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November 11, 2003 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2003-11-11

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Ub tilt


SINCE 1890

Editor in Chief
Editorial Page Editors

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.

(tI think the
Democrats can be fairly
charged with chronic
whining, and they ought
to look at themselves first
and foremost."
- Former Green Party presidential
candidate Ralph Nader, on the 2000
presidential election controversy, as
reported by The Associated Press.


" '," o
M -

" ---01


Dear *
Here's a copy of
our constitution. Sorry
about the b£,%# . Let
me know how democracy
goes for you. ttyll



O ° "

'" V - f

Seeing eye to eye with Pat Robertson's kid and other horrors


Sometimes when I
catch myself being
unduly optimistic
about the human race as a
whole, I like to flip on Pat
Robertson's TV show,
"The 700 Club." Nothing
like a full hour of dead-
eyed, militant born-again
moral superiority to bring
a starry-eyed college girl
back to reality. Also I have a fairly sick sense of
humor, and religiously intolerant folks tickle my
funny bone like no one else. The stereotypes
they spew and embody - and I find this to be
true of most stereotypes - are hilarious.
Wealthy white Southerners talking about where
a woman's place is (beneath man, clearly) and
how the homosexuals are trying to ruin mar-
riage. No hyperbole necessary.-I love it.
Anyway, I was watching Thursday night
and Lee Webb, the "news" anchor guy, was
reporting a story about a "former lesbian who
became a Christian" and her legal struggle
for the right to raise a good Christian daugh-
ter. (Note: As a matter of course, I do not
assume anything I hear on "The 700 Club" is
even remotely true. So after the show, I per-
formed a little informal Internet search and
found a Denver Post article confirming that
the "former lesbian" is in fact a Colorado
physician named Cheryl Clark.) After con-
verting to Christianity and splitting from her
partner - with whom she had been raising
an eight-year-old adopted daughter - Clark
was granted full responsibility for the girl's
religious instruction with just one little stick-

ing point: that Clark "make sure that there is
nothing in the religious upbringing or teach-
ing that the minor child is exposed to that can
be considered homophobic."
Gordon Robertson - son of Pat - was
furious. And so was I.
I'd never agreed with a Robertson before.
After pausing to slap both hands against my
cheeks and let out a "Home Alone"-style yelp, I
realized that ol' Gordon was missing the point
as usual and - sigh of relief - the world made
sense again.
Gordon was shaking his head, insisting that
this ruling "should alarm Christians every-
where." Correct on count one (alarming), short
sighted on count two (Christians).
This ruling should alarm everyone every-
where - not just Christians. No judge has any
right to tell a mother what she can and cannot
teach her child as long as the lesson itself does
not place the child in physical danger or involve
active infringement on anybody else's rights. A
judge could, for instance, reasonably order
Mom not to teach her daughter to eat rat poison
or to punch Pat Robertson in the face, but any-
thing beyond that would be way out of line.
Gordon Robertson didn't like this ruling
because he saw it as a threat to his deeply held
religious prejudices - which it definitely was
- but in his fervor, he failed to notice the two
bigger and scarier issues at stake here: the legis-
lation of parenting and the censorship of ideas.
Some people (and I'm looking to the Left
here) might be tempted to side with the judge on
this one because they also happen to think
homophobia is a poor quality to instill in a small
child. But I suspect that every one of those peo-

ple would be outraged if the tables were turned
and a judge was ordering them not to teach their
children that politicians tend to be greedy and
deceitful by nature.
Am I suggesting that Cheryl Clark should
be allowed to teach her daughter that homo-
sexuality is evil? Yes. I'm more than sug-
gesting it - I'm insisting. And if she wants
to, she should also be allowed to teach her
daughter that one race is superior to another,
that the moon is made of green cheese, that
all poor people are lazy, that the tooth fairy
exists, that Fox News is fair and balanced,
that every woman's purpose in life is to serve
her husband and raise 14 children and that if
she makes that face one more time, it'll stick
that way. The kid might grow up to hate cer-
tain people and disapprove of others and be
thoroughly confused about the moon, and
that is unfortunate.
But the alternative - the government
claiming the right to step in and tell Mom to
keep her mouth shut about ideas it doesn't
like, at least until her child has grown beyond
the formative years - is just too frightening
a precedent to set.
Any judge's order that could make Pat
Robertson's kid sound reasonable even for a
second is major cause for alarm. But if we let
our own inner zealots stop us from defending
one woman's right to pass her personal preju-
dices onto her child, we may ultimately have
someone like him to thank for our right to teach
our children that he is an idiot.

Henretty can be reached
at ahenreti@umich.edu.


Editorial unfounded, Borders
employees should not strike
The Daily's editorial of Nov. 6 on the union
negotiations at Borders Books and Music (Bor-
ders patrol) has prompted me to respond. While
I certainly respect the Daily's duty to be an
advocate, I would appreciate more facts to sup-
port its views. What I have read in the Daily
seems to me to be much more heat than light.
The union's behavior at Borders reminds
me of the counterproductive attacks that
marked union negotiations in decades past.
Contrast the United Auto Workers' approach
then, which led to many jobs leaving Michigan,
with the cooperative negotiations that were just
concluded between the UAW and the automo-

tive companies. Why is the UAW more sophis-
ticated and measured in its demands nowa-
days? Automotive labor realizes that it has
interests, but it also realizes that there is a limit
to what labor can cost in building cars that can
compete in the marketplace.
When I was a teenager, I used to drive to
downtown Ann Arbor to buy books that I could
not get at home. There was no Amazon.com or
Barnes and Noble. Nowadays the retail book
environment is extremely competitive. Cus-
tomers are very price conscious and expect dis-
counts. Borders's net income is only 3.2 percent
of sales and was only 2.6 percent the year before.
Employees should realize that a union can-
not negotiate away competitive realities. If Bor-
ders were to -let its cost structure get out of line
with its industry they will become uncompeti-
tive and eventually fail. We have all watched
favorite independent stores evaporate. Tney dis-

appeared because you and I preferred the dis-
counts the larger chains and online sellers were
able to offer. It is our buying habits that decide
which stores survive and which do not. These
are market realities that every retail company
must face or they must die. The cost of labor is
one of those realities -
Frankly, I have done work with Borders and
know for a fact that it is most concerned with
giving a voice to their employees. I know it has
worked very hard to learn what matters most to
every employee and to create a compensation
package and a work environment that is optimal
for the employees within the competitive reali-
ties of the marketplace. Borders works to con-
tinue to improve its offering.
We should all want to keep this great Ann
Arbor institution competitive and growing.

Pakistan's injustices do not justify India's

Strong winds of opinion have been blowing in
from a seldom-remembered, at least on this cam-
pus, part of the world. South Asia, coupled with
the Middle East, has entered the debated fray. And
it all started with a brilliant viewpoint published
last week (With blood on their hands, 11/06/03)
which claimed, summarily, that India and Israel,
which have recently been enjoying a boost in their
diplomatic and defense relations, have a common
agenda in their alliance. The agenda is a composite
state effort by both countries to suppress religious
minorities in their respective domains (the view-
point, by the way, was written by designated
chiefs of the Pakistani Student Association, the
South Asian Awareness Network and the Muslim
Students Association). Ensuing was another, or
should I say two brushstrokes of brilliance. The
wounded party reacted. In this case, two letters to
the editor, both rebuking Pakistan, and defending
India, and Israel (kind of), were printed the follow-
ing day. The writers both had Hindu names. This
case of Indian defense made three salient points:
That India is the world's largest democracy
(thanks to sheer the size of population) and that
because in 2002 India held an election in Kashmir,
an internationally disputed territory which it mili-
tarily occupied in 1947 - an election in which
most Kashmiri parties which are for Kashmiri self
determination promised to those people by a Unit-
ed Nations resolution in 1948, did not participate

in 1998, a step which initiated a nuke and missile
race in the region. Things like promoting a
pogrom against thousands of Muslims massacred
in the state of Gujarat just last year, only to be
voted in again on an agenda of wiping out the rest
of Gujarat's Muslim population. And of course,
things like following the trend of every other
"democratic" Indian government, which by the
way, governs the "largest democracy" in the
world, by not allowing the Kashmiri people
(about 10 million of them) their right to self-
determination, by systematically manipulating
elections, governments, leaders and the political
economy of that region for the last 56 years. That
and the brutal suppression of an indigenous politi-
cal and armed struggle through non-judicial
killings, assassinations, rape, and torture (which
are all recorded in unprecedented detail by moni-
tors like International Human Rights Watch and
Amnesty International).
That Pakistan is the real villain because it
mistreats its women, and arms and trains Kashmiri
militants. Hmmm. Reasonable criticism. Very rea-
sonable for that bad-boy, nuclear rock-star state,
the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
But what's the connection? How does such
bad behavior by Pakistan, such terrible things
(like training volunteers who want to fight for
their land and liberty in Kashmir) explain and
redeem India's bad behavior (like depriving
those volunteers from their land and liberty) in
Kashmir? And what about the Gujarat pogroms?
What does an uninvestigated honor killing of a

implementations and rights to millions of people
who have been fighting us for 56 years, and who
we've been killing and raping right back, huh.
Well hey, these guys actually helped out the Tal-
iban back in the day. Come on now. They're
much worse than us, these Pakistanis. We're
India. We're the world's largest democracy, of
propped elections and Muslim massacres and
arms races and Gandhi and curry sauce and the
Hare-Krishna influence on the Beatles.
Pakistan sucks. And hey, we're friends with
Israel, that other bastion of democracy in that
messed up region, the Middle East, that other great
country which builds fences and settlements on
occupied territory and brings down civilian build-
ing blocks with F-16 fighter bombers every time it
figures out it has to get back at the those crazy
Palestinians with their poverty-stricken stone
throwers and suppression-crazed suicide bombers.
Shame on India, and on the Indians who
defend it by criticizing Pakistan. There is no
honor in criticizing the enemy's intentions
when your own are tainted. No doubt that
Pakistan is a troubled state, one of military
coups and militancy, rampant corruption and
terrorism, a nation which is at a crossroads,
teetering to stabilize and modernize. A nation
which is trying. Unfortunately, its history of
problems cannot be covered here. But what
can be covered, or discovered, is the typical
Indian political knee-jerk reaction to point
west and blame a smaller, volatile, and strug-
gling state, while it dons on the decorative

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