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January 09, 2009 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2009-01-09

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4 - Friday, January 9, 2009

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

C74C MIC4igan wily

I

Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
tothedaily@umich.edu
GARY GRACA ROBERT SOAVE COURTNEY RATKOWIAK
EDITOR IN CHIEF EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR MANAGING EDITOR
Unsigned editorials reflectthe official position of the Daily's editorial board. All other signed articles
and illustrations represent solely the views of their authors.
RMTEDAlY
Clearing the smoke
Legislature needs to act quickly to approve smoking ban
f you've passed a high school health class, you know smoking
is bad for your health and that secondhand smoke is just as
bad. Armed with that basic knowledge, 35 states have taken
action to prevent the bad habits of some from harming everyone
else breathing the same air. Last spring, Michigan looked like it
would become No. 36 by passing a ban on smoking in public plac-
es. But the state legislature got caught up in the details, and a lot
of fighting and very little action have followed. What we need to
remember is that Michigan stills needs a smoking ban to protect
innocent employees and people from secondhand smoke while

How 'bout you go to Iraq, if you're such a badass?"
- Kid Rock, contesting a judge's ruling that his concert for troops in Iraq did
not constitute community service, as reported yesterday by The Detroit Free Press.

BELLA SHAH

E-MAIL BELLA AT BELLZ@UMICH.EDU

Dude. What are Counting the number
you doing? of girls wearing U of M'st1Jq' .
self-imposed uniform...
~~e
Success beyond spGc shuttles

4
4

making businesses more welcon
Michigan's fightoverasmokingbanbegan
last Spring. The state Senate and House of
Representatives both passed versions of the
bill as long ago as last May. Those bills dif-
fered slightly, though. The Senate's version
banned smoking in all indoor places. The
House's bill banned smoking in restaurants
and bars but made exceptions for some
establishments like casinos and smoke
shops. Though most -people expected the
two chambers to reach a deal during the
politically secure lame-duck sessions, the
two chambers are still fighting over it seven
months later.
This unacceptable lack of progress has
come at the expense of many people's
health. In public buildings, people often
have little control over whether or not
they are exposed to harmful secondhand
smoke. This is especially true for employ-
ees at restaurants and clearing the smoke
out of public indoor areas is necessary to
protect these people from health risks they
didn't agree to take.
Protecting these people comes with an
economic advantage, too. Contrary to what
many restaurant and bar owners believe,
a smoking ban should actually provide
an economic boost to these businesses.

While the bans may alienate some smok-
ers, smoke-free buildings attract more cus-
tomers who don't want to inhale smoke.
In other states, the non-smokers have out-
weighed the smokers. A study conducted a
year after the smoking ban took effect in
New York, for example, found that tax rev-
enue, demand for liquor licenses and air
quality all increased substantially after the
ban took effect.
Analysts predict that Michigan's smok-
ing-ban legislation will be reintroduced
at the beginning of the legislature's 2009
session and that the two chambers of the
legislature will find one on which they can
agree. If the legislature fails, some have
suggested that a ballot initiative calling for
a smoking ban could be created and put to
a vote in 2010.
There's simply no good reason that a
smoking ban should have to come about via
ballot initiative - the legislature is respon-
sible for making this decision, and the job
shouldn't be passed off to the voters of Mich-
igan. Passing a smoking ban should be an
immediate priority for the 2009 legislative
session, and Michigan state representatives
and senators need to be held accountable for
getting this legislation finished.

Early in his campaign, Barack
Obama introduced a plan
to fund education by partly
delaying funds
for Constellation,
NASA's shuttle
replacement pro-
gram. He justified
the plan by saying
that the U.S. won't
have engineers
and scientists "if
we don't have kids BEN
who are able toC
read, write and CALECA
compute." Due
to the current
financial crisis, budget cuts in many
governmental sectors are inevitable.
But the fact that politicians are quick
to call out NASA as a waste of fed-
eral funds is sad because NASA isn't
just about science fiction or pointless
exploration. NASA is about invest-
ment in newtechnology. It's a surpris-
ingly efficient means of jump-starting
tech-driven industry and making use-
ful discoveries, something that most
people just don't realize.
What has a lot of scientists and
engineers scratching their heads is
that Obama later seemed to counter
his own education funding plan. He
directlycontradicted his earlierstate-
ments when addressing crowds in
Florida and Texas, where NASA cre-
ates thousands of jobs for engineers,
technicians, and service workers.
Obama talked about how the space
program needs funding. In order to
implement the Constellation pro-
gram, which is meant to carry astro-
nauts into space starting in the next
seven years. While it may have been
political pandering, NASA's benefits
require both funding for high profile
missions and the more scientifically
dense, but less publicized programs
such as deep space probes to operate
effectively.
The arguments against NASA

often come from the idea that the
space program is a gigantic waste
of money, which isn't true at all. It's
actually just a drop in the bucket
of the U.S. budget. Its $17.6 billion
budget is less than one percent of
the overall budget, and has never
exceeded four percent in the history
of the U.S. Yet, in polling, the aver-
age American believes a quarter of
all taxes go to NASA programs.
But no matter the cost, NASA's
projects are worth it. For every dol-
lar put into NASA, the technology
has developed returns several times
over in new products in fields ranging
from medicine to sportswear.And the
average American gets to enjoy the
benefits. The sensor systems devel-
oped for the over-budget Hubble
Space Telescope are what allow you
to document your night on the town
with your digital camera. The expen-
sive corrections made to the Hubble
when it was found to be flawed turned
out to be a boon for medical imaging
systems, giving doctors the ability to
detect cancers extremely early and
saving countless lives a year.
Of course, there are two big ques-
tions that always end up being asked:
why not directly invest in medicine,
and why not let the private sec-
tor handle space flight? The truth
is that investing in one specific sci-
ence doesn't always give you the
right answers. We fund medicine, we
fund other fields, but it's in the cross-
section of these innovations that the
most creative solutions to our prob-
lems are found. Diversity of thought
and experience generates more over-
all knowledge and{ valuable lessons
are learned even when the projects
fail.
Private industry can't be counted
on to invest in things that won't turn
animmediateprofit.Whilecompanies
like SpaceX that make space flight a
private business venture are great for
the field, raising capital for an indus-

try with as much risk as space flight
is difficult at best. Some investors
in private space flight, such as Paul
Allen, are only doing so because of
their personal love of the field. NASA
and other programs like it worldwide
need funding to cover the hard sci-
ence from which only governments
can realize a tangible benefit.
It's partly true that NASA has some
issues, with the Space Shuttle being
a prime example. It was meant to be
reusable, cheaper and safer than tra-
ditional rockets, but repeated use has
proven it's anything but that. Both
government and public support keeps
the program going while replace-
ments such as the VentureStar pro-
gram were canned for being a waste
of resources.
It's wrong to deem
NASA a waste of
federal funds.
Our space program's problems
stem from equal parts funding and
oversight. Instead of lavishing funds
on high-profile projects and cutting
corners on smaller ones that only
seem to make headlines if they fail,
NASA needs better review of proj-
ects and proper funding to make sure
projects get it right the first time as
much as possible. Smarter leader-
ship has led to the decision to make
the Constellation program one based
on reliable, proven technologies that
save lives and money. With better
accountability and a focused vision
for realistic goals, NASA funding
will remain a wise investment for the
Obama administration.
Ben Caleca can be reached
at calecab@umich.edu.

EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS:
Nina Amilineni, Emad Ansari, Emily Barton, Elise Baun, Harun Buljina, Ben Caleca,
Satyajeet Deshmukh, Brian Flaherty, Matthew Green, Emma Jeszke,
Shannon Kellman, Edward McPhee, Emily Michels, Matthew Shutler,
Jennifer Sussex, Radhika Upadhyaya, Rachel Van Gilder
SEND LETTERS TO: TOTHEDAILY@UMICH.EDU

Column ignores concerns of
atheists in nativity heist

about. I would strongly encourage Conradis
to reevaluate his opinion and explore the real
meaning of Christianity and Christmas in this
country. Unlike Conradis, I think that there
is more sociologically involved in this season

TO THE DAILY: than simply havit
In a recent column, Brandon Conradis
shared his views regarding the theft of a sign Keith Reisinger
placed near the Legislative Building in the LSA Senior
state of Washington (The Reason for the Season,
12/08/2008). Conradis stated that because the-
sign was erected next to a nativity scene during Daily shof
the holiday that it was an attack on Christians
and that he was disturbed by the location. situation
As an atheist, I'm incredibly bothered by
this column. The sign was put up to protest
the fact that the nativity scene was set up near TO THE DAILY:
the Legislative Building which is a govern- The year has.
ment building. I would be able to understand devastating news
the columnist's point if the sign was protesting situation there is
a nativity in someone's lawn, but that was not verge of a human
the case. Furthermore, comparing the sign to has exceeded 700
a burning cross is an obnoxious exaggeration. on continuing its
A burning cross is a message of hate and igno- I am grateful
rance toward a specific group of people. The taken note of the
sign displayed by Dan Barker was an example the first issue of t
of an oppressed group speaking up against that the Daily wi
government-supported religion. The fact that dire situation an
a governmental building allowed the nativity the issue on camp
to be displayed is nothing but oppressive. Dan should be the high
Barker was speaking out against this, as he is es of the conflict
entitled and should even be encouraged to do. appeal of the repo
For many non-Christians, the holidays are There are tens
not a time of happiness and eggnog sipping, but who are dying in C
rather are a daily punch in the gut. With every a little help froc
"Happy Holidays!" and the denial of services would help attrac
(banks, post offices, etc.) on holidays, non-
Christians are forced to stand by and watch as Omar Shkeir
their voices are ignored and they are forgotten LSA freshman

ng fun and "toys."
uld publicize dire
n Gaza Strip
started, unfortunately, with
sfrom the Middle East. The
critical and Gaza is on the
itarian crisis. The death toll
0, and Israel is still persistent
vicious, inhuman attacks.
that the Daily has already
conflict and posted stories in
he semester. I hope, however,
ill take further notice of this
ad increase awareness about
pus. Ideally, the crisis in Gaza
hlight of the front page. Imag-
would add to the emotional
ort.
s, even hundreds of children
Gaza, and I think they deserve
m us. Awareness on campus
t the required aid.

The changing black stereotype

il' Wayne was just nominated
for eight Grammy awards.
Kobe Bryant may be the best
player in the NBA,
with LeBron
James, Dwayne
Wade, Kevin Gar-
nett and Chris
Paul also in the .
running. Forbes
recently named
Beyonce and
Jay-Z the No. 1 MATTHEW
richest celebrity HUNTER
couple with com-
bined earnings of
162 million this
past year. Barack Obama will be the
next president. Looking at these top
positions, one thing is clear - the
people holding them are all black.
But something else may be less
apparent: until Barack Obama's vic-
tory on November 4th 2008, the
"leaders" of the U.S. black community
- or at least the most prominent rep-
resentatives - were all entertainers.
The obvious question, then, is what
does this say about society's one-di-
mensional perception of the African
American community?
In the U.S., the arenas of comedy,
music and sports are hard to imag-
ine without African Americans on
the front lines. For as long a time as
blacks could perform publicly in the
U.S., we have seen African Ameri-
cans as essential to the progression
of entertainment. In a Harvard Uni-
versity Institute of Politics forum
on Race and the Media, Stanley
Crouch spoke of a time when blacks
helped revitalize entertainment, say-
ing: "The tragedy is this: when the
negroid came into minstrelsy it was

on the way out, but these black people
were such good singers, so funny, and
sang so well that they reinvigorated
minstrelsy."
There has certainly been progress
for African-American civil rights
over the course of the last fifty years,
but today, entertainment is still the
only place where stereotypical black-
ness is accepted. In entertainment,
it's okay for blacks to be thugs, pimps
or hypersexual beings. But when
African Americans step out of the
entertainment paradigm and into
white America, it's not okay anymore.
Blackness is okay in music videos,
standup comedy, and football fields,
but African Americans who "wear"
their blackness in the real world will
have a harder time climbing the lad-
der of success.
In 2007, a Washington Post article
titled "Parents and School Tangle
Over Waldorf Tot's Locks" told of a
three-year-old boy being suspended
indefinitely from a private school
because of his dreadlocks. In a 2008
TheRoot.com article called "The Per-
ilous Politics of Hair," Grace Salvant,
a former Ruby Tuesday's employee,
wrote that she could not be rehired at
the restaurant because ithad changed
its policy and would no longer hire
people with braids, dreads, or twists.
While Lil' Wayne may don his dread-
locks without impunity, others whose
primary job is not to entertain are not
so fortunate. This is what happens to
African Americans who "wear" their
blackness.
This image discrepancy mat-
ters, because limiting blackness to
the field of entertainment is a way
of undermining black identity. In
less progressive times, blacks found

entertainment as a niche in which
they could be both black and success-
ful. But today, simultaneously deny-
ing blackness in the corporate world
and endorsing it only in the enter-
tainment field keeps African Ameri-
cans firmly held in a delegitimizing
social paradigm.
Kobe, Beyonce,
Jay-Z ... and
Barack?
At the same time, African Ameri-
cans should continue to arrive at
their own definition of blackness
without submitting to stereotypical
images, even if these images are the
ones that sell records.;Figures repre-
senting the black community'- like
Lil' Wayne - need to be conscious of
the fact that embracing these stereo-
types might bring them success but it
won't shatter the social inequalities
that relegate them to the entertain-
ment business.
And while President-elect Barack
Obama represents a stereotype-de-
fying, prominent image of blackness,
it's not in the African-American com-
munity's interest to simply inherit
another rigid definition. True prog-
ress will only have been made when '
blacks aren't just accurately repre-
sented, but the vast diversity inher-
ent in black culture is also portrayed.
Matthew Hunter can be
reached at majjam@umich.edu.

The Daily is looking for a diverse group of strong, informed writers with
an interest in campus issues to become editorial board members.
E-MAIL ROBERT SOAVE AT RSOAVE@UMICH.EDU
FOR MORE INFORMATION.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR:
Readers are encouraged to submit letters to the editor. Letters should be less than 300
words and must include the writer's full name and University affiliation. Letters are edited
for style, length, clarity and accuracy. All submissions become property of the Daily. We
do not print anonymous letters.
Send letters to tothedoily@umich.edu.

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