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June 07, 2004 - Image 5

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Publication:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2004-06-07

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VIEWPOINT
* The myth of democracy

The Michigan Daily - Monday, June 7, 2004 - 5
A legacy of hope and promise
SUHAEL MOMIN N AIXNERNATIE SPIN

BY JASMINE CLAIR
The war on terror has taken
many turns since Sept. 11. Initial-
ly George W Bush proclaimed that
it was necessary to invade Iraq to
obtain weapons of mass destruc-
tion and prevent them from falling
into the hands of terrorists. Twen-
ty-one months later, without a sin-
gle WMD being found, the focus
has now suddenly changed to
restoring sovereignty and democ-
racy to Iraq. However, the removal
of an oppressive dictator has given
Bush an opportunity to exert his
oppressive policies onto the people
of Iraq. Instead of Iraq being con-
trolled by the evil Hussein, the
state will be overwhelmingly con-
trolled by foreign forces in the
name of democracy.
Though Bush leads Americans to
believe that Iraq will be sovereign
and possess freedom and indepen-
dence, Iraq will at best share its
power with the United States and the
United Nations. Bush asserts that he
has no intentions of occupying Iraq
and has vowed to end the Coalition
Provisional Authority occupation
there. Despite this, 138,000 Ameri-
can troops will still remain. Though
the troops' presence serves to main-
tain security, they will also be a phys-
ical reminder of the overwhelming
level of U.S. influence on Iraqi
affairs. Sovereignty entails having
autonomy and authority, yet Iraq will
have neither.

The U.S. will have an even
greater influence on Iraq's political
structure. In collaboration with the
U.N. and a selected group of Iraqis,
government positions were formed
and many of their seats appointed.
These acts contradict the ideas of
freedom, independence and democ-
racy. A sovereign state chooses what
type of government they wish to
have; instead, Iraq has a foreign gov-
ernment doing this for them. This
has resulted in the appointment of
lyad Allawi as Prime Minister, who
conveniently has ties with the Central
Intelligence Agency. A representative
democracy receives its power from
the people within the state; however,
the Iraqi people will have very little
say in who the U.S. chooses to repre-
sent them. This completely under-
mines the basis of a representative
government and further indicates that
June 30 will not mark a transfer of
sovereignty to the Iraqi people or its
government.
The President has been placed
into a position where many are
demanding an articulated course of
action in Iraq. Unfortunately, Bush
has portrayed a false vision of
what is going to take place in Iraq.
America did not find the weapons
of mass destruction that Bush so
vehemently spoke of, and they will
not find freedom, independence or
democracy in Iraq on June 30.
Clair is an LSA senior and a member
of theDails editorial board.

W hen Ronald
Reagan
. died this
past Saturday, he bade
farewell to this world,
but left behind a lega-
cy that will continue to
shape the political
scene far into the
future. His election in
1980 was a pivotal moment in history; his
policies and decisions revitalized the
Republican Party, helped restart the Ameri-
can economy and fundamentally changed
the dynamic of our relationship with the
Soviet Union. He provided inspiration not
only to Americans in the wake of the Chal-
lenger disaster, but also to citizens of a
divided Germany when he challenged
Mikhail Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin
Wall. A hero to conservatives, an icon of
evil for liberals, Reagan will undoubtedly
be remembered as one of the most influen-
tial presidents of the past century.
Known as the "Great Communicator,"
Reagan built his reputation in front of a
camera; he captured the attention of the
world with his remarkable poise and self-
deprecating wit. After decades of connect-
ing to audiences, voters and foreign
leaders, Reagan passed away in a humbling
and devastating manner, unable to speak or
even recognize his wife of 52 years. When,
in 1994, Reagan informed America that he
was suffering from Alzheimer's disease, he
wrote, "I now begin the journey that will
lead me into the sunset of my life." That
sunset has come and gone, but like Reagan,
it promises to leave a lasting legacy.

This is because, for millions, the man-
ner of the President's death is not an
abstraction: Alzheimer's is one of the most
prevalent degenerative neurological condi-
tions. Yet, no known cure exists, and every
year, thousands more are forced to face a
disease that destroys the very ability of
individuals to be themselves. The most
promising treatments - those using
embryonic stem cells - rest undiscovered,
as religious conservatives and their allies in
the Bush administration inhibit the ability
of scientists to carry out research.
When Bush established a stem cell
research policy, he decreed that federal
funding would be withdrawn from any labs
that use cells from "cell lines" - or cul-
tures - which were created after the policy
was established. In defending his policies,
he has argued that over 60 lines exist; how-
ever, many scientists and legislators attest
that merely 15 are viable. Consequently,
researchers are unable to make significant
progress; effective cures still lie beyond the
realm of medical science.
On May 8, Nancy Reagan emotionally
announced that, "Ronnie's long journey has
finally taken him to a distant place where I
can no longer reach him," but expressed
hope that others would be spared the pain
she was. A crucial aspect of her vision was
stem cell research; she teamed with over
200 congresspeople in asking Bush to
rescind his restrictions. Despite being pro-
life, Mrs. Reagan clearly articulated a posi-
tion in favor of stem cell research.
Reagan's endorsement of stem cell
research is paradoxical, on the surface,
because the debate has been framed in the

context of the abortion controversy. How-
ever, stem cell research is a completely
separate issue, despite the spin that many
have given it. While the right to terminate a
pregnancy revolves around the right of a
mother to end the life of an unborn child,
embryos used for stem cell lines are con-
demned to death regardless of how they are
used. Across the nation, hundreds of thou-
sands of unused embryos are stored in fer-
tility clinics' freezers, waiting for the day
that they are unceremoniously destroyed.
Many stem cell researchers argue is that
these embryos - already sentenced to
death can, and should, be used to create
cell lines. Thus, while those opposed to fur-
ther investigation claim to be protecting the
rights of the unborn, they are merely
impeding scientific progress and condemn-
ing those suffering from degenerative dis-
eases to inevitable, undignified deaths.
When Reagan chose to come forward
with his diagnosis, he did so with a sense
of civil responsibility, commenting that he
and his wife had found that "through our
open disclosures we were able to raise pub-
lic awareness." As we mourn the loss of our
Great Communicator, we must heed his
call to attention. His suffering and death
must not be merely remembered as tragic;
they must become catalysts for change.
When cast in the limelight of history,
Ronald Reagan should be viewed not only
for what he managed in office, but also
what he facilitated in death, to promote the
welfare of this nation.
Momin can be reached at
smomin@umich.edu.

LETTERS POLICY
The Michigan Daily welcomes letters from all of its readers. Letters
" from University students, faculty, staff and administrators will be given
priority over others. Letters should include the writer's name, college
and school year or other University affiliation. The Daily will not print
any letter containing statements that cannot be verified.
Letters should be kept to approximately 300 words. The Michigan
Daily reserves the right to edit for length, clarity and accuracy. Longer
"viewpoints" may be arranged with an editor. Letters will be run accord-
ing to order received and the amount of space available.
Letters should be sent through e-mail to tothedaily@michigandaily.com
or mailed to the Daily at 420 Maynard St. Editors can be reached via e-
mail at editpage.editors@umich.edu. Letters e-mailed to the Daily will be
given priority over those dropped off in person or sent via the U.S.
Postal Service.
SAM BUTLER 'tE SOAPBox
- My advice is to
pretend it's not
r there.
ser-b cts~
0 /

All wrapped up
ELLIOTT MALLEN I'RATIONAL EtUBERANCE

T he city of
Detroit is toy-
ing with the
idea of wrapping
decaying buildings
with huge banners for
the coming 2006
Super Bowl. These
banners are part of
mayor Kwame Kil-
patrick's "Clean, Safe, Beautiful" strategy
of hiding some of the city's less-than-
attractive buildings from the coming foot-
ball rush estimated at 100,000 visitors. The
wraps will be modeled after those usedby
Ford, General Motors and Chrysler, like the
multi-story image of an F-150 pickup truck
gracing Ford's world headquarters in Dear-
born. Wrapping decaying buildings with
larger-than-life advertisements in order to
prevent visitors from seeing Detroit how it
really is will only make the city uglier and
will do nothing to actually improve the city
in the long term.
This is a quick fix designed to margin-
ally improve a one-time crowd's perception
of Detroit instead of an investment whose
benefits can carry over after the day of the
Super Bowl. It's worse than putting a
Band-Aid over a gushing wound; at least
Band-Aids are supposed to help heal. This
is more akin to applying a layer of makeup
to the wound. Whoever is applying the
makeup is so ashamed of the wound they
would rather keep people from believing
it's there than actually doing something to
heal it. This is what Detroit is doing with
these wraps. The city is hiding a supposed

embarrassment and doing nothing at all to
make the situation any better. Instead of
merely covering the blemishes, Detroit
should actually invest in improving the
buildings themselves.
Another flaw with this plan is that giant
billboards aren't all that attractive to begin
with. Nobody, on a return visit from Rome
or Paris or New York, shows off photos of
all the wonderful corporate advertisements
littered about the city. They show off photos
of attractive and historic landmarks, the
kinds of things that draw people to cities in
the first place. Billboards never have and
never will attract tourists, and it's foolish for
Detroit to think more of them will actually
improve peoples' perception of the city.
Billboards are also just plain ugly. They
are a blight themselves, managing to
reduce any potentially attractive view to a
frantic plea to buy something. Using them
to beautify a city is counterproductive,
since it's just covering an unattractive
building with an unattractive image. The
fact that such ugly images are going to be
plastered over buildings is in a way an
insult to the city itself. The fact that these
giant symbols of corporate greed are con-
sidered more aesthetically pleasing than the
city itself shows what little faith the plan-
ners have in the city they lead. If the
mayor's office took pride in Detroit, it
wouldn't want to cover up the city's faults
with hundred-foot images of PT Cruisers
and bottles of Pepsi. Rather, it would try to
improve the crumbling buildings so that
the beauty of the city could speak for itself
and these wraps would be unnecessary.

Improving the city's infrastructure
would do more than just attract tourists: It
would attract investment. One of the huge
problems with the city now is that the afflu-
ent people who work downtown sure as
hell don't want to live downtown. People
who live there want out, and people who
work there but don't live there want things
to stay that way. The billboard strategy only
encourages this thinking by acknowledging
that nobody really wants to be inside the
city, and the billboards are intended to
make peoples' stays less painful as opposed
to more enjoyable. The billboards are
designed to distract and divert - they're
not really meant to be admired; they're just
meant to conceal. Fixing that which needs
concealing will make people admire the
city as a whole instead of forcing them to
turn their eyes from its faults.
The building wraps also do nothing to
benefit those who actually live in the city.
People who live in the tenements slated for
a corporate makeover will get nothing out if
it except being pushed out of the tourists'
way. If, instead of covering the tenement,
the city government would instead improve
it and elevate it from tenement status, it
would directly benefit the people who live
there in addition to making the city more
attractive in general. Unimaginably huge
advertisements won't make Detroit a better
place to visit or inhabit. These quick fixes
only manage to hurt the city in the long run,
and long-term investment is long overdue.
Mallen can be reached at
emmallen@umich.edu.

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