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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat



    Mahmoud’s mendacious memorial

    While planning his trip to New York to give a controversial speech at Columbia University and an equally contentious address to the United Nations, Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad requested permission to visit Ground Zero and place a memorial wreath at the site of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. After massive public outcry over the request, it was denied by the New York Police Department for security reasons.

    It is nothing short of outrageous that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the leader of a foreign country with whom the United States is not at war, should have been denied the opportunity to pay his respects to the victims of Sept. 11.

    Forget the fact that Ahmadinejad is not a particularly nice man. Forget the fact that his wish to visit Ground Zero was probably not prompted by any special sympathy for the victims. That’s not the point.

    One need not condone Ahmadinejad as a leader to see that he was visiting the United States as a representative of the people of Iran, just as President Bush visits other countries as a representative of the American people. The denial was a reckless insult to every Iranian, and will be interpreted that way.

    At a time when relations between the United States and Iran are lower than they’ve been since the 1979 hostage crisis, at a time when the possibility of war has been raised by more than one political observer, this act was indefensible.

    -Justyn Dillingham is a senior majoring in history and political science

    Much fuss has been made over the right to the expression of ideas, even from the right’s avowed enemies. Should this imply that every madman and murderer has the right to a public platform? Where is the soap box for the dissidents in Iran who have been imprisoned and tortured by Ahmadinejad’s cronies? Clearly “”freedom of speech”” is not a free pass for those who follow their hateful ideas with state-mandated murder.

    There is also agitation that as a public speaker and national leader, Ahmadinejad requires “”respect”” from the host country. Yet respect is not merited by those directly responsible for the murder of innocent civilians.

    On top of this speech, Ahmadinejad wanted free passage through the city to visit the World Trade Center site, a right he forbids his dissidents who truly seek freedom. The only way Ahmadinejad should be allowed to the World Trade Center site is in handcuffs, escorted by military personnel who will take him to the human rights tribunal where he belongs.

    -Evan Lisull is a sophomore majoring in economics and political science.

    Justice in Jena

    Last week, thousands of protestors marched in Jena, La., demonstrating against what they see as biased treatment of a group of six black teenagers arrested, charged with beating a white student and recently immortalized as the “”Jena Six.”” The march was the latest development in a series of events that started with conflict over a “”whites-only”” tree at the local high school and ended with hanging nooses, racial threats and violence.

    In the wake of Katrina, Louisiana again illuminates Jim Crow’s subtle but lingering presence more than 50 years after his supposed funeral. The U.S. justice system is still rife with bias. In the Jena case, it is not difficult to see why an all-white jury foisted such hefty initial charge on the black assailants. The famous Baldus study of 1987’s McCleskey v. Kemp revealed that defendants charged with killing white victims are 4.3 times as likely to be sentenced to death as defendants charged with killing blacks. This was found to be a result of capital juries being comprised mostly of white males. If the racial characteristics were flipped, so that predominately black juries decided the fate of white defendants, the statistic would probably be the same. Many of us still harbor resentment of “”others”” and seek vengeance when one of “”them”” hurts one of “”us.”” Such predilections – from both sides – belong in the same grave as Jim Crow. The cohesion of our nation’s social fabric depends on it.

    -Eric Reichenbacher is a junior majoring in economics and international studies.

    First, the Duke lacrosse scandal, in which three white students were charged with (and later summarily acquitted of) raping a black stripper. Now the troubles in Jena, where racial conflict has galvanized the small Southern town and prompted huge civil-rights demonstrations after the arrest of six black students accused of beating a white schoolmate and initially charged with attempted murder.

    It seems clear that race relations are still – and may always be – a defining issue in American society. This may be true. But in Jena, things are more complex than making specious distinctions between black and white. The oversimplifications, accusations and rhetoric of so many of the recent protesters muddle both the pursuit of justice and the meaningful debate on race in the U.S.

    Both the Duke and Jena situations were brought on by overzealous prosecutors eager to trump up charges in controversial cases. Sure, the jury may have been complicit with the ridiculous ruling, but troubles in our justice system start with the power we entrust to its most powerful actors: prosecutors. Further, activists have jumped on the murder charges – which were later reduced – as evidence of institutional racism while ignoring the more important, deep-seated problem of informal discrimination that pervaded the town.

    -Connor Mendenhall is the opinions editor of the Arizona Daily Wildcat and a sophomore majoring in economics and international studies.

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