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October 22, 2004 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2004-10-22

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Friday, October 22, 2004



SINCE 1890

Editor in Chief
Editorial Page Editor

Unless otherwise noted, unsigned editorials reflect the opinion of the majority
of the Daily's editorial board. All other pieces do not
necessarily reflect the opinion of The Michigan Daily.

When you undress
the Supreme Court
justices, they're just
men and women.
- Jamie Raab, a publisher at Warner
Books, which produced the satirical Comedy
Central textbook "America," on a page that
asks readers to match naked justices with
empty robes, as reported yesterday by CNN.

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>:, ,,;
C.reoC _
Thri t FSt
,( K).

SAM BUTLER t-in S&Oiox






I.- C.





Fear factor

As Nov. 2 draws
close, I think
everyone is getting
a little jittery.
The reverberation cham-
ber of the electronic media
is in overdrive. Jon Stewart
appears serious on CNN's
"Crossfire," and with a few
simple words, exposes cable
"news" for the circus it has become (and my hair
stands on end). "Reality" television has degener-
ated into a new level of spectacle, in which view-
ers gleefully revel in the misery, exploitation and
degradation of other humans.
Sinclair Broadcasting thinks about pre-empting
its usually scheduled broadcast in favor of show-
ing all or part of a documentary critical of John
Kerry days before the election. And somewhere in
America, Michael Moore has his cameras rolling
ready to capture - with his particular perspec-
tive - the absolute debacle this Election Day will
undoubtedly be.
In The New York Times this week, William
Safire wrote a column chiding the Kerry cam-
paign for using fear as a tactic to win votes and
then talked about the crackdown on the fourth
estate without mentioning that the attorney gen-
eral is still, in fact, John Ashcroft.
Both presidential candidates have used fear as
one of their primary tactics in the campaign sea-
son, but Safire should be ashamed of himself for
focusing primarily on Kerry, and then not naming
the Bush administration directly.
President Bush, using the tactics of fear by cit-
ing Sept. 11 every time he discussed Iraq, is the
reason we are now stuck in Iraq without a viable
exit strategy. It's a shame that Bush disregarded
the huge mobilizations of citizens concerned about
the invasion of Iraq as a focus group. Perhaps he
wishes he had listened to these people now.
Both candidates have run absolutely disgrace-

ful campaigns in terms of fear mongering. If one
listens to the rhetoric, voting for Bush or Kerry
is a vote for the "terrorists," and a vote for Ralph
Nader is a vote for Bush. Using the transitive prop-
erty of math, it seems that a scared citizen who
doesn't want to help the "terrorists" would best
help the country by staying home on Election Day,
or mounting a write-in campaign for Stewart, a
man who can at least be funny when he lies.
The media has not demanded that either
candidate articulate real and achievable policy
positions on television, nor have they done near-
ly enough to debunk the fantasy world the Bush
administration has been living in over the last
two years. This is not entirely the TV media's
fault. Television is a lo-fidelity medium that
flattens out three-dimensional images and reads
surfaces very well. It is not a medium that is
very adept at giving people complex facts that
they can digest and make decisions on. That's
why the rules of how the debate would appear
were so contentiously discussed.
What happened to all the hope that was gener-
ated after Sept. 11?
Well most of it was forced underground and had
to go hiding when the Bush administration was
totally hijacked by a neo-conservative philosophy.
A lot of the wonderful exuberance that occurred
in communities throughout America dissipated
when so-called security moms tried to make sense
out of a color-coded terror alert and accompany-
ing press conferences that gave no useful informa-
tion and basically ended up conveying, "Be scared
but not too scared, if you re-elect Bush."
Here's some of the hope I remember after Sept.
11: There was a nationaldiscussion about what was
truly important about life. Despite the president's
recommendation to visit Disneyland and keep on
shopping, people began voluntarily downshifting,
working less hours and at more personally fulfill-
ing jobs, turning off their TVs, reading more, tak-
ing their kids to the park. There was an outpouring

of community volunteering and a sincere attempt
to understand people of different backgrounds and
a desire to understand more about the world that
most Americans are so blissfully ignorant of. The
sudden blooming of flags ranged from beautiful to
tacky, but citizens felt empowered, responsible and
hopeful. At one point, the notion almost surfaced
mainstream that part of the war on terrorism could
be fought at home by actually consuming less, not
more. Perhaps citizens would start flying their
plastics flags from smaller hybrid cars and bicy-
cles as they switched their commute routine, or we
would collectively decide to put a tax on gasoline
and use the money to research the development of
renewable resources.
Groups were formed, coalitions were built
and there was lively public debate about where
America should head in the 21st century. And
then all this energy was squelched as Bush scared
the American public into pursuing his agenda in
Iraq, which did not make sense to anyone from
day one. But it's hard to think straight when
you have been scared out of your mind.
Luckily, despite the challenges, all that
hopeful momentum has continued on. The
Internet has become a meeting place for peo-
ple of all political persuasions, and although
their tactics can be hateful or hopeful, they are
certainly much more useful than the absolute
farce that passes as television and print news.
For one, Web groups often link to actual bills
and primary source documents that you can
read and don't rely solely on spin. Incredible!
I feel hopeful. But for the people who have
gotten caught up in the spin cycle, get out
while you still can; because no matter who
wins in November, there is still hope that
American can be safe, caring and something
to be proud of.
Denfeld can be reached at


Making the grade
R emember the infa- ous, but college should not be the first place where more competitive colleges and have a higher like-
mous "look to one learns how to "cut and paste"in Microsoft Word lihood of college graduation. If I had remained
your left, look to or divide fractions without a calculator. inside Kalamazoo Central's vegetative boundar-
your right, one of you won't As a product of public schooling, I have seen ies, there's no doubt that success at the University
be here next year" spiel the firsthand where such trouble stems from. Although would have been a far more difficult feat.
first day of college? Chanc- my own Kalamazoo Central High was in the Though I was fortunate to have additional
es are that at least one of midst of increasing academic requirements, it was college-prep resources, it is narve to expect the
you really wasn't meant to possible to graduate with no more math knowl- average person to possess the necessary financial
be in that classroom. edge than basic geometry, ironically insufficient resources or drive to go beyond the mandatory.
That's according to a for ACT testing - and only a ninth grade reading At a time when numerous public schools are
new report by ACT Inc., the nonprofit company proficiency. Instead of tightening standards so that underfunded and short-staffed, with a marked
best known for its scholastic entrance exams. The a degree actually correlated to something mean- presence along racial and socioeconomic lines,
Crisis at the Core: Preparing All Students for Col- ingful, my high school had a tendency to teach to we cannot let success boil down to the "haves"
lege and Work study released Oct. 14 cites a mere the "lowest common denominator." Numerically versus the "have-nots."
22 percent of 1.2 million high school graduates and politically this makes sense, because few peo- Standards must be toughened so that a high
who took the exam, about 40 percent of the total ple would be willing to fund a school from which school degree, which for many Americans
number of 2004 high school grads, are ready for their own children might not graduate. But hand- denotes the end of their education, has magni-
college coursework in math, science and English. ing out diplomas is just as, if not more detrimental, tude. Does this suggest the compulsory teach-
This number is based upon the ACT benchmark than a few irate taxpayers. ing of astrophysics and differential equations?
that a student is likely to earn a grade of C or Low standards are infectious. Because degrees Perhaps, but the malaise facing schools is com-
higher in college if she receives a score of 18 in were essentially certain, the majority of my class plex, and cannot be ameliorated with rigorous
English, 22 in math and 24 in science. The scores was lackadaisical and did just enough to "get by." courses or stop-gap vouchers alone. The heart of
are out of a possible 36. Even inherently talented students, who perhaps the problem lies in our attitude toward education.
The report attributes the lack of competency to required extra impetus to succeed, were victim to Education must be given the same worth finan-
the fact that fewer and fewer students are taking the slump of the masses. Few such as me, who cially and mentally that is bestowed on material-
the rigorous suggested course load of four years of had external motivating factors like parents or ism, physical looks or say, a dubious war in Iraq.
English and three years each of science, math, and mentors, were resigned to enrolling in accelerat- Education, especially at no cost, is a privilege in
social studies during high school. ed programs outside high school via the Kalama- most of the world. We cannot take this gift for
And the results are very apparent on campus. zoo Area Math and Science Center or Western granted nor let it decay into mediocrity.
Even at one of the top-rated universities in the coun- Michigan University. It was the training gained
try, I have seen countless occasions of students with at those venues that made an impact. Statistically, Krishnamurthy can be reached at
sub-par knowledge of the basics. Perhaps presumptu- we attained better standardized test scores, attend sowmyak@umich.edu.

To stop hazing, find out
the reason it occurs
Regarding the recent hazing incidents: My
first temptation is to negatively judge these indi-
viduals, both the perpetrators and the pledges
who took part. I think a better approach, how-
ever, would be to ask, "What leads people to
inflict this kind of abuse on their peers? What
factors influence individun to disresnect them-

than humiliating and harming those who they
have invited to be a part of their peer group.
Kari Tervo
Columnist misses the trees
yet still finds the forest
Sravya Chirumamilla's recent column (Men-
tal masturbation = the lack of dialogue, 10/20/04)
badly misstates the nature of God and distorts

when life begins, but even if she did, she would
be unable to "dictate her beliefs" to others on the
matter. However, if one accepts that all human
life is worthy of preservation, then there is an
obligation to dictate that belief, as basic as it is
to human freedom. If life cannot begin with-
out conception, the contrapositive must be true
- either life, or the life process, indisputably
begins at conception. Also, she goes so far as to
say that abortions are a "necessity" for children
born into poverty. But this is manifestly flawed.
It implies that individuals in poverty are some-

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