Wednesday. August 6. 1997 - The Michigan Daily -5
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"This reversal looks like a repudiation of the process."
e - Rev. Edgar Vann, commenting on the Michigan Supreme Court's reversal ofa
second-decree murder conviction of Larrv Budzvn for the death of Mralice Gre"n
y PROBIR MEHTA
At first glance, the intentions
*e hearings currently being
onducted by the Senate com-
ittee over the so-called Asian
inance scandal seem innocu-
us, if we are to believe the con-
erned investigators of the com-
ittee. They claim that the hear-
ngs are simply delving into
Ileged wrongdoing by John
uang, a former Commerce
epartment official, and other
eople associated with question-
contributions to the
emocrats' 1996 campaign. The
ommittee chair, former actor
Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.), has
een trying in vain to prove a
Chinese connection with the
contributions. In the end it is
doubtful that anything will
come out of the hearings except
a general attack on Asian
At rican citizens' right to par-
ti ate in our political process.
Closer insight leads us to
uncover sinister themes that have
been a part of this issue since the
beginning. It is a replay of the
age-old race-baiting game and is
built upon the unspoken premise
that Asian Americans are not
considered "real" Americans,
even today. Not only is some of
the dialogue culturally insensi-
t* but more ominously, it is
o ten racist in tone.
Can you imagine other
groups being subject to racist
innuendo by senators and
respectable media like The
Washington Post and the perpe-
trators getting away with it? I
surmise that it would be a differ-
ent matter. Asian Americans
make easy targets -if we aren't
the "model minority" then we
are dangerous people seeking to
undermine the United States. It
is a tragedy of extremes in
America today for people of
Asian descent. The present
"scandal" is only indicative of
the underlying prejudice that
exists. Since Asian Americans
have always been considered
foreign, it is easy for xenophobic
stereotypes to take hold.
The committee has put on
the stand people alleged to be
involved with illegal campaign
contributions, and efforts have
been made to paint some of the
alleged wrongdoers as agents of
China and foreign corporations.
While everyone is on the hunt
for the "red communist threat,"
Philip Morris, the ultimate rep-
resentation of Big Tobacco,
admitted pouring millions of
dollars of "soft money" contri-
butions into campaign coffers to
a disinterested media last month.
If misdeeds were done, they
should be punished. However,
the controversy has had some
unfortunate results. Asian
Americans have every right to
take part in the political
process. The national media has
melded foreign with Asian
Americans in article after arti-
cle - with the consequence of
some legislators returning all
contributions from citizens with
Asian-sounding names. In addi-
tion, legislators that were sched-
uled for speaking to Asian
American events strangely
stopped showing up. This paints
a stark picture for a community
that is just starting to becoming
politically active, as is its right.
Asia bashing has continued
since the first allegations
appeared about ten months ago.
During the hearings we were
witness to racist remarks being
uttered by US Senators and
national media correspondents.
issue of whether, Asian Pacific
Americans, after a tenuous 150
year past in the country The cal-
lousness by which some have
conveyed their opinions speaks
to the larger issue of whether
Asian Pacific Americans are
considered "real" Americans.
We have faced internment in
American concentration camps,
had our citizenships revoked,
and suffered innumerable
accounts of hate crimes - all in
the quest for a better life. These
hearings are only a progression
in the challenges that we face as
we struggle to get our voices
heard. It is almost ironic that
Big Tobacco, the cause of so
much death, is considered more
American during this day and
age than Asian Americans.
Probir Mehta is an
LSA senior majoring in
Maybe being a junkie isn't so bad after all
Demember the Public Service Announcement saving the spotted owl.
with the intimidating voice claiming, Classes began in the fall and I found myself
"Nobody says, 'I want to be a junkie when I grow hiking through the Arboretum in pouring rain,
up?"' Well, I'm swiftly running out of alterna- walking through mud to measure trees - whose
tives. names I was supposed to be memorizing - and
Okay, so I'm not yet scampering around taking Chemistry.
Liberty Square searching for a fix, but with the God forbid saving the planet involved work. I
final year of my undergraduate career fled SNRE like a hippie from a bar of
swiftly approaching, I'm scared shit- soap and applied to LSA.
less. I even declared a major quickly there-
What do I want to be when I growy after: English. Amazingly enough, three
up? The question once held such hope years later, I am still, an English major.
and suspense, a far-off thought of I can read, I can write, and I can bull-
"adulthood" that surfaced only when r shit a 10-page paper about how the
playing "pretend" or when relatives female character in any play, story or
came over for dinner. Asa young child, poem is being oppressed by the patri-
my career outlook changed weekly. arch, yet where does that leave me?
When my mom gave me an old date Sitting around Espresso Royale with
stamper, I decided I would become a KRISTIN some snooty intellectuals discussing the
librarian. When my grandma bought AROLA images of rose petals in 18th-century
me a nurse's kit, becoming a nurse was .ANLNG ,W English Literature? Moving on to gradu-
my new calling. When I received a Cm'NG FANS ate school to spend four years studying
Crayola Architect Set for Christmas, I how foliage dictates the reader's emo-
knew I was destined to be the next Frank Lloyd tions in Shakespeare's works?
Wright. Upon receiving Barbie Fashion Plates The walls of reality are swiftly closing in on me
for my birthday, it was certain I would become a and horror stories of English concentrators never
fashion designer. finding jobs are spinning around my head.
My career outlook continued in its erratic man- Luckily, I'm hiding out in Ann Arbor for the
ner for 17 years - a teacher, a doctor, a lawyer, summer, or relatives would continue to probe,
a writer, a secretary - and before I knew it, it "What do you want to be when you grow up?"
was time for college. I want to write the great American novel, I want
It was 1994 and the "save the planet" move- to win the Lotto, I want to build alog cabin in the
ment was underway. I decided it would be noble woods, I want to be an editor, I want to be an aca-
to spend the rest of my life recycling, tying demic advisor, I want to be the president, I want
myself to trees and saving baby seals. I applied to be a swim coach, and dammit, maybe I do
and was accepted to the University's School of want to be a junkie when I grow up - at least it's
Natural Resources. decisive.
I finally thought I'd found my niche. I could - Save Kristin Arola from a nasty drug
stop the greenhouse effect while single-handedly habit and e-mail her at email@example.com.
Rock 'n 'roll should be rebellious, not reverent
"Rock and roll is the hambuger that ate the The Hall of Fame's rather innocuous placement
world." on the map is only enhanced by its obvious status
- Peter Tork, The Monkees as one of thousands of tourist stops for senior citi-
I f jazz is the only original American art form, a zen bus tours. You know the type, loaded up with
Picasso afloat in the sea of western culture dom- retirees bound for Niagara Falls, Las Vegas,
mated by Michaelangelos and Da Vincis then rock Cranberry World or the Bees Wax Palace of
'n'roll is an original print of"Dogs Playing Poker." Yellow Jacket, Idaho. It was slightly surreal to see
As generic and often easily accessible as rock can a group of grannies in a replica of a Grateful Dead
be, it has transcended its own musical stage setup or watching an interview
"shortcomings" to become iconic, dom- - with Johnny Rotten or Iggy Pop.
mating the competition with the power Could they possibly appreciate what
of three chords and a catchy chorus. k they were witnessing? Even after 40
When I say rock, I use the definition t years, did they get it?
given by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame I guess it doesn't matter, because in
,which I recently visited. The Hall of another sense Cleveland and busloads
Fame is very inclusive, covering all of of senior citizens and Boy Scout troops
rock's relations and offspring under its is very appropriate because rock, like
umbrella: R&B, punk, folk, funk, rap, this Lake Erie port town, should not be
heavy metal, pop and elements of coun- taken too seriously. That's my one real
try and blues that have filtered into the PAUL concern about the Hall of Fame. Some
mix. While the Hall of Fame obviously SERILLA parts are way too serious.
doesn't want to anger anyone by omit- FER-L1A All the guitars, stage costumes and
ting any major forces of the rock era, this WARFAtE oddball memorabilia were pretty damn
broad definition leads to just as much cool. The information in all the displays,
arguing. I saw many eyes roll at the recent induc- mini-documentaries and interactive computer ter-
tion of the Bee Gees and many wrinkled brows and minals were top notch, a great overview of 40
questioning expressions as visitors searched for years of music and performers. But when you fin-
the egregiously omitted bands ("I just can't find ish with all of that you end up in the actual Hall of
Jethro Tull or The Bay City Rollers anywhere.") Fame. It is like walking in a tomb or some other
Obviously despite all its efforts, rock 'n' roll reverential memorial. It's dark, consisting of black
cannot mean everything to everybody and a hall walls with only the inductees' names and pictures
of fame or any such archive or museum cannot illuminated, and no one makes a sound.
cover all the bases. It should not have to, but do Number one, rock and most of the artists on
we really need the Hall of Fame at all? that wall aren't dead - many still make music,
Let me give you some background to that ques- so let's knock off this "respect for fallen soldiers"
tion. The Hall of Fame is in Cleveland, Ohio, routine. Number two, rock has never been rever-
where DJ Allen Freed first coined the term "rock ent. Even if only superficially, rock is rebellion
'n' roll." Cleveland is a very nice city, pretty - it is disrespect for blind obedience and a
clean, friendly, not boring but exceedingly aver- wake-up call to established norms.
age, even for the Midwest. I just think other The Hall of Fame forgot a lot of that. But they
cities like Detroit, Memphis, New York or Los could easily fix it just by playing a few tunes.
Angeles that had a bigger impact on music - E-mail Paul Serilla apserilla umich.edu.
would have been a little more interesting.
R EStfRU CT1 0L4 TrtE 1 Do's
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