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March 08, 2005 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2005-03-08

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, March 8, 2005


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Editor in Chief

Editorial Page Editors

Managing Editor


'' We could have
switched places, each
getting half a night
on the bed, but he
deferred to me.
- Former President George H.W. Bush,
commenting on former President Bill
Clinton's gesture offering him the single bed
on a plane ride during their tsunami relief
tour, as reported yesterday by Newsweek.

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Jumping the gun on democratization

week ago, I left
for Jamaica,
ready for a week
of warm water and sun-
shine. I came back
Saturday tanned and
rested, ready to resume
my role in the thinking,
working world.
Apparently, I picked
a bad week to opt out of the daily news.
Syria announced that it would be gradually
pulling its forces out of Lebanon, ending
15 years of occupation. There are public
demonstrations in the streets of Beirut.
And Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak
announced last Saturday that he would
finally cede to the nation's first contested
election in modern history.
We'd do well to examine these events
critically. These announcements, along
with the recent elections in Afghanistan,
Iraq and Saudi Arabia, should give us hope
of a democratic Middle East in the very
near future. This hope, however, should
be tempered with the knowledge that, on
the ground, little has changed from a week
before. Though it has promised withdraw-
al, Syria continues to occupy Lebanon,
and will likely continue to exert great
influence over its politics even after its
forces are removed. In Egypt, the promise
of a contested election is offset by a likely
Mubarak victory, continuing his 25 reign
at the helm of the Egyptian government.
Indeed, these are the whispers of democ-
ratization - encouraging changes in the

winds that may signal better times for a
place that for so long has been politically
repressive and economically stagnant.
An overzealous few, however, have
jumped the gun on the issue, proclaiming
these events to be the birth of Middle East
democratization. Charles Krauthammer
of The Washington Post wrote last Friday,
"We are at the dawn of a glorious, deli-
cate, revolutionary moment in the Middle
East. It was triggered by the invasion of
Iraq, the overthrow of Saddam Hussein
and televised images of 8 million Iraqis
voting in a free election." Last Thursday,
Max Boot of The Los Angeles Times tri-
umphantly asked "Well, who's the simple-
ton now? Those who dreamed of spreading
democracy to the Arabs or those who
denied that it could ever happen?"
Aren't we getting a bit ahead of our-
selves, boys? Thus far, very little has
actually happened on the ground. Prom-
ises in Lebanon and Egypt are nothing
more than talk. Encouraging talk, but talk
nonetheless. Meanwhile, United States
troops are still fighting and dying in Iraq,
tied down by an insurgency that few in the
Bush Administration seemed prepared to
accept or handle. There is no timetable for
their removal.
The trend lines may indeed be shift-
ing in the Middle East, but so long as
the despots remain in power, so long as
the U.S. remains in bed with the worst of
them, and so long as our policies continue
to be viewed with resentment by the Arab
street, then I'll continue to be skeptical.

We all should be skeptical.
Skeptical that, if this is indeed revo-
lution paid for with the U.S. invasion of
Iraq, the results of the aforementioned
revolution will ultimately make America
safer. Democratic rule in the region won't
erase the poverty, disillusionment, and
angst that run rampant throughout the
Arab world. It won't by itself stop global
terrorism. As University Professor Juan
Cole commented on his website yester-
day, "There is no guarantee that a more
democratic Iraq, Egypt or Lebanon will
produce less terrorism."
But back to Boot's question, who is the
simpleton? In short, it's still the pro-war
Right. They got the weapons wrong. They
got the insurgency wrong. And even if
these fledgling movements do indeed lead
to a democratic Middle East, we should
be wary of giving too much credit to the
Bush administration. They sold the war in
Iraq on the basis of national security and
weapons of mass destruction - not on
producing a ripple effect throughout the
Arab world. If they had other intentions,
then these needed to be more clearly tele-
graphed to the American people and to the
world. Now, with no weapons and mount-
ing U.S. casualties, Arab democratization
should only be treated as a fortunate by-
product of the war in Iraq.
Regardless, it's not my turn to eat crow
- not yet, anyway.


Adams can be reached
at dnadams@umich.edu.


PIRGIM would serve
the public interest of
the student body
In response to the article (Public inter-
est group's hopes for student chapter,
03/07/2005), I wish to explain why the
Michigan Student Assembly should estab-
lish a Public Interest Research Group in
Michigan chapter at the University. I
became involved with Students for PIR-
GIM several months ago and have been
thoroughly impressed with the group's
commitment to student interests. The
group is one of the most hard-working
and disciplined that I have had a chance
to work with. The enthusiasm that res-
onates through this group reminds me
daily that student activism can be a pow-
erful and persuasive voice on a wide array
of issues. Already, I have seen us make
great steps forward with campaigns on
tenants' rights and textbook costs. Both
of these issues are of great concern to
students because such large amounts of
our expenses come from these sources.
The work I have done with Students for
PIRGIM has been inspiring and reward-
ing and would be greatly enriched by the
ability to hire a full-time organizer to
help us coordinate our campaigns.
However, it is disappointing that PIR-
GIM's attempt to receive MSA funding
has been postponed by what the article
referred to as a "controversy." The injunc-
tion that has postponed the MSA vote is
nothing but an attempt to bog the group in
bureaucratic machinery. While I am sure
that Students for PIRGIM will overcome
his hurdle, it is a needless step. We have
made clear that we will in no way endan-
ger MSA's tax exempt status because we
will be of the same status as MSA. It is
my hope that Students for PIRGIM will be
able to get funding from MSA to enhance
the already stellar work that is does for
Adam Paul
LSA freshman
The letter writer is a member of
Students for PIRGIM.

at satire was entirely lacking in humor, the
more pressing concern is the ways in which
it isn't a satire at all. Satire exists some-n
where between the author and the audience;
it is the audience's awareness of the author's
distance from the opinions he is present-
ing that allows for the humor to surface.
The simple fact that Hoard doesn't believe
what he is saying does not make his article
a satire. He's just playing the part of the
stereotypical bigot, which may be hilarious
to him because he knows this is exactly the
opposite of what he really believes. But it's
clear his readers don't realize it's all an act.
In fact, Hoard's authority as an editorialist
depends on his readers' accepting his opin-
ions instead of questioning their sincerity.
He may be so egotistical as to believe the
Daily readers are keeping track of Hoard's
personal politics, but I'd bet you a wooden
nickel they aren't. They, like I, probably
just stumbled over the article on their way
to the crossword.
The point of satire is to expose the falla-
cy in your opponent's argument by voicing
the argument in such a way as to make its
faults apparent, or taking the position to
such an extreme as to show its disastrous
consequences. Merely reprinting your
opponent's argument verbatim doesn't
accomplish this, as the November election
made obvious, many people wholeheart-
edly believe what Hoard finds so ridicu-
lous. There are no clues within the article
that would suggest it is anything but the
opinion of a severely religious conser-
vative. (His supposedly witty exaggera-
tions, comparing homosexuals to lepers
and saying homosexuality started in 1967,
are not that far removed from what many
homophobes actually believe). If readers
think that the author truly believes all the
opinions he is spouting, then they have no
reason to look for the ways in which he is
sabotaging the argument. I could stand on
the Diag and scream Nazi rhetoric from
the top of my lungs, and a passersby would
have no reason to think I was being ironic
or witty - just a raving, bigoted lunatic.
Hoard never came within a mile of sat-
ire in this article. I'd suggest you use the
space for his next article for a few 'extra
Crime Notes (which are, in my opinion,
beautiful gems of understated comedy).
Weain Ganz

piece of satire? The reaction to Hoard's
column (How the homosexuals stole my
child's innocence, 05/24/2005), (at least
what was represented in today's Letters
to the Editor and Online Feedback) is
As someone who is definitely to the
political right of Hoard (although not
.as far right as his "alter-ego"), I have to
sit back and laugh as self-anointed liber-
als and advocates for gay rights line up to
shred "one-of-their-own" for taking a novel
approach to confronting the homophobia
that is rampant in parts of the U.S. What
better way to show these people how ridic-
ulous their viewpoint on homosexuals is
than by putting the core of their misguided
"moral" system in print for all to see?
To the people who thought Hoard was
being serious, please take some courses on
critical reading or polemic debate. If this is
too much work or beyond yourcapabilities,
please feel free to join your lost brethren
in East Lansing. To those who understood
it was satirical but- were still offended,
I would suggest weighing your public
action in defense of homosexuality against
Hoard's. If you are the bigger advocate feel
free to castigate, although I doubt this is the
case. And where were you two weeks ago
for Hoard's satirical column on censorship
and Janet Jackson's nipple (The Superbowl
Shuffle, 02/10/2005). At least be consistent.
Joel, keep on exposing your "kids" (two by
23 including a six-year old, impressive) to
the horrors of the "liberal" world for those
of us who appreciate satire.
Fred Vescio
N The Michigan Daily welcomes
.letters from all of its readers. Letters from
University students, faculty, staff and
administrators will be given priority over
others. Letters should include the writer's
name, college and school year or other Uni-
versity affiliation. The Daily will not print
any letter containing statements that can-
not be verified.
Letters should be kept to approxi-
mately 300 words. The Michigan Daily

4-, -:---.:. K

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