4A -The Michigan Daily - Monday, November 5, 2001
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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.
If a humanitarian
catastrophe is attributed
to our military operations,
it could pull apart our
to fight terrorism,
radicalize more people
who might be sympathetic
to the terrorists' views,
and may even make the
American people more
vulnerable in the end."
- Sen. Paul Wellstone (D-Minn) as
quoted by the Canadian newspaper
The Globe and Mail in yesterday's edition.
SN~oT!MrN Y . or. THEY HAVE
ALWW VYLATE 1~aU6 LE KE -ri N&sTEAL
Fot MY AvPI01 4EI i OF TIME AROURM .00~
WCL(OMETo .....\\Q_ _
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The linguistics of ignorance
JOHANNA HANINK PARLANCE OF OUR TIMES
merica has a
security: We don't under-
stand the languages of our
So begins Dennis
Baron's Oct. 27 New York
Times op/ed contribution,
"America doesn't under-
stand what the world is saying".
Fair enough. We don't understand the lan-
guages of our attackers. But we don't under-
stand the languages of our allies, either.
Eighteen languages are spoken natively in Pak-
istan alone. And I don't know one of them.
It is important to be equally bothered by a
collective inability to understand the languages
of enemies and friends - or equally unboth-
ered. Language literacy should not be consid-
ered a weapon of war.
Through de facto discouragement of bilin-
gualism and educational policy, the U.S. contin-
ues to build our language barriers. Granted, it is
unreasonable to expect Pashtun departments to
spring up across the country. But dialectical dif-
ferences aside, Arabic (the most common forms
of which are Egyptian and Algerian) is one of
the most widely spoken languages in the world
- and is the dominant language in what is
arguably the most volatile area.
Baron's column elicited a large response
from the Times' readership. In one of the three
letters the Times printed, "The language
weapon," C. D. Anandasegar of Brick, N.J.
writes, "Dennis Baron's reminder of our weak
foreign-language knowledge in an era of com-
plex global politics is an eye-opener. Our ene-
mies have the advantage of conducting their
'business' in their native language as long as we
They're tricky, those enemies of ours.
Sneaky. Devious. Underhanded. And clearly not
playing by the rules.
The FBI, the CIA and a hundred other
acronymed government organizations, looking
for new recruits, are approaching Middle East-
ern studies departments at universities across the
country. They're clambering to find speakers of
Arabic. Speakers, at least, who can get through
security clearance and background checks.
What these government organizations don't
seem to get is that it's not a game or a contest.
And if it's a contest, it's completely one-sided.
The "they" has got our language figured out.
And so does the rest of the world. But back in
our hemisphere, we need to realize that it's not
World War II and we're not looking for crypt-
analysts in a scramble to break German Baudot
Code. Arabic is not a secret.
I can't help but imagine George Tenet,
Director of Central Intelligence at the CIA, as
Ralphie Parker from the 1983 film "A Christ-
mas Story" - harassing the mailman day after
day, waiting for his Little Orphan Annie
decoder ring to come.
Learning a language is not about beating ter-
rorists at their own game. They haven't written
their notes or captioned their diagrams in Arabic
just to be tricky. But it's been a fun side effect.
As much as we like to.fool ourselves Eng-
lish, has not been lingua franca-fied enough yet
for us to sit back and expect the world to come
to us. And it shouldn't take terrorist attacks to
wake us up to the realization that for six percent
of American college students to be currently
enrolled in language class is abysmal and
embarrassing. It's just another indication that for
too long we've been living the un-examined
At this point, the argument goes beyond the
intrinsic benefits of learning a foreign language,
beaten to death in recent months by academics
and members of the media. It's not just for per-
sonal edification anymore - it's about being an
informed and contributing citizen of the world.
Native speakers of English have an incredi-
ble advantage. Our first words were spoken in
the language of business and academia, modem
diplomacy and even entertainment. And the
majority of us decide to waste that advantage
with complacency and ignorance.
But concurrent with the solemn head nod-
ding in response to calls for more foreign lan-
guage education is the persistent expectation
that everyone speak English in that television-
anchor middle Ohio dialect. In a Nov. 2 letter to
The Daily ("When has GEO ever cared about
students?"), University alumnus David Taub
writes, "I doubt I'm the only who had a hard
time understanding a word of foreign GSIs in
their pathetic attempt to speak English when
conducting a discussion section."
Taub's unappraised argument, besides being
constructed with pure class, is merely indicative
of the outlook that has gotten us into so much
trouble already. The double standard once again
rears it's ugly head.
Johanna Hanink can be reached
via e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
V LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Political parties have
same goals, different
ideas to achieve them
TO THE DAILY:
In the few weeks since I've come to this
University and started reading the Daily, I have
disagreed with the editors often; I've even
thought some of their views were simply not
well-reasoned. However, I have never been
offended enough by any statements made to
write a letter. Ari Paul's Nov. 2 In Passing
changed that ("Republicans at their worst").
While one may disagree with another's point of
view, to call it "disgusting, selfish and repug-
nant" without understanding it is patently irre-
If Paul took the time to listen to some of
those who thought differently than he did, he
would understand why Republicans stand in
opposition to "big government": We simply
believe that individual people can generally
spend their money better than large institutions,
which come under pressure from many direc-
tions. There are no hidden agendas in that;
there's no cynical protection of political goals at
the cost of the common good (some people are
exceptions, of course, but such people exist in
the Democratic Party, too). Does it occur to Paul
that Republicans might be concerned about criti-
cisms of anti-terror legislation because they gen-
uinely are worried about protecting our national
security? I disagree with some of the legislation
myself, but see DeLay's and Armey's and oth-
ers', points of view.
As for the Republican Party being "guilty of
being hypocritical," I would like to ask Paul to
point to just one large organization of people
that hasn't at times been hypocritical - all
organizations represent people of vastly differ-
ent views and therefore change policy as power
changes hands. Like Democrats, Republican
individuals in general want nothing more than to
improve the lives of the people of this country
- we just have differing ideas about how to do
Don't take cheap shots
on differing views
TO THE DAILY:
I would like to comment on the viewpoint
"Anti-choice terrorism" (10/31/01), written by
Katrina Mann. Please, let's not be petty. It's
not right to take cheap shots at a differing
viewpoint, just because you disagree with it. I
would hope that no matter what side of the
argument Mann's viewpoints lie, she would
recognize that not all "anti-choice"/"pro-life"
proponents are terroristic psychos calling for
death to all "pro-choice"/"anti-life" providers,
nor are they all going to drive a vehicle around
displaying graphic pictures of mutilated fetus-
Let's be serious. Just because some people
claiming Islam as their religion attacked the
World Trade Center and the Pentagon, no one
believes that Muslims inheritently want to kill
all Americans. Also, even though some support-
ers of affirmative action scream their viewpoints
from the steps of the Grad library, we don't
automatically assume that all of the supporters
of affirmative action are like this.
Just because the viewpoint of "anti-
choice"/"pro-life" isn't popular, doesn't mean
you should demonize it. I'll grant you that
recently (as far as I know) there hasn't been a
very good rep around to give educated opin-
ions on the "anti-choice"/"pro-life" view-
points, but then neither has their been an
educated discussion of the "anti-life"/"pro-
choice" viewpoint. (I do not view Mann's
viewpoint as educated or a discussion). I
myself would be interested to hear a civic
debate on the issue, so I can see a much wider
picture of the issue in whole.
On the topic, I don't really think that Mann,
as an advocate of "pro-choice"/"anti-life" you
really should be telling the world exactly what
the "anti-choice"/"pro-life" believes in regards
to the mother and her mental and physic'al health
as you really aren't a qualified representative
with the best concerns of the said platform in
mind. Now I also would agree that the terroris-
tic acts should stop immediately, and that the
gunning downrof abortion providers is defiantly
wrong, but I'm sure that a true person who
views himself/herself as "pro-life" would also.
So please, let's not be petty.
The real terrorist: Planned Parenthood
BY THE STUDENTS FOR
LIFE EXECUTIVE BOARD
Katrina Mann's viewpoint ("Anti-
Choice terrorism," 10/31/01) is full of
ignorance and inaccuracies. First, she
insinuates that the pro-life movement sup-
ports and even condones the extremely rare
actions of a few on the radical fringe. This
is absolutely untrue. Furthermore, extreme
individual acts' of violence can never be
used to stereotype a whole group of people.
If it is wrong to stereotype all Muslims as
terrorists, then it is just as false to equate
all pro-lifers with violence.
ductive "Choice" Campaign involving
mobile trucks featuring large images of
aborted babies. The pictures depicted first
trimester abortions in total accuracy. They
are not pictures of third trimester abortion
victims or pictures of miscarried babies.
CBR is currently suing a number of organi-
zations that have made this false claim.
Fourth, her statement, "the number of
Planned Parenthood's patients receiving
pre-natal care double those seeking abor-
tion" is a blatant lie.
In truth, according to Planned Parent-
hood's own 1998-99 Annual Report 80 per-
cent of patients seeking pre-natal care from
tional organization that wages a subtle
international"war" on Third World peoples
and minorities in the western world. While
the people who run Planned Parenthood are
mostly white, affluent upper-middle class
feminists and wealthy doctors, the majority
of the people they target for their "ser-
vices" is the exact opposite.
Again, in its own 1997-98 Annual
Report, Planned Parenthood describes its
core clients as "young, low income, and
women of color." In fact, Planned Parent-
hood is proud of the fact that over two-
thirds of its abortion clinics are in
predominately African-American and His-