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September 29, 2006 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2006-09-29

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Friday, September 29, 2006
DONN M. FRESARD EMILY BEAM JEFFREY BLOOMER
d M r ESARDf CHRISTOPHER ZBROZEK
Editor in Chief Editorial Page Editors Managing Editor
EDITED AND MANAG ED BY STUDENTS AT
THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN SINCE 1890
413 E. HURON
ANN ARBOR, MI 48104
tothedaily@michigandaily.com

OPINION

NOTABLE QUOTABLE
The party of FDR, the party of
Harry Truman has become the party of
cut and run."
- President Bush, responding to Democratic criticisms of his strategy in the
war against terrorism, as reported yesterday by The Associated Press.
The mindless student
THERESA KENNELLY

I
4

A media divided
Differing accounts drive country's polarization

The New York Times broke a story
earlier this week about a classified
intelligence report that links the war
in Iraq to the rise in Islamic radicalism in
the Middle East. For liberals, this was a
monumental piece of journalism - maybe
three years too late, but still, statistical proof
of what many had been saying all along. Yet
outside the liberal sphere, the sto caused
hardly a ripple. The same situation occurred
earlier this month, although with the roles
reversed, when the Bush Administration
released its report, "9/11 Five Years Later:
Success and Challenges,"linking the war to
adeclinein terrorism.Although assessments
of the America's progress on the so-called
"War on Terror" are likely to vary, polar-
opposite stories like these are symptomatic
of the growing fragmentation of our society.
Media outlets, particularly on the Internet,
are increasingly catering to an ideologically
homogeneous audience, and we are seeing
not just diverging interpretations of what is
happening, but glaring discrepancies in the
facts themselves.
No story is exactly the same. Events can
be interpreted a million ways and statistics
can be manipulated to fit a purpose - but
the basic facts should at least consistent.
Discrepancies foster dialogue that inher-
ently leads to a freer and more open society.
But it seems that much current reporting is
based on different facts altogether, not just
minor discrepancies.
The war in Iraq provides a stark example
of the widening gulf between coverage.
In the months leading up to the U.S. inva-
sion, Fox News showed extensive footage
of aluminum tubing that left many viewers
convinced that Saddam Hussein possessed
a nuclear arsenal capable of destroying the
world fifteen times over. After all, Vice
President Dick Cheney said that these
tubes were "irrefutable evidence" that Iraq

was pursuing a nuclear weapons program.
Meanwhile, those skeptical of war didn't
take their second-in-command at his word.
War reporting became distinctly separate
in the facts conveyed, forcing Americans to
line up behind the reporters who reinforced
their respective ideologies. Consequently,
reporting produced stories to reflect a spe-
cific ideology, even more so than in the
past.
The blame shouldn't fall completely on
the media. Journalists compete with an
administration and a new body of poli-
ticians who increasingly rely on spin to
serve their political purposes - the Bush
Administration being the main culprit. By
using rhetoric that often contradicts facts,
the Bush Administration has made the pur-
suit of reliable information an uphill battle.
Even if journalists make compelling, factu-
al arguments, the president's spin discounts
them.
Whether or not it is entirely the media's
fault, these fragmented portrayals by the
media have left Americans confused and
polarized. In a 2004 Gallup poll,journalists
ranked as the second least-trusted people in
American society - right behind car sales-
men. There's something very disturbing
about this. Journalists are supposed to be an
extension of the people and an avenue for
people to stay informed, a role made impos-
sible without trust.
So long as Americans obtain their news
from ideologically slanted media or blogs,
the country will remain divided as its frag-
mented media. The American people need
to feel that the journalists are protecting the
common good and not just their jobs. One
way to start is by pointing out contradictions
between political rhetoric and hard facts.
Hopefully, consistent reporting can foster a
more unified democracy with a majority of
informed - not confused - citizens.

Michael
Venyah
-also
known as the
crazy bigot
in the Diag
who yells
about homo-
sexuality
- and the
impending
"Catch an Illegal Immigrant Day"
have, in an ironic twist of fate,
brought a lot of good to campus.
The two separate but equally dis-
turbing demonstrations have out-
raged students in large numbers,
creating political fervor on the
Diag - a phenomenon that has
largely been absent at the Univer-
sity in recent years. The plague
of apathy the University has wit-
nessed lately can be blamed on
everything from the disingenuous
nature of politics these days to
the overall lackadaisical behavior
of most 20-year-olds. But what
truly accounts for University stu-
dents becoming reluctant in their
political activity could be recent
education reforms.
Public Law 107-110 - mislead-
ingly named the No Child Left
Behind Act - passed the House
in Nov. 2001. President Bush
signed it into law, and it has since
altered the state of education in
our country. Looking back five
years and seeing the amount of
support it received, it's clear that
NCLB fooled many people into
thinking it was a good direction
to go with our nation's schools. Its
intent was to create more account-
ability and raise standards in ele-
mentary and secondary schools,
reduce illiteracy and hire better-
qualified teachers. As it turns out,
few of those targets were actually

met. NCLB has only managed to
limit federal funding for schools
that are succeeding, eliminate
programs such as the fine arts
and special education classes and
force schools to focus on achiev-
ing the bare minimum.
And it gets worse. Standard-
ized testing and grade-level
achievement tests mandated by
NCLB, which largely determine
the amount of federal funding
a school receives, have led to
an era of stressed-out teachers
who "teach to the test." Teach-
ers have literally forgotten their
role, which once was educat-
ing students and inspiring them
to continue learning outside of
the classroom. Students are sup-
posed to be motivated to inquire,
to enjoy reading and, most
importantly, to think about the
world around them and not take
everything "as is." But thanks
to NCLB, they miss out on this
type of learning and are restrict-
ed to passing tests and fulfilling
requirements.
The reduction of thinking inside
K-12 classrooms has now begun
to trickle onto college campuses.
With taxing pre-med curricu-
lums, $1,500 LSAT classes and
four-semester language require-
ments, it's obvious that standard-
ized education methods don't stop
once you get to college. Because
school is viewed as merely a place
for passing tests, students are
largely unaware of their potential
to think inquisitively about soci-
ety and see how they can make a
difference in the world.
This is what causes such high
levels of political apathy on cam-
pus. Students don't care to think
about peripheral issues because
they're wrapped up in doing what

they have to do and what's already
been mapped out for them. And
because getting involved in politi-
cal issues isn't going to boost
anyone's MCAT score, political
apathy is the unfortunate result
for many University students.
While the swarms of people
retaliating against Venyah or the
Young Americans for Freedom's
upcoming "Catch and Illegal
Immigrant Day" don't exactly
mirror the campus's Vietnam War
protests of 40 years ago, they do
show one thing about University
students: We can care if we really
want to. Getting students to real-
ize that they can do more than just
follow stringent academic tracks
is what is necessary on campus.
But more importantly, the govern-
ment needs to reform the educa-
tion system so that school is once
again a place encouraging stu-
dents to think.
Chances are you will continue
to do your daily routine and not
think once all day about the war in
Iraq or the Michigan Civil Rights
Initiative. But even if for one min-
ute, you sat down and thought
about what you are capable of
doing to affect the various issues
of our time - and not just how to
boost your law school application
- then you will be making a big
leap toward getting our generation
out of the rut of indifference we
have been led into.
Apathetic is a box you can
check as your political inclination
on the Facebook; it's a word that
defines our generation. Only if we
fight against it will we be able to
save ourselves from a lifetime of
mindless thought.
Kennelly can be reached
at thenelly@umich.edu.

4
I
d

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Send all letters to the editor to tothedaily@michigandaily.com.

VIEWPOINT
Progress in Iraq

BY REGGIE BROWN
Pundits and politicians on the left, along with
some Republicans, have been describing Iraq
as a quagmire. At the same time, they criticize
our president for losing sight of the mission in
Afghanistan. One such criticism ran on the edi-
torial page of The Wall Street Journal on Mon-
day. In the article, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.),
claims that "less than five years after Ameri-
can troops masterfully toppled the Taliban,
the disastrous diversion in Iraq has allowed
(al-Qaida and the Taliban) the chance to rise
again." Such statements miss the geopolitical
goal in Afghanistan and downplay the fact that
we could, within our lifetimes, see a prosper-
ous, democratic Iraq.
In Afghanistan, our goal never was to pacify
the entire nation. Afghanistan had been fight-
ing a civil war before the Soviets invaded,
and fighting had continued right up until the
invasion by the United States. While the Tal-
iban was the official government of the coun-
try after the end of the Soviet occupation, at
no point was it able to gain control over the
entire nation. The goal in invading Afghanistan
- which has been successful - was to disrupt
al-Qaida and take away its safe haven, not to
end a long-standing civil war.
Hoping for a wider democratization in the
Middle East, the administration turned to Iraq.
While the chance of ending the fighting in
Afghanistan is slim, it is much greater in Iraq
today. The fledgling nation has a central gov-
ernment, though it holds little sway over many
of its provinces. Still, this is not unprecedented
for young nations where you often see strong
localized governments with little centralized
control. However, the nation's prime minis-
ter, Nouri al-Maliki, has been working hard to
begin coordinating these disparate municipali-
ties, and his efforts have been fairly successful
thus far, with the national bureaucracy begin-
ning to show growth.
Iraq's economy is also on the rise. In an April
article from the Wall Street Journal's online
Opinion Journal, Robert T. McLean points to
JOHN OQUIST LIVE I YouN UR'EET
I AESAID EFORE.0D0NOTI i ESEECHYou. rwN6REssMm.

many promising indicators. While GDP growth
was just 2.6 percent in 2005, itsis expected to
be closer to 10 percent this year, according to
the International Monetary Fund. The nation's
per capita income has tripled since the invasion.
The nation has also recently seen the training of
36,000 new teachers, who have been furnished
with close to nine million textbooks to go along
with the many new schools built in the nation.
All of these investments bode well for the future
of Iraq.
But perhaps most worrisome to the war's
critics is the widespread violence in the nation.
However, one promising sign for the govern-
ment is that most of the violence is not aimed
at bringing it down. According to the Pentagon,
most of the violence there today occurs between
Sunni and Shiite militias. This is evidenced by
the order Moqtada al-Sadr, the leader of one of
the largest Shiite militias in Iraq, recently gave
to end attacks against coalition forces.
All of this is coupled with the fact that a poll
of Iraqis reported in the Los Angeles Times last
year shows that two-thirds of the country's citi-
zens believe that the nation is headed in the right
direction. The poll, taken in April, also shows that
40 percent of Sunnis feel this way, up from just
15 percent in a January poll taken by the same
organization. Another recent poll taken in Kurd-
ish regions of the country showed that 86 percent
of respondents stated that they believe the gov-
ernment will improve the situation in Iraq.
So, two of the three main factions in Iraq
seem to support the current government, while
the third has shown a dramatic rise in support
in recent months. Meanwhile, there is very little
violence being enacted against the nation's gov-
ernment. The fighting, as Mario Loyola pointed
out in the September 25 issue of the National
Review, is beginning to look like that in Algeria
in the early 1990s, where a civil war was waged
throughout that nation without ever threaten-
ing the government there. As Loyola points out,
"violence for the sake of violence" can never
maintain widespread popular support.
Brown is an LSA senior.
HEY, YOU KNOW WHAT, FR ANKLIN? GET ON THE BOX
YOU'RE STARTING TO SOU|ND LIKE TRAITOR! SELL NOT LIBERTY TO
ANJ..SLAMO-FASCISTI PURCHASE POWER.
AND PLEASE
REMOVE THE
ELECTRODES

University Towers
blows off recycling
To THE DAILY:
I was shocked when I read that
University Towers management
claimed it was unaware that its
building did not participate in a
recycling program (Reduce, reuse,
recycle [just not at University Tow-
ers], 09/28/2006). I was a resident
of University Towers during the
last academic year, and while
there, I had inquired about pos-
sible methods of recycling. I was
informed that the building did not
have the bins to allow residents to
recycle.
During the year, management
provided recommendation forms
to residents, and I specifically
requested that the building provide
a method of recycling. As far as I
know, my recommendation was
never pursued. As one of the larg-
est off-campus housing facilities,
University Towers should be set-
ting an example for other landlords
in the area, but instead it chooses
to fall far behind - and is violat-
ing city ordinances in doing so.
Protecting the environment is
increasingly important, and as
a student, I am upset that many
landlords are unwilling to provide
the necessary means to recycle.
My new landlord, CMB Prop-
erty Management, does provide
recycling options. It is refreshing,
however, that political leaders are
starting to realize the importance
of good environmental policy.
Recently, Sen. Debbie Stabenow
(D-Mich.) successfully limited
the influx of Canadian trash into
Michigan. Gov. Jennifer Granholm
RYAN JABER JUST MAKES NUD

has been actively fighting to keep
the Great Lakes from being sold,
polluted and drilled in, and she
has been a leader for alternative
and renewable energy. Ann Arbor
has become a statewide example
for environmental policy thanks
to leaders like Mayor John Hieftje
and Councilmembers Leigh Gre-
den (D-Ward 3) and Margie Teall
(D-Ward 4). With politicians lead-
ing the way toward more respon-
sible environmental policy, I hope
to see more pressure on landlords
and businesses in the future. I also
hope that the Daily follows up on
the University Towers story to
make sure that the apartment com-
plex follows through on the prom-
ise to start a recycling program.
Travis Radina
LSA junior
Bible's take on homo-
sexuality misstated
TO THE DAILY:
In response to Jose Mainardi's
letter (Diag preacher is just relat-
ing Bible content, 09/28/2006):
Yes, the Bible has a few pas-
sages that have been interpret-
ed to condemn homosexuality
- but it also condemns cutting
hair on the sides of your head
and trimming beards (Leviticus
19:27) and other actions that
many Christians consider inap-
propriate to denounce today.
Furthermore, the Bible includes
stories of very intimate, loving
relationships between pairs of
women and men (see Ruth 1:14
or 2 Samuel 1:26) that are analo-
gous to loving gay and lesbian

relationships.
Most importantly, Jesus
preached a message of love and
respect for fellow human beings.
Being queer, it is the lack of
respect toward the LGBT com-
munity that most offended me
about the preachers that came to
the Diag, not to mention the lack
of respect for other Christians.
I would encourage civil discus-
sions on campus about religion
and homosexuality, but I hope
that they are conducted respect-
fully with an honest effort
for mutual understanding. St.
Mary's Student Parish and the
Ann Arbor Zen Buddhist temple
are a few places where such dis-
cussions are taking place.
Katie Kerfoot
Engineering senior
is love, mean
Diag preacher is not
TO THE DAILY:
The "preacher" on the Diag
may be relating Bible content, but
in the wrong way (Diag preach-
er is just relating Bible content,
09/28/2006). The main message
of the Bible is that God is love.
He also blatantly violates another
biblical teaching in Matthew 7:1:
"Don't judge, so that you won't be
judged." Telling everyone on the
Diag that they are going to hell,
and saying all Jews are going to
hell, is not a biblical teaching.
That's the reason why people are
getting upset. This man is putting
a bad name on my religion.
Joshua Tishhouse
Art and Design junior

I
4
I

I
4

GIVE UP YOUR ESSENTIAL
LIBERTIES TO PURCHASE
TEMPORARY SAFETY!
r i~ /,r *

I LZ ~ SIV, ~t1LUV.,
TO WAKE UP TO THE REALITY
OF THE SWEEPING POWERS YOU
HAVE GRANTED THE EXECUTIVE
BRANCH OF THIS GOVERMENT,
WHICH IS ALMOST A MONARCHYI
l1

T51F --
. _.__ R A
J.H
1Lfli 2i

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L 1 -F/,YV ft %9 n wrw ri

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