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February 17, 2004 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2004-02-17

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, February 17, 2004


opinion. michigandaily.com

SINCE 1890

Editor in Chief
Editorial Page Editor

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.

I was just as surprised
as the Yankee fans and
the Boston Red Sox fans
when I opened up my
paper today."
- President Bush, former owner of the
Texas Rangers, on the recent trade ofAlex
Rodriguez as reported by
The Associated Press.

l ff//
R ID & t.' i
~ ).till)
AN . \,


To know war is to know Lucifer


lashback, summer
I'm working on a
construction crew
repairing an old cot-
tage. It's lunchtime and
we sit and talk, passing
the time. Two of my co-
workers are Vietnam
veterans and they compare movies about
the war. According to Russ, the Private Pyle
scenes in Full Metal Jacket perfectly cap-
ture the feeling of boot camp. Talk of
movies quickly turns to talk of real experi-
ences. Bob drove a re-supply truck between
bases - he never saw much combat. He
tells stories about how they would come
back from town supplied with food, boxes
full of black-market heroin and once, a
Vietnamese prostitute who was passed
around camp and kept hidden in a locker
during the day when they were working.
Russ cuts in, "We had this cute little girl
and my buddy was fucking her and he looks
down and he's all covered in blood. There
were stories about Viet Cong among the
girls so he freaks out because he thinks
she's done something to him and starts stab-
bing her with his combat knife. We're all
lined up outside waiting our turn and we
hear her screaming and run in and pull him
off her. Turns out she was having her peri-
od." Russ doesn't say what happened to the
Another afternoon: "We would go into a
village looking for the enemy. The rule was if
they ran toward us we shoot because they
might havebombs. If-they run from us, then
they must be enemies, so we shoot. If they
don't run at all, then we don't shoot. But the

enemy knows this and so of course they don't
always run. We would come in with this big
tear gas gun that could shoot a bunch of tear
gas grenades one after another. We'd fire a
bunch of them into the village. Then they
would all run."
"We had this new officer come in to
command us - straight out of military
school. He led us into trouble and we did-
n't like him - he didn't know how Viet-
nam worked, and he was going to get us
killed, so we fragged him (threw a grenade
into his tent at night, killing him)."
End flashback.
Russ and Bob's stories shocked me
because they came from people I knew and
respected - they were horrible stories
coming out of the mouths of people I
worked with. I still have trouble with my
boss nonchalantly telling me he killed
innocent people. But then again, it was
Vietnam. Vietnam, that horrible war where
the most horrible things ever happened.
Vietnam, that sweaty jungle where civi-
lization failed and humanity fled. Vietnam,
that war where men broke down and no
rules applied.
Sure, Vietnam was a no-holds-barred
war with atrocities on both sides. But the
Vietnam War was not exceptional: Vietnam
was not worse than any other war - it was
just better reported. Every other war had
just as many atrocities, as many people
who went insane, or woke up at night
clutching at a rifle.
We like to think of wars today as gen-
tler and cleaner. We like to think of them
not as war but as peacekeeping missions or
as Operation Iraqi Freedom. We like to
forget that the experiences of the soldiers
in Vietnam are the rule of all war, not the

Now the troops are starting to come home
from Iraq. As of Feb. 16, according to CNN,
542 U.S. soldiers have already returned in
caskets. Another 3,000 are wounded. Soon
100,000 troops will be rotated home. Sun-
day's New York Times Magazine features a
story about the wounded troops. They can't
sleep. They find no solace with their spouses.
Our soldiers are coming home perma-
nently injured and forever mentally
scarred. The soldiers have undergone
numerous operations and await expensive
prosthetic arms. They sit in counseling
sessions and relay tips about which anti-
depressants and sleeping pills to use. One
soldier takes two sleeping pills, drinks two
six-packs every night and still can't sleep.
Another heard a banged garbage can out-
side one night, mistook it for an attack,
grabbed his rifle and raced around the
block looking for an enemy. These people
will carry Iraq with them forever.
We send young men - and now women
- younger than I to secure hostile fire
zones and to suppress the enemy and to
enforce the peace, and we forget that that
means remaining on hair-trigger alert, that
it means being mistrustful of everyone,
that it means sacrificing humanity in order
to survive and that it means killing.
When we stop to carry out the task of
counting the wounded, we should always
remember that war, and the struggle to sur-
vive in a battlefield, is a process that
destroys both the person on the receiving
end of a bullet and the person pulling the

Piskor can be reached at


Union event shows BAMN
brand of activism is
'uncivil, uninformed'
Last year, the University's lawyers con-
vinced the U.S. Supreme Court that by pro-
moting racial diversity among the student
body, the University broadens the "market-
place of ideas" available to campus and thus
makes itself a richer educational institution.
Furthermore, they argued that because race-
conscious admissions policies serve an edu-
cational interest, the University has the
intellectual freedom to choose to employ
them. I personally find this a perfectly sensi-
ble position, and I support affirmative action
on these grounds. But Thursday night,
BAMN caused me to have second thoughts
(Gratz speaks at Union amidst massive
protest, 02/12/04).
Now, I've frequented the Michigan Union
Reading Room for three years and have grown
all but immune to the distractions one has to
put up with reading in a public place. Thurs-
day, however, I was simply blown away by a
demonstration BAMN was holding - for
some reason - directly outside the doors of
the reading room. This demonstration, which
consisted mostly of senseless yelling, went way
beyond what any reasonable person would
consider appropriate for a defense of academic
freedom. Rather than fostering a "marketplace
of ideas," BAMN was simply trying to yell out
its political opponents, and in the process, kept
every student in the reading room from getting
any work done.
BAMN needs to realize that the Universi-
ty's brand of affirmative action is about educa-
tion. Sure, social justice might also be served
by affirmative action, but in the eyes of the
Supreme Court, that's just a lucky coincidence;
it would not be constitutional for the Universi-
ty to have race-conscious admissions policies
on such grounds alone. Affirmative action is
meant to be an academic asset, not a distrac-
tion, and BAMN would be advised to know
that its strategy of uncivil and uninformed
activism is only winning new supporters for
the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative every day
- and if they keep up staging nasty protests
outside the Union Reading Room, I just might
be the next one.

integrity? I find his comments concerning
Students for a Democratic Society and Alan
Haber not only insulting, but disturbing.
First of all, Segall should get his facts right.
SDS was not a socialist group, nor did it use
"violent scare tactics." Groups such as the
Weathermen broke away from SDS, and they
used radical methods to persuade the U.S. gov-
ernment to pull out of Vietnam, because-
protests and endless stacks of body bags from
both sides obviously weren't getting the point
Second, SDS was first and foremost a
group committed to participatory democ-
racy, not socialism. The efforts of SDS and
similar groups have created so many bene-
fits for our generation that we tend to take
their contributions for granted.
Third, how can you label SDS as unimpor-
tant, given that it helped spawn the feminist
movement, the anti-war movement, the environ-
mental movement and several other movements
of the 1960s and '70s that have had profound
positive effects on our lives?
What this campus desperately needs right
now is a student group such as SDS to harness
the power of students en masse for positive and
creative change. Attitudes such as Segall's only
serve to disempower and disconnect students
from the everyday events that seriously affect
our lives.
LSA senior
SDS member
No link between pro-Israeli
and progressive movements
Samantha Woll, in her viewpoint
(Strange bedfellows? Israel activism and V-
Day, 02/12/04), does what the pro-Israeli
lobby has been attempting to do for years:
link Israel and pro-Israeli activism with
progressive movements. Despite Woll's
insistence, there is no connection. For a
group like the American Movement for
Israel to call itself and its cause progressive
is an insult to the term itself.
Within the next five years, Israel will consist
of a minority of Jews ruling over a majority of
Palestinian Arabs. These Palestinians have every
single aspect of their lives completely controlled
by.. the crn~i rmv, PnlPtiian tnc mare e e

Israel in a "progressive" light, neglect all the
above. They neglect the 70-plus United
Nations resolutions Israel is currently in viola-
tion of. They neglect the continued humiliation
of Palestinian women and men and the contin-
ued abuses of human rights committed by the
occupying Israeli army. Sure, there are plenty
of feminists within Israel. But events like
AMI's Diag ploy aiming to link progressive
causes with the Israeli cause is nothing but an
attempt to wash over the reality that is Israel: a
revival of the apartheid system. Israel has
become the South Africa of today, and groups
like AMI are doing their best to divert attention
from this. AMI's presence on the Diag on Fri-
day will be an insult to feminist activism and
an insult to the student body as a whole.
LSA senior
The writer is the president of the
University chapter of the Arab-American
Anti-Discrimination Committee.
Housing selection process
needs to slow down
Kudos to the Michigan Student Assembly
for addressing off-campus housing problems
(Students plan for housing advocacy, 02/12/04).
When I began to work at the University
two years ago, I was appalled to learn that
students began signing leases for the fol-
lowing school year as early as October.
When I was a student here in the late '80s,
we didn't even begin to think about where to
live next year until we returned from winter
break in January. We would spend the first few
weeks of winter semester deciding who we
would live with and then start looking for an
apartment or house. Most students had leases by
spring break.
Somehow over the years, greedy landlords
have pushed back the signing dates for next
year's leases. I have seen many students stuck
with bad housing situations because they were
forced to make decisions before they were
ready. Freshmen, in particular, need a semester
to acclimate and get to know people before they
are ready to decide who to live with and where.
Housing Dining Services employee



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