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September 11, 2002 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2002-09-11

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, September 11, 2002

OP/ED

obr AelHicbi~tau Jtail

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
Fear is no guide
to th onstitution."
- The New York Times Editorial Board
in yesterday's paper, on the necessity of
preserving civil liberties in times of crisis.

SAM BUTLER Ti i SOAPBX

Remembering what was lost and (briefly) gained
JESS PISKOR THIs SPACE NT FOR SALE

his is big. Bigger
than the Oscars.
Bigger even than
the Super Bowl. This is
Sept. 11, 2002. Every
channel, all day. This is
a media event. Some-
thing to be hyped, adver-
tised and treated with
breathless reverence. So
ends the memory of Sept. 11.
I don't want to be cynical about the
memorials and tributes and remembrances
and vigils and retrospectives and analyses
and banner headlines and pictorials and mon-
tages. But I am.
It all seems like too much of a show lacking
any real substance. We have diminished the
human tragedy and made it into a chance to pat
ourselves on the back and assure ourselves that
everything is fine now, if not better than before.
The United States hasn't changed for the
better. We haven't re-evaluated anything,
we've become more set in our ways. We
haven't become more tolerant; we've put our
blinders on. It's us versus them, good versus
evil. Gone is our thoughtful introspection.
As we pause today to reflect on the horri-
ble sorrow that was Sept. 11, we should not
forget the humanity of the day. That day is
now a fixation of every media outlet across
the country. On one level it has to be. To
ignore this day would somehow feel wrong, as
though we were refusing to acknowledge the
sincerity and solemnity of emotions stemming
from Sept. 11. But somewhere during this past
year we forgot the real lessons we learned and

instead focused on broad self-assurances of
righteousness. Sept. 11, the event, can be
divided into two distinct realities: The day and
the follow-up. First and foremost, it must
always be remembered for the day. That day
shocked the world. It was a day unlike any in
modern times; airplanes didn't fly, no televi-
sion commercials ran, the stock markets all
closed and we spontaneously gathered, talked
and thought, all united by grief and a deep
feeling of loss. Everything commercial
stopped and everything human drew us in. For
those few days, the world stepped back and
asked, "Why?" Why does this happen? Why
here? What did we do? Why is there so much
death in the world? Why so much hate? On
campus, 15,000 people gathered on the Diag
and talked about peace and tolerance and love.
Amidst the horror, it seemed we were poised
for a change. It was during this time of
destruction that it seemed as though, some-
how, we would bring about a new Greatest
Generation, one that would rise above con-
sumption and nationalism. The world was
going to come out of this better than before.
But then all that changed. After those few
brief days, Sept. 11 began to take on a second
meaning. It became the cause for frustration as
the United States failed to take the opportunity
for positive transformation.
It all started when we began to react to
Sept. 11 like good little capitalists ought: We
used it and consumed it, bought it and sold it.
Flags flew off the shelves, patriotic songs
blared and red, white and blue logos gfaced
every television station. We consumed - guilt
-free - because our president told us it was out

patriotic duty. We swaddled ourselves in the
material and forgot the humanity and love that
was our immediate reaction. After a brief spike
in caring, people, despite what they may say,
returned to their self-centered lives. Volun-
teerism never took off. After a brief respite,
anger and impatience with each other found its
way back into society.
The words "Sepember. 11" no longer con-
jure up images of falling towers and ended
lives. I've grown'cynical towards that day. In
part this is because I'm no longer hopeful of
what might become. But I once was. The com-
mercialization and use of Sept. 11 for political
gain, coupled with unilateralist U.S. policies
strike me as horribly wrong.
I can't help but look back at those few days
when despite all the tragedy, there was hope.
That was before nationalism's iron grip took
hold of the United States. Before racial hatred
and intolerance boiled over. Before' our civil
liberties where traded in for a figment of securi-
ty. Before our politicians used the day for their
gain. Before we separated the world into us and
them. Before we installed a puppet government
in Afghanistan. And long before we planned to
preemptively spread war throughout the world.
And I want to deny it, deny that there was a
chance. That way at least I don't feel frustrated.
I don't feel defeated. But it doesn't change the
fact: We could have been great. We had our
moment, we all felt it. And then, "poof," it's a
TV mini-series. And all meaning is lost. And
I'm cursed for having had hope.

0

Jess Piskor can be reached
atjpiskor@umich.edu.

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Critics have been silenced,
silent long enough; Sept. 11
appropriate day for dissent
TO THE DAILY:
Yes, on this day of all days, let us gather
together in an uncritical spirit. Let us mourn
without bitterness. Let us congregate without
quarrel. Let us pray for peace without con-
sciousness of the irony. And most of all, let's
just please keep our mouths shut.
Johanna Hanink's offer of a 24-hour ideo-
logical truce (Let's save the criticism for Sept. 12,
9/9/02) - and the long-suffering tone in which
it is offered - would be far more palatable if
critical voices hadn't been ordered to shut up
from day one. It isn't a matter of this single
day. It's been an entire year, during which we
have finished one war and made plans to start
another. Respect for any form of patriotism that
isn't blind is no greater than it was twelve
months ago.
All year, I've heard the World Trade Center
bombing invoked for causes cynical beyond
belief. Congress used the tragedy to pass a gar-
gantuan corporate welfare bill. Our attorney
general used it to shred the Bill of Rights. Our

fearless leader has used it to legitimize and
excuse his entire presidency, and will soon use
it to start a war. How much longer will the dead
and their loved ones be held up as a smoke
screen for greed and violence? How much
longer does Hanink propose I keep quiet about
it? A year from now, will the powers that be
point to another group of widows, this time
from the war on Iraq, and say, "How dare you
criticize? Look at them! Grieving! Pregnant!
Have you no shame?" And so on, and so on,
until we are knee-deep in the honored dead and
their dishonorable killers.
I'm tired of being told not to politicize an
act of war, especially when the injunction
comes from the politicians who have used that
act to create a political atmosphere of hawkish
xenophobia. I'm tired of being told to have
more respect by those who have none. I'm tired
of being told that all my respects must be paid
in silence. And I am sick of the implication that
I don't think enough about the dead. My inabil-
ity to forget them is what leads me to question.
I and all the other dissenters out there are trying
to prevent a second act of terrorism. And we
would really prefer that our country not go fly-
ing overseas to take its three thousand pounds
of flesh out on a new group of husbands and
fathers, or - far worse and just as likely -
their wives and children.

I do like Hanink's proposal that we use
Sept. 12 to "turn our attention to analysis, to
critique." I have just one question: You
promise?
JESS WHITE
LSA senior
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
the amount of space available.
Letters should be sent over e-mail to
letters@michigandaily.com or mailed to the Daily at
420 Maynard St. Editors can be reached via e-
mail at editpage.editors@umich.edu. Letters e-
mailed to the Daily will be given priority over
those dropped off in person or sent via the U.S.
Postal Service.

al

VIEWPOINT
Tragedy should not trump equality, freedom

BY FADI KIBLAWI
Sept. 11, 2001, 3:30 pm - President Bush
was to address the press and announce once
and for all, secret evidence is no more. The
nation was to come together, and put behind us
a dark chapter in our history in which Arabs
were arrested, detained and incarcerated with-
out charge for sometimes years, their only
crime being the land they descended from.
On that fateful day, on that tragic morning
hour, Americans did come together in another
way. One that transcended political scheming
and maneuvering, that magnified the true
intrinsic beauty of Americans and the bond that
ties us all together. On this campus alone,
15,000 of us stood side by side, and reminded
each other of the oneness of humanity. We
stood unsuspecting that this horrible crime
against our country would be used as an excuse
to erode the very principals that keep our soci-
ety free and great.
One year later, we embark on a time of
iiit a-nd nrnvr

2,000 Arabs and Muslims that were detained
indefinitely and not charged with any crime
since Sept. 11 is that of Dr. Mazen Al-Najjar.
Dr. Al-Najjar was arrested for the first time
on May 19, 1997 by the INS, which cited evi-
dence that could not be released, not even to
him or his lawyers, due to national security
interests. With no charges laid and no evidence
brought against him, it was impossible to build
a defense; other than one that based itself on
the due process rights of all.
. As soon as he was arrested, there were clear
signs that the government did not have any
incriminating evidence against him. After
being taken into custody, he was immediately
offered residency and citizenship in exchange
for his acting as an informant against relatives.
Logic dictates that if a man was a threat to
national security, he would not be immediately
offered citizenship.
However, this was the case and Dr. Al-Naj-
jar had no choice but to refuse, as he did not
have any information to give. One-thousand,
three-hundred and seven solitarv confinement

many Arab-Americans, I will feel both the
immense grief due to the losses of our country
and the anger of injustice that has intensified
since Sept. 11.
. The message that I would like to get across
to my fellow Americans is that our fundamen-
tal values were not written on Sept. 24, 2001.
They were not declared or intended to be
declared on Sept. 11, 2001. They were not born
on May 19, 1997 upon Dr. Al-Najjar's first
arrest or Dec. 15, 2000 upon his first release. It
should never be forgotten, that our fundamental
values, those which carry this great nation
above all else, those which ensure equality and
due process for all, that shun racism and racial
profiling, were born with this great nation over
200 years ago.
Tonight is a night when we must come
together, in prayer and memory of the victims
of Sept. 11. It should not be one spent examin-
ing the case of Dr. Al-Najjar or the 2,000 oth-
ers. For the fact is, that no matter how sadistic
the erosion of our civil liberties gets, nothing
can overshadow the loss of lives so many one

al

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