4 - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, March 17, 2003
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JASON Z. PESICK
Editorial Page Editor
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the Daily's editorial board. All other articles, letters and cartoons do not
necessarily reflect the opinion of The Michigan Daily.
Your life expectancy
isn't what it once was.
And you've got to think
about the possibility of
- United States Chief Justice William
Rehnquist, speculating Monday on his
future on the Supreme Court, in a taping
of the NBC's "Today" show, as reported
yesterday by The Washington Post
SAM BUTLER THE SOAPBOX
ARI PAUL I FOUGHT THE LAW
magine my shock
and disbelief when I
saw the carnage that
took place at Madrid's
Atocha train station.
When I hear about acts
of terrorism around the
world - in Israel, Iraq
or Russia - I fail to
really comprehend what
it's like because I'm so detached from
these places. But Madrid was different.
Like the World Trade Center, I had been
there before. I stood on Atocha's plat-
forms. I rode on one of those red and
white trains. That shook me up.
But my grief turned to anger when I
saw the way the American press had decid-
ed to distort the tragedy in Madrid.
MSNBC ran headlines effectively assign-
ing blame to al Qaida. A cartoon in the
Daily showed Osama bin Laden squeezing
Spanish blood from his beard. Conserva-
tive pundits have been quick to talk about
terrorism only as it pertains to the Arab
and Muslim world even after the Madrid
The truth is that no one can be sure at
this point who pulled off last week's mas-
sacre. Spanish authorities said that the
leftovers of the explosives looked like
bombs ETA had used before, but ETA has
not been known to solely target civilians or
create a disaster of this magnitude. Plus,
ETA has denied responsibility, but who
said terrorists were known for telling the
truth? There is some evidence pointing to
al Qaida, but at this point, it is fairly weak.
Could it have been small terror cells from
North Africa? Splinter separatist groups
from the Basque country? Anti-E.U.
nationalists? It's anyone's guess.
But according to the American dis-
course, the trial is over, with all prosecu-
tion and no defense, and the verdict puts
the blame on Muslim terrorism. Again, it
is very much possible that this was the
work of Muslim terrorists, but Americans'
knee-jerk reaction to blame Arabs and
Muslims for any act of terrorism is a dan-
gerous one. Remember the Oklahoma City
bombings? People on the news spouted
things like the "Mideast comes to the Mid
West," and immediately accusations went
around about Arab terrorism. But to and
behold, the culprits turned out to be
(d'oh!) two white, Christian warriors
trained by a terrorist network based right
here in Michigan.
But what was the anti-Arab political
machine really angry about? The Social-
ists' victory in the Spanish elections after
the bombing, of course. Jose Luis
Rodriguez Zapatero, the leader of the
Spanish Socialist Party, has threatened to
pull Spain's troops out of Iraq unless a
more multilateral approach to the conflict
is implemented swiftly.
Former Bush speechwriter David Frum
lamented, "Terrorism has won a mighty
victory in Spain. The culprits who detonat-
ed those bombs of murder on 3/11 intend-
ed to use murder to alter the course of
Spanish democracy - and they have suc-
ceeded." Jim Donovan told the BBC, "How
can (Zapatero) say in one breath he will
remove the troops from Iraq and then say
his priority is to fight terrorism?"
Bush liked to tout the fact that he had a
handful of countries like Spain on his side
when he was making his case for war to
present the world with some kind of coali-
tion. He had, indeed, formed alliances with
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi
(possible ties to the mafia), British Prime
Minister Tony Blair (who is accused to
misleading his country to war) and Israeli
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon (a bona fide
war criminal), while mass anti-war protests
erupted in Rome, London and Tel Aviv. The
people of Spain were - and still are -
undoubtedly against the war in Iraq. Last
week's act of terrorism vindicated a claim
anti-war advocates have been purporting
ever since Bush's war plans hit the pages of
The New York Times - that a war in Iraq
would not hinder terrorist activities and
would only inflame anti-Western senti-
ment. We were right, and the Spanish peo-
ple paid dearly for Aznar's decision to be
an obedient marionette to Bush. In return,
the Spanish people kicked the bum out in
exchange for a man who actually repre-
sents the opinions of the population. Frum
is wrong. This is what we call democracy.
Paul can be reached
Tyranny of the majority: part two
DANIEL ADAMS SPITTING INTO THE WIND
ast Sunday, Attor-
ney General Mike
Cox appeared in a
guest column in the
Detroit Free Press.
Ostensibly, his intent was
to comment on the recent
failure in the state House
of a statewide constitu-
tional amendment that
would ban same-sex marriage. However, it
quickly became evident that Cox had a dif-
ferent agenda: Though he fails to mention
it by name, the column is clearly a con-
demnation.of "judicial activism," or the
practice of judges basing their rulings not
on the Constitution, but instead on their
own value systems.
I have heard it all before - for the reli-
gious Right, which has been on the receiv-
ing end of 40 years of progressive court
rulings, the phrase "judicial activism" has
been sharpened into a rallying cry. Roe v.
Wade? Judicial activism. Right to privacy?
Judicial activism. The end of antisodomy
laws? Judicial activism. The phrase has
become the embodiment of all they perceive
wrong with our system of government. The
cure? Referenda. Let the masses decide.
In fact, most of the responses I received
from my last column, "Tyranny of the
Majority," condemned me for what some
felt was my tacit approval of judicial
activism. Granted, judicial activism is an
issue. Technically defined, it should be
something that all Americans oppose as a
threat to our system of checks and balances.
But like so many other previously useful
definitions, the phrase "judicial activism"
has come to mean many things to different
people. For the Left, judicial activism was a
Republican-appointed U.S. Supreme Court
ending the recounts in Florida, leading to
George W. Bush becoming the president.
For the Right, judicial activism is best
embodied in the landmark case Griswold v.
Connecticut, which held that there is a con-
stitutional right to privacy.
However, any accusation of judicial
activism must take into account our Con-
stitution's status as a living, evolving doc-
ument. It must be - the framers simply
didn't have a Ouija board around that
could predict all the societal issues that
would arise over the lifespan of our then-
But judicial activism isn't what I want to
write about. I want to write about Mike Cox.
Mike Cox has much bigger problems
than judicial activism -'he doesn't seem to
have a clue as to how our judicial system
and our republic were intended to function.
Let's start with the basic stuff: Having
apparently skipped most of ninth-grade gov-
ernment class, Cox mentions in his piece how
important he feels it is that we have a public
referendum on same-sex marriage in order to
"preserve the rule of law necessary for our
constitutional democracy to prosper."
Two problems: first, we're a constitu-
tional republic, not a consititutional
democracy. Second, his belief in the rule
of law clearly contradicts the statement
that same-sex marriage is "too important
to be left to one judge."
Besides, even if we're to buy his argu-
ment that direct democracy is acceptable -
indeed, preferable - in this instance, it
must be understood that the people can
effectively and efficiently run the govern-
ment. Cox fails to conclusively establish
even this. Referring to a Free Press editorial
that hailed the defeat of the amendment,
Cox called it "a classic example of a disin-
genuous school of rhetoric - use charged
words in such a way to lead a reader to
believe that no rational person could ever
have a contrary view."
Translation: People are stupid. Don't
But Cox can't seem to make up his mind
on this, later writing, "The genius of Ameri-
ca and the animating force of the American
Revolution was our belief in the collective
wisdom of all our citizens and a rejection of
rule by would-be philosopher kings."
Translation: People are smart. Give
Which is it, Mr. Cox?
Judicial activism isn't the issue here.
The issue here is that our attorney gener-
al can't get his amendmen through a
The issue here is that he wants to sneak
around the judicial branch instead.
The issue here is that our attorney gen-
eral doesn't seem to understand how our
system of government was intended to
Mr. Cox, we elect representatives to leg-
islate. By advocating in favor of pure
democracy over our republic, Cox builds an
argument that is inherently unconstitutional,
and by advocating in favor of direct democ-
racy even at the expense of equality, Cox
has built an argument that is potentially dis-
criminatory. The process of judicial review
has always been an important check on the
power of that legislature, even when it has
ruled against the will of the majority.
Worst of all: Mike Cox is the Michigan
attorney general, and I shouldn't have to
remind him of any of this.
Adams can be reached
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Representatives urge 'U'
to vote yes on the LSA-SGE
TO THE DAILY:
For two days, three of our members
have criticized LSA Student Government's
measure to create a more accountable and
consistent government. The three freshmen
on government who oppose this measure
We are attempting to rectify this
mishap and truly serve student interests.
We are advocating for leadership who
know what issues are, who have relation-
ships with the other elected members of
government, and who have relationships
with administrators (who hold the true
ability to change college and University
policies). This is essential to the optimal
functioning of our government. We need
to change our constitution and allow for
student issues and concerns to be advocat-
d -A nnn-msie n Tnioenn t&e
elected representatives on LSA-SG voted
15-3 in favor of this constitutional change.
We ask that you do the same. Support our
ability to work for you. Vote yes on the
LSA-SG ballot question.
Vice Chair, LSA-SGAcademicAffairs Committee
LSA-SG vice-presidential candidate