Zahr fails to address, context of profiling
To the Daily:
There is no question that the new and unfamiliar vigilance at American airports since the events of Sept. 11 demands thoughtful intellectual examination. The use of racial profiling in any location under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Constitution should be a profoundly distressing issue for any American that values his or her civil liberties.
Amer G. Zahr”s column on Jan. 14 (“I guess I fit the profile”) rightly confronts this pressing topic, but unfortunately, his self-serving indignation and narrow moralizing tragically simplifies an extremely difficult and layered subject. I find it hard to believe that Zahr did not expect to be searched, questioned or even harassed when he arrived at the airport. Arab and Arab-looking Americans are being singled out that is no secret. Of course this does not justify Zahr”s treatment, but his responsibility as a columnist, as an ostensibly thoughtful social critic, is not to harp on nave “moral” absolutes and relish expected injustices, but to think: To process complex ideas through his intellectual perspective.
This in mind, Zahr”s assertion that he was profiled “for no good reason,” is utterly preposterous. Zahr knows very well that he was searched because on Sept. 11, 19 terrorists hijacked four commercial airliners, destroyed the World Trade Center and killed nearly 4,000 American civilians. Zahr has every right, even the responsibility, to question the validity and constitutionality of his search, but acting like there was no “good reason” for the inspection, acting like we live in the same country that we did on Sept. 10, is intellectually fruitless.
Of course Zahr has the right to feel abused, but as a columnist, Zahr must ground his argument in the ambiguous, deeply traumatized social landscape of post Sept. 11 America. Not doing so is acutely disrespectful and wholly unproductive.
“Best of 2001” list lacks diversity
To the Daily:
I felt compelled to write because I was so sorely disappointed with last week”s Friday Focus, The Michigan Daily”s “Best of 2001” list. It”s not that I have trouble with your opinions we”re all entitled to pick our ten best at the end of the year. However, the lists of Smith, Dusenberry, et al. featured so prominently were sorely lacking in diversity.
Given that many in your staff go on weekly tirades aganist the commercial machine that is the mainstream music industry, I was suprised to see such sameness arise in your top-tens. Dustin Siebert picked all hip-hop. Rob Brode picked nearly all major-label, commercial releases, with Jay-Z making the list two consecutive times. That I don”t like Jay-Z doesn”t matter I”m disappointed because I thought that Daily Arts was interested in expanding the musical horizons of its readers. Perhaps it should begin with expanding the horizons of its staff.
There were seven albums listed more than once among the remaining lists. This was surprising to me it seems like there were many more albums to choose from artists besides The Strokes, The White Stripes, Radiohead and Jay-Z. Nowhere did I see a jazz album, an artist from a different country (e.g. Femi Kuti, who put out an excellent album last year), a classical or minimalist album, nor did you breach the genres of electronica, experimental, bluegrass, country or latin music. There”s so much music to choose from and yet you chose to stick to a majority of indie-rock releases, with a dash of hip-hop, mainstream and one or two folk albums.
My suggestion? Either take the effort to go outside your own areas of musical expertise, or find people who will.