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January 22, 2007 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2007-01-22

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4A- Monday, January 22, 2007

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
413 E. Huron St.
8 Ann Arbor, MI 48104
tothedaily@umich.edu
EMILY BEAM
DONN M. FRESARD CHRISTOPHER ZBROZEK JEFFREY BLOOMER
EDITOR IN CHIEF EDITORIAL PAGE EDITORS MANAGING EDITOR
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.
You're getting warmer
It's about time Congress faced the elephant in the room
J seems the wacky weather here in Ann Arbor and other parts
of the country has at last compelled politicians to finally face
global warming - a reality they've so far been content to let Al
Gore trumpet alone. Last week Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi
(D-Calif.) announced plans to form a committee on global warm-
ing in the House to investigate ways to curb greenhouse emissions
and research alternative energy sources. This announcement by
the new Democratic leadership is a welcome addition to its already
ambitious agenda and has the potential to make a real difference in
the near future - as long as the menaces of inter- and intra-party

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After six years of George Bush, it is time to
renew the promise of America."
- Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) in an announcement on her website detailing her decision to seek
the Democratic nomination for the presidency in 2008.
ALEXANDER HONKALA

WA I-OCr.
CnAow -At.
3
s

,.

Refitting the culture warrior

rivalries are held at bay.
Pelosi has said that the new committee,
chaired by Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), will
hear legislative proposals on how to achieve
energy independence and reverse global
warming. It's no coincidence that this issue
has come to the forefront under the Dem-
ocrats' watch. The Bush Administration
and its congressional allies have kept their
head in the sand about this issue for years,
even as more and more damning evidence
of its drastic impacts is presented. As such,
America is light years behind the rest of the
world in certain environmental standards,
remaining one of only two industrialized
nations to hold out on the Kyoto Protocol.
When American companies can't sell some
cars in China because they fail to meet
emissions standards, it ought to be painful-
ly clear that fresh minds are absolutely vital
for bringing this country up to speed.
However, the nascent committee will
have to push hard in Congress to hammer
together a bill by the July 4 target. Even
within the Democratic party, Rep. John
Dingell (D-Mich.) expressed doubt as to
whether the committee will accomplish
anything. Dingell feels that the issue is
best handled by the Committee on Energy
and Commerce, which he chairs. While
his argument may have merit, denial is no
longer an effective way of dealing with the
oncoming climate crisis, and implementing
tougher standards is a giant feather in the
Democrats' cap - and it couldn't have been

timed better.
The new committee will do its work
before the thick of the approaching 2008
campaign season completely occupies
Washington, and it could force the issue
into the heart of the campaign, where it
belongs. Stonewalling from congressional
Republicans is expected, and, of course, the
Bush Administration, can only be overcome
by unity on the Democratic side.
An issue that matters as much as global
warming must be dealt with in the imme-
diate present, and the announcement of
this committee reinforces that point. Ann
Arbor and other cities and states have
already shown a commitment to environ-
mental stability, and it is time for the fed-
eral government to do the same. President
Bush could be forced to compromise with
Democrats and adopt a more prudent envi-
ronmental policy, something the nation
has sorely missed in these days of energy
policies written by energy company lobby-
ists.
In a time when the Bush Administration
has been hounded on by critics over the
mess it continues to stir in Iraq, it's reassur-
ing to see the Congress take up an impor-
tant domestic issue. At the very least it will
make globaliwarming even more visible and
push it into the 2008 spotlight. It should
also strongly challenge the Bush Admin-
istration into action on an issue we can no
longer afford to neglect or undermine.

Jn one of the most bizarre scenes
to come out of Stephen Colbert's
Andy Kaufman-like role-playing
- one rivaling the time Henry Kissing-
er was forced to recite the line "Let's get
ready to rock" - Bill O'Reilly appeared
on the very show designed to parody
his own. Sadly though, Colbert missed
a stellar chance to further expose the
embedded political divisions in this
country, and - -
O'Reilly used his
appearance as a
plug for his new
book, "Culture
Warrior."
BeforeO'Reilly
appropriated the
term "culture
warrior," it was a SAM
phrase I used to
describe myself. BUTLER
As an artist, I use ----
the expressive tools of the visual and lit-
erary arts to express my political views
and to change minds. That was my defi-
nition of a culture warrior. Imagine my
surprise when I first heard Bill O'Reilly
and I could both be described by the
same term.
Using culture to combat social norms
is not a new tactic. O'Reilly is attempt-
ing to point to a political battleground
that was for a long time solely the
realm of the Left. Using culture to sub-
tly change society has been a common
method for avant-garde groups starting
with Dadaists of the early 20th century
and reaching a pinnacle in the cultural
revolution of the 1960s.
Although often trumpeted in the
exalted cultural space of the museum
gallery, the cultural battle is most often
waged in everyday life. Whether in the
lyrics of a popular song, in a magazine
ad or in Mary Tyler Moore forgoing
floral for pants on the Dick Van Dyke
Show, cultural rebellion is more effec-
tive when aimed at the masses. Politi-
cal activism through culture should be
entertaining. For example, Jon Stewart

and Stephen Colbert have done more to
solidify Democrats in this country than
many other serious political leaders.
But where are the rest of today's
culture warriors? Whereas cultural
production was seen as the tip of the
revolutionary spear 40 years ago, today
it has been relegated to the fringe, per-
ceived to only feature black turtlenecks
and weird hairdos. Of course, this is
how mainstream society has always
viewed the art world. What is shocking
is that many artists today agree with
this categorization and willingly resign
themselves to the sidelines.
This weekend, I went to the Uni-
versity's Arts of Citizenship Confer-
ence, which is specifically designed to
address the ways the arts can foster
community action and bring about
political and social change. Present
were several poets from the vibrant
Detroit poetryscene. Amazingly, sever-
al of the poets expressed their disdain
for blatant activism in art and discour-
aged the use of didactics.
Leading the discussion was Sekou
Sundiata, who later performed his
51st (dream) State, a piece intended to
explore American identity in a post-
Sept. 11 world. However, I couldn't
help feeling that the promise of lofty
political enlightenment had fallen
short. At the conference, Sundiata
echoed some of the other poets and
admitted that he had tried to stay
away from "the language of rhetoric
and persuasion." He certainly accom-
plished this task. His show was a
beautiful spectacle of light and sound,
but only those actively searching for it
found any cohesive political message.
Too many artists claim an activist
intent but hide behind a veil of ambig-
uous meaning. This ambiguity rarely
comes from a heightened level of
sophisticated thought. Sadly, it more
likely stems from a lack of effort and
reflection.
Rhetoric can be a bad thing because
it's so often tied to closed-mindedness.

Politics are too often waged by rhetori-
cians who, equipped with the barbs of
dogma, unleash tried-and-true lines
designed to reduce political discourse
to its most common denominator. This
is a sin committed by all parts of the
political spectrum, and it can grind
productive political dialogue to a halt.
The hesitation to infuse radical-
ism with creative expression probably
comes from the fact that we have seen
it so many times before. The impas-
sioned furious gestures of political
protest have become cliched. A recent
example is the 2004 election, when
average voters chose to watch "Ameri-
can Idol" as opposed to listen to the
depressing railings of furious activ-
ists. Yelling louder is not a good way to
convince someone to listen.
The culture
war opens
a new front
Who said that the act of political per-
suasion has to be an angry endeavor?
Activists and other cultural pro-
ducers get angry about mainstream
society mostly because they disdain it.
Contempt for the average person who
is content to listen to pop radio and
watch primetime television cripples
the activist's ability to influence his
political opinion. If the purpose of
your creativity is to be political, then
it should be accessible and catered to
your audience. A soapbox and an audi-
ence are only useful when the people
can understand what you're saying.
Any wager of war will tell you that
adapting your tactics is the key to vic-
tory; a war fought on the cultural bat-
tlefield is no different.
Sam Butler can be reached
at butlers@umich.edu.

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Viewpoint Policy
The Daily welcomes viewpoints from its readers.Viewpoints have one or several authors, though
preference will be given topieces written can behalf of individuals rather than an organization.
Editors will run viewpoints according to timeliness, order received and available space, and all
submissions become property of the Daily.
Viewpoints should be no longer than 700 words. The Daily reserves the right to edit for length,
clarity and accuracy.
To submit viewpoints orfor more information, email: ed(itpage.editors a timichedu.

Wal-Mart's labor strategies
model less than ideal behavior
TO THE DAILY:
In his column, John Stiglich remarks that
"through the years, other retail giants from Tar-
get to Best Buy have copied Wal-Mart's business
plan and implemented many of its labor strate-
gies" (The Bank of Wal-Mart, 01/17/2007). I don't
ever remember Best Buy locking immigrants in
the stores overnight, or forcing the government to
shoulder $1.5 billion in healthcare costs for its full-
time employees.
Blase Kearney
Alum
Daily's advice to U attempt to
thwart will ofMichigan voters
TO THE DAILY:
I found the editorial board's call for University
officials to beat a dead horse on Proposal 2 to be
disgusting and disturbing (From the Daily: Worth
Fighting For, 01/17/2007). The editorial board is
encouraging poor citizenship; the message that
resonates through the piece is that should things in
our democracy not go the way we want, we should
complain and undermine the will of the electorate.
Not only does the Daily's editorial board show a lack
of respect for Michigan voters, but it also shows a
lack of respect for our legal system by referring to
the federal judges who have told the University to
comply with the law as "clueless."
In insinuating that the elimination of racial and
gender preferences will spell destruction for the
University's academic atmosphere and reputation,
the editorial board demonstrates its lack of touch
with reality. How is it that the University of Cali-
fornia at Berkeley has maintained academic promi-
nence over the past 10 years without race- and
gender-based affirmative action, consistently rank-
ing ahead of our university?
This University is a creation of the state of Michi-
gan and the voters of this state. Should it insist on
thwarting the will of Michigan's voters when the
voters have every right to revoke their funding of

this institution?
And why should the voters of this state feel any
remorse when they pull the plug? Countless gradu-
ates of this institution abandon the state every year
and flock to other states, taking with them earning
potential that Michiganvoters helped them acquire.
The ungrateful people who attend this university
and who wrote that editorial and the administra-
tors who appease them deserve a reality slap.
Andrew Gaber
LSA junior
Admissions decisions should
make upfor K-12 segregation
TO THE DAILY:
I'm surprised to hear the ways University Presi-
dent Mary Sue Coleman and the admissions office
are exploring to remedy the implications of Proposal
2 (Worth Fighting For, 01/17/2007). The University
seems to be overlooking some obvious and powerful
solutions that could be effected within the restric-
tions of Proposal 2.
For example, a major reason why black and His-
panic students are underrepresented on campus is
segregation in Michigan's K-12 system. In 2003's
Grutter v. Bollinger case, an expert testified that in
Michigan some 83 percent of the black students are
educated in "minority schools" and 64 percent of all
black students in Michigan are educated in extreme-
ly segregated schools.
One solution would be to designate segregated
minority schools as such and award applicants from
those schools an advantage in the application pro-
cess. The benefit could even be tiered according to
how segregated the school is. This system would
provide a counter-blast to admissions criteria that
specifically disadvantage minority applicants, like
the SAT, legacyfactor, the schoolfactor (whichfavors
students from more challenging high schools).
I'm not suggesting that these policies are a com-
plete solution, but they would certainly help. I
wonder, has the Diversity Blueprints taskforce con-
sidered these options?
Adam de Angeli
Alum

Willingness-to-pay system
offers post-Prop 2 solutions
TO THE DAILY:
I would like to suggest that the University's
Diversity Blueprints Taskforce carefully examine
two existing University programs that have each
increased diversity on campus. These programs
appear successful and have not been legally con-
tested.
- The first model is Parking Operations, which
has diversified a program that once only offered
parking permits and metered spaces to staff and
commuters into a multi-faceted system offer-
ing various parking and transport options. These
options are tiered by the permit purchaser's will-
ingness to pay for select parking locations. The
system separates the willingly affluent from the
thrifty.
The second successful diversifying program has
been instituted by the Athletic Department. The
priority seating program has diversified spectator
seating at Michigan Stadium by allotting points for
multiple factors and linking these points to a "vol-
untary" Victors Club membership program that
alone has eight classifications - again determined
by one's willingness to pay.
Using the successful models of diversifying cam-
pus parking and seating for athletic events, could we
not just add anew admissions criteria, "willingness
to pay"?
A multi-tiered tuition schedule could be estab-
lished using peer institutions for guidelines, so
the top level of tuition could be substantially
increased, by which the rates for some lower levels
would decrease. Just as the stadium and parking
areas have been divided into price-controlled sec-
tions, the incomingclass should be divided into sec-
tions, and the tuition to be paid for acceptance into
that section adjusted appropriately. All applicants
would be required to complete the usual financial
aid forms and eligibility for applying for certain
sections would be limited to certain income ranges.
When a given section reaches capacity, wait lists
would be utilized.
If the parking and seating programs have worked
for the University community, it seems that design-
ing a willingness-to-pay program for only 5,000

SEND LETTERS TO: TOTHEDAILY@UMICH.EDU
incoming first-year students should be a no-brainer.
Am I wrong?
J. Downs Herold
Alum
Nostalgic view of Vietnam-era
activism neglects reallty
TO THE DAILY:
Whitney Dibo's column (Outfrom under the '60s shad-
ow, 01/18/2007) is the latest in what seems like a series of
pieces urging a return to the level of campus activism of
the Vietnam era. Butwhen liberals romanticize the Viet-
nam era as one of pure intellectualism and social justice
on campus, they make the same mistake as conservatives
who romanticize the 1950s as a time of universal happi-
ness andstrongmoralvalues. Psychologistsstudyingthe
matter have shown that the primary motivator of anti-
war activists was the government's authority to send
them to war, not some humanistic compassion for the
people of South Vietnam. Although some undoubtedly
did care about other issues, most merelyused them as an
excuse to oppose a war they didn't want to fight in.
As soon as our parents were no longer of draft age,
they abandoned their ideals and elected arch-conserva-
tive Ronald Reagan (a fact Dibo acknowledges). The lack
of moral conviction on the part of liberals demonstrated
why the protests failed. Poorer Americans, whose kids
were fighting abroad, observed selfish elitists consuming
psychedelic drugs and callingtheir children baby killers.
In an attempt to reject authority, protesters ultimately
rejected morality, handing it over to conservatives who
claim to hold it to this day. Liberals lost the moral high
ground that they'd held since the Progressive Era.
Sure,Vietnam protests were fun while they lasted, but
thewinnersoftheerawereneoconservatives,theReligious
Right and even George W. Bush. I'm certainly not proud of
the apolitical nature of my generation: I agree with Dibo
inthatwe should find a newwayto make ourvoiceheard.
But while doing so, it is absolutely crucial that we hold the
moral high ground. Let's root this new activism in intel-
lectual dialogue and compassion for all of humanity,not in
superficial chants and selfish hedonism. If we can do that,
we can accomplish something our parents never did.
Eric Kumbier
LSA sophomore

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