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October 25, 2006 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2006-10-25

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4A - Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

e f~ligian 4)athj
Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890
413 E. Huron Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
Unsigned editorials reflect the official position of the Daily's editorial board. All other signed
articles and illustrations represent solely the views of their authors.
Shady dealings
Communication not too much to ask on skybox plan
The proposed Michigan Stadium renovations, loom-
ing skyboxes and all, continue moving closer to
becoming an unfortunate reality. Just as upsetting
as the thought of lofty luxury boxes distorting the stadium's
traditional bowl, however, is the seeming futility in voicing
opposition to the plan. While it's nice that the University is
now holding a series of public forums to discuss the chang-
es, that would have been far more useful if these forums
took place before the University Board of Regents voted on
the skybox plan in May.

To the Grand Rapids-based
Meijer chain, for countering Wal-
Mart's $4 generic prescriptions
by offering to fill prescriptions of
seven common antibiotics for free,
provingthat the magic of the free market can solve
all social ills. We fully expect insurance companies
to announce plans to cover America's more than 45
million uninsured any day now.
To Chelsea High School Prin-
cipal Ron Mead, for ordering the
school's student newspaper to cut
an article alleging area police give
preferential treatment to Chelsea
High athletes, sayingthe paper failed
to seek both sides of the story. Just think how much
more "fair and balanced" professional media could be
if only that pesky First Amendment didn't forbid our
government from having such power!

Sca fe c -
e 6, 4o


For love of self


The advance of the stadium plan
reveals a long track record of question-
able maneuvers. Last May, the Athletic
Department's proposal only made it on
to the regents meeting agenda after the
deadline had passed to sign up to make
public comments, essentially closingthe
controversial matter to public input.
The case ofmisinformationsurround-
ing the July regents meeting makes the
handling of the renovation plan even
more suspicious. Members of the alter-
native stadium plan group, Save the Big
House, were given the wrong deadline,
allegedly due to a mistake, to sign up for
the speakers list - again closing them
out of public discussion. The regents
gave one member of Save the Big House
a spot on the list to compensate for the
mistake, but other skybox opponents
still found themselves unfairly shut out
from speaking.
Those who want to challenge the sky-
boxes should not face such obstacles to
making their voices heard. The Univer-
sity must make its plans more open to
public debate and be less secretive in its
dealings. It shouldn't have to take Free-
dom of Information Act requests to see
stadium designs that already have been
shown to the regents behind closed doors
- as was the case for Save the Big House
member Bill Wilson, who had to threat-
en a lawsuit for noncompliance with the
FOIA request before the University made
public its preliminary plans last week.
While the University did release the
designs and fix dates for public meet-
ings in the upcoming week, the meet-
ings appear rather useless in face of
administrators steadfastly pushing an

already approved plan. Perhaps the
administration remains hesitant to give
voice to the opposition because other-
wise it knows its plans wouldn't hold up
to fan and alumni scrutiny. The renova-
tions should have been subject to open
discussion with community members
much earlier.
Aside from the unnerving lack of
public discussion, the luxury box plan
interferes with the sense of unity and
tradition shared by all Wolverine fans.
More bathrooms, concession stands and
handicapped seating certainly stand
to improve the stadium, but skyboxes
loomingover the crowd takes awayfrom
the common bond the fans share - all
standing together in the cold, unpre-
dictable Ann Arbor weather, decked
out in maize and blue, pumping their
fists to "The victors." The luxury box
plan also threatens Michigan's claim
to having largest college football sta-
dium by restricting further expansion.
Despite University President Mary Sue
Coleman's objection to selling alcohol
in the stadium, such a change may be
necessary to encourage wealthy fans to
lease luxury boxes. Another problem
remains in the projected loss of 4,300
bleacher seats to make room for exclu-
sive skyboxes and club seats.
Save the Big House offers a cheaper
plan and 10,000 extra bleacher seats
along with other improvements. Its plan
and other alternatives should be given
a chance to be debated through proper
public discourse. With both Coleman
and Athletic Director Bill Martin set on
building skyboxes, however, that seems

S tart your engines, folks. Another
campaign season approaches.
Yes, another vindictive battle for
the hearts and minds
of our student body
- or at least the small
fraction of us who L
actually vote, much
less pay attention to
the impending cam-
paigns - will beginV
in the coming days. RAFI
The massive lists of
e-mailaddresses are MARTINA
undoubtedly being-
compiled. The posters will appear, and
soon every conceivable space on cam-
pus will be defiled with the names and
trite slogans of our unscrupulous rep-
resentatives. Look too for the Facebook
groups lionizing specific candidates
and their political party machines.
You'll know it's really in full swing once
your inbox begins piling up with seem-
ingly personalized messages soliciting
your vote.
I'm not describing the crookedness
of any real political system. Rather,
these depredations augur the peren-
nial student government elections, the
knockoff campaigns of students taking
themselves far too seriously. (For the
sake of full disclosure, that's certainly
an indictment I've been on the brunt
end of, too.) But taking oneself too seri-
ously needn't be an offense in and of
itself. Plenty of us take ourselves and
our studies seriously. Indeed, at the
cusp of full-fledged adulthood, why
shouldn't we?
And yet seriousness in demeanor
necessarily follows seriousness in deed.
With a budget of about $500,000 annu-
ally, such seems to be the case with our
studentgovernment. But then why doso
many of us consider it such a joke? Per-
haps it follows from the actions of our
elected representatives. Never missing
a chance to refute the assumption that
student government might conduct

itself in a principled way, our ambitious
peers have taken the rather sober tack
of justifying their ends (election) with
nearly any means. In that vein, it didn't
surprise me to overhear a veteran of
student elections instruct an aspiring
novice that, "You have to be ruthless.
... Do shit that nobody else would do....
I was willing to do anything for a vote.
Suchsang-froid in the face of sacrific-
ing principles for political expediency
certainly accords with political move-
ments looking to history to exculpate
their perhaps reckless missteps. Thus
could Lenin excuse the perhaps exces-
sive policies of a nascent Soviet Union
in the hopes of future good. I don't get
that same vibe with student govern-
ment members. They seem willing to
abuse their student populace with a
zeal bereft of any ideological justifica-
tion (as, of course, Students 4 Michigan
always reminded us ofitslack of any sin-
gular or overarching ideology). Wheth-
er it's flooding our inboxes, littering
our sidewalks with leaflets or obscur-
ing our view of the pavement ahead of
us with ubiquitous campaign pitches,
our leaders appear not to have bothered
themselves with our welfare, much less
a grander goal to "end history" or what
have you. No, it seems they're content
with a recurring system - albeit with
conspicuously altered party names - of
abusing the shit out of us.
And for what? Assuming it's indeed
not for a larger ideological scheme, it
seems the obvious answer - indeed the
answer staring us in the face on every
campaign leaflet - is the self-aggran-
dizement of these ambitious individu-
als. Sure, it's not a one-party system,
though the succession of Students First
to S4M to the Michigan Action Party
might have us believe otherwise. A
choice of parties notwithstanding, the
salient feature of these political groups
remains the shameless self-promotion
of our enterprising peers. When S4M

- or MAP - displays a keen interest in
representing a plurality of beliefs and
groups (some of them mutually exclu-
sive), one shouldn't call it diversity. Call
it tokenism. And with it comes the tit-
for-tat of numerous narcissists willing
to promise the votes of their constituent
groups for mutual self-advancement.
Let's face it - your average student
cares little for voting. But student
groups sure do. When the e-mails flood
Only narcissism
drives MSA
inboxes and the candidates knock on
doors, it often obscures the real leg-
work behind student elections: the mass
mobilization of each student group
- frat, political group or ethnic organi-
zation - to get its candidate elected. It's
more of a whip system than a democra-
cy: The groups that look to benefit most
from complicity in this amour-propre
machine rely on their members' com-
pliance, spurring them to vote the night
of elections.
All of this is not to say that student
government is irrelevant (I think its fat
budget speaks to its importance) - just
unscrupulous. Or at least it's a congress
of unprincipled demons one witnesses
only in Milton's Paradise Lost. But this
isn't pandemonium, it's pan-narcis-
sism: Our representatives worship at
no altars of special interest but their
own. They're savvy egoists, future Karl
Roves (undoubtedly a wet dream for
some of them). These are resume pad-
ders par exemplar.
Rafi Martina can be reached
at rmartina@umich.edu.


The real stakes

Do you remember
Vincent Chin?

While the name Vincent
Chin may not be familiar
to many of us, nearly 25
years after his brutal beat-
ing, there is no doubt that
the implications of his
death are important today.
Chin, a Chinese American,
was beaten to death with a
baseball bat by two white
autoworkers from Detroit,
Ronald Ebens and Michael
Nitz, after an argument at
a strip club in Highland
Park. Although it seemed
clear that Ebens and Nitz
had been motivated by
racism, they received only
three years probation and
a $3,000 fine for their hei-
nous actions.
The Chin case came at a
time when many blue-col-
lar workers, faced with the
decline of the once-pros-
perous auto industry, were
looking for a scapegoat. It
was easy to cite cheap for-
eign cars imported from
Japan as a threat to the Big
Three auto manufactur-
ers. American companies
couldn't compete, which led
to the layoffs of thousands
of workers. Unfortunately,
those ignorantaboutthe real
causes of the crisis turned
to Asian Americans of any
kind to abuse, degrade and
murder, convinced they
were the cause of unemploy-

ment and poverty. This fear
and hatred was at the heart
of the Vincent Chin case.
Although Ebens and Nitz
claimed their actions were
not racially motivated, the
testimonies of several eye-
witnesses provided strong
evidence otherwise.
What's more, despite the
protests of the American
Citizens for Justice and
countless other organiza-
tion against the sentenc-
ing of Ebens and Nitz, and
after several appeals, the
criminals did no time in
jail for the murder. One
must question the bias of a
justice system that lets off
two white men who plead
guilty to manslaughter of
an Asian man.
As Asian immigration
has doubled in the last 10
years and the Big Three
continue their decline, the
real question is whether
our social awareness of
such issues has progressed
since the 1980s or whether
could there be another
Vincent Chin case in our
future. Even today, many
blame investment in China
and Japan for Michigan's
loss of jobs and economic
instability. Asian car com-
panies are winning in the
American market with
cheaper, more technologi-

cally advanced vehicles,
and autoworkers are still
angry and worried about
job security.
The xenophobia of the
1980s still exists and is
hindering Detroit culture.
In today's world, failing
to acknowledge growth of
foreign influence in Amer-
ican markets will prevent
a full entrance into the
global economy. Detroit's
aversion to the unknown,
whether it be another race
or another car company,
means we cannot forge
bonds which will bring our
society out of decline.
It's unlikely that another
serious murder like Vincent
Chin's could occur these
days. Ethnic tolerance has
significantly increased in
recent decades, and our
justice system has evolved
to protect minority groups
victimized in the past.
However, the fact remains
that our reluctance to
accept the unknown still
exists and has the potential
to alienate many Vincent
Chins for no real reason.
Our society needs to change
this alienation into accep-
tance, or face the growing
Nicki Sitko is an LSA senior.

Get ready for a time warp - it
looks like Republicans have
turned back to the Cold War
for some old-fashioned scare tactics.
In a throwback to former President
Lyndon Johnson's 1964 ad campaign,
a new ad sponsored
by the Republican
National Committeee
asks American vot- .
ers to remember "they
stakes" of the Nov.
7 election beforek
heading to the polls.L
It has been more WHITNEY
than 40 years since
Johnson's cam- DIBO
paign against Barry-
Goldwater, but "the stakes" remain the
same: death and destruction - or, as we
like to say these days, terror.
Of course, the enemy looked dif-
ferent in the early '60s - less like a
bearded, turban-clad combatant and
more like a mushroom-shaped cloud.
Johnson's infamous "Daisy" campaign
ad depicted a heart-wrenchingly ador-
able girl counting to 10 while picking
pedals off a flower. When her squeaky
voice reaches the number 10, the cam-
era zooms in on her eyes, which morph
into a horrific nuclear explosion.
Realizing the public has lost faith
in Republicans' ability to "stay the
course," the party is borrowing a page
from Johnson's scare-tactic campaign:
If voters choose the opposition, they
essentially are willing the death of a
little girl picking flowers in a field.
The GOP ad, which debuted last Sun-
day on national news networks, opts for
even higher drama. There is no sound
except the noise of a ticking clock. (Or it
is a bomb?) Shadowy images of Osama
bin Laden and other terrorist leaders
flash onto the screen as chilling quotes
fade in and out, leaving phrases like "kill

the Americans" and "suitcase bombs"
lingering on a black background.
It certainly scared me - but not
for the reasons the RNC had probably
I'm frightened that too many Ameri-
cans will fall for this obvious manipu-
lation of our collective consciousness.
Republicans know our weak spots.
They know we were all glued to the
TV two weeks ago when an unidenti-
fied plane crashed into a New York City
apartment building. They know Ameri-
cans are willing to take off their shoes
and be inappropriately "wanded" in
front of strangers at an airport in the
name of national security. They know
words like "suitcase bombs" make our
hearts skip a beat. And in these crucial
weeks before the highly contested elec-
tions, I'm afraid the GOP will exploit
our country's deepest fears to maintain
control of the House and Senate.
The Democratic National Committee
is trying to lift the curtain and expose
Republicans as the Wizards of Oz that
they are. The Democrats have run an ad
Laden's name 17 times in a single speech
in September. But will voters recognize
fear-mongering when they see it?
The irony is that if the Republicans had
in fact made America safer since the 2004
election, they wouldn't have to rely on an
ad campaign so focused on fear.
Think of what the ads might look like
if Americans actually did feel safer. They
might go something like this: A cheery
woman and her daughter enter an air-
port. The woman calmly hands her ticket
over the counter to an employee with a
headscarf, and they smile at each other
sincerely. The pair then serenely boards
the plane, and as the engine starts, the
little girl begins to count to 10. However,
instead of the camera zooming in on her
eyes to reveal a nuclear explosion or a

Taliban training camp, the woman calm-
ly holds the child's hand, easing her fear.
Thanks to the leadership of George W.
Bush, she feels confident in their safety as
the aircraft leaves the ground, at ease in
the hands of the Republican government.
Sound laughable? It shouldn't be. But
no one, not even the most Bush-loving
advertising agency, could make an ad like
that work. Americans do not believe we
A campaign of
fear is the only
hope Republicans
have of winning.
are safer. We don't believe it because the
numberofsoldierskilled inIraqhasmore
than doubled since the 2004 election.
We don't believe it because we're hear-
ing about the resurgence of the Taliban
in Afghanistan and the rise of Islamic
extremism. We don't believe it because if
we travel abroad, our international repu-
tation is embarrassingly obvious.
Republicans cannot rely on a cam-
paign centered on the progress of the
last two years, because America is slow-
ly wising up to the fact we aren't really
any safer. The last card left to play is
fear. It's the same campaign strategy
from 2004, and as everyone knows, a
sequel rarely matches up to the origi-
nal. The question will be whether the
audience is willing to be scared into
complacency again.
Whitney Dibo can be reached
at wdibo@umich.edu.



Editorial Board Members: Reggie Brown, Kevin Bunkley, Amanda Burns,
Sam Butler, Ben Caleca, Devika Daga, Milly Dick, James David Dickson,
Jesse Forester, Gary Graca, Jared Goldberg, Jessi Holler, Rafi Martina,
Toby Mitchell, Rajiv Prabhakar, David Russell, Katherine Seid,
Elizabeth Stanley, John Stiglich, Rachel Wagner.
1 A

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