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March 12, 2002 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2002-03-12

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, March 12, 2002


Zee firtrb-twoutt:49atig


SINCE 1890

Editor in Chief
Editorial Page Editor

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.

< <Sadly, that
positive energy is
waning as tech risks
becoming just
another hog at the
government trough."
- Howard Gleckman, in this week's issue
of Business Week, criticizing high tech
industries for their growing demands for
protectionist policies. Gleckman compares
their demands with the US. steel industry,
suggesting that U.S. tech companies will
lose competetiveness in the long run.


-I2A4-eyv4- *on




Shadowboxing with God

Let us bow our heads in

nd so goes the ritual
that I am all but
forced to endure
every Easter when I make
my annual trip to church, as
well as when I attended my
youngest sister's baptismal
ceremonies and every time I
get together with family to feast (that is, if I want
to get my hands on even a scrap of food). It is a
prayer of emptiness to a deity that I don't identify
with, with words that seem otherwise completely
outlandish to me when I hear them. So I play the
role for no other reason than to appease the people
around me, who will take it as a sign of disrespect
if I don't comply.
Being an agnostic in this society has forced
me to stay "closeted" on so many topics in many
different situations - people don't care to hear
that I have the audacity not to subscribe to their
god, let alone any god for that matter. I suppose,
however, that it's a good thing that I reject most
dogmatic beliefs in this particular society, as peo-
ple around the globe have and continue to get
slaughtered for no other reason than their reli-
gious beliefs. Long ago I read a quote that stuck
like glue: "Religion is the ultimate form of sepa-
ration ... " Truer words have never been spoken.
Why do I consider myself agnostic? Well, I
wrote a 10-page paper on it last semester, but for
the sake of space and interest, I will provide two
paramount reasons: God exists to me conceptually
... that is I can accept that something created what
we understand as the universe and that everything
follows from an initial creation. Said creator can
be dubbed "God," but that's all that I can accept of
its existence. My problem comes in when man-
devised attributes are tacked on, such as immortal-
Consistent U.S.

ity, omnipotence, or benevolence, and especially
when God is given a name and identity. (If a
"benevolent" God created and dictates the world
that we live in, then "He" must have a hell of a
sense of humor)
In addition, we have the three main monothe-
istic Western religions, in addition to countless
other belief systems worldwide, and the propo-
nents of the three claim that their path is the right
path ... the only true path. The million-dollar
question, of course, is which belief system is cor-
rect? I personally don't believe that any of them
carry any significant weight, but if I were to
choose one, it would be assuming that all others
are wrong ... and who am I to make that deduc-
tion? Essentially, choosing a religion would be,
for me, like picking out the nicest piece of fried
chicken - which of the batch looks more appeal-
ing? Please believe that no man-written text will
influence my decision; perish the thought of hav-
ing me actually dictate my life around one.
Since Christianity is the primary belief system
in this country, I have, needless to say, had many
encounters with its followers who have left a bitter
taste in my mouth. Let it be known that I respect
most all religions and belief systems, but when
they don't respect me in return is when problems
Many have an unsavory habit of trying to
convince people that their life is meaningless
without Christ and that those who don't believe
or don't exact their lives as such are "lesser" indi-
viduals. I grow passionate and defensive when I
hear this, because they are not respecting my
beliefs as I respect theirs. I imagine that, if there
were a hell, that there is a special place in it for
anyone with the unmitigated gall to tell me that I
am going there. You are human like me, you
bleed like me, and you think to tell me that I am
going to hell when I die? Fuck me? No, fuck you!
I truly hate it when people tell me that they
policy Mid-East

couldn't live without their faith. I think about this
country and how the religious grounding of its
citizens prevents breakouts of chaos and
immorality, and it saddens me that people can't
stay grounded on their own merits. At the end of
the day, I consider myself a good guy - I don't
kill, cheat or steal; I look out for those in need;
and my heart is basically in the right place. Not
believing in heaven or hell doesn't make me go
out and do hellish things. I am a free thinker, and
I look at the big picture and I (usually) take all
things into account before I make big decisions.
If I am to be sentenced to eternal damnation as a
result, then bring on the hot coals.
Though I, like everyone else, am not without
my issues, my life is going quite damn dandy right
now. Everything is falling into place as it should,
and I have no real complaints. I don't credit the
salubriousness of my life to any deity, nor would I
do so if I were on the other side of the spectnn. I
place merit into my own abilities, and I am
absolutely incapable of giving credit to something
that I have never seen, can't understand, and will
never, ever have absolute faith in.
So, to those of you who have tried with right
hearts to indoctrinate me, please forgive me. For-
give me for not believing that homosexuals are
damned to hell for their "immoral" lifestyle. For-
give me for not believing that the billions of non-
Christians on the planet are damned to hell.
Forgive me for not wanting to play slave to a
deity while the tigers n' shit run freely in the wild.
Forgive me for living. This one is for all of those
who ever had a glimmer of thought that there may
be something deeper than what has been forced
into your way of thinking your whole life. Yeah,
my arms are long enough to box.
Dustin J Seibert can be reached
at dseibert@umich.edu.



he popular term for
what is happening in
Israel these days is
"cycle of violence," but
there's another kind of
cycle involved too; one that
the United States is respon-
sible for.
When it first came into
office, the Bush administra-
tion jettisoned the Clinton-era
policy of high-level involvement in the Israeli-
Palestinian conflict. While apparently partial to
Israeli support, the administration remained largely
distant from the conflict, only intermittently calling
for restraint on one side or the other or sending
an occasional mediator.
Then, post-Sept. 11, when there was a feel-
ing that calm was needed in Israel in order to
facilitate the "war on terrorism," the White
House dispatched retired general Anthony Zinni
to try to seriously push the Tenet and Mitchell
peace plans. When violence picked up, he was
recalled. The violence is raging as fiercely as
ever, but Zinni is heading back to the Middle
East this week.
Over time, there have also been shifts in
who the administration feels needs to show
"restraint." State department officials demand
restraint from the Israelis for a while, then make
demands only of the Palestinian Authority,
before again telling Israel to cool it.
It's the cycle of policy.
One day the administration wants to broker
peace, the next it decides the Israelis and Pales-
tinians need to handle the whole mess them-
selves. We blame Israel for escalation today, but
say Palestinians are at fault tomorrow.
This oscillation of policy is not the cause of
the current violence in Israel, but it is most like-
ly a significant factor in its continuation. We are
correct in being generally supportive of Israel,
but by jumping into the conflict when, and only

when, it gets too intense, we continually signal
that we won't make any serious, lasting push for
peace, but also won't let the conflict rise to the
point where either a military solution is imposed
by Israel or real concessions become seen as
necessary by both sides.
After saying he wouldn't come back until
the situation is calmer, it seems odd to send
Zinni back in circumstances worse than when he
left. However, with Vice President Dick
Cheney's visit to the region this week, where he
is likely trying to sell our grudge match against
Iraq and doesn't want too many questions about
Israel, the action's political motivation becomes
Not that we shouldn't be engaged, but,
regrettably, it is unlikely that more talks will
lead to any long term cessation of violence at
this point. Sending our emissary back under fire
and criticizing legitimate Israeli retaliation for
terrorism demonstrates to Palestinian terrorists
and their leader, Yasser Arafat, that no matter
what they do, the U.S. will always hold back
Israel from responding too fiercely.
As suicide bombings, shootings and rocket
attacks by Palestinian militants (who are
increasingly from groups linked directly to
Arafat and his party) continue to terrorize Israeli
civilians, the Israeli government has taken the
fully understandable position that it will retaliate
for such attacks against both terrorist organiza-
tions and the government that harbors them
(thanks to the capture of a boat loaded with
Iranian weapons and confirmation of Palestinian
Authority involvement by its crew, we know
Palestinian terrorism is state sponsored). Israel
has carried out this policy for over a year now,
but never to the extent necessary to halt the vio-
lence, likely because of U.S. pressure.
It has become apparent that there is currently
little interest among the Palestinian leadership
for negotiation or compromise. When asked
about such things, they rail against Israeli

actions, demanding an "end to the occupation,"
an "end to Israeli atrocities" or something simi-
lar. What they seem to be forgetting is that it is
they who threw away the best chance at an end
to the occupation at Camp David. And while
Israel has undoubtedly been responsible for
many civilian deaths, those deaths are accidents
and the inevitable result of being forced to fight
terrorists intentionally hiding amongst civilians.
The U.S. puts a huge handicap on efforts to
resolve the conflict by continuing to change its
policies to suit the feeling of the moment. Most
of the time the administration is rightly placing
the burden of halting the violence on the Pales-
tinians, but these strange interludes where we
tell Israel to reexamine its policies are unhelp-
ful. They convey the impression that the terror-
ism or the rhetoric has somehow swayed us,
rather than the impression that we're acting out
of political expediency, which is usually the
The best outcome for Zinni's latest mission
would obviously be the achieving of a lasting
ceasefire. But if the old pattern holds and terror
against Israel continues, its government should
be free to suppress terrorism through the means
it chooses. We should not stand in the way if it
chooses military force.
Let's remember that this fight has been
forced on Israel. It made a sweeping peace offer
that was met with cynically calculated violence.
Americans should recognize it has to respond to
terrorist attacks. Doing nothing or taking mea-
sured responses that don't make terrorists feel
the fight isn't worth it are not adequate. These
aren't lone crazies who can't be deterred. Sui-
cide bombing is not just a natural consequence
of occupation that can't be stopped. Terrorism
continues because we keep giving Palestinians rea-
son to believe it can.


Peter Cunnfe can be reached


Daily's headline contributed
to 'racism and distrust'
The headline Pro-Israeli conference incites riots
from Palestinian supporter (3/11/02) is a travesty.
The integrity of the person who picked this head-
l ne i r n --vi nrn rm rnico I .nttan i-thA nw.

Anyone who was "blocked" was participating
in the skits designed to dramatized the plight of
palestinian civilians. At the real checkpoints many
Palestinians have died at the hands of the Israeli
police from denial of medical treatment in addition
to violent confrontation.
This false headline contributes significantly to
the racism and distrust which surrounds the issue
of Israel-Palestine on this campus. The choice of

The Michigan Daily welcomes letters from all
of its readers. Letters from University students,
faculty, staff and administrators will be given pri-
ority over others. Letters should include the writer's
name, college and school year or other University
affiliation. The Daily will not print any letter con-
r.nina-,n-rrn nreor rnnnr he-a eified

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v..:;.;::::.:::. ..


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