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November 10, 2003 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2003-11-10

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4A - The Michigan Daily - Monday, November 10, 2003

OP/ED

42~0 MAYNARD STREET
ANN ARBOR, MI 48109
letters@michigandaily.com

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

LouIE MEIZLISH
Editor in Chief
AUBREY HENRETTY
ZAC PESKOWITZ
Editorial Page Editors

NOTABLE
QUOTABLE
With the large
number of active and
reserve units called up, a
lot of them that would
normally be available are
on duty."

SAM BUTLER Tu SOAPSOX

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.

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- Bill Smith, a spokesman for Veterans of
Foreign Wars, on the lack of soldiers to
participate in Veterans Day parades,
as reported by The Associated Press yesterday.

Apple pie and the docudrama
JOHANNA HANINK PARLANCE OF OUR TIMES

patriotism and
network televi-
sion, like patrio-
tism and country
music, make rather
boring and predictable
bedfellows - when it
comes to the combina-
tion of the two, it is
really the "docudra-
ma"-drama of the past
two weeks that has
proven strange.
On Nov. 4, Michael Paranzino, the
founder of BoycottCBS.com, issued a'
statement announcing his triumph against
Hollywood: network executives had pulled
the CBS miniseries "The Reagans."
Shocked and infuriated after reading Oct.
26 excerpts from the script and reports
about the miniseries filed by Matt Drudge
(at DrudgeReport.com), Paranzino bought
the "boycottcbs" URL. He began a grass-
roots, e-mail-based campaign against the
network with the afm of keeping the series
off the air.
The miniseries' script included many
controversial and admittedly screenwriter-
invented "Reagan" quotations. There is
one scene in which Reagan tearfully
announces, "I am the Antichrist" (a strong
pronouncement, but not intended in its
context to be taken as a literal declara-
tion); in reference to victims of AIDS, the
series writers thought the fabricated line
"they that live in sin shall die in sin"
would work as a statement keeping with
the former president's character. Unsur-
prisingly - and understandably - the
Reagan-devotees of this country who
caught wind of the network's plans were
less than pleased. Paranzino took it upon
himself to lead their fight from his person-
al computer.
On Saturday, The New York Times ran
an article, "The Man Who Would Save
Reagan From A TV History," that chroni-
cled this stay-at-home-dad's fight against
what he refers to, in that Nov. 4 statement,

as "the out of touch liberals in Holly-
wood." He became "a staple on the Fox
News Channel," and proved himself, keep-
ing with true Reagan values, a man of the
people by qualifying the terms of his boy-
cott - people shouldn't boycott CBS alto-
gether, he said, only the miniseries,
"because people like 'Everybody Loves
Raymond' and football games."
In his online statement, Paranzino
wrote that "It should not have taken
threats of a boycott to wake up corporate
America to the fact that Americans are
sick and tired of vicious lies masquerading
as entertainment."
But what happens when those "lies
masquerading as entertainment" are not so
vicious?
Last night, NBC ran its own docudra-
matic take on (much more recent) Ameri-
can history. "Saving Jessica Lynch," tells
the story of the military rescue of 19-year-
old Lynch from behind Iraqi enemy lines.
Granted, it could have been a lot worse. It
could have been a more aggressive vehicle
for trying to perk up an American public
demoralized about our country's bungled
invasion and now occupation of Iraq (this
is, however, what the star-spangled com-
mercials implied it would be).
Except for a scene in which Lynch is
hit by her captors, the movie avoids many
of the questionable claims that surrounded
the breaking of the story - including
those that Lynch had been shot, stabbed,
tortured and even sodomized. Instead,
because it is based on his memoir "Every
Life is Precious," it really tells the story of
Mohammed Odeh al-Rehaief, the Iraqi
lawyer who led the American soldiers to
the hospital where Lynch was being held.
But, as with CBS's "The Reagans," and
as is inevitable with all historical pseudo-
non-fiction, it is impossible that every-
thing the characters say and do in the
movie even closely resembles what actual-
ly happened. What is more, many of the
most fundamental assumptions this movie
makes about the events it describes have

been seriously challenged.
There is a scene in which the Ameri-
cans, led by al-Rehaief, ambush the Iraqi
hospital rather valorously. That this
dramatization is implicitly exalted as an
action of collective American courage,
however, would seem to presume that the
action as executed was well-done or that it
was necessary - it may have been neither.
Harith al-Houssona, a physician who cared
for Lynch in the hospital, had arranged for
an ambulance to take her to the Americans
two days earlier. The ambulance was
attacked by the American military and
forced to turn back.
We also have to ask whether this
movie represents the military action as
well as the military action fancied itself a
movie. On May 15, the BBC reported
hospital physician Anmar Uday as saying
"(The ambush) was like a Hollywood
film. They cried 'go, go, go,' with guns
and blanks without bullets ... They made a
show for the American attack on the hos-
pital - action movies like Sylvester Stal-
lone or Jackie Chan." How could we
expect NBC to match those "production
values?" Hollywood, it seems, took its cue
all too readily and obediently from the
military spectacle.
"The Reagans" was yanked because it
portrayed an American president in a neg-
ative light, often with grounding only in
screenwriter creativity. But what does it
mean when we're complacent with watch-
ing a story of American heroism that is, on
some level, also fabricated? The situation,
on a level, makes sense, but we shouldn't
pass up the opportunity for figuring out
exactly what we're doing with our cine-
matic patriotism.
If I was looking for a compromise (or a
whole other set of problems) this weekend,
maybe I should have just settled with
another of CBS's sweeps-month efforts:
last night's "The Elizabeth Smart Story."
Hanink can be reached
atjhanink@umich.edu.

al

LETTERTOTHE EDITOR

Hoard wrong; Ann Arbor
overflowing with friendly
faces and baked goods
TO THE DAILY:
While reading the Daily last week, I
found that once again, Ann Arbor was
being attacked by someone who doesn't
know what he's talking about. Columnist
Joel Hoard (Ann Arbor: A nicer place to be?
11/05/03) seems to have formed an incor-
rect opinion of Ann Arbor based on his
experiences with the University. News-
flash: The University is only one part of
Ann Arbor.
I myself have lived in Ann Arbor my
whole life (according to Hoard this makes
me "happily oblivious to the city's inferi-
ority,") and believe that Hoard sold Ann

Arbor short. The majority of his complaint
seems to be with unfriendly students. My
advice for Hoard is to get off campus and
to see how friendly true Ann Arborites can
really be. Instead of complaining about
how no strangers give you random smiles,
why doesn't Hoard try giving a stranger a
smile? Be proactive. I agree that this cam-
pus is not the friendliest in the world, but
why drag Ann Arbor's name into it? I've
never met the polite people of Grand
Rapids, but I do know the friendly people
of my own neighborhood, well inside the
city limits of Ann Arbor. A new family
also moved into my neighborhood this past
summer. Instead of closing my blinds and
locking my door as it seems Hoard would
think I would do, I baked chocolate chip
cookies and went to greet my new neigh-
bors. I was not the only one.
As for the burglaries and the bums,
what can I say, it is a problem. It is a prob-

lem typical of Universities all across the
country, not Ann Arbor alone. The police
are doing what they can. I find it unfair to
blame the city for a problem that is beyond
their control. Yes, Ann Arbor is an
extremely liberal town, but that is part of
what makes it so unique. While there are
many New Yorkers living here, the city
does not claim to be New York. As for the
accusation of arrogance, I must once again
stress that there is a difference between the
University and Ann Arbor.
The University as a whole has an arro-
gant attitude because of its prestige and
reputation as a college. However, I chal-
lenge anyone to go down to Platt Road or
Pontiac Trail and tell me how arrogant and
unfriendly Ann Arborites are. I guarantee
Hoard will form a different opinion of Ann
Arbor.
CAROLINE BRESSAN
LSA freshman

VIEWPOINT
India and Israel: two democracies united by shared values

BY GUHA KRISHNAMURTHI
I would first like to point out that the
alliance between Israel and India is a
dynamic one, between two democratic
nations searching for better lives for their
own people. They are looking to remove all
those problems that plague their peoples, of
which terrorism is but only one. India and
Israel share a partnership on an agricultural
level; the research that Israel has conducted
on irrigation and proper farming can help
India with its deep problems of famine and
its malnourished masses.
India also has many energy problems
that can be mitigated by the research that
the forward-thinking nation of Israel has
conducted. India too has engineered many
advances in satellite technology, comput-
ing and nautical methods, from which

Israel's help at the time, it might have
been able to save that man. Is no one fond
of his memory? Israel's prowess in these
dealings is magnanimous. When I read of
the Ntebi operation, my chest swells with
pride. We, as humanity, are not impotent
in fighting against the merciless, fearless
cowards who can prey on the innocent. To
me, if at any moment, free peoples join
hands, wipe the tears from swollen cheeks
and say out loud, "We will fight tyranny,
oppression, and injustice, and we will
make this world liveable," I must celebrate
this occasion, even if the head of the Pak-
istani Student Association, the co-chair of
the South Asian Awareness Network and
the political chair of the Muslim Student
Association (With blood on their hands,
11/06/03) tell me not to.
The authors' reference to "(Jewish and
Hindu) nationalists" is inexplicably remi-

criminal, is below the belt. Vajpayee is an
acclaimed poet, advocate of peace, an
incredibly religious man and a soul to be
venerated. Have Aliya Chowdhri, Rahul
Saksena and Irfan Shuttari stooped to libel?
Also, if anyone has blood on his hand
from Gujurat it would be Maulana Hussain
Umarji. This is the infamous-but-not-so-
famous man who engineered the torching
of the Sabarmati express, in which 53
women and children - Hindu pilgrims -
were burned alive. If anyone had blood on
his hands from Ayodhya, it's Babar, who
destroyed at will the birthplace of Shree
Ram, 7th Avatar of Lord Vishnu, along
with countless and countless other temples
and Buddhist and Jaina monasteries. I will
be accused of digging into the past, but at
least this is history - written down - and
not some figment of the imagination of
three overzealous persons.

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