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October 25, 2005 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2005-10-25

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, October 25, 2005

OPINION

b Brbeu &iw

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
Ben Bernanke
is the right man to
build on the record
Alan Greenspan has
established."
- President Bush, in a speech nominating
Ben Bernanke as successor to Federal
Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, as
reported yesterday by washingtonpost.com.

COLIN DALY

00
P~c2Ad.

KII v IE 1 N [IM!\IX

The hidden side of YAF
SUHAEL MOMIN No SI.RRENDER

When I trudged
out of my
house yes-
terday morning, I had
a mission: to stake out
a front-row seat for
"National Sovereignty
Day," a Young Ameri-
cans for Freedom rally
protesting the United
Nations. Expecting
right-wing rhetoric and Bill O'Reilly talking
points - the event's flyers mentioned "UN
commUNists" - I was sorely disappointed:
Not only was the rally virtually nonexistent,
but the eight YAF members present were in no
mood to be the loud, obnoxious Sean Hannity
clones I was hoping to discredit in this column.
Indeed, rather than watching heart-thumping,
red-blooded patriotic Americans denounce the
"commUNist United Nations," I spent a half
hour having a serious conversation with YAF
chair Jon Boguth and fellow YAF members
about problems at the United Nations over Jap-
anese Pan Noodles and Pasta Fresca.
Instead of the expected "Will we let them
screw us over again?" rhetoric, I heard YAF
activists raising questions that all global cit-
izens - liberal, libertarian and conservative
- have an interest in raising and answering.
Instead of prefabricated talking points, YAF
leaders presented serious concerns about the
structure, role and effectiveness of the Unit-
ed Nations.
Of specific relevance to Americans: Should
the U.N. flag be flown in American cities? If
so, at what level in relation to state and nation-
al flags? While not of the utmost importance,
these questions are deeply symbolic - and
profoundly relevant to the overarching question
of national sovereignty. Of incredible impor-
tance to the developing world: Has the United
Nations been effective at distributing aid?

Does food aid, which could potentially under-
mine markets by flooding them with cheap
goods, harm long-term prospects for economic
self-determination? Of special relevance fol-
lowing the Iraqi "oil for food" scandal: Does
the structure of the United Nations open up
the organization to scandal and corruption?
Because large sums of money are allocated by
individuals isolated from electoral pressures,
does U.N. aid spending go to the people who
need it, or to privileged individuals and con-
nected causes?
These questions are wide open to debate
and, barring some form of divine revelation,
it will be higher-level thinking and inves-
tigation that uncover acceptable solutions.
For example, while I believe unilateral food
aid is crucial because it enables individuals
to - and this is not hyperbole - survive,
the YAF critique raises a legitimate issue: If
farmers in developing countries deliberately
choose to stop farming because foreign food
aid has depressed domestic market prices to
the level at which farmers cannot sell food
at a profit, can such a nation ever wean itself
from international charity? Both sides of
this debate offer valid arguments, but unless
partisans on each side continue to examine
the issue at a level beyond talking points,
nobody will develop what everyone wants: a
better way to help the world's poor.
It is reassuring to see college students
thinking about issues at a theoretical and
intellectual level - a casual observation
of campus. obscures the existence of any
such groups. All too often, campus politics
are characterized by slogans, chalking and
rallies; the desire to defeat opposing ideas
overrides the desire to formulate better ones.
Indeed, when I first arrived at the Univer-
sity, I immediately signed on to Gov. Jen-
nifer Granholm's gubernatorial campaign.
I flyered, chalked and manned information

tables - but never really had the opportunity
to discuss ideas outside the context of Gra-
nholm's platform. The goal of the organiza-
tion was to sell an ideology, not to critically
examine its merits and flaws. Fortunately, to
now see students, liberal and conservative,
discussing issues within groups and on the
pages of opinion magazines (The Michigan
Review and newly-launched The Michigan
Independent) is a subtle sign that intellectu-
alism may be alive and well.
However, mere discourse between like-
minded individuals is not adequate. As lead-
ers and thinkers all over the spectrum nurture
ideas, they must also make sure that their
ideas are exchanged and debated, not merely
bounced around in an echo chamber. Case-in-
point: One YAFer suggested that if U.S. citi-
zens no longer supported U.N. aid operations
through federal taxes, Americans would make
up the lost aid by donating more generously
to international nongovernmental organiza-
tions. While this idea has gained remarkable
traction within conservative and libertarian
communities, it has little support outside the
anti-tax establishment; no American will con-
sciously provide additional support for NGOs
simply because he is paying a few dollars less
in federal taxes. This highlights the danger of
isolated intellectualism: absent a serious and
aggressive competition of ideas, stronger ideas
will not discredit and replace weaker ones.
Given the concentration of intelligence on
this campus, it is disheartening that many
students sell themselves short and become
cheap election-year labor. While selling ide-
ologies is undoubtedly important, this is a
college campus - in lieu of marketing exist-
ing ideas, students should focus on drafting
a new generation of better ones.

0

Momin can be reached at
smomin@umich.edu.

VIEWPOINT
Consider a vote for RAM this election year
BY BRYAN KELLY the Defend Affirmative Action Party - and are all racists for believing what we believe.
I dare this newspaper to print his exact I do not like that. I did not like it then,
I am currently enrolled in a Residential words - called him audibly a "racist-ass and, with my blood pressure raised, with
College interdivisional course taught by motherfucker." my heart pounding, the actual merits of the
Carl Cohen - a longtime professor in the Thereisnoargumentforracialpreferences debate had flown out the window. I could
college - on the cases surrounding racial in the phrase "racist-ass motherfucker." I do not concentrate on what Cohen said in the
preferences in admissions vis-a-vis Grutter not need to pour over the debate in the 1964 concluding minutes. Significantly, silently,
v. Bollinger and Gratz v. Bollinger, along with Senate to look for, in Title VI, assurances without waiting for class to conclude,, the
the greater history of the topic. I am reg- made against the possibility of opponents of accuser had left the room.
istered in this class alongside driven advo- racial preferences being called "racist-ass What I do not like most about this is that
cates on both sides of the debate. motherfuckers." And I look forward to pam- I feel toyed with. I feel as if silently and
From the outset, Cohen made it no secret phlets in the future from DAAP, pamphlets coyly, people of both sides of this or any
that he intends to teach the course from a that give me two choices: be a supporter of debate are making their ways into rooms
biased point of view - from that of the DAAP or be a racist-ass motherfucker. of similar shapes and sizes; accusing the
plaintiffs in those cases - that finds the Again, on Thursday of that following opposing side of being despots, sickos,
practice of racial preferences, as he puts it, week, in the middle of a discussion about the madmen, poor human beings - raising the
"bad and wrong." Naturally, the atmosphere merits of the Civil Rights Act, the question blood pressures and heart rates of everyone
is heated. I like that. I like a good debate. was posed whether, from a legal standpoint, present with accusations - and then leav-
However, in the course of the class, the the opening section of the law, which reads ing. It is the leaving that shows it most; the
tension over the merits of racial preferences that "no person in the United States shall, on debate does not interest them. The substitu-
became manifest. Members of parties sup- the ground of race, color, or national origin, tion of passion for debate and anger for an
porting the practice of racial preferences be excluded from participation in, be denied open mind, name-calling for slightly more
(For that is what they are - I dare not use the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimi- sophisticated name-calling - these are our
the not-only-euphemistic but also histori- nation under any program or activity receiv- tools, the tools we have given ourselves.
cally inaccurate term "affirmative action," ing Federal financial assistance," forbids the But to hell with that, I have an election to
lest I appear unfit to argue my case) were practice of racial preferences. There was win. I am writing this viewpoint to announce
huffing audibly, and members of groups in a verbal argument. Someone called racial the creation of a new political party on cam-
favor of dismantling of racial preferences preferences "bullshit" and then quickly and pus, a party that wants a level playing field
also responded audibly. apologetically retracted his words (Obvious- in the eyes of the law, the only pair of eyes
When Cohen, who intended in due time ly he meant to say "horseshit."), while the that are still open. My party needs your
to address the arguments behind racial pref- DAAP member from before began to rant vote. My party is called RAM,: Racist-Ass
erences, preferring instead to first cover that the professor was a racist, choosing to Motherfuckers.
their history, decided to cut a question-and- disrupt what was an informational session
answer session short, one of the members of with an accusation that we on the other side Kelly is an LSA sophomore.
LETTER TO THE EDITOR

0

Christians can support tax
cuts without angering God
TO THE DAILY:
In his Friday column (Would the real
Christians please stand up?, 10/24/2005),
Jesse Singal seemed to write that Christians
cannot be in favor of tax cuts. In the column,
hew ri e,"Chritif h iswrd-s are anv indi-

since then I've been told by many fellow
students that Christianity is bigoted toward
homosexuality and that as a Christian, I
am an intolerant person. They are right -
most sects of Christianity are unaccepting
of homosexuality and see it as a sin. The
same Christians see most things humans
do as sinful. That's the point of Christian-
it _ that nn onei s nerfect and that God

be completely atheistic." If religion plays
an important part in someone's life, why
shouldn't that be examined by the elector-
ate? Certainly, a candidate's track record
and performance should be considered too,
but some would argue that a candidate's
religion plays an integral part in a politi-
cian's decision making, especially in cases
where there is no track record.

Editorial Board Members: Amy Anspach, Reggie Brown, Amanda Burns,
John Davis, Whitney Dibo, Sara Eber, Jesse Forester, Mara Gay, Eric Jackson,
Ashwin Jagannathan, Theresa Kennelly, Will Kerridge, Rajiv Prabhakar,
Matt Rose, David Russell, Brian Slade, John Stiglich, Imran Syed, Ben Taylor.

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