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September 10, 2002 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2002-09-10

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, September 10, 2002

OP/ED

£ 41
atle

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

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

JON SCHWARTZ
Editor in Chief
JOHANNA HANINK
Editorial Page Editor

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
He was tender,
he was warm, he
was nice."
- Parisoula Lampsos, the former mistress
of Saddam Hussein, discussing her
relationship with the Iraqi president in
an interview with ABC's Claire Shipman.
Lampsos also revealed that Hussein uses
Viagra, enjoys whiskey on the rocks and
hisfJvoritefood is fresh gazelle.

SAMvfBUTLER " '! ,,OIE,)
-y y& '~

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Adding up numbers doesn't complete equation
JON SCHWARTZ TW oSIE iTOIVERY ScIHWAR

x <:
9£ :::
., r,,
i'

Y ears ago, I
learned of an apt
way to better
comprehend what the
Nazis did in the Holo-
caust. Instead of focusing
on the millions of people
killed, it can be more
telling to understand that
the Nazis killed one per-

son, then they killed another, then they killed
another ....
Kind of puts it in better perspective, no?
Unfortunately, that mentality is not called
into play nearly enough. Too often, we are con-
cerned more with the number of dead than with
the victims themselves. We throw around num-
bers as a superficial means of identifying the
scope of horror. It goes without saying, in the
case of our societal standards, that it's much
more of a tragedy when 100 people die than the
loss of 10. And in my mind, nowhere is this
more true than in the case of Sept. 11.
A year ago tomorrow, 3,038 people were
killed in the worst act of terrorism to ever hit
this country. It was a sickening, despicable act
that should be forever memorialized; when Pres-
ident Bush said that "our nation saw evil" he
was absolutely right.
But didn't our nation also see evil on
April 19, 1995, when Timothy McVeigh
bombed the Murrah Federal Building in
Oklahoma City, Okla.? The fact that most
people don't know the significance of that
date just proves my point (I had to look it
up). That day, 168 people died - not as
many as on Sept. 11, but no less a tragedy.
When we remember the victims of last
year's attack or the Oklahoma City bombing,

we should be looking at more than the number
3,038 or 168. We should be realizing that each
of those 3,206 names has a face, and with a face
comes a family left to grieve.
So what is it? What makes us so fascinated
by numbers? Why do we need to convince our-
selves that this most recent attack is inherently
worse than any that came before it, simply
because the numbers are higher? Furthermore,
why is it that in McVeigh's final days, the
country's eye was acutely focused on the fami-
lies of the dead, but this time, America sees
itself as one great victim?
Most people right now would say that it's
because Sept. 11 was a case of international
terrorism as opposed to an angry, militant
American taking personal action. Sitting here
in Ann Arbor, it's easy to say that while
Osama bin Laden attacked us, Timothy
McVeigh hit them. McVeigh may have hit
Americans, citizens of a country 288 million
strong, but bin Laden hit America.
This baffles me. Though I understand the
intrinsic difference between the two dates in
American history, I can't fathom how we can
expect that the pain of losing someone on Sept.
11 must have been greater than it was to have
lost someone in 1995. I imagine that most
would agree that it's easy to understand why
someone who lost a husband in the Murrah
Building would feel that while bin Laden
attacked them, McVeigh hit her.
I don't know any victims of either attack.
But I can guarantee you that relatives, friends
and associates of the victims of the Oklahoma
City bombing consider April 19 an awful, if not
worse of a day than Sept. 11.
Which is to take nothing away from the
horror that hit America a year ago; I just

don't understand why it has to be more of a
tragedy than anything else.
For many who lost loved ones in the World
Trade Center or the Pentagon, tomorrow might
not be a day spent memorializing terrorism.
Rather, I expect that they will use the time to
remember the person they lost. I imagine that
they will see the day much like a family member
commemorates the anniversary of a murder.
The United States was no doubt affected by
Sept. 11, but Americans need to realize that the
change witnessed by society is wholly different
than the way a family without a father has coped.
Some victims might still see the attack in general
as a watershed event, but others probably do not.
Blasphemous though it may seem right now,
a tragedy is a tragedy. There's no need to com-
pare the atrocities of Sept. 11 with any other date,
because to those affected, they're all equally ter-
rible. Though it's commonplace and easy to
shout about the United States' unhealable
wounds suffered last year, the pain I feel as an
American, even a patriotic American, can't com-
pare to anyone who lost a loved one in the attack.
For me, Sept. 11 will always be a day when
our nation was attacked in one of the most
vicious ways imaginable. It was a day that
changed my life and one which I will never for-
get. As I've said, I don't want to take attention
away from what happened, I just want to shift the
focus from the number to the names.
Because I won't remember what happened
simply for the reason that 3,038 innocent people
died. I'll remember it because Osama bin Laden
killed one person, and then he killed another,
and then he killed another ....
Jon Schwartz can be reached
atjlsz@umich.edu.

The unbearable lightness of being evil
AUBREY HENRETTY NEU ROTICA
t's September again "evils" - excepting rap and communism (the local Grand Dragon. You'll say something
and presidents and word is still out on Ouija boards) - are excus- like, "Grandpa's a good person. He was just
pundits the world able. It is not OK to commit acts of mass raised that way," as though there were not
over are still clamoring to destruction against civilians or to rape, murder writers, orators, activists and thinkers of his
convince us who is or abuse. Not ever. generation who advocated racial tolerance and
evilest. Myself, I belong The trouble is, there's no cadre of bad guys equality. As though his gentle laugh, endless
to the Oscar Wilde to blame, no National Association of Rapists, patience and affinity for checkers somehow
school of human nature: Racists, Religious Fundamentalists and make it OK for him to disown you if he ever
"It's absurd," Wilde once Pedophiles on which to declare war. Human finds out you've been dating that
said, "to divide people beings are complex and paradoxical, often sur- black/white/brown/yellow/red person.
into good and bad. People are either charming prising each other in terrifying ways. Our sons Evil is less a state of being than a rhetorical
or tedious." are convicted rapists, our grandparents don't device, an explosive four-letter word guaran-
Maybe Wilde wasn't willing to take "bad" like black/white/brown/yellow/red people, our teed to perk up even the most apathetic set of
as far as "evil," but I am. And I will use his cousins just found The Religion Before Which ears. We say people are "good" if we're look-
statement as a jumping-off point regardless, All Other Religions Will Bow Reverently Or ing to write off something bad they've done
because that's what literary witticisms are all Pay The Price (In Blood) and our uncles run and we say they're "bad" or "evil" if we're
about. Author intent gets an emphatic raspber- kiddie-porn websites out of their homes. Our looking to avenge it. We delude ourselves into
ry, I get a clever introduction and less than .03 best friends literally and metaphorically stab thinking these labels are part of the grand
percent of the population notices the differ- others in the back on a regular basis. moral scheme of things rather than see them
ence. QED. Our creative and destructive capacities are for what they are: Rationalizations of our own
Most people cannot, when asked, provide enormous: Libraries, Q-tips and M-16s. feelings. Projections. It's okay to hate evil,
an operational definition of "evil." ("It's ... Marshmallows and tanks. We build things - remember?
umm ... well ... it's the opposite of good"). big, useless things (e.g. the St. Louis Arch) - In this manner, Jerry Falwell, who vehe-
But they can make lists: Killing people for no just for the hell of it. We have higher aspira- mently disapproves of feminists, gay people,
reason (or for purely selfish reasons) is evil, tions. We've been to the moon. We cheat on the American Civil Liberties Union and all
rape is evil, abusing children is evil, hate is our taxes, our diets, our chemistry exams and religions other than Christianity, can be a
evil (except when hating evil itself; that's our spouses. We like to eat sour gummy phenomenal idiot and a bad person while
allowed), communism is evil (what? Comnu- worms and blow things up. We drive drunk your grandfather, who does precisely the
nism?). Rap niusic and Ouija boards (now and wear golf pants. same thing and is also a racist, can simply be
you're just being silly) are evil. Flying planes This is not a testament to the diversity of misguided. Charming.
into civilian-inhabited buildings (that's bet- the human race; the same people are responsi- It is with this in mind that I watch those in
ter) is evil. ble for all of this, for better and for worse. It's power and those who seek it. Whatever else
The sound of self-righteous eye-rolling just that you're much more apt to forgive your happens in, this high-budget action drama, I
tells me it's time to make one thing perfectly grandfather for being a racist if he also taught hope the good guys come out on top.
clear: What follows is not a bleeding-heart you how to read and fish and throw a baseball
apologia for the violent and/or malicious and took you to the movies every Saturday, all Aurbrev Henretty can be reached
things people do. None of the aforementioned of which is more than you can say for your at ahenrett@umich.edu.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

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0
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University needs to properly
honor Sept. 11 victims with
a break from the routine
TO THE DAILY:
As the World Trade Center towers fell
and the Pentagon burned on Sept. 11,
2001, the University community lost fami-
ly members, friends and former class-
mates. The events of this day were, for
many students, the most violent, immedi-
ate, and jarring that they had witnessed in
their lifetimes. Yet, on the one-year

face to those at the University missing a
relative or a loved one as a result of the ter-
rorist attacks.
Of course, I realize that campus must
keep running on this day and that requires
certain offices and departments to remain
open, but why can't we keep it to a bare
minimum?
The University ought to treat Sept. I1
like the national holiday that it is. Cancel
classes and give students and faculty the
flexibility to decide which campus memor-
ial events to attend; do not force us to base
our schedules for remembrance around
"time and workload," as Courant suggests.
Cancel classes and support those of us who

LETTERS POLICY
The Michigan Daily welcomes letters from all
of its readers. Letters from University students,
faculty, staff and administrators will be given
priority over others. Letters should include the
writer's name, college and school year or other
University affiliation. The Daily will not print
any letter containing statements that cannot be
verified.
Letters should be kept to approximately 300
words. The Michigan Daily reserves the right to
edit for length, clarity and accuracy. Longer
"viewpoints" may be arranged with an editor. Let-
ters will be run according to order received and

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