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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Mail Bag

    Racism dialogue difficult but necessary for UA community

    As our nation observed the life and many contributions of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. last January 15, a small group of people in our community – at least some of whom were UA students – hosted a “”black party”” and invited guests to dress like “”black”” people – “”gangsters,”” “”pimps,”” “”hos,”” and the like. Sadly, several such “”black parties”” occurred on a few other campuses across the country that weekend.

    Hosting a “”black party”” or inviting guests to dress as “”black”” people is not illegal; we all enjoy a freedom of speech that protects our rights to express ourselves, even when we do so in a way that offends others. The UA Code of Conduct does not address such activity. Does this, then, mean that the behavior is appropriate within our community? If we are an academic community that provides all our members a chance to learn, to grow, to achieve, what are the consequences of engaging in behavior that negatively stereotypes an entire race? Similarly, what are the consequences of accepting that behavior without question or comment?

    I believe that we have a need – and an important opportunity – to question and examine this conduct and its consequences. While not African-American, I am concerned about the members of our community who are and who live with the many forms of pervasive racism that lingers around us. I am also concerned about those of us who are not necessarily targeted in these activities, but who nonetheless are affected by the presence of marginalizing/oppressive behavior. Ultimately, I am concerned about the community we strive to build and the injustice it suffers when targeted by insensitive or mean-spirited activity.

    Engaging in a dialogue specifically about race and more generally about oppression and marginalization is difficult. Some believe that racism no longer exists. They may point to concrete historical events such as the abolition of slavery or the desegregation of our schools to prove their point. Others see evidence of racism every day in differences in expectations, in ignorance of important parts of our history, in the use of stereotypes that reduce an entire race of people to a few negative characteristics. This chasm of perception makes it imperative that we take this leap and talk about race and other issues of justice.

    I pose three questions and hope they will spark discussion and additional questions from students and others within our campus community.

    • What does it mean for a community to be inclusive of members of all backgrounds? What does it look like, what does it feel like?
  • What does it mean to engage in marginalization or oppression? Is oppression always large and overt, or can it be subtle and elusive?
  • How are targeted individuals affected by oppressive behavior? Similarly, how is the community as a whole affected?
    I am deeply concerned about this issue and hope that others are, too. I would welcome seeing some responses here in the letters section in the days ahead.
  • Melissa Vito Vice provost for student affairs and dean of students

    Evolution only theory that stands up to scrutiny

    Joyanna Jones (“”Don’t count creationists out””) incorrectly assumes that because someone has a Ph.D in science they must be right, that scientists object to creationism and intelligent design because they do not like them and that creationism and intelligent design should be taught in schools.

    Critical thinking is the primary tool of science, not education. The clergy of Galileo and Copernicus’ time were highly educated, but their ideas on the solar system were wrong. They relied on belief within a religious doctrine rather than critically examining the physical evidence before them. Similarly, the idea that the Grand Canyon was created in the past 4,500 years is physically impossible and contradicts the geological evidence.

    In science, not all ideas are equal. Whether scientists do or do not like creationism and intelligent design is irrelevant; these ideas do not adequately explain the physical world. On the other hand, evolution and the 4.5-billion-year age of Earth have been tested and evaluated by many scientists for over 200 years and do a much better job at explaining the available evidence and facts than any other idea advanced so far.

    Democracy may be a flawed form of government, but it works much better at assuring people’s liberty and freedom than any other system attempted so far. For that reason we teach K-12 students only about democracy in government classes, despite communism, despotism and monarchism all being alternative forms of government.

    Likewise, whatever the imperfections, errors or unknowns that exist within the theory of evolution, it presently fits the observations and evidence of the physical world far better than any other idea, and that is why only evolution should be taught in school.

    Evolution is more than “”just a theory””; it is a model for the development of life on Earth that actually works.

    Jerome Guynn post-doctoral student Geosciences department

    Civilian deaths should be memorialized, too

    In regard to the recent “”memorials”” that have bedecked our campus with flags and boots, I must say I am distressed by the implicit messages these displays are advocating. Despite what the organizers argue, there is obviously a political bias at play here.

    Why are we only discussing the deaths of American soldiers in Iraq and not in Afghanistan? Have Americans accepted that the Afghani war is acceptable while the Iraq War is to be condemned? If people advocate anti-war ideals, then apply these ideals globally – you cannot pick and choose as it best suits your political agenda.

    Furthermore, why must we honor only the fallen soldiers? Why can’t we honor them by letting people know who else had to be killed before America finally addressed the war on terrorism as a very real threat?

    Where are the flags honoring the Sept. 11, 2001, victims and the 115 countries who lost citizens in that attack; the Ethiopians and Kenyans killed in bombings on the American embassy; the sailors killed on the U.S.S. Cole; the Moroccan citizens killed; the Spaniards, British and Indians killed on train or subway bombings; the Australians killed in a bombing of a popular nightclub in Indonesia; the Israelis killed in attacks beginning before Israel even achieved statehood; the Turks killed in terrorism-related bombings; the Kurdish people killed by terrorists and, certainly, the Afghanis and Iraqis killed by their own people?

    The disheartening thing is that this list could go on. U.S. coalition forces have killed or arrested an estimated 20,000-30,000 (at the lowest) to 45,000-50,000 (at the highest) insurgents in just the last seven months, many of whom killed their own people as well as targeted our soldiers.

    Is that not enough success? How many potential, aspiring bin Ladens were among that number? How many more innocent lives did we save with each terrorist removed? Perhaps if we were to remember all the truly innocent people who had to die before we finally reacted, then our soldiers’ sacrifices would be better honored. After all, almost as many Americans died on one day, Sept. 11, than those who have sacrificed their lives during almost four years of war.

    It is a shame to not only our soldiers but also all the civilians who have perished as a result of terrorism that our soldiers’ sacrifices are masked by political agendas. I will enter the services after graduation. Should I fall in combat, I hope my name is never read until all the deceased innocent civilians’ names are made known first.

    Matt Winter classics senior

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