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September 07, 2005 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2005-09-07

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4A - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2005

OPINION

c1je £9 irbi'cw &z tIig

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
I don't see
what it matters
if is a teacher is
good looking or
not, as long as she
is qualified."
- Caterina Bonci, a 38-year Italian reli-
gion teacher, who claims she was fired
for being too sexy and well-dressed, as
reported yesterday by MSNBC.com.

COLIN DALY TH MIC I-At)t'N D1A Y

9

~f~O4~ KP~TRlNA...

I~FTEg ~

4.

America's failure in New Orleans
MARA GAY CoMMO\N SENSE

ot here, they
say. Ameri-
cans struggle to
understand how a disas-
ter of this magnitude
could happen in a coun-
try where so many have
so much. After all, in the
national conscience, float-
ing bodies and destroyed
lives do not belong to
American soil but to far-flung lands where suf-
fering is, somehow, more acceptable.
When Hurricane Katrina ripped through
New Orleans, however, she revealed a city
unprepared to help its most needy citizens and a
federal government shamefully willing to sit by
and allow thousands to die senseless, prevent-
able deaths.
Those who wonder how such gross inaction
could be tolerated in the face of such unparal-
leled suffering may be sincere in their disbe-
lief. But in truth, there have always been two
Americas: the land of the haves and the land
of the have-nots.
Katrina shows us that we can count on nature
to strip us of our facades and reveal the glar-
ing inequities of the world in which we live.
She is a painful reminder that when the going

gets rough, masking those inequities becomes
a nearly impossible feat, one that requires the
complete disavowal of facts and an unnerving
ability to stand by and do nothing while people
suffer needlessly.
Before last week, few thought a hurricane
would spark a national debate over the role of
race and class in the distribution of aid and
compassion. But 30 percent of the population
of New Orleans lives below the poverty level,
and the city is 70 percent black, leaving many
Americans to wonder if the government's
response would have been different if the
disaster had happened in a wealthier, whiter
area. It is difficult, after all, to imagine scenes
of hunger and lawlessness in a West Bloom-
field or a Westchester.
But really, the New Orleans residents left
clinging to rooftops and languishing in sports
arenas were abandoned by their government and
their country before hurricane Katrina struck.
The poverty that characterizes so many of their
lives is powerful and ever-present; it destroyed
entire communities long before the news cam-
eras found a compelling tale in its wrath.
In all of the chaos one fact has become
increasingly clear: Those who could afford
to pack up their SUVs and leave New Orleans
did so. Those who could not were left behind

and forgotten, a despicable but distinguishing
mark of membership to America's invisible
poor. And their suffering has gone unacknowl-
edged for far too long.
The blame game is not conducive for
rebuilding shattered lives and communities.
But if America is to move forward and deem
its democracy ready to export, it must confront
some uncomfortable truths. It is time to have
an honest and constructive dialogue about the
impact of poverty and race in America.
In the coming weeks and months every
American should think long and hard about
the kind of society we want to rebuild. We
have been given the chance to address and
root out some of our most deep-seeded injus-
tices, to create a society where Americans are
judged based on what they do with what they
have, where there is equal access to resources
and equal opportunity regardless of skin color
or economic standing.
In the end, we will be judged on how we
treat the weakest citizen, not only when his
suffering is loud and marketable, but when it is
present and desperate. If America fails in New
Orleans, America fails.
Gay can be reached at
maracl@umich.edu.

0

*I

VIEWPOINT
Not everyone is the same
BY DAVE RUSSELL Michigan. RBF also won numerous trade asso- also different each year, ranging from political
ciation awards, and in 1979 Grandpa was made statements (a call to forgive the terrorists of Sept.
Everyone was still on summer vacation a the president of the National Trade Association. 11) to a person's difficult life story (Last year's
couple of weeks ago, but perhaps you remember All of this success allowed Grandpa to pursue winner was a story about a woman born out of
hearing that televangelist Pat Robertson sug- his other passion: spreading the word of God. In a rape.).
gested the U.S. government take out Venezu- particular, he felt that a Christian worldview was The Amy Foundation has continued Grand-
elan president Hugo Chavez. Those comments not represented in the secular media and in 1984 pa's work by creating a church writing group
received widespread media attention and con- decided to offer financial incentives for people to that helps enable church members to reach out
demnation right up until Robertson apologized present the word of the scriptures in secular pub- to their communities, as well as another $10,000
two days later and the story died. Last year if you lications. This idea was formed out of Grandpa's prize for pastors who develop ways to bring their
attended a football game at Michigan Stadium belief that the pen is mightier than the sword and congregations closer to God. The prizes awarded
you probably saw people outside the stadium that encouraging people to actively present a bib- from the foundation are not the only examples
announcing that we were all destined for Hell. lical worldview would bring Christian ideas out of ,generosity that Grandpa passed on, as he
Chances are that when you heard those com- of religious circles and into the mainstream. contributed to various groups that seek to help
ments or saw those people you shrugged them off So Grandpa started the Amy Writing Awards people in needl. In fact, his leadership in giving
as the attention-seeking radicals that they are. To in 1984, offering a first prize of $10,000 - the time and money was so strong that following his
you, these people may represent your reason for largest prize in journalism. Additionally, he funeral one of our family friends decided to get
not participating in organized religion. However, offered up 14 other prizes, bringing the total on a plane and head south to help the victims of
these people and their hate represent a minority amount awarded each year to $34,000. Like Hurricane Katrina.
of the faith-keeping people in this country, and everything Grandpa started, the awards only If there is anything that comes from this
today I'd like to tell you about a man who was an grew in their success, and today more than 1,000 column, I hope it's that the media don't always
exemplary example of a public religious figure. entries are read and scored by judges before the present the full story. Understandably, the media
This person is my grandfather, Jim Russell, $10,000 prize is given out at the annual Michi- and the ratings they pursue are drawn more to
who passed away early last Wednesday morning gan Prayer Breakfast in Lansing, which the gov- stories of conflict and struggle than ones of kind-
at the age of 80. What he will be most remem- ernor of Michigan regularly attends. The winners ness and goodwill. Next time Pat Robertson runs
bered for began in 1964 when he started a small range from well-known media personalities like his mouth or someone condemns you to Hell,
business forms company, RBF, out of his own Cal Thomas to journalists just starting their remember that most people devoted to God are
home. Grandpa's strong desire to run a business careers. And the papers that the winning articles ones of compassion, not condemnation.
built on integrity, hard work and a customer-first are written in range from The New York Times
approach became real and caused RBF to expand and Wall Street Journal to The Times of Mun- Russell is a LSA sophomore, and a member of
to five offices spread across Georgia, Indiana and ster, in Indiana. The range of winning topics is the Daily's editorial board.
VIEWPOINT
Racially targeted fraud has no place in Michigan

I

0

BY KATE STENVIG
Racially targeted fraud pervaded the pro-
cess of collecting petition signatures for
the so-called Michigan Civil Rights Initia-
tive. This anti-affirmative action amend-
ment being pushed by California millionaire
Ward Connerly must not proceed to the bal-
lot on the basis of this far-reaching racial-
ized deception.
Virtually every black voter who signed
the petition was deceived into thinking they
were signing a petition for affirmative action,
rather than the truth, which is that they were
signing a proposal that aims to outlaw all
affirmative action for women and minori-
ties in Michigan. Even without the growing
number of people coming forward, any hon-
est person thinking it over would come to the
same conclusion that Johnathan Crutcher, a

sophomore at Cody High School, came to
when he told the state Board of Canvassers,
"There's no way you can get black people
to sign a petition against affirmative action
without lies and deceit." Now judges, jour-
nalists, lawyers and trade union officials have
come forward to make clear that they were lied
to by people petitioning for MCRI.
To deceive black parents in Detroit and
other Michigan cities into participating in
an attack on their children's opportunities
for college is both unacceptable and illegal.
The Michigan Court of Appeals ruled in a
1996 case that signatures gathered on the
basis of fraud were every bit as invalid as
forged signatures.
The state Board of Canvassers is charged
with safeguarding the ballot initiative pro-
cess from fraud. Honesty in elections
requires such safeguards. The state attorney
general, Mike Cox, a longtime opponent of

affirmative action and supporter of MCRI,
blocked the state Board of Canvassers from
investigating the racially targeted fraud that
has marred the MCRI petition effort. The
state Board of Canvassers, while barred by
the attorney general from investigating the
fraud, nevertheless refused to certify the
petition for the ballot. The issue is currently
headed for a Court of Appeals hearing.
Basic fairness and honesty in elections
requires that these petitions be thrown out.
The state authorities with the responsibility
to safeguard Michigan's ballot initiative pro-
cess must 'not certify MCRI for the ballot.
Outlawing affirmative action by means of
fraud and deceit is a simple recipe for long-
term bitterness, anger and polarization in
our state.
Stenvig is a Rackham student and a BAMN
organizer.

Editorial Board Members: Amy Anspach, Amanda Burns, Whitney Dibo, Jesse For-
ester, Mara Gay, Jared Goldberg, Eric Jackson, Brian Kelly, Theresa Kennelly, Rajiv
Prabhakar, Matt Rose, David Russell, Dan Skowronski, Brian Slade, Lauren Slough,
John Stiglich, Imran Sved, Ben Taylor

I

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