I have always been a fairly opinionated person, and far be it from me to shy away from an argument. I have noticed within the last few years, however, that I have restrained my eagerness to interject and force my opinions on people every time their point of view is incongruent with my own. Issues like prayer in school, gun control and affirmative action all once riled me up so bad I made Bobby Knight look comatose.

Paul Wong
Stranger in the corner<br><br>Babawole Akin Aina

I was recently glancing through a copy of the Cincinnati Enquirer (my friend from the “nati is correct, the Daily is a better paper) and I stumbled onto the editorial page. The reader”s views were, unsurprisingly, small-minded, and the syndicated columns were unflinchingly right wing and what”s worse, poorly written! To see a newspaper allow such idiocy to have its space would in my past have resulted in a heart attack, but I moved on to the sports section with a surprising amount of calm. After all, it”s not like I”m curing cancer or winning Pulitzers in this space every other week.

For some time I have been trying to react civilly to blatant examples of public narrow-mindedness. For example, when I found out about John Ashcroft”s recent covering of partially nude statues in the Justice Department I just laughed. At him.

I guess I”m convinced that decisions like those are so innately stupid and closed-minded that people, for the most part, can see for themselves how absurd the likes of John Ashcroft are when they do that.

I have found myself increasingly offended at more subtle attempts to manipulate my views. When I see abuses of the nation”s political ignorance for political gain and the Bush Administration has often done just that I still find myself reverting to my old irritation.

Those of you who watched the five-hour commercial marathon that is the Super Bowl might remember two commercials claiming that if you bought and used drugs that you helped support the same terrorists we are currently at war with. Come on. First of all, the commercials did not bother supporting this bold accusation with any sort of fact. Secondly, most of America”s weed is grown here anyway and I can promise you that Vince, the sketchy 30 year-old who lives in the basement of your house with his heat lamps and packets of nutrient does not funnel the $50 you give him to Osama bin Laden. Even the harder drugs we import are bought from enterprising South American capitalists (we call them “drug lords”) who have a vested interest in keeping America”s boarders relatively open (Sep. 11 has so far seemed to have the opposite effect). But the saddest possible result of this brand of accusations is that drug users who need our help with rehab and social education are now being put on the same level as the terrorists. This isn”t a discussion on drug policy. My point is simply that these subtleties can often be the most dangerous.

The common thread that I find most galling in every issue that has recently annoyed me has been using the public”s emotions to further a political objective that serves questionable means. Politicians have always used national ignorance for their advantage, but that doesn”t justify the continuation of the practice, especially as we brave an extraordinarily vulnerable crossroads as a nation.

Pulling out of the ABM treaty and President Bush”s most recent budget (which calls for substantial increases in military spending) are issues that the administration has furthered by calling upon vague concepts of “patriotism” and “right” (as opposed to manifest destiny) for public support and political gain. Maybe I”m wrong in thinking that I can see behind these politician”s faade and into their evil plots, but I think it would be beneficial for everyone to look at future policy initiatives with a bit of skepticism. And laugh.

David Horn can be reached at hornd@umich.edu.

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