LETTERS

  /  

January 23, 2004

Letters to the Editor

*Minority Issues*

The Asian Pacific American Graduate Student Collective (APAGSC) would like to commend the administration for finally electing to include Asian Pacific American (APA) students within the mission of the Office of Minority Student Affairs (OMSA). Institutional backing, as demonstrated by this decision, provides the permanence and continuity of support for APAs that cannot exist without it, given the constant turnover in the student body.

Before May 2000, there was not a single organization or administrative office on campus that specifically targeted the needs of APA graduate students until two individuals took the initiative to establish the APAGSC. But it took more than a year of petitioning ORCSA until APAGSC was granted RSO status. It was, and has continued to be, unnecessarily difficult to establish a recognized forum for APA graduate students—underrepresented in many of the social sciences and humanities and certain professional schools—to meet other APAs outside of their own disciplines, and to address issues concerning APA graduate student life.

All of us hope that being included under the purview of OMSA will improve graduate student life for APAs here at the University of Chicago. However, we realize that having institutional backing does not guarantee that the issues of APA graduate students will automatically be resolved. Only through close collaboration between OMSA and such groups as APAGSC will the administration be able to develop the long-term strategies for enhancing the educational experience of APA students. All students, regardless of color, at the University Chicago will benefit as a result.

Angela Lam and Ellen Wu

Asian Pacific American Graduate Student Collective

*MoveOn.org*

Barney Keller, in his January 20 piece on MoveOn.org ("Has MoveOn.org Crossed the Bush-Bashing Line?, " 1/12/04), tells us that he believes in constructive problem solving. It's perplexing, then, that he would spend the rest of his column self-righteously trying to smear progressive Democrats. Keller thinks that Dems should "grow up" and stop comparing Bush to Hitler, as a few independent ads solicited by MoveOn.org for its "Bush in 30 Seconds" ad contest did. Those ads were hugely inappropriate and MoveOn.org's members recognized them as such; none of them made it into the final rounds of the contest. The voters behaved like the adults they are and instead selected spots that highlighted the real dangers of Bush's radical right agenda.

Keller, who refers to MoveOn.org and progressives generally as "hate-filled" and "childish," nonetheless calls for a high-minded campaign. I'd suggest that there are bigger dangers to the public discourse than a few low-budget advertisements that were never broadcast. Foremost among them is the conservative effort to associate "liberals" with effete unpatriotic anti-Americanism. In his State of the Union address Tuesday night, for instance, President Bush portrayed those who opposed his foolish, unilateral war in Iraq as being downright untroubled by Saddam Hussein's "killing fields." Ann Coulter, who memorably called for an American crusade after September 11, publishes books calling liberals traitors and defending Joseph McCarthy. Sean Hannity, in his book Deliver us from Evil, calls upon Americans to defeat "terrorism, despotism, and liberalism."

The right now controls government and major media outlets such as Fox News. It is increasingly clear that Bush is bent on a new international order founded on American military strength rather than upon international law. The combination of a strongman president and major media support has led to a national campaign of vilification. Perhaps Keller would do better to excuse the left its few trivial excesses and instead pay attention to the growing rhetorical effort to demonize and marginalize those who oppose Bush's radical government.

Craig Segall

Fourth-year in the College