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February 06, 2006 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2006-02-06

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4A - The Michigan Daily - Monday, February 6, 2006


(7brl iri!&ugT niItt

Editor in Chief

Editorial Page Editors

Managing Editor



I'm a champion.
I think the Bus's
last stop is here in
- Pittsburgh Steelers running back Jerome
Bettis,following the Steelers' Super Bowl XL
victory last night, as reported last night by si.com



Unsigned editorials reflect the official position of the Daily's editorial board. All
other signed articles and illustrations represent solely the views of their author.

amoftat b S Us

Tuning down the rhetoric


ate last semes-
ter, the Daily
published two
cartoons that infuriated
the campus NAACP
and garnered regional
media attention. The
issue had largely faded
from the public eye, but
last week the Universi-
ty's Student Relations
Advisory Council joined the fray by penning an
open letter on the subject in this paper (An open
letter to the Daily, 02/03/2006).
I had never heard of the committee, but on
face, it seemed quite legit. Then I read what it
wrote: "There are indeed situations, such as a
newspaper dedicated to serving an entire cam-
pus community, in which the abovementioned
Fourteenth Amendment trumps the First." The
SRAC, composed of highly educated faculty
members and bright young students, somehow
concluded that the Fourteenth Amendment's
guarantee to equal protection under the law
could be construed as a speech code.
It's interesting to note that the University
once had a speech code. It was ruled unconsti-
tutional by a federal court. Indeed, there's noth-
ing in the Constitution that protects individuals
from hate speech; the Constitution protects
such speech.
All this isn't to say the Daily should pub-
lish hate speech. There's a very real case to be
made against the cartoons, and I respect that. If
the SRAC had stopped at saying that the Daily
needs to be more sensitive in its editorial prac-
tices, I would have likely agreed.
But the group's message was severely tar-
nished when it embarrassingly suggested that
the Fourteenth Amendment could operate as a
speech code. The group lost a good deal of cred-
ibility; its suggestions were easier to disregard.
And to be fully honest, because it's an official
committee, it made the University look stupid.
Yet this twisted and embarrassing logic is not
confined to University committees, and I'm not
writing this column to defend the Daily from the

SRAC. Rather, the SRAC blunder is indicative
of a broader problem: Progressive student groups
have this terrible habit of discrediting themselves
in the eyes of the campus mainstream. They pick
bad battles, use terrible rhetoric and find them-
selves banished from the realm of relevance.
That's unfortunate, because resolving many of
the persistent race-related issues we face would
help foster a better campus environment.
The indefatigable pro-affirmative action
group BAMN exemplifies all that can go wrong
with student activism. The group throws around
the word "racist" as a catch-all for anyone who
isn't militantly pro-affirmative action. It imports
black high school students to curse, spit on and
yell at the aforementioned racists. BAMN activ-
ists have been arrested for acting in violent and
disruptive ways. As an institution, BAMN never
realizes the folly of its strategy - and main-
tains that it, not University lawyers, successfully
defended affirmative action in front of the U.S.
Supreme Court. .
Everyone else realizes these problems with
BAMN. Groups like Students Supporting Affir-
mative Action have sprung up as mainstream
alternatives to BAMN. The NAACP publicly
condemned BAMN last semester. BAMN is
everything every other progressive organization
hopes not to become.
Yet organizations like SSAA are slowly slip-
ping into the same trap as BAMN, though not
intentionally. Misplaced furor and overused
rhetoric have made well-intentioned progressive
groups less effective and less relevant than they
would otherwise have been.
Recently, several progressive organiza-
tions, including SSAA, kicked out three
members who joined the secret society Mich-
igamua. The underlying rationale was that
Michigamua is racist, and progressive groups
can't tolerate members who sympathize with
a racist organization.
Yet the entire case for Michigander's sup-
posed racism relies on its contentious, pre-2000
history. Just last year, the group tapped an Asian
(Dennis Lee), a South Asian (Neal Pancholi), a
self-described social justice advocate (Sam Woll)

and an LGBT activist (Brian Hull). Despite this,
campus progressives seem perfectly OK leveling
accusations of persistent racism and discrimina-
Ironically, sympathy for the progressive
Michigamua members (who appear as victims)
has probably worked to bolster public support
for the society.
Just yesterday, the former vice president of
the campus NAACP chapter, Alex Moffett, sent
an e-mail around campus in which she called
for unity in the campus struggle against "racist
practices" at The Michigan Daily.
That's a pretty serious charge. But it isn't war-
ranted. There's a critical difference between
"racist practices," which implies systematic and
pervasive racism, and publishing two insensitive
cartoons. At worst, the Daily editors who pre-
sided over the cartoon crisis (including me) were
guilty of bad judgement in publishing the second
cartoon by Alexander Honkala (Fetid Chum-
bucket, 12/08/2005). The first cartoon (The Bien
Archives, 11/28/2006), however, needs no apol-
ogy; Michelle Bien's illustration fits squarely
within the debate over affirmative action.
Accusations of racism when none are war-
ranted simply detract from the meaning of the
word. If the word is watered down, it becomes
irrelevant. And when nobody believes racism is
a problem because the word carries no signifi-
cance - or because nobody is listening - prog-
ress ceases.
I'm not writing to defend this paper and my
reputation. I'm writing because I think those
fighting for civil rights are pushing themselves
off a cliff by picking bad battles and fighting
them poorly. Moffett, BAMN, the SRAC and
the groups mentioned earlier may believe they
are acting in minority communities' best inter-
est. They're not. They're just making it more dif-
ficult for real racial problems to register on the
public radar - because every time "racist" gets
used when it's not warranted, it becomes that
much easier to ignore the word when it is.
Momin can be reached
at smomin@umich.edu.

The genocide in Darfur is not over

The genocide in Darfur is not over. In
fact, the violence continues to escalate. The
government of Sudan's campaign of rape
and slaughter of Darfur's civilians began in
2003 under the guise of a counterinsurgency
against Darfur rebel groups. The government
is using Janjaweed militias to massacre men,
women and children while burning their vil-
lages. More than 400,000 people have died
and 2 million have been displaced.
President Bush has called the atrocities in
Darfur "genocide," but his administration
has been hesitant to condemn the government
of Sudan's involvement in Darfur because of
the tenuous North-South Peace Agreement
and the Sudanese government's cooperation
in the war on terrorism. To his credit, Presi-
dent Bush publicly opposed Sudanese Presi-
dent Omar al-Bashir's bid for chairmanship
of the African Union because of the Suda-
nese government's role in the genocide. As
a result, Sudan lost its bid. Bush has also
allocated millions of dollars in aid to Sudan;

however, humanitarian aid alone cannot stop
To end the genocide in Darfur, we need
more troops on the ground. Although stron-
ger sanctions are critical, our primary focus
must be to assist the AU in its peacekeep-
ing mission. Despite its valiant efforts,
the AU lacks sufficient troop numbers and
an adequate mandate to protect civilians.
"It is clear in our minds that a transition
is inevitable in the long run," said Baba
Gana Kingibe, head of the AU mission in
Sudan. United Nations Secretary-General
Kofi Annan agreed, stating: "I wish I could
report that all these (past) efforts had borne
fruit - that Darfur was at peace and on
the road to recovery. Alas, the opposite is
true." Internally displaced persons camps
are constantly under attack by militias, and
the government has prevented aid workers
from reaching the refugees. Despite the gov-
ernment of Sudan's opposition, the AU sup-
ports a multi-national intervention, and the
United Nations must heed its calls for help.
With the United States presiding over the
U.N. Security Council during the month of

February, now is the time to introduce a
Security Council resolution calling for an
immediate U.N. intervention force. Sec-
retary of State Condoleezza Rice recently
issued a statement supporting a joint peace-
keeping mission, and last month Kofi Annan
urged the UN to supplement the existing
7,000 AU troops. Although countries such
as China and Qatar might oppose such an
intervention, the United States must remain
The UN is currently discussing the pros-
pect of an intervention, but at the moment the
Security Council has no concrete plans. This
is unacceptable. Call U.S. Ambassador John
Bolton at (212) 415-4050, and tell him that the
African Union needs U.N. troops in Darfur
Barrall is an LSA junior, Boland is an
LSA sophomore, Daly is an Engineering
graduate student and Glass is an LSA junior.
They are all members of the University's
chapter of Students Taking Action Now:
Darfur. They can be reached
at darfuraction@umich.edu.



Send all letters to the editor to
tothedaily@michigandaily. com.

Proud Michigamua member
responds to group's critics
As a proud member of the Michigamua tribe
of 1951, I found the viewpoint Michigamua has
troubled past (02/02/2006) inaccurate and nar-
row. One example was the reference to the term
"squaw." The article indicated the word was
abrasive, not spoken aloud in many native com-

ed reference to indicate it referred to "female
genitalia." I compliment the facts so well stat-
ed in the viewpoint of the Michigamua Class
of 2006 (Looking to the future by learning from
the past, 02/02/2006).
Especially note that the occupiers in the
2000 break-in removed articles that were
deep in storage since 1989 to display for a
false image to manipulate public opinion.
Charles "Buffalo Calves" Murray

was how the Daily portrayed Moffett's char-
acter (Amid Controversy, NAACP VP resigns,
01/30/2006), presumably without any type of
contact with Moffett beforehand. The manner
in which Moffett was portrayed, especially
in regards to her affiliation with the NAACP,
seemed unjustly biased; the Daily failed to
highlight any of the positive actions Moffett
took during her stint as vice president.
Is it safe to say and assume that the author
of the article had no previous knowledge of

Editorial Board Members: Amy Anspach, Andrew Bielak, Reggie Brown, Kevin Bunkley,
Gabrielle D'Angelo, John Davis, Whitney Dibo, Milly Dick, Sara Eber, Jesse Forester, Mara Gay,
lared Goldberg. Ashwin lagannathan, Mark Kuehn, Will Kerridge, Frank Manley, Kirsty McNa-

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