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September 20, 2001 - Image 4

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2001-09-20

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4A - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, September 20, 2001


te £idbiguu Dailg


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.

( ' French Prime Minister
Lionel Jospin called for a
reasonable repose.' Perhaps
President Jacques Chirac,
who is in Washingtonfor
consultations today, will
clarify what that's supposed to
mean when at least 5,000 of
your fellow countrymen have
been killed."
Washington Times editorial page editor
Helle Bering in a column yesterday.


,>\ 4




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Fighting the long war ahead with love


ast week, like some
low-grade movie,
the image of a plane
slamming into the World
Trade Center sent the
nation reeling. As those
older than us gaped in hor-
ror, I can just imagine the
collective balk from my
MTV-raised generation:
Bad special effects! CNN is obviously showing
computer-generated promos for some poorly-
executed fall blockbuster.
Then the nation grieved. Our campus came
together in a symbolic show of unity. That very
sight, sitting in a sea of 15,000 silent, coifused
and normally-complacent students made nation-
al tragedy real. But national grief in my life was
soon overshadowed by personal grief. As the
week edged on, my silent weeping in the show-
er while listening to NPR gave way to news of
my grandfather's failing health. He died on Fri-
day, just as I was coming around to a mindful
response to these atrocities against the nation.
Just as national grief was giving way to anger,
my extended grieving period gave me time to
reflect more consciously than the more political-
ly-bent among us.
On Saturday, the minister asked my family
what my grandfather had given us. The question
did not sit well. A silence pervaded the scene.
I was the first to speak up, becauseno one
else seemed able. We all had stories of his greed
and anger directed at family members. It's not
an understatement to say that he died being
despised by even his own son. Certainly that
son, my uncle, who blames ten years of clinical
depression on my grandfather, wasn't going to
say his father had given him anything. My great
aunt, his only surviving sister and a good Christ-
ian, was searching in vain beyond good and
mostly bad memories for something he had
given her- but couldn't.
I, refusing hypocrisy as much as possible,
said, "This probably isn't what you are looking
for, but what my grandfather gave to me was an
example of a wasted life. I learned from him
how I wanted not to live." And I went on to

explain how my grandfather was never honest
with himself and never took responsibility for
his actions or feelings. He never legitimized his
own power. He lived by striking back irrational-
ly at the ones he loved.
The minister looked me straight in the eyes
and said it was clear to her how much this
meant to me. Of course, I wasn't saying any-
thing unusual, because private familial conver-
sations about the deceased were much more
viscous than anything I said at this little meet-
ing. I was just out of place, so, of course, none
of my points were included in the minister's
memorial service the next day. I guess, just as
during a national tragedy, one isn't supposed to
say anything that can be easily construed as
anti-nationalist, one cannot say something bad
about a person and expect to hear it repeated at
their funeral. But I don't care. Why are so many
people afraid to stand on their own?
I say once you're dead, you're dead. That's
it. And that's why I will never condone war.
And that's why, after turning my attention away
from personal grief to national tragedy, I began
to look for alternatives to the plotted nature of
the course we've set out on. This last week and
a half have been nothing but the predictable out-
come of historical action. And it's downright
It's clear that this war started long ago.
A couple of downed buildings, no matter
their national importance, are simply symp-
tomatic of something greater, not complete-
ly causal.
We started this war when the United States
assumed the role of empire. We caused this war
by manufacturing and selling more weapons
than any other country in the world. As if we
had learned nothing from World War I, we
blindly armed our allies as well as many of our
future enemies, expecting mutual armaments to
protect us, when instead, history has shown that
having arms simply escalates violence. Mutual
armaments beg to be used. Two world wars
have shown us this.
And knocking on foreign doors brings
together alliances. If we think the world is unit-
ed in a fight of good against evil - of democra-

cy versus authoritarianism - we are gravely
mistaken. Our product-driven civilizing mis-
sions around the world has done little, if any-
thing, to democratize the world. We have made
enemies through hegemony. With our own
greed, we are paying the price, though the
dichotomy is never this simple.
If George W. Bush wants war (or, more
accurately, if America wants war) then we will
get one. But this war will be all against all. It
will be the youth against the regimes that per-
petuate historic violence. Because we're too
smart for nationalism. Nation-building, a rela-
tively recent historical invention, is no longer
something we can responsibly condone. It caus-
es war. If we didn't see it before last week, it is
clear that the whole thinking behind the national
security state does nothing but shield us poorly
from those who would destroy our standard of
living with force. It allows the United States to
exploit the rest of the world.
Dubya obviously underestimates the resis-
tance already swelling on this campus and else-
where. But activism will only flourish if we turn
off our televisions and stop listening to corpo-
rate media's dichotomized version of history.
Real results will only come if we stop waiting
for our revelations to come from CNN - and
get lives.
Like my grandfather taught me in his own
unique way, wehave to accept responsibility for
our actions. We cannot strike out at those we
love. And if we love ourselves, if we have faith
in what it means to be human, we cannot strike
out against any members of the human race ,no
matter our species' atavistic penchant for retri-
I'm not going to get sucked into the Shrub's
rhetoric about good and evil and the necessity of
war. I'm not going to die for my country: I'm
not going to kill for my country either. I am try-
ing to leap from the wounds of my fear. It's
something we would all do well to try: To live
without fear and, though I struggle to say it, fill
our hearts with love.



Josh Wickerham can be reached
via e-mail atjwickerh@umich.edu.

Article unclear about
United Way funds
I am concerned the Daily has incorrectly
reported facts in the news article "MSA calls on
'U' to stop donations to United Way," (9/19/01).
During its Tuesday meeting, the Michigan Stu-
dent Assembly did not vote to immediately cut
funding to the United Way, as Kara Wenzel's
article implied. Rather, the assembly passed a
resolution asking the Board of Regents to shift
its donations to the Sept. I I fund, a branch of the
United Way specifically designed to benefit the
victims of the tragedies in New York and Wash-
ington. The resolution gives the University until
Oct. I to find an organization similar to the Unit-
ed Way, but one without discriminatory prac-
tices, before pressure is applied cut the tie
between the University and the United Way. The
Michigan Student Assembly is very aware of the
beneficial activities of the United Way during
this time of need, but it cannot stand passively as
the University violates its own practices. It is for
this reason that we decided to delay our pressure
on the University until Oct. 1, and have addition-
ally asked them to donate directly to the victims
through the Sept. I I fund.
LSA junior
The letter writer is rules and elections chair
/for the Michigan Student Assembly.
Follow Gandhi, look
for peace during crisis
Gandhi once said, "If we practice an eye for
an eye, then eventually the whole world will be
blind." Giving blood is one wonderful way to
save lives. Another is for each of us to write a
letter to our government representatives to voice
our opinions on the wisdom of an "all out war
against terrorism." This rhetoric is not originat-
ing from our leaders; it's simply an echo of what
is perceived to be the "overwhelming sentiment"
of the American public. But a collective voice of
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through our grief-infused rage to a place of
greater understanding, this voice will continue to
grow. As it does, we need to help our message to
venture outside the spheres of our academies,
our cafes, our spiritual centers, and our own
hearts and to surface within earshot of those who
hold the power of life and death - over our sis-
ters and brothers in distant lands, over our kin in
New York and Washington, and even over the
110,000 fans that will gather together in Michi-
gan Stadium one sunny Saturday afternoon -- in
their hands.
Peace to all people everywhere. A special
embrace for all the Arab and Islamic students on
campus. To every message of hate, may we
respond with 10,000 messages of love.
LSA Comprehensive Studies Program lecturer
An answer to the war
hawks among us
Two letters to the editor yesterday ask the
question, "If not war, then what?" of the liber-
als/pacifists/rationalists/humanitarians of our
nation. The answer, at least for me, seems
apparent. Like many Americans, I'm in favor of
holding those responsible for terrorism. Arrest-
ing those responsible? Yes. Using covert forces
to secure those? Yes. A limited response in
cooperation with governments and organiza-
tions around the globe? Yes.
Seizing funds and working with govern-
ments to cut off the roots of global terrorism?
Full scale war, however, is quite a different
matter. I fail to see how anyone can honestly
believe that invading a country predominantly
inhabited by people using farming technology
not seen in North America for a century gets us
any closer to eradicating terrorism.
Instead we will swell the ranks of our foes,
spread further distaste with American policies,
and speed up the futile cycle of violence. By
war today, we grow and train tomorrow's ter-
That's the answer for one liberal anyway.

Ajihad on the geo-political consensus?

Time bears culture. Culture defines people. People usually dic-
tate events. Events stir commentary. Commentary thrives on
opinion. Opinion is strengthened by the populace. The popu-
lace, that last link in this chain of drawn-out logic, needs corrective
knowledge, especially so in times of crisis. In effect and essence, the
populace needs to know. It also needs to have its say. It seems our
turn to contribute has arrived.

This column initiates the effort to grip the
realities behind what CNN is cynically calling
"America's New War." It is not meant to be
high-profile commentary involving geo-strategic
zeal and military-intelligence punditry. It is
meant to be an exercise of opinion - reflective,
analytical, interviewed, and of course, free.

narrow aspects. But where are the real answers
for the people who really want them?
There is going to be no extensive dwelling
on the short-sighted courses of action America
has taken now and again to alienate millions.
LSA could actually dedicate a semester to U.S.
foreign policy blunders and still run out of time.

Experts will be questioned, but
their opinion will be held in the
same light as others'., There will
be no necessity to title argu-
ments as pro and con, or right
and wrong, at least as far as
social norms go. We will try to
facilitate every sort of view. Due
to limited space, more notewor-
thy commentary will be printed.
Consider this a call to arms, if
you will. I'm laying down the
gauntlet of opinion. My personal
views, ambivalent at best, might
be a starting point for many...

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The job at hand is not to decon-
struct the U.S. geo-political
Harry. It is rather to redirect our
views outwards, towards this
new faceless and borderless
threat to civility. Please note that
I did not cite this as a war against
"civilization." The U.S. already
declared that war long ago. So
did the USSR. So did Great
Britain. So did the Ottoman
Empire. So did ancient Rome.
Every time a global power has
connived to gain strength at

freedom; apply sanctions against countries that
do not meet American standards on these issues;
promote American corporate interests under the
slogans of free trade and open markets; shape
World Bank and International Monetary Fund
policies to serve those same corporate interests;
intervene in local conflicts in which it has rela-
tively little direct interest; bludgeon other coun-
tries to adopt economic and social policies that
will benefit American economic interests; pro-
mote American arms sales abroad while
attempting to prevent comparable sales by other
countries; force out one UN secretary-general
and dictate the appointment of his successor;
expand NATO initially to include Poland, Hun-
gary; and the Czech Republic and no one else;
undertake military action against Iraq and later
maintain harsh economic sanctions against the
regime; and categorize certain countries as
"rogue states," excluding them from global
institutions because they refuse to kowtow to
American wishes."
To reiterate: although morally reprehensi-
ble, the actions of last Tuesday seem politically
inevitable. America has to wake up from the
unipolar day-dream its been reveling in since
its post-Cold War emergence as the only glob-
al hegemon. Kings have to act like kings, not
bullies or hypocrites. Sadly though, this song
has long been sung. In recent trends, terms like
"national interest above everything" from peo-
ple like Condi Rice have readily become a part
of political pop-art. Then some F-14s fly over
northern Iraq, cluster-bombing missile sites
and/or villages. Tony Blair sends in some Har-
riers, putting in his ten pence worth. CNN,
bored by all of this by now, doesn't even give
this a 15-second segment. Major League Base-
ball has more precedence. Meanwhile; the peo-
ple who are a part of the equation, but who
don't necessarily fit in this relative gains net-
work, at least not positively, see their indepen-
dence compromised. Omnipresent America.

"Declaration of war," says Bush. But
against whom? Twelve year-old rock throwers
in the West Bank? Peasants in Kabul? "Face-
less coward," he says again. But was not
Osama bin Laden, the globally recognized
Mickey Mouse-like icon of international terror-
ism, involved in facilitating the Arab volunteer
-effort of the Afghan Mujahideen in the '80s,
against that "Evil Empire," the Soviet Union,
all under CIA acquiescence? "Times change,"
says Bush, as Congress nods in conformity.
Jidv Woodruff sheds a tear. Peter Jennings

another nation's expense, the clash of civiliza-
tions has been declared inevitable.
Still, this is not justified. Not in any sense of
the word. Not if you pull on a single logical
strand and make it bend on the whim of our cur-
rent predicament. Not even if you label the peo-
ple who did this brave, or selfless to their cause,
or adamant for their goals. If there ever was
such a concept, last Tuesday was a moral no-go.
But not a political one. Not even a little bit.
People in glass houses should not throw
stones. Nor should they have short-term mem-
ories. Samuel Huntington writes stridently in

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