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December 08, 2004 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2004-12-08

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, December 8, 2004



£p tothedaily@michigandaily.corn

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.

44'Reaching the
point of an agreement
in principle has been
completed between
Egypt, Israel, the
Palestinians and
several active
international parties."
- Excerpts from a report by MENA, Egypt's
official news agency, which announced that it
had learned of a tentative agreement between
Israel and the Palestinians, as reported
yesterday by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

Y f N &d+ t


False assumptions

Apparently, college
campuses, and the
professors who
teach at them, are liberal.
Who knew? The Center for
Responsive Politics released
a study last week, in which it
found that employees of the
University of California and
Harvard were, as groups,
the two largest contributors
to Sen. John Kerry's presidential campaign. That's
insightful - I for one never thought that residents
of Boston and the San Francisco would support
a liberal, Massachusetts senator. Of 1,000 social
science and humanities professors polled across
the nation, seven out of eight were Democrats.
While this study is useless in providing new
insight into how to resolve the lack of political
diversity on campus, it has been used to bolster the
ridiculous assertion that diverse opinions are sim-
ply not encouraged on campus. Armed with the
study's statistics, conservatives are clamoring that
they are systematically excluded from academia.
George Will, a conservative columnist at The
Washington Post, said universities seek diversity
"in everything but thought." David Horowitz is
once again pushing his absurd "Academic Bill of
Rights," which will - get this - force universi-
ties to hire and promote faculty members with "a
view toward fostering a plurality of methodologies
and perspectives." Do we really need affirmative
action for underrepresented conservatives? To
argue ideological discrimination is the only expla-
nation for such political homogeneity is simplistic,
and acting on that assertion is irresponsible. It is

necessary to explore other reasons for the observed
political uniformity.
Is it possible that conservative academics
simply do not want to be affiliated with major
research institutions? Numerous conserva-
tives with doctorates have left college towns for
Washington; take Condoleezza Rice, who prior
to becoming National Security Advisor, was
the provost of Stanford University. In Washing-
ton, the Heritage Foundation and Project for a
New American Century are machines run by
conservative Ph.Ds who crank out policy briefs
instead of journal articles. Many conservatives
who remain in academia have purposely isolated
themselves at small, private and openly con-
servative colleges such as Michigan's very own
Hillsdale College. Studies that analyze the politi-
cal environment at large universities miss these
small colleges, and thus many coveted and rare
conservative academics.
It's also worth nothing that while most cor-
porate executives vote Republican and church
officials tend to be predominantly conserva-
tive, nobody has argued that these institutions
are insufficiently diverse or suggested that
they discriminate against liberals and Demo-
crats. Instead, there is an understanding that
those environments foster conservative politi-
cal beliefs. Executives tend to vote Republican
because highly paid individuals who have to cut
through government red tape have a personal
incentive to vote for anti-tax, anti-regulation
candidates. Looking the other way, individu-
als who disagree with the Catholic Church on
issues of abortion and gay rights are uncommon
within the Church's leadership - not because
the Church intentionally discriminates against

them, but because such individuals do not wish to
rise within the Church. The problem of political
homogeneity among college professors might not
be the result of intentionally biased hiring prac-
tices. Rather, as Fortune 500 boardrooms foster
Republicanism, universities discourage it.
Of course, I have no proof for any of this, and
I could be completely wrong. But certain "struc-
tural characteristics" of the academic world can be
used to explain its apparent uniformity. In the past,
many conservatives opposed the equality of races;
today, they reject the equality of sexual orienta-
tions. However, academic institutions, committed
to the free dissemination of thoughts and ideas,
have encouraged tolerance and acceptance of
differences. Religious conservatives base beliefs
on faith. Academia, on the other hand, demands
that intellectual beliefs are based on facts, fig-
ures and proof. These "structural characteristics"
of academia conflict with the nature of political
conservatism, and those who follow the tenets of
academia might find it difficult to follow the tenets
of conservatism. Thus, just as most liberal Demo-
crats don't become high-ranking religious figures,
most conservative Republicans don't teach at uni-
So, for those who are using this study to sug-
gest that universities discourage political diver-
sity, it is worth noting that it only points out
that homogeneity exists. It provides no causal
explanation, and using it to substantiate a vast
liberal conspiracy is premature. A deeper look is
required before we rush to solve the problem of
ideological uniformity.
Momin can be reached
at smomin@umich.edu.


Fighting capitalism, one cup of coffee at a time


his summer I ful-
filled the activist
dream. I traveled to
the Mexican state of Chiapas
where, in 1994, the indigenous
Zapatista National Libera-
tion Army rose up to oppose
to the implementation of the
North American Free Trade
Agreement. Their revolution
resulted in the seizure of large
parts of the state, re-invigorating the global Left and
raising questions about the merits of neoliberalism. I
flew there with other students to learn more about fair
trade coffee by living with coffee farmers and visit-
ing their cooperatives. The end goal of the trip is to
expand fair trade coffee in Ann Arbor by creating
direct links between impoverished coffee farmers
in Mexico and socially conscious consumers in Ann
Arbor, ensuring that the symbol of resistance to global
capitalism can be commodified and consumed to the
benefit of all parties.
The Zapatistas held their uprising the day after
NAFTA went into effect to protest the marginal-
ization of indigenous populations that tends to goes
hand in hand with free trade. On New Years Day
in 1994, their irregular army made itself known by
seizing the state's capital in a scream for social jus-
tice. Their rebellion was brutally put down, forcing
them to retreat back into the Lacandon jungle, where
they have since pledged to resist nonviolently. Their
spokesman, Subcommandante Marcos, instantly
became an international celebrity cast in the mold
of Che Guevara. It wasn't important that he is (alleg-
edly) not an indigenous farmer, but is in fact a for-
mer college professor. The mystique provided by his
ubiquitous black mask injected sexiness and intrigue
into the struggle. His masked face became the mar-
ketable embodiment of revolution and social justice,
ensuring media attention and global sympathy.

The capital of Chiapas, San Crist6bal de las
Casas, is an activist Mecca plastered with consum-
able images of revolution made popular by Marcos.
There are hip nightclubs with names like "La Revo-
lucin" featuring murals of Emiliano Zapata painted
behind bottles of Bacardi 151. Among the ancient
colonial city, one can find opportunistic street ven-
dors selling keychains exhibiting Marcos's masked
face and one of his out-of-context quotes idealizing
revolution. Not to be outdone, the Zapatistas them-
selves are capitalizing on these images. After driv-
ing by countless military bases on gutted mountain
roads to meet with the Zapatista governing body in
the autonomous community of Oventic, we were
sent to wait in the Zapatista gift shop to peruse the
CD selections and purchase inspirational T-shirts.
This commodification of the revolution plays directly
into the hands of the Zapatistas, as it allows them to
spread their image as well as their message. When
student activists from the University buy violent
Zapatista T-shirts, they are both projecting their own
edginess and expanding awareness of the Zapatista
struggle, even if the awareness is limited to romanti-
cally vague notions of rebellion.
The concept of fair trade coffee uses these flashy
images to find market solutions for problems caused
by the market itself. Instead of selling coffee to
conniving middlemen who will then sell to coffee
shops, farmers have the option of selling directly to
Ann Arbor coffee vendors, guaranteeing them a fair
price for their coffee and providing Ann Arborites
an inexpensive way to soothe their liberal guilt.
Everyone wins.
It is easy to be cynical about fair trade coffee.
After all, it is based on the somewhat contradictory
idea that you have to use capitalism to fight capital-
ism. Then again, it's easy for me to gaze into my
cup of fair trade coffee and feel ideologically uneasy
about the commodification of rebellion when I'm not
the one whose stomach is swelling due to malnutri-

tion. My privileged position lets me claim the moral
high ground, but it's insulting for me to demand that
impoverished, oppressed coffee farmers conform to
my concept of rebellion in order to make me feel bet-
ter about my own consumption habits.
According to the Higher Grounds Trading Com-
pany, fair trade directly benefits the coffee farmers
of Chiapas by paying them almost three times the
current market price for coffee. In Chiapas, more
than three out of every four indigenous children
under the age of five are malnourished, and nine out
of 10 indigenous homes do not have running water,
meaning that any boost in income is crucial to their
survival. According to a report release by Oxfam,
an international nongovernmental organization
focusing on sustainable development issues, world-
wide coffee prices have plummeted to about.25 per-
cent of their levels 40 years ago, meaning farmers
are often unable to cover the costs of production, let
alone the costs of food and healthcare. Farmers who
sell their coffee to fair trade vendors are guaranteed
to make enough to cover the cost of production as
well as living expenses, but these vendors can only
buy as much as they are able to sell.
That's why Brewing Hope was established.
Brewing Hope is a cheesily titled organization con-
sisting of students and community members trying
to expand the availability of Chiapas fair trade cof-
fee into Ann Arbor. A city that strives as hard to be
considered socially aware as Ann Arbor is fertile
ground for something that can so quickly and easily
satisfy a desire for social change. All you have to do
is spend a dollar on a cup of coffee, and you're doing
your part to change the world. Sure, it's a perfect
example of self-fulfillment through passive con-
sumption. At least in this case it has very concrete
positive results.
Mallen can be reached
at enmmallen@tumich.edu.



Reforms to LSA more
complicated than advertised
I would like to applaud the Daily in its efforts
covering the potential reforms to the College of
Literature, Science, and the Arts, as it is very
necessary for students to be informed about
the changes that could affect them. However,

focusing on the political and economic distinc-
tions. LSA-SG has supported this, and both the
College of LSA and LSA-SG are hopeful that
these will be implemented by the Fall 2005
academic term.
However, there are no proposals for other
minors at this time. I noted that LSA-SG has
just begun its research on the possibility of
minors in chemistry and religion and increas-
ing opportunities for LSA students in kine-

Cal alum wants Blue to
run Texas into the ground'
Michigan and ... Texas.
The Rose Bowl pits a Pac-10 team against
a Big-10 team. It is the only bowl with any
real history. And now, based on six com-
puter rankings, the Longhorns of Texas have


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