Archive for February, 2003

Softball: Building off their success

Tuesday, February 25th, 2003 | Renee Hires

“I have been looking forward to the start of our regular season since fall ball began,” softball captain Kristin Harrer said.

After practicing as early as 7:00 a.m. on both weekdays and weekends since mid-October, Harrer and her 20 teammates are justified in their excitement. The Bears are set to open their season in Florida over spring break, playing 14 games in 10 days. The team will compete in the Rebel Springs Games in Orlando starting Mar. 2, and then head to Alamonte Springs for the UAA Conference Tournament from Mar. 7-11.

The team also has high hopes as result of a breakthrough finish to the 2002 season.

“Last year was special for Bear softball,” Harrer said. “Not only was it our best season yet with an NCAA Regional berth, but our team chemistry was absolutely amazing.”

Last season, head coach Cindy Zelinsky led her 13 athletes to a 24-19 record against a difficult schedule and into their first NCAA Tournament appearance in the team’s three-year existence.

This year, the squad expects even greater success.

“The goals that will most readily deem this season as ‘successful’ are, as always, winning the UAA’s,” Harrer said, “doing well throughout the season in regional competition, making it to the NCAA regional tournament for the second time, and hopefully bringing home recognition for challenging quite a few teams during the College World Series in May.”

“When I came in as a freshman, we won the UAA tournament,” senior Elissa Beckman said. “Now, as a senior, I hope to go out with a second UAA championship, and I know that we have got what it takes to do that.”

With ten freshmen and one transfer, new depth and talent this season should help the Bears achieve their goals.

“With the 21 players that we have this year, I can say that we now have both the quality and the quantity,” Beckman said. “We honestly are 21 strong, and have so many player combinations to work with depending on what is needed in that particular game situation.”

“In the past,” said Harrer, “we have never had the number of offensive and defensive options that we will enjoy this year. Every practice has been different people switching in and out of positions and changing things up.

“It has brought out skills in my teammates that I have never gotten to see before, and neither has our competition.”

In addition to Harrer, sophomores Victoria Ramsey and Liz Swary will likely be forces to reckon with again.

As a junior last season, Harrer, an infielder, earned first team all-UAA and first team all-Midwest Regional awards.

Ramsey, then a starting pitcher, also received All-UAA and all-Midwest Regional recognition. She posted a 1.20 ERA in 2002, with a 14-7 win-loss record.

Swary hit in 29 consecutive games for the fifth longest hitting streak in the NCAA Division III history. Six home runs and 35 RBI’s contributed to her .386 batting average.

“Swary’s bat is still unbelievable,” Harrer said. “Also, freshman Monica Hanono is really fun to watch… she is one of the smoothest defenders I have ever played with, and she’s also a huge threat at the plate.

“Maggie Cousins, a transfer from Miami University (Ohio), is a major leader in the outfield, and senior pitcher Liz Smith and sophomore catcher Jackie Burgdorf have been on fire during pre-season.”

However, Harrer explained that the whole team understands that “in order to be a championship team, everyone returning has a key leadership role – on and off the field.”

Last season, the team did not win the conference title, and even if it had, the UAA Conference winner doesn’t receive an automatic bid to the national tournament. Thus, the Bears could only hope that a committee of coaches would vote them into the tournament-which they eventually did.

“We all knew that we could compete with and beat anyone who qualified, and that we deserved to be there,” said Harrer. ” This year there will be no questions. We will be going to the tournament, and there will be no, ‘if only we had beaten…'”

WU will host two tournaments of its own this season, the Marriott West Invitational on Mar. 22-23 and the WU Midwest Region Invitational on Mar. 28. The Bears will also face Webster University in a doubleheader for their last regular-season games at home May 3.

The Gold Standard

Tuesday, February 25th, 2003 | Matt Goldberg

Losing sucks.

There is a certain aura to perfection, an unbeaten record. Teams cherish it. Teams try to avoid talking about “the streak”-or even thinking about it. Players like to live by the mantra, “Take it one game at a time.”

When a team is on a long winning streak, fans start assuming that they will never lose.

“They are too good to lose!” the over-zealous fan will say.

Winning becomes an afterthought to these teams, and instead, the margin of victory is analyzed.

After a while, when the winning streak reaches 10, 15 or even 20 games, a sense of accomplishment starts to set in. A healthy cockiness emerges, making a loss that much harder to stomach when it finally does happen.

“How could we lose? We were 10-0!”

When perfection is erased, when the buzzer sounds and a team loses for the first time in a season, hopes and dreams will be humbled. Expectations are lowered unconsciously. Doubt grows.

“Are we as good as we thought we were?”

Vulnerability can set in. Players begin to question their skills.

“Do I still have the touch from three point range?”

Coaches begin to second-guess their strategies.

“Does the triangle offense suit this team?”

Reporters begin to ask questions.

“Coach, why didn’t you play for the tie?”

We place teams and individuals who, through luck, skill, or a combination of both, avoid losing, on a pedestal. And we should. Teams that escape the gauntlet of an entire season unscathed deserve our admiration. Indeed, perfect seasons are mythical, magical, few and far between.

In college athletics, perfection has special meaning. We remember Wooden and Knight, Paterno and Bowden, Summit and Auriemma. At this level, perfection is attainable, but rare. Yet, somehow, for so many teams, perfection is well within their reach. It is often just a couple of wins away.

WU coach Nancy Fahey knows a little something about perfection herself. She guided the Bears to an 81 game winning streak, good for second best all-time and surpassed only by John Wooden’s 88 game winning streak at UCLA.

Over the weekend, WU basketball lost its hold on perfection in one fell swoop as two hungry Rochester teams erased the unblemished records of both the men and the women.

One afternoon, one bad bounce, one unexpected courageous performance.

Two teams, two losses, two perfect seasons gone up in smoke.

One loss is okay in the grand scheme of things, as long as it is not in the playoffs, when every move counts. Just ask the WU volleyball team about that.

They were 41-1 going into the national championship match, and they lost. Every player on the team would no doubt have traded in their near-perfect season in a heartbeat to become the best Division III team in the country.

So there will be no new additions to the short list of teams that have gone through an NCAA season undefeated.

Still, these losses are no cause for alarm. While perfection is gone, championship hopes remain. There is no shame in losing at Rochester. UAA away games are always difficult-hostile fans, jazzed players, teams looking to bump WU off its perch atop the conference.

Perfection has slipped by, but there is still time to become champions. A week remains in the regular season; then on to the tournament. Adjustments can be made. Plays can be changed. Team defense can be tightened. WU can still make history.

The Bears still have a chance to become immortalized. They still have a chance to make ESPN’s top plays and USA Today’s sports page. All they need to do is achieve perfection of a different kind.

If the WU men’s and women’s teams both capture the championship, they will become only the second program in NCAA history (Connecticut did it in 1998) to win both the men’s and women’s titles in the same year.

They have lost perfection, but they can still carve out a legacy.

Track and Field: Women win at DePauw

Tuesday, February 25th, 2003 | Nick Bhatnagar

On Saturday, the Bears competed at the DePauw Invitational in Greencastle, IN. The women took first place and the men took second place in what turned out to be a competition more with themselves and less with other schools.

The one athlete who has consistently been winning is junior All-American Kammie Holt. In the long jump, Holt set a new Bears indoor record with a long jump of 5.75m (18’10.5″). Her jump automatically qualified her for the NCAA Division III Indoor Track and Field Championships.

In addition, her jump eclipsed the meet record by 63 cm and extended her undefeated streak in the horizontal jumps in 2003. This impressive performance was on par with her triple jump performance at the Pepsi Classic last week where she jumped an astounding 11.95m (39’2.5″), 30 cm greater than the meet record of 11.65m and 15 cm greater than the automatic NCAA qualifying jump of 11.80m.

However, Kammie Holt’s individual performances, although impressive, may have been overshadowed by the performances of her teammates. In fact, the performances of her teammates were a contributing factor to her own success.

“My body felt great and ready to go today,” Holt said. “I didn’t have to worry about any injuries I’ve had to worry about in the past, so I think that helped a lot. And I also think that the performances of the other jumpers helped a great deal as well-I mean, there were [personal records] all over the place, so they kind of got the ball rolling.”

Those jumpers were junior Lindsey Clark-Ryan, senior Adrianna Leigh, freshman Leah Sabin, and freshman Julie McDermitt. In the long jump, Clark-Ryan took third with a personal-best leap of 5.30m (17’04.75″), followed by Leigh who took fifth with a personal-best jump of 5.13m (16’10”). Sabin and McDermitt took sixth and seventh in the long jump with jumps of 5.01 m (16’05.25″) and 4.97 m (16’03.75″) respectively.

In the triple jump, Clark-Ryan won with a personal best leap of 11.32m (37’01.75″) followed by Sabin who had a personal best jump of 11.01 m (36′.01.5″). With this jump, Clark-Ryan improved her NCAA provisional qualifying mark by .06m, and she broke the previous record meet by .69m.

Leigh, who jumped for the first time this season following a stress fracture, epitomized the emotions of all the female jumpers when she said, “It was cool that we had six jumpers out there, and we were all feeding off of each other.”

In addition to the excellent performances by the women jumpers, the men’s throwers also had a very impressive day. In fact, they broke six personal records between the four of them. In the shot put, sophomore Eric Frye took sixth with a personal-best throw of 13.28m (43’06.75″), and sophomores Mike George and Kyle Wagner set personal records of 12.98m (42’07”) and 12.76m (41’10.25″) respectively. Finally, Senior Alex Konkel set a personal record in the shot put with a throw of 12.42m (40’09”). In the 35-lb weight throw both Konkel and Wagner had personal record tosses of 13.50m (44’03.5″) and 11.32m (38’01.75″).

“It was a rush to watch these guys throw personal records over and over and over,” Bears head coach Steve Rubin said. “They developed this moment within their group, and it got to the point where every time one of them stepped into the circle, you knew you were about to see another great performance.”

Bears open season in a winter wonderland

Tuesday, February 25th, 2003 | Nick Sreshta
courtesy of

It is now late February. Spring training is starting up, and basketball season is winding down. You can’t help but anticipate the upcoming baseball season.

Then you look outside and see the ground covered in white stuff.

Today was supposed to be Opening Day for the Washington University baseball team. The Bears were set to play a seven-game homestand against foes such as Webster University and Maryville College. Sunday’s snow-storm, however, has most likely eliminated any chance of the games being played. The Bears will now likely open their season Mar. 7 at the UAA tournament in Sanford, Fl.

“In this area, weather really dictates a lot how your season’s going to go,” said head coach Ric Lessmann, who’s beginning his tenth season at WU. “You have a good team, and all of a sudden, you just can’t play. Every other day it could be raining, you could be playing in mud… things kind of have to go well in the college ranks.”

Regardless of this predicament, the Bears appear poised to follow up their school-record 30-10 2002 season with another solid campaign.

Last year’s team featured several prominent seniors, such as 1B Graham McBride, CF Reggie Crume and C Greg Kriegler, who accounted for most of the Bears’ offensive production. However, Lessmann appears to have found replacements for those vital positions on this year’s squad.

“I’ve got a freshman, Jeff Ching, who will take Crume’s place in centerfield, and Ryan Argo, who’s been hurt off-and-on, will be at first-base to replace McBride and should do well,” Lessmann said.

Additionally, Steve Schmidt, a junior-college transfer student, will come in to play shortstop, filling the vacancy left by Mark Glover, the Bears’ RBI-leader last year.

As most experts agree, however, good pitching always beats good hitting. Garnering pitching depth was one of the main focuses this off-season.

“Baseball is so dependent on the pitching,” Lessmann said. “I do have some depth in the pitching, but seasons are always based on how far they can take you. Just look at the Cardinals situation… it looks pretty good on paper, but they all have bad arms, and so you never know who’s going to go down.

“If the pitching stays sound, we should be alright.”

WU should have a fairly experienced pitching rotation, with seniors Adam Cowley, Damien Janet, and Trevor Young-Hyman returning as starters, and Matt Knepper serving as the premier relief pitcher. Schmidt and sophomore left-hander Alex Curcuru will also be starters, along with freshman right-hander Lou Hutt.

“Hutt’s got pretty good stuff,” Lessmann said. “He looks like he will do very well… overall, it will be the first time, going into a tournament, where we won’t have to have one guy start multiple games, which is kind of tough. We’ll have a different starter for each game while we’re down there.”

While the team is looking forward to playing anywhere, let alone Florida, Lessmann’s intentions were to use these first seven games as a tune-up to what should be a hotly-contested tournament.

“I think you could have prognosticated much better, and just play the darn thing at the end of the year,” said Lessmann of the early dates of the tournament. “You go out there after such a long layoff, and it’s like you practically have to find third base again.”

WU’s lineup, which stifled opponents last year thanks to Crume’s lead-off ability, doesn’t look as though it will miss a beat with Ching stepping in.

“I have a lot of high hopes for the top of the lineup with Ching and [Michael] LoBosco,” Lessmann said. “They’re both good switch-hitters, and I just hope they drive the opposing teams nuts with the way they get on base.”

Indeed, if all goes to form, this year’s team will emulate Lessmann’s overall baseball philosophy.

“My philosophy always has been pitching first, and put that good defense on the field behind that pitching, and just go out there and figure out a way to score,” he said. “That’s the way I’ve always felt, and that’s the way it always should be.”

The only thing that seems to be missing from his equation now is how to melt 1,000 lbs. worth of snow off the infield tarp.

Upset Sunday: Women lose first game of season 82-73

Tuesday, February 25th, 2003 | Lesley McCullough
Jim Puls/The Tartan

It was a weekend of mixed emotions for the Bears. Head coach Nancy Fahey notched her 400th career victory as senior guard Laura Crowley continued her stellar performance, scoring a career-high 32 points in the Bears 62-36 win over CMU on Friday evening. The jubilation was short lived, however, as the Bears’ undefeated season, 54-game regular season winning streak, 32-game UAA winning streak and decade-long dominance of Rochester all came to a screeching halt Sunday afternoon with an 82-73 loss to the Yellowjackets.

While Sunday’s visit to Rochester did not end quite as the Bears would have liked, at first glance, the game statistics indicate WU probably should have walked away with the victory. WU shot 46 percent from the field compared to UR’s 37 percent. WU connected on 42 percent from three-point range compared to UR’s 25 percent, and WU even improved its usually dismal season average free-throw percentage by hitting 92 percent from the line.

In addition, WU dominated in points scored in the paint (38-22), bench contribution (16-6) and second chance points (18-2). However, the one crucial statistic that could help explain the Bears’ uncharacteristic loss is points off of turnovers-Rochester scored 19 points off 24 WU turnovers. The Bears’ defense, on the other hand, was only able to force the Yellowjackets into committing seven turnovers, producing only two WU points.

The victory marked the Yellowjackets’ first 20-win season since 1986-87 and snapped a 22-game losing streak to the Bears, which dated back to the 1991-92 season.

Despite holding onto a 41-35 lead at halftime, and establishing a ten-point, 47-37 lead early in the second half, WU was unable to contain Rochester’s three leading scorers in the final minutes of the game.

Sophomore Kelly Wescott contributed 23 points for the Yellowjackets, while junior Tara Carrozza and sophomore Megan Fish each added 16. All three set career scoring records for themselves and accounted for Rochester’s final 12 points of the game.

Lesley Hawley led the Bears with 18 points, while Crowley was not far behind with 17. Crowley delivered an impressive performance from behind the arc, connecting on five-of-eight three-point shots, bringing her season total to 75 and breaking her own single-season record of 72 from a year ago. In addition, with 147 career three-pointers and counting, Crowley broke the WU career record of 143 set by Stacy Leeds from 1990-94.

Fahey’s 400th career victory in Pittsburgh on Friday was arguably due to another outstanding performance from Crowley, who connected on an unprecedented 10 three-pointers (in 14 attempts), setting both WU and UAA records. Not only was she the only Bear to score in double digits, her 32 points accounted for more than half of WU’s total points for the entire game.

Both teams started out a slowly on offense. WU trailed 7-9 early in the game, but held onto a five point lead, 21-16, at the half. After connecting on only two three-pointers in the first half, Crowley caught fire down the stretch, hitting eight more, and the Bears never looked back. She single-handedly outscored the entire CMU team in the second half 26-20.

Senior forward Jen Rudis and Hawley contributed six points each. On defense, the Bears’ team effort was evident as they were able to hold the Tartans to under thirty percent shooting from the field and forced 14 turnovers.

The Bears hope to bounce back this Saturday, Mar. 1, in the final game of the regular season, when they will take on the University of Chicago Maroons at the Field House at 6 p.m.

Upset Sunday: Men fall 83-82 in OT

Tuesday, February 25th, 2003 | Pankaj Chhabra

The top-ranked Washington University men’s basketball team had its school-best 23-game winning streak fall by the wayside Sunday in Rochester when the Yellowjackets handed the Bears their first loss of the season, an 83-82 heartbreaker in overtime.

The setback was the Bears’ (23-1, 12-1 UAA) first loss in 44 regular season games and 26 UAA conference games.

Just before the buzzer at the end of regulation, senior forward Chris Jeffries converted a slam dunk to tie the score at 75-75. However, the Yellowjackets (21-3, 11-2 UAA) outscored the Bears 8-7 in the extra frame, as senior guard Matt Tabash’s last-second trey was blocked by Rochester guard Jeff Joss as time expired.

Lost amidst all the hoopla surrounding the squad’s excellent performance this season were the Bears’ rebounding woes. For the first time, WU’s most alarming weakness resulted in defeat, as Rochester racked up a glaring 22-13 offensive rebounding advantage and earned a myriad of scoring opportunities.

“Rebounding has been our main weakness all season,” head coach Mark Edwards said. “We try to tap the ball outside and get some hustle rebounds, but there is no substitute for getting good position and boxing out, which we weren’t able to do for the most part.”

Yellowjackets center Seth Hauben continued his domination of the Bears’ interior defense, scoring 25 points and pulling down a career-high 20 rebounds, ten on the offensive glass. Earlier this season, in WU’s 74-71 overtime victory over Rochester, Hauben dropped in 30 points and grabbed 19 boards.

“Seth Hauben isn’t the biggest player on the floor, but he plays like it,” Edwards said of the 6 foot 6 pivot man. “He gave his team a lot of energy and a lot of extra chances, and it can be very frustrating to have to play defense again after you denied them the first time around.”

Even more frustrating was the fact that the Bears’ vaunted outside shooters never got into a rhythm. WU shot 46 percent for the game, but just 23 percent from three-point territory.

“Rochester played good defense on us all game, and they pretty much took away our outside game,” Edwards said. “Most of the time we’ll make more of those shots, but we were able to hang in there because we were shooting so well in the paint and from medium-range.”

Jeffries once again led WU in scoring with 26 points, and he added nine rebounds, but point guard Tabash, the Bears’ acknowledged offensive catalyst, was held to 14 points on 5-of-14 shooting. He made only three of his 12 three-point shots.

“We don’t have the foot speed to handle him one-on-one,” Yellowjackets head coach Mike Neer said in an interview with WYSL radio. “We thought if we went zone we could cut down the number of touches he had.”

The weekend did have its upside, however, as WU clinched a share of the UAA title with a 98-63 rout of Carnegie Mellon University (11-13, 5-8 UAA) on Friday. The Bears started the contest on a 12-3 run and never looked back, leading by as many as 41 points in the second half. Jeffries led all scorers with 22 points, and senior guard Joel Parrott added 19 points.

Not only did the Bears shoot a stellar 51 percent from the field, but WU put the defensive clamps on Carnegie Mellon, forcing 18 turnovers and allowing the Tartans just 36 percent shooting on the day.

Although their reign atop the rankings may be over (Randolph-Macon College will likely top WU), the Bears have shown off their depth and versatility throughout the season. Performances like the one against Carnegie Mellon illustrate how balanced the Bears are when they are on top of their game.

“We realize our position as a team,” Edwards said. “When we play our game, we’re tough to beat because we pose multiple threats on offense and play tight defense. That hasn’t changed, and our confidence hasn’t changed.”

WU will attempt to hold off the University of Chicago (15-9, 11-2 UAA) in the regular season finale on Saturday at the Field House. A win would give the Bears an outright UAA championship. Chicago is fighting for a share of the title, which they would attain with a victory.

“The championship is important to us, and we don’t want to have to share it,” Edwards said. “We’d certainly like to end the season with a win, and hopefully the home crowd can make some noise and support the players.”

Editor must be accountable

Tuesday, February 25th, 2003 | Brittany Packnett

At certain moments, you just can’t afford to mince words. So, if no one else is willing, I’ll say it: Alex Fak’s attack on organized religion and the rituals that accompany it was a purely cynical, uninformed, and under-researched piece of journalism. The column entitled “Touching God and no one else” concerned me not because of Fak’s opinions, but because he obviously had not duly considered his audience. We are an intelligent, observant group of people, and Fak challenged that intelligence by serving us a poorly constructed and factually inaccurate piece. We rightfully hold ourselves and each other to high standards, and as readers and supporters of Student Life, we are entitled to better work from our opinion editors.

This is not the first time such misinformation has appeared in an opinion column. Alex Fak’s columns on the inner workings of the Association of Black Students and the club’s supposed stance on interracial dating were equally unapprised. Any writer who decides they are qualified to hold any staff position and assume an official title should be held accountable for what they print.

Fak’s column focuses on what he deems as counterfeit religious justifications for many practices. The first, and most central to the piece, is that of pre-marital abstinence. Fak asserts that Catholicism’s original reasoning behind teaching pre-marital abstinence is that it, in association with the prohibition on divorce, was “designed to make women more equal to men.” This may be historical fact, but the original reason for the adoption of this doctrine is purely scriptural, as you will see if you consult both 1 Corinthians 7:4 and 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5, and not reasoning of gender equity under the law. Fak also comments, “…not having sex may be the price worth paying for…salvation down the road.” To claim that sexual purity alone will get you through the pearly gates and anything less will subject you to fire and brimstone is simply false. It is clear, at least in the principles of Christianity Fak assaults, that salvation is not dependent upon one’s sexual history, but upon the total acceptance of Christ and His message.

As well, Fak calls God a hypocrite, citing the forbiddance of all “idols…except his son Christ.” I do not disagree with the assertion that some treat Christ as an idol-like figure, just as some treat the Pope and our pastors and evangelists as idols, but do not be mistaken: Christ was not created as an idol. “The high priest asked him, ‘Are you Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?’ ‘I am,’ said Jesus.” (Mark 14:61-62). To call God a hypocrite because some believers make the mistake of treating Christ like an idol deflects from the truth, as Christ is the Son of God. If you claim you are writing to fully explore the justification for religious practices, give a glance to the sacred books of these religions before making unfounded statements.

Fak mocks other religious rituals also in use today. “Some of the rituals of which He apparently approves involve going hungry until nightfall. Others are just bizarre,” Fak continues, “such as the Tourette Syndrome-like swaying and echolalia by which sects of some religions have to pray.” I am insulted that you would belittle entire religious institutions and their members simply because you are not familiar or understanding of their practices. To swing so low as to call the cultural and religious rituals of entire peoples “bizarre” and “Tourette Syndrome-like” is not responsible journalism. And nothing less than responsible journalism should be accepted from a senior editor of Washington University’s paper.

No one is questioning your right to your opinion, Mr. Fak. Being curious and sometimes cynical is healthy. However, when this cynicism causes you, a Student Life opinion editor, to act so cruelly as to sling insults because you don’t care to understand culture or religions that are not your own, it is irresponsible. When this curiosity ceases to be reason for you to perform comprehensive research before you publish, you have undermined the title that appears next to your name. This all may seem too harsh for some, but if we do not hold our editors accountable for their published words, who will? As the general body, as loyal readers of Student Life, and as steadfast supporters of student journalism and opinion, it is our right and our responsibility.

Don’t condemn peace activists

Tuesday, February 25th, 2003 | Justin W. Adams, Staff Columnist

Since I have several points to make, I will skip most of the pleasantries of a standard introduction and dive right in.

First, in reaction to recent peace protests, the current administration has expressed that although Americans have the right to protest (in fact, isn’t that one of the freedoms we are fighting for?), those who prefer peace to war are providing de facto support for a tyrannical dictator. While I cannot speak for every single person who opposes war, I have yet to hear a single person declare that Saddam Hussein is a “nice guy.” He is a despot in every sense of the word. He has, over the course of several decades now, sanctioned horrible acts of brutality and desecration onto his own people, as well as people in other countries. I won’t dispute that and I doubt that many peace protesters would either. What is lost in the mischaracterization of those who desire peace is that war in Iraq will (if we have any ability to predict Saddam’s strategies) cause immense civilian casualties in urban combat and probably push Saddam into using his weapons (conventional or otherwise) on not only American soldiers, but on his nearest neighbors (read: Israel). Is it accurate to argue that war will ease the suffering of the Iraqi people, especially if they are used as human shields? Will fighting them in the streets make the United States any more popular in the Middle East?

Second, what is so wrong with allowing United Nations inspectors enough time to do their job? The Bush administration constantly uses the fact that Iraq is the size of California to point out that Saddam could be hiding weapons anywhere. Yet, this same administration (which fought to get U.N. inspectors into Iraq in the first place) only allows 80 inspectors at a time (fewer than after the Gulf War) and has only given them a few months to deliver a “final report.” Have they found some evidence of Iraqi deception? Perhaps. But there has been no “smoking gun” as there was during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Aren’t the lives of Iraqi citizens and American soldiers worth waiting to find that smoking gun? People are getting upset about our allies abandoning us in the U.N., but all they are asking for is hard evidence of an active global threat before starting what they know will be a long process of nation-destruction and nation-rebuilding. A decade has passed since the Gulf War. Prior to the war, we weren’t concerned about Saddam’s actions so long as he was helping us fight the Iranians. The root question then is why war with Iraq is absolutely necessary right now. Isn’t it better to take our time, gather the evidence, present the strongest case possible to the U.N. and then receive its blessing? How can we justify the rapid momentum to war with a nation that has done nothing but follow policies it has maintained for a decade, when North Korea is practically beating down our door with nuclear weapons and merits only passing, diplomatic interest?

Third, what is the true motivation behind this war? Is it because we truly want to free the Iraqi people? To secure our interests against a threat that seems to come and go as politics change? Or because it will give us a tangible victory on the “War on Terror?” The tone of the Bush administration (and hawks in general) is that people who prefer peace are simply ignorant, are na‹ve, or lack the ability to discern good from evil. But in so suggesting Bush is actively ignoring the opinions of millions who protest the war on a weekly basis. How many pro-war protests have you seen? Or solidarity movements in favor of the war? In the end, I find it highly ironic that those of us who prefer peace to bloodshed have to provide evidence to justify our existence. We are the ones engaging in critical thinking, and not just swallowing what is being fed to us. While I cannot dive into the evidence here, are the millions of people (many of them veterans) who protest for peace on a semi-monthly basis really just stupid and ignorant? Or is there more going on than we hear on the nightly news? Think deeper before condemning those who prefer peace to war and oppose foreign policies that come out the end of a gun.

We must strive to overcome “relativism racism”

Tuesday, February 25th, 2003 | David Gladney

Racism is a real and active part of American society. When most people think of racism they think of the racism that stems from fear and hatred. The result of this racism is usually violence or severe and obvious oppression and discrimination. Examples include the public lynching of black people in the South, the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II, and current airline discrimination against Arab-Americans.

Yet there is a more subtle form of racism prevalent throughout America today that I will call “relativism” racism, or “poor assumption” racism. This is the racism that makes you think that because a high proportion of black people are in prison that black people are inherently criminals. Or that because the graduation rate for white people is higher than that for blacks that black people are dumber. Or that because a higher proportion of black people are in poverty in this “land of opportunity” that black people must be lazy (despite the two and a half centuries of slave labor that built this country). The list of poor assumptions goes on and on, but the point is that they are just that: poor assumptions.

So why are they poor assumptions? Well, as the name “relativism racism” suggests, these poor assumptions result from comparing your position in life to that of what you view as the representative black person, and when you see that you are in college and the representative black person is on the streets, you make the aforementioned poor assumptions. Comparing the two is like comparing apples with oranges. Or, rather, it is like comparing a fresh apple with one that has been peed on and stomped, without accounting for the unfair treatment of the latter apple. A child born white has an obvious advantage right out of the womb (or even in the womb) over a black child. The sad reality is that the white child has a much higher probability of being born into a family with considerable resources and into a situation where education is valued not only by her family members but also by her peers. On the other hand, the black child has a higher chance of being born into the opposite circumstances and will be subject to both types of racism mentioned thus far. Since the white child starts off in a more favorable situation, it could very well be the case that both children put in the same level of effort toward success and the white child ends up in college whereas the black child ends up on the streets because with that level of effort she couldn’t overcome her negative circumstances. Clearly then, a comparison of the two children without analyzing the circumstances would lead to incorrect conclusions.

What should you do to thwart this relativism racism? Know that you are privileged and that your current position is not totally based on merit. Understanding this will help prevent you from reaching incorrect conclusions. As Brittany Packnett aptly put it in a recent Student Life opinion piece, “some people are born on third base…and live life thinking they hit a triple.” She also says that “it is simply a shame and a waste of money, time, and opportunity if we [the privileged] don’t act to incite social change.”

I agree, and I would add that the social change should be actions that level the playing field, such as affirmative action and increased public school funding. Affirmative action is definitely not the solution, but it is the best one we have right now, and certainly better than nothing. This is of course a topic of hot debate, and I would refer you to Rob Stolworthy’s Jan. 24 column for a good argument in favor of affirmative action. Increased public school funding will create better schools for those who cannot afford private school and who don’t live in the counties or districts with the best schools (usually the rich ones). Better schools will mean better education and thus a greater opportunity for success.

This is by no means an exhaustive discussion on racism and the possible ways to remedy it, but I hope that it will serve as an eye-opener and motivator. Surely there are things that must be done by black people in the black community to level the playing field, but I’d question whether this would be the appropriate medium for that discussion.

Bush’s morals do not justify his actions

Tuesday, February 25th, 2003 | Craig Pirner

Recently, I had an e-mail exchange with a good friend of mine. A lifelong Democrat, she pointed out the inconsistencies in President Bush’s denouncement of affirmative action as quotas and discrimination compared to his passage (by executive order) of his faith-based initiative, which permits religious organizations to discriminate by religion in their hiring. Continuing the “e-debate,” I forwarded this opinion to a more conservative friend of mine. She replied that my first friend had made a good point, but she qualified her agreement about Bush’s inconsistency. “I’m not going to try to be a Bush apologist,” she began, “but I do believe-however much we might disagree with him about specific issues-that the man has principles and character. And there are those of us who happen to think that both of these were lacking in the prior administration and that fortunately they are not lacking, particularly in this dangerous period, in this president.”

My conservative friend is right. Thankfully, President Bush seems to lack the moral inadequacies of the Clinton administration. It’s hard to argue that oral sex scandals were healthy for the American democracy. But her comments also reveal a disturbing trend in American opinion, successfully fueled by Bush’s own rhetoric: just because I’m moral means that my policies don’t deserve your scrutiny; just because I’m not Bill Clinton means that my policies deserve your support. Buying into that rhetoric when it’s about tax cuts is one thing. Buying into when it’s about impending war with Iraq is quite another.

Perhaps because of the moral inadequacies of Nixon and Clinton, Americans have apparently come to think that we can expect our president to be either a strong policy-maker or a strong moral leader. Implicit in my conservative friend’s statement is that we cannot expect both. That’s wrong. I refuse to apologize for Clinton’s behavior, but I also refuse to let President Bush off the hook just because he hasn’t gotten off in the oval office.

And, is Bush’s leadership really all that principled? There have been no sex scandals, but I believe that his rhetoric might do equal injustice to Americans’ faith in the Presidency. Bush’s rhetoric has developed a “holier than thou” quality which assumes that most Americans are about as (un)intelligent as he appeared in the 2000 campaign. His style ignores the details, as if Americans won’t be able to put the puzzle together if details are provided. A cynic, of course, would say that’s because the details just don’t exist. But I’d like to think they do. I’d like to think that Colin Powell, Tony Blair, and others aren’t all hotheads hell-bent on finishing what wasn’t 12 years ago. Bush, though, asks us to assume: Why should we go to war with Iraq? Because my administration says Saddam’s an uncooperative liar. Why should we not go to war with North Korea? Because my administration says Kim Jong Il is a cooperative liar. Why should we ignore our allies? Because what they say publicly doesn’t reflect what happens at “the highest levels.” When Bush is questioned about his lack of detail, his reasoning is based in the same philosophy my conservative friend articulated: maybe I haven’t given Americans a reason to support me, but at least I’m not leading by opinion polls (read: I’m not Bill Clinton), and at least when I meet with a woman in the oval office it’s Condoleeza Rice (read: not Monica Lewinsky). Bill Clinton always wanted a legacy. It seems as if the Bush administration wants him to have one too. According to Bush, all subsequent administrations are to be evaluated by the inadequacies of Bill Clinton, not by their own merits.

At home and abroad, Bush leads with a brand of political elitism in total contrast to his oft-applauded “folksy” style and campaign so rooted in declaring he, the governor of Texas, was a “Washington outsider.” Now, with his office squarely in the Beltway, he treats Americans and foreign nations as the outsiders, unable to comprehend and unable to know. As our nation faces heightened terror alerts and impending war, I ask you to demand more from your president. Certainly ask that he be moral. But also demand that he defend his policies. Demand the intellectual honesty from your president that you demand from your professors. This is America, and you shouldn’t expect anything less.