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April 04, 2002 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 2002-04-04

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5A - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, April 4, 2002

Money: My own, not yours

Why you should support labor unions

A recent campus uproar about a book
raises interesting and important implica-
tions for all of us, as funding for an event
that sold offensive material on the side is
questioned. While Students Allied for
Freedom and Equality erred in selecting a
book with a chapter that questions the
nature of the Holocaust, it was likely the
result of some miscommunication. Even
so, assessing who we make ties with, with
what ideas, with what actions, is a lesson
everyone can learn.
A central idea behind criticism of the
sponsors is that such entities should be
wary of spending money on things which
don't wholly conform to their own beliefs,
even if those things differ but marginally.
Everyone, from Interim University Presi-
dent B. Joseph White to our government,
should examine themselves and their asso-
ciates and make sure they don't tacitly
support unwanted ideas, unwanted groups,
or unwanted actions.
Of course, actions do speak louder
than words. So while a hubbub is raised
about the chapter that says what it says,
perhaps a louder outcry should be raised
for injustice, oppression and exploitation
that occur daily in our names with our
tacit, financial approval.
First, we must look within. The only
real way to change the world is to first
practice, then preach; otherwise, hypocrisy
undermines the cause. Where does our
money go? Clothes? Food? Tuition?
If Nike is an answer, perhaps we
should reconsider, in light of its exploita-
tion of the third world (and it is not
alone). While we may agree with Nike's
capitalist ideas, the vision of thousands of
children sewing shoes all day for pennies
is revolting. Yet those same shoes are on
our feet! We must watch our steps.
Likewise, though some believe tacos
represent the downfall of our society, it is
the reality behind tacos that is causing
actual problems. We buy tacos and other
fast-food in ever-increasing quantities, but
this convenience has caused a great
increase in the demand for meat. This car-
nivorous trend that we engage in ultimate-
ly costs 6 pounds of grain and 1250
gallons of water per Big Mac!
We buy our way out of this injustice
by importing beef: Third World nations are

being economically pressured to feed their
grain to export cows instead of feeding
themselves. Even non-economists must
realize that the opportunity cost of one
burger should not be so high, yet millions
of people are putting their money where
their mouth is, not realizing the costs. Yet
by buying that taco, we say we want the
exploitation. The stomach-aches from fill-
ing up on such food are small penance for
causing all of those empty bellies.
After ensuring our money isn't sup-
porting injustice, oppression and exploita-
tion, pressuring the groups we support to
abandon tyranny as well is the next step.
While the University student groups
and departments may have inadvertently
supported an incorrect isolated ideological
incident, there are issues that go beyond
mere idea, as the University implicitly
supports many unacceptable activities. It
must abandon these immediately.
For instance, by paying Madeline
Albright to research here, what kind of
message do we send from the University
to the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis
who have died? By having her speak to
us, does that mean that the University also
thinks the sanctions are "worth it?" If not,
then why are we spending money on her?
Another issue often raised on campus
is divestment from Israel. Initially, con-
necting invested funds of the University
and the death of hundreds of Palestinian
children may seem absurd, but it only
takes one more step in the model to see
the blood on our hands. For instance, if
we support the University monetarily,
which has invested some of these funds in
companies like Boeing that produce mili-
tary products that Israel obtains, and the
Israeli Defense Forces uses these to kill
children, we are connected to murder the
same way those 23 groups are connected
to offensive ideas: By a trail of money.
Israel certainly isn't the only such
nation we tacitly support. Through our
taxes, we monetarily support regimes in
Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.
It all must stop.
In the end, it all comes down to your
beliefs, but whether you believe injustice,
free speech, or just saving money, free-
dom from links with unwanted implica-
tions is clearly a goal we must all work
toward, if not attain.
Syed is an LSA freshman.


There has been a lot of criticism of labor unions in gener-
al, coming from conservatives on this campus as well as
questioning liberals, in the wake of the Graduate
Employees Union victory. Some have said that GEO was
asking too much. Some have said that union tactics go
too far.
Well, to start off, I will admit, even as a supporter of
the workers struggle, and as radical and outrageous as
this may sound to some of you coming from me, labor
unions are not perfect.
But now, let's address the criticisms I get from my
fellow schoolmates about GEO. Some say, "but I want
better GSIs." What these students forget is that GEO
wants the same thing. GEO wants more training. Better
benefits and protection mean better workers. The free
trade economics students will yell "but simple economic
analysis tells us otherwise." Well, they're dead wrong.
The simple truth is that, if you have two GSIs, one who is
willing to work for less and one who will only work in a
livable environment, it is obvious is that the one willing
to work for less is the one less capable.
Let's look at another example. Last year, nurses in a
Flint hospital went on strike because the management

had them working long workdays. The union wanted
shorter workdays. While the nurses were on strike, the
hospital shipped in scabs that were willing to work more
hours. So, if you were recovering from surgery, who
would you rather have taking care of you? Someone who
has worked too many hours and is about to fall asleep?
Or someone who is well rested? This is something all
those punks telling the GEO to "go back to work" on
March 11 should think about.
Do you want a GSI who has to bring his child to the
classroom because they don't have childcare, and willing
to teach more for less money? Or do you want GSIs who
are undistracted, financially allowed to focus on their
jobs as teachers? You make the decision.
So where does the union fit into all of this? The only
way that workers can secure that they will be paid
enough and given livable benefits is with a union. Not
once in the history of American capitalism has a compa-
ny granted a worker health and dental or overtime pay or
anything that workers enjoy today simply out of the kind-
ness of the boss' heart. Pressure must be applied. The
nurses in Flint didn't win because the hospital suddenly
realized what it was doing was wrong, it was because
every day the nurses picketed, each day rallying more
and more support. The reality is that a company just

wants to increase profit. It is simple economics. And the
only way workers can confront a powerful company is to
organize as one into a unit that is as powerful as the boss-
es. This unit is the union.
It is unfortunate that unions must often resort to tac-
tics that some people find going too far, like work stop-
pages. Some students call it insubordination. Well, I want
to ask these students something. Was it insubordination
and going too far for Rosa Parks to refuse to move to the
back of the bus to end racist segregation in the South?
Was it insubordination and going to far for the patriots to
stand up to British at the Boston Tea Party in order to
free themselves from colonial rule?
The point is that the battle for change is never pain-
less. It wasn't painless for our founding fathers and it
wasn't painless for those fighting segregation. As for
workers, they cannot receive far treatment from their
bosses through polite suggestions, but only through
action. And this action is not painless.
But in the end, unions seek a better place for workers
and the people who they serve. And this why unions are
so vital for American workers, as well as workers around
the world.

Paul is an RCsophomore.

Femnism's flat tires

Considering the bra-burning of the '70s, the yuppie
power suit-wielding of the '80s and the "gurrl power"
of the '90s, feminism has changed and deteriorated.
Though it once was the hip cause for both women and
men, any woman who even utters the word today is
immediately seen as a card-carrying feminazi. Our
society has stopped understanding feminism as a legit-
imate struggle for equality between the sexes and
instead sees it as some sort of extreme religion of
women who will only be satisfied with global rule.
Why did this shift in paradigm occur? Why did
American voters cheer when Laura Bush blatantly took
her First Lady foot out of the West Wing and put it
back in the residence? For conservatives who want to
point at Hillary and preach about electing presidents -
not spouses, there are two words: Nancy Reagan. Did
voters believe Laura, our librarian turned First Lady,
belonged in the proverbial kitchen?
Some would say feminism died a natural death as
sexism ended and women gained equality. Unfortu-
nately, that assessment is not true. Though large
advancements have been made, sexism is still a regu-
lar part of women's lives, especially within pay scales,
educational systems, careers and the legal system.
What stalled the feminist movement? If we have
not seen the triumph of equality, why isn't the move-
ment still active, vocal, and visible? It comes down to

three main issues that are subtle but effective road-
blocks on the highway to equality.
The first obstacle to eradicating sexism is one typi-
cal of many causes - the difficulty in making reality
out of ideology. Though remaining feminists have
mostly parallel dreams and goals, they have complete-
ly different ideas on the most effective means of
achieving those goals. Take, for example, the ongoing
discussion surrounding maternity leave. Feminists
would like more time for recovery and bonding with
newborns, but do not want new mothers to be penal-
ized at work with decreased chances of promotion.
Furthermore, many women want paternity leave
for their spouses. The reality of this issue is that many
businesses cannot afford to give both parents paid
leaves of any serious duration and so, to be equal, give
both parents a shortened leave of two or three weeks.
Now, women have equality but are suffering a loss of
time with their newborns. How can the feminist
movement reconcile the decreased length of maternity
leave with the gain in equality?
Another issue helping to slow progress toward
equality for women is the lack of a common under-
standing of the biological differences between women
and men and how those differences translate into dif-
ferences in capabilities. U.S. Courts have vaguely stat-
ed that exclusion from any job due to gender can only
be based upon a lacking "bona fide occupational qual-
ification" (BFOQ), a characteristic that differs

between the sexes but is necessary for a specific job.
Are height, strength, and weight legitimate? Reflect-
ing the lack of a common answer, the courts are
inconsistent proving that BFOQs are often suspect.
Early gender decisions excluding women from cer-
tain jobs and opportunities were based primarily on
two arguments - a protectionist argument and a sepa-
rate spheres argument. As with children but not men,
court decisions argue that the state has a responsibility
to protect women from the dangers of specific jobs.
According to the courts, women are fundamentally
interested in different jobs and strive for different goals
than men. Though these arguments seem archaic, they
still stand as court precedent and are used in new opin-
ions regularly. In 1988, Sears Roebuck & Co. won a
case allowing them to hire men over women for com-
mission positions because women, inherently, are less
competitive, less interested in money and less comfort-
able with driving in poor weather to customers homes.
Though these arguments are absurd, the courts agreed
with Sears and let their hiring policy stand.
With such problems standing between women and
equality, it is unfortunate that all women do not con-
sider themselves feminists. Feminism should not be a
dirty word or carry a negative stigma, but instead rep-
resent a greater goal to achieve equality between the
Strayer is an LSA sophomore.







Zimbab-no-way: Oppose elections for the right reasons

Arafat has failed everyone

After years of political violence, rigged elections, land
seizures and an all-encompassing war against every
instrument of a democratic state, the outside world is
finally responding to Zimbabwean President Robert
The Commonwealth of Britain's decision to sus-
pend Zimbabwe from its ranks is a welcome message
for Zimbabwe's leadership. While the troubled nation
has already lost all good standing in the world commu-
nity, the concerted efforts of international bodies and
individual nations are needed to foster immediate
change and urge African leaders to condemn Mugabe's
From March 9 to 11, international observers wit-
nessed the means Mugabe is willing to employ in his
attempts to maintain power. Intimidation, fraud, mas-
sive disenfranchisement and physical attacks by
Mugabe's Zanu-PF party were the recurrent themes dur-
ing the three days of elections. Amnesty International
reported that 1,400 polling agents and observers were
arrested during the course of the election. After a chaot-
ic period of recounts and legal challenges, Mugabe won
a sixth term as president.
Despite this systematic abuse, South Africa, Nigeria
and the Organization of African Unity deemed the
results fair and democratic. While Nigeria and South
Africa have renounced this position and now support
the Commonwealth's action, their original apprehension

toward denouncing the election process speaks vol-
umes. Mugabe enjoys support from many elites in
African politics for his involvement in the guerilla war
against British rule that resulted in the independent Zim-
babwe of 1980. Others have hailed Mugabe's unyield-
ing support for African sovereignty. President Benjamin
Mpaka of Tanzania wrote to Mugabe, "You have been
firm defending the inalienable right of the people of
your country to free, democratic, and sovereign gover-
nance. Your firmness was good for all of Africa."
Based on past injustices, Western support for bru-
tal dictators and rebel commanders, such as the recent-
ly deceased Jonas Savimbi of Angola, a questionable
commitment to foreign aid and filching of African
resources, many African leaders are uncomfortable
with Western involvement in domestic affairs. Many
are extremely uneasy with aligning their opinions and
support behind a West that has repeatedly abandoned
and mistreated Africa. While this apprehension is
rational it must not obstruct the foundation of an inter-
national movement opposing undemocratic practices
in Africa.
The West does not escape blame for this mistrust.
While the troubles in Zimbabwe have received signifi-
cant attention this focus has been absent in equally
abhorrent situations. Elections in Kenya, Uganda and
Madagascar have all involved varying degrees of gov-
ernment impropriety and suppression of dissent. Yet,
any outrage has been muted. The possible reasons for

this discrepancy are troubling.
Many have suggested that Prime Minister Blair's
and President Bush's concern over Mugabe has little to
do with a stolen election but is instead related to their
shared belief that Mugabe's defeat would serve as an
economic boon for the West. Movement for Democratic
Change presidential nominee Mogran Tsvangirai would
have ushered in a pro-Western government in Harare.
With its rich natural resources and well-educated popu-
lation Zimbabwe could serve as a powerful catalyst for
Western corporations in the region. If the West is truly
interested in stimulating democratic reforms it must not
be selective in its enforcement and outrage.
The people of Zimbabwe have no trust in Mugabe.
A diverse coalition, consisting of the Zimbabwe Con-
gress of Trade Unions, MDC and the Commercial
Farmers' Union, has orchestrated two nationwide strikes
in the last five years to protest Mugabe's actions. It is a
testament to the harshness of Mugabe's rule that a group
embodied by such disparate interests formed to oppose
him. It is now time for the world community to join
Africans in their struggle against undemocratic regimes.
The combined responses of nations such as Switzerland,
Australia, Nigeria and South Africa should serve as a
warning for leaders across the continent. African and
Western leaders will not be crippled by their divergent
interests but will resolutely stand against undemocratic

Israel is in Ramallah, that everyone
knows. It's on TV, in the newspapers -
and that is what is being discussed.
What isn't being discussed is, why? The
closest thing to an explanation that has
been discussed is that Israel is trying to
either: a) kill Arafat, b) exile Arafat or c)
isolate him. That however is at best
glossing over the issue, at worst it's a
failure to accurately inform the public.
Israel did not choose to re-occupy
Ramallah because Ariel Sharon has
some personal grudge against Arafat
- as had been alleged by the BBC,
and various Palestinian commentators.
Rather, it has undertaken this operation
to tear apart the infrastructure of terror
that has been created by the Palestinian
Authority and its chairman, Yasser
In 1993, when he signed the Oslo
Accords, Chairman Arafat pledged
himself to renouncing terrorism, and
establishing a democratic government
in the land from which Israel was to
withdraw. Has Arafat kept his commit-
ments? No, he hasn't. For the past nine
years, under his leadership, the Pales-
tinian Authority has developed from
being a democraticallyvelected govern-
ment to a regime which crushes dis-
sent, sponsors terrorism and allows
Hamas and Islamic Jihad (two well
known terrorist groups) to operate
Israel has repeatedly asked Arafat
to crack down on terror or simply
make a statement in Arabic denounc-
ing it - something that he is obliged
to do under the Oslo Accords that he

long before there was an occupation.
And while some might claim that the
situation has now changed and the only
thing that Palestinians want is freedom
from Occupation - not the destruction
of Israel, this too is not supported by
facts on the ground.
Recent polls taken in Palestine indi-
cate that Hamas enjoys the popular
support of over 70 percent of the popu-
lation. The fact that Hamas, an organi-
zation that does not acknowledge
Israel's right to exist in any borders,
has the support of the majority of
Palestinians is disturbing.
Israel can't afford to withdraw from
the occupied territories unilaterally;
this will allow Hamas and Islamic
Jihad to operate in complete freedom.
Israel has attempted to reach a negoti-
ated settlement with the Palestinians,
only to have its offer rejected in favor
of violence. In the end, Israel, will of
course, have to withdraw from the
West Bank, it can't, however, do this
until a Palestinian leadership that is
willing to fight terrorism emerges. In
the meantime, Israel is forced to take
actions, as it has this week, to fight ter-
rorism to protect her citizens.
This doesn't mean that in the mean
time the world should stand by and do
nothing. The Palestinians are currently
suffering because their government
has decided that its political goals are
more important than the welfare of its
people. As a result, the Palestinian
Authority has chosen to spend its lim-
ited money obtaining missiles and
bombs while allowing Hamas a
monopoly on social services.
Little wonder so many Palestinians

Peskowitz is an LSA freshman.

Sanctions on Iraq and the United States' national secunty

During the Presidential campaign, George W. Bush fre-
quently voiced his disgust for "nation-building." While
the war on terrorism has forced him to eat his own words
to some degree, he still opposes things like peacekeepers
for the entirety of Afghanistan, a presence that is sorely
needed for some semblance of stability in that nation.
Bush has yet to realize that the United States can and
w.-++.L. ~ ~ nn~ rno ia r1in+ trrAUhth t he

destruction, the actions of the United States regarding
the sanctions are necessary and justified.
The United States foreign policy establishment is not
supposed to stay up late at night worrying about condi-
tions in Iraq. Rather, it is supposed to be worrying about
a Saddam-sponsored nuke going off in New York, Los
Angeles and Tel Aviv. And why Tel Aviv? Aside from
being a steadfast ally of the United States since its incep-
tion, if the Israel fell victim to an Iraqi weapon of mass
sactiml-r.i;-i tt u nr- A n.11hi- a ; v with a

have deeply negative impacts, there would be a humani-
tarian crisis in Iraq even if they weren't in place; with
sanctions it is a question of the degree and not the exis-
tence of Hussein-created suffering for the Iraqi people.
Hussein is a madman who stole from his people even in
prosperity; it is no surprise that he continues to do so
even today. In fact, United States Navy ships have inter-
dicted ships leaving Iraq with food and medicine
allowed under the United Nation's "oil for food" pro-
nram Wh9 Rraeiv uSadm can etter nmfit h yhav-

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