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January 12, 2004 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2004-01-12

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4A - The Michigan Daily - Monday, January 12, 2004


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opinion.michigandaily. com

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.

I and a number of
my colleagues will be
happy to hold them
down and shave their
heads for them."
- U.S. Rep. Doug Ose (D-Calif), on
Thursday, who is sponsoring a bill in
Congress to ban certain words from TV,
on the Federal Communications
Commission's decision to "split hairs" or
resist bleeping out certain words on TV, as
quoted by the San Francisco Chronicle.

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Hello, Mr. Connerly; goodbye civil rights.

oday something
strange is hap-
pening in the
state of Michigan. An
out-of-state black man
named Ward Connerly
is sending out can-
vassers, press releases,
dinner-party invitations
and belated Christmas
cards, all in order to ingratiate himself with
our fellow residents. He is telling our state
that he has something we want: the Michi-
gan Civil Rights Initiative, which will
amend the state constitution to end race-con-
scious programs once and for all. And, in a
way, he's right. According to the Detroit
Free Press, roughly two-thirds of Michigan-
ders say they support the initiative. To be
sure, the University opposes it; the Daily's
editorial page opposes it; I will even go so
far as to say most people of a well-cultivat-
ed conscience will oppose it. But the rest
just need a little spooking: Tell them that
"equality" is at stake, say buzzwords like
"preferential treatment." That's Connerly's
plan, and he's going to succeed. The rest of
the state just won't know what they're sign-
ing, and they'll ruin higher education.
I say it's strange, not only because it is a
complete upheaval of the 1964 Civil Rights
Act, but because it represents a remedial
version of popular democracy, something
like kindergarten's "heads down, thumbs
up" referendums where every child has
equal say, whether they can write their let-
ters or not. In a sense, you might say that it
is a movement of the people that seeks to

bring everyone into the process. But when I
think of a popular movement for civil
rights, I don't think of a state ballot initia-
tive for reinstating segregation. I don't
think of anything inside mainstream poli-
tics, really. What I think of is BAMN and
other radical groups - the people who get
derided all the time for being too extreme.
Real change on civil rights will not be wel-
comed by the majority, because it will put
all kinds of privileges at risk.
What Connerly offers with the MCRI is
the opposite: a comfort to all the baby-
boomers who still reminisce about removing
their bras in the '60s, but who would now
rather watch an "American Dreams" episode
than stop to consider what was really asked
of them 40 years ago. These people are tired
of wondering whether their underachieving
son will get into college, and they are con-
vinced that a minority student will take the
spot, not another white student who happens
to be smarter than their kid.
But enough of that. The important ques-
tion is how to oppose a ballot like this. It's
such a sneaky process, but the end result will
be an amendment, and those things. don't go
away. Alright then, BAMN is always on the
cutting edge of opposing things; what would
they do? "Defeat Ward Connerly - Protest
on Jan. 19." Well what good is that going to
do? Oh, but they're doing something today,
too: "URGENT! Picket at Anti-Affirmative
Action Ballot Initiative Press Conference."
That sounds more promising; maybe they'll
get on camera on a few news stations.
But this is a statewide thing, and we have to
consider how things might be perceived by a

snowmobile repairman and his arts-and-crafts-
dabbling wife in Alpena. Remember, everyone
can put their thumb up this time. A mob of
angry minority students won't convince these
people; that's what they're scared of in the first
place. The Daily has recommended that the Uni-
versity advocate against the ballot. But that
won't convince these people either. They won't
listen to Mary Sue because they don't like the
University. It's full of liberal sodomites.
Poor us! Is there room for reasoned debate
on a knee-jerk ballot initiative? Can a strug-
gling state institution gather enough funds to
counter Connerly's millions invested in the
campaign? Will the Channel 2 Problem
Solvers come to the rescue? My guess is no,
maybe, and no. That two-thirds statistic seems
rock solid. With other kinds of issues - the
environment, for instance - activists can
make change by ignoring popular opinion and
simply solving problems themselves through
smarter design. Science beats social norms
every time. But with the issue of race, it is all
socially constructed; the people cannot be
ignored, because the people are the problem.
If there is any opportunity for smarter design,
it is in the admissions process, and maybe the
University can come up with a miracle in that
regard. But otherwise, it will just be about the
money and the repetition of the message.
Maybe General Motors and other companies
will make their advocacy of affirmative action
better known in the coming months. Maybe
BAMN and other activists will sound elegant
and reasonable. Or maybe we're all screwed.

Cotner can be reached
at cotners@umich.edu.



Adams misguided in
attacking Shaman Drum
I'm not sure which bullet Daniel Adams
(Why I am a capitalist: Shaman Drum Bookshop,
01109/04) thinks we're trying to dodge and (per-
haps more importantly) who is pointing the gun,
but he makes it clear that he doesn't like us.
He doesn't like our service, he doesn't like
the aesthetics of the second floor, and appar-
ently we don't conform to his notion of free-
market capitalism.
For three days during rush, from 10 a.m. to 6
p.m., we are extremely busy, as are the other
textbook stores. Students can avoid the long
lines by shopping here between 6 and 10 p.m.
on those days.
The second floor certainly is crowded dur-
ing rush, and we position two staff people in
each room to assist customers. We are currently
working on expanding the space. Four years
ago we developed a textbook website to help
reduce the crush. There is no reason why
Adams need damage his aesthetic sensibilities
by walking upstairs. He can order books online
and pick them up on our first floor, which is

beautifully designed.
Prior to our gradual entry into the business,
there was a monopoly on textbooks in Ann
Arbor. We were declined entry into the consor-
tium. I believe professors order books through
us because we serve them well and because the
alternative to us is structurally flawed.
Adams might consider for a moment how it
is that a small bookshop with minimal finances
could compete against corporations with infi-
nitely more resources. I think the answer is that
we are passionate about what we're doing and
that what we're doing is a better idea. Isn't this
what's supposed to happen in a free market?
We will continue to upgrade our services to
students, faculty and citizens in Ann Arbor. We
intend on being here for a long time; our roots
are deep in this wonderful community. Adams is
welcome to work with us.
Store manager, Shaman Drum Bookshop
Writers overlooked great
album in top 10 list
Though I was impressed with the expansive

and eclectic quality of your top-10 albums lists
(The Top Ten Albums of2003, 01/09/04), espe-
cially by Alex Wolsky's great call on Guided
By Voices' "Earthquake Glue," I feel that each
of your critics unfairly ignored (or underesti-
mated) one of the best rock albums in recent
history, by likely the best rock band on earth.
"Room On Fire," by The Strokes, electrified
the music scene by incorporating Nick Valen-
sie's quirky, extended guitar brilliance over
Albert Hammond Jr.'s consistent and steady
hand, almost revolutionizing a sound that you
- unfairly, I believe - have categorically
oversimplified as '80's retro trend." Besides
that, Nikolai Fraiture's bass and Fab Morreti's
drums define some of the most original, yet
brilliantly derivative, beats in modern music,
all the while Julian Casablancas once again
proves one of the strongest vocalists in rock,
pumping out powerful punk dynamo and
intense, soulful ballads. Your critics seem to
very clearly be able to distinguish distinct rock
sub-genres, so I was very disappointed that you
were unable to clearly pick up on a sound that
embodies all the better qualities of major
punk/pop/fuzz rock subgenres and classic rock
and roll at its absolute best.
LSA sophomore


Now is the time to defend Grutter

In 2003, the critical civil rights issue facing
the nation was the defense of affirmative action
at the Supreme Court in our affirmative action
cases. On April 1, the day that the U.S. Supreme
Court heard arguments in our cases, our organi-
zation, BAMN, organized and led a 50,000-per-
son march of students, youth and labor, church
and community activists in Washington. The
Supreme Court ruled on June 23 to uphold affir-
mative action in Grutter v. Bollinger, the Law
School case. Without the mass mobilization to
Washington on April 1, victory would not have
been possible. We won this stunning victory for
affirmative action and civil rights because we
mobilized. Our victory derailed, but did not
decisively defeat, the right-wing attacks on affir-
mative action.
Now, our victory in Grutter is under attack.

Coming out of his recent defeat in California,
where the electorate voted 2 to 1 against his
Proposition 54, the so-called Racial Privacy Ini-
tiative, Connerly is in a politically weak position
to mount his campaign in Michigan, but he can
still win if supporters of integration and equality
fail to act now.
Connerly's proposed Michigan initiative is an
attempt to deal a blow to the New Civil Rights
Movement in the state where we are strongest.
Recent history proves that, given the opportunity,
a majority white electorate will vote for white
privilege and against minority rights like affirma-
tive action. The best way to defeat Connerly's ini-
tiative is to keep it off the ballot. Since his active
political support is so small, he has to rely on
money for his campaign to succeed. To certify an
initiative for the 2004 ballot, Connerly has to get
more than 317,000 signatures of registered voters
from around the state. In order to do that, he has to
pay a professional signature-gathering firm $1 to 2
per signature. To stop Connerly's money supply,

outlets including local newspapers and radio
stations to refuse to carry any Coors advertise-
ments. Local stores, bars and restaurants
should express their support for civil rights by
refusing to stock Coors products.
To win, we must mobilize mass actions along
with the national boycott of Connerly's racist
backers. On Jan. 19, Martin Luther King Jr. Day,
BAMN will be holding a march and demonstra-
tion on campus against Connerly's initiative. The
Martin Luther King Jr. holiday must be a living
and breathing expression of the New Civil Rights
Movement and our determination to defend our
Supreme Court victory. Without the perspective
of defending our victory, any commemoration of
King promises to be only a cynical tribute that
offers no opposition to the attacks on the very civil
rights that King gave his life fighting for. If Con-
nerly succeeds in Michigan, he will be taking his
anti-affirmative action initiative to every state that
he can to nullify our Supreme Court victory
nationally. The time to act is now.

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