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March 14, 2006 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2006-03-14

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, March 14, 2006



c be Mlidtlf gutn t

Editor in Chief

Editorial Page Editors

Managing Editor


44 I turned on
the kitchen
faucet and beer
came out."
- Haldis Gundersen, 50, who resides in a
apartment over a bar in Oslo, Norway, com-
menting on how the beer hoses and water
pipes were accidentally swapped in her build-
ing, as reported yesterday on yahoo.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.


Forget volunteer work, join the Taliban


mong the star-
studded list of
students Yale
University admitted in
2005 was Sayed Rah-
matullah Hashemi, an
Afghani nationalist
and the former deputy
foreign secretary of
the Taliban. The New
York Times profiled
Rahmatullah in a Sunday magazine feature last
month. If you go by the numbers, Rahmatul-
lah falls well short of most Ivy League bench-
marks. He never took the SAT. His formal
education ended in fourth grade, and his extra-
curricular r6sum6 isn't so glamorous either..
He spent the better part of his adult life as the
Taliban's face-guy, playing apologist for one of
the 20th century's most brutal and repressive
regimes and, when the occasion called for it, its
likeminded houseguest, al Qaida.
He must have written one hell of a personal
Either that, or Yale temporarily relaxed its
admissions criteria, which, as some of you
surely learned the hard way, are one of the Ivy
League's most exacting. Just when we thought
we had seen every angle of the affirmative
action debate, Yale goes and adds "former ter-
rorist sympathizers" to the long list of demo-
graphics worthy of preferential treatment in
The school's official line on the matter was
predictable: The more intellectual diversity
the better. As an international university, the

pitch goes, Yale has an obligation to open its
classrooms to divisive political views, even if
they happen to rub the public the wrong way.
Plus, as far as administrators are concerned,
Rahmatullah abandoned fundamentalism
years ago. He left the Foreign Ministry in 2001
and since then has distanced himself from the
regime's most objectionable positions. "I was
very young then," Rahmatullah told the New
York Daily News, "At that age, you don't really
have the same sensibilities that you may have
By "that age," Rahmatullah meant 22, his
age in the spring of 2001, when he publicly
defended the Taliban's treatment of women
in an interview with The Wall Street Jour-
nal. (For those unfamiliar, the Taliban's posi-
tion on women is roughly analogous to Ann
Arbor Pest Control's position on cockroaches).
In the same interview, Rahmatullah defended
his government's decision to harbor al Qaida,
which was still a known terrorist organization
at the time.
Though he's since recanted, his public state-
ments on the subject remain shamefully callous.
In a recent interview with The London Times,
Rahmatullah was asked to comment on the Tal-
iban's summary execution of women allegedly
guilty of crimes against Islam. His response
was dismissive: "That was all Vice and Virtue
stuff," he said, referring to the Taliban's repres-
sive religious ministry, adding, "There were
also executions happening in Texas."
Not surprisingly, the intellectual diversity
argument hasn't resonated in conservative
circles. Rather, for the ideological Right, Yale's

decision embodies everything that's backward
about contemporary liberal thought. It's what's
dangerous about armchair academia. It's a
value system without courage or foundation.
It's that dark place, that vacuum of principle
where political correctness gets lost in moral
relativism. Conservative Wall Street Journal
columnist John Fund, expressing similar sen-
timents, wrote that in the distant aftermath of
Sept. 11, the Yale community "represents the
world turned upside down."
All overstatements aside, he may be right
about this much. For all its virtues, diversity of
thought has practical boundaries, and there are
some views that simply don't deserve a forum.
These are the views that challenge our most
elementary understanding of individual liberty
and equality, views that feed off the ignorance
and fear of others, views that civil society
should have put to bed sometime during the
16th century.
And it's these same views that Yale and insti-
tutions with similar egos take so much pride in
entertaining. They call them "cultural barriers"
and make them the subject of round-table dis-
cussions and policy conferences. And whether
out of dogma or sheer arrogance, they frown
upon those too enraged to listen. But when it's
the Rahmatullahs of the world speaking, the
line between intolerance and integrity nar-
rows. Tolerance, as they've yet to learn in New
Haven, is only worthwhile until it becomes an
excuse to embrace bigotry.

Singer can be reached at

Pants on fire

I would like to commend the Michigan
Progressive Party's platform to bring fiscal
responsibility to the Michigan Student Assem-
bly. I just wish the executive candidates actu-
ally stood for it.
While MPP has trumpeted responsible gov-
ernment throughout this election, MPP's leader-
ship has lied about, manipulated and exaggerated
information on MSA finances and the Ludacris
concert. As a fonner Budget Priorities Commit-
tee chair who worked tirelessly to improve student
government finances, I have to set the record.
MPP's claims on improving MSA's finances
are blatantly false. According to its website, MPP
claims its MSA presidential candidate Rese Fox
"exposed a treasurer cover-up of historical tax
form errors regarding student fee allocation, and
... worked with ... University administrators
to correct MSA tax problems." MPP's position
paper, MSA Financial Responsibility, further
alleges that MSA is not currently in compliance
with the Internal Revenue Service.
Charges that MSA's $700,000 budget violates
tax law should not be taken lightly. Last summer,
I was part of the MSA/administration committee
that reviewed MSA's expenses to ensure compli-
ance with tax exemption laws. No MPP candi-
dates served on this committee. Edward Jennings,
the University's tax manager and a member of the
committee, described MSA's finances six days
ago quite differently from MPP's deluded view:
"MSA as a whole complies with the federal and
state tax rules regarding charitable organizations
and has not committed any excess benefit trans-
actions or other prohibited transactions that may
trigger excise taxes."
MPP's allegation that Fox exposed a finan-
cial tax scandal and subsequently corrected it

is patently false. There never was a scandal to
expose, let alone correct!
MPP's plans to financially clean house are
amusing to me personally, because I already did it.
Since the 2005 MSA election, I have written and
cosponsored two significant code amendments
- again without MPP candidates - which dras-
tically improved MSA's financial accountability
on discretionary spending and student group allo-
cations. These changes made MSA's expenses,
according to the General Counsel's office, com-
pliant with state and federal laws. By codifying
stricter procedures for MSA spending and severe
penalties for violating these procedures, cronyism
in discretionary spending was markedly reduced.
But don't take my word for it.
The University Board of Regents believed
MSA was responsible when it increased MSA's
budget by around $40,000 per year last sum-
mer. Incredibly, revenue from student fees
increased this year in tandem with MSA dis-
cretionary spending cuts. Discretionary spend-
ing was cut by $80,000, a 33-percent decrease
from last year.
Stemming from its more efficient finances,
MSA took the lead in planning the Ludacris con-
cert, with Hillel and University Activities Center
co-sponsorship. While MPP's MSA vice presi-
dential candidate, Walter Nowinski, has called
the concert an "unqualified failure," the Ludacris
concert was one of the most fiscally efficient MSA
huge-scale events. It was first large-scale rap con-
cert at the University ever and turnout numbers
only compared with crowds for Michigan sports.
Twenty-seven hundred students, more than 7
percent of the student body, nearly sold out Hill
Auditorium, filling 88 percent of it. Access for all
students was ensured with prices that halved any
comparable for-profit concert. Somebody had to
pay for the concert, though. MSA spent $20,000,

12 percent of MSA's yearly discretionary budget,
to hold the all inclusive concert. Last year's large-
scale Sept. 11 conference provides some per-
spective: MSA spent over $25,000 and attracted
merely 1.3 percent of the student body.
To be fair, the concert was not perfect. Costs
exceeded the predicted budget because MSA
overestimated outside sponsorship funding. Yet
Nowinski has unfairly exaggerated the bottom
line, alleging MSA planned to put on the concert
cost-free. This allegation is false. According to
MSA's resolution to support the concert, MSA
invested in a budget designed to subsidize ticket
costs. While the outside sponsors were not accu-
rately predicted, this does not detract from the
success of the concert, its minimal relative costs
in MSA's budget or the future advantages from
successfully working with the administration.
MPP has been disingenuous by propagat-
ing lies about MSA's finances, which are more
accountable and efficient than ever. These finan-
cial improvements occurred without MPP can-
didates, who have irresponsibly taken credit for
changes they played no part in. The results of their
below-the-belt behavior are evident in their cam-
paign. LSA Student Government vice-presiden-
tial candidate Daniel Ray's platform proposes to
reduce funding application lengths by 90 percent,
which would require budget allocations evaluate
applications with essentially no information and
likely in violation of federal law. With only one
MSA candidate with prior experience in MSA's
student group budget allocations MPP leadership,
if elected, will bury student government in a hole
of unqualified budgetary failure.
Wagner is a LSA junior. He is a for-
mer MSA and LSA-SG representative,
former LSA-SG Counsel and former
Budget Priorities Committee chair.



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

Michigan's sports programs
inferior to Ohio State's
Now that Ohio State has surpassed Michigan
in nearly every major sport, what is Bill Martin
going to do to change it?
1- I'~---«+-- _+- -- --hethnn;

class next year.
The hockey team is having a rough year,
and split with a terrible OSU team. Michigan
has looked outmatched by nearly each mem-
ber of the WCHA and east coast opponents it
has faced in the NCAA tournament in recent
years. As a four-year season ticket holder, I
saw first-hand losses to Boston College, Min-

University is correct in aiding
community college transfers
I just finished reading David Waddilove's let-
ter to the editor (U should not reward community
college students, 03/13/2006), and I am appalled. I

Visit our blog at apps.michigandaily.com/blogs/thepodium to read
"Coke issue is all about choice," a viewpoint from LSA sophomore
Ryan Fantuzzi and LSA junior Tommi Turner, MSA presidential and




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