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March 29, 2006 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2006-03-29

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, March 29, 2006

OPINION

b £id ittn &U

DoNN M. FRESARD
Editor in Chief

EMILY BEAM
CHRISTOPHER ZBROZEK
Editorial Page Editors

ASHLEY DINGES
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
He had dreams
about flying a
plane into the
White House."
- South Asian terrorist Hambali, claiming that
Zacarias Moussaoui had no role in the Sept.11
attacks, as reported yesterday on nytimes.com.
Moussaoui testified Monday that he knew of the
attacks in advance and planned to participate.

ALEXANDER HONKALA FET(I1DHUMBUCKET
IY4~

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.

Crackdown on crime
JEFF CRAVENS JAYIAWK B isES
hy d o e s After World War II, the United States had decrease. As it is now, some Republicans are
the United the strongest economy in the world, but by calling for the criminalization of millions of
States house the '70s other countries were catching up and undocumented workers, and President Bush has
approximately one the U.S. economy was stagnating. The War on refused to let hundreds of "enemy combatants"
quarter of the world's Poverty was leading to costly social welfare go to trial.
incarcerated population programs, and laborers were securing higher Parenti was asked by audience members
and have the highest wages. According to Parenti, Nixon and Rea- how these two current issues related to Bush's
incarceration rate in the gan attempted to increase the profitability and motivations in comparison to previous lead-
world? wealth of the United States by maintaining ers. He said that the attempt to control immi-
The educational events and controlling a poor class that would provide grants is a way to maintain cheap labor. As
accompanying the Elev- cheap labor. But to control the poor, they need- soon as immigrants have any political power
enth Annual Exhibition of Art by Michigan Pris- ed a reason, an excuse; they needed to blame the or mobility, they tend to avoid working in the
oners, organized by the Prisoner Creative Arts poor for being poor. One way to do this was to fields and doing other similarly arduous but
Project during the last two weeks, have helped me criminalize them. low-paying work. He said that in Guantana-
understand some of the answers to this question. This may sound like conspiracy theory, but mo, the administration acted on "ideological
Last night, Christian Parenti, author of Parenti backed up everything he said with fac- reflex," seizing power where they could take
"Lockdown America" and a writer for The tual information. For example, he quoted H.R. it. He said that Bush is "exercising presidential
Nation, provided a comprehensive explanation Haldeman, Nixon's chief of staff, who wrote power gratuitously," and that he didn't have to
of the criminal justice crackdown in this coun- that "the whole problem is blacks,"'and that a illegally detain combatants or illegally spy on
try. According to Parenti - one of the keynote system needed to be devised to control them American citizens.
speakers of the art exhibition - the explosion without appearing to do so. In reading over this column, I regret that I
in incarceration began in the late '60s and early Parenti said that this system was the war on have raised a lot of questions and offered only
'70s because of political and economic factors. drugs. But whether or not it was designed to a few possible answers. And I have not pro-
Politically, the government needed a mecha- control the poor or blacks, the war on drugs has vided an accurate portrayal of the art show,
nism to control the agitation stemming from played a central role in the expansion of incar- which is about more than one man's perspec-
the social movements of the time: anti-war, ceration and prisons in this country. The policy tive. The art show is predominantly about the
civil rights, black power, labor and others. The has led to three-strikes laws, mandatory mini- wonderful art created by Michigan prisoners:
United States, which was trying to prove that mums and generally harsher sentences. I agree over 300 works by more than 200 artists from
democracy was the best form of government in with Parenti that these policies have racial moti- 40 Michigan prisons. In offering a political
the Cold War era, could not allow such displays vations, but I do not have the space to defend context for this country's incarceration poli-
of social unrest. And so, as parts of Washington that position in this column. cies, I hope that you have seen the art show
D.C. were burning from riots, Congress passed Long story short: The United States went and have attached faces and voices to the cold
an anti-crime bill in 1968 that began expanding from having about 330,000 prisoners in 1972 facts and statistics.
the criminal justice structure, leading to more to about 2.2 million today. We incarcerate at a
sophisticated policing, harsher sentencing and rate five to eight times greater than most other Cravens can be reached at
greater numbers of prisons, industrialized nations, and there's no sign of a jjcrave@umich.edu.
VIEWPOINT
Setting the record straight on the infamous'hate crime'

By NICK CHEOLAS
Last Thursday, The Michigan Daily printed
an article titled Junior pleads guilty to throwing beer
(03/23/2006) - a rather anticlimactic ending to
the explosive "Asian hate crime" saga. Following
an incident last September, in which two white
students allegedly verbally abused and urinated on
two Asian students, we witnessed one of the most
virulent campus uproars in recent years. While
inflaming racial tension on this campus is no feat,
this incident had a particular potency, resulting
in protests as far away as the University of Cali-
fornia at Berkeley as well as a letter to students
from University President Mary Sue Coleman, a
"hate crime" hotline and the "Expect Respect"
campaign.
Amidst the uproar, few bothered to reserve
judgment until the facts were known, and few
cared when the suspects involved disputed the
accusations. Many on this campus - students,
professors and administrators alike - were only
too excited to get on with the witch trial, calling
for the prosecution and expulsion of the suspects
and promising to combat the "cold" racial cli-
mate on campus. No one bothered to review a
single shred of evidence.
Unfortunately, many of these individuals may
feel their actions were warranted, given Stephen
Williamson's recent plea. To understand this
plea, however, one must understand what Wil-
liamson faced. He could have fought the charges,
spent thousands on an attorney, endured a trial
and rolled the dice with a jury. On the other hand,
Williamson could have accepted the plea, taken
a few months of probation and had the charges
expunged from his record. Given the "guilty,

even if proven innocent" attitude of this campus,
one cannot blame Williamson for his decision to
avoid a similar jury.
Indeed, the prosecution made a smart move by
filing several charges, then offering to drop half
of them in exchange for a guilty plea and pro-
bation. The prosecutor gets the conviction, the
fagade of "justice" is upheld and the defendant
avoids any real punishment. Everybody wins.
Unfortunately, and quite ironically, William-
son might have been better off pleading guilty
to a crime he had never committed, rather than
bearing the cost of a trial. Even more ironically,
Williamson pleaded guilty to "tossing a beer"- a
crime neither victim ever accused him of com-
mitting.
Regardless, one point is clear: The groups and
individuals who called for the heads of these
two suspects should feel no vindication. This
"incident," supposedly indicative of bigotry and
hatred on campus, was hardly an "incident" at
all. After spending hours reviewing the police
reports, witness interviews, investigative notes
and lab reports associated with this case, there
is no doubt in my mind that the two alleged "vic-
tims" made patently false statements to detec-
tives and that Williamson would never have been
convicted in a trial. The article I composed after
reviewing the evidence, which can be found on
The Michigan Review's website, gives a detailed
account of the investigation as well as the holes in
the prosecution's case.
For example, the "victims" in this case told
officers at the scene that they had "observed" the
suspect urinating on them. Five days later, they
admitted to detectives that they "weren't sure" if
the suspect had been urinating because, as one

victim stated, she "did not look at (the suspect)
at all." But alas, a month later, these victims
revised their story again, telling detectives that
they "looked up to see the suspect urinating,"
and even going so far as to give a description of
the suspect's body position at the time. On top of
this, tests performed on the female victim's shirt
did not indicate the presence of urine.
One can't fault the Daily for not exposing
these details. We've all seen what happens when
the Daily prints anything that could be construed
as remotely offensive. Nor would any such rev-
elations matter to individuals like Stephanie Kao,
co-chair of the United Asian American Organi-
zations. Kao and others have taken this specific
event as a catalyzing moment for their groups;
emblematic of all which they have tried to fight
against and vindicating their cause.
The effects can be seen in last Friday's view-
point in the Daily (Solidarity from unexpected sourc-
es, 03/24/2006), where Carmel Salhi referred to a
"welcoming environment for hate" on campus,
and argued that President Coleman "covers up"
discrimination on campus. To support his incoher-
ent, absurd claims, Salhi cites "the hate crime on
an Asian student in September 2005."
Nonetheless, groups on this campus have been
reduced to name nonexistent events in an attempt
to convince the rest of us that a "harsh" and "con-
temptuous" racial climate permeates this cam-
pus. That isn't the case, but it seems many would
like it to be.
And that's our real race problem.
Cheolas is an LSA junior and incoming edi-
tor in chief of The Michigan Review. He can
be reached at mrev@umich.edu.

6
6

a

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

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

Skyboxes are for spectators,
the Big House is for fans
TO THE DAILY:
The proposed addition of skyboxes to
Michigan Stadium would be a sell-out of the
stadium's classic atmosphere. The Big House
should continue to be a place for fans who are
seen, heard and involved in the game - not
spectators relaxing behind tinted windows.
Mark Faasse
Medical School

03/27/2006) and the truth behind them, as the
Daily merely reprinted and interpreted our
e-mails sent to our respective campus groups
without interviewing any of us - the writ-
ers - or examining the context at all. While
the Daily labeled our e-mails as "exploit(ing)
campus divisions," it was actually exactly the
opposite. We had discussed with our respec-
tive groups many times before our conviction
that Students 4 Michigan would be best for our
groups - citing the goal of campus improve-
ment, rather than a political ideology, as the
cornerstone of S4M.

and are against using political ideology in MSA
deserved to get our e-mails as an important
reminder of what could have happened should
an ideological party have won a majority.
Maybe our wording was poorly chosen and it
would have been better understood by outside
observers to not have named specific parties
that we believed to be winning at the time. For
that, we apologize. But take our e-mails and
interject "there is a danger of an ideological
party winning," and you'll see the e-mails we
sent were not trying to capitalize on campus
division. Rather, they were trying to inform a

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