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September 17, 2001 - Image 4

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2001-09-17

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4A -The Michigan Daily - Monday, September 17, 2001


Uwe E iigzu & tig

daily. letters@umich.edu

SINCE 1890

Editor in Chief
Editorial Page Editors

Unless otherwise noted, unsigned editorials reflect the opinion of the majority of the Daily's
editorial board. All other articles, letters and cartoons do not
necessarily reflect the opinion of The Michigan Daily.

I was so peaceful in my heart
that I fell asleep. This experience has
been written about in our earliest books.
I saw a 120 millimeter mortar shell land
in front of me, but it did not blow up.
Four more bombs were dropped from a
Russian plane on our headquarters, but
they did not explode.... No, I was
never afraid of death. As Muslims, we
believe that when we die, we go to
heaven. Before a battle, God sends us
- Osama Bin Ladin commenting on an experience he
had while battling the Soviets in Afghanistan, in a 1997
interview with Robert Fisk The interview appeared in
the Sept. 21, 1998 issue of The Nation.

Th~ere I*: no room ffor
Arabs nA~e1c
kick +~mot~~
David Plasta-ik


Sejl'e beer 114Vs stoicsook thou satds of irocenf leyes
dpT s ento ' ritbouh U hJNow, more tJb4n
ever, use ,,wff ook ur-'4e,,u, ,s an +o e;
c~s Americao. f ea+re4 (A ever6 jus+fie.

Ominous prospects ahead

s the eldest son in
my family, I fre-
quently had the
responsibility of taking vis-
iting relatives to American
tourist attractions. I can
remember one time in par-
ticular, about five years
ago, when I left one morn-
ing from my house just out-
side Philadelphia with three of my cousins who
were visiting from Palestine. My mother and
father were both working that day, so it was just
the four of us, heading to New York City. I can
remember going to Brooklyn, Fifth Avenue.,
and having a late lunch on a lower Manhattan
pier before going to finish our day by climbing
to the heights of the World Trade Center. I can
remember my youngest cousin crying in defi-
ance. She was scared. The sheer sight of the
twin towers from the ground was enough for
her. Nevertheless, as she grasped her mother's
hand the whole way, we reached the observa-
tion deck and caught that spectacular view from
America's most famous buildings.
Although I was born abroad, and although
America is a land of refuge for me, I have
always felt a bit of ownership over those build-
ings. They are, for better or worse, a staple of
the American culture I have experienced, criti-
cized, and contributed to. So, as an Arab-Ameri-
can, as an individual who owns parts of two
distinct cultures, I was acutely affected by last
Tuesday's tragedies. Of course, I felt the same
kind of grief and horror at the loss of life as any
right-minded human being would.
But as an Arab-American who disagrees
with much of America's foreign policy, I find
the kind of hysteria that our government and
media are whipping up very disturbing. For
too long, in almost all arenas of our society,
Americans have accepted types of bigotry

against Arabs and Muslims that would be
intolerable if directed against almost any other,
group. As a direct product of our govern-.
ment's foreign policy, Arab and Muslim her-
itages have been painted in direct
counter-distinction to American values and
culture. This constant barrage on these cul-
tures has desensitized the American public to
the humanity of Arabs and Muslims. Take for
example the widespread belief that Palestinian
mothers send their children to die in return for
money and exposure, or that all Palestinians
celebrate the deaths of American civilians.
Arabs become animals, incapable of human
emotion, and worthy of destruction. As a
result, American politicians, media and the
talking heads that so ineptly occupy our air-
waves possess some of the responsibility for
the backlash Arab and Muslim Americans are
now undergoing and will continue to receive.
Also, unfortunately, our media and govern-
ment are creating a quite alarming dichotomy.
If we were, as has been suggested, attacked
because of dislike for our foreign policy, then
Americans must now stand in one of two
camps: either one is for our foreign policy, or
for the attacks. This opposition is, of course,
absurd. It will, however, lead to the justification
of our attacking sovereign countries and perhaps
killing thousands of civilians. Let us not forget
when in response to our embassies being
bombed in Kenya and Tanzania, we launched
60 Tomahawk cruise missiles, killing a few of
Osama bin Laden's followers in Afghanistan
and taking out a pharmaceutical plant in Sudan.
Six months later, our State Department admitted
that it mistakenly bombed the plant with no
credible pretext, destroying one of the.oi4y fac-
tories that was creating vaccines for that desti-
tute part of the world, and probably killing tens
of thousandof people. We don't know for sure
how many were killed, though, since our gov-

ernment blocked an inquiry at the U.N. to count
the dead and assess the damage.
If we are to attack this problem, it must not
be with military responses. We have seen that it
does not work; it simply leads to more attacks
against our country. We need to recognize the
root of this problem: Our policies in the rest of
the world. I do not mean here only our Middle
East policy, which is abhorrent in its own right,
but I mean also our abandonment of internation-
al law, our refusal to sign conventions and inter-
national treaties that we yell and scream for
everyone else in the world to sign, from land
mine agreements, to support for the internation-
al criminal court and the convention on the
rights of the child. (Yes, we have yet to sign the
convention on the rights of the child). These
causes of hate for the U.S. must be addressed.
This is not to say that we deserve what hap-
pened, for there is no justification. No just cause
is forwarded by terrorism. The cause of ending
our sanctions against Iraq, which kill 5,000 chil-
dren monthly, will not forwarded by these
attacks, as will not the cause to end Palestinian
suffering. In fact, Israeli actions have only esca-
lated since Tuesday morning, free of world criti-
The only cause that will be forwarded is,
unfortunately, that of the American jingoist
right, people like Henry Kissinger who have
said we must respond to this as we responded to
Pearl Harbor. Let us remember that we respond-
ed to Pearl Harbor by interning Japanese-Amer-
icans. Military attacks will cause two things: the
deaths of more innocent civilians, and more
attacks against our population. The frightening
truth is that the prospects that now lie ahead are
mre jnenaicng than those that existed before
Sept. 11.

Amer G. Zahr can be reached
via e-mail at zahrdg(a mch.efdu


Comparing atrocities
downplays others'
In his column ("At what price?" 9/14/01),
Steve Kyritz stated that neither Chinese or
Israelis have suffered anything near the equal of
this week's horrible events. This is a truly
absurd statement. The Chinese were brutally
attacked by the Japanese and millions were
murdered, including hundreds of thousands in a
few days in Nanking. During failures of Mao's
programs, tens of millions of Chinese literally
starved to death, a far worse fate than dying
quickly. Hundreds of thousands of ethnic Chi-
nese were killed in a few weeks in Indonesia in
1965. And many Israelis observed the Nazi
invasions and the Holocaust in which many
millions of Jews and others were murdered. All
these events occurred in living memory of
some of us. One should not be so quick to dis-
count other horrors or even to try to compare
them to each other.
Geological sciences prof
Statements, column
'spread negativity;
'disregard civil rights'
As a Muslim-American, I was deeply dis-
turbed when I read Steve Kyritz's column ("At
what price?" 9/14/01) "calling for the United
States to use torture and any other means nec-
essary to gather information vital to national
security" and his open-willingness to disregard
civil rights. It is comments like these that
spread negativity and serve to create an envi-
ronment in which hate-crimes and harassment
towards Muslim- and Arab- Americans are
Kyritz's statements stand in sharp con-
trast to the words of many government offi-


Ufe goes on at the 110th Street subway station on New York's Upper West Side, but
reminders of last Tuesday's attacks will leave their mark on the city and nation.


Yes, the media coverage is consuming.
Everywhere one turns there is news of last
Tuesday's tragic events. Whether you turn on
the television, listen to the radio, look at a
newspaper or just go to class, you are going
to hear about the "Attack on America." The
discussion of this violence and its conse-
quences has filled our lives and now many
students don't want to hear about it anymore.
Perhaps they want to watch their TRL or
morning soaps without interruption, maybe
they want to move on and get past the devas-
tation at Ground Zero or it could be that they
are too frustrated at their own helplessness. It
doesn't matter why but many students just
won't pay attention any longer; they've let
the dialogue harden them. We need to bring
them back to attention. No one should feed
on or obsess over the coverage, but aware-
ness is important.

The way these events have permeated our
lives could dull the shock of it and make it
less personal, but we have to remember it
all. Imagine your three best friends from
freshman year, they probably lived on your
floor in your dorm. Now jump forward
seven years and imagine how close you
could have grown in the passing time. A 25-
year old elementary school teacher lost those
three friends in the World Trade Center col-
lapse. At her school on the Upper East Side,
a third to a half of the student body lost one
The media and discussions in our lives
are a small part of these terrible events, don't
let them make you callous.
-Lauren Strayer
Views expressed in In Passing are those of
individual members of the Daily 's
Editorial board, but do not necessarily
represent the opinion of The Michigan Daily.

American Muslims."
Muslim and Arab Americans are law-abid-
ing U.S. citizens who denounce these terrible
attacks on innocent lives and join the nation
with our prayers for all of the victims and their
families. We firmly believe that there can be
no justification for such horrible acts. We join
with the nation in calling for the perpetrators
of this terrible crime to be brought swiftly to
Furthermore, I urge my fellow students,
peers, neighbors and friends to follow the
example of these senators and not assign any
form of collective guilt against communities for
the crimes of individuals. Let us join together to
stand up for the freedom and justice that we are
privileged to possess.
Medical School
The letter writer is a representative
to the Michigan Student Assembly.
U.S. foreign policy
fuels hatred abroad
To THT nATn V.

Russians dictated to us how we had to live
our lives just because they were economically
and militarily superior to us? This is exactly
what the United States does to other countries
throughout the world (e.g. The Middle-East,
Korean Peninsula, China/Taiwan, etc.). Thus,
to end the hatred, I feel that we must stop act-
ing as the world's policeman. President Bush
proclaimed that "freedom" was attacked. I
suggest that freedom was not attacked, but
rather our intermeddling foreign policy was
Law School student
Ignorance has no
place after tragedy
On Thursday, while walking home from
class, my roomate was approached by two stu-
dents who called him a "camel jockey" and
proceeded to spit at him.
I cannot even begin to imagine what my
roomate was feeling as this occurred. I
assmed that sines the Universitv is known for

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