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March 26, 2012 - Image 4

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4A - Monday, March 26, 2012

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

El I idiigan Bal
Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
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.
Imran Syed is the public editor. He can be reached at publiceditor@michigandaily.com.
Thlnk before hitting send
Use intelligent dialogue, not accusatory rhetoric
tudent government elections had a greater than usual pres-
ence on campus during this year's Central Student Gov-
ernment campaign cycle. From chalking on the Diag and
supporters donning party t-shirts to Facebook events and debates,
the numerous candidates' campaigns left few stones unturned. In
the midst of these elections, an accusatory e-mail targeting one can-
didate went viral after circulating among the Greek community for
several days. An e-mail sent out to multiple sororities on campus
accused LSA sophomore Omar Hashwi, now vice president-elect of
CSG, of being anti-Semitic and homophobic. Some of these accusa-
tions were baseless and inflammatory. In the Internet age, informa-
tion travels at lightning speed, and as a result words and accusations
carry great weight. Dialogue is always more beneficial than one-sid-
ed arguments, where untruthful and defamatory statements can be
disguised as fact and seriously damage a person's reputation.

This week in news...

T he University was put
on high alert last Thurs-
day when a "suspicious
animal," possibly a cougar, was
reportedly seen
roaming North
Campus. And no,
I'm not talking
about a middle-
aged woman
hoping to meet
a nice Engineer-
ing student. (Bet DANIEL
you hadn't heard CHARDELL
that one before.)
The alleged
cougar sighting may have captured
the attention of students for a few
hours, but it wasn't the most ridicu-
lous piece of news to make waves
this week. Here are some other sto-
ries that, like Cougargate, caught
my attention for their sheer absur-
dity. Except, for better or for worse,
these stories actually matter.
1. The true cause of Trayvon
Martin's death? According to Fox
News' Geraldo Rivera, the 17-year-
old's hoodie. Of course. Because
when you see a "dark-skinned kid
walking down the street," shooting
to kill is simply a "reflexive action."
We all know that murder is bad.
But murdering someone wearing a
hoodie? Well, Rivera seems to think
that's a reasonable thingto do. Rive-
ra has received considerable back-
lash for his insensitive statements,
and rightly so. There's a way to talk
about stereotypes and their deadly
consequences with integrity. And
then there's Rivera's tactic: blame
the victim of those stereotypes,
thereby reinforcing them.

2. The newest star in the Repub-
lican presidential primaries? The
Etch A Sketch. On Wednesday,
senior Romney adviser Eric Fehrn-
strom said he wasn't worried that
Romney's extremist rhetoric would
alienate moderate voters come
"It's almost like an Etch A
Sketch," he said on CNN. "You can
kind of shake it up, and we start all
over again."
Pouncing on the opportunity to
discredit Romney's claim to conser-
vatism, Rick Santorum and Newt
Gingrich made the Etch A Sketch a
centerpiece in their public appear-
ances over the next couple days.
Both candidates could be found
holding up the toy as they con-
demned the "inevitable" candidate's
inevitable flip-flop. I enjoy picturing
the interns who were sent on a wild
goose chase to track down an Etch A
Sketch - almost as much as I enjoy
Santorum and Gingrich's attempts
to brandish the Etch A Sketch casu-
ally in the middle of their speeches,
as if they just happened to have one
on hand. That's a political gimmick
at its finest. Who would've thought
that the decades-old toy would be
making headlines in the 2012 race
for the White House? Call me crazy,
but I'd say the Etch A Sketch is this
year's most surprising comeback in
national politics.
3. Who's getting a new lease on
life? Dick Cheney. The former vice
president received a heart trans-
plant on Saturday. Still no word on
whether Cheney's new heart will
make him a decent human being or,
given the series of car bombingsthat

devastated Iraq last Tuesday, any
more capable of expressing shame
and regret for the futile war he
helped to manufacture. The attacks
marked the ninth anniversaryofthe
2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq. Appar-
ently, violence lingers even after
war officially ends. Who would have
guessed that? Back in October, for-
mer presidential candidate Michele
Bachmann argued that "Iraq should
reimburse the United States fully for
the amount of money we've spent to
liberate these people." Aside from
the backwardness of her morals, I
wonder if Bachmann still subscribes
tothis pay-per-liberationlogic. Now
that Cheney has a heart, maybe he'll
convince Bachmann and her fellow
Republican presidential nominees
to do some soul-searching of their
own. Or maybe she'll just get the
Iraqis to reimburse Cheney for his
The North
Campus cougar
and other stories.
A heart transplant, an Etch A
Sketch and a hoodie. It sounds like
the beginning of a bad joke.
Worse: it's a recipe for bad news,
bad politics and bad people.
- Daniel Chardell can be
reached at chardell@umich.edu.


Last Tuesday, an e-mail began circulating
in the University's Greek community claim-
ing that Hashwi was an anti-Semite and a
homophobe. The e-mail urged students not
to vote for Hashwi, citing fear of what he
could do in a leadership position. The e-mail
was forwarded to many other members of
the Greek community. Leibach cited Hash-
wi's behavior at CSG meetings as proof of his
anti-Semitism. She claimed that Hashwi had
repeatedly voted to allow an individual who
vehemently portrayed anti-Israel views to
have more than the allotted three minutes to
speak at meetings. Hashwi and his running
mate, Business junior Manish Parikh, repeat-
edly asserted their support of the Jewish and
gay communities.
Beyond the initial sendingof the e-mail,
it's discouraging that students receiving it
didn't read more critically. It's also disap-
pointing these claims were forwarded quickly
and extensively. In a time when the Internet
allows people to spread information rapidly,
it's more than necessary to pay attention to
what you send. The accusations made against
Hashwi were supported by little evidence -
reading the entirety of the e-mail made that
clear. It's important not only to filter this type
of rhetoric, but also to separate rumor from
fact. Instead of being forwarded, the e-mail
should have been condemned. Small commu-
nities on campus can create an echo chamber,
turning rumors into fact.
It may be cliche, but the University's
"Expect Respect" motto sets an appropriate
goal for campus dialogue. Students should

foster an atmosphere deserving of the leaders
and best by giving the respect they'd expect
from others. Hashwi was a candidate run-
ning for office, putting himself ina position to
be criticized. Criticism, however,-is separate
from hearsay and rumors. Any potentially
valid critiques of Hashwi's policy positions
were invalidated by the strong rhetoric. Espe-
cially since it was broadcast to a large campus
community, the e-mail was unprofessional
and petty. When this type of sensationalized
rhetoric is passed around as fact, it's essential
that students speak out against it. Emotional-
ly-charged and politicized claims pit students
against each other and divide our campus.
Listening to someone's perspective doesn't
mean you support his or her views. The-fact
that Hashwi allowed someone to engage in
free speech is in no way grounds for the accu-
sation that he believes those views. When
dealing with controversial topics - be it the
Iraq War, the Arab/Israeli conflict or abortion
- it's necessary to have open dialogue with
all perspectives represented. People can and
should advocate their viewpoints, backed up
with evidence, and hearing other perspectives
is a benefit to all. Attacking people like Hash-
wi for simply listening to another individual's
opinion makes it impossible to have produc-
tive and insightful conversations about highly
divisive topics.
The campus environment is what we, as
students, make it. If we want an environ-
ment where people feel safe and comfortable
expressing their views, it's important to pro-
mote dialogue based in fact.

Keep up with columnists, read Daily editorials, view cartoons and join in the
debate. Check out'@michdailyoped to get updates on
Daily opinion content throughout the day.
Clicking'delete' on memories

It was inevitable that everyone on campus would
forget St. Patrick's Day, but most of us would have paid
to forget the morning after. According to an article in
the March issue Wired magazine, the time where this
is possible is within reach: "In the near future the act
of remembering will be a choice."
Scientist Karim Nadar conditioned a group of rats
to fear a sound by electrically shocking them. After
reinforcing their fear for several weeks, Nadar inject-
ed the rats with a protein synthesis blocker just as he
played the noise. Suddenly the fear was gone. The rats
forgot the memory of the shocks associated with the
noise. Nadar proved memory reconsolidation. Memo-
ries are not videos or pictures in the mind, static and
never changing. They are chemically and electrically
recreated every time they are remembered. Timing is
everything - "to get people to forget something. just
ask them to remember it."
If memories are recreated with the act of remember-
ing, the highly sought after eyewitness account in the
justice system might be worth nothing more than awork
of fiction. Witness recounts of illegal activity are the
most persuasive to juries and cause the most unanimous
convictions. But according to Nadar's research, these
shouldn't be trusted. The witness isn't lying, rather cre-
ating a memory where the events have been indoctri-
nated with their own emotions,justifications and biases,
without their knowledge or conscious consent. But
while the discovery reveals cracks in the justice system
it is working to fill them in the medical field.
Nader's research is a huge step for the cure and
treatment of PTSD, a disease of memory. People who
have experienced a traumatic event are haunted by the

memories they can't forget. But it's not the memories
that cause their stress, but the negative emotions that
are injected into the memory as it is being remem-
bered. In time scientists will. and should, be able to
erase the memories that are haunting PTSD patients.
Pain is a good teacher - didn't you decide to never
drink again after March 17? It's hard to argue with
this. The past is gone as soon as it happens and only
lives on through our memories. But as Nadar proved
with his research, those memories are not true repre-
sentations of reality.
Instead, our minds reconstruct them while insert-
ing false realities and emotions in the process. Our
memories are the basis for who we are. Without them
we would lose ourselves. Being able to delete certain
memories gives us unprecedented power over our
lives; past, present and future.
And this can be as dangerous as it could be helpful.
Imagine a dictator who could erase the memories of
his subjects, or an abusive parent, erasing memories of
the abusive relationships with his family. If the power
of wiping memories becomes commercial, we create a
society that allows the average person to delete every
bad or painful event in their lives. How will we as a
population learn and grow into better people if we
can't remember the times when we were at our worst?
With every passing year, it seems we get closer to
the science fiction advances of books and movies and
with each passing year we get closer to dystopias these
books warn against.
Jesse Klein is an LSA freshman and
assistant editorial page editor.


Aida Ali, Laura Argintar, Kaan Avdan, Ashley Griesshammer, Nirbhay Jain, Jesse Klein,
Patrick Maillet, Erika Mayer, Harsha Nahata, Harsha Panduranga, Timothy Rabb, Adrienne
Roberts, Vanessa Rychlinski, Sarah Skaluba, Seth Soderborg, Caroline Syms, Andrew Weiner
'U' Chapter of Red Cross
with the Chapter. You can also reach the
Club supports tornado relief Chapter via phone (734-971-5300) or look
through our website for more details: www.
TO THE DAILY: I personally was able to see the damage
on behalf of the Washtenaw-Lenawee and devastation that these tornadoes caused
County Chapter of the Red Cross, the Ameri- to so many homes in Dexter. The number of
can Red Cross Club at the University of Mich- displaced people and the amount of debris
igan would like to extend our commitment to and fallen trees was simply shocking. The
the relief efforts of the Chapter. While the most miraculous thing about this storm
majority of the damage of the recent tornado was that not a single life was lost and not a
was in Dexter, a town west of campus, there single person was injured. To know that a
was flooding and damage in the Ann Arbor tornado could wreak such havoc so close to
area, even on campus. We encourage anyone home should be a reminder for all to know
affected by these storms to contact us for how to be prepared for when disaster strikes,
help and support so we can work together because it truly can happen to anyone, any-
to help you re-establish your daily routine. where, anytime. The Red Cross offers pre-
There were four University graduate stu- paredness education for clubs, organizations
dents who stepped up to offer their help to and Greek life, which would increase readi-
the Chapter, and their support is very much ness for situations like these.
appreciated. We are happy and committed to help-
The flooding on campus ruined the home ing everyone bounce back from this disaster.
of two University graduate students here. Please do not hesitate to contactus with ques-
These students are engaged to be married tions, comments, concerns and/or fundrais-
this July, and lost everything. In addition, ing ideas you may have.


Readers are encouraged to submit letters to the editor and viewpoints. Letters should be fewer
than 300 words while viewpoints should be 550-850 words. Both must include the writer's full
name and University affiliation. Send submissions to tothedaily@michigandaily.com.

many University students were residents of
the homes destroyed in Dexter. If anyone was
affected by the flooding or storms, please do
contact us for help and we will connect you

U.S. should support afreer Syria
March 21st was Mother's Day in the Middle East.
Normally, mothers and grandmothers would be busy
collecting gifts, cards and roses from family members.
This year was different. This year, the Syrian dicta-
tor murdered those women, ordered the rape of those
women, and ensured that this beautiful day turned
into a day of tragedy and mourning. Modest estimates
put the death toll in Syria at 11,000. Tens of thousands
more are being detained and tortured. Homes are
being destroyed. For what? What could possibly make
a dictator lash out in such an inhumane way? All of this
is because the people of Syria are asking for freedom,
democracy and just a little bit of dignity.
The world has failed to respond. In the United Nations,
Russia and China continue to veto any resolution that
does more than tell Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad that
he's doing something bad. President Barack Obama has
been dragging his feet, only to condemn Bashar al-Assad

in a few sound bites here and there. Words are no longer
enough. As humans, we have an ethical responsibility to
support each other. We should be encouraging humani-
tarian intervention in Syria. Something as basic as send-
ing medical equipment and food would go a long way in
a place where people are dying for lack of access to hos-
It's also in our interest to gain an ally in the region
for diplomatic reasons. If we support Syria, Syria will
support us in our attempts to encourage security in the
area. Iran is only a border away. Israel is right around
the corner. Iraq is right next-door. Syrians would be
greatly appreciative of U.S. support in such a critical
time. They will not forget it. Just like we were on the
right side of history by liberating Jews in the concen-
tration camps of Hitler, we can be on the right side of
history again by encouraging the democratic move-
ment in Syria.
Imran Abdulrazzak
Law student

Aparna Ghosh
LSA senior and vice president of the Univer-
sity's chapter of the Red Cross Club.


Readers are encouraged to submit letters to the editor. Letters should be fewer than
350 words and must include the writer's full name and University affiliation. We do
not print anonymous letters. Send letters to tothedaily@michigandaily.com

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