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October 21, 2005 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2005-10-21

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Friday, October 21, 2005

OPINION

7be JMirigunu fai1g

JASON Z. PESICK
Editor in Chief

SUHAEL MOMIN
SAM SINGER
Editorial Page Editors

AuSON 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
You allowed your
fighters to be laid down
facing west and burned.
You are too scared to
come down and retrieve
the bodies. This just
proves you are the lady
boys we always believed
you to be."
- Translation of a taunt American forces
in Afghanistan played over loudspeakers
as part of a propaganda campaign using
the charred corpses of Taliban fighters,
as reported yesterday by nytimes.com.

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rv.uo5

Bush & Dick Theatre Company
ZACK DENFELD -BIT CRITIC

01

The great Amer-
ican tragedy
continues. As
President George
"(W)illy Loman" and
his supporting cast
stumble through what
I can only assume
will be a lame-duck
second term - if not
a series of cascad-
ing impeachments - I am reminded of our
American character:
Business is our culture. We are a nation of
salesman, hucksters and actors. We have an
undying optimism in an impossible dream.
And when that dream fails, we fall hard.
We are amazing improvisers; just don't
hand us a gun. Otherwise you get "Ready,
Fire, Aim."
I am more than ecstatic that the Bush &
Dick Theatre Company will be booed off the
stage soon enough, making way for a direc-
tor more grounded in realism. Isn't it inter-
esting that they will be exiting stage right?
Even conservatives are getting sick of the
bizarre and stilted mix of war story, fantasy
and untempered religious revival. Bush's
arrogance in appointing a total hack to the
U.S. Supreme Court hasn't helped him with
his core audiences either.
Certainly the tension of our American
drama has been kept high with a series of
"mysterious" terror threats that then turn
out to have no credibility. It is interesting
that the highest moments of tension and
fear grab the headlines while the techni-
cal crew of DeLay, Libby and Cheney et
al. were getting caught for their backstage
indiscretions. Building fear through seem-
ingly implausible plot devices grows old,

especially when lives are really being rav-
aged and unattended in the wake of natural
disasters.
Bush and Company were never very good
with subtlety. It seems they want to orches-
trate the action movie to end all action
movies, with an almost pathological obses-
sion with staging action sequences for their
armored actors to perform in. The continu-
ing staged scenes orchestrated by the admin-
istration grow more pathetic by the day.
"Mission Accomplished" and the toppling
of Saddam's statue were eloquently staged,
if totally insincere, portrayals of a neocon-
servative fantasy world. But now that the
scenes are starting to break down and the
administration gets caught staging presumed
impromptu teleconference interviews, one
wonders if the administration shouldn't
move to slice-of-life stories that prominently
feature real citizens and not stand-ins.
Perhaps they should make a documentary
about land use management, global warming
and environmental policy, as an impetus to
protect and preserve wetlands that our coastal
regions desperately need to absorb and slow
storm water.
Part of the problem is that the Bush & Dick
Theater Company doesn't read reviews. It doesn't
hurt to pander to the audience when things are
looking glum. George, take your pick:
" A humble but heroicized retreat scene,
because it's the only option left for a mili-
tary left hung out to dry?
" A father-son conflict where you throw off
the chains of your evangelical and neoconser-
vative inner-circle and find your own voice?
" Maybe a sob-filled scene where you
realize your entire world is a lie, all of your
friends are fakes and the only thing you can
do is get on your knees, break the fourth

wall and speak directly to the audience:
"Citizens, I am lost, help me find my way!"
Probably not, but the audience would eat it up.
And I know that Bush is into traditional
forms, but if incorporating a little media
into the production (i.e. his staff bring-
ing him video news compilations of the
Katrina disaster) is what is needed to save
this production from disaster, then so be
it. With a media that essentially says what
you want them to say anyway, what is the
harm in leaving the stage and listening and
watching a little? The media even let your
Department of Education run propaganda
to promote your EDUCATION policy. Now
that is dramatic irony at its finest.
Bush & Co. are on their way out, and it
will be our duty to usher them off the stage
with a series of impeachments, scathing
indictments and any other form of political
rotten tomato that can be thrown their way.
But we have to start thinking about next
season's lineup already.
America: It is time to reinvent yourself
once again. There is no need to relegate
yourself to playing bit parts, but a little
humility wouldn't hurt. As the elusive spot-
light starts to move east towards China and
south to Brazil, focus on perfecting the lit-
tle things that will set you apart in the long
run and improving the things that are your
major weaknesses.
Might I suggest some classes on environ-
mental sustainability, media democracy and
international diplomacy? Finally, how about
reclaiming a good old dose of pragmatism
and can-do that you are known for when
your optimistic overreaching fails?
Denfeld can be reached at
zcd@umich.edu.

0
0~

Dress to impress
It's tough being a multi-million dollar athlete

Would the real Christians please stand up?
JESSE SINGAL >TE M THE TIDE

In an effort to appease corporate
sponsors and broaden its appeal to
spectators, the National Basketball
Association announced a league-wide
mandatory dress code. As of Nov. 1, play-
ers will be required to dress in business-
casual attire whenever they participate in
team or league activities. No longer will
players be able to wear do-rags, throw-
back jerseys or the standard $30,000
diamond chain to post-game press con-
ferences. Instead, they will have to dress
like any other respectable American
businessman and show up to work in a
collared shirt and dress pants.
It would not be the politically correct
United States unless the race card were
pulled; this debate is no disappointment.
Within days of the announcement, the
dress code was labeled racist by Indiana
Pacers guard Stephen Jackson. Requiring
business-casual attire for members repre-
senting the league is hardly racist by any
means. Three prominent white figures in
the NBA - Steve Nash, Dirk Nowitzki
and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban
- are notorious for wearing sweatpants
and sleeveless T-shirts, but the dress
code affects them in exactly the same
way as black Americans who choose to
wear do-rags and throwback jerseys. The
attack on the dress code boils down to
one pathetic truth: Multi-million dollar
athletes are too damn lazy to put forward
a respectable image to those who provide
the capital to finance their ridiculous sal-
aries. The NBA is a professional league
aimed at improving its image from that
of the ghetto lifestyle to something more
professional and marketable - that's not
racism, it's business.
Ever since Michael Jordan left the
league as a Chicago Bull in 1997, the
NBA has been struggling to rebuild its
image as a league of class, represented
by those with class. As Washington Post
columnist Michael Wilbon eloquently
states: "From 1985 to 2000 or so, most
NBA players were the best-dressed men

on the planet. Earvin Johnson and Jordan
looked so stylish and sophisticated every
night that CEOs wanted to buy what they
were selling." The incredible resurgence
of the league was not solely created by
the action on the court - much of the
popularity arose from the stars represent-
ing professionalism and taking heed to
the art of presentation. Now, the NBA has
completely lost the professional image
and is suffering economically because
of it. With $500,000 luxury boxes left
empty and corporate sponsorships slowly
dwindling, the NBA has realized, as Wil-
bon states, "... that people don't want to
pay $200 a night to see jail culture." What
players like Jackson and Allen Iverson do
not understand is the hip-hop industry
and ticket sales are not what fund their
salaries. Corporate sponsors and TV net-
works that provide the capital to ensure
the average NBA salary hovers around
$4 million do.
Hip-hop culture may have merged
with the NBA a decade ago, but within
the league, the fad is slowly dying, and it
is in no way paying the bills. Abandon-
ing what may have been successful and
popular five years ago is not a racist prac-
tice - it is a business decision aimed at
improving.the league's image and pros-
perity. Iverson and Jackson are not above
the league; they are members of the NBA
and must represent it accordingly. Other
businessmen who make more money
than NBA players and have to conform to
certain rules dictated by their industry are
not uttering screams of racism. If Jackson
and Iverson are so incredibly distraught
by losing the right to wear a gold chain,
I have a fantastic resolution to the prob-
lem: "AND-1 Mixtape" is hiring. It may
be a small paycut, but you guys don't play
for money - you play for the love of the
game, right?
Will Kerridge is an LSA junior and an
member of the Daily's editorial board. He
can be reached at willker@umich.edu.

hen you
go to the
Christian
Coalition's website
and click on "Issues,"
the third item on the
legislative agenda is
"Making permanent
President Bush's 2001
federal tax cuts."
Concerned Women
for America has, on its site, material speak-
ing out against the Estate Tax (Excuse me,
I meant "Death Tax."). It would appear that
a lot of religious conservatives have eco-
nomic agendas coinciding with Bush's. It's
important not to over-generalize here, as
there are certainly Christians who oppose
Bush's economic policy, but there are also
a number of large, well-funded groups,
including the two mentioned above, that
proclaim to be Christian and consistently
argue against taxation at the same time.
There's an argument to be made that this is
an incoherent position.
Bill McKibben, an author and scholar in
residence at Middlebury College, recently
wrote an excellent essay for Harper's in
which he argued that a genuinely Christian
viewpoint would lead one to adopt economic
policies antithetical to the Republican agen-
da. Jesus Christ, it turns out, felt a tremen-
dous amount of compassion toward the poor.
Of course, this is no surprise to anyone with
a working knowledge of Christianity, but it
is lost amid the din as Christianity is used
over and over again by the Republicans as a
gay-bashing weapon of judgment and divi-
sion. Christ famously opined that it would
be easier to get a camel through the eye of a
needle than it would be for a rich man to get

into heaven. It's quite hard to reconcile this
with a program of tax cutting that primar-
ily targets the rich and which will, in the
inevitable bouts of belt-tightening that are
to come, lead to cuts in programs that aid
the poor.
This disconnect doesn't just apply to eco-
nomics. Many of the Christian groups that
push the tax cuts are also staunchly pro-death
penalty. Christ's take? "You have heard that it
was said, 'an eye for an eye and a tooth for a
tooth.',But I say to you, Do not resist an evil-
doer. But if anyone strikes you on the right
cheek, turn the other also." How could any-
one argue that Christ would approve the death
penalty, given this clear refutation of the Old
Testament passage that many religious con-
servatives use to defend it? McKibben argues
pretty convincingly that people are taking
American ideals and trying to find them in
Christian teachings. This is borne out by the
fact that three out of four Americans believe
that the sentence "God helps those who help
themselves" is a Bible teaching (Actually, it's
Ben Franklin.). Christ, if his words are any
indication, wasn't about people helping them-
selves; he was more interested in people help-
ing each other.
Republicans have for too long used reli-
gious imagery to their political advantage
while at the same time promoting an agenda
that, by most reasonable standards, is decid-
edly anti-Christian. Democrats tend to be
very timid in the face of Republican talk-
ing points, which often focus on messages
that are of an only slightly veiled religious
nature. If they are going to have any suc-
cess in the 2006 midterm elections, Demo-
crats need to begin actively pointing out the
hypocrisies inherent in the Republican plat-
form. They have a window, now, in the wake

of Katrina, Tom DeLay's indictment and
Bush's mind-exploding decision to appoint
Harriet Miers to the U.S. Supreme Court, to
give the American people - finally wary of
the dominant GOP - another option. Will
they? If history is any indication, no. They
will, as usual, remain on the defensive and
fail to respond to even the most ludicrous
Republican arguments. But at least there is
some hope in the growing dissension among
conservatives. The Democrats have a real
chance here if they are smart and organized
enough to capitalize on it.
Politics should be completely atheistic.
There should be absolutely no faith involved
in judging a candidate's track record or an
incumbent's performance. Most democ-
racies in the world do not require an out-
spoken belief in God as a prerequisite for
leadership positions. This reliance on reli-
gion is incredibly harmful to the discourse,
as arguments about who "really" speaks for
God never end well (Just check the history
books.). But in a country where millions and
millions doubt evolution and most seem to
think only a man of God is fit to run things,
an important first step is to hold those who
cling to the cross accountable. Republicans
have for too long been allowed to toe the
line, appealing both to fiscal conservatives
(not that they are actually fiscally conserva-
tive in any manner other than cutting taxes)
and to religious conservatives. If any of their
highbrow proclamations about morality and
faith are actually about Jesus and not simply
manipulative ploys to attract more voters,
then they should realize how untenable their
position is and explain themselves.
Singal can be reached at
jsingal@umich.edu.

(0

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Militarism and waste are
destroying America's future
TO THE DAILY:

and over again by the U.N. Security Council
for racism and its illegal occupation of Pal-
estine. Outraged - as they should be - that
the most wasteful and gluttonous country in

wantonly wasteful use of oil is poisoning our
diminishing, breathable air and driving up
fuel costs around the world.
Former President Eisenhower said it

"In Dissent" opinions do not reflect the views of the Daily's editorial board. They

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