4A - Monday, October 22, 2012
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
4A - Monday, October 22, 2012 The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom
1 idhi an:4att
Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
JOSEPH LICHTERMAN and ADRIENNE ROBERTS ANDREW WEINER
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.
University should immediately release Jensen report
Jn May 2011, a flash drive allegedly containing child pornography
belonging to then-University of Michigan Health System resident
Stephen Jenson was discovered by a medical resident. The resi-
dent reported the alleged pornography to her supervisor, but UMHS
officials, however, did not report this information to police for six
months. After calling this inaction a "failure," the University launched
an internal investigation of the missteps and also hired an outside
consulting firm to conduct an inquiry. The summary of the external
investigation's was released. If the University learned anything from
the Penn State scandal, they should have released these findings in full
to the public as quickly as possible. While this may be damaging to the
University's reputation in the short-term, it's imperative that students
and the University community have this information.
Say what you meme
The third and final presi-
dential debate will take
place Monday at 7 p.m.
in Boca Raton,
Fla. There is,
of course, one
will the Inter- DANIEL
net churn out CHARDELL
was Big Bird.
During the first presidential
debate, former PBS news anchor
Jim Lehrer, asked the candidates
how they would address the federal
budget deficit. Republican presi-
dential nominee Mitt Romney said
he would lower government spend-
ing and, even though he loves Big
Bird, end government subsidies for
networks like PBS.
Instant online fame for his yellow,
feathery friend. On Facebook, Red-
dit, Twitter, Tumblr and elsewhere,
memes popped up by the thou-
sands. Superimposed over pictures
of Big Bird were phrases like "Fired
by Romney," "This bird is too big to
fail," "Mitt Romney is trying to kill
me and "Save Big Bird." Another
read, "Obama got bin Laden - I'll
get Big Bird!" under a picture of a
cackling Romney. The Internet had
spoken, but it wasn't finished with
Romney quite yet.
Round two: Binders Full of
In the second presidential
debate, the candidates were asked
what they would do to address
the gender income gap. President
Barack Obama drew attention to
the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of
2009, the first bill passed during
his presidency, and his efforts to
ensure equal access to higher edu-
cation by expanding Pell Grants.
Romney tried to anecdotally
demonstrate his credentials. While
putting together his cabinet as gov-
ernor of Massachusetts, he noticed
that the pool of applicants was
overwhelmingly male. In search
of equally qualified women -
because he's apparently an affirma-
tive action kind of guy - Romney
approached "a number of women's
groups and said, 'Can you help us
find folks?' and they brought us
whole binders full of women."
Look, I'm savvy to the ubiquitous
powers of the Internet, but even I
was surprised at how rapidly "bind-
ers full of women" took off. Before
the debate was over, a "Binders
Full of Women" Tumblr blog had
already gone viral. Submissions
riffed on the image of binders liter-
ally full of women and the implicit
sexism of Romney's statement.
Trapper Keeper? More like, "Trap
Her, Keep Her."
On Facebook, a "Binders Full of
Women" page garnered more than
30,000 "likes" by the end of the
broadcast. (At present, that num-
ber has grown to 354,000.) Over
on Twitter, a "Romney's Binder"
account gave us the binder's perspec-
tive on its newfound fame: "No com-
ment on the rumors that Bill Clinton
has already asked to borrow me."
The Obama and Romney cam-
paigns themselves have been
drawn into the meme-driven dia-
logue. Campaigning in Iowa Oct. 17,
Obama told his audience, "I've got
to tell you, we don't have to collect
a bunch of binders to find qualified,
talented, driven young women to
learn and teach" in science,. tech-
nology, engineering and math.
That same day, the Obama camp
came out with an ad titled "Mitt
Romney's Condescending views
Toward Women," which, against
the backdrop of a three-ring bind-
er graphic, affirms that Romney's
cookie-cutter perception of gender
norms is outdated.
Also on Oct. 17, in a pathetic
attempt to spin the binder contro-
versy in Romney's favor, the Repub-
lican National Committee released
a picture of a binder filled with
blank white pages under the words
"Obama's Second-Term Agenda."
Explaining the image, Reince Prie-
bus, the National Committee chair-
man, said Obama "didn't lay out
a plan for a second term agenda.
He's offered plenty of excuses but
he hasn't offered a plan. And that's
what we're calling the empty bind-
er." (Clever, Reince.)
In any case, out of all that was
said during the second presidential
debate, it remains true that the bind-
ers full of women meme has gener-
ated the most buzz. Is that a bad
thing? Should we be concerned that
voters - particularly young people,
the primary generators of memes -
pay more attention to binders and
Big Bird than the "real" issues?
While most would like to think that the child
abuse scandal at Penn State is an isolated inci-
dent, tragic discoveries like these are made
somewhat frequently. Universities across the
country, however, can learn from this situation
by ensuring offenses are reported to the proper
authorities as quickly as possible.
At the regents' meeting on Friday, the board
announced the completion of an external
review of the UMHS's delay in reporting Jen-
son's alleged possession of child pornography.
Theboardwon'trelease the full external report
- prepared by the law firm Latham & Watkins,
LLP - citing attorney-client privilege. Univer-
sity spokesman Rick Fitzgerald said that the
law firm suggested it was best not to immedi-
ately release the audit in full.
While the University's refusal to release
the external report is within their legal pro-
tections due to attorney-client privilege, the
University has a responsibility to inform the
people involved and those who live in the
community of issues that directly affect them.
Furthermore;,the University can release por-
tions of the report without breaching attor-
ney-client privilege, drawing question to the
legitimacy of their decision.
At Penn State, attorney and former FBI
director Louis Freeh released the full results
of an independent review immediately after
its completion. If the details of the University's
delay in reporting Jenson's offense are ostensi-
bly less sordid than those of the Penn State case,
there is no reason for the University to with-
hold the third-party review.
Jenson was in the pediatrics specialty
program, which likely brought him into
direct contact with children on a regular
basis. The delay between the alleged
discovery of child pornography on his flash
drive and his prosecution is disturbing
enough without the University's subsequent
delay in releasing pertinent details as to how
the case was mishandled. Before inviting
further suspicions, the University should
ignore its attorney's recommendation, follow
the precedent set by Louis Freeh and release
the external report immediately.
These questions are legitimate,
but wrongheaded. Those who
attack these memes make two false
First, they assume the candi-
dates and media are discussing the
real issues to begin with - which,
more often than not, they aren't. In
part, that's a reflection of the arti-
ficial structure of these so-called
debates. But it's also attributable to
Romney's pandering and Obama's
reluctance to call attention to his
opponent's blatant insincerity.
Second, they falsely assume
young people are incapable of grap-
pling with the most pressing issues
of the day. That's far from the truth.
Those who are the best informed
create the funniest memes, and only
those who are equally informed
can understand them. My Face-
book friends who shared links to
the "Binders Full of Women" Tum-
blr are far from lazy or ignorant. In
fact, they turn to memes precisely
because, in their scathing irony,
memes are more informative than
any campaign ad or stump speech.
Memes are an outlet for our frustra-
tion with the circus that is politics.
Can memes be misleading? Yes.
Can they oversimplify issues? Yes.
(On both counts, see the "You
Didn't Build That" series.) But until
Romney gets honest, or until these
debates getreal, or both, these things
called memes are here to stay. Let's
see which one goes viral tonight.
-Daniel Chardell can be reached 4
at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow
him on Twitter @DanielChardell.
EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS
Kaan Avdan, Sharik Bashir, Eli Cahan, Nirbhay Jain, Jesse Klein, Melanie Kruvelis,
Patrick Maillet, HarshaaNahata, Timothy Rabb, Adrienne Roberts,
Vanessa Rychlinski, Sarah Skaluba, Michael Spaeth, Gus Turner
SALAH EL-PRINCE V
Take the lead on Israel-Palestine
RYAN HERBERHOLZ VIEWPOINT
Practicing 'Nobel' politics
As an Egyptian, it's nearly impossible to
critically engage in the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict. In fact, where I'm from, just calling
the conflict "complex" triggers a reaction from
Egyptians who think it's as simple as Israel
being the aggressor and Palestine, the victim.
Earlier this month, Egyptians were com-
memorating the start of the 1973 Arab-Israeli
War. In the United States, the accepted narra-
tive of the war is a clear Israeli victory. But in
Egypt, it's remembered as our triumph. About
the time of the anniversary, my newsfeed was
full of patriotic posts praising the Egyptian
military. Far too often, the posts ended up
condemning the very existence of the Israeli
state. This is all despite the fact that the two
states haven't been at war since before my
friends were born.
This is because the old Mubarak regime
used imaginary Israeli plots to divert atten-
tionfrom domestic policyfailures andsilenced
political opposition by labeling them Israeli
clients. Still today, domestic parties vying for
power commonly use anti-Israel rhetoric.
To me, this is an overly simplistic view of
the conflict. I see the destruction of innocent
lives by both Israelis and Palestinians. Despite
the agreed upon cease-fire, rockets still come
from Gaza and target civilians in the southern
parts of Israel. Every day, private land is taken
from Palestinian families to expand Jewish
settlement in the West Bank, despite the gov-
ernment's supposed support of a two-state
solution. There can be no moral high ground
when each side sinks to this level.
I've been studying in the United States for
more than a year, and I've come to learn that
the malicious and selfish politicization of the
conflict isn't confined to Egypt. While some
politicians in Egypt score political points by
aggressively attacking Israel, many American
politicians place all the blame on Palestinians
or focus on Iran's nuclear program.
As a proud member of J Street UMich, I
reject a conversation that places all blame on
Israelis or Palestinians. I reject the unneces-
sary pandering that happens every four years,
leading each party in a race to the bottom of
who can be more hawkish on Israel. I believe
that many Americans understand how crucial
a resolution to this conflict is to American
interests, thus many support active leadership
to resolve it. Yet the issue has hardly been dis-
cussed this election cycle.
Neither presidential candidate has prov-
en themselves on the issue. We've watched
President Barack Obama seem to give up
on pursuing negotiations between Israelis
and Palestinians. We watched Republican
nominee Mitt Romney argue that Palestin-
ians don't want peace, claiming that the best
approach to the conflict is to maintain the sta-
tus quo and "kick the ball down the field and
hope that ultimately, somehow, something
will happen and resolve [itself]" in his now-
infamous "47 percent" speech. That is a senti-
ment unbecoming of a potential world leader.
The final presidential debate is Monday
night, with a focus on foreign policy. There is
no doubt that the Israeli-Palestinian issue will
be brought up. I don't expect either candidate
to be honest about the need for vigorous Amer-
ican leadership to pursue a two-state solution.
I fear that grandstanding around the Iranian
nuclear programwill distract both candidates.
I fear that the finger pointing we'll likely
see in Monday night's debate will not lead us
anywhere except toward more bloodshed.
Individuals and communities that, like me,
support a two-state solution need to become
proactive rather than reactive. That's why J
Street UMich and more than 40 other J Street
U chapters from coast to coast are running
our Two-State Semester Campaign.
We are demonstratingto our political lead-
ers that there's a large and serious constitu-
ency of students who believe in a two-state
solution. We have been collecting signatures
- and will continue to - from individuals and
statements from campus leaders that simply
state: "We support vigorous U.S. diplomatic
leadership to achieve a two-state solution to
the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."
I may not be American, but as a pro-Peace
Arab advocate, I have a stake in the campaign
as well. Two weeks ago, J Street UMich host-
ed U.S. Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), who
spoke eloquently about the need for a nego-
tiated two-state solution. I left the conversa-
tion hopeful that some of America's leaders
would be willing to take a lead on this issue
after nearly 100 years of war. As the two-state
campaign grows, I am sure there will be more
leaders like Dingell in Washington, D.C.
Salah El-Prince is an LSA senior.
Out of all the individuals and
organizations that are genuinely
dedicated to creating a peaceful and
just global society, the European
Union was awarded the Nobel Peace
Prize. Evenifthe prize wasintended
to be a political award, I would not
rank the EU high on a list of worthy
recipients - one only needs to cast
an eye at Greece to begin question-
ing the validity of this selection.
The unrest in Greece and in Spain
can largely be blamed on the EU's
mishandling of several debt crises.
These financial upsets reek of the
unregulated and simply vampiric
financial practices that Wall Street
churns out to create fortunes from
thin air. Unfortunately, these convo-
luted financial models were export-
ed before the fallacy of Greenspan's
"self-regulating free markets" lit-
erally came tumbling down like a
house of cards.
Another factor that seems to
have been considered when award-
ing the Nobel Peace Prize is armed
conflict. One may think this is
the opposite of peace, but perhaps
the Norwegian Nobel Committee
was thinking of the kind of peace
brought on by war - a philoso-
phy that falls into the oxymoron
category as firmly as the phrase
"humanitarian bombing." This
backward thinking has been exem-
plified by awarding of the prize to
President Barack Obama in 2009
and the subsequent escalation of
the Afghanistan and Iraq wars with
cooperation from the EU, not to
mention the devastation caused by
unmanned drone strikes.
I don't think Alfred Nobel would
agree with this logic. According to
his will, the prize is to be given to
the person who "shall have done
the most or the best work for fra-
ternity between nations, for the
abolition or reduction of standing
armies and for the holding and pro-
motion of peace congresses."
I think the Nobel Prize decision is
a symptom of the same disease that
seems to plague our own country.
We allow institutions to be entrusted
with individuals whose agendas are
influenced by special interests, polit-
ical power and wealth, rather than
their original purposes.
The FDIC was meant - through
regulation and insurance - to pro-
tect from the collapse of financial
institutions, not to be used in com-
bination with massive bailouts as
publicly funded gambling insur-
ance for already filthy rich finan-
ciers. In fact, the entire regulatory
structure created to avert crisis like
the Great Depression is lousy with
individuals from the "too big to
fail" institutions they supposedly
regulate. This blatant conflict of
interest and constant legislative
castration of regulatory checks on
financial institutions - like the
repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act -
illustrate a legacy of decisions made
by a small group of very powerful
and very wealthy people.
Right before the controversial
Nobel decision, Americans were
treated to a similar spectacle. What
the Commission on Presidential
Debates calls the "presidential
debates," the League of Women
Voters (who ran the debates before
the commission) calls "the hood-
winking of the American public"
in a press release delivered in Oct.
1988 when they withdrew their
sponsorship and support for the
debates. The CDP calls itself a non-
partisan organization, but if you
look at the circumstances contrib-
uting to the commission's creation,
it's obvious that this corporation is
bipartisan and absolutely unwilling
to allow for the possibility of a third
This unfortunate event is not the
only reason for the red-blue monopo-
ly on politics, one of the cornerstones
of non-representative democracy.
The U.S. Supreme Court's Citizens
United decision makes the already
dim prospect of a political candidate
(who does not have millionaire back-
ers) participating in any election vir-
Teasing out all the ways in which
corporate excess and influence have
damaged democracy in America is
as expansive and complicated a task
as solving the problems facing the
world today. So I ask why - given
the difficulty of the tasks at hand -
would the American public accept
only two plans for the future pros-
perity of our country? This should
be an unacceptable situation to every
American regardless of party affili-
ation. It is undemocratic that the
American public should not hear
nor can even recognize, the voices
of Rocky Anderson, Luis Rodriquez,
Dr. Jill Stein, Cheri Honkala, Gary
Johnson or Jim Gray (the respective
presidential and vice presidential
candidates for the Justice, Green and
More Americans should remem-
ber the fact that political offices
exist to serve the people and free-
dom in a representative democracy
should include freedom to choose
the best candidate to serve the 4
sion a possible future where candi-
dates are chosen based on individual
meritrather than the social standing,
wealth or inherited political power
they wield. I hope to have a future
where we are not presented with two
predetermined and extremely simi-
lar approaches to solving our nation's
problems. I hope we can create politi-
cal discourse where candidates will
not be able to simply ignore ,impor-
tant issues facing the public because
they did not fit into the palatable
scripted format of debates. I hope
others will see what's happening in
our country and stop focusing on
what is said in our red-blue political
discourse but rather what is not said.
Creating a political landscape
where government seeks out the
best candidates to fill important
offices is a simple idea that can be
embraced by voters from both sides
of the aisle. Gathering the political
will necessary to ensure that future
generations can vote in the meritoc-
racy Americans should have, rather
than the plutocracy our country is
becoming, is anything but simple.
Ryan Heberholz is a senior in
the School of Art and Design.