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November 22, 2013 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2013-11-22

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4 - Friday, November 22, 2013

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

( 4e Michinan l

(Past) time to end the Cuban embargo

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.
Re-evaluating R&E requirement
The University should require a freshman class on identity issues
n Tuesday, the Black Student Union organized a "Being Black at the
University of Michigan" campaign both on social media and Uni-
versity spaces; where Black students were encouraged to tweet and
share their experiences of being Black at the University. The #BBUM cam-
paign is just one of many student movements to point to declining minority
enrollment and a lack of support from University administration as instru-
mental in creating a hostile racial climate. Since Michigan is devoted to
promoting and nurturing a diverse institution, the administration should
demonstrate this commitment by requiring all freshmen to take a course
concerning contemporary identity issues.
Earlier this semester, We Are Michigan orga- responsible student body, and will serve as an
nized a "Freeze Out" protest, where minor- unprecedented demonstration to students that
ity students and allies banded together to form a University administration is committed to pro-
circle surrounding the Diag, carrying signs that moting and institutionalizing diversity educa-
read "We want real diversity," and "I am that tion. This required course should replace the
one Black girl in your class" along with other current race and ethnicity requirement and
signs outlining the low minority representa- should become a part of every incoming fresh-
tion on campus. Following an offensive "Hood man's schedule. The course should discuss social
Ratchet Thursday" party planned by the Univer- identity in its multiple forms - spanning issues of
sity's chapter of Theta Xi, student leaders have racism, sexism, LGBTQ discrimination, classism
responded by organizing forums to raise aware- and discussing the ways in which power and priv-
ness and urging campus leadership to hold stu- ilege play an unignorable role in sustaining these
dents accountable for irresponsible behavior and, issues. Learning and reading material, assign-
more importantly, to stop treating these aggres- ments and discussions should challenge students
sions as isolated instances. to consider their own identities and the role they
As part of their general LSA requirements, play in society. To nurture meaningful discus-
every student must take at least three credits sions and a safe space, the course should be dia-
from a list of approved courses that fulfill a race logue-based, with facilitators who are trained by
and ethnicity requirement. To be approved, the University'sProgramon IntergroupRelations
classes must discuss the meaning of race, ethnic- and the Office of Student Conflict Resolution.
ity and racism, inequality resulting from racial We recognize that students in this course
and ethnic intolerance, and comparisons of dis- will interact and respond to the material very
crimination based on race, ethnicity, religion, differently, and some may feel uncomfortable.
social class or gender. The goal of this require- However, if the University is serious about cre-
ment is to prepare students for working in mul- ating a climate that is safe for all identities, it
tiethnic, multiracial environments in school and must urge students to confront the serious and
beyond. However, many of these classes are his- often uncomfortable questions that our campus
tory courses that are highly theoretical in materi- community cannot afford to overlook. Since the
al. This is misleading because they imply history University has already instituted the race and
alone is more relevant than discussing the very ethnicity requirement, it only makes sense that
tangible lastingeffects and contemporarylegacy it be refined and modernized to fulfill the
of that history. Students should be required to goal for which it was created and adjust to the
take specific courses that openly discuss issues needs of our shifting campus climate. Only
related to racism, classism and sexism as they upon having these serious conversations,
exist and inform their interactions - in society both with themselves and with others, will
generally and particularly on this campus. students be prepared to enter a diverse world
Instead, a required course about identity without threatening the safety of others in
will help us nurture a more socially aware and that space.
Even one c adds legitimacy

When The Michigan
Daily hired me to write
a biweekly column, I
promised myself
I'd never become
one of those
student writ-
ers, adopting
an unqualified
opinion on issues
I had little expe-
rience with or JAKE
treat recently OFFENHARTZ
acquired esoteric
knowledge as
something that our student body
should know and care about. The
thing is, in researchingthe U.S.
embargo on Cuba for a term paper,
I've become convinced that the
outdated policy is not only irratio-
nal but also a clear example of the
inherent dangers in both electoral
politics and our lingering Cold War
mentality. I've grown increasingly
aware that while the embargo may
have little impact on the average
American - aside from depriving
us of the world's finest cigars - its
continued implementation has had
major repercussions for the health
and well-being of the Cuban people.
For the past five decades, the Unit-
ed States has imposed an economic,
commercial and financial embargo
on the nation of Cuba. The embar-
go comprises thousands of laws,
including strict travel restrictions
and U.S. Treasury-enforced penal-
ties on international banks' doing
business with Cuba - all intended to
topple Castro's longstandingcommu-
nist regime. As 50 years have passed
and Castro's government remains in
power, it's clear that the embargo has
been unsuccessful in itsstated intent.
And yet the policy persists.
The nature and aim of the embar-
go have changed considerably since
the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
Once a Soviet-allied nation only 90
miles off the coast of Florida, Cuba
can no longer be seen as the major
threat it once was. The embargo,
then, is not upheld today for pur-
poses of Cold War containment. The

economic quarantine ca
seen as having any legiti
tial to end the communi
nearly 200 other nation
with Cuba, bringing us
currency into a nation
attempting to starve.I
embargo is maintained,
moral stance against th
ernment's repressive, u
This justification, ho
not hold up within th
overall U.S. foreign po
numerous accounts of h
violations, the United S
with Venezuela, Vietnar
Additionally, American
permitted to travel an
in the world, including
and North Korea. Th
Cuba is singled out amoi
tantly more threatening
sive nations
is clear
proof that No'
the embargo O
and travel N
are not based ol
on logic but
Cold War inr
A 1998
report from
the U.S. Defense Intelli
cy echoed this assert
that, "Cuba does not pt
cant military threat to t
other countries in thei
international communi
even more vocal in its
condemning the embar
for 22 straight years, w
recent UN General As
coming in at a lopsided
only Israel joining the U
in support.
Unfortunately, bu
expectedly, electoral pc
major role in our continu
on maintaining a largel
policy. Though the inter
opposition has waned
Castro handed control t
Ratl Castro, the elderl
of Cuban exiles - ma

n also not be lost enormous wealth and land dur-
imate poten- ing the communist revolution - has
st regime, as been staunchly averseeto normalizing
s allow trade any relations with a Castro-led gov-
eful foreign ernment. As these Cuban-Americans
that we are make up a sizable community in the
Instead, the historically critical swing-state of
as an alleged Florida, many politicians have side-
e Cuban gov- stepped the issue for fear of alienat-
ndemocratic ing an important voting bloc.
Ignoring the ineffectual policy
wever, does has had major implications for
e context of the social and economic rights of
licy. Despite the Cuban people. Though certain
uman rights restrictions on American exports
States trades have been eased in the past decade,
m and China. access to medical technology and
citizens are other necessities remains extremely
ywhere else limited within Cuba. In 1997, the
Iran, Burma American Association for World
le fact that Health released a comprehensive
ng these bla- report on the subject, finding that
and repres- the embargo "contributed par-
ticularly to mal-
nutrition affecting
apology should especially women
and children, poor
e issued for a water quality, lack
of access to medi-
icy that harms cines and medical
supplies, and lim-
iocent people. ited the exchange
of medical and sci-
entific information
due to travel restric-
gence Agen- tions and currency regulations."
ion, finding While the arcane policy has had
ose a signifi- little success in bringing an end to
:he U.S. or to the Castro regime, it has been widely
region." The effective in crippling basic human
ity has been rights for much of the Cuban popula-
opposition, tion. Some may excuse the embargo
'go annually as amatter of Cold War inertia, sure
ith the most to end once the aging exiles lose their
sembly vote political pull or the memory of the
1188-2, with Cuban Missile Crisis fades from our
Jnited States nation's collective consciousness.
But there is no justification for this
t perhaps calamitous destruction, and no apol-
olitics play a ogy should be issued for a policy that
ed insistence harms innocent people. The endur-
ly unpopular ing existence of the Cuban embargo
nsity of their is unacceptable, and its abolition is
since Fidel long overdue.


o his brother
y generation
ny of whom

-Jake Offenhartz can be
reached at jakeoff@umich.edu.

Kaan Avdan, Sharik Bashir, Barry Belmont, James Brennan, Rima Fadlallah, Eric
Ferguson, Jordyn Kay, Jesse Klein, Melanie Kruvelis, Aarica Marsh, Megan McDonald,
Victoria Noble, Adrienne Roberts, Matthew Seligman, Daniel Wang, Derek Wolfe

Surely by now everyone has heard of the
blog Return of Kings and their recent
post, "5 Reasons to Date a Girl with an
Eating Disorder." This dis-
gusting, demoralizing and
disturbing article has right-
fully caused an uproar from
allies and opponents alike,
all while gaining massive
traffic on their website.
The thesis of the article
is exactly what it purports MAURA
to be - no sarcasm includ- LEVINE
ed. These men genuinely
want, "to usher the return
of the masculine man in a
world where masculinity is being increasingly
punished and shamed in favor of creating an
androgynous and politically-correct society
that allows women to assert superiority and
control over men."
As laughable as this sounds, these misogynists
aren't kidding. In fact, due to their previously low
website traffic, they engineered the article about
the positivity behind female eating disorders in
order to generate a wild controversy and thusget
their name out in the press. Websites and blogs
such as Return of Kings and Total Frat Move are
notorious forthiskindofbehavior. People should
combat their attention-seeking actions by ignor-
ing their taunting and lurid posts.
When being teased as a child, we were always
told that people would keep teasing you if they
could get a rise out of you. That is basically what
these websites are doing. While they do prob-
ably believe the heinous words they publish, they
also write to further their cause. By replying to
them, in agreement or vehement protest, you are
promoting them. According to the International
Business Times, the eating disorder article is an
offensive attempt at "trolling the Web" to raise
the profile of Return of Kings and to profit off of
the ensuing controversy. As more and more peo-
ple flood the website after their friends post the
link to Facebook, Twitter and other social media
outlets, the website is gaining popularity from all
the hits. It has gone viral - doing exactly what
the nastycreatorswanted.
Along the same lines, as Dean Obeidallah
beautifully opined for CNN last weekend, by
doing outrageous and attention-seeking actions,
the highly publicized Miley Cyrus has achieved

exactly what she always wanted: fame. By
writing more articles about her and her
bizarre actions (and even by mentioning her
here) we are only encouraging and perpetuat-
ing her extreme behavior and fame. The more
weird stuff she does on TV, the more her name
is spoken, the more fame she has and the more
money she rakes in.
This same principle applies to Return ofKings
and itsbrother website, TFM. The obnoxious and
infuriating articles, which often promote treat-
ing college women as nothing more than mere
sex objects,have made TFM one of the most pop-
ular websites for college men. By giving specific
examples of TFM articles here, I would only be
perpetuating the sick culture these misogynistic
men have easily created through use of the quick
and accessible Internet.
While others maysaythatthese websites are
"all in good fun" or are untouchable because of
freedom of speech, it does not change the fact
that their backwardness is harmingsociety. By
constantly gaining popularity for talking about
women negatively, some part of their mentality
seeps into society's consciousness. It promotes
not only gender inequality but also rape cul-
ture through its constant treatment of women
as mere objects. Whether or not these articles
should be taken as a joke, they have gained
popularity and are encouraging a sick, compla-
cent group of college-aged men who think that
just because someone on TFM posted about it,
it is OK to act that way.
While these websites are going viral and spi-
raling out of control, with positive or negative
comments, you can stop their prominence by
not posting links to them. Truly ignoring these
websites would stop them in their tracks. This is
not a request to stop caring about the issues they
bringup, because open dialogue is important, but
this is a request to stop funding their ignorance.
By replying to them and showing all your friends
their links, all you are doing is adding to their
growing popularity. There are other, more posi-
tive and helpful arenas where issues of misogyny
and inequality can be discussed without spon-
soring the instigators at their core. Join me in
silently protesting the Internet-monster-men
who are instigatinguproar for money.
-Maura Levine can be reached
at mtoval@umich.edu

Being white means hold-
After reading through some of
the thousands of #BBUM tweets,
I've been challenged to think about
what being white at the University
of Michigan means to me. This is
in no way a parody of #BBUM, but
rather a reflection of my own expe-
riences and what I've seen of oth-
ers' experiences in comparison.
Being white at the University
guarantees that I can walk into
just about any setting here and feel
welcomed and comfortable in my
skin. I have never had the experi-
ence where a peer in my classroom
has questioned my acceptance to
this university. I have never felt
alienated based on my race and
I can rest assured that I will not
stand out from the seas of white
The University can help
Detroit by divesting
Dear President Coleman,
On Dec. 7, members of The
Divest and Invest Campaign will be
taking a Toxic Tour of Detroit, and
we request that you join us. The
University of Michigan has long
touted a strong relationship with
the city of Detroit, and over the past
decade in particular, Detroit-relat-
ed programs at the University have
increased in number and popular-
ity. From the Semester in Detroit
program to the new Detroit Center
connector bus, it's clear that the
University has many ties to the city
of Detroit. However, the Divest and
Invest Campaign feels obligated to
call attention to the fact that the
University has engaged in practices
that are entirely antithetical to its
pledge of belief in Detroit.
Our University has over $1 bil-
lion invested in the fossil-fuel

that fill my classrooms and that my counterparts rather than trying to
responses to classroom questions speak on their behalf. Being white at
will never be attributed to my race. the University of Michigan is holding
The largest problem I have found myself accountable.
with understanding my white iden- Being white has given me a
tity is that it's become something choice. Do I react to what I saw on
I've only ever had to think about in my Twitter feed? Do I think twice
these privilege comparisons. I've about the many messages that were
often times found myself wonder- displayed on the posting wall? I can
ing, is being white even an identity? walk around knowing that no mat-
After much thought, I've real- ter how many of my friends have
ized what my whiteness means to experienced these sentiments, I
me. Being white, for me, is forcing could just as easily ignore them. I'm
myself to unlearn what society has making the choice to listen and I'm
engrained in me through the institu- hopeful that my white peers will
tionalracism I've seen before my own join me.
eyes. It's about putting in the work I stand in solidarity with the
to understand the ways in which I #BBUM movement that the Black
perpetuate this racism and making Student Union has begun. The Uni-
a conscious effort to stop myself. It's versity has said that they are listen-
heightening my awareness to the ing, and I can promise you that I
experience of the underrepresented am, too.
minorities. It's about opening my
eyes. Being white is learning totake a Blair Sucher
step back, read and listen to my Black LSA sophomore


industry, an industry that is creat-
ing a detrimental legacy in the city
to which we claim allegiance. The
fossil-fuel industry has a long his-
tory of polluting low income and
minority communities. Our invest-
ments allow the fossil-fuel industry
to continue harming communities
like Detroit without consequence.
These investments include sig-
nificant holdings in the Marathon
Petroleum Corporation. Their
expansive oil refinery in the city
is responsible for making Detroit's
48217 zip code the third most toxic
in the nation, with a toxic burden
score over 50 times larger than the
state average, according to a 2006
University of Michigan study. The
Toxic Tour, led by Detroiters Work-
ing for Environmental Justice, will
take us to this refinery and many
other sites of pollution in the city of
Detroit to see first-hand the human
impacts of the fossil fuel industry.
President Coleman, you state
on "A Partnership for Progress,"
that "the university's bonds with
the city and metropolitan area are

deep and strong... We are pleased to
work alongside Detroit residents to
strengthen the community and its
citizens... Strong ties with Detroit
make for a strong University of
Michigan." It's unethical to strive
toward a strong connection to
Detroit and its people, while simul-
taneously supporting an indus-
try that is directly responsible for
harming the health of its citizens.
In order to appreciate the dam-
aging impact the University's
investments are having in Detroit,
it's necessary to see the results
first hand and to speak with those
affected. We ask that you, President
Coleman, join us on this tour, on
Dec. 7, 2013 from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m.,
while we learn more about our role
in the struggle for environmental
justice, and how the University can
play a key role in striving toward
equality and environmental sus-
Marion Berger and
Marissa Solomon
The Divest and Invest Campaign



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