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September 25, 2006 - Image 4

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4A - The Michigan Daily - Monday, September 25, 2006


* "
r °

Editor in Chief

Editorial Page Editors Managing Editor
413 E. HURON

4 4 I got closer to
killing him than
anybody has gotten
- Former President Bill Clinton,
defending his administration's efforts
against Osama bin Laden, during
an interview on Fox News Sunday.



Uninteligent delay
Politics has no role in state science curriculum

The populist dilemma

After a knockout punch in Kitzmiller et
al v. Dover Area School District and
a continuous barrage by the best in
the scientific community, intelligent design
is dragging itself up by the ropes for another
round. This time the venue is the state Leg-
islature, where lawmakers are attempting to
weasel it into the state's science guidelines
under the new Michigan Merit Curriculum.
Not only is this a shameful attempt to disguise
a religious belief as a scientific theory, but
also it is a disgraceful attempt by lawmakers
to allow partisan politics to shape the state's
The state Board of Education approved
the Michigan Merit Curriculum, a new set
of graduation requirements, last December,
and it seemed likely that lawmakers could
quickly enact the monumental policy. But
nine months later, politicians are still argu-
ing over the details of the bill as well as the
funding required to enact it. The last part of
the curriculum portion awaiting approval is
the science guidelines, as some legislators are
still pushing to broaden the science guidelines
on evolution, opening a window to include ID
lessons in science classrooms.
Intelligent design, a veiled version of cre-
ationism, establishes that some aspects of life
are too complex to be explained by any factor
but an omnipresent force. This theory has no
testable hypotheses; rather, it gives up on sci-
ence itself. The National Academy of Sciences,
the nation's most respected body of scientists,
condemns its merit as a scientific theory and
asserts that evolution is "the central concept of
biology" that should be taught in science class-
rooms. Even federal courts agree that teaching

ID as science in public schools is a violation of
the First Amendment's establishment clause.
AlthoughIDmayhave a placein acompara -
tive religion or philosophy class, given its lack
of scientific merit, it has no place in science
classrooms. And yet here is where conserva-
tive politicians enter the state curriculum play-
ing field. Republican gubernatorial candidate
Dick DeVos said last week that he believes ID
is a "legitimate, competing scientific theory"
and that he would support local school dis-
tricts' right to teach ID. DeVos's comment
revealed that the image he has attempted to
build as a businessman who distances himself
from the more evangelical members of his
party is far from a complete picture. By pro-
viding a glimpse of his true character, DeVos
has given Michigan voters all the more reason
to be wary of his candidacy.
The state Board of Education's decision and
DeVos's comments will only manage to further
entrench Lansing in debate over the state's sci-
ence education guidelines. This will only serve
to stalemate an important piece of legislation,
as well as continue to reinforce Michigan's
tainted image as an undereducated industrial
state. The new requirements are aimed at send-
ing more Michigan students to college and
creating a more educated workforce - thus
weaning the state economy off manufacturing
jobs that are becoming increasingly scarce as
the automotive industry falters.
Religious pseudoscience has no business
shaping school curricula. Michigan's Legis-
lature must sufficiently fund and quickly pass
the bill just as the state Board of Education
drafted it - not the way its members who
lack faith in Darwin would like it to be.

"Power is
in the hands
of the pow-
erless, and
those hands
have handed
it to me ..."
Stark, the colorful populist governor
of Louisiana, declares in the recently
released film "All the King's Men."
But unless you've seen the film, read
the classic novel by Robert Penn
Warren or know something of the
real-life stylings of former Louisi-
ana Gov. Huey Long (on whose life
Warren based Stark), you'll need a
clarification on the full meaning of
that quote. Allow me tocomplete the
quote with what it implies: "... and
so I can do with it what I please."
And that captures the complicated
dilemma of balancing the spirit of
populism and democracy. Strictly
speaking, not all populist leaders
are democratically elected, but they
do at some point enjoy popular sup-
port. In a way, populism - roughly,
the political inclination that appeals
to the masses by accusing society's
elites of taking advantage of them
- is the purest form of democracy.
It is the epitome of "a government
of the people, for the people, by the
people.' Its highest goal, it would
seem, is a world where average peo-
ple have access to their leaders and
everything that government does is
for the benefit of everyone.
Sure, that sounds unrealistic, but
that's hardly the biggest problem.
When people see a man, pale and
sweaty from his grueling campaign
schedule, mount the stage at the
county fair, curse every politician

that ever screwed them and promise
to "nail 'em up,' something happens:
They believe him.
They believed Huey Long. He
became governor of Louisiana and
built thousands of miles of roads,
numerous bridges, hospitals and
schools. He provided free textbooks
to schoolchildren, worked to elimi-
nate poll taxes and then, as sena-
tor, crafted the "Share Our Wealth"
program - which made even Presi-
dent Roosevelt's New Deal reforms
appear moderate.
But that's not all he did. Nepo-
tism, bribery and even blackmail
were nothing out of the ordinary for
the man who came to be known as
"The Kingfish." He was a man of the
people - to a fault. His desire to do
good for the common folk was so
strong that its implementation justi-
fied even the most ruthless of means.
Many came to see Long as a dicta-
tor, and the state Legislature even
attempted to impeach him.
But if absolute power corrupted
Huey Long absolutely, we can at
least sympathize with his reasons; he
never lost sight of the poor man that
he was fighting for. The evil found
in some practitioners of the populist
persuasion, however, was even more
glaring in the late 1930s in Germany.
When an Austrian living in Munich
began his rumblings against all
those that threatened the prestige of
Germany, people listened. When he
promised to cut unemployment, build
dams and roads and restore Germa-
ny to economic and social superior-
ity, Great Depression-starved masses
listened and supported him.
And then they watched as Adolf
Hitler oversaw the slaughter of nine
million people.
Though he came to power by
way of a coup, Uganda's Idi Amin

espoused tinges of populism and
briefly enjoyed popular support
- right up until about the time he
started eating his enemies. (See the
upcoming film "The Last King of
Scotland" for that sad embodiment
of populist maneuvering. At least
that's what I think you'd call it; one
can never tell for sure because Amin
was, first and foremost, insane.)
Even in democracies, when power
is in the hands of the people, they'll
hand it to the guy who promises to
serve them best. You can't blame
them for that - after allit's what we
ask of them. But once that guy has
that power, there's no telling what
he'll do.
You can put in all the checks and
balances you want, but the bottom
line is that the perfect outcome of
pure democracy - seeing the will
of the people implemented - some-
times entails many of the evils of dic-
tatorship. America has never been a
pure democracy, and perhaps that's a
good thing, because desperate people
make desperate choices.
And now that desperation lives
in the Middle East. It has brought
us demagogues like Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad in Iran and the popu-
list Hamas government in Palestine.
We can denounce them, we can
bomb them, but the populist rises
from among the people, and if you
kill him, another will replace him.
Their roots lie in destitution and we
can only truly eliminate them when
we eliminate the factors that sus-
tain them.
After all, would Willie Stark
have had a chance in hell if all those
bridges, roads and schools already
Syed can be reached at



One idea worth dropping...
Catch an Illegal Immigrant Day won't foster dialogue
hough now postponed until later this to its potential to make some students feel
month, Catch an Illegal Immigrant unwelcome smacks of the type of liberal
Day has already gathered more than intolerance toward opposing views that the
its share of attention. The planned stunt has group likes to skewer.
attracted even the focus of the Michigan But if YAF's goal really is to create dia-
Student Assembly, which passed a resolu- logue, it's hard to see how holding an event
tion condemning it last Tuesday. The event's many perceive as bigoted will help. YAF
backers claim that they're merely trying to chair Andrew Boyd said that his organiza-
start dialogue about illegal immigration. tion chose to hold the event in part because
But because the stunt is more inflammatory "as many people need to be educated about
and intolerant than substantial, it will bring this as possible." But the "education" gener-
anything but the type of discussion this issue ated by this event will have little to do with
needs. immigration reform - and will likely fur-
The event - sponsored by the University ther polarize two sides already divided on
chapter of the far-right Young Americans for immigration.
Freedom - is a contest in which participants Catch an Illegal Immigrant Day has a
try to catch a volunteer dressed as an illegal tremendous amount of shock value, but its
immigrant for a chance at a $200 cash prize. potential to offend undermines the potency
Though the chair of YAF claims that the of the shock it does have. Efforts that rely so
"illegal immigrant" will not represent any exclusively on jolting audiences often reso-
ethnic group, the event's oversimplification nate only with those who are already sympa-
of such a complex issue makes it understand- thetic. Those who are bothered by the event
able why this event has generated such con- will see in YAF's intentions only xenophobia
cern. and intolerance. YAF and its supporters, in
By turning what should be an intelligent turn, will view the backlash as further evi-
discussion regarding comprehensive policy dence that American society has become too
reforms into a game of tag with overtones of politically correct.
racism, YAF is oversimplifying a frightfully The event does open an opportunity for
complicated issue and wasting an opportu- other politically oriented groups to pick up
nity to make a serious statement about the the slack. The College Republicans -who
shortcomings of the nation's current immi- have tried to distance themselves from YAF's
gration policy. It may be easy for privileged antics - and the College Democrats should
college students to make light of issues that seize the opportunity for facilitating con-
they read about in the newspaper but which structive debate. Though immigration reform
they have not internalized their whole lives. is needed, an inflammatory and insensitive
Certainly YAF has the right to hold an event stunt is unnecessary in the already conten-
that may alienate students who are interna- tious debate over immigration. Catch an
tional, from immigrant families or from an Illegal Immigrant Day is offensive for many
ethnic minority. Indeed, the argument that reasons - not least of which is that it serves
YAF should abandon the event simply due mainly to waste the public's time.
and one to add
Unfair drop/add deadline leaves students guessing

Hezbollah's roadblock to peace


If on July 12, 2006 Hezbollah militants had not
crossed the Israeli border, murdering and kidnapping
Israeli soldiers, would there have been war? The answer
is no. Unfortunately, Hezbollah, a terrorist organization
funded and armed by Iran, initiated a war that nobody
Some suggest that diplomacy was an option for Israel.
However, Hezbollah's leader, Hassan Nasrallah, leaves
no doubt as to his feelings. Nasrallah said in an interview
in 2000: "I am against any reconciliation with Israel. I do
not even recognize the presence of a state that is called
Israel ... That is why if Lebanon concludes a peace
agreement with Israel ... (Hezbollah) deputies will reject
it.' How can Israel sit down at the negotiating table with
those sworn to its destruction?
Had Hezbollah not fired about 4,000 rockets into Isra-
el, would the Israeli Defense Forces have had to enter
Lebanon? Israel was forced to do what any other sover-
eign state would and should do - defend its people, Jews
and Arabs alike.
If Hezbollah had not launched rockets from schools,
hospitals and neighborhoods, how many innocent lives
would have been spared? Hezbollah fighters used Leba-
nese children as human shields while deliberately target-
ing densely populated civilian centers. Jan Egeland, UN
undersecretary general for humanitarian affairs, summed
it up best in July when he said: "Hezbollah must stop this
cowardly blending in among women and children."
If Israel had not sent soldiers door-to-door to seek out
Hezbollah terrorists, how many more lives would have
been lost? Israel could have shown disregard for civil-
ian life through an intensified aerial campaign, but out of
respect for innocent life, it sacrificed its own troops. More
than 100 Israeli soldiers died in order to prevent unneces-
sary harm to Lebanese civilians.
There is no question: Hezbollah started this war, and
Israel was forced to protect itself from a terrorist entity
avowed to its destruction.
While hundreds of thousands of Israelis huddled in
bomb shelters and fled their homes in the north, Israel
was forced to defend itself on yet another border. Hamas
simultaneously kidnapped an Israeli soldier and launched
more than a thousand Qassam rockets into southern
Israeli towns.
Let's simplify the issue. Imagine if Hezbollah and
Hamas laid down their arms and recognized Israel's right

to exist. Whereas Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmet
openly supports the establishment of a Palestinian state,
Ismail Haniyah, the democratically elected Palestinian
prime minister, reiterated Friday that his government will
not recognize Israel. There is no prospect for peace when
only one side wants it.
For years, Israel's enemies used its presence in the
Gaza Strip as an excuse for terrorism. In a unilateral step
toward peace, Israel uprooted 10,000 of its own citizens
(many of whom are still homeless) and ceded control of
the Gaza Strip to the Palestinian Authority. Instead of
using this opportunity to build a civil society, the Pales-
tinian Authority used this land as a launching pad for fur-
ther terrorism, violence and indoctrination to hate. This
has become an all too familiar theme - Israel makes
unprecedented sacrifices, and in turn Israel is thanked
with rockets and suicide bombings.
Israel wants a real and lasting peace. Unfortunately,
this sentiment is not being reciprocated. A 2006 report
by the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center at
the Center for Special Studies on fifth-grade Palestinian
Authority textbooks shows that Palestinian children are
being taught the importance of dying as amartyr. Inaddi-
tion, the maps in these textbooks fail to recognize Israel's
existence,calling the entire region Palestine.Furthermore,
in both Palestinian Authority and Hezbolah media, Jews
are portrayed as evil people who drink the blood of Arab
children. This hateful propaganda may cause even more
damage to the peace process than any rocket or bullet.
While buildings can be repaired in a few weeks, it takes a
lifetime to repair the mind of young child.
As long as children are taught to hate, there will not be
peace in the Middle East. Along the same lines, as long
as some at the University continue to inaccurately attack
Israel while failing to understand, respect and listen to
each other, we will not be able to make a positive differ-
ence on this campus.
It's time to be blunt. With thousands of Jews and Arabs
on this campus, we have two options. Either we contrib-
ute to a deteriorating peace process through irresponsibly
inaccurate and disrespectful propaganda,or we set a tone
for future dialogue by providing an exemplary model of
coexistence and respect. As a campus community, the
decision is ours - where on the road map will we stand?
Berman is LSA senior and chair of American
Movementfor Israel. Stulberg and Ellias are
LSA juniors and members of Israel IDEA.


Want to take your sociology class
pass/fail? Want out of that dull
class that meets at 8 a.m.? Do
it now.
The LSA drop/add deadline is today, just
three weeks into the fall semester. Some
classes have met only a few times, and many
students still haven't taken their first test. But
because the College of Literature, Science,
and the Arts has unnecessarily paired the
drop and add deadlines, today is students'
last chance to make a clean break without
that nasty "W" on their transcript.
The University claims that the "W" is
neutral, but students are right in having their
doubts. When handing over their transcripts
to employers, a "W" next to the name of a
course requires a thorough explanation at
the very least. Yet what a late drop means
is not necessarily that a student screwed up.
Perhaps it took a student more than three

weeks to realize he was in over his head, or
that something else went wrong - a bout
with mono, or a death in the family. Admin-
istrators realize the "W" can be unfair; that's
why first-term students are allowed to drop a
class after the drop/add deadline free of any
damning marks on their official transcript
(though it remains on the unofficial one).
There seems little reason why the adminis-
tration couldn't extend the same courtesy to
students well past their first term.
The "W" is an unnecessary punishment
for students who drop late, that have already
paid their tuition and lost the credit. There's
no intrinsic reason why the University must
keep the drop and add deadlines on the same
day, while there are strong reasons why a
later drop deadline would benefit students.
For now, make sure everything is as you
want it on Wolverine Access, because you
can't change it tomorrow.


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