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May 14, 2001 - Image 5

Resource type:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2001-05-14

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uman rights hypocrisy.
Subverting the United Nations
T he belief that the United Nations growing, and the oustin of the
is a beneficial international from the HRC and t e INCI
organization may be a popular indicative of their growing discont
one in many political science courses, When looked at from this an
but there is a large and growing con- the United States removal looks lib
tingent of policy makers who find the concerted effort by these nation
U to be a deleterious institution. snub their noses at America w
These policy makers see the United skirting their own questiona
tate's involvement in the UN as a national practices.
detriment, forcing cooperation with Take, for example, the nation
sworn enemies. often pointed to by critics of the
This sentiment has only been - Sudan. Sudan has been critic
strengthened by the recent vote that for human rights violations that
removed the U.S. from the UN's from the civil war that has b
Human Rights Commission and its endemic in the nation for 17 ye
International Narcotics Control These violations, detailed by Lee
Board. There has been an immediate do Franco in his 2000 report to
outcry about this act, which has creat- HRC itself, include a regime of
ed the first HRC without the U.S. ture and persecution of political
since its inception in 1947. senters, the forced and vio
The response was quick. On removal of citizens, the bombin
Thursday, the House voted to with- civilian populations, the abductio
hold $244 million in back dues that women and children into labor
the US owes the UN. sexual slavery and the attack of s
On one hand, it's hard to look at lar and religious humanitarian w(
this development without a wry smile; ers.
the U.S. has always had a holier-than- The list of nations elected to
thou attitude regarding foreign HRC reeks of human rights vi
nations, especially in terms of human tions: Sierra Leon (which was rat
rights abuses. The U.S. rebuked 174th out of 174 nations by the L
Europe by pulling out of the Kyoto 2000 Human Development Rep
Treaty, refused to support a recent Uganda (where government sa
anti-land mine initiative and is one of tioned violence against citizei
the few developed nations that still common, but rarely punished),
ractices capita unishment and the istan (where blasphemy laws hav
'War on Drugs" (initiated by Bush the to the imprisonment and executio
Elder) has been an unarguable failure. non-Muslims) and Armenia (w
When looked at from this angle, religious tensions between the Art
it's obvious why some of the United ian Orthodox majority and the h
States "friends" have turned their Muslim population has caused ca
back on us and the House's response less casualties) .
seems to be a petty atte at holding It's not that the United States p
the U.S. above the standards of any tion as the world's strongest powe
other nation. been directly threatened by this
But on the other hand, it's also But the growin strength of term
hard to look at this development with- nations aligned against Americ
out a tinge of fear. Since the end of certainly a worthy concern.
the Cold War (which Bush Junior is The House's response is fou
not-so-subtly trying to re-thaw), in blind patriotism and fails to add
America has emerged as the on ly the concerns at hand, but they hi
major world power, lacing it in a pre- point. If the UN is to be a human
canous position. Without a valid bal- an institution, then why is it so wi
lance of power, the U.S. no longer has to give so much consideratio
a tangible "Red" enemy to face and nations who go against this fu
there is a growing cluster, comprised mental belief?
mostly of developing nations, who
vilify America and align themselves
as hard-lined anti-Americans. This -Manish
cluster of nations has clearly been Daily Editorial W

Monday, May 14 2001 - The Michigan Daily - 5

*Universal Truth #1: English majors need to lighten up

B is
ke a
is to
g of
n of
ns is
e led
on of
r has
ca is
ave a
n to

always get the same
reaction when I tell
people I'm plannin to
major in English: T ey
cock their heads to one
side, blink twice and say,
"Oh, English. How inter-
esting!" Translation: "Oh,
so you're going to wait
tabes for the rest of your
life. How sad.)
English does not occu-
pya coice position in the
hain of Stsdent Ridicule
here at the University; just
about everyone makes fun
of English majors. Engi-
neers laugh at us because
we suck at calculus, med-
ical students tell us to have
fun reading our little sto-
ries while they're out cur-
ing cancer and future
microbiologists and
nuclear physicists cannot
believe we try to pass off
writing as work.
Despite these common
criticisms, most English
majors continue to take
themselves seriously. They
strut around cam pus using
polysyllabic words - such
as pentameter" and
"mimeograph" - so that
others may see how intelli-
gent they are. Also, they
spend alot of time speak-
ing condescendingly about
kinesiology students. It
makes them feel smart.
"Ha, ha!" they say to their
pre-med acquaintances. "If
you think I have the intel-
ligence of a cantaloupe,
you should try talking to
one of those kinesiol ogy
Now, before I get a lot

of angry e-mails from irate so.
kinesiology students, I am Case in point: An Eng-
not insinuating that kinesi- lish professor once told
olo gyis an easy field of me - via a written cri-
study. I have never had a ti ue - that much of what
class in kinesiology and I ad to say was "banal."
I'm sure it is Then she ripped out
very difficult. my heart with her
However, in the bare hands and
Chain of Student tossed it into a
Ridicule, it is ,a nearby meat
one of the few grinder.
subjects that Ha, ha! Natural-
falls below Eng- s ly, I am kidding. It
lish - sone- was really a vat of
where between hot oil.
General Studies What's that
and Gym. (Hey, you're saying?
I don't make the You'd like me to
rules. I only AUBREY define "banal" and
report what I HENRETTY rovide a compre-
observe.) ensive list of syn-
A n o t h e r onyms? Wh, I'd be
thing English happy to. Accord-
majors like to talk about is ig to your ictionary.com,
Universal Truth. During the word "stresses the
his or her college career, complete absence of fresh-
the average Eng ish major ness, novell or immedia-
will devote approximately cy ." Insipi , inane, trite,
437 theses to why the writ- dull and flat are some of
ings of Old Dead White its more flattering syn-
Man X are chock full of onyms.
Truths that transcend time This was a pretty harsh
and space. thing to say to a oung,
I think this is all very impressionable, slightly
silly. Consequently, snooty crazy and extremely neu-
literary types tend to dis- rotic writer like myself. I
like me intensely. I'd like mean, the woman is enti-
to think that they feel tled to her opinion, but
threatened by myb razen there are more tactful
disregard for Literary ways to shatter my self-
Conventions, that my con- confidence. For example,
tinuous what-about-this- she could have said I was
ing makes them nervous. "slightly less articulate
I'd like to think that, than a brick" or "just bor-
but I'm pretty sure they ing enough to put a room-
just find me annoying. ful of math teachers to
And stupid. Because they sleep." Even "more irritat-
never hesitate to tell me .ing than a swarm of

The hydra-head of censorship

gnats" would have been
ess insulting than
But I suppose I should
have been ready for that;
Professor Grim's class-
room environment was not
exactly conducive to my
learning. The professor
herself had exactly one
facial expression - sort
of a combination of disin-
terest, annoyance and
homicidal tendencies.
Only about five people
- myself included -
were not terrified of the
professor and thus brave
enough to speak during
class. She valued the op in-
ions of the other four. As a
general rule, everything I
said was incorrect. After a
while, I think the girls
who sat next to me started
taking notes when I was
talking so they'd know
exactly what not to say in
their next short responses.
But maybe Professor
Grim was right. Maybe
everything I say is stale.
Passe. Overdone. Boring.
I'm not too worried about
it, though. If the whole
English in doesn't work
out, I can always go back
to waiting tables. Or
maybe I'll take up kinesi-
-Aubrey Henretty can be
reached via e-mail at
ahenrett@umich.edu. If you
found this column banal,
please let her know. She will
try to write something more
exciting next time.
of power that says: "Since
I have the power, the
money and the influence,
my opinion matters and
needs to be heard ... and
yours doesn't."
I, and most probably
many others like me who
attempt to speak a voice
that belongs to the weak
and subjugated, face this
type of opinion silencing
on a daily basis. While it
should be fought against,
it needs to be noticed as a
price of speaking one's
mind, of not simply
pulling the party line,
albeit in an articulate
manner. Many times,
even, the censorship takes
the crudest and most
deliberate forms. In my
many travels to different
campuses, I have faced
these attempts to silence
my opinion constantly, as
I have often on this cam-
pus. But itsis the willing-
ness to keep speaking and
taking a hold of the real
issues that makes the
forces that attempt to cen-
sor so frustrated; for cen-
sorship never works when
the subject refuses to let it
hinder his or her drive.
For now, it is upon us,
those who aspire toward
progressiveness and intel-
lectualism, to de-censor
the censorers, and to make
their disgusting attempts
to silence differing points
of view part of the popu-
lar discourse.
- Amer Zahr s column runs
every other Monday. He
can be reached via e-mail
at zahrag@umich.edu.

In a recent viewpoint in the Daily
("Conceited cancer center donors
lose sight of cause," 5/7/01), Raj
Vattikuti was criticized for refusing
to donate money to the University s
Cancer Center based upon the fact
that he wanted recognition for his
gift rather than wanting to help peo-
ple. First of all, $13 million is a lot
of mone, and it is Raj Vattikuti's
money. Ie should donate it as he
sees fit without having to fear public
ridicule and anger because of his
motivations, no matter how self-
serving the are.
Second y, regardless of his moti-
vations, the money would still help
the Center's research, and ultimately
have to potential to save lives. Now,
because the University refused to
name the Center after Vattikuti, that
money will not be going towards
that cause. If we criticize Vattikuti
for his selfish motivations with the
money, shouldn't we also criticize
the Uiversity for refusing his $13
million offer?

C arlos Fuentes,
arguably the great-
est Mexican writer
and intellectual of the
twentieth century, is hav-
ing some trouble in his
home country. Fuentes'
book "Aura' has been
pulled from the high
school library of the
daughter of Mexico's
minister of labor, Carlos
Abascal. Abascal asked
the school to ban the book
after expressing his out-
rage at a certain scene.
The basic plot of the book
is as follows. A young
man enters the house of
an old woman for whom
he is about to work for.
Only he quickly falls in
love with her niece, who
also lives in the house.
The young man stays in
the house for many days,
and near the end of the
book, while he is making
love to the niece, he rea l-
izes that it has all been a
mirage and that he is
actually making love to
the old aunt. The book is
masterfully written, I
think, and it embodies,
passion, death and mys-
tery. But the lovemaking
scene with the old aunt is
not what Abascal has
objected to. He has
instead objected to one
scene in the book where
the young man is making
love to they oung niece
while a crucifix hangs on
the wall above them.
When asked how he
would respond to Abas-
cal's outrage and reac-
tionary attitude at the
scene, Fuentes responded
that he would tell the min-

ister that "over 99% of Fuentes Edward Said,
couples in Mexico have Noam Ciomsky, Norman
sex under a crucifix." He's Finkelstein and the like,
probably right. But he is face censorship and the
also expressing his senti- suppression of their opin-
ments as to how ion wherever they
ridiculous Abas- enter into the
cal is acting. i n t e ll e c t u a l
Fuentes went on, debate. This is
however, to probably the most
express his real glaring sign that
fear. He was not they are doing
worried that this something worthy
particular book and respectable.
was being singled But what is
out; he was important for us
instead fearful to take notice of
that this initial AMER G. is that these
act of censorship ZAHR attempts at intel-
would lead to ., lectual censorship
more repression take many forms,
of literar and R RES. i and only rarely do
intellectua free- P they originate
dom in Mexico. from religious
These acts of censorship concerns, such as in the
can quickly become a case of Fuentes' "Aura."
"hydra-head,' or in other Usually censorship, or the
words, self-u plicate endeavor to censor, is a
themselves into further function of a power rela-
acts of intellectual bowd- tionship that manifests
lerization. What should itself in a venture to muf-
concern us, however, is fle the voice of those
how we react to these acts. whom it is attempting to
Do we blindly support oppress. We see this ha -
governments and reac- penin gin nations like
sionary ministers aroundl ran, Turkey, Israel and
the world when they now, Mexico. But it also
attempt to make suc h happens under our nose
decrees? Or do we take everyday right here in
upon ourselves to make America. The re-emerging
our own decisions about attempts to throw evolu-
what we wish to be tion out of public schools
exposed to in the intellec- are a blatant form of cen-
tua and literary realms? sorship. The clout and
We have, of course, sway used by certain eth-
seen the kinds of effects nic groups and political
these reactionary actions lobbies in this country to
have had on societies and shut out and silence
intellectuals around the opposing political and
world. Those who speak social views is also a very
the voice of justice and acute brand of censorship.
the oppressed, such as It's the kind of arrogance

LSA senior

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