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April 13, 2004 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2004-04-13

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, April 13, 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.

"Iwarn the
Arabic media: Iraq's
patience has
reached its limit and
they will regret
what they are
- Iraq's National Security Advisor
Muaffaq al-Rubaie on the state of Iraqi
television, as reported by the Agence


I fleet, I float, I fleetly flee, I fly ...

When I said it
was my last
column, they
all had suggestions.
Write about neo-domes-
ticity and gender roles,
they said. Write a really
impassioned case against
the Bush administration,
something so powerful it
will bring readers to tears and - more
importantly - to the polls in November.
Write about kittens. Write about affirma-
tive action and unions and capitalism and
don't waste a single word, because this is
it, this is your last chance. Write about the
Middle East. Write about language. Write
about the terrible history class you're tak-
ing and how if anyone is thinking about
taking it, she should e-mail you immedi-
ately so you can talk her out of it. Write a
sestina. Write porn.
Whatever you do, they said, don't write
a goodbye column. Seriously. We'll vomit.
Sorry, guys - there's too much. Trying
to pick a topic for a last column is a lot
like trying to do anything at all when
you're waiting tables and your section is
full and the kitchen is a war zone and
everyone needs something two minutes
ago. For every second you save, you need a
hundred more. You couldn't get everything
done even if there were two of you, and
sometimes the best thing you can do is
nothing at all. Stop. Get yourself a glass of
water and lean on the service bar and ask
the service bartender if she's heard the one
about the ham sandwich.

A ham sandwich walks into a bar and
orders a beer. The bartender says he is
sorry, but that's out of the question. Con-
fused, the ham sandwich asks why. "I'm
sorry," the bartender says again, "but we
don't serve food here."
When I was young and lacked confi-
dence, a professor told me I was digressive
and uninteresting, and that this was never
more true than when I tried to relate litera-
ture to my own life. I was willing to give
her digressive, but I've never quite forgiv-
en that last part, the part about literature
and life. Literature - all writing, in fact
- is worthless if it is not personal, is a
waste of time if it doesn't demand that you
step inside it, feel it, empathize with it, be
just as crazy as it is, if only for a moment.
Shortly after that professor said that
thing to me, I started writing columns for
the Daily. That was three years ago. Since
then, once every two weeks, for 750-800
short words, I have been allowed to play
the smartest person in the world, to insist
implicitly that no one could argue what I
argued as well as I argued it, to smile slyly
at 40,000 people and dare them to dis-
agree. Meanwhile, I've been meeting peo-
ple 10 times as smart as I am, and far more
interesting to boot. I've been leading a
double life, at once supremely confident in
my words and humbled beyond humble by
the great and creative minds of those
around me.
I came into the Daily a reject, a column
applicant who hadn't made the cut, a
digressive and uninteresting freshman. I
might have stayed away, dejected, had it

not been for a short, friendly e-mail from
the tall, friendly editor who'd read my sub-
missions. She thought I had potential and
told me I should come in and write other
things for a while and see where that led. I
.was terrified (not interesting! didn't make
cut!), thinking this had to be a joke, a pity
e-mail, but I walked in the door a week
later and never walked back out. I've
thought often about what would have hap-
pened if that editor had been just a little
bit busier that day, or just a little bit less
thoughtful. This all would have turned out
very differently. This would be someone
else's goodbye column.
That e-mail was nothing - a shrug -
but I latched onto it like it was my one and
only chance to be interesting, to do some-
thing worthwhile with my time here. Look-
ing back, I think maybe it was.
There's got to be a metaphor for life in
there somewhere. But I digress.
Here's what's important: Vote Kerry in
November, support unions only when their
demands are reasonable, watch television,
curse loudly in public, skip class, read
everything, wear comfortable shoes. If you
must hate your job, hate it with gusto.
Learn things. Know that your friends are
the best people in the world. Make sure
they know it, too. Say what you mean.
Mean what you say. Listen. Argue respect-
fully. Have fun.
Thanks for everything. I'll miss you. So
Henrett can be reached at

The day Saddam's statue fell

You're George W. Bush. You're 50-
something. You're a Yale grad.
You've had cocaine-use problems.
You're supposed to be a draft-dodger.
You've been voted in on the most contro-
versial election of the age. The only peo-
ple who like you on the domestic front are
from your redneck constituency (which is
the Christian Coalition or any one who
supports the Christian Coalition, i.e. the
American South or Midwesterners with
relatives from the American South), your
cabinet (probably minus Powell) and
maybe your wife. In fact, statistically, just
a little more than half of your countrymen
hate you. The United Nations abhors you.
The Europeans think you're a cowboy
from hell. The Africans think you ignore
them. The Indians and Chinese only want
your money. And the Islamic world, at
least on the popular if not on the leader-
ship level, wants you served for breakfast,
topped with a bit of crusading and a pinch
of clash of civilizations. Man, even the
Canadians are ticked at you. By default,
your only buddy internationally is one
Tony Blair, which is a crazy coincidence
because he's an old pal of mine as well,
but we haven't been talking since he start-
ed a career as a co-invader of Islamic
countries with you-know-who. But hey,
seriously, Blair isn't a bad guy. In fact,
you're a pretty nice guy yourself. Your
only problem is that those years in Texas
haven't really worn off.
So what do you do for kicks? Well, there's
little doubt that you've had a tough time in
office, spending almost three of your first nine
months on vacation because of your high-stress
job. And then, on a fine September morning in
2001, you get to deal with the largest terrorist
event in the history of the world, short of,
hmmm, Napoleon's battle at Leipzig, the Mon-
gol attack on Baghdad, Hitler's invasion of Rus-
sia and oh yes, the Hiroshima and Nagasaki
bomb runs. But anyways, considering that those
were "wars" and this is "terrorism" (a scourge
which exists in the gray area between all-out
crazy nukes/commandos/fighter-bombers war
and pathetically hippie/bong-smoking/can't-we-
all-be-friends peace), we'll let you have it. Sept.
11 was a huge tragedy.
So, faced with such havoc, what did
v A~ dnU W11 ,,,n.. rA ri r~tty rnAi inh

Brits, the Pakistanis, even the Iranians
lined up. After all, America had been
wronged. We all thought so. It was a good
thing taking out those Taliban crazies and
their crazier al-Qaida pals. Read my lips.
We all thought so.
Then things got a tad more complicated.
Considering you can bench 240
pounds and you're the president of
the United States, we all knew you
to be a pretty strong guy. You had "smoked
them out of their caves," and you now
wanted to "take the war to terrorists." Fair
enough. Sounded impressive. We agreed
with you, George. Sure, let's take the war
to the terrorists. Let's tell Iraq and Saudi
Arabia and-Egypt and Syria and Jordan to
get their case together on human rights
and democracy so terrorist recruitment
can be stemmed. Let's reconstruct
Afghanistan and disarm its warlords so
that post-Soviet factionalism never
returns. Let's send peacekeepers to quell
the terror of Africa's rampant civil wars.
Let's get Pakistan and India to talk and
disengage their nuclear posture. And let's
implement that two-state solution in Pales-
tine and Israel and tell both parties to take
it a little easy. Sounds like a plan, George.
Let's do it.
And what did you do, George? You did-
n't fully commit to Afghanistan, making
American military presence more Osama-
centric than reconstruction-based. You
dilly-dallied with your Arab friends, let-
ting them be because you needed their
bases. You had a lukewarm, apprehensive
approach to Indo-Pakistan peace, not
wanting to force India to talk because of
trade ties, not wanting to tick the Pakista-
nis off too much on Kashmiri infiltration
because of the war on terror. Your ignoring
Africa while the bloodiest conflict since
World War II raged on there was abysmal,
a contradiction to your "save-humanity"
ethos. And your "road map" to peace in
Israel and Palestine lacked resolve. Ameri-
can resolve, to back it up, to force Israel
to talk, while vetoing any and every Unit-
ed Nations resolution against that up-tight,
aggressive state.
Instead, your version of "taking the war
to the terrorists" translated into "let's
attack Iraq on bad intelligence, no evi-
dence o f weapns o f mass destruiction.

ican college grads (believe it or not, a lot
of Yalies among them) are unemployed,
the U.S. Social Security program is going
bankrupt, the U.S. government has the
highest budget deficit in history and four
U.S. soldiers on average are being killed
in Iraq every week, where the latest polls
indicate that freedom is welcome, but
American occupation is not.
And it gets more glib on the global
front, George. The American system of
alliances, so intricately constructed since
the times of Woodrow Wilson, is literally
in tatters. American unilateralism has
destroyed the confidence and functionality
of the United Nations and the prestige of
the North Atlantic Treaty Organization
alliance in Europe. And the complacent
handling of Israeli terror (no doubt in
reaction to Palestinian terror) while
aggression is exemplified next door in
Iraq and Afghanistan has angered much of
the Islamic world into believing the semi-
myth of a Zionist-American alliance. Pats
on the back like "major non-NATO ally"
status for Pakistan, a $3 billion annual aid
package to Egypt and almost $40 per bar-
rel oil prices for Saudi Arabia are not
going to deflect the reality of the Ameri-
can reputation and position in the world
forever. America was hurting after Sept.
11, but instead of raging into a construc-
tive anger, it slipped into destructive arro-
gance. That is the fallibility of America in
the age of terror. That is the legacy of your
White House.
And oh George, good luck this November.
Sved is a University alum and a former Daily
'columnist. He is currently in rural Pakistan.



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will be given priority over others. Letters
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The Daily will not print any letter contain-
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