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March 05, 2003 - Image 4

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, March 5, 2003

OP/ED

ale Ā£Itgu

420 MAYNARD STREET
ANN ARBOR, MI 48109
letters@michigandaily.com

EDITED AND MANAGED BY
STUDENTS AT THE
UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN
SINCE 1890

LOUIE MEIZLISH
Editor in Chief
AUBREY HENRETTY
ZAC PESKOWITZ
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.

NOTABLE
QUOTABLE
(It's cold, the
world is going to
hell, but how can
you stay home?"
-Baton Rouge, La. resident Michael Patrick
on yesterday's Mardi Gras celebration, as
quoted by The Associated Press.

SAM BUTLER THE SOAPBOX

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Desperate times and desperate measures
KASHIF SHEIKH FROM THE WASTEBIN OF HISTORY

T enured University
of South Florida
Prof. Sami Al-I
Arian never stood a
chance. After he and hisl
Islamic think tank werei
cleared from any involve-
ment in terrorism back in
2000, the FBI closed the
case, and the court ruling
went on to describe his organization as ai
"reputable and scholarly" research center.
Oh, how times have changed. Two weeks
ago, Al-Arian was unexpectedly arrested
under the authority of the attorney general for
his alleged connection to Islamic Jihad. But
the information the arrest was based upon
had been around for years and these allega-
tions had already been dismissed in court, so
why such a big deal now?
"It's all about politics," says Al-Arian. Post-
Sept. 11 paranoia aside, it is in this columnist's
humble opinion that his arrest was no coinci-
dence, but a well-timed PR endeavor amid fad-
ing support for an already unpopular war. In
these jittery days of Code Orange alerts, the1
public has upheld blind faith in our government1
to do the right thing, though most Americans
still can't grasp the nonexistent relationship
between Osama and Saddam. But by continual-
ly promoting this imaginary connection and
detaining fictional terrorists like Al-Arian,
Americans maintain an illusion of the govern-
ment's vigilance that the Bush administration
has exploited to justify a violent confrontation
with the not-so-pressing threat of Iraq.
The use of such manipulative tactics by pro-;
war advocates have proliferated as the interna-
tional community and most Americans have

voiced support for U.N. inspections and a glob-
al coalition before military action is considered.
Noting the growing opposition, the administra-
tion and its proponents have resorted to dirty
last-ditch efforts involving silencing dissent,
fabricating facts and bribery intended to create
artificial consent for the war where Americans
would otherwise pass.
President Bush best epitomized this
deceitful pro-war spirit last month when he
inanely dismissed 10 million global anti-war
protesters as a "focus group" that he
wouldn't let sway his foreign policy. While
forgetting that his own campaign was largely
financed by special interest groups, he also
overlooked the fact that the largest anti-war
rallies were held in the United Kingdom,
Spain and Italy, our presumed allies in this
venture. With friends like these and Rums-
feld's "Old Europe" dragging us down, who
really needs a coalition?
Optimists/warmongers like U.S. Rep. Jeff
Flake (R-Ariz.) still believe we have one. In a
CNN "Crossfire" debate, he and the host reas-
sured viewers that "we have a lot of countries
behind us," but couldn't say whether anyone on
that short list would even provide us with any
money. Perhaps moral support is enough for
these guys. Unfortunately, this kind of vague
everyone-else-is-doing-it rhetoric is all too
prevalent when every other strategy to convince
the skeptics has failed, and misleading on-the-
spot statistics like these are responsible for con-
fusing America to the brink.
When Saddam was interviewed last week
on an American network for the first time in 12
years, the White House criticized CBS for air-
ing his propaganda, bitter that they didn't get
the chance to refute Saddam with just that:

more propaganda. While CBS deserves some
credit for rejecting that proposal, the major
media is also to blame for candy coating the
scenario of a post-Saddam Iraq. Not even
Afghan President Hamid Karzai had the gall to
admit, in his testimony to Congress last week,
that his post-Taliban puppet government is in
good shape. Instead, he pleaded to the United
States not to divert vital resources to Iraq in
case of war, leaving Afghanistan in ruins as was
done shortly after the Soviets withdrew in 1989.
With the exit strategy just as unclear in Iraq, it
is plausible that Iraqis might not be as well off
without Saddam as the White House would
want us to believe.
Then there is the intentionally seldom-men-
tioned matter of money, where conservative
estimates by the Pentagon range between $100
billion and $200 billion ($320 to $640 per capi-
ta) for the war and occupation, projected direct-
ly to the taxpayer. This probably doesn't
include more than $40 billion appropriated to
nations like Turkey, Jordan, Egypt, Spain and
Bulgaria to bribe a reluctant "coalition of the
willing" into showing that America is not alone
on this one, while non-complying U.N. Security
Council members get to be spied on. It is an
awfully high price to pay for such an indecisive
cause. Fortunately, the fear that has been
ingrained within us - of nukes, anthrax, beard-
ed men, high gas prices, etc. - eases the deci-
sion for many, and the delusion that the world
is with us helps too. And though this was never
our war, it certainly seems like the Bush admin-
istration and their proponents are willing to try
anything to make us think so.
Sheikh can be reached
at ksheikh@umich.edu.

0

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Reader not tired of 'same
old MSA,' active debate
TO THE DAILY:
While I respect the viewpoint and legitima-
cy of the University Party (Tired of same old
MSA?, 02/20/03) I think that Michael MacVay
and Timothy Moore miss the whole point of
student government. Claiming to "know the
role of our government," they propose restrict-
ing the purview of Michigan Student Assem-
bly debates to strictly educational matters. I
personally know a number of people who feel
the same way as they do, but I think that it is
quite telling that most of them are not politi-
cally active and do not vote in MSA elections.
Perhaps MacVay and Moore intend to capital-
ize on that voter base, but I doubt that they
will succeed. If it is such a good idea, surely
someone else must have already tried it. I
believe that that segment of the student body,
sizable as it is, doesn't care enough to vote,
even for those who agree with them.
While student apathy is deplorable, the situ-
ation on the ground merits a reexamination of
the University Party's assertions as to the role
of MSA. Many of those who are most actively
involved in the assembly are those who will be
active in their adult life as well, either as mem-
bers of lobbies and grassroots campaigns, or as
participants in "real" government. But even
those who don't have such ambitions are clear-
ly interested in using their time here and now to
make a difference.
That is, of course, part of the argument
that MacVay and Moore are making. What
MSA says on these non-campus issues has no
impact on the "real world." MSA's resolution,
against war on Iraq is about as likely to influ-
ence President Bush as a resolution against
gravity would be to change the laws of
physics. A valid point, perhaps, but irrelevant
to the question of whether MSA should pass
such resolutions anyway.
What is at stake here is, as noted above, the
very nature of MSA. I assert that the purpose
of MSA is to help the microcosm that is the
University better reflect the world that we live
in. Part of that reflection is dealing with issues
that face the larger world. Some students
achieve this through demonstrations and ral-
lies; others never even try. The members of
MSA achieve on a more intellectual level,
debating the issues at hand and attempting to
find a reasonable balance.
MacVay and Moore complain that such
debates and resolutions promote divisiveness
and threaten tolerance and understanding Thev

which will serve them in good stead down
the road. What MSA has to say about the war
in Iraq (for instance) is important for the
same reasons that people collect signatures
for petitions on campaign finance reform:
Grassroots campaigns at every level represent
the heart and soul of democracy - the real
world in which we live even at the University
- even when unsuccessful.
CHAIM SCHRAMM
LSA freshman
Daily columnists wrongly
prefer antics of previous
pres. to slip-ups in speech
TO THE DAILY:
Apparently, Joseph Litman is a little embar-
rassed by President Bush's lack of eloquence in
the public speaking department (He's not with
me, 03/04/03). In addition to mentioning several
times how humiliated he is when the president
stumbles over words, he basically showed utter
disrespect for our leader, calling him "stupid"
and an "embarrassment."
I'll bet Litman was absolutely fine with
the antics of our previous president, though.
What's more embarrassing? A president who
stumbles a little in speech, or one who
receives oral sex from a 21-year-old intern in
the Oval Office while talking on the phone to
a member of the U. S. Congress? If you could
stand the latter without humiliation, then I'm
certain that you can suck it up and endure the
former.
This is typical of the Daily's lack of objec-
tivity in its editorial page. Democrats can do no
wrong to Daily columnists, but Republicans?
Well, hangin's too good for them.
ANDREW QUESNELLE
LSA senior
Bush presidency 'a breath
of fresh air' in White House
TO THE DAILY:
I wasn't surprised to see two scathing
anti-Bush articles in.yesterday's Daily. It
seems like Joseph Litman (He's not with me,
03/04/03) and Peter Cunniffe (An unbelievable
foreign policy, 03/04/03) sat by adjacent com-
puters late Monday night exchanging pleas-
antries and "Bushisms." However, as much

or Iraq's continued violation of U.N. resolutions
(while we were fully engaging in the oil-for-
food program, nonetheless). Now, the Ameri-
can public is made fully aware of these threats
and injustices daily; this information is no scare
tactic, but merely an opportunity to make the
public aware of a vast policy shift that is very
much underrated and chastised.
Perhaps if we were so inclined to look
beyond our already gluttonous domestic free-
doms and the American ideal of a six-figure
income, we'd realize that having a president
who shows immediate concern for the "embet-
terment" of international security is much more
favorable - and necessary - than one who
finds himself impeached for lying to his con-
stituents.
MAT SCHAAR
Engineering senior
Student opposition to U.S.
government 'a slap in the face'
TO THE DAILY:
Returning to the University after a three-
term hiatus filled me with joy this January.
Having left a town and school that I loved to
serve my country was heart-wrenching, nev-
ertheless I did my duty. Many of my former
instructors recall the fall semester of 2001,
when I was forced to leave the University
because my Air Force Reserve unit had been
activated to duty following the events of that
September. For nearly a year, I proudly
served my country again, having completed
a four-year assignment in the spring of
2000. While standing in the sands of Saudi
Arabia, I could only think of returning to my
friends in Ann Arbor, and the many Satur-
day afternoons at the Big House.
Having completed my duty, I returned to the
University, and to my horror, found that my'
very peers are protesting against my actions.
This strike that has been called for today is a
slap in the face to all those who have sacrificed
their life and time to defend the U.S. Constitu-
tion. While it is the very same constitution that
grants students the right to protest, exactly what
have you done to earn that right? Having served
my country, I believe that I have earned the
right to speak my mind. An overwhelming
majority of the students at the University accept
the right to protest as a birthright, as a citizen of
the United States. Legally, they are indeed cor-
rect, but morally, what justification do they find
for protesting against the government that has
aranted them the right todon so?

THE BOONDOCKS

MRON 4cGRUDER

i E xlt

I

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