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May 23, 2005 - Image 5

Resource type:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2005-05-23

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The Michigan Daily - Monday, May 23, 2005 - 5

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Bev, Tim and the Apocalypse
Ratzinger failed to open, honest and responsible attempt JESSE SINGAL T T
g at reckoning with that past.
dd rc Nt ind _

a res~s vzc Vasn
Karl Stampfl's opinion piece (A
view from the wrong side of history,
5/3/05) takes as its starting point
the recent papal election and its
implications for the German origin
of members of his own family. It is
surely a timely topic, but Stampfl's
piece sadly and quickly veers off in
misplaced pity, eliciting neither sym-
pathy nor understanding. The prob-
lem is not his grandmother's guilt or
innocence as a teenager or her heri-
tage, but much more the candor with
which one retrospectively views the
Nazi past and one's larger implica-
tion in it.
It's not the "right" or "wrong"
side of history that needs to be
addressed, but one's current and
accurate view of it.
As regards his comment about the
new pope and his war-time activity,
Joseph Ratzinger certainly was no
worse than any able-bodied hetero-
sexual German male of conscription
age as defined at the time. And as
recent media coverage repeatedly
conveyed, among the pope's compa-
triots in the Hitler Youth were those
who became in the post-war period
sharp and honest critics regarding
Nazi rule, as well as the degrees of
their own and more importantly their
parents' participation in, and respon-
sibility for, Hitler's ascension and
reign. The aspect of the pope's past
I worry about is not his doings as
a 14-year-old, but as a thirty-some-
thing-year-old. When he assumed a
position of considerable influence as
an academic and theologian, Ratz-
inger had the opportunity to address
the havoc and ruin caused by the pre-
vious generation of Germans. Instead
he represented some of the most
M reactionary sentiments against an

Avi Kempinski

Daily focuses on
negative, ignores
day's spirit


Last Sunday, more than 550 mem-
bers of the Jewish community and
its supporters gathered to celebrate
Israel's Independence Day. Inspired
by Israel's contributions to the world
and her survival in the face of enmi-
ty, they danced, sang and celebrated
in spite of inclement weather and the
presence of a picket that bordered on
harassment. This was the real story
of the day.
How disappointing that your cov-
erage of the event (Celebation encoun-
ters protests, 5/16/2005) focused on
the actions of 20 misguided protest-
ers who spent three hours taunting
children as they played in a nearby
We join a majority of Israelis in
the hope that next year Palestinians
will have the opportunity to cel-
ebrate their own Independence Day.
But this will only happen when Isra-
el's enemies devote as much energy
to building their own country as they
do to trying to destroy the Jewish
state and harrass the local Jewish
Arik Cheshin
Co-chair ofthe Celebrate Israel!,
founder of the Israeli Student
Eileen Freed
Ellisha Greenhood
Jeff Levin
Members of the Jewish Federation
of Washtenaw County

i' somewhat
of a masochist
when it comes
to deciding whom I
am going to watch
wenton a Bill
O'Reilly binge soph-
omore year - and to
whom I am going to
listen. For instance,
I keep myself awake during the 12-hour
drives to and fromBoston by scanning the
dial to find Michael Savage, the conserva-
tive (although calling him "conservative"
is like calling the sun "lukewarm") talk-
show host who once infamously referred
to a gay caller as a "sodomite" and told
him he should "get AIDS and die." Lis-
tening to him ramble incoherently in his
nasal voice really helps keep me alert dur-
ing the duller stretches of 1-90.
When it comes to instilling self-righ-
teous anger in me, however, not even Sav-
age can match the power of Concerned
Women for America, a far-right Christian
group founded by Beverly LaHaye. First,
a bit on her husband: Tim LaHaye coau-
thored, with Jerry Jenkins, the hugely
popular "Left Behind" series of novels,
which depict the escalating, post-Rapture
battle between good and evil. Of course, as
with any good Rapture yarn, the righteous
(namely, the observant, born-again Chris-
tians) have already ascended to heavenand
it's left up to us Jews, Catholics, Muslims,
and, presumably, Black Sabbath listeners,
to fight the good fight for seven rough years

and earn a place in heaven.
In addition to writing uplifting nov-
els about the eternal damnation of non-
believers, LaHaye also likes to dip his
free-of-sin toes into politics. According
to Rolling Stone, as Bush was preparing
for his first presidential campaign, he met
with a group of right-wing Christians that
called itself the Committee to Restore
American Values. LaHaye headed the
group, and the positive impression Bush
made on LaHaye ensured that the latter
would help throw his weight behind the
cause of getting the religious right to sup-
port Bush. It's not really anything but old
news, but it's probably worth reflecting on
once in awhile that our president seeks the
approval of people who truly, honestly
believe the end of the world is coming,
and soon. (Coincidentally, that same Roll-
ing Stone article quotes LaHaye referring
to Saddam Hussein as a possible "forerun-
ner of the Antichrist.")
That's enough on Tim for now. The two
important things to remember are that he
and Bush appear to have a good relation-
ship and that LaHaye believes, as Rolling
Stone paraphrases it, that "billions of six-
inch-long scorpionlike monsters with the
heads of men... and the teeth of lions, wear-
ing crowns and helmets, will swarm across
the globe gnawing on unbelievers."
As for Beverly, while her husband
works with co-author Jenkins to come
up with the most creative ways to por-
tray the evisceration of heretics' flesh,
she focuses her attention on more ter-

restrial concerns, and she accomplishes
this through CWA, which she founded
in 1979. She also runs the Beverly
LaHaye Institute, the name of which,
I am told, took her months to come up
with. The best way to keep tabs on these
two groups is to regularly check CWA's
website at cwfa.org. If you peruse their
archives, you can find some interesting
stuff. As a "gift" to you, the reader, I
leave you with some highlights:
"Mina's Story: One Woman's Dar-
ing Escape from Islam" - The heart-
warming story of Mina, a Muslim
woman fortunate enough to learn about
Christianity and subsequently convert. I
would assume this grants her mercy from
those scorpion creatures.
"Tom and Huck on Civil Unions" -
A new addition to the sagas of Tom Saw-
yer and Huck Finn that compares gay civil
unions to the theft of a watermelon. You
think I'm making this up, but I'm not.
"Address by Sandy Rios on the Ten
Commandments" - A transcript of a
speech by Rios, president of CWA, in
which she implied that certain shooting
sprees, Columbine included, might not
have occurred had those involved been
familiar with the commandment "Thou
shalt not kill." Wow. Good point, Sandy.
Thank God we have a book that clari-
fies such thorny, complicated, otherwise-
insoluble moral dilemmas.
Singal can be reached at

For whose sins?

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For conser-
vatives it
is an open
wound on the state
of Michigan, fester-
0 ing with crime and
/ joblessness, a sinful
entity beyond atone-
ment. For liberals it
is an illegitimate
child run amok, needy and defiant, per-
petually in need of "saving." But for the
almost 900,000 people who live there,
Detroit is simply home.
I am told that the city was great once,
a glimmering product of the nation's
love affair with the automobile. Detroit's
grand avenues were filled with expen-
sive shops and wealthy shoppers, and its
downtown boomed with culture. There
was a time when people of all faiths and
ethnic origins came to the city, searching
for a job in one of the great car compa-
nies. For over half a century, Detroit was
the epitome of the cutting edge.
But that Detroit is gone, long ago
replaced with sprawling ghettos and
tremendous poverty. Today it is the
most dangerous city in the country and
the second most racially segregated. Its
public school system alone boasts a $198
million dollar deficit, and its mayor is
ranked as one of the worst in the nation
by Time Magazine.
In the past two decades, politicians
from Eight Mile to Lansing have cre-
ated careers out of declaring Detroit to
be in a state of renaissance, and the city
has become a graveyard of bad ideas and
shortsighted schemes.

We were told, for example, that the
Renaissance Center would bring jobs and
prestige to the city. Instead it became an
oasis for businessmen and women, who
can now enter and leave Detroit without
ever having to set foot in the actual city
at all. All the ideas were ineffective and
ill-conceived; some were just plain insult-
ing. The People Mover, for instance, was
supposed to improve public transporta-
tion. It has instead been called "the road
to nowhere." It was grossly under-funded
and badly executed.
Politicians are not the only ones who
have jumped on the "save Detroit" band-
wagon. A community service group for
University students, the Detroit Proj-
ect runs an array of initiatives, from
tutoring to home-building. Though the
Detroit Project seems good-natured, you
have to wonder who really benefits from
its generosity. Because while its abject
poverty and close proximity to Ann
Arbor may suggest otherwise, Detroit
is not a very large community service
project for the University. Detroit Day
is nothing more than an opportunity
for students to spend a few hours with a
hammer; when they return to the ivory
tower they can sleep soundly wearing
their badges of righteousness the other
364 days of the year.
We are all guilty of seeing Detroit as
a poblem instead of a city and it is prov-
ing far easier to address the ugliness we
see in Detroit than the ugliness in our own
hearts and minds.
Liberals see a cautionary tale in Detroit
- a shameful example of the catastrophe
that results when white businesses and

taxpayers wrongfully flee a city, leaving
darker residents to fend for themselves.
Conservatives see Detroit as the bane
of Michigan's existence, a city seething
with indecency, surging with drug use and
overflowing with an illiterate black popu-
lation who are toblame for their continued
misery. Both of these sentiments are use-
less: Detroit is neither a lost cause to sweep
under the rug nor a dumping ground for
the guilt of the more fortunate.
Detroit is a city and its needs are far
from ideological or abstract - its resi-
dents have real problems that require
tangible solutions.
It is not a renaissance Detroit needs
but an education system, one accountable
to its citizens that can help create a high-
tech job market independent of the dying
manufacturing economy. The city needs a
real public transportation system to bring
small businesses into the city that will
build strong communities; transportation
is key in combating the intense racial seg-
regation that plagues the city.
None of these things are easy to
accomplish but all are possible. If we
are serious about creating real change,
we must confront an uncomfortable
reality: It is we who are most in need
of saving, not Detroit. Grand schemes
like the Renaissance Center and the
Detroit Project fail because they are not
designed to improve the city of Detroit
at all. It is, in fact, our consciences they
are attempting to redeem.
Gay isa member of the Daily's edito-
rial board. She can be reached at

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