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February 04, 2005 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2005-02-04

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Friday, February 4, 2005

OPINION

*£u&

JASON Z. PESICK
Editor in Chief

SUHAEL MOMIN
SAM SINGER
Editorial Page Editors

ALISON Go
Managing Editor

EDITED AND MANAGED BY STUDENTS AT
THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN SINCE 1890

420 MAYNARD STREET
ANN ARBOR, MI 48109
tothedaily@michigandaily.com

NOTABLE
QUOTABLE
The greatest
tribute to the
memory of the
fallen is an exit
strategy called
success."
- Sen. John Kerry, commenting on Presi-
dent Bush's State of the Union address, as
reported yesterday by the Associated Press.

SAM BUTLER THE lNMJx
AT oA F
OUR N

What's the matter with Kansas?
JEFF CRAVENS IA'AWK LUES

01

s a liberal from this
ultra-conservative
red state, I have
often asked myself that ques-
tion. In recent times, Kansas
has made national news for
having a winning college
basketball team, for pull-
ing evolution from the state
education standards and for
the dog breeder who cut the baby from a Missouri
woman's womb.
Most people think of Kansas as some comical,
mythological place. Unlike Nebraska, Oklahoma
and Missouri - which all border Kansas and
are fairly similar - Kansas has been immortal-
ized by the Wizard of Oz. When I meet someone
at a party or a bar, he never fails to smirk at his
friend or point to the piles of snow outside and
quip, "We're not in Kansas anymore!" In sober
settings, when I tell people where I'm from, they
usually ask, "Really?" or "No shit?"
No, dumbass, I just thought it'd be funny to say
I was from Kansas.
If the conversation persists, they always ask,
"So what's there to do in Kansas?"
I like to glamorize the few "Dazed and Con-
fused"-type stories I have from high school,
but in general growing up in Lawrence, Ks was
probably no different than growing up in most
midwestern cities.
I like to call Lawrence the Ann Arbor of
Kansas. The University of Kansas, which takes
over the town during the year, attracts more
diversity than you might expect. The town and
college are both liberal: My county was the only

one in Kansas to vote Democratic in the past
few elections. We let our first Starbucks into
town only a few years ago, but the downtown is
crowded with local coffee shops. Massachusetts
Street, like Ann Arbor's Main Street, is shaded
by trees and populated by trendy bars and res-
taurants. But in addition to the dining couples,
bar-hopping college kids and bored teenagers,
some of Lawrence's rural youth come out of the
woodwork on the weekends. They drive their
trucks from Tonganoxie or Baldwin and park
along Mass. Street at night to sit on the back of
their tailgates and people-watch. In their boots
and tight jeans, they add a quaint sense of com-
munity, our equivalent to the smokers that sit in
front of Rendez-Vous cafe or the harmonica guy
on the Diag.
Kansas in general used to be a progressive
stronghold. One astute classmate of mine, when
I mentioned where I was from, said, "Oh yeah,
weren't you involved in those border wars...
Bloody Kansas?" Lawrence used to be a bastion
of the anti-slave Jayhawkers in the state - a town
frequented by the notorious James Brown - and
was burnt down many times by ruffians from
Missouri. In the Progressive Era, Kansas farm-
ers called for the government to regulate crop
prices and over-production. Now, those same
families, as Thomas Frank describes in "What's
The Matter With Kansas," are demanding the
government back off, to their own economic dis-
advantage. Most of our rural farmers live below
the U.S. poverty level, yet the state voted almost
unanimously for a president whose tax cuts dis-
proportionately helped the wealthy. In the '60s,
University of Kansas students protested against

Vietnam and for civil rights, but even then the
state was overwhelmingly conservative.
I'm not going to paraphrase Frank's explana-
tion of what happened in Kansas, but I can see the
tides turning, if only a swell. Four years ago, my
best friends supported Bush; this November, they
voted for Kerry. Kansas, like Michigan, now has
a female Democratic governor. Kansas lawmak-
ers are considering repealing an archaic capital
punishment law where if the case for death penalty
and life imprisonment is equal, the state previously
chose death. The Republican district attorney in
Lawrence has just been replaced by a Democrat.
Why are conservatives losing ground to
Democrats?
Perhaps because every time I go home, I hear
about another local kid going to Iraq. Over Christ-
mas, I found out my friend Mike was getting sent
to Iraq. Another guy I knew from high school
marching band got sent home over the holidays
when a bullet grazed his skull in combat. Many
Kansans, along with much of the country, are won-
dering why their friends and families must bear the
cost of this war, which seems to be going nowhere.
Many Kansans are also wondering how Bush's tax
cuts are going to stop the plummet in education
funding, which has caused massive teacher layoffs
and the elimination of music and athletic programs
in the state.
Kansas may still be a little backward, as
seen by our recently proposed ban on gay mar-
riage, but growing numbers of us are ready to
move forward.
Cravens can be reached
atjcrave@umich.edu

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Daily is 'misguided' on
Social Security privatization
To THE DAILY:
In regard to the Daily's editorial (A misguided
vision, 02/03/2005), it is nice to see that the
Daily's new editorial staff is still as liberal and
misguided as ever. As of today, Social Security
is one of the worst investments the U.S. taxpay-
er is required to make. Every summer when I
receive my paycheck, I cringe at the fact that
some $32 of my hard-earned money is going
into a system from which theoretically, in 50
years, I will receive $32.30 in return. I don't
know what makes liberals so excited about a 1
percent return rate, but for some reason, it just
doesn't turn me on. At this point in history,
the likelihood of even receiving that money is
incredibly minute. A financial advisor for Ray-
mond James once told me, "You are more likely
to see a UFO than the money you are investing
into Social Security." When the program was
initiated after the Great Depression, it was effi-
cient enough so that 10 workers could share the
load of one retiree. In the near future, one work-
er will have to bear the load of two retirees. The
Daily and liberals alike try to paint the picture

that private investment is defined as going to
the casino or racetrack and investing taxes. The
private investments under President Bush's plan
would be secure investments that could yield
a far greater return than the meager 1-percent
Social Security returns right now. These invest-
ments would dump billions of dollars into the
U.S. economy and do nothing else but fortify
our fiscal strength for the future. Please stop
insulting the average taxpayer's intelligence and
hard work by acting so ignorant.
William Kerridge
Engineering sophomore
Only organ donors should
receive organ transplants
To THE DAILY:
Your story about the Gift of Life competition
(Organ donor battle expands, 02/01/2005) high-
lighted the tragic shortage of human organs
for transplant operations. More than half of
the people who need an organ transplant in the
United States die before they get one. Most of
these deaths are needless. Americans bury or
cremate thousands of life-saving organs every
year. More than 6,000 of our neighbors suffer

and die needlessly every year as a result.
There is a simple solution to the organ
shortage - give organs first to people who
have agreed to donate their own organs when
they die.
Giving organs first to organ donors will
convince more people to sign donor cards. It
will also make the organ allocation system
more fair. About 70 percent of the organs
transplanted in the United States go to people
who haven't agreed to donate their own organs
when they die. People who are too lazy or too
selfish to register as organ donors shouldn't be
eligible for transplants, as long as there is a
shortage of organs.
Anyone who wants to donate his organs to
others who have agreed to donate theirs can join
LifeSharers. LifeSharers is a non-profit network
of organ donors who agree to offer their organs
first to other organ donors when they die. They
do this through a form of directed donation that
is legal in all 50 states and under federal law.
Anyone can join for free at www.lifesharers.com.
LifeSharers has 2,878 members, including 59
members in Michigan.
David J. Undis
The letter writer is the
executive director of Lifesharers.

VIEWPOINT
Hear no evil, see no evil

BY BRIAN STEPHENS
Last year, while sitting among a mix of
white and black students at the East Quad
cafeteria, I brought up the topic of homo-
sexuality for discussion. All of the black
males, almost in unison, seemed to stir
uncomfortably for a moment and left the
table one-by-one. When the last guy left
the table, he threw up his hands in des-
peration and said, "Why did you have to
bring that up? No one wants to talk about
that shit."
Well, I want to talk about it, so there.
There is, unfortunately, a tacit rule in the
black community that condemns the dis-
cussion of homosexuality in any favorable
context. It is seen as monstrous, unnatural
and most of all, the greatest sin against
God. Even now, the black community is
sturated with the nall of HIV and AIDS.

gay men as married, sex-driven animals
whose main desire is to spread HIV to
their wives.
Perhaps these men wouldn't feel a need
to pretend to be heterosexual and get mar-
ried if the likelihood of being ostracized by
the community weren't so high. If the black
community was at least tolerant of lesbian,
gays, bisexual, transgender of color, perhaps,
just maybe, they would form meaningful and
monogamous relationships with one another
rather than indulge in clandestine acts of
unsafe sex and skullduggery. These black
pastors ought to preach to their congrega-
tions about the importance of acceptance,
regardless of sexual orientation, rather than
digging an irreparable chasm between the
black community and the LGBTs of color.
Despite the polarizing environment,
many gay black men have deftly adapted,
usually by picking up a girlfriend along

field Hills, we are referring to a kind of
"ungaydar-able" men who put masculinity
fiber allis. The impasse between LGBTs
and the black community is so iron-clad
and compounded that one cannot hope to
change it - all one can do is stand before
its cruel and twisted majesty in awe.
Many blacks exalt Langston Hughes,
Alice Walker and Audre Lorde as some of
the greatest writers and poets of our time.
The fact that these individuals were gay,
bisexual and lesbian are assiduously swept
under the rug, forgotten. There is a nuance
here that is somewhat disturbing. Why does
the black community seemingly accept these
people and not others? If, for example, you
were Tevin Campbell who was "outed" in
1999, you'd be ostracized by the community
and never sell a record again. As we enter
Black History Month, will we celebrate
Audre Lorde's poetry? Certainly. Will we

I~ ~ WIU llA ~~3 U4 LVL - L U~ L V'~

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