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October 05, 2006 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2006-10-05

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4A - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, October 5, 2006
Editorial Page Editors Managing Editor
413 E. HURON
Crying wolf
Blogs an imperfect tool to spread news, gossip


' We are all
dreamers, and part
of that dream is
to find life some-
- Scientist Mario Livio of the Space
Telescope Science Institute, on
the identiication of 16 planets
in the Milky Way, as reported
today in The Washington Post.

', t!rla~

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

ou would think Justin Zatkoff, the
Oakland University student who
nearly died for the Republican
cause last week, would deserve a round
of applause for taking one in the eye for
all the conservatives being discriminated
against out there. He really would deserve
applause - had he nearly died, had he
been the victim of a politically motivated
hate crime, had there been a trend of vio-
lence against Republicans. The real story
of Zatkoff, the executive director of the
Michigan Federation of College Repub-
licans with a nasty black eye, is far less
glamorous than what originally appeared
on the Internet. He got drunk, his friend
punched him in the eye, and his buddies
told others it was done by "liberal thugs."
The story is amusing, if only due to
schadenfreude. But the hate crime that
wasn't demonstrates more than one kid's
foolishness: It also reveals the how blogs
have developed the ability to instantly
spread news and gossip far faster, in some
cases, than the truth can travel.
Blogs have turned any commuter with a
camera into a reporter, any insomniac into
a pundit. Every word or idea is instantly
made public, uncensored, unedited - and
unverified. This democratization of media
has been effective in bringing issues and
scandals to the forefront that otherwise
might not fit on the limited pages of a news-
paper or condensed into the evening news.
Blogs have given the individual the ability
to rant about his leaders or his dog's weird
habits to a potentially limitless audience.
But blogs, as they are now, cannot whol-
ly replace traditional media. As Zatkoff's
story illustrates, blogs may shine in their
ability to transmit information rapidly,
but they lag in accountability and often in

Zatkoff's misfortune first appeared on
the college Republican blog Truth Caucus,
when it posted a report from a reader that
there was "quite a bit of speculation that he
was targeted by leftist groups:" It was soon
picked up by the popular Washington blog
Wonkette, which reported that "a source
close to Justin" said he was attacked by By
Any Means Necessary or a "homosexual
rights group." And so on. The Ann Arbor
News and The Michigan Daily later pub-
lished the police report, but the rumor that
Zatkoff was brutally beaten at a party last
month by "liberal thugs" had already done
its damage.
In part, the willingness of readers to
accept Zatkoff's claim that he was vic-
tim of a political hate crime drew on a
widely held view that Republicans are a
targeted minority, particularly in liberal
cities like Ann Arbor. Last year's Conser-
vative Coming Out Day was a testament
to this sentiment of victimization on cam-
pus. Although Zatkoff's shiner had noth-
ing to do with his political beliefs, people
believed his story because it fit well into
the pre-established mold that liberals
were out to get him. Following its appear-
ance on Truth Caucus, the state chair of
the Michigan College Republicans sent
out a statement warning fellow Republi-
cans to "travel in groups when possible,
especially until the elections are over."
There were no "militant leftist groups"
out to set Zatkoff straight that night.
Nor did the pro-affirmative action group
BAMN have any intention of acting lit-
erally on its name. As blogs mature, it
seems likely that cases like Zatkoff's will
become less frequent. For now, Zatkoff's
15 minutes of fame has just proved to be.
another unsuccessful attempt of playing
poor, abused rightist.

An open letter to Senator Stabenow

Three weeks ago, you stood on a stage in front of
the Harlan Hatcher Graduate Library with the other
five Democratic female U.S. Senators and made a
powerful appeal to a crowd of University students. As
I stood in the crowd that Sunday afternoon, I listened
to you emphasize how much you cared about Michi-
gan - its jobs, its students, its elderly and its soldiers.
By the end, you had me convinced that you were a
genuinely compassionate person. No longer were you
just Senator Stabenow, but Aunt Debbie, the one who
understands everyone's problems.
And you had my vote.
But you must have left your conscience in Ann
Arbor that afternoon, because last Thursday when
you were on Capital Hill, it was nowhere to be found.
By voting in favor of the Military Commissions Act
of 2006, you revealed an appalling side of you beyond
the trustworthy fagade presented in campaign rheto-
ric. Not only does this bill set a terrifying precedent
for the treatment of soldiers - ours included - but it
tramples on the checks and balances of our Constitu-
As a former supporter, I feel betrayed. I can't help
but feel that this is either an opportunist ploy before
the midterm elections or a pronouncement of your
hypocritical stance on human rights and civil liber-
ties. I don't know which is worse.
From its beginning, the bill has been an elec-
tion-year stunt for the Bush Administration and the
Republican Party to appear tough on terrorism and
strong on national security.
Just consider the timing: This last month's rush to
bring this detainee bill to the President's desk comes
months after the Supreme Court's decision in Ham-
dan v. Rumsfeld, and also only days after the President
moved 13 high-profile al-Qaida prisoners to Guanti-
namo Bay, giving the illusion of urgency. The truth is
that only 6 percent of the detainees at Guantdnamo
were captured on the battlefield, only 8 percent were
al-Qaida affiliates, and only 10 of the roughly 600
detainees have been charged with crimes. Certainly,
this is not an issue of national security. These prison-
ers don't represent a threat to America; by and large,
they are merely innocent civilians captured on pure

suspicion and now denied the right to challenge their
Although this bill is notan issue ofnational security,
it is an issue of another kind of security - job security.
With midterm elections approaching, deplorable poli-
ticians facing re-election have tugged at Americans'
heartstrings, using fear to garner poll support. Unfor-
tunately, you are one of these politicians. By voting in
favor of several of the failed amendments prior to the
final bill, you can allege that you supported habeas
corpus and human rights while your final vote reflects
your strong stance on terrorism. I can only hope that
Michiganders are not ignorant enough to support your
two-sided politics.
More importantly, the issue of humane treat-
ment of prisoners requires a great deal of reflec-
tion and discussion - yet it has received neither
in Congress. The result is a new policy of minimal
adherence to the Geneva Convention. This bill not
only prohibits detainees from challenging their
imprisonment in court - effectively keeping the
issue out of the judicial system - but it allows the
president to decide the "meaning and application"
of the Geneva Convention, giving him the power
to define torture. With this immense executive
power, the current administration will guarantee
the Central Intelligence Agency the use of the
same techniques - water-boarding, sleep depri-
vation and personal humiliation - that it has been
using. This sends the message that these methods
are acceptable for use on their soldiers and so are
also fair game to inflict on our soldiers.
Thank you, Senator Stabenow, for your strong
stance on terrorism. It sends a powerful message
of American power to the world - our power to
defy human rights under the veil of the war on
terror. I hope it pulls in big support from fearful
constituents. But remember that along the way you
have abandoned your commitment to protecting
the disadvantaged and abandoned everything that
you spoke about so eloquently that afternoon in
Ann Arbor.
Graca is an LSA freshman and a member
of the Daily's editorial board. He can
be reached at gmgraca@umich.edu.

MCRI will not hinder
affirmative action programs
Emily Beam's cryptic message that when MCRI
passes the so-called Rich White Man will be the only
"deserving" group (The myth of a colorblind meritocracy,
10/04/2006) would be entirely true had she not forgotten
one thing: affirmative action. Affirmative action, as it was
originally intended to be, meant programs that protect
people and ensure fair treatment regardless of race, sex or
national origin. MCRI's passage will do nothing to hinder
these affirmative action programs.
So why should someone like me (a female engineer
who knows about racism and sexism all too well) vote
yes on Proposal 2? If not for individual liberty, if not to
weaken the government's control over our lives, if not
because it's wrong to judge a person based on a group that
society has lumped him or her into - then maybe just for
a little personal dignity.
Heather Wittaniemi
Engineering sophomore
Post WWII affirmative action
helped immigrants move up
This week's Statement features an article by Prof.
Carl Cohen (Why racial preferences are a product of
white guilt, 10/04/2006), who deplores that the guilt
that white people feel for oppressing blacks keeps
them from making logical and ethical decisions
when it comes to issues concerning race. I don't dis-
agree with Cohen on this matter, but I believe that
"white guilt," in fact, is not such a bad thing.
Though most might not realize it now, many of
our ancestors whom we think of as being patently
"white" - particularly Jews, Irish and Southern
and Eastern Europeans - used to be considered by
other Americans as inferior, nonwhite minorities.
This belief did not simply fade with time. Rather,
the guilt that white Americans felt after the Holo-
caust made anti-Semitism and anti-European racism
condemnable and socially unacceptable.
Post-WWII affirmative action programs, such as
the Serviceman's Readjustment Act of 1944, helped
give immigrants' children the opportunity to be
treated as equals. Also known as the GI Bill, the act
provided educational training, job benefits and hous-
ing loans to returning veterans. College enrollment
skyrocketed and housing loans allowed lower-class;
urban families to move to the suburbs and have a
chance at a better life. Today Jews, Irish, Poles, Ital-
ians and others who were treated as minorities are
just as white as the next person. Because of govern-
ment-sponsored affirmative action programs, we got
our chance for upward mobility. Now don't other
minorities deserve that opportunity?
Carilyn Miller
LSA sophomore
Guilt is a necessary evil in
promoting diversity and equality
Prof. Carl Cohen's article (Why racial preferences
are a product of white guilt, 10/04/2006) is an intel-
ligent exposure of white racial paranoia. Whites,
holding positions of power, feel responsible to make
up for racial discrimination; the system "uses and
abuses" them to give preference to minorities. "White
guilt," he writes, "remains the central nerve of rela-
tions between blacks and whites," and he is entirely
So what? Describing the system does not allow one
to jump immediately to condemning it. I agree that
guilt is "bad," a negative thing - but aren't there more
important issues than the psychology of white people?
For example: The Joint Center for Political and Eco-
nomic Studies found in 2002 that non-Hispanic whites
have a7 percent probability of living in poverty, while
23 percent of blacks live below the poverty line.
Doesn't the fact these guilt-stricken people in positions
of power who overextend themselves to be "politically
correct" - university presidents, Supreme Court jus-
tices, politicians - are overwhelmingly white mean
something? I feel justifiably guilty.
If in defending affirmative action and racial pref-
erences we attempt to assuage historical guilt, then
our guilt is a necessary evil. Let's not give up the
ongoing fight against pervasive status quo racism.

Some things are more important than "civic equal-
ity" or "feelings" - namely diversity, equality (in
the full and true sense of the word, not in its naively
colorblind and symbolic form) and change.
Love your brother and sister! Equality and justice
for all! Vote no on Proposal 2!
Gabriel Tourek
LSA freshman
Don't forget about gender
implications of Prop 2
I am writing in response to Prof. Carl Cohen's long
letter to the campus community (Why racial prefer-
ences are a product of white guilt, 10/04/2006), which
spoke to the white guilt underlying affirmative action
programs. First, a correction I feel bound to make:
Proposal 2 on the November ballot in Michigan most
certainly does ban the use of affirmative action pro-
grams - in state and local governments and in the
public universities and colleges of the state.
But I have another response, in which I ask that we

not forget that Proposal 2 is not about just race or eth-
nicity - but also about gender. As a working-class
female who attended the University in the 1970s and
again in the 1980s, I most certainly benefited from
affirmative action and related programs. My parents
did not attend college and urged me to work full-time
and attend a local community college in the evening.
My high school training was, in fact, in secretarial
Fortunately, I was admitted to the University and
provided scholarship funding from the state of Mich-
igan despite the lack of enthusiasm at home. I'm not
certain that would happen under Proposal 2. When
I returned for an MBA six years after finishing
my LSA degree, I was honored with a scholarship
from the Center for the Education of Women. My
parents proudly joined me for the fantastic, warm
and encouraging ceremony that CEW held. It was a
deeply meaningful event, and the financial support
made it possible to stay in the full-time day program
at the Business School.
It is entirely possible that if Proposal 2 passes,
programs like CEW will no longer exist. Programs
that reach out to women and girls - about math
and science and engineering, or any nontradi-
tional career or academic choice - may well be
illegal under a constitutional amendment that bans
all programs that stem from affirmative action or
preferential treatment. A public entity - a grade
school, high school, township, college or univer-
sity - would no longer be allowed to undertake
efforts to encourage diversity or to reach out to
underserved or underrepresented people in our
state. What a loss that would be - not because
we are all guilty of racism or sexism, or because
our grandparents were, but because we are all
stronger when we reach across boundaries, when
we encounter people not like ourselves, when we
stretch ourselves to achieve something we had not
perhaps imagined possible.
I am not ashamed or angry to be a woman - nor
am I guilty about our collective history. But I do want
to work and live in a place that includes people of all
kinds. I hope that is not taken from us by a bad con-
stitutional amendment.
Maureen S. Martin
The letter writer is an alumna and a staff member
with the Office of University Development.
Solidarity among groups was
present on the Diag last week
Based on the headline Groups vie for attention on Diag
crowded with protest (09/28/2006), the writer does not
know the meaning of "solidarity" There's no mention of
this theme in the article, except in an organizer's letter to
the editor (News article misrepresents Solidarity Day's pur-
pose, 10/03/2006): "The organizations on the Diag were
unified in their messages and their causes - acknowl-
edging the humanity of all people, a central theme that
was deliberately decided on."
Solidarity is defined on OED.com as: "perfect coin-
cidence of (or between) interests". There is solidarity
between people of Middle East, South Asian and Latin
American heritage. Solidarity between these groups and
the College Democrats, solidarity against preachers of
hate like Venyah, solidarity against idiotic Republicans
like Wilkins, solidarity against polemics, demagogues,
intolerance and injustice. On the Diag I said, "yester-
day there was a dynamic but today there are just people
standing around" (On Diag, more hate, 09/27/2006). I
mean dynamic: dynamic relations, "forming parts of
one connected experience" - not merely standing but
standing together!
Michael Kozlowski
LSA senior
Girls don't buy sunglasses to
shade their image
If James Somers is so bothered by an accessory that
does not cater entirely to his sex (Girls wearing big sun-
glasses aren't hot and show weakness, 10/03/2006), I sug-
gest he take his business degree and enter the fashion
industry, where he will learn quite quickly that if women
dress for people besides themselves, they are dressing to
compete with other women. Very few trends in women's
fashion are designed for the pleasure of men. When
Courreges brought the mini-skirt to runways in 1965, he
intended to help women lead modern, active lives - not

to create cheap entertainment for college men sitting
through econometrics lectures.
Whatever enjoyment heterosexual men may
receive from the thrill of an exposed leg or an
artificially enlarged breast is not the intent of
the designer (no matter how much separation is
between the runway piece and the actual garment
worn by an average college student), and probably
not even the intent of the woman herself. Sexual-
ity in fashion is about self-expression and perhaps
power, in the ability to change one's look at will.
This is distantly followed by power over other
women, which is still more important than power
over men, and even that is not necessarily with the
intent of attracting them.
I don't know a woman who purchased her large
sunglasses in order to hide certain features; in fact, I
would argue that few women wearing these "big tinted
eye-boxes" actually have (or think they have) unsightly
attributes to conceal. Finally, if Somers would care to
enlighten us as to how liner, mascara and eye shadow
have truly contributed to the betterment of society for
"hundreds of years:' I would be greatly obliged.
Anne Ebbers
LSA junior





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