4 - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, October 9, 2002
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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.
- Excerpt from one of 120,000 leaflets,
written in Arabic and dropped by British
and U.S. combat jets, threatening immediate
retaliation against Iraqi forces who try to
stop U.S./British patrols of the no-fly zones,
as quoted in this week's issue of Newsweek
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SAM BUTLER T .. SOAPBOX
Sharks, kidnappers and killer bees ... oh my!
JESS PISKOR TIis SPACE NoTv RvR SALE
emember August ed States however, like to think that we are its news to exactly what its viewership wants.
2001, when shark only subject to problems that are beyond our Survey says: people demand stories about the
attacks were control. Kidnappers are crazy, sharks are relationship between cell phones and brain
headline news? Or how vicious killers and what could we have done cancer, high-tensile power lines, exploding
about this summer when about West Nile virus? manhole covers and moldy basements.
kidnappers lurked on the We can't stop it; it's not our fault. Further- Yes, we get up in arms about kidnappers,
cover of every newspa- more, it makes us laugh-off real tragedies just but I think deep down we know it's irrational.
per? Whatever happened as we have learned to smirk at conjured up We know kidnapping is at record low levels
to those killer bees that fears. Here around the Great Lakes there is and we joke about how the media is trying to
were going to descend on understandably little fear of shark attacks. So create a story where none exists. But some-
our cities in biblical numbers? when we watch reports on television we laugh how, these minor fears serve as reassurance
We are told to live in fear. Our world, one at the silliness and scoff at the problem. It's that nothing really bad is going on in this
we feel so safe and secure in, is actually a not something we Midwesterners will ever country. Our problems are small and insignifi-
death trap with the grim reaper peeking have to worry about. Unfortunately, when real cant. Our problems are the result of out-of-
around every corner - or so we are lead to tragedy occurs - a ferry capsizes off Senegal, control nature (sharks, bees, snake-headed
believe. Everything causes cancer, every diet a weapons depot explodes in Nigeria, a rebel- fish, termites), crazy people (kidnappers, seri-
kills and everyone is genetically predisposed lion in Sierra Leone - people tend to have al killers) or technology run amok (cell phone
to lifelong depression and eventual the same reaction. We don't have to worry cancer, Y2K). We can rest assuredly knowing
Alzheimer's. Threats and fear bankroll media about it. We'll never be in that position. Once that while little things may be not perfect in
outlets across the United States. Fear sells. people begin to think "Well, it's down in the United States things in general are right on
But it can't be too real. A populace hiding in Florida, it's just stupid sharks and it won't the money. After all, if things were really bad
the basement doesn't go out and buy products. happen to me" it's a short step to "Well, it's in would the ever-so-diligent media be reporting
It has to be scary enough that viewers ask, Africa and stuff like this happens all the time on shark attacks?
"What is this world coming to?" but not real and it won't happen to me. What could I do, We have grown to trust the media too
enough that people decide to actually do anyway? Besides, it's probably not that bad." much. If CNN doesn't mention it, then it must
something like voice an opinion. The problem here is that unlike shark attacks, not have been that big of a deal. If it's the lead
So we get lots of stories about anthrax and there are real opinions that need to be voiced story then gosh, it must be important. We
syringes in coke bottles but few stories about and real issues that need to be worked out, complacently let an ever shrinking number of
the numerous bloody civil wars currently And yes, it probably was that bad. news outlets decide for us what is news and
being fought around the globe or huge eco- We've been conditioned to see news as what isn't. By the logic of
nomic failures in countries like Argentina that entertainment. Something to shock and titil- ABC/CNN/FOX/MSNBC, irrational fear is
leave millions penniless. Generally, our news late us. Slow news days aren't lacking in news and news is money. Luckily in the Unit-
of fear confirms our own sense of superiority, news, they just lack things that a television ed States, the land of wonder and peace, we
both individually and as a nation. Problems in audience cares about: sex, drugs, car chases can afford to ignore the world go on worrying
other countries are portrayed as the result of and degenerates. about razor blades in apples. The only thing
bad leaders, poor government and broken- The media is not, of course, entirely to we have to fear is fear itself.
down infrastructure, all with the underlying blame. What type of news is covered in a
premise that the people in these countries are country is a good indicator of its people. The Jess Piskor can be reached
to blame for their sorry state. We in the Unit- media conducts countless surveys and tailors email@example.com.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Hanink's column avoids ally believes that in failing publicly, they will Absurd Daily boycotters
sway public opinion and (b) The idea that the
semantic traps but dismisses Palestine Solidarity Movement condemns "the should take up cause of
vai htrcyracisminherent in Zionism" and is thereforeWe
valid rhetorical strategy anti-Israel and therefore anti-Semitic. Volleyball team
The activist tactic described in point (a) is
not really that creative at all. Though it is sar-
To THE DAILY: castically commended in the sentence in the TO THE DAILY:
Concerning Johanna Hanink's Oct. 7 col- column, "You have to hand it to these people; The fact that reasons for the boycott
umn, Divestment conference not about divestment: it's a pretty smart strategy." Similar tactics have against the Michigan Daily include lack of
First, I'll say that Hanink's article was been used by the likes of Martin Luther King, coverage of minority events is absurd.
impressively well written and well concen- Jr., Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela in I guess the Women's Volleyball team
trated, avoiding being mired in the common their social campaigns, which I will assume the should boycott the Daily because there
semantic traps that plague the issue. Howev- author supports. wasn't an article about their back-to-back
er, I was intrigued enough to visii the website As for point (b), I find the connections home victories this weekend, which includ-
mentioned several times in the column, one between the conclusions vague. Also, the idea ed victories over Indiana and no. 16 Ohio
example of which can be found in the closing that a group exists which is in favor of peace State, as well as the breaking of a school
sentence, "Or maybe I'll be less cynical when and at the same time operates with the idea record. The team should boycott the Daily
the word "peace" finally appears on that web- that Zionism a racist idea, I find to be debat- until at least one reporter is assigned
site." I'm happy to inform Hanink that that able but far from deplorable and shocking. specifically to the team and is present at all
day has arrived. In bold, roughly 40 font Though I agree that Zionism is not by its very practices, matches, and team dinners.
print, were the words "For Peace, For Jus- nature a racist philosophy, it is responsible in Why aren't there as many articles on
tice." I was unable to find the date when the practice for the displacement of millions based the volleyball team as there are on the
site had last been updated, but I'm willing to on their race, as well as the continued denial football team? Doesn't everyone care as
give the benefit of the doubt as to the col- of civil liberties based of race within the lands much about volleyball and tennis as they
umn's thoroughness. controlled by the Israeli government, which do football?
But I also disagree with the general thrust of Hanink and I both seem to agree must stop Those supporting this boycott bring up
the column, which seems to be that (a) The along with the violence from both the Israeli some good points but sometimes things are
divestment conference is disingenuous in that and Palestinian camps. taken a little too far.
the conference doesn't really believe that it will WILLIAM TRENARY JOHN SCATAMACCHIA
succeed in bringing about divestment, but actu- RCjunior Engineeringjunior
Cole: Gitelman's claims McCarthyite, baseless
BY JUAN COLE
I cannot allow Professor Zvi Gitelman's
remarks (Cole, despite self-proclaimed expertise,
erred in labeling al-Qaida 'irrelevant,' 10/7/02) to
pass without a reply. The first thing to say is
that the claim of Daniel Pipes to be an "auditor"
of an intellectual "Enron" is so absurd that I
haven't stopped giggling since I first heard it.
Pipes wrote a perfectly awful dissertation and
therefore never got tenure at a first-rank univer-
sity. He has not subsequently done primary
research in Arabic or Persian of any note. An
examination of any citation index would find
that his polemics have had virtually no impact
in the academic world. His only position is an
appointed one, made for purely political pur-
poses. Some sugar daddy has set him up with a
couple of offices and a fax machine. Pipes'
appointing himself "auditor" of our field is like
Tan C0navle nnnintincy himself "aiditor" of
believes he can speak with authority about the
nature of Islamic movements.
Al-Qaida is in fact a small fringe in the
Muslim world. Intelligence estimates put al-
Qaeda members worldwide at 3,000 to 5,000,
in a population of 1.3 billion Muslims in the
world. That the cult is found in a large num-
ber of countries does not make it less of a
fringe. The dreaded Abu Sayyaf group in the
Philippines consisted of 80 persons. It is
small and it is weird, bt it can obviously
also be dangerous.
If al-Qaida were as formidable and numer-
ous as Gitelman seems to believe, it would be
inconceivable that the United States is planning
to open a second front by going to war with
Iraq. The Bush administration clearly also
believes that "the problems lie elsewhere."
What I said last fall on campus was that the
behavior of the hijackers - drinking in bars,
going to strin chihs .tc. was not the behavior
colleagues to spy on them and contribute to
secret dossiers to be kept on them. I would have
expected some commiseration from a colleague
thd extremists had targeted my email for mas-
sive repetitive spamming and stolen my identity
to spam others at other universities.
In the end, I am a democrat and a liberal,
and that means I want to hear from and dia-
logue with those with whom I disagree. In this
dialogue lies democracy's strength. In a democ-
ratic society, when you dislike an argument,
you produce a counter-argument.
You do not announce, "Be careful, I'm
watching you!" The latter is essentially a
I have on more than one occasion invited
Professor Gitelman to speak to campus audi-
ences and given him a platform for his views. I
would do so again today, even though he seems
to resent my having any opportunity to state
mine at camnus events.