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September 18, 2001 - Image 4

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2001-09-18

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, September 18, 2001

OP/ED

E CIC( i Mll MiI J

420 MAYNARD STREET
ANN ARBOR, MI 48109
daily.letters@umich.edu

EDITED AND MANAGED BY
STUDENTS AT THE
UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN
SINCE 1890

GEOFFREY GAGNON
Editor in Chief
MICHAEL GRASS
NICHOLAS WOOMER
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.

NOTABLE
QUOTABLE
' ( The first 'victims'
of America's self-avowed
global war against
terrorism have fallen.
Not in the rugged lawless
wilderness of Talibanised
Afghanistan, but in the
eminently civilised
ambiance of mainland
America itself."
-- T odav's staff editorial in the
Times of india, citing the death of a
Sikhbusinessman in Mesa, Ariz.

L\ W CT T E
1~~
?wp i'K iiY (

..j~..,, c 4.
-5

kM \4AU IY) l-

Can't put anything past 'U'
AUBREY HENRETTY NEU R)TCA

Hi, my name's
Aubrey. I'm an
phony, narcissistic racist
with an unstable personali-
ty. When things get diffi-
cult, I let others make the
tough decisions. I know lit-
tle of the world and less of
politics. I'm going to Hell.
I quip rather than question. I'm a flippant fascist
with no fashion sense.
At least, that's what people tell me. Mostly
without the alliteration.
So, uh, you wanna go for coffee sometime?
For those of you still reading (that is, those
not e-mailing me dissertations on the evils of
racism, information on where to find Jesus or
links to the Cosmo website), I'd like to say thank
you: Thank you for not being presumptuous.
(Wouldn't it be great to have a t-shirt with that
phrase printed on it? Or a sign in a restaurant?
Sort of like "Thank you for not smoking," only
heeding it would solve more of the world's
problems. But I digress).
Even here in Ann Arbor, a liberal college
town where everyone is supposed to be open-
minded (or at least tolerant), it seems everyone
has a favorite group of idiots. Anyone who sup-
ports/opposes affirmative action, organized reli-
gion, abortion, the Greek system, letting Ralph
debate, the war on drugs, the patriarchy, the
U.S. government, Starbucks or the Naked Mile
is fair game:
Can you believe those people? I'll bet they beat

their children. For fun.
I don't claim to be above this. I, too, have a
favorite group of idiots. It consists of everyone
who habitually tips less than 15 percent when
eating out. I can (and will, if you let me) go on
for days about why these people should not be
allowed to reproduce. I detest people who gen-
eralize, but it's different when I do it because
I'm right.
That's another thing. Having a wicked
sense of humor is great at cocktail parties,
but it's not the best way to improve one's
position on the "idiot continuum". In my
limited experience, I've found that most
people have very selective senses of humor.
They'll laugh at a fat joke, but not at a
funeral joke. Jokes about celebrities' rela-
tionships and/or eating habits are great, but
God help you if you tell a Jesus joke. Poli-
tics can be funny, but only sometimes;
chuckling too often during any heated polit-
ical debate is like dancing around the room
holding a large sign that reads, "I have no
idea what any of you are talking about."
While wearing a dunce cap.
And if there's one thing the University's
Future Members of the Upper-Middle Class
scorn, it's that infernal dunce cap.
Like the children we pretend not to be, we
berate one another to make ourselves feel supe-
rior. We call each other names: Anyone who
opposes race-based affirmative action is a racist.
Anyone who supports legal abortions is a cold-
blooded baby-killer. Everyone in the Greek sys-
tem is a) dumb, b) shallow and c) incapable of

making friends on her/his own. English majors
are pretentious (wait - I think that one's true).
Kinesiology students have French toast for
brains. Engineers are boring.
It's impossible to reason with those people.
They're illogical. They get these crazy ideas in their
heads, and good luck trying to convince them other-
wise. They never let the facts get in the way of a
good shouting match. But not you and I. We're dif-
ferent. We know how it really is. (Sigh...) Don't
you wish everyone could be smart like us?
So ... how 'bout that coffee?
As much as we love to pontificate with our
friends, the fact remains: There are thousands of
smart people at the University. Some of them
make jokes at your expense. Some of them live
next door to you and throw wild parties the
night before your 8 a.m. French exam. Some of
them didn't vote in the last election. Some drive
SUVs. Some are in sororities. Some of them
disagree with every major political, religious
and otherwise personal belief that makes you
who you are. Some of them tip 10 percent.
Some of them study kinesiology.
And lots of them think you're an idiot. You,
specifically. And me. Specifically. And maybe
they're right.
No matter how rational we like to think we
are, most of us are on at least 107 different idiot
lists by the time we're 21. I'm sure this column
will land me on a few more. Doesn't bother me
a bit ... at least I'll be in good company.

Aubrey Henretty can be reached
via e-mail at ahenrett@umich.edu.

Back to normalcy
GEOFFREY GAGNON MAPS AND LEGENDS
"The asik for optimism is mindless blur of TV reports with pictures that seen the triviality of that story made clear
sheer terror. " somehow don't need commentary, and newspa- and our definitions of "stunning" dramatical-
-Oscar Wilde pers with photos that don't need captions. ly altered.
Our world stopped last Tuesday and in the But what hasn't been altered? The people
t's been a week now days spent recovering from the grip that this we've spent a week listening to have been
since the world was tragedy has kept us in, the ordinary pieces of telling us that the events of last Tuesday have
changed forever, and life seem to come back slowly. forever changed this country. Only now is this
with emotions raveled and Life is coming back to normal and it feels reality becoming clear. And what' we see is
nerves sufficiently frayed the way your frozen fingers felt when you were that we may not know how to return fully to
after seven days of history, eight-years-old and you'd come inside after an the sense of normalcy we enjoyed a week ago
we're starting to let this moment of infamy take afternoon playing in the snow. You'd pull life- - before we told ourselves to be thankful for
its place in history. Life is coming back slowly. less and numb fingers from mittens and watch the things we considered ordinary, before we
Signs emerged yesterday that some sem- them thaw to a stinging pink. You'd have your appreciated the things we had always had.
blance of normality was being restored, as two fingers back, but the piercing sting of feeling These days we're aware of what we don't
great institutions of Americana were back in returning never felt good. have - some are painfully more aware than
business: Trading returned to Wall Street and That's how chunks of normalcy are coming others - but collectively we know we are
baseball returned to the ballpark. And in what back now, in unexpected stings and in slow without an historic model to follow. It's cer-
President Bush called a defiant act against ter- melting moments. tainly redundant to mention that this tragedy,
rorism, people quietly returned to their routines. They come back at times when you see a in all its far reaching horror, is unlike anything
Or at least they tried. commercial on TV and remember that its we've dealt with before. For the last week
For a week now we've lived with these been a few 'days since you've seen one. Or we've been reminded of certain other points
moments and we've connected a week's worth when you read a story that doesn't come in our history with images from Dallas in
of coping and understanding back to Tuesday from New York or Washington and doesn't 1963 and Hawaii from 1941. And we've done
morning. Today it's tough to imagine a world mention "terror" or "attack" or any of the what we've always done - we've looked to
that existed before last Tuesday, before the other words or terms we've lived with now history for a template to follow, for steps.to
world came to a halt. for a week. And just like the way the thaw- repeat in order to recover. But in a lot of ways
History shows us that strange things hap- ing, stinging fingers make you wonder if the we've come up empty. Take a look at the Red
pen when the world stops and fixes itself on a cold, numb alternative was really that bad, Cross website and you'll find a link to a page
single moment, when time is traced back to a life is coming back this week with all the dedicated to helping people cope with disas-
series of minutes that altered history or clumsy details that nobody wants to consid- ter. There you'll see links to disaster services
changed lives. er. Things like insurance claims on buildings provided after floods, tornadoes, earthquakes
I remember hearing stories of how the and planes and companies and property and and a host of others - 17 in all. But there is
death of famed author C.S. Lewis was largely people are being thought of - even before no website this time that tells us what to do
missed because it came on the same day in the tears have finished drying. next.
November 1963 that John F. Kennedy was shot. This return to normalcy is coupled with a So we're going back to work and we're get-
So overshadowed by the historic death of realization that the things we considered ting back to life. We're making plans again and
Kennedy and so unaware of Lewis' own pass- important a week ago now seem laughable. we're getting on with things. Life is coming
ing, people for years continued to contact the Consider the front page headlines that back slowly, and with it so is our optimism -
Lewis estate with public appearance requests stretched the width of the Detroit Free Press despite the stinging.
only to learn that the author had died while the last Monday - headlines that called the
world was stopped. Equally transfixed this past benching of Lions Quarterback Charlie GeoffGagnon can be reached
week has been a country that has lived in a Batch "stunning." In one week's time we've via e-mailatggagnon@umich.edu.
V LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

40

Religious extremism.,
not U.S. foreign
policy, is to blame
To THE DAILY:
In reaction to the tragic events of last
week, many students have called for the re-
examination of American foreign policy. I
fully support this long overdue examination
but caution that policy cannot provide all the
answers for why individuals go to extremes.

Indeed hatred of America as an aggres-
sive infidel will not go away if Israel ceased
to exist or even if Israel pulled out of the
Occupied Territories. This hatred is careful-
ly crafted and designed to last. For exam-
ples of this, look no further than Syrian
childrens' textbooks, Iranian newspapers or
the Egyptian government-sponsored daily,
Al-Akhbar. All of this info is -available
online and I urge students to investigate for
themselves. I suggest The Middle East
Media and Research Institute (MEMRI), an
independent, non-profit organization pro-
viding translations of the Arab media

14

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