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February 10, 2006 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2006-02-10

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Friday, February 10, 2006


aIbr £ iltd tija ~

Editor in Chief

Editorial Page Editors

Managing Editor


44This timeline
isn't based in sci-
ence fiction. (It) is
based on the reality
of where commercial
space is today."
- Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta,
expressing his confidence that there will be
commercial passenger flights to space within
two years, as reported yesterday by cnn.com.

' .C



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.

Dreaming of a free Burma
H aving func- to stand for a cause that is a perfect representa- these policies.
tioned as a tion of these ideals, it gets conspicuously quiet. Here at the University, student activism has
military dic- The Burmese dissidents, whose growing caused some progress thanks to groups like
tatorship for nearly 45 voices remain unmatched by political action the Coalition to Cut the Contract with Coca-
years, the government from the international community, are calling Cola, whose efforts demonstrated the ability
of Burma (or Myan- for sanctions and increased political pressure of direct action and pressure to alter the poli-
mar, as the current against the current government. With activists cies of a large institution. Critics of student
regime has renamed it) inside Burma acknowledging the economic activists, especially of those fighting for more
is among the world's cost of this pressure, their call for sanctions distant, international cause's, often argue that
worst abusers of human - despite their negative short-term effects - is these undertakings are too abstract in their
rights. The last decade an argument that must not be ignored. goals and fail to make any difference world-
has been witness to thousands of incidents of As in so many other instances of multilat- wide. The formation of a Burma activist group
political imprisonment, state-sponsored torture, eral action, however, the effort of pushing for at the University and at other college campuses,
repression of ethnic minorities, forced labor and a democratic Burma is a complex and arduous however, could profoundly increase the politi-
relocation. Burma's current leader, the avidly path. Within the United States, the lack of pub- cal power focused on the issue. To suggest that
superstitious General Than Shwe, recently used lic awareness and the current administration's a sufficiently large, unified movement among
his astrological practices to justify the reloca- unwillingness to make Burma a priority hinder college students nationwide would not have
tion of the country's capital to a half-built city/ the creation of more forceful policy. Among any impact on public awareness and interest
fortress 200 miles away from its previous loca- the East Asian community, countries like would be a glaring underestimation of the role
tion. Yeah, he's that crazy. China and Malaysia continue to invest heav- grassroots activism has played throughout our
But what is probably more interesting than ily in the Burmese market in hopes of capital- country's political history.
Burma's tragic political condition is the strength izing on the eventual opening of its economy. On points of international concern, there is
and commitment of its democratic opposition. And on the international front, the U.N. Secu- rarely an issue that comes across as complete-
Aung San Suu Kyi, the winner of a Nobel Peace rity Council is reluctant to set harsher restric- ly black and white. In far too many instances,
Prize and an internationally recognized face of tions until Burma can be viewed as a threat to oppressed or neglected people are given the
Burma's struggle for democracy, is the char- regional stability. choice between bad and worse, which gener-
ismatic, nonviolent leader of a political party Of course, no one would really call Burma ally leads to their getting screwed either way.
called the National League for Democracy. In a threat to stability within Southeast Asia - Perhaps nowhere do things seem more clear-cut
1990, while reeling underneath growing calls unless you account for its 700,000 political refu-. than in Burma, where a nonviolent democrat-
for democratic reforms, the military govern- gees, its generation of child soldiers, its massive ic movement is thriving underneath a brutal,
ment held its first elections in 30 years. Suu Kyi exportation of heroin and opium and its rapidly incompetent dictatorship with little interest in
and the NLD swept at the polls, winning more increasing rate of HIV/AIDS infection. Oh yeah moving the country forward. Unfortunately,
than 80 percent of the popular vote. The prob- - I guess it is a threat to regional stability. continued indifference from much of the outside
lem is the dictatorship decided to immediately Most important in an examination of this world will give little hope to those who struggle
nullify the results, placing Suu Kyi under house country should be a discussion of the role for a democratic state. While an international
arrest (where she still remains) and retaining grassroots activism must play in changing the campaign for a free Burma must function in all
total control of the government. policy and increasing awareness. Groups like levels of society, it will take a grassroots, bot-
Here in the United States, our leadership the U.S. Campaign for Burma and Free Burma tom-up effort - and the voices of those who
enjoys blabbering on endlessly about the inalien- Coalition, which lobby at all levels of govern- compose it - to make true progress.
able human rights of freedom and democracy ment for a more aggressive, proactive stance
and the need to promote them across the globe. on the issue, have been remarkably effective Bielak can be reached
And yet, when presented with clear opportunity in promoting what progress has been made on at anbielak@umich.edu
Trading in the mohawk for the corporate noose
ome say the selling out? dreadlocks, which they countered represented
clothing makes I'm not disagreeing with Hampton's ratio- their religious beliefs as Rastafarians. The
the person, but nale for behavior and appearance codes. My Metropolitan Transportation Authority in New
does that translate to short stint in the workforce has shown me the York has faced similar heat for victimizing
hair as well? importance of fitting in and exuding supposed Sikhs who wear turbans as part of their faith.
According to Hamp- professionalism. Whether real or feigned, the The notion that perception is reality tran-
ton University, a his- well-groomed kid who walks into the interview scends into all aspects of life, even beyond
torically black college in a pressed Brooks Brothers suit with a firm the corporate confines. When I was younger,
in Virginia, apparently handshake enjoys more credibility and respect I shocked the eighth-grade choir by wearing a
it does. The school's than his counterpart in baggy sweatpants and a light-blue shirt instead of the mandatory white
business administration program prohibits Michigan hoodie, although it might be the lat- during the annual Christmas performance.
admitted students from wearing certain hair- ter who is more qualified for the job. Though I received a nice chewing-out from the
styles like cornrows and flowing dreadlocks as We have all heard about the infamous Uni- choir teacher for the act of rebellion, it was a
part of a larger policy that includes completing versity of Chicago and Massachusetts Institute case of mistaken identity - I never intended to
two internships and adhering to professional of Technology study where economists Mari- be a prepubescent free spirit. It was just laun-
dress standards. Dean Sid Credle defends the anne Bertrand and Sendhil investigated the dry day.
rules as preparatory for students entering the impact of having a so-called "ethnic name" on I applaud Hampton for taking strides toward
stuffy corporate world, saying: "When we the interview process. The New York Times leveling the playing field and providing the
look at the top 75 African Americans in cor- reported that applicants with white-sounding tools to succeed in business and life in general,
porate America, we don't see any of them with names, like Carrie and Brad, were 50 percent which, after all, is a large part of what a college
extreme hairdos" But with this head start, he more likely to be called in for interviews than education should be. That said, I hope these
said, students "get very comfortable wearing those with black-sounding names like Tamika policies do not hamper what little 6lan and spir-
a suit over a five-year period. When they get and Tyrone. With identical rsums, the results it is left in students. College is for most the last
into corporate America, the transition will be are based upon nothing but the names - or, time we can truly be free. It is one of those rare
easier." more accurately, the prejudices that are instant- safe spaces where being uninhibited with an "I
As a private institution, Hampton has the ly attached to them. don't give a damn" attitude is an asset and not
prerogative to enforce whatever rules and That being said, it can be dangerous to make a liability. We have our whole lives to conform,
regulations it pleases - just one of the many assumptions about a person based upon arbi- relinquish credit to overbearing bosses and don
delightful byproducts of those hefty private- trary external factors, and some companies the corporate noose. Getting the gig or selling
school price tags - but the attention to post- have had to reach inside their pocketbooks as out - however you may see it - in the future
graduation etiquette begs the question of what a result. FedEx Express and Greyhound Lines, should not overshadow our uniqueness now.
exactly students are expected to give up. I among other organizations, have settled dis-
wonder: Are codes of conduct preparing us to crimination suits brought on by employees who Krishnainurthy can be reached at
be professionals, or are they just precursors to felt they were mistreated as a result of wearing sowmyak@umich.edu
Send all letters to the editor to
LET TER TO THE EDITOR tot hedailyomichigandaily. corn.

And then there was one
State govemment needs streamlining

wo gladiators clash swords
in the murky pit of an arena
while voters cheer from the
stands above. These formidable
opponents were once senators and
representatives in Michigan's state
Legislature who were forced to do
battle when Michigan's Senate was
eliminated in favor of a unicameral
legislature. With fewer seats to fill,
only the strongest and most worthy
will survive. The situation might
sound far-fetched - and blood
sports aren't likely to return - but a
voter initiative to dissolve the state
Senate might appear on the ballot
this November. The initiative, if
passed, would streamline state gov-
ernment and save taxpayers money.
The reason the federal govern-
ment has a bicameral legislature
consisting of the House of Repre-
sentatives and the Senate is to bal-
ance the power of larger states with
those that have smaller populations.
But the notion of a two-chamber
legislature has little merit within
a state government. The result for
Michigan is an estimated $50 mil-
lion wasted annually in salaries and
bureaucracy with little apparent
benefit. Because senators and rep-
resentatives are elected from redun-
dant and arbitrarily drawn districts,
the public gains little additional
representation from this system.
Indeed, the current inclusion of a

Senate in Michigan's government
actually blunts the democratic pro-
cess since it is less representative
than the House and delays action in
the Legislature. Reducing two legis-
lative bodies to one will not affect
the system of checks and balances
because only separate branches of
government can balance one another.
While such a large overhaul might
seem daunting to a timid public,
there should be little sentimentalism
(or mercy) for a state government
that is plagued with ineptitude and
disconnected from its constituents.
There are legitimate concerns
about an experience gap between
senators and House members.
Removing unnecessary term limits
and timing the dissolution of the
Senate to allow senators and repre-
sentatives to compete for the remain-
ing seats would solve this problem.
The result is a screening process
that filters out useless seat-warmers,
leaving genuine lawmakers behind
to actually make decent laws. One
might be more reluctant to take such
drastic action if the current govern-
ment were worth saving in the first
place. Should the initiative get on
the ballot and pass, it will be time
for the fat cats to prove their worth
and valor in the electoral arena.
Gavin Stern is an LSA sophomore and a
member of the Daily's Editorial Board

"In Dissent" opinions do not reflect the views of the Daily's editorial board. They
are solely the views of the author.u
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, Jared Goldberg, Ashwin Jagannathan, Eric Karna, Mark Kuehn, Will Kerridge, Frank
Manley, Kirsty McNamara, Rajiv Prabhakar, Katherine Seid, Brian Slade, Gavin Stern, Ben
Tavlor, lessica Ten.

Viewpoint author oversimpli-
fies free-speech argument
Aside from the shortsighted, racist attitude
presented in Mark Kuehn's viewpoint regard-
ing the offensive cartoons printed in the Dan-
ish newspaper Jyllands-Posten (Free speech
doesn't merit violence, 02/08/2006), there are

the right to punish anyone who publicly makes
threatening or degrading statements based on
"race, colour of skin, national or ethnic back-
ground, faith or sexual orientation."
In Europe, and in America, there is a very
thin, frail line between race and religion. This
situation - if it isn't diluted to just a discus-
sion of free speech but is actually understood
in all its complexity - has the capability to
reveal this line. Race and religion are inex-

are unfounded rather than pointing out the
fact that the rioters had first exhausted all
bureaucratic means to be heard. On the civil-
ian level, innumerable people wrote letters to
the editor demanding an apology. On the gov-
ernmental level, 11 ambassadors contacted
the prime minister, but to no avail. The right
to assemble and dissent is too often devalued
and dehumanized. In defense of free speech,
Kuehn has belittled the freedom of speech of



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