4A - The Michigan Daily - Monday, November 24, 2003
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necessarily reflect the opinion of The Michigan Daily.
It's a bloodless,
- Georgian opposition leader Mikhail
Saakashvili, Saturday, before the ouster
of President Eduard Shevardnadze,
as reported by CNN.com.
SAM BUTLER TEi SOAPBOX
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Lessons in remembrance from Reagan and Pericles
JOHANNA HANINK PARLANCE OF OUR TIMES
bout a month
ago I had lunch
who was helping to prep
me for a difficult inter-
view. Knowing my
background as a classics
major, he asked me what
I thought Donald Rums-
feld might learn from
Since then, and for
the first time since it was required reading my
freshman year, Thucydides' "History of the
Peloponnesian War" has been on my mind. It
came up about two weeks later when I was
the one doing the interviewing, this time of
prospective Telluride House residents. And
just last Wednesday, I went to a reception at
Shaman Drum Bookshop for Prof. H.D.
Cameron, who has just published an enthusi-
astically received commentary on Thucydides
That Wednesday morning, I had turned
back to the text, a historical account of the
Peloponnesian War fought between Athens
and Sparta. I wanted to figure out what made
this, a 2,500-year-old document (Thucydides
was himself a general during this war), so
special as to merit its unexpected mention
three times in one month.
I wasn't disappointed.
Rex Warner's translation from the Greek
is about 600 pages long, so I turned to one of
the most well-known passages, "Pericles'
Funeral Oration." The Funeral Oration is
perhaps most famous now for the compar-
isons that have been drawn between it and
President Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg
Address (though whether there was any
direct influence is very difficult to say and
Pericles delivered his oration in the win-
ter of 431 B.C., shortly after the Pelopon-
nesian war broke out. He gave it in keeping
with an Athenian custom which dictated that
once a year a public funeral be held for
those who died in war and that the speech in
praise of the dead be made by "a man cho-
sen by the city for his intellectual gifts and
for his reputation."
When I read this speech I didn't come
any closer to a smart answer for the question
about Donald Rumsfeld, but I got a pretty
good idea of what President Bush might take
from Thucydides' portrayal of Pericles.
The same day I read the oration, there
was a very moving op-ed in The New York
Times called "Mourning in America" by
John B. Roberts II, a former Reagan-admin-
istration policy planner. In this piece, Roberts
argues that Bush could learn a thing or two
from the way that President Ronald Reagan
handled the Oct. 23, 1983, suicide-bomber
attack in Beirut that killed 241 U.S. marines.
A week or so afterward, President Reagan
and the first lady stood under umbrellas at a
dreary memorial service held at Camp Leje-
une, N.C. Two television networks broad-
casted the service, live.
Bush, however, has yet to attend a public
memorial service to honor the dead of U.S.
intervention in either Afghanistan or Iraq.
Roberts wrote that he wants to tell him that
"The commander in chief should publicly
honor the individual lives sacrificed in war.
He should show his respect in front of the
television cameras. A nation is a community,
and the lives that are lost belong not just to
their families, but to us all."
Pericles, too, recognized the importance of
an open and communal expression of grief.
Before he gave his oration, there had been the
customary public funeral for the war-dead.
Believing that this action spoke loudest, he
qualified his speech in its first lines by saying
that "it would be enough, I think, for (the fall-
en men's) glories to be proclaimed in action,
as you have just seen it done at this funeral
organized by the state."
Thus instead of devoting his entire speech
to the dead, he decided to dedicate the first
half of its words (and most of its spirit) to the
living. He told his citizens that "you should
fix your eyes every day on the greatness of
Athens as she really is, and should fall in
love with her." He said of the Athenian peo-
ple that "everywhere we have left behind us
everlasting memorials of good done to our
friends or suffering inflicted on our ene-
mies." In this last line alone lies an easy
point of practical similarity between the
United States and Athens.
But throughout the speech the theoretical
ideals of Athens that Pericles praises also
seem strikingly contemporary in their resem-
blance to generally accepted (and too often
violated, especially under this administration)
principles of what America, at her best, is.
Bush needs to realize that the road to
healing is not through jingoistic and self-
congratulatory patriotic rhetoric, but through
a Periclean combination of reminders of
ideals and national sharing in grief. The last
time the president did such a thing was in
February, when he attended a memorial ser-
vice for the seven astronauts of the space
shuttle Columbia. Steve Schifferes, in a
BBC news analysis, wrote that "Mr Bush's
prompt response to the disaster, and digni-
fied words of comfort, have boosted his
standing on the eve of a possible war." And
while we all know that that war has come,
nobody seems sure whether it has gone.
Reagan, by attending that memorial ser-
vice back in 1983 (take him or leave him oth-
erwise), showed that, like Lincoln, he knew
his Thucydides - whether he had read him
or not. In the last line of his funeral oration,
Pericles tells his people, "And now, when you
have mourned for your dear ones, you must
depart." Without some implication of similar
words from the president, too many American
families are left waiting for that permission to
depart - and move on.
Hanink can be reached
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Daily should not have run
TO THE DAILY:
The Daily's running of a Borders book-
store advertisement today, not long after
the editorial by its own staff supporting the
Borders strikers, is not only hypocritical, it
also helps support an Ann Arbor employer
who allegedly violated up to seven differ-
ent federal labor laws. What nose thumbing
toward the law is next for the Daily? Run-
ning ads for new child companions for
Michael Jackson or addresses where one
can score some nice Peruvian-flake coke,
The newspaper's recent running of an
open letter from Borders management to
students had at least the fig leaf of being
"informational," but the coupon/ad in the
Friday Daily, complete with cookie-cutter
"'funny and appealing"' photo of a big-
eared dog with books on its head, is mere
grubby commerce, nothing more.
The Daily's usual bad taste in running
"Deja Vu" or "Playboy model contest" ads
is exceeded here; for those, the Daily could
at least argue, "It's just our wild libertarian
streak." Here, there's no excuse but con-
tempt for the underpaid employees -
including University students! - who
work(ed) at Borders, perhaps while having
their legal rights violated constantly by
Maybe this is all the Daily's special
"Happy Thanksgiving" to American orga-
nized labor: "Be glad you're in a country
where you're free to strike - and starve.
We're not on your side." So much for ide-
alism and concern for one's fellow stu-
dents; happy Thanksgiving to you too,
Editor's note: Decisions concerning
advertisements appearing in the Daily are made by
the paper's business staff which is wholly
Workers!" It's humorous and borderline sicken-
ing to hear this from graduate students who,
much more often than not, attended very expen-
sive universities in order to get here. The dispro-
portionately expensive system of higher
education in which these educators partake of
their own free will is an integral part of a capital-
ist system that keeps the real workers working.
GEO is merely another depressing example
of the mostly meaningless intellectual trend in
labor relations that exists in the United States
today. The real power of real labor is watered
down by this organization's theft of its imagery
and ethos. Putting a pencil inside the raised fist
of proletarian solidarity is nothing less than
theft, and GEO's flimsy rip off of "we make
blue go" (the University works because we
do!") is an insult to the creativity of both our
staff and student body. That graduate students
participate so heartily in this trend only demon-
strates that they are (and always will be) intel-
lectuals and not workers.
It is surprising that GEO would be so auda-
cious about promoting their cause when it is
precisely that - their own. A possible tuition
hike is the risk of current GEO demands that
their ambiguously worded contract be "hon-
ored," and an undergraduate cannot benefit
from increased quality of instruction if he or she
cannot afford to be in the classroom. Most
importantly, the other workers at this university
who have been and will be here longer than the
short stint of a graduate education will be the
ones who take the long-run thump resulting
from this so-called labor organization's short-
sighted, selfish demands. Let's stop paying lip
service to labor and get real.
North Campus needs more
latenight hangout spots
TO THE DAILY:
In response to the article, Choosing Fast Food
on North Campus sparks MSA debate (11/20/03).
WaA 1i A n T*e m"i n ca
untapped. What they need is an all-night diner
in immediate walking distance.
The nearest place for a latenight order of
decent fries and the accompanying social scene
involves waiting for a bus, driving a car or bik-
ing up a steep hill, all major endeavors - espe-
cially in wintertime.
The closest daytime alternatives to
McDonald's, Espresso Royale Cafe and Cafe
Commons, Too involve a significant walk, and
crossing a pedestrian-unfriendly Plymouth
Road. Before the University plants another
Taco Bell, Subway or other lousy fast food
joint on North Campus, it should consider
making the space available to established local
businesses in our community, such as the
There are some great restaurants in the near-
by courtyard strip mall such as Ayse's, Cafe
Marie and Exotic Bakeries' middle eastern
food. Many students and faculty already make
the hike to the other side of Plymouth Road, but
it would be better for the businesses and more
convenient for the students if the University
were to rent commercial space on campus. Ulti-
mately, the decision of what restaurants can rent
should be up to all North Campus students, fac-
ulty and staff (not just Engineering students).
A suggested solution involves a floor of
commercial space in the proposed North Quad
dormitory housing. The problem with North
Campus isn't its isolation in itself, but rather its
decidedly anti-pedestrian layout and lack of cul-
ture in the form of original restaurants and
shops integrated into the University buildings.
The Michigan Daily welcomes letters
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