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February 10, 2003 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2003-02-10

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4A - The Michigan Daily - Monday, February 10, 2003


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SINCE 1890

Editor in Chief
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.

The audience
is actually laughing
more, but the tension
behind their laughs
has grown.
People are scared."
- Nicholas Burns,.an actor in the
British satirical play, "The Madness
of George Dubya, " which features
a pyjama-clad president holding a
teddy bear and advocating war against
Iraq. As reported yesterday by Reuters.



m-Uc11 400 } '

4e~-l tr j*y he
'*~d +o a re.

w Jo-'s

Rhyme doesn't make right at anti-war raffles

ho usa n d s,
rally against
war," the
headline in yesterday's
Ann Arbor News
informed the few of us
who missed it. On Sat-
urday, 2,000 protestors
filled the Diag and the
streets to demonstrate
against a pre-emptive strike on Iraq; the
critical mass disturbed traffic and won rel-
atively significant media attention.
Between last month's "Stop the War"
conference and this weekend's action, the
events revolving around the "anti-war"
movement have been fairly frequent and,
in terms of the personalities they have
drawn, surprisingly credible. So maybe
it's now the case that there's finally
enough action happening on this campus
and in this city to appease that group of
people who constantly call on the commu-
nity to live up to its own image. Maybe
we're on a road to deserving something to
the tune of that old Students for a Democ-
ratic Society, Vietnam-era etc. etc. etc.
reputation - a reputation that is, under-
standably, both an inspiration and a bur-
den to the new generation of
self-proclaimed activists.
During the first few months of the fall
semester, I had wondered, along with not a
few others, why we hadn't yet felt any real
rumblings of what I had thought would be
an inevitable and instant movement in
reaction to Bush's unveiling of tentative
plans for war.
I spoke with Prof. Michael Nagler, who
founded the Peace and Conflict Studies at
'iheUniversity of California at"Berkeley,
and was disappointed (for Michigan, not

for Berkeley) to hear that, already by early
October, Berkeley's movement was full
fledged and driving forward. Maybe the
University was too locked in narcissistic
contemplation of its own legacy - and
too busy fighting the easy and empty
fights - to do anything with the scariest
issue on the national table.
Back in October, as cynical as I felt
that I'd become, there was still a part of
me that wanted to see University activist
glory days replay themselves when I could
have a chance to watch.
As the old caveat goes, be careful what
you wish for.
The essence of yesterday's article in
the Ann Arbor News was a glaring com-
parison between what took place on Satur-
day and the hackneyed, rose-colored
cultural memory of 1960s activism. A
great majority of the 2,000 people who
attended that rally and the day's other
events were people genuinely concerned
about our nation's and our president's for-
eign policy. But sadly, judging from the
media attention, first-hand accounts and
what I have learned from my own experi-
mentation with tie-dye activism, it was a
minority of those couple thousand who
expressed their concern in a respectful and
intellectual way - recognizing both the
importance of exercising a right to assem-
bly and of approaching that assembly with
the due accord that the potential loss of so
many human lives deserves.
Too many of the quotations from that
article show the activist growing into a
caricature. When a participant from Saline
was asked what possible alternative he
could see to war, his best answer happened
to rhyme: "might doesn't make right." A
woman from the organization Zeitouna

declared, "I'm a Palestinian American and
I'm here to call for an end to Israeli occu-
pation and an end to bombing." Where. is
respect for the issue at the heart of the
day, the safety and dignity of the Iraqi
people - the one common thread through
the platforms of 2,000 different individu-
als - in a statement like that?
I'm not sure where the line should be -
I'm not sure how much fun we're sup-
posed to be having speaking out agaiisf
death and destruction, I'm not sure where
our own agendas can fit in. It's possible
that the "Radical Cheerleaders" have it
right, that the dancing and the drumming
and the clever chants are the best way to
rally a community and send a message to
our decisionmakers. But somewhere, on
the gut level that I, at least, need to listen
to more often, it seems that the message is
strangled in the festivity.
There are plenty of lessons to take
from the teach-ins, organization, and voic-
es of Michigan's activist forebears. But
it's important that we don't romanticize
their legacy and only try to replicate in
ourselves the things we know about from
documentaries and books. There's a con-
stant opportunity to improve the tactics
and build a more credible voice; to hold a
demonstration and not a party.
A group of very thoughtful people has
helped to turn room 307 of the- Michigan
League into a room for quiet reflection.
There are a lot of scary things happening
right now that deserve our attention and
our emotion, but maybe the best way to
channel that best begins withsometiiing


Hanink can bereadhed


Smith's column ignored
benefits of space program
In his article NASA, we have a problem
(02/06/03), Luke Smith's judgment of NASA's
manned spaceflight program was incorrect. He
asserted that there have been no returns or
development from the manned spaceflight pro-
gram. He continued to say that manned space-
flight serves only to fulfill fantasies and that
money spent on the program is wasted.
On the contrary, manned spaceflight has
produced many tangible benefits, particularly
in the medical field. For example, special light-
ing technology used in shuttle experiments has
been adapted with amazing success to treat
cancerous brain tumors in children. Shuttle
technology has also been used to develop a
new rescue extrication tool used in car crashes
that is easier to use and 70 percent cheaper
than previous tools. Other developments
include miniaturized heart pumps, improved
cell culture devices, stronger and lighter pros-
thesis material and faster breast cancer detec-
tion devices. These are just a few of the many
developments produced using technology from
the space shuttle program.
Smith also presents the fact that we have
not yet sent humans to Mars as if it is a reason
to abandon the program entirely. There are two
main reasons why we have not yet sent people
to Mars: a lack of understanding about the
effects of long-duration spaceflight on humans
and insufficient propulsion technology. NASA
and others are working on both of these issues,
but we must realize that they will take time.
Research in any area does not produce instant
gratification and we would be mistaken to
abandon projects that did not produce immedi-
ate results. Furthermore, the only way to under-
stand the effects of long-duration spaceflight on
humans is through experience, which we are
gaining with the space station program. Smith
is also mistaken in saying that robots could per-
form all the duties of humans in space. Robots,
though valuable and often appropriate tools, do
not have the same ability to react and adapt to
situations in real time, nor can they serve as
medical research subjects as the astronauts do.
Finally, Smith points out that manned
spaceflight is expensive and suggests NASA's
budget be redirected to schools. To clarify,
NASA's overall budget accounts for less than

would be more than happy to assist in finding
the answers to questions about NASA or space-
flight. For readers who are interested in leam-
ing more about NASA and how their tax
dollars are used, check out www.nasa.gov for all
of the above information and more.
Engineering seniors
Skepticism like Smith's
'contributes to society
with no vision'
Luke Smith's column, NASA, we have
a problem, (02/06/03) displays just the atti-
tude and skepticism that contributes to a
society with no vision. Smith perpetuates
the ignorance that keeps humans from tak-
ing one of the most exciting adventures of
our time. To discuss the selfishness of cer-
tain "astrophysicists wanting desperately
to capitalize on childhood dreams" only
four days after seven astronauts died in the
pursuit of scientific knowledge is more
than ironic.
Manned spaceflight has brought incred-
ible development to the NASA program.
The benefits to our society are countless.
Cancer research, improved computer tech-
nology, optics for deep space research,
safer and quicker manufacturing tech-
niques, faster and expansive commercial
air travel, aerodynamic automobiles, DNA
protein crystal growth, improved material
strength, increased food production, Vel-
cro, plastics, cell phones, sunglasses,
ergonomics and (of course) Tang; these are
only a few of the many improvements
effected by technology directly resulting
from humans in space.
American tax dollars do not serve
NASA fantasies. In fact, President Bush
recently cut funding to all next-generation
reusable launch vehicle programs, the
International Space Station and all future
Mars missions. NASA hasn't put people on
Mars largely because of politics and a lack
of funding, not a lack of technology or
capability. NASA's total human space-

motivated by a small group of engineers and
scientists trying to get themselves into space.
To look at the Columbia tragedy as a reason
to cut funding to NASA or discontinue
human space travel is to truly make a mis-
take in ideology. Every astronaut on STS-
107 must have believed the adventure they
were on was worthwhile, worthy of the loss
of human life, as they paid for it with their
own. I certainly don't believe that these
astronauts risked their lives simply for the
-chance to see the Earth from space. They
believed it's much more important than that,
not something to be reduced to "tax dollars
serving fantasies."
Rahim's column shows events
reached target audience
As a member of Campus Crusade for
Christ, one of the organizations that helped to
organize the God on Trial events earlier in the
week, I was glad to see Hussain Rahim's col-
umn (My deity can defeat your deity, 02/07/03)
because it tells me that we reached our target
audience - people who want to believe but, as
Anthony Burgess said, "find their intellect get-
ting in the way." And many of Rahim's ques-
tions are common ones that people (including
the most devout Christians) have been strug-
gling with for centuries.
Without getting into a deep theological
debate, I wanted to answer some of the objec-
tions that Rahim had so that people who may
have been unable to attend the lectures will
know that Christians do have a response to
these arguments. First, as C.S Lewis argued, it
is important to not think of God as being able
to predict the future, because for God there is
no future. For him, it is always 1920, 2003 and
2060, or any other time you could want.
Therefore, although God may know the things
we will do in our future, he cannot stop us
from doing anything without removing our
free will (which raises all sorts of theological
uh-oh's). It is impossible to see the world as
God sees it, and so as much as we would like
concrete answers to some of our questions
(myself at least as much as anyone else.



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