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November 12, 2001 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2001-11-12

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4A -The Michigan Daily - Monday,.November 12, 2001

OP/ED

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ctbr Alkigtuu ┬žai'r

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

EDITED AND MANAGED BY
STUDENTS A 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 ofThe Michigan Daily.

NOTABLE
QUOTABLE
We don't
know anything
about anthrax."
- Osama bin Laden, laughingly responding
to a question from a Pakistani news source
regarding anthrax concerns in the U.S.

RIi ti
PRE ~TASAWS
YOU N~kOW 101965S ARE BAD WIREk YOUR FAct READS
EASTER TAW , THE R146S CA ATREE,.

4

The pointlessness of the Ramadan debate
AMER G. ZAHR THE PROGRESSIVE PEN

6

~The ongoing political
debate as to whether
or not we should
continue our bombing cam-
paign in Afghanistan during
Ramadan seems to me to be
useless, if not dangerous.
Those who are anti-war and
enter into this debate can be
pulled into an undesirable
position. What this public discussion seems to
be achieving is one major thing: Quelling anti-
war voices. When we engage in debating bomb-
ing during Ramadan, we are implicitly
supporting the larger concept of the bombing
itself.
Surely, it is not inconsistent to argue against
the war while pointing out the cultural insensi-
tivity of our government's inability to grasp the
enotional weight of the month of Ramadan on
the Arab and Muslim world. But in arguing the
latter point, one must make sure not to get
caught in the trap of advocating for a pause in
the bombing during Ramadan rather than an end
to the war altogether. Those of us who are
against the bombing must make sure not to lose
our paramount message and unintentionally cre-
ate the impression that if bombing was halted
during Ramadan only to continue after, that we
would somehow be satisfied.
Although it does not seem that the Bush
team will halt "America's New War" during
Ramadan, imagine if they did. From a political
standpoint, it would be crippling for the anti-war
movement. How could anyone who was anti-
war attack the war effort after such a display of
America's compassion and cultural understand-
ing? It is precisely for this reason that getting
caught up in such a debate can be so dangerous.
Would those of us who are anti-war be con-
tent with a bombing pause only? Of course not.

The debate is not whether or not to stop bomb-
ing during Ramadan, but rather the debate is the
same as it has been all along: Why should we be
bombing at all? What are we achieving? And
more importantly, what are we creating? These
are the questions we have been asking, and these
are the questions we must continue to ask,
whether it's Ramadan, Christmas, Hanukah,
Kwanzaa, whatever.
In an international arena, however, such a
debate only hurts our image. It makes the
American people appear as insensitive to Mus-
lim holy times, which I don't believe the major-
ity are (I have found that the vast majority of
my fellow Americans that I have talked to have
become more interested in broadening their
learning about Islamic and Arab cultures and
traditions). It also allows the dictatorial regimes
throughout the Arab and Muslim world that are
supporting our bombing campaign to strengthen
their hold on their peoples. Leaders in Pakistan,
Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the like will surely use
the issue to gain support among their popula-
tions, who are largely against the war in
Afghanistan, all the while continuing to provide
quiet support to America. And for those simi-
larly corrupt dictators in the nations that are
against the campaign, such as in Iraq, they will
only be able to fortify their already choke-like
holds on their citizens.
It is also interesting to note how Ramadan
has been constructed in major media circles
during this whole debate. On Oct. 23, as this
debate was getting underway, CNN ran a
headline entitled "Ramadan looms large in
Afghan strikes." I have never heard of a reli-
gious holiday "looming." But according to
some at CNN, Ramadan "looms." There are
other recent CNN headlines that have con-
tained "looming" prospects, like "Japan jobs
vanish as recession looms" (Sept. 28), or "N.

Ireland assembly deadline looms" (Sept. 21),
or "Kabul aid workers trial looms" (Sept. 3).
So deadlines "loom," recessions "loom," and
trials "loom." "Loom," if you have not figured
it out yet, has a somewhat ominous connota-
tion. To loom is to be mysterious. Only dis-
comfort, uncertainty, and anxiety are to follow
"looming" events. According to a thesaurus,
some of the synonyms of "looming" are
"impending," "imminent," "hanging over
somebody," and "threatening." The connec-
tion is quite dangerous. If Ramadan is "loom-
ing" or "threatening," then what kind of
people could celebrate such a holiday?
The same CNN article proclaims "the
importance of the fasting month of Ramadan on
the psyche of the Muslim cannot be underesti-
mated. One of the five pillars of Islam, the pres-
sure on all Muslims to remain faithful to Islam is
never more obvious than at this time." Pressure?
It gets better. Rahul Bedi, an analyst from Jane's
Information Group, a consulting firm specializ-
ing in defense-related matters, stated in the arti-
cle that the issue will be used by bin Laden in an
attempt to create support among Muslims. That
is most certainly sure to happen.
But he goes on to call Ramadan a "fault
line," stating "if the U.S. was to wage war dur-
ing Ramadan, it could be seen as being com-
pletely insensitive to Arabs worldwide." This
may be the largest problem of all. If well-paid
analysts like Bedi and our U.S, government offi-
cials refuse to acknowledge what they have
already done to offend Arab and Muslim sensi-
bilities worldwide, then some ephemeral talk
about being sensitive during Ramadan means
nothing at all.
Amer G. Zahr can be reached via
e-mail at zahrag@umich.edu.

6
6
S

Y LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

V IN PASSING

REDS UNDER THE BED?
The Miami Herald reported last week that
Goodwill Industries of South Florida fired
Michael Italie, a minimum wage worker who
sewed military jackets. He was laid off because
he was a member of the Socialist Workers Party
and a candidate in the Miami mayoral election.
Dennis Pastrana, the CEO of Goodwill,
defended the decision by saying, "We cannot
have anyone who is attempting to subvert the
United States of America." He also stated that
Italie's "subversive" beliefs included support for
the Cuban Revolution and firm opposition
against the bombing campaign in Afghanistan.
Unfortunately for Italie, Miami labor attor-
neys and the local branch of the ACLU agree
that he does not have a legal point against the
company, because there is no law barring a pri-
vate business from practicing political discrimi-
nation.
Though no laws have been broken, the situa-
tion sets a dangerous precedent for the coming
months and possibly years in this "new war." If
it is the interest of this country to protect its citi-
zens from terrorists that hate this nation and its
ideals, then it is also imperative to preserve such
ideals that define this country. One of those
ideals is the freedom of speech and association.
It is believed that the terrorists seek to destroy
our way of'life, and if we decide to dismiss this
basic right, then they have taken the next step
towards their goal. If companies and law
enforcement agencies feel that it is necessary to
discriminate against people that hold views that

are different from our domestic elite in order to
fight the war against terrorism, then the terrorists
are winning.
- Ari Paul

OREGON V. ASHCROFr

Twice in the last seven years Oregon has
voted to allow assisted suicide. It has been legal
there since 1997. Now that the Bush Administra-
tion is in place, the eternally vigilant conserva-
tive crusader Attorney General John Ashcroft
has directed his attention to the law.
Last week, Ashcroft attempted to halt the
practice by authorizing federal drug agents to
revoke the license of doctors who prescribed life
ending medication. On Thursday, a federal dis-
trict court temporarily overturned Ashcroft's rul-
ing.
Things like this are what we feared would
come from Ashcroft. During his confirmation
hearings Ashcroft expressed his belief that abor-
tion should be an individual state's decision. By
that same logic, he should feel the same about
assisted suicide. Apparently what he meant was
that it should be a state's right to decide on these
issues as long as they are opposed to them -
otherwise the attorney general should step in and
decide for the states.
-.Jess Piskor
In Passing views are those of individual
members of the Daily's editorial board
and do not necessarily represent the
views of The Michigan Daily

Atheists openly
discriminated against
To THE DAILY:
The recent resurgence of patriotism that has
been displayed in the wake of recent events is
not surprising and is nice to see, however, it has
lead to some disturbing trends. One phrase that
has been coined to describe our nation's
response to these attacks is "Religious Patrio-
tism." It is definitely understandable that in times
of uncertainty, many will seek answers in their
faith. I am not against this method of seeking
comfort, however, I am deeply concerned with
the way in which this patriotism and religious
resurgence has manifested itself. Many times
over, I have heard people state that our nation is
unified in its belief in God; whether we are
Hindu, Jewish, Muslim or Christian, we all
believe in a higher power. This could not be fur-
ther from the truth. Survey after survey show
that as much as 10 percent of this nation consider
themselves atheist.
Since Sept. 11, atheists have been attacked in
the public arena. Star Jones of The View, Kath-
leen Parker of USA Today, Jerry Falwell and
Ben Stein (although Stein intelligently apolo-
gized for his comments) have blamed atheists for
the attacks, stated that they would never vote for
an atheist, and Kathleen Parker went as far as to
write "There were none (atheists) in the World
Trade Center on Sept. 11, we can guess." A
recent Gallup Poll asking whether someone
would vote for a particular person for president,
showed atheists to be the group most discrimi-
nated against with a mere 49 percent suggesting
that they would ever consider an Atheist candi-
date (see www.gallup.com for the results). In
fact, there are still seven states that have laws
restricting atheists from even running for public
office! The fact that this discrimination against
atheists is accepted, I find appalling.
Recent legislation has sought to allow
schools to display "God Bless America" with
supporters stating that it, along with "In God we
trust" are not religious, but patriotic statements. I
find that laughable. In addition, a new bill is
attempting to reinstate prayer in public schools,
something that was thought to be unacceptable
before the attacks. These statements do not
reflect the entire population and are an obvious
violation of State-Church separation.

TO THE DAILY:
Chalk covering my shoes, posters stran-
gling my door, my pockets teeming with a
deciduous forest worth of paper scraps. All of
this to promote the names and political careers
of my peers, those who wish to lead and alter
the course of this great university. They will
leave this month either with an esteemed posi-
tion among the greatest students in the coun-
try or a surly impression of our judgmental
student body. I, however, will leave these
elections with one emotion and one emotion
only: Befuddlement. I am destined to vote, for
I feel it the duty of everyone who will be
affected by the results, but as the situation
stands now, I am also certain that I will have
no idea what I am supporting. This University
has no public forum to approach, debate or
even present the views of our potential deci-
sion makers and representatives. We have.
fallen underneath the'strife of the modern
American political world, represented most
recently by our current president, where sim-
ple name recognition will deliver an electoral
victory, regardless of public opinion, political
climate, or in o' Georgie's case, candidate
incompetence. This problem is not an insur-
mountable one, with the extensive resources
provided to us at this institution.- The auditori-
ums are large enough and accessible enough
to provide adequate access to speeches,
debates, or other displays of platform and ide-
ology. If this is infeasible, or, more likely,
poorly attended, we have six university chan-
nels with hdurs upon hours of available time,
especially for a program with heavy campus
implications. The "kiosks," message boards,
and every other imaginable space have been
bombarded with unnecessary, environmental-
ly damaging, and furthermore, uninformative
flyers. What began as a theoretically sound

DEBBIE MILLf/Daily
Diag chalkings mark coming MSA elections.
and simple practice has quickly turned into an
ugly campus wide epidemic. Despite this, it
too can be easily stopped within the bound-
aries of our university resources. Simply allot
each registered candidate a certain amount of
space in each pivotal location, optimally
grouping by the position being contested. This
way, the weaker, less financially stable groups
have an equal shot at the title, and, our cam-
pus remains pretty and presentable. In addi-
tion, we can use the widely popular Michigan
Daily as a vehicle for platforms and campaign
jargon, again, applying the equal distribution
theory. In our nations time of utmost political
distrust, we at the University, the finest public
education network in the country, do not even
have the opportunity to be lied to. In order to
represent the students' beliefs and interests,
we must have access to those of the candi-
dates.
PETE WOIWODE
Kinesiology freshman

MSA elections - a lot of
chalk, few ideas

0

I

Curtin accepts apology
from Independent
To THE DAILY:
I would like to extend a heartfelt thank you

pus to know that sometimes when issues of sex-
ism are raised and struggled over they will be
responded to in a serious, open and conscien-
tious way.
I also want to applaud the courage of the
many women who spoke out at the assembly
meeting about their experience and assessment

..I

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