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October 04, 2001 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2001-10-04

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4A - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, October 4, 2001

OP/ED

albe ltchMirbiguu Ijl

420 MAYNARD STREET
ANN ARBOR, MI 48109
dailyletters@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
... Much of what is
passing for pacifism in
this instance is not pacifism at
all but only the latest tedious
manifestation of a well-known
pre-existing condition: the
largely reactionary, largely
incoherent,- largely silly
muddle of anti-American,
anti-corporatist, anti-globalist
sentiments that passes for the
politics of the left these days."
--- Michael Kelly, in his column
in yesterday's Washington Post.

6 j~
C I f; N -----

I
I

4

A C"AA$?icg o t'it wEs MKoYUE Asrt...

Bullets for the protesters! (and democra y)
N ICK WOVOMER BACK TO THE W)OOM

A

ast week, the Left
digested three
delightfully contrari-
an articles from two of its
delightfully contrarian sons
-journalist Christopher
Hitchens (loves fetuses,
hates Mother Teresa) and
popular European.intellec-
tual Slavoj Zizek (thinks
Marxism could use some
help from the Son of God).
In two articles for The Nation (available at
www thenation. com), Hitchens has convincingly
argued that the best way for the United States to
compensate for its genocidal Middle East poli-
cies is for it to overthrow the Taliban regime -
which he calls "fascism with an Islamic face."
Zizek published his analysis of Sept. 11 on
www.lacan. com and remarked that "whenever
we encounter such a purely evil Outside (he's
referring to the terrorists), we should gather the
courage to endorse the Hegelian lesson: in this
pure Outside, we should recognize the distilled
version of our own essence."
Could it be, then, that when we examine the
evil zealots who murdered more than 6,000 peo-
ple, we detect a kernal of good old American
fascism?
For various reasons, this is not such an easy
question to answer, bit by inverting it - by
looking for Taliban-esque elements emerging in
American society - I think the frightening
answer becomes pretty obvious. Consider the
following information:
Last week, the Associated Press reported
that a poll by the Sienna College Research Insti-
tute found that 34 percent of people in enlight-
ened New York state think "individuals who
authorities identify as being sympathetic to ter-
rorist causes" should be put into internment
camps. It's not hard to understand the popular
appeal of such a plan if "terrorist causes" only

refers to groups like al-Qaida. The problem is,
our government's "terrorists" can be someone
else's freedom fighters. For example, the United
States government once labeled Nelson Man-
dela's African National Congress a "terrorist
organization (with) ... a number of interests that
were fundamentally inimical to the U.S." That's
what Dick Cheney said in July 2000 as he tried
to explain-away his 1986 vote against a House
resolution demanding Mandela's release from
prison and recognition of the ANC.
In a full-page advertisement that appeared
in Friday's Daily, '60s radical turned conserva-
tive self-promoter David Horowitz noted the
similarities between the current anti-war hyste-
ria movement and the protests against the Viet-
nam war. "In the 1960s and 1970s, the tolerance
of anti-American hatreds was so high, that the
line between dissent and treason was eventually
erased," Horowitz wrote, insinuating that
protesting "America's New War" is tantamount
to treason. The penalty for treason, of course, is
death. It'sfa good thing Ann Arbor is close to
rural areas - even right-thinking students
might object to a mass grave on the Diag;
besides, Reds stink more than people do when
they decompose.
Recently patriotic program directors at the
radio conglomerate Clear Channel, concerned
about maintaining national unity, began what
the corporation called a "grassroots effort" to
distribute amongst themselves a list of 150
songs that should not be played. Thanks to one
of America's most treasured values - irrespon-
sible, crass capitalism, "praise Jesus!" - Clear
Channel owns 1,213 stations across the country;
many of them are popular music and rock sta-
tions. Naturally, the "grassroots" list is full of
un-American devil music like Simon and Gar-
funkel's "Bridge Over Troubled Water," Cat
Stevens' "Peace Train," and John Lennon's
"Imagine." An article in The New York Times
even disputed Clear Channel's "grassroots"

excuse and reported that the list had originated,
at least in part, in the corporate office. But the
list's actual origins don't matter. If the list was a
"grassroots effort," then that's even scarier - it
means that radio program directors from all over
the country were pressuring each other into
"self'-censorship.
In the radical academic community, schol-
ars are also being censored or frightened into
just shutting-up. Zizek limself is a victim of this
new "radical purge" - a journal that was sup-
posed to publish an article of his about V.I.
Lenin (of whom he has recently been doing a lot
of original thinking) decided the day after the
attacks that it was "inopportune" to proceed.
Combine these lesser-known occurrences
with the high-profile assaults on (at least) scores
of Arab-, Muslim- and Sikh-Americans, as well
as the smearing of "Politically Incorrect" host
Bill Maher and the future political outlook gets
even more dismal.
Significantly, when George W. Bush char-
acterized life in Afghanistan in his speech
before a joint session of Congress, he did not
mention or even imply that the Taliban regime
outlaws free speech but he did mention that
under the Taliban "you can be jailed for owning
a television." An army of skilled speechwriters,
arguing over every single word in the address,
decided that the Talibanized dystopia Bush
would describe to America would be one where
it is illegal to watch the networks that have been
so uncritical of his administration; not a place
where people can actively protest their govern-
ment's actions. Respect for the First Amend-
ment was not what the Bush administiration
wanted to communicate to the American peo-
ple, nor is it what the American people wanted
to hear, and that is very frightening.

Nick Woomer can be reached
via e-mail at nwoomer@umich.edu.

I

How our Monkey-rn-Chief won my respect
JOSH WICKERHAM TiUS 0 . WORLD

uesday night I had
the distinct plea-
sure of sitting
down in an intimate media
room on North Campus
with renowned perfor-
mance and visual artist
Karen Finley. (She's also
known for rolling around
naked in honey, which she
did last night at the Michi-
gan Theater). What began as Karen's asking the
small group of art faculty and students (and me,
the lone social sciences guy) to assess the
impact of the very emotional events of the I I"
on our scholarly and artistic projects quickly
turned into something much more personal. As
we shared stories about loss and acknowledged
inappropriate WTC humor, we tried to under-
stand how to make what we do - something
personal and at the same time very public -
into something that would fit.
It's hard. Admittedly, like most, I'm still
confused, and think my procrastination in writ-
ing this column has had something to do with
the fact that I want to write about issues that are
important to me, but that somehow feel unim-
portant now that we Americans know how the
rest of the world lives.
I know I can't change you by writing any of
this. I can only do my best to articulate thought.
And what my thought tells me is we must start
thinking about the consequences of our actions.
And even more important than simple thought is
the real. We must act.
But some people, especially those in power,
have little to say and even less still to act on.
"Recognize," New York mayor Rudolph
Giuliani said, "that there is no room for neutrali-
ty on the issue of terrorism. You're either with
civilization or you're with terrorism." Bullshit.
I'm for neither civilization nor terrorism. There
is no dichotomy here. People with small minds
dissect issues into polarity like this. (My

respects to my high school econ teacher who
said thesis and antithesis was a rational way to
look at the world).
The problem is that humanity has organized
itself much like a clan of chimpanzees. The
dominant male climbs to the top of the social
heap and acts as the arbiter of permissible social
conduct. He bites the chimps who get out of
line, keeps the enemy "Other" monkeys away
and munches on the choicest jungle leaves. He
has it good, while the rest of have to behave.-
Humnans, on the other hand, though theoreti-
cally having more advanced cognitive abilities
than monkeys, have it much worse than the
lower primates. Humans have to work at jobs.
they hate (or soon will, college set) when all
monkeys do is eat and fuck. Humans have delu-
sions of grandeur like that pretentious idea of
"civilization" - a notion that has so far only
given our species dabbles of art and a middle
class lifestyle.* We're still playing the same
monkey political games that our distant ances-
tors played. The guy with the biggest stick wins.
Yet it doesn't make me feel any better to know
that our Monkey in Chief has the biggest one of
all. It scares me to death.
Now that it's "us" and "them," "America"
vetsus "those who hate freedom" and all this
rhetoric of war, war, war, I even begin to doubt
that we live in a postmodern world. Because, for
living in a period-many characterize as being
distinctly postmodern, we still have to deal with
a lot of modern crap. And Bush is the epitome
of this. As much as the rest of us are at face
value disempowered by media representations
and the blurring of boundaries that comes from
living in postmodern times, our boy on top
thrives on his illegitimate power.
As any artist can attest, their craft has
become increasingly complicated after the
events of Sept. 11. Considering myself an artist
of the printed word, my job has gotten extreme-
ly difficult as well. Can a person of conscious-
ness simply ignore the fundamental shift that

has rifted our society? Can that person proceed
on a set course?
The answer, obviously, is no. And that's
why Dubya's job, though he makes it look hard,
is easy. He's not a person of consciousness.
Though he's not gone as far in polarizing issues
as his dinosauric Cold War cronies, he's still
using rhetoric that will get a lot of people killed.
And that's the modern in action, with its "I'm
right, you're wrong mentality," hanging like a
giant anvil over my head.
Ever since I realized in a very real sense that
my life could end tomorrow, I've been stopping
to enjoy things like beauty a lot more. Beauty is
a very easy to realize social value. But beauty
doesn't cut it when I now know the terror that
the rest of the world faces nearly every day. I
now have a renewed sense of responsibility. I
realize I have nothing to lose by acting. I have a
renewed sense that this growing peace move-,
ment on campus will raise student conscious-
ness in a swath of white light that could easily
envelop the world, if we let it.
And though I'm confused, I'm chugging
along. That's because I tend to side with the val-
ues in Emerson's transcendentalist thoughts. We
must become the light that we wish the world to
become in order that others may learn from us.
Jesus, if I'm not mistaken, made a similarstate-
ment. In the Gospel of Thomas, when Jesus's
disciples asked him where they should go, he
said, "There is light within a man of light, and it
lights up the whole world. If he does not shine,
he is darkness."
Our boy, though his light is dimly cast like a
fog across the globe, is strong and that's some-
thing to be respected, even if it's just out of fear.,
After all, he still carries the biggest stick.

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

*Restrictions do apply. "Middle class lifestyle "granted
only to Americans and other oppressors.

V LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Clinton should be
next 'U' president

difficult to replace. However, when it comes
down to it, Bill Clinton may be the greatest
fundraiser our country has ever known. This
would bode very well for campus expansion

dents parade through his living room after
Michigan beat Penn State in 1998, Bollinger
made his home the students' home. 'Well at
least Bill Clinton let 20 somethings into his

A

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