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February 11, 2000 - Image 4

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2000-02-11

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4- The Michigan Daily - Friday, February 11, 2000

- 1

be Arirjiguu Dai g
420 Maynard Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109 MIKE SPAHN
daily.letters@umich.edu a Editor in Chief
Edited and managed by '22 EMILY ACHENBAUM
students at the
University of Michigan Editorial Page Editor
Unless otherwise noted, unsigned editorials reflect the opinion of the majority offthe
Daily's editorial board. All other articles, letters and cartoons do not necessarily reflect
the opinion of The Michigan Daily.

Amreeka, beefburgers, and other good things

Outside influences

Ann Arbor should govern Naked Mile policy

Ibelieve in snake charming, slurping on
mangoes, cultivating Pisces fighting
fish, hailing the elements. I dress oddly.
My accent has been regarded as funny,
even cool. I look different, smell different.
I don't walk the walk
or talk the talk.
Before I came to Ann e
Arbor, I thought they y
called it Ann Harbor..
The merger of a
woman's name with
trees and bushes wasy
above and beyond
me. I am the intense-
ly international,
severely foreign stu-
dent. I am out of
synch, out of touch, Wajahet
not of this time. I am Syed
the Quasi-Wolverine.l
I correspond, on
and off, with my New zKata-S tra'
World colleagues:
"Hey, nice shirt man. You a soccer fan?"
A question posed by a local, a Wolverine, a
bloody Yank (in-state written all over him)
if you please, after he took a look at my
Barca FC football shirt.
"Thanks, yes, I love football."
"Yeah, but what about the soccer shirt?"
"That's it. It's a Barcelona football shirt.
It's a Spanish club."
"Football in Spain. Damn."
"Actually, soccer is called football pretty
much everywhere. It's played with the feet,
see. Foot-Ball, with the feet, see..."
"Yeah man, that too. Hey, cool accent.
Where're you from?"
"No, Pakistan"

"Oh, Packeestan. Cool. Lots of soccer in
South America, huh?"
"Umm, yeah, but Pakistan is in South
Asia, between Iran and India."
"Right. Cool man. Peace."
And then it was over. The ignore-all-the-
bloody-foreigners quarantine had been
enforced once again. The soccer/football
conspiracy had killed another new
acquaintance. Hello splendid isolation.
I hail from a land where we drive on the
'right' (buggered if I call it wrong) side of
the road. Where first floors are second
floors, where elevators are lifts. Where a
car's hood is called a bonnet, and where
America is actually Amreeka.
Amreeka is the birthplace of my man-
hood. Here I have graduated from brand-
less anonymity to the self-defining lumi-
nary predicament: Moving on from pants
to Gap Cargoes, from boots to
Timberlands, from chai to sugarfree-
healthier-than-broccoli-decaf, from V8 the
car engine to V8 the tomato juice. Yup, I'm
living the subway, e-trading, connecting
people and just bloody doing it.
But things get bloodier...that's when I
go home to Pakistan, a.k.a. Packeestan,
Pakiland, Green Bay Packers or the Islamic
Republic of, located on Church and
Oakland (or South bloody Asia, take a
pick). Where people vomit their pity when
they find out that the boy from Amreeka
tells them that he has no car, forget chauf-
feur or servants; that he lives in a room
with three men, who eat pork without
qualms, drink wine without repentance,
court women without veils and use the
name of their Lord while they watch, yes,
football. The boy does not dare to tell them
the truth about his newly found Amreeky
ways. For his endeavors and survival tac-

tics in this testing land of Ameeka, he is
hailed as a hero. One day, after medals and
maidens, they might crown him King.
Lies. I have displaced, misplaced essen-
tial facts. Firstly, they will never make me
king, just because we're a democracy, or
we were, last I heard. Second, they won't
be shocked when they find out about the
whole women, wine and football bit. Why,
you ask? Enter your ambassador of peace,
Globalized Corporate America.
GCA is a pioneer in the field of making
exotic terra firmas familiarized with the
US. It converts Amreeka to America, or
better yet, The States. It strives to ensure
that the slaughtering savages of the east are
tamed with the wisdom of the west by
replacing civil wars with Friends,
bukhlavas with B-52s (case in point, the
KFC outlet at the Giza Pyramids in Egypt:
Eat the Colonel's chicken, enjoy the
Pharaoh's tomb and have a bloody great
day). GCA also takes great pains to make
cultures meet. Did you know that ham-
burgers are called beefburgers at
McDonald's in Pakistan? Of course you
didn't, and no Joules, its got nothing to do
with the metric system. Its GCA playing
God, removing all connotations of ham,
pork, hampork or Hamburg from the sand-
wich, so that none of the sensitive Muslim
patrons get ideas. PC, eh. Take a bow,
GCA. But wait. Do me a favor. The next
time you see GCA loitering around a
Starbucks in an AX suit and a CK tie, ask
him where exactly Pakistan is. If he says
South America, maybe you two should
have a long talk. And please, turn your
bloody Nokias off.
-When not planning terrorist attacks
on the Union, Waj Sved can be reached
via e-mail at wajsyed@umich.edu.

Naked people and grumpy old men do
not go well together. Ralph Bolz,
whose letter to Attorney General Jennifer
Granholm once again sparked debate on
Ann Arbor's Naked Mile, is a testament
to this fact. As a member of "The
Grumpies," an informal group of about
15 people based out of Livonia, Bolz and
his colleagues write letters to politicians
and newspapers on issues they find rele-
vant. Though "The Grumpies" hold an
admirable passion for activism, both the
group and the attorney general's office
must stop trying to impose outside values
onto the community of Ann Arbor.
In response to Bolz's letter, Granholm
sent copies to the Ann Arbor Police
department and the Department of Public
Safety, as well as meeting with represen-
tatives from the Washtenaw County
Prosecutor's office and Ann Arbor police.
Then on Jan. 10, city and county officials
met with members of the University to
discuss possible plans of action for han-
dling this year's event. The group set no
definitive plans, but considered moving
past the main objectives of crowd control
and safety issues and into nudity law
The problem with local authorities
taking action is not their concern for stu-
dents' safety, but the pressure they felt
from above. All too often, Ann Arbor is

held to a moral barometer that does not
reflect the values of its residents.
Controversy over nudity is not the first
time state officials voiced their displea-
sure. Attempts to raise Ann Arbor's mari-
juana laws to the same level as the state's
more severe penalties are attempts to
subvert a mandate from local residents.
The Naked Mile is not perfect, but
Ann Arbor's own residents take care of
their own situation. The University sends
mail to seniors urging them to remember
the consequences of running nude
through a large city, including the
increased amount of photographers and
video tapers in recent years. The
Michigan Student Assembly organizes
students to provide crowd control and
trains them to take care of situations that
arise during the event.
People like Bolz, who never attended
one of the 14 Naked Mile gatherings,
attempt to impose their values from afar.
They dictate to a community what is right
and wrong, despite having no formal or
direct connection to the place they feel
fail to adhere to a "higher" moral stan-
dard. Granted, there are instances where
criticism from outsiders is justified, but
youthful celebrations in a college town
do not apply. If Bolz were actually from
Ann Arbor, maybe his complaints would-
n't fall on deaf ears.

t,. !

IN DtsTES5.. .



valuable campus

Religious wrong
Schools should respect freedom of religion

Indiana has become the latest state to
be swept up in a growing national
movement to allow the Ten
Commandments to be hung in schools.
Last Monday, its legislature passed a bill
permitting the practice. Gov. Frank
O'Bannon has promised to sign the bill
despite its disregard for a 1980 Supreme
Court ruling that found the display of the
commandments in schools to be uncon-
The drive to inject religion into
America's classrooms has been steadily
gaining momentum in the wake of last
year's killings at Columbine High School
in Colorado. Following that tragic event,
legislators around the country went in
search of ways to prevent this type of
violence from occurring again.
Unfortunately, many came to the conclu-
sion that guns don't kill kids, deficient
knowledge of Christianity does.
With the specter of teen violence in
hand, those on the religious right took the
opportunity presented by the Columbine
shootings to launch an all-out assault on
the religious liberty of Americans.
Bills to allow the Ten Commandments
to be put up in public schools are now
pending in nine states. Most are similar
to Indiana's and try to circumvent the
Supreme Court's prohibition against
solely religious displays by posting them
with other historical documents, such as
the constitution. Some states, however,
are not being so circumspect. In the most
shockingly brazen assaults on religious
freedom the United States has seen in
years, the Colorado legislature will soon
vote on a bill requiring that the Ten
Commandments be posted in every class-
room and mandating that children silent-
ly pray before each school day. Georgia
1Q rniearincr i measure to refuse state

Proponents of these bills claim that
the violence in schools and society, and
every other problem imaginable, is attrib-
utable to not teaching Christian morality
to children. While the levels of violence
in schools and in the nation at large are
falling, we are routinely admonished by
our self-proclaimed moral betters that
America is going to hell in a hand-basket
and the only way to save us is to indoc-
trinate children with beliefs they and
their parents may or may not subscribe
Nothing is inherently wrong with the
Ten Commandments and the majority of
people wholeheartedly believe in them.
The problem is that not everyone does.
The Ten Commandments are more than
just principles, they are an explicitly reli-
gious doctrine and forcing them upon
people violates their constitutionally
guaranteed religious liberty.
The people pushing these measures
would undoubtedly be horrified if some-
one attempted to force any non-Christian
religious principles on their children, but
they are apparently incapable of enter-
taining any such bothersome thoughts.
Despite unending exhortations to the
contrary, the United States is not a
Christian nation. The fundamental tenet
of our national culture is the respect we
afford those with opinions different from
our own.

During my years at the University I had
many valuable experiences. Some of these are
being named an All American and a captain on
the University of Michigan Track team, but
most importantly I was selected as a
Michigamua Fighting Wolve. This is, was, and
will be the greatest honor I will ever have.
Once my year began as a Fighting Wolve I
treasured every moment spent in "the Den."
I am writing you to try and explain the
honor, dedication and love for the University
that Michigamua inspires. We met every
Monday at 10 p.m. to celebrate, honor and
work on the behalf of the University. During
these two hours we grew together as a group
of leaders who may have never crossed paths
otherwise. We encouraged each other and
helped to work on our problems. Other times
we worked on specific projects to help.people
in and around the University. Among other
things we helped to start such projects as the
dance marathon. This great organization has
been and always will be focused on helping
the. community and University.
Like many other organizations. such as the
United States and the University of Michigan,
there was a time when Michigamnua was less
than sensitive to minority cultures. Fortunately
that time has past, and what is left is simply
history. As with all history it deserves to be
remembered but not celebrated. This was how
things were handled during my time in the
I hope that can shed some light on this
complex problem.
Michigamua not
group of 'racists'
As a member of the Pride of 1999 1 feel
that it is important to clear up some of the mis-
information which is currently being spread
about the organization Michigamua. A lot of
what I have heard people say has been taken
out of context and being spread as if it is cur-
rently the way Michigamua runs its organiza-
tion. Michigamua is not an organization meant

for the creation of an "elite" nor is it an orga-
nization where the members sneak up to the
top floors of the Union so they can desecrate a
culture in private. It is a collection of diverse
students who want to make a difference in the
University and in the community at large.
Many people have been calling us racists.
This is a powerful word and is not something
which should be thrown around lightly. We are
not racists, we are students just like you. We
go to class, we volunteer, we participate in ath-
letics, we are involved in cultural organiza-
tions. Now we have been criticized, we have
been blacklisted we have been accused.
The discussion about Michigamua's past is
thick, and I encourage you to go to the Bently
Library and read for yourself about the past of
this organization. I did before I joined and I
was amazed and angered by the past practices
of the organization. Did I decide not to join?
Obviously not. I decided to work to change this
organization for the better, to take the good
while correcting the bad. Michigamua is no
longer repeating the mistakes it made in the
past. The items found are just remnants of a
past which we do not deny nor do we condone.
So you might wonder why? Why are these
students involving themselves in the organiza-
tion which so much baggage:? Simply put
Michigamua has an amazing potential to bring
people together, to help change this university
for the better, we are all just trying to live up to
that ideal. It is this sprit and this promise which
makes Michigamua a unique organization.
Hopefully with the help of supporters and pro-
testers alike Michigamua will continue on this
campus as an organization for the University,
not against it.

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Tower takeover
shows leadership
As a student at the University, I have been
involved in many student organizations on dif-
ferent levels. However, the most inspiring act
of leadership I have witnessed is the seizing of
the Union tower. The students involved in this
dignified protest are true campus leaders. This
school claims to be the leaders and the best. If
this is the case, the University must do away
with Michigamua. Elitism and racism can no
longer be passed off as tradition. Leadership is
about change, progression, taking a stand ... I#
the University is truly a leader in higher edu-
cation, University officials must take action.
They must take one step closer to admonishing
elitism and racism on this campus, making it a
place for all people. It is, after all, a public uni-
versity and an institution that claims to pro-
mote diversity and multiculturalism.
An organization claiming that its member-
ship are the top leaders on this campus is
ridiculous - how can 25 students represent alIl
of the amazing and truly effective organiza-
tions, movements, groups that exist on this
campus? The answer is simple, it cannot. If
one is looking for true leadership, they need
'look no further than the students with such
courage, motivation, and inspiration to take a
stand for themselves and the entire campus -
the students who have been involved in the tak-
ing over of the tower.



Israel should observe international law


backers of the


Commandments laws often claim their
presence is appropriate in schools
because they are the principles the
United States was founded on. They are
wrong. Laws seeking to surreptitiously
enforce or promote any religious doctrine
defame everything the United States
stands for. Robbing people of their right
to believe what they choose. the most

T he e-mail read "please anyone there ... are
you listening ... isn't that the smell of
death or that I am feeling cold ... I will spend
this night alone and the cold air will be cele-
brating with me my birthday ... I am angry and
I feel that I can scream so loud ... "
This came from a computer in Beirut,
Lebanon where the threat of death protrudes
from U.S.-supplied Israeli jets soaring miles
above. The officially stated reasons, which
every U.S. official has supported almost

with Hezbullah to not attack civilian targets
null and void.
Ehud Barak, the Israeli Prime Minister,
refers to Hezbullah fighters as "aggressors"
and "terrorists" for "attacking" Israeli soldiers
who are in occupation of their land (as defined
by the United Nations). This is an absurd stan-
dard that if applied historically, would make
the French resistance to Nazi occupation
"aggressors" and "terrorists." Resisting mili-
tary occupation, Hezbullah's "crime," is an

olute non-compliance. Aba Eban (the Israeli
Foreign Minister) stated arrogantly: "If the
General Assembly were to vote by 121 votes to
1 in favor of Israel returning to the armistic
lines - (pre June 1967 borders) Israel wou
refuse to comply with the decision" (New York
Times June 19, 1967). Eban's hypothetical
overestimates America's loyalty. The vote was
as Eban predicted, but later policy showed that
the vote of the United States was purely sym-
bolic. The General Assembly resolution went


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