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April 04, 2003 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2003-04-04

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Friday, April 4, 2003

OP/ED

urIje £IIIW DidU

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
She has a highIQ.
She gets along well with
the other cows and
doesn't push her way
around."
- Herd manager Dave Koepke of
Wisconsin, on "Granny" the cow, who
now holds the lifetime U.S. milk
production record, as reported by
The Christian Science Monitor.

SAM BUTLER THET-- SOAPBOX
D $a~~~~-it vi "dJ
M iclnio
fir' _- ,' ,-- - - _o
r 4
i*

Spring break into the breach
DAVID ENDERS WEIRD SCIENCE

BEIRUT, Lebanon -
pring break is com-
ing up, and every-
one here asks me if
I'm planning to travel. I
haven't decided yet, but
on Wednesday I went to
the Iraqi Embassy. As I
understand it, they're not
really letting freelance
journalists into the country right now, so I
applied for a human shield visa. My reason for
going to Iraq would be to act as an advocate for
those caught in the middle of the war, though
I'm not so sure I want to affiliate myself with a
group that's been placing volunteers at power
stations and other targets that, while technically
protected by the Geneva Convention, are fair
game in the de facto rules of war.
At the embassy, my friend Hassan helped
me fill out the visa form, which consisted of a
copy of my passport and a blank sheet of
paper on which I was to write my name,
phone number and a short statement about
why I want to travel to Iraq. Hassan was kind
enough to speed the process by taking down
my statement in Arabic as I dictated - writ-
ing it myself, dictionary in hand, could have
taken all day.
While we were there, Lebanese men passed
in and out as they signed up to go to Iraq as
human shields, to fight against the American
army or to serve as martyrs (their word, not
mine). For persons traveling from other Arab
countries, the visa approval is a same-day
process, sans statement. I was a little disap-
pointed the "official visa forms" were actually
blank sheets of computer paper. I had a faint
notion that perhaps there would be separate

forms for each purpose, and the man behind
the desk would say something like: "Human
shield? That's the yellow form. You want to
blow yourself up? Blue form. Over there."
While Hassan wrote, a middle-aged
Lebanese man missing a number of fingers
asked me to help him cut out his passport
photo. We didn't ask him why he was travel-
ing; neither Hassan nor I wanted to know. I
handed the man his picture and searched his
face for any trace of discomfort or apprehen-
sion. I was beginning to feel lightheaded at the
possibility of being involved as a noncombat-
ant; this man was perhaps planning his own
death and appeared entirely calm as he pro-
ceeded. As he stared back at me, I felt an odd
sort of nexus. We have little in common. He is
probably from one of Beirut's heavily Shiite
suburbs and direct verbal communication
between us was prevented by the language bar-
rier - just one indicator of our vastly different
experiences. Yet there we were, both signing
on to stand with people to whom we have no
obligation other than that which we feel as fel-
low human beings. He is going to fight, I am
going to write. We offer what we can.
Hassan finished writing down my statement.
"You got all of it? The part about witness-
ing what the media in the states won't show?
About telling people back home? About soli-
darity with the suffering of the Iraqi people and
showing that Americans don't all support their
government's policies?"
"Yeah man. I made it say 'the evil Ameri-
can government.' It sounds better."
I guess George Bush isn't the only person
guilty of oversimplifying matters in order to
get people into Iraq.
I've been trying to figure out what'I'll tell

my parents. Assuming my visa is approved,
I'm not entirely sure I'll go. The way I see it
now is that one can take calculated risks and
reduce the chances of being harmed, but if
carpet bombing or widespread martyrdom
operations begin, I think I'll stay away. The
idea of the U.S. Army shooting anyone that
moves for fear they're carrying a bomb
doesn't leave me very optimistic. I'm a jour-
nalist, but I'm not suicidal.
After a quiet cab ride back to campus,
one of my friends told me she's worried I
am "young and idealistic," and that she's
not sure about my "ability to assess risk." I
told her I'm just more risk-acceptant than
the average person. I am not naive enough
to think my traveling to and writing about
Iraq will solve anything directly, nor that
the problem is not as simple as American-
led aggression. It extends to Arab regimes
that will allow massive protests against the
United States, but will quickly and brutally
quell protests against their own govern-
ments. As I write this, I sit next to a friend
of mine, an Iraqi American who bristles
every time she sees Saddam Hussein on
television. She still has family in Iraq, and
each time Al-Jazeera shows what it says are
U.S.-caused casualties in Iraq, she asks
aloud why the Arab world now openly con-
demns the murder of civilians by Ameri-
cans when Saddam has been doing it for so
long without reproach. No, I am not naive
enough to think my going to Iraq would
change anything, but there is a certainly a
part of me that wishes I were.

0

Enders can be reached at
denders@umich.edu.

LETTER TO THEEDITOR

Racial preferences not the
answer to flawed system
To THE DAILY:
I am writing today in order to bring up a
point about the affirmative action debate
which I believe has gone unstated. Further,
while I haven't heard or read the entirety of
the oral arguments, I believe that this was the
point U.S. Supreme Court Justice Scalia was
making regarding the elite law schools.
The point is simply this; whenever anyone
says minority enrollment will decrease if
affirmative action is taken away, he is assum-
ing that the admissions process will remain
the same. I believe there are race-neutral
means to get at diversity (since racial diversity
is not the goal), but I know others disagree.
Only time will tell. But, either way, the
assumption remains.
A similar assumption possibly prompted
Scalia's "elite law school" series of questions.
The University argues that it wishes to remain
an elite law school while also maintaining

experiential diversity. At the same time, the
Law School itself is defining what it considers
to be an "elite" law student, necessary for an
"elite" law school; they rely heavily upon
LSAT and GPA to get there. Then, they use a
separate process, under their affirmative
action program, to get that experiential diver-
sity that is still lacking in the class chosen by
LSAT and GPA.
So, I think that what Scalia was attempting
to ask, or should have asked, is why is there a
need for the two programs? If the students
who only get in through affirmative action are
still "elite students," but are not getting cap-
tured through the LSAT/GPA process, then
the process is flawed. If diversity is so impor-
tant, why doesn't the entire process focus on
that, instead of treating it as a flaw to be fixed
at the end?
And by the way, leave athletes, legacies and
the like out of this. Those are not constitutional-
ly-protected classes, and are (or should be) irrele-
vant to the court. Take those arguments (most of
which I consider valid) to the regents.
JASON KILLIPS
Law student

STAYING IN ANN ARBOR
THIS SUMMER?
WANT TO MEET SOME COOL
PEOPLE WHILE YOU RE HERE?
WRITE FOR DAILY OPINiI N
OR
AIPPLY TO BE A
SUMMER COLUMNIs
EITHER WAY,
E-MAIL JASON PESICK AT
JZPESICK@UMICHD U

0
0

VIEWPOINT
A practical case against the war

BY DAN ADAMS
Like millions of Americans, I've spent the
past weeks glued to the television, watching
our million-dollar missiles slam into $10 tents
with concern and awe - hardly emotions that
should apply to what will mean the death and
maiming of thousands of soldiers and civil-
ians. Unlike most Americans, I have been
reluctant to come out completely against or
completely in favor of the war. The pacifist
stance doesn't make much sense to me, as
there are foreseeable instances in which pre-
emptive military action could be justified. But
I am against this war, and for reasons which
until now have been buried in a muddled mix
of fear and anger. I see President Bush advo-
cate liberty in Iraq while limiting it at home;
he ignores the United Nations in the same
breath he extols its necessity. And worst of all,
he justifies force in the name of peace -
hardly a model of consistency. He stresses the
necessity of Saddam's removal when dozens
of other regimes stand at the brink of nuclear
development. He has made the case clear that
Saddam is dangerous, and I don't disagree.
But which is more dangerous: a man with

unilateral action may prevent a terrorist attack
out of Iraq, but it could also lead to attacks out
of any one of dozens of developing nations.
Scary. What of these other "rogue
nations?" Should we invade and disarm each?
We're blowing the hell out of Iraq, all the
while doing our best not to even talk to the
North Koreans. Even if you were to give Bush
the benefit of the doubt concerning his diplo-
matic efforts in the U.N. Security Council, his
decision to lump North Korea into the infa-
mous Axis of Evil can only be described as
one of the most inept (and dangerous) foreign
policy decisions in recent history. Not only
does North Korea have little in common with
Iran and Iraq, but the move alienated the Unit-
ed States from a regime that had shown its
willingness to compromise on its nuclear
weapons goals. Fast forward to the present.
North Korea has asked for diplomatic talks
concerning its nuclear weapons program, and
in an effort to express U.S. will, we are sys-
tematically refusing their offer.
Scary. The mechanism that helped pull us
through the cold war - the United Nations -
has seen itself irreparably damaged by this sit-
uation. Despite the fact that the United
Nations may have disagreed with us, make no

kind of thing all the time. We certainly do it
all the time, but rarely with any success.
From Diem in South Vietnam, to the shah of
Iran, to any one of several Latin and South
American puppet governments, our track
record in pursuing regime change isn't stel-
lar. Usually, the man we support is the
greater of two evils and rarely has but a shred
of popular support (funny, given that we usu-
ally prop these men up in the name of
democracy and liberty).
On a very basic level, if a nation is to ini-
tiate open war with another, one would hope
that it does so in order that if its objectives
are achieved, the world (or at least its own
population) would be better off for having
fought it. Are we as a nation, as a world,
going to be better off for having fought a
second Persian Gulf War? The answer, no
matter which way I look at it, seems to be an
unequivocal, no. On paper, a stable Iraq is
being destabilized, a cooperating internation-
al community is being alienated, we are
weakening a once-potent United Nations,
and most troubling, a dangerous leader is
being backed into a corner and grossly
underestimated. We have deemed our effort
"Operation Iraqi Freedom," as if this had

THE BOONDOCKS A A RON M CURLUER
ANEW SW THAT M tSAYS V ONE T mis IS CNN.I'M oA AR owN

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