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November 11, 2005 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2005-11-11

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Friday, November 11, 2005

OPINION

cbe 31rb1nichta iIg

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
If there is a
disaster in your
area, don't turn
to God. You just
rejected Him from
your city."
- Televangelist Pat Robertson, addressing
the citizens of Dover, Penn. on his televi-
sion show, after voters there rejected a school
board that advocated intelligent design,
as reported yesterday by CNN.com.

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V is for racism
Production of Vagina Monologues discriminates

University of Michigan: Apocalypse Now
WHITNEY DIBo ENTER STAGE LEFT
G od hates the Kansas anymore. in other ways to discriminate against the gay
University The Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and community.
or at least Transgender Affairs is on top of it, having Influential right-wing organizations such as
that's what Fred Phelps already created the coalition Organizing for Concerned Women for American and Focus
thinks. He even put it Unity - an "aesthetic and symbolic" response on the Family crusade daily for a constitu-
on his website, God- to Phelps on Saturday, Nov. 19 and Sunday, tional ban on gay marriage and work tirelessly
hatesfags.com. Nov. 20 in front of the Lydia Mendelssohn against the progress of same-sex benefits.
Our campus will be Theatre. Unless you think God really does These organizations and their allies in the
exposed next week to hate the University, come and show your sup- White House are the real threats to homosexu-
a bit of anti-gay fanati- port. Fred Phelps and his "God Hates Fags" T- als - not just Phelps with his megaphone and
cism, in the form of shirts have no place on this campus - and the makeshift cardboard signs.
Phelps and his followers from Westboro Baptist LGBT community shouldn't be the only ones There has never been a better time for liber-
Church - protesters of all things homosexual. voicing their outrage. als to get their act together. It's pretty difficult
Phelps hails from Topeka, Kans., and he's visit- However, we should not be so quick to dis- to argue with people who legislate from the
ing the University to protest the Department of miss Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church heavens - but given the series of unfortunate
Theatre and Drama's production of "The Lara- as laughable fringe extremists. Despite their events that have befallen the Republican Party
mie Project," a play about the beating and death outrageous demonstration tactics, Phelps and in recent weeks, the left may have a window of
of Mathew Shepard, a gay student from the Uni- his followers bring to light the larger battle opportunity. The line between church and state
versity of Wyoming. facing the gay community and its allies in the is constantly blurring, and the only remedy is
Wherever there is a production of "The Lara- upcoming years. a crystal-clear message and strong backing for
mie Project" (or anything pro-gay, for that mat- We are up against people who, like Phelps, what we know to be right - in this case, pro-
ter) Phelps is never far behind. He does his best believe from their heart of hearts that homo- tection for all American citizens regardless of
to preach the "word of God" and track the pro- sexuality is a sin - who maintain that in being sexual orientation.
duction wherever it is performed - showing up gay, homosexuals have inherently chosen an A strong symbolic stance against Phelps
with an entourage of devotees and colorful signs immoral lifestyle. and the Westboro Baptist Church is a good
that read "God hates fags," "Thank God for Whilemainstream religious conservatives may start - but long after "The Laramie Project"
AIDS" and the like. Phelps has picketed against use far more politically correct language and pre- is over, the battle for gay rights will rage on. So
homosexuality more than 22,000 times in his fer to place emphasis on "family values" rather go and join hands with the LGBT next week,
life, including picketing Shepard's funeral back than on the apocalypse of sodomites, the funda- but know the real battle promises to be fought
in 1998. I know "Thou shall not be tactless" isn't mental belief that homosexuality is a sin in the not only in front of the Mendelssohn Theatre,
written in the Ten Commandments, but given eyes of God is essentially the same. Even though but in Congress and the court system during
Phelps's striking insensitivity, maybe it should politicians refrain from using words like "fag" upcoming years.
be jotted down as commandment eleven. and phrases such as "all homosexuals will burn It may be a losing battle to argue about homo-
Perhaps the most unsettling image on in Hell," the belief that gays are sinners is widely sexuality with an army of religious fundamen-
Phelps's already highly disturbing website is a accepted in conservative religious circles. talists. But if liberals can hone their message
photograph of a two little redhead girls, both We are fighting an uphill battle not on and gain some political muscle during this time
of whom can't be a day over six years old - political grounds, but on moral and religious of Republican instability, maybe they can win
proudly wearing "God Hates Fags" T-shirts. grounds. Many of the movers and shakers in some long-overdue rights for homosexuals - at
Phelps may masquerade as a fringe fundamen- the Republican Party are fundamentalist reli- least until the apocalypse comes.
talist, but he's certainly clever enough to pass gious conservatives - and while these activ-
down his hate gene to American's youth. ists aren't picketing the University's production Dibo can be reached at
We have to show Phelps that he's not in of "The Laramie Project," they are working wdibo@umich.edu.
Parisians riot. Again.
BRIAN SLADE GLOBAL CURRENTS
S o, another class Paris. These neighborhoods have become He used the riots to highlight what he
of people has ghettos of unemployment and bottled-up sees as an attack by immigrants from the
been disen- anger. Now the top has blown off. Third World. It is exactly this sort of senti-
franchised in France, Citizenship can be blamed as a key under- ment that is at the core of the problem in
and the government, lying problem. Unlike U.S. policy, which France: safeguarding centuries-old tradi-
turning a deaf ear grants citizenship to any child born on U.S. tional French culture from attacks by out-
to the problem, has soil, only children born to French citizens are siders, instead of encouraging assimilation
again waited for vio- granted automatic citizenship, perpetuating and contribution from immigrants. Le Pen
lence in its streets to outsider status to an entire group of people. and other right-wing candidates will likely
spur any action. From The result is a two-tiered society, in which use the riots as a springboard for the 2007
starving peasants in immigrants benefit from the powerful wel- presidential elections.
1789, to disgruntled students and workers fare aspect of the French state - receiving The riots in France are not the result of
in 1968, to disenfranchised Muslim immi- education, health care and welfare - but are Islamic Jihad or some "Clash of Civiliza-
grants today, it seems that the only way to barred from most jobs. In addition, recent tions" as many have claimed. The suc-
be heard in France is to burn a car or two, legislation banning the wearing of traditional cessful integration of Arab immigrants in
throw some rocks or even break out the ol' headscarves in French schools, while allow- American society demonstrates the extent
guillotine and roll a few heads down the ing students of Christian faiths to wear cross- of the French problem. Given tolerant con-
Champs-Elysdes. How could the French es, is a clear indicator of French religious and ditions, Arab-Americans have shown that
government allow such a large immigrant ethnic intolerance. they can become productive and positive
group to become so desperate, so disenfran- The underlying problem in France is an members of society in the United States.
chised and economically frustrated that its attitude of disdain for foreigners, espe- As much as Muslim anger in the Middle
members feel that rioting is the only way cially those from Third World countries. In East is directed at the United States, Mus-
for their grievances to be heard? attempts to quell the rioters, Prime Minister lim Americans have not resorted to terror-
One explanation that many are turning to Dominique de Villepin has called attention ism (as they have in Spain and Britain) or
is that Muslim extremists have coordinated to the French model of integration, promis- rioting. Clearly the United States is doing
an attack on France. This is doubtful. Put ing reforms. But many Muslims are worried something right - something that France
simply, these riots are the result of a failure that this is simply lip service laced with needs to learn from.
on the part of a government that is demo- empty promises that will be forgotten once France, historically looked upon as a cul-
cratic and liberal only for specific groups. peace is restored. They are right to worry, tural hub, has been tarnished by right-wing,
Ineffective French integration policies, considering the vast contradictions flowing discriminatory policies left unchecked for
traditional xenophobic views of outsiders from the French government over the past far too long. At the same time, France has
and systematic political and economic dis- few days. Villepin has also made clear that become a hub for anti-Semitic and anti-Mus-
crimination have left a generation of young he wants all non-French citizens involved lim sentiment. France faces a crucial cross-
Arab and North African immigrants power- in the riots deported immediately. roads that is long overdue. Will France use
less and voiceless. In an interview with The Associated this opportunity to reassert itself as the world
Instead of the melting-pot mentality of Press on Wednesday, the right-wing extrem- economic and cultural leader it purports itself
U.S. integration policies that have turned ist and National Front party leader Jean- to be, or will it continue to be dominated by
generations of immigrants into some of the Marie Le Pen (who found his way into the right-wing radical nationalist ideals?
most productive members of society, France runoff election for the presidency in 2002)

has cast immigrants from North Africa and expressed his fear that the riots would spark Slade can be reached at
the Middle East into the poor suburbs of more widespread violence across Europe. bslade@umich.edu.
LETTER TO THE EDITOR

0I

This V-Day, the University will
host a performance of "The Vagi-
na Monologues" that excludes
white women from performing. In an
effort to emphasize violence against
females of color, the directors decided
only women of color would be accepted
for this year's production. The campus
found out about this change through an
e-mail sent to multiple lists by direc-
tor Lauren Whitehead. Our colleagues
opined (A license to direct, 11/10/2005) in
defense of this casting policy by citing
the "creative freedom" of the director.
We agree that the directors of the pro-
duction possesses creative latitude with
their casting policy; however, discrimi-
nating against potential performers
solely on skin color is the very definition
of racism and cannot be justified under
any pretense.
The purpose of V-Day is to educate
Americans about the violence perpetrat-
ed against women in our society. This
ugly reality affects all women, white or
otherwise. "The Vagina Monologues,"
written by Eve Ensler, provides a forum
through which women can educate the
public about a problem that plagues their
community. Performances of Ensler's
play are dramatic, disturbing to some,
but educational for all.
Whitehead's e-mail says: "I beg of you
(minority women), help uphold the mis-
sion of this movement: to give women
- all women - a voice." Why then are
white women excluded? For the direc-
tors to achieve their goal of giving all
women a voice they must include white
women in the cast. We would be equal-
ly outraged if she informed minority
women they need not apply and simul-
taneously claim a diverse cast. We won-
der if our colleagues would have been
equally tolerant if the directors had
explicitly excluded minority women
from joining the cast.
Whitehead claims in her e-mail,

"Violence against women ... happens
to women of color at a disproportion-
ately higher rate than it does to our
white counterparts." While she is enti-
tled to her own opinion, Whitehead is
not entitled to her own facts. Accord-
ing to a 1998 report by the U.S. Depart-
ment of Justice, black women are barely
more than 1 percent more likely to
experience rape during their lifetimes
than white women. Additionally, the
same report found white women are 3
percent more likely to experience rape
that Hispanic women in their lifetimes.
This is hardly disproportionate.
Our colleagues opine creative license
is an acceptable shield for racism.
While creative license is necessary, it
is not an excuse for blatant discrimi-
nation even if the intentions are noble.
Promoting the directors' abuse of
their creative license sets a dangerous
precedent to future artistic endeavors
because it excludes a whole demo-
graphic based on skin color. Ensler
intended for the characters in her play
to reflect the diverse faces of women
who experience violence and increase
the importance of V-Day. This inter-
pretation unnecessarily detracts from
the message of Ensler's play.
We feel the directors could achieve
their goal of highlighting violence
against minority women by other
less insensitive means. We encour-
age them to recast the roles to include
ALL women adversely affected by vio-
lence, not just those who are "melanin-
endowed." Students should demand
that this production adhere to the same
spirit of diversity demanded of all other
institutions of the University.
Reggie Brown and John Stiglich are
LSA juniors. Will Kerridge is an Engineer-
ing junior. Mark Kuehn, Dave Russell and
Imran Syed are LSA sophomores.

Maize Rage confident that
real fans will support team

for our team both during this season and for
several years to follow.
Financial considerations aside, sold (or

astic students.
And speaking to those underclassmen,
please understand this: Do not take for

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

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