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March 21, 2005 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2005-03-21

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4A - The Michigan Daily - Monday, March 21, 2005

OPINION

c11E £i*twu Pailg

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
They're still, in a
number of instances,
still active."
- Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld
commenting on "Fox News Sunday" on the
Baathist insurgency in northern Iraq, as
reported yesterday by The Associated Press.

SAM BUTLER THE >0APBO0X
- - --
Zso 4ef
-y ose 'Kd

The monopoly on racism
JASMINE CLAIR THE MEANING OF PROGRESS
Only racists believe among unrecognized groups. But on the flip- e-mails told members of these communi-
that race is not a side we get the "who's had it worse?" debate, ties that they should question a particular
social construct. which often turns into accusations of stealing candidate because the candidate and MSA
I believed this once, the racial spotlight. were racists. It was blatantly obvious that
but now I understand And at the end of the day we stand these e-mails were sent as a part of a politi-
that race is simply a label divided and weak, remaining at the will cal scheme to sabotage a political campaign
used to justify discrimi- of the white majority, which will ultimate- - explaining why most of the e-mails were
{'' nation and hate. How- ly decide which group will get the most deleted and trashed.
ever, being black made it attention. However, people of color aren't With recent attacks on affirmative action,
very difficult to finally the only ones affected. The relationship low minority retention rates and the con-
embrace this idea. And only through an between blacks and Jews exemplifies such troversy surrounding divestment, students
instance of racism on campus was I able to divisions as well. During the '60s, Jews and have much larger beasts to spear. However,
completely understand why race has always blacks worked side by side to tackle racism I saw these e-mails as representative of the
been a social construct. in America. "race" problem. Someone obviously placed
Ignoring race was never an option for me. The movie "Mississippi Burning" depicts a political smear into a box, wrapped it in
Skin color is not the only difference between a factual account of an investigation by the racial slurs and anti-Semitic tones and sent
the races. Along with my black skin came a Federal Bureau of Investigation surround- it to be delivered by an anonymous source.
history book filled with over 400 years worth ing the deaths of three civil rights activists However, because this is campaign sea-
of differences. Reading about.white suprem- killed by Ku Klux Klansmen to discourage son, the political implications drew more
acists murdering four little girls in a black people's involvement in the "freedom sum- attention, which caused many to disregard
church bombing makes it very difficult to mer." Two of the activists were Jewish, and that Jews and blacks were being targeted for
dismiss race. Knowing that the girls' white the third was black. Many believe that if this type of political intimidation. Though
murderers went free for 40 years afterwards all three workers were black, the murders all students have the right to practice free
makes it almost impossible. would not have received attention. speech, students should not be able to use
In America, blackness means more than These events, often referred to as the bigotry and racial slurs to obstruct Univer-
having kinky hair, fuller hips and a darker Mississippi Burnings, were woven into' sity elections.
complexion. Blackness also absorbs a col- America's collective memory as a defining Student e-mail accounts should be the
lective consciousness of the pain that my example of racism. Yet recognizing it as personal space of students to conduct their
people endured simply because they had such ignores the crucial role of the two Jew- personal business. It's not acceptable for
that kinky hair, those fuller hips and this ish men, and worse, creates friction between a person to bombard my personal space
darker complexion. the black and Jewish communities. with intimidating e-mails, especially when
Race has a painful connection to racism Jews classify themselves as an ethnic they're used to divide and exploit racial
in black history, making it harder for people group, not as a race. Labeling the burnings sensitivity and divide the Jewish and black
who have suffered through racism to think of as racism ignores the involvement and sac- communities. If University codes do not
race as nothing more than a label. But it must rifice of the two Jewish civil rights workers protect us from such occurrences, it simply
be thought of as such. If race continues to who fought alongside blacks for freedom means that these acts are acceptable.
exist, people of color and ethnicity will for- and equality. Furthermore, it places Jews It took 40 years to bring justice in the
ever be divided. into a position where they have to challenge deaths of the four little girls. Today the
Unfortunately, racism in America seems the perception that the burnings were sim- murderer from the Mississippi Burnings
to speak only to the relationship between ply a black/white issue. This causes more still roams free. It also appears that these
blacks and whites, giving blacks a monop- conflict, because in drawing attention to "anonymous" agitators will also go free.
oly on the term racism. Blacks are not the themselves, they create the false perception It's unfortunate. And though these e-mails
only people of color. Nor are we the only that they are trying to steal the spotlight do not equate to death, all of these incidents
victims of racism. Hispanics, Asians and away from blacks. reveal that racial intimidation is something
Arabs are all people of color who've expe- Our university recently had a similar that America is willing to tolerate - espe-
rienced large-scale racism in America. Yet, problem on campus. Attempting to sabo- cially because minority communities are
their stories are rarely told in dialogues tage Michigan Student Assembly elections, divided.
concerning racism, which creates a double- fellow University students hid behind the
edged sword that slices and divides minori- anonymity of e-mails to intimidate Jew-
ties' groups. ish and black students into not voting for tliehd
On one hand we have animosity brewing a particular candidate. Essentially, these
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

01

Divestment opponents
wrong to prefer ideology
TO THE DAILY:
During last week's Michigan Student
Assembly meeting, MSA President Jason
Mironov gave a PowerPoint presentation
that criticized the language of a resolution
that would have called upon the University
Board of Regents to create a committee to
investigate investments the University has in
military companies that do business in the
occupied territories of the West Bank and
Gaza strip. After the resolution's sponsors
removed every single clause that Mironov
alleged was an unfair vilification of the state
of Israel and Mironov still went on to vote
against the resolution, it became clear that the
problem did not lie in the language, but rather
stubborn ideological dogma.
Last week's resolution would have been a
condemnation of Israel only if the investiga-
tional committee would have found that the
investments in those military companies were
against the University's moral and ethical
protocol. Therefore, to claim that this revised
resolution was an attack on Israel is to make
an admission that the committee would have
found the investments to be against the Uni-
versity's moral and ethical standards. With last
Tuesday's events now in hindsight, it becomes
clear that this moderate resolution was rejected
by such a skewed tally because of ideological
dogma and one side's uncompromising refusal
to take any kind of rational and possibly criti-
cal look at Israeli policy. The "Wherever we
stand, we stand with Israel" T-shirts clearly
exemplify this refusal.
As an activist on campus who has taken
part in both formal and informal dialogues
nA rnth'r activiteswith Israe~l ativists. I do

symbolic acts of self-congratulation that we
all like, but we must realize that the only ben-
efits to such actions would be personal and
immaterial. We could stand on the steps of
the Michigan Union shaking hands and sign-
ing symbolic pieces of paper to our hearts'
content, but where will that take us?
Last week's resolution was a very moderate
and reasonable resolution by Students Allied
for Freedom and Equality. It was a large com-
promise from previous calls for divestment.
If both sides on campus seem to agree that
the occupation of Palestine is wrong, why is
it that we cannot call for an investigation on
investments our University has that promote
the occupation? Had our University invested
in Palestinian terrorist groups, it would make
sense to include them in similar resolutions.
Because our University only invests in one
side of the conflict, investigating into the
other side would merely be a symbolic act
without purpose.
This is not meant to be an attack on anyone's
character. It is simply a call for a re-evalua-
tion of our actions. As activists on this campus,
we need to be openminded and move beyond
nationalist dogma and our emotional inhibi-
tions. We must be prepared to do what is just
and what is practical on this campus in order to
pursue our common cause.
Mohammed Elghoul
The letter writer is an LSA senior and
vice chair of SAFE.
Camps kclimate troublingly
accepts ignorance, prejudice
TO THE DAILY:
Last week was one of the most difficult
weeks- for me at the U niversity. I chose to studcv

the University is not only untrue and offen-
sive, but it is also a cheap and cynical pro-
paganda tactic against a country that was
commended this week for its efforts toward
peace by Kofi Annan, the secretary general
of the United Nations. Moreover, as a former
Israeli medic, not only did I not kill Palestin-
ians, I helped save their lives.
Unfortunately, Naber is not the only person
spreading hatred and animosity on this campus.
Carl Pogoncheff, the campaign manager of the
Maize Rage student political party, raised con-
cerns that another party has Jewish presidential
candidates for both the College of Literature,
Science, and the Arts Student Government
and MSA (Ethnic remarks stir MSA elections,
03/17/2005). These remarks are layered in anti-
Semitism, the roots of which formed the basis
of the Holocaust and other pogroms performed
against Jews throughout history.
When I decided to join this university, I
wanted to enrich my intellect with enlighten-
ing views from faculty and students. Last week
taught me that even in one of the most liberal
places, ignorance, prejudice and anti-Semi-
tism are perfectly acceptable. Both Naber and
Pogoncheff represent everything this univer-
sity should not stand for. Following last week,
I am not sure this University should continue
to be the place to cultivate my education and
knowledge.
Or Shotan
The letter writer is an LSA freshman and
chair of the Israeli Students Organization.
F ExPRE~sSYOUROPN NS1

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