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November 16, 2005 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2005-11-16

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, November 16, 2005

OPINION

(1h
e a 1 th'rgttn Ftr1

JASON Z. PESICK
Editor in Chief

SUHAEL MOMIN
SA 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 can't
see why she
shouldn't live
till 200."
- Conservationist Steve Irwin,
referring to Harriet the Tortoise, the
oldest animal on Earth, who celebrated her
175th birthday Tuesday with a pink hibiscus
flower cake, as reported yesterday by Reuters.

KIM LEUNG it- t: T,'\K E-t'x; Box
qN
4~-0!
3 vw-r
~~=.A

Wizard of U.S.
JEFF CRAVENS AY AbIWK BLUES

ollow me down
the Yellow Brick
Road, through
the forests of Michigan,
past the fields of Indiana
and Illinois, over the
Mississippi River and
the hills of Missouri and
into my hometown of
Lawrence, Kan.
In a column last
semester (What's the matter with Kansas,
02/04/2005), I suggested that the social and
political tides were changing in Kansas. I
was wrong.
Let's venture 30 miles west of my home to
Topeka, the capital of the Sunflower State. Here,
Kansas Board of Education members voted last.
week to pass standards that question evolution
and redefine science. In 1999, the board shocked
the world by striking all references to evolution
from the standards. Although those standards
were quickly overturned, conservative members
of the current board are once again chipping
away at evolution and science. The "teach the
controversy" approach, which has been adopted
in Ohio, Minnesota, New Mexico and Pennsyl-
vania, is a thinly veiled attempt to teach religion
in science classrooms.
While we're in Topeka, let's visit the Westboro
Baptist Church, where Fred Phelps preaches his
hateful gospel. As a child, I went to a Willie Nel-
son concert with my mom and was confronted by
Phelps's crew in front of the concert hall, bran-
dishing signs like "Adam and Eve, Not Adam and
Steve" and "God Hates Fags." I don't remember a
single song that Willie Nelson played, but I remem-

ber vividly the confusing emotions I felt toward
the protesters, which included young children.
Now, I am downright pissed that Phelps's crew
will be spreading its bigotry in Ann Arbor this
weekend. I'm more disillusioned by the similarity
between Phelps's beliefs and the majority opinions
in 19 states that have passed constitutional bans
on gay marriage. On the national level, conserva-
tives, led by Kansas's Sen. Sam Brownback (R),
are pushing for a constitutional amendment that
defines marriage as between a man and a woman.
Sick of what we found in Topeka? Follow
me northwest of Topeka for about an hour on I-
70, and suddenly the big green Flint Hills will
rise up around you. There will be no farm-
houses, no trees, no wheat fields - only a roll-
ing carpet of bright green grass speckled with
wildflowers. Looking out over these hills, with
the endless blue sky above you, you can almost
forget about the rest of the world. But follow me
to the edge of these hills and you will find Fort
Riley, the place where young men and women
have been sent to Iraq and Afghanistan from.
In case we forgot, the war is still going on and
our fellow men and women are still dying and
being funneled through bases like Fort Riley
to a war that has not been justified.
I wish I could say that Kansas does not reflect
the rest of the country. I wish I could turn my back
on my home and chuckle, "We're not in Kansas
anymore." But in addition to being the geographi-
cal heart of America, Kansas may also be the
social and political heart. What's going on in Kan-
sas with evolution, the anti-gay efforts and the sup-
port for the war epitomize what's going on around
the country.
Why?

Recently, the mainstream values in this
country have been defined by a cowboy image:
the tough, masculine, straight-shooting, God-
loving American. This image is popular in red
states, especially former frontier states like
Kansas and Texas which participated heavily
in the cattle trade. President Bush has manipu-
lated America's fondness for these frontier val-
ues to promote his backward-looking policies.
When he talks about smoking out terrorists,
he might as well be starring in an old western
movie with a straw hanging out of his mouth.
His positions on evolution and gay marriage
also hark back to an earlier, less civilized era.
How does one debunk the cowboy, expose
the Wizard of U.S., oppose the Fred Phelpses
in the world? I am proud to hear that groups
are organizing to peacefully counterprotest the
Phelps supporters. The members of the Dover,
Penn. school district which recently supported
the teaching of Intelligent Design have been
thrown out of office. Four of the seven board
members who supported the Kansas standards
will be up for re-election next year. There is no
easy solution to these problems, no magic red
slippers, but decent people are joining the strug-
gle. And if you need an image from Kansas to
counter the cowboy, I propose the Jayhawkers,
the courageous-yet-compassionate anti-slavers
that founded my town. Jayhawkers often get
mixed up with the violent tactics of abolitionists
like John Brown, but most of them were brave
men and women in trying times who stood up
for what was right.

01

Cravens can be reached at
jcrave@umich.edu.

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Apartheid reference a false
analogy to A2 ward map
To THE DAILY:
I was flipping through the Daily and I came
across a viewpoint that caught my eye: End Ann
Arbor apartheid (11/15/2005). I don't think Jared
Goldberg realized what he was doing when he
created that headline.
Saying that students should have a say in City
Council is not absurd, though I disagree. That's
a point that can be argued. However, I fail to see
how the structure of the Ann Arbor city govern-
ment and student apathy can be compared in any
way to South African apartheid. How can you
say that the student situation is "much like the
Bantustans of apartheid South Africa?" How can
you even begin to compare the two? Are the Ann
Arbor City Council soldiers coming in, guns
blazing, trying to weaken our hold on what little
land we have left?
I am not saying that Goldberg is wrong, but by
trying to make a comparison between apartheid
and the structure of Ann Arbor's wards, he is not
only blowing the situation here out of proportion,
but also cheapening the legacy of those who lived
through and fought against the injustice that was
apartheid in South Africa.
Steve Assarian
LSA junior
Are 'U' students really of
only one political mind?
To THE DAILY:
I was shocked by Jared Goldberg's claim that
the way the Ann Arbor city government chooses
to divide up the city constitutes a kind of apart-
heid (End Ann Arbor apartheid, 11/15/2005).
Even if students of the University are divided
up and therefore lack power as a voting bloc,
their situation is in no way comparable to the
extreme oppression endured by the black people
of South Africa over the course of many years.
To even hint at a parallel is an insult to those
who suffered.
But Goldberg doesn't need the high drama
of apartheid to make his case about student vot-
ing power. His description of how the wards are
delineated calls attention to the situation - a sit-
uation that he obviously sees as gerrymandering.
Is the city deliberately creating a fragmented stu-
dent vote? Possibly. Is the city afraid of a strong,

seem unlikely that they would all agree on any
issue, even one that disproportionately affects
students.
But I'm curious. I'd like to see some statistics
on how University students as a group would
vote on certain issues. Maybe Goldberg could do
a survey of students who live on or near cam-
pus, and poll them for their views. Then he could
come back and make his point again, this time
with evidence instead of mere supposition and
false analogies. I look forward to reading it.
Cheryl Shell
Ann Arbor resident
Don't hate; blue shirts are
just as good as maize ones
To THE DAILY:
Ian Herbert is wrong when he states that
Michigan fans dressed in blue are second class to
maize wearers (For sake of unity, Blue Out wins,
11/15/2005). How can he claim that the fire in
the fans' hearts is affectedby the color of their
shirt? If there is one thing I have learned in my
time here, beyond the fact that Michigan fans are
loyal to the death, it is that they are a lot deeper
than Herbert gives them credit for.
The Blue Out is a show of unity for the foot-
ball team, students and alumni in attendance
- not some device to inspire greater TV
ratings. I understand that his column was an
opinion piece, but if there were ever a time to
use a column to get people fired up about the
game and to be enthusiastic about a Blue Out,
that chance was it. I would have hoped that
Daily Sports would do better than a "begrudg-
ing endorsement" before the biggest game of
the year with the biggest rival the school has.
I, for one, will be wearing my blue proudly on
Saturday and will stand behind our team with
thousands of other Michigan men and women,
cheering them on to victory!
Greg Wagner
LSA senior
When wil Christian jihad
break out on the Diag?
To THE DAILY:
After reading Suhael Momin's (The great
American ... theocracy?, 11/14/2005), I'm inclined
to think that a state-sponsored Christian jihad is
going break out on the Diag any day now. After

organizations the most powerful nongovernmen-
tal organizations in Washington?" It couldn't
have anything to do with the fact that nearly 85
percent of Americans identify themselves as
Christian.
I know it's pretty bad living in this oppressive,
theocratic American state where we "quite liter-
ally, force religion upon the rest of the country,"
but one can always move to more religiously pro-
gressive states like Saudi Arabia or Iran. I hear
there aren't as many Christians there to oppress
the minority. I wonder why?
Matthew Gage
LSA senior
The letter writer is the events chair of the College
Republicans.
MSA successfully pushes a
divestment resolution
To THE DAILY:
While the Daily is a busy paper, one wishes
it had sent a reporter to the Michigan Student
Assembly meeting last week to cover all the
action. On Nov. 8, MSA passed four resolu-
tions, including one to "stop the government aid
on student aid," and one for the University not
to invest in Sudan until the genocide stops.
Though all the resolutions are important,
the latter resolution (which I encouraged MSA
to pass, I'll mention) is especially notable, as
it is a "divestment resolution" of sorts. It is
hard to imagine MSA passing any divestment
resolution after the huge impetus on campus
against divestment from Israel. But Sudan is
a separate country, and genocide has occurred
(and is still occurring, many say) there. There-
fore, even if the University happened to be
"clean" of any investments in Sudan at pres-
ent (And this author has not heard from the
University directly that there are no University
investments of any kind in Sudan.), it would
still be a heartening gesture if the University
Board of Regents resolved not to invest fur-
ther in Sudan until the extermination in Darfur
and elsewhere ends - just as many colleges
resolved to divest from South Africa until
apartheid ended. Recent campus visitor Paul
Rusesabagina of "Hotel Rwanda" would likely
appreciate the regents' gesture and the public
message of solidarity it would send. (There are
Sudan divestment campaigns at many Ameri-
can colleges presently, by the way.)
I always appreciate it when your paper timely

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Editorial Board Members: Amy Anspach, Reggie Brown, Gabrielle D'Angelo, John Davis,
Whitney Dibo, Milly Dick, Sara Eber, Jesse Forester, Mara Gay, Jared Goldberg, Ashwin
Jagannathan, Theresa Kennelly, Mark Kuehn, Will Kerridge, Kirsty McNamara, Rajiv Prab-
hakar, Matt Rose, David Russell, Katherine Seid, Brian Slade, John Stiglich, Imran Syed, Ben
~T'ninr IflCCira T'oncy

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