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April 10, 2003 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 2003-04-10

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OP/ED

The Michigan Daily - Thursday, April 10, 2003 - 5A

VIEWPOINT
A new birth of freedom

Chris Parks:.Reporter/idealist
never forgot his mission in life

By Loule Moizfish
Daily Editor in Chief

BY JASON PESICK
Today, President Bush and his
advisors feel vindicated. After
months of receiving criticism -
sometimes vicious and often delu-
sionally vile - from people
around the world, it appears that
the war in Iraq will not turn out to
be the massive disaster that his
opponents predicted. The cheers of
Iraqis celebrating in the streets -
no matter how often diehard Cas-
sandras cry propaganda - are far
more powerful than any wacky,
coordinated campaign put on by
the history's three stalwart defend-
ers of liberal democracy: France,
Russia and Germany.
After slapping Colin Powell
around at the U.N. Security Coun-
cil on behalf of a brutal dictator
and a cruel status quo, French For-
eign Minister Dominique de
Villepin would be wise to come
down off his high horse. It would
also behoove the Germans to bite
their tongues for a while, as the
resemblances between the recent
videos in Baghdad's Firdos Square
and those of East Germans
destroying statues dedicated to the
Leninist state in 1989 make their
stated position seem slightly hypo-
critical.
In short, a bunch of neo-conser-
vatives and an uncouth Texan are
well on their way toward achieving
a more liberal end than the world's
so-called "liberals" would have
ever achieved if they had Bush's
job. Denying the emotional power
of thousands of Iraqis cheering for
U.S. soldiers is cynical, not ideal-
istic or liberal. Denying the sym-
bolic typology that exists between
the events of April 9, 2003 and the
events of April 9, 1865, when Con-
federate Gen. Robert E. Lee sur-
rendered to Union Gen. Ulysses S.

Grant, denies the ability of the
United States to use its over-
whelming power to achieve liberal
goals, whether it be emancipating
blacks or liberating Iraqis.
Comparing George W. Bush to
Abraham Lincoln does indeed -
and should indeed - give anyone
reading this pause. To some, it will
seem like heresy. Abraham Lincoln
was a great thinker and one of the
great writers in U.S. history. He
was the first president to under-
stand the role that the United
States had the potential to play on
the world stage. As the public
intellectual Paul Berman described
in The New Republic, "(Lincoln)
knew that, in order to survive, lib-
eral democracy needed to arouse
among its own citizens a greater
commitment than
ever before to the Younger
cause of universalfdin ger
freedom - in eniu
fact, an absolute
commitment, their gran
which could only
mean a commit- Greatest
ment unto death."
Lincoln believed receives
that it was the
responsibility of Opportun
the United States
to spread freedom some resp
and democracy to t 1
oppressed peo- emselv
ples. He dreamed
of a day when "the family of man"

countries for providing high stan-
dards of living for their people
while acquiescing to world opin-
ion. These countries are relatively
weak and stand for no principles,
no grand ideals; they have no
vision, no hopes, no dreams for the
future of the world. From Switzer-
land to Sweden, these states have
abdicated responsibility for the
direction of the world. If history
had been in their hands during the
previous century, the 6 billion peo-
ple on this planet would be speak-
ing German right now.
Hopefully, victory in Iraq will
put the "reverse domino theory" -
which supporters of this war from
The, New York Times' Thomas

I
I
l

An Iraqi Immigrant in Everett, Wash.
kisses a picture of President Bush
yesterday.

Friedman to the
chairman of the
Americans
)f the praise
ndparents'
Generation
have an
ity to garner
pect for
,es now.

newly-resigned
Defense Policy
Board,
Richard
Pe rle,
espouse
- into
action,
spreading
liberal
democra-
cy across
the globe.
Either
way, our
genera-
tion will
be faced
with the

would stand together, living in free
countries, guaranteed a set of basic
human rights. And he knew that
this would be impossible to accom-
plish without war.
The world is full of people -
many of them in Europe - who
believe that the United States is a
danger to the world. They see it as
a dangerous hegemon that uses
force for conquest. They laud
many of their fellow European

task of continuing to spread Ameri-
can ideals, possibly without the fis-
cal resources to do so. The time has
come for Generation Y to realize
this destiny and to begin working
toward creating a world our idealis-
tic parents' generation failed to
bring to fruition.
The sooner we become involved
in this process, the easier it will be
to achieve such a lofty vision. The
potential to change the world in a
significant way has not been this
great since World War II.
Younger Americans envi-
ous of the praise that
their grandparents' Great-
est Generation receives
have an opportunity to
garner some respect for
themselves now. Achiev-
ing this outcome will
require more than ideal-
ism, however. It will
require active involve-.
ment in governmental
affairs.
Even though them war.-
is progressing as well as
could be expected,
despite the inevitable, yet
tragic casualties, the
process of rebuilding Iraq
promises to be difficult
and long. There remains
legitimate skepticism
regarding the Bush
administration's commit-
ment to helping Iraqis
create their own, free
nation. Also troubling is
AP Photo the president's misguided
dlers as domestic policy. His
attempts to couple an

aggressive foreign policy with
massive tax cuts at home will be a
boon to retiring baby boomers, but
the source of major headaches for
younger generations stretching for
years into the future.
In addition, the Bush adminis-
tration is sending members of the
Iraqi National Congress to Iraq.
Many observers are concerned that
this signifies an attempt by the
administration to gain control over
the country's future. According to
The Washington Post, the adminis-
tration is also considering appoint-
ing Daniel Pipes to hold a seat on
the board of directors on the U.S.
Institute of Peace, a federally-
funded think tank. Pipes represents
a radical point of view in regards
to the Middle East that is hostile to
the Arab world. The president's
lack of movement on the issue of
the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is
equally disconcerting. There are
also worries that he will fail to
provide the necessary humanitari-
an aid and refuse to provide
enough troops to stabilize the
country. If the administration han-
dles Iraq with the same carelessnes
with which it rebuilt Afghanistan,
it will do long-term damage to the
country's reputation and credibili-
ty, ultimately interfering with the
goal of spreading democracy
across the Middle East.
These are many of the roadblocks
that could prevent spreading the
potential gains in Iraq to the rest of
the world. But after yesterday's
developments in Iraq, the president
deserves a break. He may have
sparked the most idealistic move-
ment in generations - a movement
that we should make our own.
Pesick is an LSA freshman and a
member of the Daily s editorial board.

When I asked LSA senior Becky
Parks if she could name any of her
father's heroes, only one came to
mind: Robert Kennedy.
It didn't surprise me, given what
I've learned in the past few days
about a man I never knew, Christo-
pher Parks, a longtime reporter who
died last Friday at the age of 51.
You may hear the words "liberty"
and "freedom" tossed around a lot,
but Chris Parks was a real liberal.
He had opinions about everything,
but he knew how to be objective.
And he knew when
to stick with what
he believed in -
even when every-
one disagreed.
Parks, a Univer-
sity alum, was co-
editor in chief of
The Michigan
Daily in 1973, then
went on to work for
the United Press
International, writ-
ing and managing
things for UPI in
Lansing. When his
wife said she want-
ed to work for the
Detroit Institute of Christopher Parks,
Arts, he said OK, intemationals Lars
even though it died last Friday of c
meant giving up his neurologicaldisordi
bureau chief's post
in Lansing.
Before making the move, he insist-
ed not only that the Parks family live
in Detroit, but that Rebecca and
Joshua attend the Detroit Public
Schools, because he knew his kids
would receive a fine education there,
regardless of what anyone said about
the city and its schools.
And he always rooted for the Detroit
Tigers, no matter how bad they were
doing, even when they suffered losing
season after losing season.
Though he wasn't real big on
Michigan sports, he was fiercely
loyal to the Wolverines, and "when
they got rid of Band Day at Michigan
Stadium, he was outraged that they
would rob the essential college expe-
rience away from the band," noted
John Lindstrom, a friend and fellow
reporter in Lansing.
As for reporting and editing skills,
his friends say, you couldn't ask for a,
better colleague.
There were difficult stories to
report. When he was the UPI's Lans-
ing bureau chief in 1982, 17 percent'
of the state was unemployed and one
third was relying on the state for

some kind of economic assistance.
"The way he would attack a story
- if you could see him do it, he was
always doing something - twirling
his hair, he would tap his fingers, tug
on his beard, and he'd have this real
intense look on his face until he got
it done," said Rick Pluta, now a
Michigan Public Radio reporter who
worked under Parks at UPI.
"Having Chris as your editor was A
situation you approached with a lot
of trepidation because he was always
finding something, but there was
always a sense of relief when he was
your editor because he was a para
chute. When Parks got done you
knew there would-
n't be any holes in
: your story. You
knew it would be;
thorough and accu-
rate.
' "He was always
asking, 'What about
from that angle,;
what about fron
this angle?' "
When the UPI.
finally closed its
Detroit bureau,
Parks moved over to
the Detroit Legal,
News. To better
understand the:
United Press issues he covered at
g bureau In 1985, the Legal News, he
rpilcatlons from a got a law degree
from Wayne State
University in 1996.
But soon after getting the degree,:
he found out he had a degenerative
neurological disease. It slowly ate
away at his abilities. When he could:
no longer write and edit, he devoted
his time to charity. One of the things
he did was fold clothes at the,
Capuchin Soup Kitchen in Detroit.
Although being a prominent jour-
nalist with a law degree, he saw no:
shame in that work. After all, "I did-
n't know until I was in middle school
that it wasn't normal for a dad to
vacuum or clean," Becky Parks said.
And he continued with the chari-
ties until his body would no longer
allow him to perform the work.
"I think he was a true populist in:
the best sense of the world," Pluta
said. "He really believed that, given:
time and the right information, peo-
ple would reach the right conclu-
sions, eventually."
He believed that, in some way,
everyone could work to make the,
world a better place. Because if
there's nothing to hope for, if people:
can't make things better for them-
selves and each other, why bother:
with journalism?

at
sity
ier.

I

Iraqis In northern Baghdad cheer yesterday as they encounter and greet U.S. Army sol
the soldiers enter the city.

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