Dear Chris

Ross hired some bodyguards to beat down anyone who uses the word "apathy." Rat someone out at [email protected]

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Having successfully gotten off on the wrong foot with all of you, I should take a step back and reflect. But keep in mind that I'm not out to appease any elevated views you may have of yourself.

So far, I have noticed only one Letter to the Editor that actually made me question my reasoning. And really, that's what I'm all about. I tend to give far-reaching social issues substantial thought before formulating a concrete standpoint. I see a tape of protesters and cops in Barrows Hall, and I question how I feel about civil disobedience. I see a picture, a moment in time with no context, of a protester being dragged away and screaming, on the front of The Daily Californian, and I question how I feel about the media. Those images may not be entirely representative, but they at least spur some amount of thought. First, let's get a few things straight.

After reading, or perhaps pissing on, my first column, you probably assume that I hate each and every one of you. I don't, but I might if you keep calling me "Apathy Boy" or the "Good Ol' Boy." So what if I talked about apathy. That doesn't mean that I encourage it. I would like to think that reasonable people might see that I was merely using that lowest form of humor - sarcasm. Of course I feel passionately about some things, they just tend to be different than your issues. That is not something worthy of persecution. One e-mail from a reader, which didn't run in the paper but probably should have, mentioned that it is absurd that I would give my opinion on why giving one's opinion is bad. Thanks, Joe, for getting the point.

This leads me back to the Letters to the Editor. I have, since my first semester at Cal, held those letters in high regard. I have found that there are more interesting things in that section than in the rest of the paper. The best part is when a few people send in letters that attempt to prove one another wrong. The conflict evokes thought, which can result in change. What bothers me is when people take things personally. Still worse is when they take things too seriously. When I get a response to a column of mine, I look past the personal attacks and try to take in the underlying message. In a recent letter by Chris Zamani, I saw no message. No convincing argument, but a few good points. Here's what I have to say about them. And if you didn't read it, go back to this Tuesday's paper and do so.

Mr. Zamani, you ask me to imagine being a black man, apparently because you think that white people like me can't look at something from more than one side. First, I say that I do not represent anyone but myself. Just as you do not represent all black men. As for your "definition of who is targeted," I would put being poor at the top of that list. We are all part of the Green Race. Last time I checked, OJ was not in jail, and Michael Irvin was still playing football. And remember that, as an American, you are doing your part to consume that ‘disproportionate share of the world's resources.'

I can't help but think that you perceive society as viewing you as a criminal because you expect them to. I can tell you that I don't see black people that way. But like I said, I can't speak for anyone else. In an ideal society, we'd all have enough money, be color-blind, and cops wouldn't be necessary. But nothing is ideal. Almost all of us want more money, especially the ones who don't need any more, we see the color of someone's skin, and, as I have argued, we need the police. Of course, in that ideal society, there would be no Rodney Kings and no bad cops. No, my parents never killed anyone, nor did they even shoot anyone during their years of service. Also, I would ask you to confine your personal attacks to me, not my parents.

You write about the 1992 riots as though they were some sort of great good brought to the rest of society. A rebellion is for freedom, not destruction. Like some sort of violent cleansing that you encourage participation in, but to what end? I know that you, given the fact that you attend Cal, have thought out this great logic. But what about the high school drop-outs in the inner city? Will they understand that acting out verbally, physically, or criminally is the path to righteousness? What happens when another black man robs you? Will you tell him to go find a white person, so that he can exercise (exorcise?) his rights to the freedom stolen from his ancestors? How does putting a man in jail help him regain his freedom? ‘Throwing bottles and taunting cops' is not the only recourse. Your sector of society, here at the university at least, is anything but "voiceless." No, I haven't seen my friends tortured. I wasn't in Barrows. I saw the tapes, and I still disagree. That's my right.

Your letter is not lacking in passion. I am sure that you truly believe that the world is what you say it is. You should realize, however, that each one of us filters what we experience through a different set of values. There is room for interpretation. We should keep in mind that the ultimate truth of any given situation may be entirely separate from what we perceive it to be.

I know that you may really, really dislike me for the things I have said, and what I believe. That's fine, as long as you don't make it a personal issue. I can always appreciate a different view. What I can't appreciate is the fact that you make this a racial issue. That you attempt to make me feel guilty for the color of my skin. Be careful where you place the blame for the "omnipresent problems of contemporary society." Imagine not thinking that I'm a racist because I'm white. Imagine taking responsibility for your actions. Imagine being man enough to know that you've broken the law and accept your punishment, no matter how trivial it might be.

I think we need to put things in perspective. I'm not part of the "reactionary right." Pat Buchanan is in that group. Hitler was in that group. The group of politically-minded individuals who will read this might be part of the radical left. Outside of Berkeley, as I am sure you know, those terms have a wide range of implications, most differing greatly from your interpretation. Our friends and acquaintances may read this and be polarized one way or another. Really, they can think what they want, as long as they have something resembling an opinion. Thank you, Chris, for helping me make people think.


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