Atheists openly discriminated against

To the Daily:

The recent resurgence of patriotism that has been displayed in the wake of recent events is not surprising and is nice to see, however, it has lead to some disturbing trends. One phrase that has been coined to describe our nation”s response to these attacks is “Religious Patriotism.” It is definitely understandable that in times of uncertainty, many will seek answers in their faith. I am not against this method of seeking comfort, however, I am deeply concerned with the way in which this patriotism and religious resurgence has manifested itself. Many times over, I have heard people state that our nation is unified in its belief in God whether we are Hindu, Jewish, Muslim or Christian, we all believe in a higher power. This could not be further from the truth. Survey after survey show that as much as 10 percent of this nation consider themselves atheist.

Since Sept. 11, atheists have been attacked in the public arena. Star Jones of The View, Kathleen Parker of USA Today, Jerry Falwell and Ben Stein (although Stein intelligently apologized for his comments) have blamed atheists for the attacks, stated that they would never vote for an atheist, and Kathleen Parker went as far as to write “There were none (atheists) in the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, we can guess.” A recent Gallup Poll asking whether someone would vote for a particular person for president, showed atheists to be the group most discriminated against with a mere 49 percent suggesting that they would ever consider an Atheist candidate (see www.gallup.com for the results). In fact, there are still seven states that have laws restricting atheists from even running for public office! The fact that this discrimination against atheists is accepted, I find appalling.

Recent legislation has sought to allow schools to display “God Bless America” with supporters stating that it, along with “In God we trust” are not religious, but patriotic statements. I find that laughable. In addition, a new bill is attempting to reinstate prayer in public schools, something that was thought to be unacceptable before the attacks. These statements do not reflect the entire population and are an obvious violation of State-Church separation.

The purpose for this letter is to remind everyone that while 90 percent of this country is religious and they deserve to have all freedoms in practicing their religion, there are an additional 10 percent that should be given freedom from religion. This freedom should not be taken lightly and the recent attacks should not be used to justify laws that infringe on this freedom. After all, studies show that while Atheists make up 10 percent of the general population, we make up only 1 percent of prisons, and show the lowest rate of divorce. Can we really be that bad?

Rob McCarrick

Rackham

Curtin accepts apology from Independent

To the Daily:

I would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to Seva Gunitskiy, editor of the Michigan Independent, for the genuineness of the apology that he made at the Michigan Student Assembly last Tuesday. Gunitskiy took responsibility for the sexist attack on me that appeared in the Independent and apologized formally and publicly to me and to the whole assembly. Adding to the generosity of his apology was the fact that he clearly meant the words that he said and that the apology had not been solicited. A more commendable response to a criticism of sexism is difficult to conceive.

This is not only personally very meaningful to me, it is important for all women on this campus to know that sometimes when issues of sexism are raised and struggled over they will be responded to in a serious, open and conscientious way.

I also want to applaud the courage of the many women who spoke out at the assembly meeting about their experience and assessment of the sexism on this campus. These are not easy issues to speak about (particularly to a skeptical, disproportionately male audience).

It is speaking out, raising awareness and struggling that are the key to making positive change. By speaking Tuesday night a fight began aimed at changing the climate for women on this campus for the better. I give the deepest thank you I can to all the individuals and organizations that are showing support for this effort in words and deeds.

Jessica Curtin Rackham

MSA elections a lot of chalk, few ideas

To the Daily:

Chalk covering my shoes, posters strangling my door, my pockets teeming with a deciduous forest worth of paper scraps. All of this to promote the names and political careers of my peers, those who wish to lead and alter the course of this great university. They will leave this month either with an esteemed position among the greatest students in the country or a surly impression of our judgmental student body. I, however, will leave these elections with one emotion and one emotion only: Befuddlement. I am destined to vote, for I feel it the duty of everyone who will be affected by the results, but as the situation stands now, I am also certain that I will have no idea what I am supporting. This University has no public forum to approach, debate or even present the views of our potential decision makers and representatives. We have fallen underneath the strife of the modern American political world, represented most recently by our current president, where simple name recognition will deliver an electoral victory, regardless of public opinion, political climate, or in ol” Georgie”s case, candidate incompetence. This problem is not an insurmountable one, with the extensive resources provided to us at this institution. The auditoriums are large enough and accessible enough to provide adequate access to speeches, debates, or other displays of platform and ideology. If this is infeasible, or, more likely, poorly attended, we have six university channels with hours upon hours of available time, especially for a program with heavy campus implications. The “kiosks,” message boards, and every other imaginable space have been bombarded with unnecessary, environmentally damaging, and furthermore, uninformative flyers. What began as a theoretically sound and simple practice has quickly turned into an ugly campus wide epidemic. Despite this, it too can be easily stopped within the boundaries of our university resources. Simply allot each registered candidate a certain amount of space in each pivotal location, optimally grouping by the position being contested. This way, the weaker, less financially stable groups have an equal shot at the title, and, our campus remains pretty and presentable. In addition, we can use the widely popular Michigan Daily as a vehicle for platforms and campaign jargon, again, applying the equal distribution theory. In our nations time of utmost political distrust, we at the University, the finest public education network in the country, do not even have the opportunity to be lied to. In order to represent the students” beliefs and interests, we must have access to those of the candidates.

Pete Woiwode Kinesiology freshman

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