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October 04, 2004 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2004-10-04

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4A - The Michigan Daily - Monday, October 4, 2004


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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 pieces do not
necessarily reflect the opinion of The Michigan Daily.

''(I know Michigan,
I know the values
Michiganders stand
for, and I know
Michigan needs
four more years of
President Bush."
- Former Michigan head football coach
Bo Schembechler, in an opled published
Oct. 1 in the Detroit Free Press.


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The deeds of mercy


t's hard work,"
is all the Presi-
dent, at his
delusional and dogmatic
best, would allow himself
to admit to the American
people Thursday night
about the war in Iraq.
I couldn't help but choke
a bit on those words. Hard
work? Mr. President, mowing the grass is hard
work. Raking leaves is hard work. To intention-
ally downplay this, a struggle against a well-
armed militia, as if it were a struggle against a
stubborn crab grass is at best absurd. At worst,
it's just downright offensive.
Then again, America doesn't exactly seem
Quite the opposite actually. So long as it's
said with a straight face, a little conviction and a
folksy twang, then America's buying. Hell, this
is an America that left remarkably unchallenged
the biggest rhetorical shift in recent memory
- that Iraq was about liberation and freedom,
and not about terrorism and WMDs.
Don't blame the salesman - blame the
buyer. We were sold a war on terror, we got a
war on Saddam. A war of mercy. And judging
by the recent polls, that doesn't seem to bother
us one bit.
OK America, then what about Sudan?
It came up almost last in the debate, sand-
wiched between the other hot spots that we don't
give a crap about. After 60 minutes of diametric

opposition, both candidates were clear on one
thing - we won't fight a war of mercy in Sudan.
We will, however, fight a war of mercy in
The difference between the two? It surely
isn't need. I urge the reader to compare the
record of the Iraqi Baath regime to the regime
currently in place in Khartoum. Though I don't
wish to get into the habit of comparing atroci-
ties, if there is a war of mercy to be fought in the
world today, it's in Africa, and if there is a war
to be fought in Africa, it's in the Sudan.
But we won't fight a war of mercy in Sudan.
Clearly, this is somewhat inconsistent. Worse
though, it just plain stinks. The war in Iraq is
today what it was from the start: a strategic war,
meant to advance U.S. interests abroad. The
Iraqi people are and always have been second-
ary, even an afterthought to an administration
that knew what it wanted and just took it. They
bombed and blasted and besieged the mercy
into Iraq like a father's tough love. They spent
and fritted away the political capital of Sept. 11
like it was monopoly money, selling a former
fringe ideology to the Nascar crowd until it got
red, white and blue in the face.
Are the Iraqi people better off for it? Abso-
lutely. In a perverted instance of irony, the
despicable actions of their dictator generated
enough international ire as to get them help.
If only the suffering people of Sudan could
have been so lucky as to be a member of the
Axis of Evil. Maybe if they had a few more
WMDs or a few more connections to inter-

national terrorism, they would have gotten
help. Instead, the Sudanese have been aban-
doned, left to deal with the greatest crime of
all, genocide.
Both candidates had no problem calling it
that Thursday. Both had a problem saying that
it warranted U.S. action. Meanwhile, Iraq is
getting the equivalent of a modern day Mar-
shall Plan. Billions in aid. Thousands of U.S.
troops. The attentive eyes of a nation fixed on
its transition to democracy. Sudan? Well it got
a $200-million care package and a "Get Well
Soon" card, because we care.
America the merciful seems to have found
its blinders again.
If Iraq actually is a war of mercy, then ours
has become a peculiar brand of mercy. Mercy
with certain conditions. Mercy at the barrel
of a gun. Mercy when and where it is politi-
cally convenient.
If Bush is correct in his hyper-optimistic
assessment of the situation - that we are well
on our way to seeing a stable, democratic Iraq
- then the citizens of Iraq will have benefited
immensely from their having been targeted in
the war on terror.
If not, then the American people deserved
to be leveled with - that the war has failed in
its basic mission.
And if we're now in the mercy business,
then let's damn well start acting like it.
Adams can be reached
at dnadams@umich.edu


Allegations of political
bias at Borders unfounded
As general manager of the downtown
Borders store, I would like to clarify some
of the misperceptions discussed in D.C.
Lee's column, Borders employees, unfit for
command (09/27/04). The true culprit in
the initial out-of-stock for "Unfit of Com-
mand" is not Borders Group or my staff,
but instead simple economics - demand
outweighed supply. Even before the book
was printed, the title was being promoted
by the media. The publisher had underes-
timated demand, and the first printing sold
out within several days. While the pub-
lisher immediately ran a second printing, it
took almost three weeks for it to go from
the press to the stores.
"Unfit for Command" is not the only title
to experience this. Recently, the bipartisan
"9/11 Commission Report" had similar out-
of-stock issues. And we all should remem-
ber the shortages of the Harry Potter titles
over the last several years.
In fact, we received enough requests for
the book that we put up a sign at our infor-
mation desk explaining its delay. Once it
arrived, we displayed it prominently in vari-
ous locations in our front of store, including
our best-seller section (where it still is fea-
tured for 30 percent off), our political section
and on our new hardcover table. Contrary to
the column's implications, our job is to sell
books and not political agendas.
Keith Bearup
General Manager, downtown Borders
Oil and gasoline prices
are not relevant to college
students; beer prices are
I thought a recent article on the oil price
increase (Oil prices hit record-high, 09/29/04)
was well written and informative, but as a
bicyclist and proponent of public transpor-
tation it failed to really strike a cord. I think
Ann Arbor and college towns in general are
pretty pedestrian friendly, and gas prices
don't affect a large number of the popula-
tion. The turmoil in the Middle East makes
oil prices news every day, while at the same

Because most people don't buy beer or oil
by the barrel, let us examine the price per
gallon; a gallon of unleaded gasoline hov-
ers around the $2 per gallon mark, whereas
a half-gallon growler of beer costs around
$8. So why is the outlandishly high price of
beer not getting any coverage in a pedestri-
an-friendly, beer-drinking city, especially
because beer was part of the world econo-
my thousands of years before automobiles
were even invented?
The sad thing is that the United States is
home to the top two hop-producing regions
in the world, and is also the native home
of corn (a popular adjunct in macro-brewed
lagers), so the only reason for the exorbitant
price of beer is the state and federal govern-
ments' "sin taxes," intended to curb alcohol
abuse. These sin taxes do not prevent alco-
holism - they simply hurt the casual beer
drinkers who make up the majority. Sadly,
an alcoholic will always be able to buy a
cheap beer, but discerning beer drinkers
will not likely pay a small fortune for a
locally brewed beer. This in turn hurts the
local economy. We should learn from Bul-
garia and utilize the brewing industry as an
integral part of our economy, not just some-
thing to tax into the ground because a few
people abuse it.
Zach Beckwith
LSA junior
Vegan lifestyle a viable
alternative to carnivory
Thank you for your excellent coverage of
Paul Shapiro's lecture (Animal rights activist
shocks with pictures, message, 09/30/04). The
routine cruelty inflicted on animals raised
for food is shocking and unconscionable. I
had to lower my eyes during the screening
of "Meet Your Meat," but as Shapiro stated,
the animals can't turn away or make their
suffering disappear. Their misery will end
only when individuals begin to reconsider
the impact of their daily food choices on the
world around us. Personally, going vegan
has given me the peace of mind of knowing
that I am no longer contributing to unneces-
sary cruelty. Eating animal products is not
necessary in this day and age. Although we
live in an age of agribusiness, it's also an
age in which delicious, healthy and humane
vegan fare is available. t

toward me and tried to thrust a pro-admin-
istration flyer in my hand.
"Go to Iraq," I said.
"How do you know I'm not going?" he
"Well, if you do, maybe I'll respect
We turned and separated.
Actually, what I should have said is,
"Why aren't you there now? The war's been
going on for more than a year. That's plenty
of time to volunteer. Drop everything, pick
up a gun and go."
After dinner, I went back looking for the.
demonstrator so that we might continue our
argument, but he and the rest of the crowd
had disappeared.
Call me out of touch, but if the Iraq war
were so important, Ann Arbor would be a
ghost town. There wouldn't be a young per-
son in sight, because everyone would have
volunteered to fight the Axis of Evil. It was
that way in my father's day. There he was,
a 15-year-old kid who showed up regularlyg
at the Army's door, begging to volunteer to
fight against the "Nah-zees." And they'd
throw him out. And he'd show up again.
And they'd throw him out. Over and over,
until Hitler blew his brains out.
That was then. When privileged young
guys - future academics, businessmen and
politicians - tossed their Phi Beta Kappa
keys to kick some fascist butt. You know
the kind, what are now derisively labeled
"girly-men," intellectual types from places
like Massachusetts and New York, who pro*
nounced it "Nah-zees" like Churchill and
went on to save civilization. I grew up rever-
ing guys like that, wishing I had been born
a generation earlier so that I could show my
stuff. It was probably my father's only disap-
pointment in life, that he'd been too young to
go. So when I met my friends' fathers who
actually fought, like the shrapnel-filled Har-
vard man who climbed out of a London hos-
pital bed against orders and dashed across
the continent to rejoin his brothers in North
Africa, I'd be awestruck. Talk about guts.
Talk about glamour.
And now what have we got? A campus full
of smooth, smart young people, 80 percent
of whom come from the top quintile of fam-
ily incomes and who let other young people
- poorer, less educated - do the fighting.
Maybe that young man and his friends
will go to Iraq. But if they really don't plan
to go and still pull the lever for the admin-


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