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Letters to the Editor

BY DI READERS | DECEMBER 08, 2014 5:00 AM

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UI statement disappointing

I am writing to express my disappointment with the “UI Statement on Pentacrest Art Display” disseminated campus-wide on Dec. 5. Despite correctly condemning racism as antithetical to the mission of the university, it condemns the artwork that prompted the statement by implicitly labeling the artwork as a racist expression.

In its statement, the university wrote “The University of Iowa considers all forms of racism abhorrent and is deeply committed to the principles of inclusion and acceptance.” While this is a laudable position, including the aforementioned sentence in a statement on the art indicates that the university considers Serhat Tanyolacar’s piece to be a “form of racism.” Art in any medium is, of course, interpreted subjectively. However, the university’s rush to judgment of Tanyolacar’s work as a form of racism is such a hurried, short-sighted, uninformed interpretation that it causes me to question my belief that the University of Iowa is an institution predicated on thoughtful, intellectual enlightenment.

The work consists of a century’s worth of physical mainstream media coverage of racist acts — racially motivated violence and hatred — reformed into a widely recognized symbol of racism. In repurposing the media coverage in this way, Tanyolacar is critical of the coverage for failing to stem the disturbing trend of racial violence and critical, in turn, of the audience of the coverage for merely passively consuming the ongoing narrative of racial violence. My interpretation is far from authoritative, but it is my hope to communicate the reasoning that led me to it.

The symbol Tanyolacar chose, a KKK robe, is an overtly racist symbol. But instead of endorsing the message behind the symbol, Tanyolacar co-opted the symbol to comment on the persistent scourge of racism, a specter that unfortunately looms much larger than any mere symbol in our nation’s history and present.

Patrick Bigsby

Address climate change

Carbon-fee and dividend legislation is vital to jump-starting an effective approach to the rising issue of climate change and recruiting global participation, all while stimulating the economy. The Citizens’ Climate Lobby, which proposed the policy, states that it is “the best first-step to reduce the likelihood of catastrophic climate change from global warming.” The use of fossil fuels will continue to rise if they remain convenient and artificially cheap, resulting in a more intense greenhouse effect, which is the main factor responsible for global warming. These fossil fuels result not only in greenhouse gases but a variety of human health hazards because of air, land, and water pollution. The carbon-fee and dividend taxes carbon emissions and then gives 100 percent of it back to citizens, and it is highly beneficial to both the environment and the economy.

Hanna Subin

‘Racist’ crime reporting

I do not understand why your “crime beat” staff chose to write a completely useless and irresponsible description of three robbery suspects from a Hawk Alert incident Dec. 3 occurring on the North Side of Iowa City. In case you don’t realize, an appropriate one is three unidentified persons/males. An accurate description includes height, weight, age, ethnicity and eye color; not three black males in hoodies.

This is an example of the underlying problem with racism, how ignorance and prejudice circumvents common sense and prevents due process of law. I expect any journal representing a higher learning institution to consider these issues seriously, not just for the sake of the student body but for the general public.

I have driven a bus for Iowa City for almost 13 years, and I have interacted with hundreds of black males in hoodies and have encountered zero problems other than an occasional mild verbal altercation. I am surprised that the DI would print what amounts to fear-mongering. In my experience, race relations are a daily issue. Making inaccurate statements doesn’t help. What does is positively affirming the values of peace and understanding. Please step up your standards of journalistic integrity.

Brian Berentsen


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