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The Michigan Daily

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420 Maynard St.

Ann Arbor, MI 48109


Edited and managed by students at

the University of Michigan since 1890.

Unsigned editorials reflect the official position of the Daily’s editorial board.

All other signed articles and illustrations represent solely the views of their authors.

The Michigan Daily — michigandaily.com
4 — Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Gun rights are not absolute


s I watched the nation’s
response to the latest wave
of gun violence, a lesson on

rights taught by

GSI during my
sophomore year
came to mind.
Rights are great,

said. The problem
is that everyone
has them.





cancel out the imperative nature of
the other’s right. Deciding what to do
based on what’s required to uphold
someone’s right is no longer adequate
when two rights necessitate mutually

remains over what should be done.

Rights are central to the gun

control debate. Many individuals
— as well as the Supreme Court —
interpret the Second Amendment to
mean that Americans have the right
to own and carry guns. But there is
another right at stake as well — the
right to life.

When the founders drafted the

Constitution, they originally omitted
a guarantee of specific personal
liberties out of fear that it would be
interpreted as an exclusive list. The
Bill of Rights was later added with the
clear message that the enumerated
rights were not the only ones worthy
of protection.

The right to life was not included

in the Bill of Rights, but it’s clear that
it underpins the Constitution itself.
The Declaration of Independence

inalienable right. And really, could
anyone enjoy their right to bear arms
if they weren’t already alive to do so?

The idea that everyone has the

right to live seems obvious; the
government’s broad responsibility
to protect the lives of its citizens is
uncontroversial. It tasks itself with
deterring murder, fighting terrorism
and subsidizing life-saving health
care. In many cases, Americans even
tolerate a tradeoff of their personal
liberties to enable the government to
protect them.

But gun control debates have

taken a different tune. Any proposed
infringement on individuals’ rights

to buy or carry weapons is viewed
by many as strictly unconstitutional.
Recently, the Senate even voted down
a bill to prevent those on the terrorist
watch list from buying guns.


potentially placing an undue burden
on a relatively small number of

rights to purchase weapons without
due process because those on the
list are suspected — not convicted —
teorrist threats. Despite the fact that
former President George W. Bush
advocated a similar policy in 2007,
votes generally fell along party lines
and the bill failed.

We have to change the way we

talk about gun control. Framing gun
control as a clear-cut personal liberties
issue inhibits our ability to adequately
respond to the specific issue of gun
violence, as well as to our broadly
construed counterterrorism efforts.

As groups like ISIS strengthen

their ability to aid naturalized
radicals in carrying out violent
attacks, it will be crucial that the
federal and state governments have
a broader set of policies at their
disposal to limit the damage these
groups can do. Strict adherence to
a pro-gun ideology that hamstrings
even basic initiatives to prevent
weapons from falling into terrorists’
hands is not a viable way to
safeguard Americans against this
evolving threat.

Many pro-gun advocates hold

that the solution to the gun problem
is to simply arm more benevolent

University President Jerry Falwell
Jr. even encouraged his students to
carry weapons to protect themselves
and others. In their view, there is
no tradeoff between respecting
individuals’ right to carry guns and
protecting their right to live safe
from gunfire. According to their
argument, the only thing standing in
the way of a safer society is the fact
that more people don’t go about their
days armed and ready to shoot an
active gunman.

This argument makes one pivotal

assumption: These armed good
guys are both capable and willing
to shoot another person should it
become necessary.

We don’t live in a country full of

James Bonds. Shooting is considered
a sport for a reason — it’s difficult and

most people can’t master it easily.
Even hitting a non-moving target at
a shooting range is difficult — I’ve
tried unsuccessfully on more than
one occasion. Accurately targeting
a moving gunman amidst all of the
chaos inherent in an active-shooter
situation may be a higher bar than
the average concealed carry licensee
could conceivably clear.

There is also little data to support

the idea that more guns lead to fewer
deaths by gun violence. The number of
concealed handgun permits increased
more than 15 percent in 2014 alone.
Yet, crime rates involving gun violence
haven’t fallen. In other countries,
lower per capita gun ownership is
actually correlated with lower rates of
violent crime involving guns.

I come from a family of hunters.

I strongly believe that guns have

American culture. For those who
know how to use and care for their
guns responsibly, the weapons also
have valuable functions both in sport
and personal protection.

The government has a clear

obligation to respect its citizens’
right to bear arms. But respect means
something very different than what
the government is currently doing —
uncritically upholding pro-gun policy
in all circumstances and at all costs.

Guns have a greater capacity to

inflict harm than almost anything
else the average American can legally
buy. If Americans want to maintain
their right to bear arms, they also
must respect the power of those
weapons. When so many criminals
— and increasingly, terrorists — use
guns to inflict harm on others, that
respect may entail modest limits on
who can buy the weapons.

In the wake of recent events,

continuing to allow the free sale and
carry of guns requires a new attitude
toward their regulation. Accepting
the unnecessary deaths of innocent

requirement of the continued right
to bear arms. But using overly
simplistic personal rights arguments
to posture against common-sense,

reforms inhibits the government’s
ability to protect its citizens with
little payoff for gun rights.

Victoria Noble can be reached

at vjnoble@umich.edu.



What’s in a name?


In recent weeks, controversy has brewed at

Princeton University surrounding its School of
Public and International Affairs being named in
honor of President Woodrow Wilson. Given the
recent outcry surrounding Wilson’s racist policies,
there has been significant debate as to whether
his name should remain attached to the school.
In this roundtable discussion, Daily Editorial
Board members Ben Keller, Payton Luokkala and
Melissa Scholke give their takes on the situation
at Princeton and discuss whether the University
should also examine the names on its buildings.


individuals by placing their names on buildings.
However, when information is brought forth that
damages the credibility of these people, should
we immediately rush to strip them of their honor
and rename such buildings? Or is it at all possible
to debate the lives of these men and women to
possibly come to some sort of compromise?

The recent revelation at Princeton University

regarding the presidency of Woodrow Wilson
has prompted national outcries for the Wilson
School of Public and International Affairs to
change its name. Wilson, also a former president
at Princeton, has come under scrutiny for
racist policies he enacted during his time in the
White House. However, he’s also remembered
for reforms that laid the groundwork for the
future policies of highly revered presidents, like
President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal.

Herein lies the conflict: Does Wilson’s

racism automatically disqualify him from name
recognition? Or does his stature as a president of
the United States and the forerunner of lauded
policies supersede his discriminatory practices?

Roosevelt is a prime example of this

conundrum. For decades, he has been extolled as
one of our nation’s greatest presidents. He led us
out of the Great Depression and through World
War II. However, many seem to forget that he
ordered the internment of innocent Japanese
Americans during the same war. Where’s the
outrage over this blatantly racist action by FDR?
Should we strip his name off of buildings or
remove his face from our currency?

I would assume most people would say that

sort of action would be unnecessary given
Roosevelt’s impact on this nation beyond his
mistakes. Nevertheless, the line between what
qualifies a figure in our nation’s history as good
or bad is too arbitrary. Therefore, the decision to
abolish a titular honor given to a man or woman of
the past must be left to the respective institution
that harbors that recognition.

This constant battle of what defines our

predecessors takes place on more campuses
than just Princeton. Take the University as
an example.

The C.C. Little Building is named for one of

our past University presidents, Clarence Cook
Little. His presidency in and of itself is virtually
inconsequential and didn’t include significant
alterations to campus. However, Little was an
avowed believer of the eugenics movement — an
early 20th century development that advocated
for the sterilization of humans whose offspring
were deemed “unfit for society.”

Now we come to the all-important question:

Does Little’s affiliation with the eugenics
movement (even serving as president of the
American Eugenics Society) outweigh his
stature as a past president of the University and
thus justify the removal of his name from the
C.C. Little Building? I believe that it certainly
could, but other options should also be brought
forth that can give Little the recognition he
deserves as a past University president while also
acknowledging his misguided beliefs. A portrait
in the Michigan Union could suffice along with a
web history of our past presidents if the name of
the building were to be changed.

There’s no certain criteria to decide when

someone deserves to have their name on a
building of higher education or whether to have
it removed. Clearly, these situations need to be
reviewed on a case-by-case basis in order to
ensure that the people who laid the foundation
for our lives aren’t unjustly recognized or
deprived of that recognition.

With so many conflicting facts and stances

being used in the same debate, it’s important
to remember an idea that is encompassed in a
statement made by David Wilkins, the chairman
of the Clemson University Board of Trustees,
when a building name at that university was
engulfed in controversy: “Every great institution
is built by imperfect craftsmen. Stone by stone
they add to the foundation so that over many,
many generations, we get a variety of stones
… Some of our historical stones are rough and

even unpleasant to look at. But they are ours
and denying them as part of our history does not
make them any less so.”

SCHOLKE: The recent student protests at

Princeton — and the subsequent public outcries
— have ignited a broader, overdue discussion
about both the accuracy of the histories we
are typically presented with in society and the
merits of the historical figures whose names
and legacies are memorialized in this fashion. I
think the conversation initiated at Princeton is
absolutely necessary and needs to be echoed at
numerous institutions of higher education across
the country, including the University.

It’s important for us, as a society, to

acknowledge that our system of recording and
retelling history is flawed and has overlooked
the viewpoints and experiences of numerous
groups. Adorning prestigious buildings with
the names of prominent figures without
a doubt memorializes these individuals
and their legacies for generations. Many of
these individuals — a list that includes U.S.
presidents, university presidents, prominent
policymakers and influential scientists —
certainly deserve to be praised for their
respective achievements and contributions to
society. However, society cannot ignore the
fact that the practice of placing these names on
notable buildings, more often than not, presents
and perpetuates a sanitized representation of
these individual’s legacies that continues to
exclude their more questionable actions and
the negative consequences of those actions.

Here at the University, negative aspects of the

pasts of figures such as President Gerald R. Ford,
C.C. Little, Sam Zell and Sanford Weill could be
similarly scrutinized. Perhaps the use of C.C.
Little’s name on a building serves as one example
of a legacy that we may need to reconsider.

LUOKKALA: Earlier, Keller questioned

at what point one should draw the line that
separates important figures from being
honored or scorned. This is the contention;
it is entirely subjective as to where such a
line is drawn, but subjective to what? The
individual, the society, the time? The answer
to this question is difficult precisely because
it isn’t permanent across time or to any
constellation of people. This is where I get
stuck. Keller continued that we are engaged
in a “constant” discussion of what defines our
past leaders.

It’s the use of the word constant that is

troubling. Because I think the problem here is
that the battle hasn’t been constant; the issue
hasn’t been properly attended to throughout
time. While some thought certainly went
into renaming a building after C.C. Little
many years ago, I find it difficult to believe
that the fact that the former University
president studied eugenics in his spare time
was discussed thoroughly as a factor. I think
this because I cannot imagine how our own
University thought we would be completely
satisfied with the honor they chose to bestow.

The problem, again, is that this discussion


acknowledged, this is in part due to the
inadequate way we keep history. One simple
story is kept and retold; history is often painted
in broad strokes of entirely “good” or entirely
“bad.” These hidden histories are a problem
not only because they exist, but also because
we’re just now finding out about them.

This recognition provides no easy solution.

We’re unable to change the lack of forethought in
those before us, nor can we uncover all of the lost
histories. Though it isn’t a solution to our past,
we must start getting rid of the black-and-white
manner in which we currently view important
figures, to prevent current revelations that show
us a history we hadn’t known existed.

Through all of this, I have managed to evade

coming to any conclusion: Keep the names or
don’t. While we can acknowledge that beliefs
and practices of individuals such as C.C. Little
and Woodrow Wilson are wrong, the debate
against changing the names includes valid
points as well. Like I previously mentioned,
people aren’t one-dimensional, which makes
it difficult to judge whether or not they
are “worthy” of the honor. It has also been
questioned whether changing the names would
hide history even further.

In conclusion, amid the controversies

erupting across the nation, I ask: Given that
we have a limited account of history and an
arbitrary ability to judge others, when, if ever,
is it right to take action? The answer is: Until we
can no longer ignore the problem.

Claire Bryan, Regan Detwiler, Ben Keller, Minsoo Kim, Payton
Luokkala, Aarica Marsh, Anna Polumbo-Levy, Jason Rowland,
Lauren Schandevel, Melissa Scholke, Rebecca Tarnopol, Ashley
Tjhung, Stephanie Trierweiler, Mary Kate Winn, Derek Wolfe


Our world is better than ever



Thanksgiving weekend, I
did what any other college


on Turkey Day
— I began hour-

with my elders.



no clear, linear

we covered ISIS

else?), American
national security,
and then moved in to lighter topics
like crime, poverty, religion and the
Syrian refugee crisis.

Of course, I know the golden rule

of family dinner conversation: Don’t
talk about politics or religion — but
neither I nor my family members
could help ourselves. It seems
that argumentation runs through
our blood; the only escape being
heated discourse (and for me, the
convenient platform of the Daily.
Thanks, editors). So the debating
continued, volume increased, vocal
chords were expanded and many
worked tirelessly to convince their
ideological opposite wrong.


continued the tradition of discussing
world affairs with those I definitely

with, I hoped something about
the conversation would change
— specifically, its tone. That is, I
hoped that even though we’d fiercely
debate depressing topics, ultimately
everyone would remain optimistic
about the future.

See, during most holidays, my

family members discuss problems
that plague people high and low in
our society. We discuss problems
for the obvious reason that problems
make life exciting — they provide
us with the prospect of finding a
solution, a path toward resolution.

political and economic problems
are challenging, but if we didn’t
have challenging problems, we’d
be miserably bored and lacking
purpose. Internally, we’d feel bereft
without raising potential answers.

Yet even when recognizing our

continuous problems, it’s important
that we maintain perspective on
the overall state of the world. So
when I hear my family members say
things like “god, I would not want
to be young today” and “the world
is going to shit,” I become more
irritated with how people perceive
the world. Unfortunately, I’m not
at all surprised. Sadly, I hear this
utterly unfair blanket statement
about the state of the world all too
often, not just by my own kin, but
also by many old and young people
I encounter.

This defeatist attitude makes me

uncomfortable because it dismisses an
incredibly important point about our
society today. That is, in innumerable
ways, the state of the world is better
than it has ever been in human history.
Throughout my contentious family
discourse, I’ve tried making this point
clear, but no matter how I frame it, my
words fall on deaf ears.

And while it is true that we have

arduous problems like racial and
wealth inequality, global warming,
many acts of gun violence and
suicide, we must reconcile that, by
the numbers, our world is getting
better. People, on average, have
a higher standard of living and

world. That is, crime, violence,
war, homicide, rape and sexual
assault, famine and abject poverty
have all declined in the past several
decades. What’s more, general
health (due to the eradication of
disease), life expectancy, literacy,
education levels, political freedoms
and opportunities for personal
autonomy have risen to a higher
degree than ever before. In many
ways, we’re moving closer to an
idyllic utopia. Unfortunately, few
believe it.

Many people, particularly in




violent crime as rising and are more
fearful of a large terrorist attack
and Syrian refugees. Regrettably,
as I’ve noted in my previous article,
this unwarranted line of thinking

practices and policy that influence
hate and discrimination, thereby
adversely affecting everyone.

In my opinion, the proliferation of

information, with particular regard
for our television sets and computer
screens, drive this fear. We hear, watch
and read more horrifying stories
throughout our day, and for longer
periods, than ever before. Due to this
constant bombardment, we perceive
that our world is crumbling even as we
walk outside and realize everything is
fine. That’s why many people believe
the world is “going to shit.”

But as noted above, today we’re

not dying nearly as often due to
transportation accidents or losing
infants due to a scarcity of health care
resources. People’s lives, on the whole,
are better.

The measures we have in place for

safety from the top down in our society
— our laws, objective judicial systems,

institutions, and private ownership of
shelter — has created a safer world for
U.S. citizens to be sure.

What all this means is that we

must step back from the information
we consume daily online and on our
TV screens and consider our world
more broadly. We must zoom out
and see the world through a lens that
isn’t painted with human tragedy
or specific acts of horror. This is
particularly important considering
the media’s incentive, knowing
humans are easily be driven by
fear and emotion. If we frame our
vision in a nuanced light, we can
understand with clearer heads how
the state of the world is.

Of course, interpreting the world

differently doesn’t mean we should be
cut off from it. Citizens everywhere
deserve to know what is going on.
However, in a world where it’s easier
than ever to access information
from everywhere around the world,
what we do with that information

So every time you watch the news,
consider who’s talking to you and
the general societies in which
humans are operating and how
that’s changed over time. Aside from
relatively small instances of human
tragedy (that we, of course, should do
everything to prevent) the answers
will more often be optimistic.

Sam Corey can be reached

at samcorey@umich.edu.



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