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September 23, 2002 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2002-09-23

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9

4A - The Michigan Daily - Monday, September 23, 2002

OP/ED

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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

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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.

J S "'
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- Rina Abu Ramila, a Palestinian woman
whose daughter finally received a kidney
from a Jewish donor killed in the August
Hebrew University suicide bombing, as
quoted in yesterday's Jerusalem Post.

Framing Iraq in the quasi-victory of Afghanistan
JOHANNA HANINK PARLANCE OF OUR TIMES

4

esterday's Sun-
day New York
Times show-
cased, as the Times is
wont to do, an interest-
ing juxtaposition of arti-
cles on its front page.
Lead story: "Israel
tells U.S. it will retaliate
if Iraqis attack." Close
second: "Bush's push on Iraq at U.N.: Head-
way, then new barriers."
Neither of these headlines gave any sort of
indication that the people at the Times are
secretly pushing for that oh-so inevitable pre-
emptive strike. The stories themselves didn't
give that me that impression either - the one
about the United States, the United Nations and
Iraq seemed an impressive piece of evenhanded
and frank news analysis. What was most inter-
esting about yesterday's page-one design deci-
sion was how these two stories appeared in the
context of the smaller one that was printed, still
on the front page, but below the fold.
"Long in dark, Afghan women say to
read is finally to see" ran in the vein of last
year's Nov. 13 front-pager "In a fallen Tal-
iban city, a busy, busy barber." The story is
compelling, carefully crafted, designed to
elicit a hard emotional response from the
reader. Carlotta Gall recreates the scene of
Afghan women, crowded around their
teacher (with pointer in hand), nursing babies
and trying to control toddlers, chanting the
"Afghan" alphabet: Alef, Be, Te ..."
It's hard not to be affected by this kind of
story. A photo accompanying the piece cap-
tured a moment in a classroom when veiled and

barefoot women sat on the floor, intently
focused on the characters chalked on the black-
board - another: An adorable little girl with a
tattered book open, mouthing her alef-be.
Classes are springing up faster than
women can register for them thanks to the lift
on the Taliban's ban of educating women, a
lift that was U.S.-slash-Northern Alliance mil-
itary-incursion induced. The article made our
entire nation, through a literary and photo-
graphic cameo, party to a heartrending display
of the quiet triumph of Afghanistan's women.
Now, we can see for ourselves how a pocket
of Central Asia has brightened with a little
tweaking from the United States - and yes-
terday we saw all this right below stories that
should make us think about whether we need
to invade Iraq. How convenient.
However incidental the placement might
have been, it should be enough to cause us to
question into what framework we are putting
an Iraqi invasion. The Afghanistan incursion
was on many counts a disaster. The govern-
ment remains unbelievably unstable; Presi-
dent Karzai's life remains constantly at risk.
Despite calls for and promises of post-
shelling nation building, the Afghan people
have perhaps benefitted most notably from
what the United States took away - burkas
and beards. Sans al-Qaida (perhaps), they are
still left with a country steeped in poverty
and a political situation marked by volatility.
An examination of the current situation
regarding Iraq in the framework of the social
benefits of U.S. military action is also mis-
leading. After the United States invaded
Afghanistan last year, an equal number of
analyses of the sociology of liberation

(remember that catchphrase - the liberation
of Kabul?) found their way onto the pages
dedicated to reporting the search for terror-
ists. Adding a human touch to the War on
Terrorism certainly helps President Bush's
case - a heartwarming, tear-jerker of a story
here and there makes the shelling of a city a
lot easier to swallow.
It's important to recognize that there is a
motivational distinction between national
defense (or offense) and social development.
If it's "liberation" - equal rights, religious,
media, speech freedoms - that we're after,
we shouldn't frame it in a policy of punish-
ment. If it's regime change for purposes of
national - our nation's - security, then we
can't soften the blows with exuberant pic-
tures of men being shaven and shorn for the
first time in years. If there's going to be a
war, maybe we can justify it. But it needs to
be justified through the reality of the political
situation, not through the international fluff
pieces floating around the front pages of
influential newspapers.
It will be a wonderful thing if some good
comes out of a U.S. strike on Iraq. Sadly, our
very recent track record in Afghanistan
makes that sort of hope to be a feeling that
must be predicated by enormous optimism.
This war will require candidness of purpose,
honesty which cannot be compromised by an
emotional appeal. Pretty soon we'll be going
in there to get rid of Saddam Hussein
because it suits us - so let's not pretend it's
for the good of the Iraqi people.

Johanna Hanink can be reached at
jhanink@umich.edu.

DO THE WRITE THING. DAILY MASS MEETING TONIGHT; 9 P.M. 420 MAYNARD. SEE 'U' ThEE.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Impossibility of complete
fairness obvious; doesn't
mean we should stop trying
To THE DAILY:
Fairness is "folly?" Equality is an ideal "not
even worth pursuing?!" Perhaps I have been
wrong this whole time, believing in some elu-
sive, naive values of justice and democracy.
But ... call me an idealist, I cannot accept this.
Luke Smith, in his article Fostering the naive
perception of equality, (9/19/02) has a valid
(although completely obvious) point - com-
plete faimess can never be achieved. But is this
a reason to stop trying?
Yes, people must live with the hands they
are dealt. Some of us are lucky, and some of us,
not so much. Genetics, economic circum-
stances, family situations - these are compo-
nents of one's existence no one can control. But
the ideal of equality has never been to change
that which is out of our hands. Pursuing equali-
ty in any sense has always been about attempt-
ing to balance that which is in our power to
change - biases, opinions, judgment. If fair-
ness is such an unattainable ideal, then perhaps
we should cease to strive for impartiality in our
judicial system. Or perhaps we should put chil-
dren with mental handicaps in classrooms with-
out any extra aid, expecting them to simply
fend for themselves in this unfair world. But we
can't. We won't. Because we know we can
make changes to attain some semblance of
equality. It will never be perfect, obviously -
but does this mean that it's not worth a shot?
The admissions system in many universities
around the country is flawed, I am in complete

agreement here. But college admissions is a
game, and kids who are from privileged back-
grounds are given the extra strategies required
to maneuver in this game - kids from less for-
tunate backgrounds are often left without any
such special tactics. It is not as simple as work-
ing hard to get good grades and test scores, it is
a complex system of embellishing the truth and
increasing raw talent - with outside help. To
think otherwise is the real naivete. The criteria
of educational institutions is something within
our control - and thus, it is our responsibility
to strive toward this elusive ideal of equality. I
shudder to think of a world where we one day
no longer take this responsibility seriously.
AsHWINI HARDIKAR
LSA freshman
Minorities: 'Do not accept
handouts,' sub-par stanrdds
TO THE DAILY:
Affirmative action. Those two words can
cause heated debates in almost any circle. Is it
necessary? Does it really do anything positive
for society? I honestly do not know the answer.
to these questions. What I do know is that our
public school systems in this country suck.
Why not end affirmative action and replace
it with a system that lends itself toward a truer
equality. So many people complain about stu-
dents (usually minorities) getting into universi-
ties with sub-standard grades and test scores.
What these people tend to forget is that the
school systems many of these minorities attend-
ed provided sub-standard educations. Why not
replace affirmative action with a system that

simply takes into account the school district one
attended and not one's race. Let's be honest,
there are plenty of non-minority students that
attend the same sub-standard institutions as
minorities. Is it right that these non-minority
students do not get the same breaks as their
minority counterparts? No. Affirmative action
was created to foster equality not reverse dis-
crimination.
Now, on a personal note, affirmative action
to me is an insult. I see it simply as the "pow-
ers that be" telling me that because I am a
minority I am not expected to perform at the
same level as my non-minority counterpart.
Wrong. One of the major problems I encoun-
tered while attending an urban school and sub-
sequently teaching at one, is the lack of
expectations. Lowering of school standards to
meet the expected lower performances of stu-
dents simply works to perpetuate students that
already perform poorly to perform at an even
lower level.
Too many minorities feel as though a high-
er education should be given to them simply
because of their minority status. No. Do not
accept handouts or sub-standard requirements.
Do not foster and perpetuate the notion that
minorities are incapable of the same level of
achievement as non-minorities. Do not allow
the racists of this country to say, "well of
course they got in to Michigan, they're a
minority" as though that were the only reason
for your success. Stand up and let them know
that you made it because you busted your ass.
That despite the odds, you not only got here,
you are going to leave here with your degree
firmly in hand.
ZIKIYA NORTON
Rackham

0

6

0

VIEWPOINT
LHSP has bright future; commitment to diversity

BY PATTY SKUSTER
AND BEN MCDONOUGH
We are writing in response to Jeremy
Berkowitz's article, Diversity a Concern for
LHSP Members, published in Sept. 16's Daily.
As two Resident Fellow instructors in our sec-
ond year with the Lloyd Hall Scholars Program,
we are concerned that the article could promote
misconceptions about the program's identity
and about its goals.
m7Tli m._: tl r o ai r n rra

enroll in a wide range of academic courses and
participate in, community programs offered in
the building where they live. LHSP is a place
where students' home, social and academic
lives converge as they begin their studies in the
University at large.
We have seen the program move in positive
directions during our time living and working
within LHSP and have also seen it cope with the
many challenges associated with its unique
qualities. Although the position of live-in Resi-
dent Fellow may cease to exist, LHSP instruc-
.. .>+ r.4:11 .L nr n nn -rnt -nr .it t

has implemented a new diversity outreach pro-
gram aimed at attracting a more diverse student
body. In seeking a critical assessment of its own
strengths and weaknesses, the program has
looked outside to the Sweetland Writing Center
and the Center for Research on Learning and
Teaching, which are providing expert teaching
support to this year's Resident Fellows. Finally,
the program is continuing its proud support of
the fine arts through its Arts on the Hill pro-
gram, whose coordinator, Mark Tucker, suc-
ceeded in proving to the College of Literature,
Science and the Arts. Kinesiologv. Nursing and

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