents, from a simple survey
of the Plymouth Road conditions and from
the needless deaths of three people now.
The Daily scurrilously reported that only
30 of the 200 meeting attendees stoodup
when asked to show support for the signal.
By my count (I was there), the only people
in the room that didn't stand were the coun-
cil members, administrators, and very
young children. The Ann Arbor News

to wait until mid-February for a decision
based on a consulting firm's report.
Whether or not there's subconscious
racism in the City Council that prevents
them from providing due safety to the Mus-
lim community is irrelevant. The City
Council's procrastination is an insult to the
intelligence and decency of the entire Ann
Arbor community.
ADAM DE ANGELI
LSA senior
Cotner's column on AIDS
better than Daily's usual fare
TO THE DAILY:
I applaud Steve Cotner for his Monday
column illuminating the frightening AIDS
pandemic ravaging Africa and the rest of the
world, ('She just ... died' - AIDS in Africa,
12/01/03).
Unfortunately, AIDS awareness, and fur-
thermore, third world debt, often find them-
selves taking a distant backseat to archetypical
University of Michigan poster-child causes
such as the Border's strike, bashing our quar-
terback, and trying to define those vexing blue
Israeli unity shirts. As stimulating as these dia-
logues are, I was excited to read a serious and
insightful look at a very real problem not only
facing the global community but also each of
us as students. The Daily should use this
moment as a precedent to promote further for-
ays into journalistic clarity. I speak for more
than one student when I say that I grow tired
of the Daily failing to filter out baseless and
inflammatory arguments trying to prove the
Nazi legacy embedded in American culture
(Ari Paul, U.S.A. uber allies, 10/15/03), and
preposterous, illogical rants against parents for
having kids (Jess Piskor, You are responsible for
your parents' apathy, 11/04/03).
If this is the kind of impetus that spurs a
more consistent level of informed, bi-partisan
journalism, then maybe we should make
everyday an AIDS awareness day.
JONATHAN ALEXANDER
LSA senior
Paying GSIs in Corn Flakes
coupons the same as cash
TO THE DAILY:
I was surprised and disappointed to read

University GSI, in fact, makes well over
$40,000. Project this number over an entire
calendar year (like any other working per-
son), and the number becomes even higher.
GSIs provide an invaluable service to our
school. In return, they are paid very well. The
school has a responsibility to provide a com-
petitive level of compensation. This amount
is based not on how much a GSI would like
to receive, how many children she or he sup-
ports, or how much the union considers
"fair." It is based, instead, on the amount an
unemployed, competent person would ask to
do the same job. Getting a position as a GSI
is a very competitive, suggesting that lots of
people would be glad to work at the current
rate (or perhaps less). The school, the state
and the tuition-paying student population
cannot, and should not, pay more.
MILES PUTNAM
LSA junior

Handing out flyers for good
causes creates positive karma

I

TO THE DAILY:
A while back, Joel Hoard wrote a column
venting his frustration at people who hand
stuff out on the Diag (Is that a flyer in your
hand? 11/13/03). The other day, I quarter-
sheeted for an hour, and it really brought
home the fact that that column couldn't have
been more wrong.
The first person I talked to was an old
friend who chanced to walk by. he took a
flyer and said good-naturedly, "Oh, you're
one of "those" now."
My initial response was an embarrassed
shrug, but by the end of the hour I had recon-
sidered. The flyers I passed out were adver-
tising for a worthy cause, and I felt I should
be proud, rather than ashamed. And I was
amazed at the friendly manners of the
passers-by. The sheer number of people who
said "Thank you" (or even "No, thank you"!)
as I handed them sheets was incredible.
I realized that I normally don't mind get-
ting flyers as I go by. Sure there are certain
groups I avoid, but in general I like hearing
about events and such around campus. So
here's to quartersheeting - as another quar-
tersheeter explained to me, "it's good
karma!"
CHAIM ScHRAMM
LSA sophomore

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