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October 27, 2004 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2004-10-27

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, October 27, 2004

OPINION

0I

+ + 420 MAYNARD STREET
ANN ARBOR, Ml 48109
tothedaily@michigandaily.com

EDITED AND MANAGED BY
STUDENTS AT THE
UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN
SINCE 1890

JORDAN SCHRADER
Editor in Chief
JASON Z. PESICK
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.

NOTABLE
QUOTABLE
The IAEA
knew about it and
warned the
administration about
its sensitivity."
- Carnegie Endowment for International
Peace official Jon Wolfstahl, referring to the
loss of more than 350 tons of explosives from
an Iraqi munitions dump, as reported yesterday
by the Los Angeles Times. The IAEA refers to
the International Atomic Energy Agency.

SAM BUTLER THE~~V SVAPBX
~~ N
SA
own #
i 2 .. . r._ J'{

Squandering the mandate
SUHAEL MOMIN AN ALTERNA\TIVE SPIN

01

istory does not
view as "great"
those presidents
who presided with little
challenge over periods of
prosperity. It is only those
who successfully led this
nation to triumph in the
face of dire difficulties
that achieve "greatness."
Following Sept. 11, 2001,
President Bush had a chance to distinguish him-
self in this manner and join the ranks of Wash-
ington, Lincoln and F.D.R. His speech on Sept.
20, 2001 to a joint session of Congress was
undeniably the best of his career. The "cowboy
from Texas" sounded like John Kennedy when
he pledged that "the advance of human freedom
- the great achievement of our time, and the
great hope of every time - now depends on us
... We will rally the world to this cause by our
efforts, by our courage. We will not tire, we will
not falter and we will not fail." In the days fol-
lowing Sept. 11, as members of Congress stood
on the steps of the Capitol singing "God Bless
America," they threw out partisanship to cele-
brate their common love of this nation. When the
Germans played the American national anthem
at the Brandenburg Gate and the French news-
paper Le Monde headlined (in French) "We are
all Americans," they stood in solidarity, politi-
cal and spiritual, with the United States. For the
first time in its history, NATO invoked Article
5 of its charter: An attack on one member is an
attack on the alliance at large. Domestically and
internationally, Bush was handed the mandate
his administration had previously lacked. He
was given the public support and political capi-
tal necessary to lead the fight for the fundamen-
tal human values binding the free world.

As an initial, defensive response to Sept.
11, the United States embarked on a course
of action against the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Around the world, Bush did not need to active-
ly seek support for this war - American allies
gave it freely. Militarily, financially and politi-
cally, the major alliances entwining the free
world held firm. Even the American public
was fully committed - for the first time since
Vietnam, we were willing to accept significant
military casualties to secure a victory. The
Bush administration was not merely leading;
it was securing its place in history.
Three years after the attacks, however,
domestic and international unity is merely a
memory. Since 2001, the international coali-
tion behind the "war on terror" has faltered,
and the bipartisan domestic consensus behind
homeland security has deteriorated into shame-
less electoral strategizing. The Bush adminis-
tration turned its post-Sept. 11 mandate into
a false justification for a radical agenda. The
attacks have provided a rationale for the war
in Iraq and explained the weak economy, the
gaping budget deficits and even the need for
additional tax cuts. He took his incredible
opportunity to lead the nation and create a
great legacy ... and passed it up.
Instead of continuing this war against known,
terrorists in Afghanistan, Bush embarked on a
mission to invade Iraq. Asserting that Saddam
Hussein possessed dangerous weapons of mass
destruction, the administration presented mili-
tary action in Iraq not as a possibility, but as an
inevitability. Even though the United Nations
sent weapons inspectors to Iraq to find and dis-
mantle WMD, they were not allowed to com-
plete their work. Even though Bush pledged
to consult the United Nations, he deemed it
irrelevant when the Security Council appeared

unwilling to authorize war. The rhetoric of
"rallying the world" to defend human freedom
was forgotten; the chance to unify the free
world in a fight for liberty was lost.
Even at home, Bush's politics obliterated
any vestiges of post-Sept. 11 political unity.
During the 2002 midterm elections, the GOP
unabashedly exploited the attacks for elec-
toral purposes. In Georgia, it attempted to
link Sen. Max Cleland, who did not support
the president's homeland security bill, to
terrorists. Cleland's opponent, Saxby Cham-
bliss, ran TV ads that compared Cleland, a
veteran who lost three limbs in Vietnam, to
Osama bin Laden, the Sept. 11 mastermind.
Leading Republicans and conservative pun-
dits regularly exploit patriotism as a parti-
san emotion when they make the absurd
argument that liberals love this country less
because they don't support the president. In
spite of a campaign promise to "unite, not
divide," Bush has worked closely with the
Republican-controlled Congress to remove
Democrats from discussions of energy poli-
cy, defense policy, tax policy and health care
policy. The administration has inexcusably
taken the immediate post-Sept. 11 notion of
reaching across aisles and working with all
Americans for the betterment of this nation
and put it in a trash can.
When voters head to the polls on Tuesday,
they will hold a referendum on the Bush presi-
dency thus far. Whether he wins or loses, how-
ever, history will view these past three years as
nothing more than a missed opportunity. Few
presidents are ever given the type of mandate
that Sept. 11 gave George Bush, and fewer yet
have wasted it.
Momin can be reached
at smomin umich.edu.

01

Your parents failed
ELLIOTr MALLEN IRRATIONAL.. EXUBERANCE
ored with the dirty looks or, at best, dismissive glances. It all sounds so bold, so brave, so daring to
standard bump- Granted, the proportion of homosexu- be on the defensive against such a force. How-
ing and grinding als in Michigan who routinely traipse about ever, it's important to remember that claiming
going on in every house town while decked out in drag is surely insig- to be on the defensive is a common strategy
within a three-mile radi- nificant. However, this was in Ann Arbor, among those who actually have the upper
us of campus, I and a renowned for being among the most tolerant hand. In reality, the defense of marriage
few other heterosexual cities in Michigan. This is a town where shop- crowd isn't defending anything; it's ruthlessly
friends decided it would keepers aren't afraid to display rainbow-col- attacking the well-being of the gay commu-
be an eye-opening expe- ored flags in their windows, where National nity. It's not enough to pass the Defense of
rience to dress up in drag Coming Out Week is widely celebrated, Marriage Act, preventing the legal recogni-
and go to Necto on Pride where the openly gay Chris Kolb was elected tion of civil unions in the state of Michigan.
Night. For those who don't know, Pride Night to the state House of Representatives. All of They're giving the gay community another
at Necto is a weekly dance party and celebra- this makes me think that if I had tried to do swift kick while it's down with the Marriage
tion of gay culture that is open to partygoers this anywhere outside of the Ann Arbor bub- Protection Amendment. If Proposal 2 passes,
from all walks of life. Wearing our finest bor- ble I wouldn't have made it through the night. it will seal the Defense of Marriage Act into
rowed women's attire, we walked to the club What's more is that as a heterosexual, I can the Constitution as a veritable pre-emptive
on East Liberty and had without question our just put my real clothes back on and go about strike against judges who might notice that it
most welcoming clubbing experience. We my discrimination-free life, whereas homo- stands in violation of the 14th Amendment's
were even flattered to find ourselves placed sexuals don't have that luxury. Equal Protection Clause, which ensures that
on the guest list for the following week by the The language of the. religious right proj- the laws of a state must treat an individual in
drag queen hosting the event. ects the opposite image. In their view, they the same manner as others in similar condi-
Problems arose while walking outside the are mercilessly subjected to oppression by tions and circumstances.
safety of the club. Twice, passing cars rolled gays and their supporters. They are the chi- While the blatant harassment we faced isn't
down their windows and shouted something valric traditionalists on the defensive against expressed by everyone who opposes gay mar-
along the lines of "damn flamer" at us before an onslaught of homosexuality, making them riage, they all still hold the ideas that gays are
speeding away. A priest told us that it wasn't appear inherently more justified in their fight. unwelcome, that their lifestyle is unacceptable,
too late to save ourselves from damnation. After all, the Michigan law prohibiting gay that they are "the other" that is threatening the
Sadly, our tight-fitting pants had no pockets in marriage is called the Defense of Marriage livelihood of the virtuous. While the legisla-
which to carry his soul-savingly homophobic Act, implying that the institution of marriage tors and religious authorities pushing for Pro-
literature. While waiting in line for pizza at In is under siege. In the words of Defend Mar- posal 2 would never yell "fucking faggot" at
and Out on East University Avenue we were riage press agent Steve Farrell, the decent folk passers-by on the street, they hold the same
told forcefully by one customer to "get the fuck of our country are under attack by "secular attitudes simmering beneath the surface as the
out right now, we don't need any fucking fag- socialists" who "want a nation full of moral man we bumped into at In and Out. In their
gots in here." After realizing we wanted pizza cowards and liars, a nation full of people crusade to defend their supposed essential
too much to be swayed, he mournfully (and whose values are as empty, as meaningless, family values, the right is creating an environ-
loudly) lamented that "your parents failed, your as chickenhearted as their own." Support- ment of hostility and paranoia that is far from
parents fucking failed." What struck me most ers of gay rights are seeking to maliciously family-friendly.
about the incident was that none of the other impose their so-called values on the entire Mallen can be reached
dozen or so Ann Arborites in the party store populace with the sole aim of destroying the
ever came to our defense. All we received were heterosexual way of life. at emmallen@umich.edu.
LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Reader urges columnist,
'U,' to respect fellow man
TO THE DAILY:
After following the campaigns, reading
about our justice system (Supreme Court to
decide on juvenile death penalty, 10/22/04),
and now Dan Adams's column about Greeks
(Thanks but no thanks, 10/25/04), I have
come to the sad conclusion that nobody
wants to understand each other anymore,
nobody's listening. Words like "liberal"
and "conservative" and "evil terrorist"

and learn to live together?
What about the millions of incarcerated
men and women "putting in time" in this
country, more than any other nation in the
world? What about the juveniles who can-
not vote or drink a beer, but can be exe-
cuted? Does anyone really want to know
why hazing is so unacceptably rampant? I
sure don't have the answers, but I'm ready
to listen. Part of the problem is that we're
hiding our moral responsibility behind
words like "evil-doer" and "frat boy." This
kind of marginalization is contagious; it's
fatal..I would never want to see my frater-

dying in Iraq. Children are starving around
the world. Human lives don't turn on and off
with the flip of a switch - unless you're a
juvenile in America
Adams sees a genuine problem, the deg-
radation of pledges in some Greek houses,
and what does he do? He degrades the Greek
community! I challenge Adams as I'd chal-
lenge our presidential candidates: Stop mar-
ginalizing human beings with your language.
It's a slippery slope, and not only are you
sliding, but you're pulling others with you.
Jeff Cravens
LSA junior

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