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November 27, 1995 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1995-11-27

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4A - The Michigan Daily - Monday, November 27, 1995

420 Maynard Street MICHAEL ROSENBERG
Ann Arbor, MI 48109 Editor in Chief
Edited and managed by JULIE BECKER
students at the JAMES M. NASH
University of Michigan Editorial Page Editors
Unless otherwise noted, unsigned editorials reflect the opinion of a majority of the Daily's editorial board. All
other articles, letters, and cartoons do not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Michigan Daily.
o trings attached
New leadership mstitute free of 1Y control

ULiE BECKER

ON THE RECORD

Politicalcorrectives perpetuate
the myth ofa secular Chnistmas

he recent merger of the Leadership 2017
series with the Michigan Leadership
Institute is a healthy step from University
dominance toward an impartial body in stu-
dent leadership training. A program that was
once fraught with questionable University
motives is now moving toward becoming a
program at least somewhat in students' best
interests - albeit not completely.
The Michigan Leadership Institute, re-
sponsible for the summer Leadershape pro-
gram, was founded in 1992. Its funds derive
from a variety of sources, including corpora-
tions, Michigan athletics, the College of En-
gineering and the Division of Student Af-
fairs. Although Student Affairs funds the
organization in part, MLI is not a service of
the division. Referring to the ownership of
the program, one member described it as a
"floating" organization in the University com-
munity, with no real base.
On the other hand, Leadership 2017, an-
other summer leadership-training program,
has come under fire from many sides as a
pawn of Vice President for Student Affairs
Maureen A. Hartford. Criticism has centered
on the fact that the University pays its hand-
picked "student leaders" to participate. This
has left some to wonder if the University is
more interested in creating loyal servants
than strong leaders. Transferring responsi-
bility for Leadership 2017 to a more impar-
tial body alleviates many troubling concerns
about the program, since group members are
searching for more non-University means to
help fund the Leadership 2017 program this
year.

The Michigan Leadership Institute is run
by a board of directors. As its funds are well
dispersed, so too is its leadership. Though
Hartford and Debra Moriarty of the Division
of Student Affairs sit on the board, there are
also representatives from the College of En-
gineering, Proctor and Gamble Inc. and the
Athletic Department as well as students and
University alumni. The board recently de-
cided to include another student, who will be
appointed by the Michigan Student Assem-
bly. The composition of the board dilutes
the influence of the Division of Student
Affairs, greatly curbing the threat of undue
influence.
To take part in the Leadershape confer-
ence, would-be participants must complete
an application open to all students. The Michi-
gan Leadership Institute also has invited stu-
dent leaders on its own -another move that
has sparked controversy. The institute's ex-
pressed goal in these selections was to reach
out to leaders of groups that directly impact
University students. While the intent is noble,
as long as Student Affairs plays a large part
in the operation of MLI, the University's
image of handpicking "leaders" persists.
Until this summer's Leadership 2017 is
completed, no one can be sure where most of
the program's funds will come from, or how
participants will be selected. This transfer of
power should be the first step toward unbi-
ased student leadership training. However,
students should watch the progression of this
organization carefully. It may well be that
Student Affairs is trying to shift responsibil-
ity, but retain power.

O ne year when I was in high school, my
friends got me a tabletop Christmas
tree as a surprise gift. They each found
individual ornaments, hung them on the tree
they had bought and presented me with the
whole thing on the last day of school before
vacation. I took it home, beaming, to show
my parents.
My mother tolerated it through the vaca-
tion. On New Year's Day, she banished it to
the basement. The next year, she refused to
let me bring it out again, precipitating a loud
argument between the two of us. She won; I
fumed.
But soon after that, on my own, I threw it
away.
I spent most of my childhood pretending
that being Jewish didn't get in the way of
celebrating Christmas. I would light the
Hanukkah candles, then go out caroling with
my friends. I wore red and green and adorned
my locker with decorations - nonsectar-
ian, of course. What was wrong with a few
bells?
The politically correct answer is noth-
ing, because in a politically correct world,
the time that began for us this weekend is not
the Christmas season. It is the "holiday sea-
son." Politically correct cards no longer say
"Merry Christmas," they say "Season's
Greetings." Holly, tinsel and red bows are
not Christmas decorations, they are "sea-
sonal ornaments." As long as it doesn't have
a manger on it, it's fine.
Right. Problem is, this is not a politically
correct world. And I wouldn't want it to be.

Neither, I'd venture, would those with Mary
and Joseph on their front lawns. They cel-
ebrate the Christmas season precisely be-
cause of Christmas - a holiday that has
everything to do with faith and nothing to do
with being "seasonal." If celebrated hon-
estly, Christmas is not secular. It is a very
Christian holiday.
And because it is a Christian holiday,
non-Christians cannot honestly celebrate it.
I came partway to this realization during my
first year in the dorm, as I watched the Santas
sprouting on my neighbors' doors. Wanting
to do something to show similar good cheer,
I made a "Happy Hanukkah" banner to hang
across my door. It was the perfect compro-
mise, I figured - I was still in the spirit of
the season, but I was celebrating my own
holiday.
Right. Problem is, my own holiday
doesn't involve pretty door banners. Many
of us have tried this - over the years, in
response to the frenetic displays of Christ-
mas decorations, Jews have developed our
own little parallel industry. We trade in
crepe paper dreidels and shiny plastic
menorahs, proclaiming to all the world that
we, too, have holiday spirit.
We do not need to do this. When we do,
we are buying into the myth - the one that
says you have to act like a Christian to be
accepted as a Jew. It's OK if we call our
holidays different things, it's OK if we go to
church on Saturday instead of Sunday, as
long as we believe the same basic things. It's
OK if our decorations are blue and silver

instead of red and green, as long as our
houses aren't bare.
Right. Problem is, we don't need to buy
into the myth. I grew up the only Jew in
school, and for a long time, I thought being
Jewish meant being Christian,just with slight
variations. It took coming here to make me
realize that being Jewish specifically means
being not Christian. It is not even a question
of faith, of whom I worship, or when or
where or how. It is a question of identity. I
am Jewish because I could not, and would
not, be anything else.
There are a lot of people who would blur
the distinction, arguing that the difference
does not have to make a difference. They are
the ones who hang the holly in stores, be-
cause it's in the "holiday spirit," and we all
celebrate a holiday. They are the ones who
address objections by pointing out my free-
dom to hang my paper dreidels.
I don't want to hang dreidels, and I don't
want to blur the distinction. For a long time,
I thought being Jewish meant you felt much
the same way Christians did, but just had a
lot less fun. For a long time, I tried to
celebrate Christmas in the "Jewish" way -
it wasn't quite as fun, but it was some-
thing.
I no longer celebrate Christmas, the Chris-
tian or the Jewish way. I celebrate Hanuk-
kah, and I celebrate it as Jew, and nothing
else. And it's really all I need, after all.
- Julie Becker can be reached over
e-mail atjhb@umich.edu.

JIM LASSER

SHARP AS TOAST

WRON G! HE DEBAN SLAU/-U4TEIRING
NATIVE AMERICANS IN IL 92
LETS SE,
IN i99
. -
____SCORE POORLY IN
.w~oy~wy~i' HSTORY... .

NOTABLE QUOTABLE
'Get some.'
- Motto depicted on the
Sheik condoms banner,
flown over Michigan
Stadium at Saturday 's
Ohio State game

Keeping the peace
U.S. must play part in enforcing Bosnia pact

Cynics who witnessed the large-scale
demonstrations this weekend in Sarajevo
may be tempted to draw a now-familiar con-
clusion: Another Bosnian peace accord is
splitting apart at the seams, with bloodshed
sure to follow. Many members of Congress
count themselves among the cynics, ready to
slam the brakes on President Clinton's ambi-
tious plan to enforce the Dayton peace agree-
ment reached last week. With U.S. lawmak-
ers set to begin deliberations this week on the
deployment of U.S. troops in Bosnia, now is
no time for congressional cold feet on com-
mitting the United States to a peaceful settle-
ment of the Balkan conflict.
The Dayton agreement was no payoff to
any combatant. It partitions Bosnia largely
along military lines, giving each side roughly
the amount of territory it won in more than
three years of fighting. After a determined
Croatian counteroffensive that helped even
the score militarily, conditions were ripe for
a lasting peace agreement. Many previous
accords failed because they tried to enforce a
division of territory inconsistent with each
side's military gains.
The peace plan also preserves a united
Sarajevo under control of the majority-Mus-
lim Bosnian government. Serbs had wanted
to carve up Sarajevo and its suburbs-which
would only have served to perpetuate Serbian
military conquests. Some of the 120,000 eth-
nic Serbs who now live in Sarajevo suburbs
have already taken to the streets in protest of
the Dayton accord, calling it a sellout. The
demonstrations are sure to increase pressure
on Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic,
who very reluctantly accepted the terms of
the peace agreement. Karadzic is under in-

dictment from the International War Crimes
Tribunal in The Hague and, under the Day-
ton accord, may not hold elective office. The
accord deferred to war criminals by not re-
quiring signatory governments to hand them
over for trial. The United States and NATO
should keep close watch on Karadzic and his
partisans: The Serb leader is no friend of
peace, and should be brought swiftly to jus-
tice if he continues to defy international law.
Unfortunately, many lawmakers would
rather have no place in Bosnia at all. Some in
Congress - fuming that President Clinton
committed U.S. troops to Bosnia without
their approval-would like to halt the peace-
keeping operation, even as 2,000 American
troops arrive in Bosnia this week. The dem-
onstrations in metropolitan Sarajevo may
add grist to isolationist mills, but they need
not obstruct America's long-standing goal in
Bosnia: implementing a solution to the ex-
traordinarily vicious ethnic war that has con-
sumed the republic. Many Bosnian demon-
strators no doubt would like to see a return to
the all's-fair-in-war mentality that has given
the Serbs cover for their crimes. Clinton and
Congress must stick by their guns, figura-
tively and literally, to enforce the Dayton
peace accord.
With prospects of peace brighter than
ever, Congress should not be deterred from
executing the Dayton pact by as-yet-peace-
ful demonstrations in Sarajevo. If skittish
lawmakers still need an excuse not to deploy
U.S. troops, perhaps they ought to consider
the consequences: a loss of prestige for
NATO, a weakening of the U.S. role abroad
and, most agonizingly, a continuation of the
ethnic carnage in once-peaceful Bosnia.

TWENTY-FIVE YEARS AGO IN THE DAIY
What are women trying to liberate?

Editor's note: This viewpoint ran
on Wednesday, Nov. 18, 1970.
By Ron Landsman
Women have it tough.
Given as much education as
men today, they are inhibited from
using it. Taught that they are sexu-
ally free, they still carry the bur-
den of error. Urged to be more
than bearers of children and life-
mates of men, they are punished
for trying.
All of which is very unfortu-
nate, to say the least.
But from these first problems
to start prattling about male con-
spiracies and how cruel we all are
is like blaming poor white pre-
Civil War Alabama sharecrop-
pers for slavery, or the sons of the
working class conscripted into the
Army for the Vietnam War.
Wrongs these all are, but who
is guilty, if anyone?
In a recent column, Managing
Editor Judy Sarasohn trotted out
the standard lines for what was
ostensibly a classic women's lib
attack on male chauvinism.
The column was basically a
utopian plea for men to be nice, a
complaint that life is difficult and
a grasping out for what to do
about it all.
The reader was first set up
with (or put off by) the usual
cliches - "support of sisters,"
"cleared my head," "my body,
womanhood, the true beauty of
love, "repressed and unnatural
women who have died or who are
living in estranged bodies" and
so on.
Stock phrases. Rhetoric. In-
competent sophistry.
Daily editors seem to take a
pleasure in writing for their fa-
vorite cliques, using the standard
phrases that indicate membership

code - as much as men do. And
if women passed those laws,
would they be any better?
At least Sarasohn should find
the right fault - that the laws in
question are essentially wrong no
matter who passed them or how,
and the simple fact that men were
the agents doesn't mean that men
conspired to oppress women.
Again: "A woman's own up-
bringing does not provide the
strength to withstand the pres-
sure to guide her family by the
corporation of men who dictate
what kind of entertaining must be
done in the name of 'your
husband's career,' how she must

time before she casts off the rep-
resentations that taught her to
want to be feminine and loved, or
there is in fact such a thing as
femininity and a distinctly femi-
nine set of emotions.
Sarasohn is kind to tell us it is
the latter. She wants woman to be
at once both feminine, in women's
terms, and capable, in man's
terms.
But if women do have these
special features, a special emo-
tionality, special feelings, what
were all the conspiring men do-
ing earlier to make women good
mates, mindless, obedient, etc.?
Isn't there at least a grain of rea-

tropolises of millions of inhabit-
ants.
Man has outsmarted himself.
Among the changes he must cope
with are the new relations be-
tween men and women. The idea
of putting women in the roles
they currently occupy did not
burst full-grown from the minds
of Sarasohn's corporation men. It
is a problem oflong gestation and
rich growth that will not be solved
by casting blame, especially in-
accurate blame.
Sarasohn ignored that particu-
lar part of the problem, preferring
the easier rhetoric of one segment
of women's lib. But the rhetoric

The simple fact that men were agents doesn't mean
that men conspired to oppress women.

dress and behave and how she
must bring up their children (the
right school and the right ambi-
tions)."
I suppose corporation men
have done all that. God knows
they've done damn near every-
thing else.
But what are the Organization
Men? Aren't men at least as pro-
grammed and controlled by out-
lawed social forces? Aren't the
sons of factory workers pro-
grammed to be factory workers
and clerks? The catalogue of who
gets repressed and socialized by
whom is longer than Sarasohn or
I would want to recount.
Agreed, women are socialized
to play inferior roles. But it is a bit
more complex than a cabal of
corporation men plotting furi-
ously away in their plush confer-
ence rooms in the offices of GM,
Unilever and Royal Dutch Shell.

son in the situation Sarasohn de-
scribes - don't the corporation
men then call upon some instinct
or desire in women that is innate?
Implicitly, Sarasohn's answer
is yes.
Therein lies the problem.
Women are different, physically,
emotionally, caught in a cruel bind
between a genetic history that
made them different from men
and spawned a social system that
encouraged these differences, and
a contemporary technology that
shows them they can be a man's
equal.
It is not only the paradox of
genetics and technology. The na-
ked carnivorous hunting ape was
not raised to fight with guns and
bombs. The genetically pro-
grammed inhibitors of intra-spe-
cies aggression don't work when
you can kill from 200 yards or
2,000 miles away. Civilized man

was just a cover for her real mes-
sage, taken from Matthew 5:3.
Men, Sarasohn says once or
twice, are men. They suffer from
a stereotype that won't just let
them be "people" or "persons.
"We must learn new defini-
tions so that women can truly be
women, and men can truly be
people," she concluded her opus.
Men are not people, she im-
plies, because they are taught to
hide their emotions and be tough.
While women today have the
options of being weepy females
or hard bitches, men have no
choice but to be cruel, tough, un-
feeling nonpersons - men.
Her column, thus, was not an
argument for the liberation of
women, but for the liberation of
the meek, a plea for the timid
against the strong and the fearful
against the brave.
Ifthe Sarasohn thus envisions

How TO CONTACT THEM
President Bill Clinton
The White House

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