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November 25, 2014 - Image 4

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Page 4 - Tuesday, November 25, 2014

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Page 4 - Tuesday, November 25, 2014 The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom

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.
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over the content of the action itself
- and in a situation as exceptional
as this, should be expected to seize
upon that exceptionality's source
and take issue with it.
This cuts to the basic problem
behind using executive action
to implement a policy change
as significant as this one: a
presidential directive can't claim
any of the legitimacy that debate and
discussion in Congress confer upon
if the legislation it passes (If what
follows doesn't clarify this for you,
the recent "Saturday Night Live"
skit involving Obama's executive
decision should suffice.) That body's
dismal -and contradictory approval

ratings aside, the process it owns has
weight. Its members are pieces of the
most comprehensive, current and
concise human mosaic of collective
American political and ideological
opinion in existence. The president,
in comparison, is only a single
person and while his or her views
might change over time in office to
better reflect those of the public, the
impressions and opinions the public
forms change at a much slower pace.
Whether Americans feel that the
president represents their concerns
is outside of the president's
control, and still independent
from their right to representation

in Congress.
In short, the contemporary
blowback from opponents of immi-
gration reform through executive
action and the methodical disre-
gard shownbyits supporters should
not come as a surprise to anyone
with knowledge of Congress's insti-
tutional role in legitimizing policy
change. Executive action can cer-
tainly make change more quickly
than Congress can; its test now will
be to see if it can hold up without
the formidable power of legislative
legitimization at its back.
- Eric Ferguson can be
reached at ericff@umich.edu.


Parting with
couple weeks ago, I was fortunate
enough to be an audience member
in the Center for Entrepreneurship's
Entrepreneurship Hour
debate between Max Fin-
berg and John Hart. Finberg
the senior advisor to the
Assistant Secretary of Agri-
culture and also served as a
Senior Policy Advisor with-
in President Barack Obama's
Domestic Policy Council.~
Hart is a Republican who
is an award-winning writer DEVIN
and the editor-in-chief of EGGERT
Opportunity Lives. Hart
also served under former
Republican U.S. Representatives Jim DeMint
and Steve Largent and as Republican Senator
Tom Coburn's communications director.
For several weeks, this talk between Fin-
berg and Hart was promoted within our class
as some kind of political smackdown within the
political barriers surrounding entrepreneur-
ship. Iwill admit that my boredom gave way to
simple-minded pleasure, as I did look forward
to this event in this context. I caught myself
daydreaming of old red-and-blue clad politi-
cians in a WWE ring with my fellow University
students shouting, "Give 'em the chair!"
OK, I'll admit. I'd still be up for
this happening.
But, to my surprise, and seemingly to the
coordinators', Finbergand Hartcame in waving
a white flag similar to Disney's "Pocahontas."
Both of the influential leaders stressed
that although they maintain different core
beliefs and philosophies of government, they
respected each other's views and were open
to listening to alternative approaches. I leaned
back in my seat, puzzled as to why I thought
this was so revolutionary. Is individuality and
open-mindedness not something that we are all
constantly striving to improve upon?
The idea !hit me. Although, ideas like
tolerance are stressed, not once have I seen
adults of influence have a respectful debate
about politics. My mind flashed through casual
offhand digs by professors, obscene political
cartoons and Bill O'Reilly. Not once could I
recall two adults having a debate that I would
call mature, intelligent and respectful.
The debate proceeded.
Finberg and Hart navigated us through
the cores of their beliefs. Their philosophies
are nested in the amount of power and
responsibility, the government should exert
on its people. The extras, the platforms that a
representative markets votes with are based on
interpretations ofwhat people withthose ideals
should believe. Now I don't want to paint Mr.
Finberg and Mr. Hart as idols in a messed-up
atmosphere, though their friendship deserved
a Disney theme song. They too fell into a five-
minute trap in which they were debating a
long list of presidents starting with Reagan vs.
Obama. It became a political version of "mine's
bigger," duringwhich a youngwoman turned to
me and said, "I honestly don't even remember
which one belongs to which party." That
was another moment of surprise to me. Her
comment enticed me to survey the audience
of young entrepreneurs, of whom I thought
would surely side with one side or another. The

crowd looked largely annoyed as well. Maybe
they were like me. Instead of seeing political
solutions as A=A, B=B, or A or B only, the crowd
was seeing the bigger picture. Maybe A+B+ a
little C= S ... an actual solution.
Proposing political solutions to a crowd
of people largely focused on out-of-the-box
solutions and seeing a bigger picture initiated a
different vibe.
I'lladmitnow,Idon'tidentifywith aparticular
party. Each election I read information about
the representatives and think critically about
what approach would be best for the nation at
a certain time and particular representatives'
capabilities. But, I am one of the 14.08 percent
in Washtenaw County that voted in the 2014
Midterm Elections. Even if you are a lifelong
whatever, the logic of always having a primed,
simple, bipartisan set of solutions doesn't make
sense when trying to solve a complex problem.
For example, a point in the Finberg and Hart
debate was the issue of extreme student debt in
the United States. Finberg brought up the point
that it's necessary and right to have government
provide aid for students. Hart brought up
the point that while this is necessary, these
packages give universities the idea that they
can jack up their prices under the assumption
that it's the government's responsibility to
cover for those facing financial difficulties. It
was obvious from my seat in the audience that
both of these points probably had merit. Both
of these points could probably be used to build
a better system of education for students. And,
even as someone who works two jobs to fund
their own schooling and relies on financial aid,
I can look at the issue through a larger lens.
So where do wegofrom here?
As the debate wrapped up, I raised my hand
to ask this question.
"I feel extremely grateful to have you both
here today, Mr. Finberg and Mr. Hart. It was
amazing of the Center for Entrepreneurship
to put this event on. This is actually the first
time I have seen an adult Democrat and
Republican of influence have a beneficial and
respectful talk regarding politics. But in reality
most Americans are not exposed to this sort
of composed idea exchange. What are some
resources or solutions you can recommend?"
The answer was along the lines of us
needing to elect people in offices that care less
about getting reelected, because in reality,
that is what a large percentage of politicians
on both sides care about.
That is an answer I get a lot. It is an answer
that gives you nothing to work with.
I unfortunately don't have an answer to
our American political system that functions
more and more like a sports rivalry between
University of Michigan and The Ohio State
University. But, I do challenge others to
remember that an entrepreneurial attitude
can be successful in many facets of life.
Remember our relentless protests to get our
football team back to its ideals and our open
student discussion on possible solutions.
There's a reason that our legal system isn't
reliant on robots. For all the faults that
humans have, compassion and open-minded
creativity is irreplaceable.
- Devin Eggert can be reached
at deeggert@umich.edu.

Refusing to be radical

By any means necessary. The
phrase, delivered by Mal-
colm X in a speech given at
the founding rally
of the Organization
of Afro-American
Unity in 1964, has
become a chant
among activist
groups throughout
the 20th and 21st
centuries. In Mal-
colm X's speech, he
announces, "That's ABBY
our motto. We TASKIER
want freedom by
any means neces-
sary. We want justice by any means
necessary. We want equality by any
means necessary."
His words planted the seeds
of hope among the minorities the
represented, and yet, in November
2014, University of Michigan students
still shout out that same motto -
"We want equality by any means
necessary" - as minority enrollment
is at its lowest number in years,
comprising only 10 percent of the
student body.
On the afternoon of Thursday,
Nov. 20, The Michigan Daily report-
ed that the organization By Any
Means Necessary protested directly
outside of the meeting of the Univer-
sity's Board of Regents, prompting
the evacuation of the regents and
executive officers from the room.
The organization insisted upon the
University's recognition of serious
minority issues that plague campus
and notably, the group proposed
the implementation ofrthe 10 Ber-
cent plan - a rule allowing any high
school student in the top 10 percent
of his or her class to be admitted to
any public university in the state of
Michigan. According to the Daily's
coverage, University President Mark
Schlissel implied that the plan is
infeasible. In Schlissel's defense,
such a plan wouldn't necessarily
ensure minority enrollment. But, the
issues of segregation and underrep-
resentation of minorities stem way

beyond the control of the University.
As American citizens, we're
well aware that these are systemic
concerns, dating back to American
slavery and the absolute control of
the white man. Today, the American
forces of oppression aren't as easily
identifiable in broad daylight.
Oppression exists in more subtle, less
blatant designs - the confinement of
minorities to ghettos, perpetuated
mass incarceration of African-
Americans, cycles that leave children
uneducated and prompt a lack of
education for future generations.
This has been coined as "The New
Jim Crow." But I have to wonder,
when oppression manifests itself
inconspicuously to the uncurious
eye, is it worthy of being challenged
by any means necessary?
I spent a semester studying abroad
in Cuba, which I can say, for all
intents and purposes, is governed by
an authoritarian regime. Despite the
palm trees, the Caribbean sun and
the colors that illuminate the old,
dilapidated buildings, oppression
runs high on the island. My Cuban
friends, who quietly despised the
system and uttered words of discon-
tent when given jolts of liquid cour-
age, were trained to be quiet about
their criticisms of Cuban socialism.
From the rhetoric they'd been taught,
opposition is bad and compliance is
good. Alberto, my Cuban boyfriend
at the time, was taken to jail simply
for walking alongside my American
friend. The police officers assumed
that he was selling himself to the
American girl he accompanied on
the street. Being a whi'te foreigner, I
was the only one with the power to
get the arrest expunged. A Cuban
attempting to explain the same situ-
ation would have been written off as
a liar, a counterrevolutionary or an
accomplice to foreign exploitation.
I often wondered why there wasn't
more opposition to the system, why
Cuban citizens who'd only been able
to eat grains of rice and a few beans
that day weren't marching along the
oceanside promenade demanding

more resources and more rights. But
fear burdened their activism. Under
the Cuban system, every citizen
lacks liberty. Was this means for a
radical movement - one that would
come into existence by any means
necessary? At first I thought so, but
then I thought of Cuba's past.
The reason for Cuba's oppressive
government is the 1959 Cuban revo-
lution. Fidel Castro, CheGuevaraand
a myriad of other young, hotheaded
revolutionaries overthrew the dic-
tatorship of Fulgencio Batista - a
tyrant maintaining severe economic
and social inequality. They achieved
their goal of subversion by any means
necessary: guerilla warfare. Now,
the system has returned to its dicta-
torial roots - but under the guise of
socialism. Having achieved the revo-
lution's goal by any means necessary,
such violent and oppressive tactics
associated with the doctrine became
accepted, normal.
Come back to contemporkry
America. Come back to the BAMN
protest that forced Schlissel out of his
seat. Radical activism is needed on
college campuses. Radical activism is
still needed when injustice is no lon-
ger blatantly obvious, but lurks in the
shadows, pullingcertain people away
from the potential for achievement.
Racism is gone because we have a
Black president, right?
As Americans, we're afforded the
ability to fight for our liberties. But
it's hard to get behind a dogma that
propagates violence and seemingly
opposes active discourse. BAMN is
trying to get things doneBAMN is
fighting for something we should all
be fighting for, regardless of ourrace,
gender or class. But, when the motto
"by any means necessary" infiltrates
the situation, one is left to wonder:
how far are they willing to go? And if
it's past nonviolent, radical activism,
I for one will have a hard time taking
part in it.
- Abby Taskier can be reached
at ataskier@umich.edu.

How to talk about the Middle East in class

An alternative for change

If you guessed that Republicans and
Democratic President Barack Obama
have generally concluded that working
with each other through the
normal legislative process
to address the country's
problems is too hard, you
wouldn't be too far off from
the truth. So, much like what
many students are tempted
to do at this point in then
semester, they have resigned
themselves to mediocrity
and half-measures to get by ERIC
and get what they want. FERGUSON
This kind of resignation
has been happening for
years in multiple sectors of the political arena
- witness how Republicans slammed Medi-
care reform through Congress at 5 a.m. in 2005
while ignoring the amount of time allocated to
the vote. And how presidents have been habitu-
ally able to ignore the War Powers Act of 1973,
particularly its restrictions on the use of mili-
tary force, in the face of a Congress that has only
chosen to invoke it once. It happened again last
Thursday, as Obama announced a policy shift
on immigration through an executive order.
Along with a few nods to border security in a
lackluster attempt to appeal to Republicans,
it granted five million undocumented immi-
grants apathwayto temporary U.S. residence if
theycan fulfill araftofeligibilityrequirements.
Don't get me wrong - this is, unquestion-

ably, a better policy than the current one.
Among other things, it creates an essential and
long-promised avenue through which people,
who have worked extremely hard and embody
American ideals, can cease to fear deportation'
while not incentivizing new arrivals outside of
the legal system in place. However, as gratify-
ing as the result may feel, the means used to
get there matter. That executive action - stem-
ming purely from the executive branch - was
the only feasible way to change immigration
policy for the better, and it is deeply troubling
from an institutional perspective. '
For those who care deeply about a legisla-
tively frozen issue, executive actions' power
as a tool for change is extraordinarily seduc-
tive. Part of the reason for this is simple. Self-
interest makes it hard to care about the process
behind policies that will enhance your, your
friends', or your social group's quality of life
if only a deadlocked Congress weren't in the
way. The singular, often deeply personal fac-
tors driving this interest are resistant to all but
the most flagrantly irresponsible policy solu-
tions to the problem - irrespective of whether
a court order, bill or bureaucratic rule change
caused it.
is well outside of that range. Moreover, its
status as a victory for those directly affected
bythe immigration issue leads them and their
ideological supporters to classify the means
as a lower-level, almost trivial concern.
Those left in opposition end up outraged

Be as geographically vague as
possible. Treat the Middle
East as one nation with
expansive deserts,
run-down buildings
and people living
in tents. Men wear
turbans and smoke
hookah. There are
also underground n
night clubs,
unlimited wealth
and very aggressive
sheikhs - think HAYA
"Aladdin." The ALFARHAN
Middle Eastis both a
war-torn wasteland*
and a place of riches,
filled with oil-drunk-barbarians.
Treat Arabs, Persians, Muslims
and Middle Easterners as though
they are all one homogenous, indis-
tinguishable group because they
all look the same to you anyway.
If someone in class points out that
Arabs are not equal to Muslims and
Persians are not equal to Arabs, nod
knowingly, and then proceed to con-
flate them anyway. It's really hard for
you to keep all these identities apart.
Express your disdain for the state
of minorities in that region. Make
sure to use the word "backward" as
much as possible. Constantly refer to
Muslims as being part of the "most
oppressed race." Always begin by
talking about Muslim women, and
how they're treated so awfully,
how they're forced into marriages,
how they're not allowed to pursue
education, how they're waiting for
you to get on a volunteer trip to help
liberate them. Definitely bring up the
fact that women aren't allowed to
drive, despite the fact that this issue

is central to literally one country in
the entire region. Again, don't get too
caught up in the details. The point
is, these women need saving, even
when they say they're fine. To quote
FEMEN, the Ukraine feminist group
famous for its topless protests, "They
write on their posters that they don't
need liberation but in their eyes it's
written 'help me."'
When talkingabout Arab and Mus-
limwomen, always remind your fellow
classmates that the veil is a thing. A
very oppressive thing. When it comes
to women's issues, it's all a "thing."
In the Middle East, "things" happen
to women. Female genital mutilation
is a thing, honor killings are a thing,
acid attacks are a thing, forced mar-
riage is a thing. Attempting to trace
and understand socio-economic and
political factors that have created and
contributed these issues is too compli-
cated. Framing issues isn't important,
because these women are being treat-
ed like bodies for their governments
to project their ideologies on, they're a
means to a political end. Never ques-
tion whether or not you're partially
fueled by your American exceptional-
ism. You're the good guy here.
In your political science class,
always center the United States
in every Middle Eastern conflict.
Disregard any history of colonialism,
Western influence and American
interventions. The region has always
been in chaos. Talk about the Middle
East in abstract terms detached
from the reality of people's lived
experiences. Talk about Islam like
it's some rigid and monolithic system
of beliefs independent of the people
who practice it - a failure on behalf
of the West to humanize Middle

Easterners. Pay attention to youth
movements and grassroots activism
in the Middle East when it's trendy
to talk about, when it's trending on
Twitter #PeaceinTheMiddleEast
When you feel like you're losing
their attention, try to pull them back
by throwing in 9/11 or anything
that'll blind them with a sense of
patriotism. Ifbringing9/11seemslike
too much of a stretch, make sure to
use buzz words like "jihad," "suicide
bombers," "al Qaeda," "extremist,"
"radical,""sharia," "fundamentalist."
In English class, always mention
how amazed you are that the
Middle East isn't as primitive as you
assumed it would be. The reading
your professor assigned didn't
mention anything about camels. The
characters were well rounded and
people were going about their daily
lives. Nobody's hand got chopped off.
If you're taking an Arabic class, let
everyone know on the first day that
you're doing it so you can help fight
the war on terror. Reduce a very rich
language spoken by millions to just
another qualification on your resume.
Arabic is the language spoken by the
terrorists and you want to infiltrate
their ranks from within. Your opinion
"Homeland" since it premiered.
Always end by talking about
freedom. Your freedom, their
freedom. Freedom is always . the
operative word.
This piece was inspired by
Binyavanga Wainaina's How to Write
about Africa.
- Haya Alfarhan can be
reached at hsf@umich.edu.


Edvinas Berzanskis, Devin Eggert, David Harris, Rachel John, Jordyn Kay,
Jesse Klein, Aarica Marsh, Megan McDonald, Victoria Noble, Michael Paul,
Allison Raeck, Melissa Scholke, Michael Schramm, Matthew Seligman,
Mary Kate Winn, Jenny Wang, Daniel Wang, Derek Wolfe




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