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March 08, 2007 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2007-03-08

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4A - Thursday, March 8, 2007

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

1 rC 4l1dlitan Bily
Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
413 E. Huron St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
Unsigned editorials reflect the official position oftthe Daily's editorial board. All other signed articles
and illustrations represent solely the views of their authors.
Blood, sweat and now tears
State of veterans hospitals is a monumental disgrace
rmy Maj. Gen. George Weightman was fired from his
position as commander of the Walter Reed Medical Cen-
ter earlier this month. His firing came at the heels of the
embarrassing exposure of the facility's poor living conditions and
mistreatment of veterans. Asking young men and women to risk
their lives for an unjust war is bad enough; shirking our responsibil-
ity to care for injured soldiers is an atrocious injustice, even for the
Bush Administration.

It was my wife's prescription and I took it."
- Detroit Piston guard Lindsey Hunter, who received a 10-game suspension from the NBA for testing positive
for a banned substance, as reported yesterday by the Detroit Free Press.
A O $G
7 t
AIong overdue apology


Since 1909, the Walter Reed hospital in
Washington D.C. has supposedly been the
crown jewel of America's veteran facili-
ties. Stories from veterans like 25-year-old
Roberto Reyes have revealed a different
reality. The Washington Post reported that
Reyes, left immobile and mute from a bat-
tlefield explosion, was left unattended in a
shower of scalding water. He suffered third-
degree burns to one of his legs. Hospital
staff didn't even notice the burns until his
aunt pointed them out.
Walter Reed's Building 18 was reported
to be swarming with rats and rotting from
floor to ceiling. But the problem isn't exclu-
sive to Walter Reed. Other vA facilities have
similar conditions: moldy walls, fly infesta-
tions and improper disposal of bio-hazard-
ous waste. It is in these gruesome conditions
that veterans suffering unimaginable inju-
ries are expected to wait out their recovery.
And if these medical centers are incapable of
providing adequate physical care to return-
ing soldiers, we can only imagine how poor
their mental care resources are. Haven't our
soldiers been through enough?
While Weightman is holding himself
accountable for the horrendous conditions
at Walter Reed - what choice does he have
- this trend of sloppy veteran care is a far
bigger problem. Much of it stems from recent
policies coming down from Washington -
even as lawmakers tout their support for the
troops. While the number of incoming vet-
erans to hospitals is expected to rise by 26
percentage points in the next two years, the
Bush Administration's plans to balance the

budget by 2012 will probably hit veterans
hard. The 2008 budget for veteran's affairs is
expected to be $39.6 billion. However Bush
plans a cut of $900 million for 2009 - con-
veniently the year after he leaves office.
Exacerbating the issue were private con-
tracts awarded under the Bush Administra-
tion's direction that rattled hospital staffing.
In the past, staff at veterans' hospitals had
been trained with tried-and-true methods to
handle both the physical and mental issues
of patients. Veterans' care is different from
many types of medical care, and the act of
passing down traditions from staffs is essen-
tial to successful treatment. The move to
privatize the staff saved money but brought
inefficiency and incompetence.
Our country should be ashamed of the
conditions of the hospitals that treat our
veterans. Shipping soldiers abroad to pro-
tect this country but failing to protect
them in return is unacceptable. This idea
is especially infuriating considering how
unpopular the war in Iraq currently is.
The military already has trouble meeting
recruiting quotas; the knowledge of what
kind of care awaits potential recruits when
they return wounded from the battlefield is
no additional incentive to enlist.
Fortunately, the Democrat-controlled
Congress has initiated an investigation into
the veterans' hospital system that should
help improve the current standards of care.
But the government made these same prom-
ises after Vietnam, andyethere we are again.
Our veterans fought for us, it's time for us to
fight for them.

When we were younger,
forced apologies were a
regular occurrence. It
always seemed like some adult was
constantly asking us to say sorry. So
we did - to the kid we were mean
to, the sibling we shoved, the parent
we mouthed off to - but what for? If
I shove my sister
to the pavement
because she won't =
share the sidewalk N
ogy is not going to g
heal her bleedingE
An apology is
what World War II WHITNEY
"comfort women"
are seeking from DIBO
the Japanese gov-
ernment. Even this year's production
of "The Vagina Monologues" includ-
ed a new piece titled "Say It," which
author Eve Ensler wrote to comfort
women in their fight for official rec-
ognition from the Japanese govern-
ment. Unfortunately, Prime Minister
Shinko Abe has forgotten his kinder-
garten values. _
Ensler's request, along with that
of thousands of former comfort
women, was flat out denied last
week. The Japanese government
just won't say it.
"Comfort women" is a rosey
euphemism for the young Japanese
women forced into sexual slavery
during WWII. Their story is one of
the saddest, most shameful chap-
ters in modern history. "Comfort
stations" originally began as insti-
tutionalized brothels run by the Jap-
anese government as a kind of bonus
for their soldiers. But as the war wore
on, the regular supply of prostitutes
ran dry and the government had to
find other, less traditional means of
obtaining women.
It is estimated that more than
200,000 women from Japan, Korea,
China, Taiwan, the Philippines and
other surrounding countries were
bribed, coerced, tricked or kidnapped
into sexual slavery by Japanese gov-
ernment officials or soldiers. Some

were pre-adolescent girls of only13 or
14, while others were mothers. Most
were forced to "service" up to 40 men
per day, and those who refused were
beaten or even killed for their disobe-
dience. The freshest of the newly sto-
len crop - the virgins - were given
to officers.
A Japanese lawyer recently
explained the situation to a group of
lawmakers: "Where there's demand,
businesses crop up ... but to say
women were forced by the Japa-
nese military into service is off the
mark." But former comfort women,
most now well into their 80s, are not
settling for this callow supply-and-
demand excuse.
What's worse is that Prime Min-
ister Abe apparently agrees with
that logic. Last week, to the shock of
many Asian leaders and to the grave
disappointment of surviving comfort
women, Abe retracted a prior, unof-
ficial government apology made to
the comfort women in 1993, saying,
"The fact is, there is no evidence to
prove coercion." Apparently hun-
dreds of personal testimonies from
rape victims, confessions from Japa-
nese soldiers themselves and undis-
puted documents discovered in 1992
directly linking the Japanese gov-
ernment to the comfort stations are
not quite convincing enough.
So the Japanese government won't
say it. Eventhe 1993 apology washalf-
hearted, an unofficial "moral but not
legal" admission of responsibility to
effectively placate international out-
rage while avoiding monetary repa-
rations. It was the kind of apology a
kid makes when his mom drags him
by the ear to the house of a classmate
he teased at school.
Even the U.S. government won't
officially demand the Japanese gov-
ernment apologize for fear of tamper-
ing with its hard-earned friendship
with Tokyo. After hearing testimony
from comfort women last month,
the U.S. House of Representatives
resolved to pass a "non-binding reso-
lution" politely asking Tokyo to rec-
ognize its wartime atrocities - but
even this meager show of support has

yet to pass through the House.
These women deserve better.
In fact, they deserve more than an
official apology. We all know that
apologies mean nothing if they
are not accompanied with action.
Amnesty International and other
human rights groups have called for
full monetary compensation for the
surviving comfort women, in accor-
dance with international standards
requiring adequate reparations for
severe humanitarian violations.
The Japanese response? Rape was
not a war crime until 1949, after the
Fourth Geneva Convention. In 2001,
the Japanese High Court actually
ruled against three South Korean
comfortwomen, refusingtopaythem
each a pathetic $2,453.
It's a war crime,
but where is
the outrage?
All the women want is a simple
playground-style apology. They want
to be included in school textbooks
and documented as part of Japanese
history. But the kindergartener in
me who knows just how painless it
is to say sorry knows the Japanese
government is getting off easy. It
takes more than a confession to real-
ly apologize to these women, all of
whom still stuffer mental and physi-
cal scars from their years of sexual
Until Abe and other high ranking
Japanese officials give these women
what they really deserve, they will
be no better than the wimpy kid who
cowers behind his mother, giving a
weak and insincere "I'm sorry" to his
crying classmate. Apologizing is a
simple. Action is hard. And action, in
the form of monetary reparations, is
what these women really deserve.
Whitney Dibo is an associate
editorial page editor. She can be
reached at wdibo@umich.edu.


Editorial Board Members: Emily Beam, Kevin Bunkley, Amanda Burns,
Sam Butler, Ben Caleca, Brian Flaherty, Mara Gay, Jared Goldberg,
Emmarie Huetteman, Toby Mitchell, Rajiv Prabhakar, David Russell,
Gavin Stern, John Stiglich, Jennifer Sussex, Neil Tambe,
Radhika Upadhyaya, Rachel Wagner, Christopher Zbrozek

YorRE SPOUNL of--v.
is o sect

a -


Rape is more complex
than viewpoint suggests

be outraged and alarmed? If Dickson
truly thinks the biggest issue concerning
the F-Word's campaign against sexual
violence is its "alarmist rhetoric," then
shame on him.

No one should have to tell James Dick- Erin Cosens
son that falling back on the simplistic LSA senior
frame of good guy vs. bad guy is unso-
phisticated journalism (Don't be afraid to Rape ste
challenge feminism, 03/06/07). He relies p S
on the trope of feminists as extremists, lac fl
one end of a spectrum that supposedly
conflicts with his enlightened ideas for
reform' (i.e. petitioning for more safe TO THE DAIL
ride programs and streetlights in Ann I would like
Arbor). ment with the
What Dickson fails to recognize is the printed Tuesd
complexity of combating the issue of rape. lenge feminist
While surely the reformist action he sug- themes of the
gests is vital, it is necessary to recognize women and m
how the F-Word's green flyer campaign is Dickson'sn
addressing the cultural messages that con- that rapists ar
tribute to an environment in which sexism ly separate fr
and female objectification are often con- statement, "no
doned or trivialized. rapists." This
He writes that "no one supports rape most colleges
except rapists," which completely misses one they know
the point. It is not whether men and women tics show that
support rapists, but whether we support a the hands of
social and political environment that con- someone with
tributes to the objectification of women (in have had cons
the media, at home and at work). It is this Dickson con
cultural environment that leads to cases of into his next f
rape and violence against women, and it is reviled and se
thus importantto engage in social activism to identify the
that confronts this environment, while also whenever the
seeking the reform he suggests. hood. Simplyp
Overall I ask why is it not OK to be for rape or r:
"alarmist" about the issue of rape? When feminists still
the front page of the Ann Arbor News on wise." He im:
the same day that Dickson's viewpoint are rapedby m
ran describes the rape of a University dark corners.'
student at knifepoint, why shouldn't we insulting to 1

Trying to shake students of this assump-
tion should be our primary goal.
College women are, by and large, raped
by college men - people who we all speak,
eat and go to class with. That is a simple
and sad fact.
I do commend Dickson for suggesting
proactive changes that can be made to
create a safer campus environment. But
why did he not lead the article with these
positive thoughts instead of attacking
an important student group? The Daily's
editors should have thought seriously
about whether this article even merited
- - "" _ " c - -te ywou------ nave---_ ec_ " e

reolypes lead to

Y:. printing.I thin
e to register my disappoint- that it did not.
James Dickson'sviewpoint
lay (Don't be afraid to chal- Ajay Prakash
m, 03/06/07). A few of the Medical School
article are insulting to both
major mistake is to imply No swear
e a category of people total-
am college students in the addressi;
o one supports rape besides
is the same mistake that TO THE DAILY
students make until some- I am writino
w is a victim of rape. Statis- viewpoint fror
t rape most often occurs at ('U' should go
an acquaintance or friend, working condi
whom the victim may even ufacture univ
ensual sex in the past. an important c
tinues this false assumption you for the o
ew paragraphs: "Rapists are University's pt
xual offenders are required posal for a Des
mselves to local authorities developed by
y move to a new neighbor- Sweatshops.
put, there is no amen corner The Univers
apists anywhere, yet some on Labor Stan
try to convince us other- will host a pub
agines that college women p.m. today in ]
en in trench coats lurking in Language Buil
This assumption is in itself to attend this s
ogical people everywhere. the current si

ik they would have decided
t - University
ug labor issue
g in response to Tuesday's
m the Sweatfree Coalition
sweatfree, 03/06/07). The
tions for people who man-
ersity-licensed goods are
oncern for all of us. Thank
pportunity to explain the
osition regarding the pro-
ignated Suppliers Program
United Students Against
ity's Advisory Committee
dards and Human Rights
lic forum on the topic at 7
Room 2011 of the Modern
ding. Students are invited
ession to learn more about
tuation of the DSP in the

University's deliberations and to express tee and others are grappling with now.
their views on this subject. The advisory committee will report on
The University maintains a strong com- , the progress of the DSP and on its other
mitment to fair and lawful labor practices activities before the end of the academic
in the manufacture of its licensed goods. year.
Neither I nor anyone else wish for our
university to support sweatshops. We Gary Krenz
have a well-established Code of Conduct The letter writer is specialcounsel to University
for Licensees designed to improve labor President Mary Sue Coleman.
conditions for apparel industry work-
ers and, in the advisory committee, an Lazinessnot racism
effective student-faculty-staff committee > >
review process.
In April of 2006, after careful consid-
eration of the DSP proposal, the advisory
committee recommended that the Uni- TO THE DAILY:
versity not endorse the DSP program at In Wednesday's Statement cover story
the time because of unanswered ques- (Thesubtleracism behindwhyyoudon'tlike
tions about its proposed structure, feasi- your GSI's accent, 03/07/07), Gabe Nelson
bility, potentialunintended consequences hits a number of relevant points about
and questions regarding how it would be international GSIs and the intolerance
implemented. they face. Although I agree with most of
The advisory committee also recom- his discussion, I think the assumptions of
mended the University take steps itself racism are off base.
and with other universities and organiza- If someone is hard to understand it's
tions - such as the FairLaborAssociation easy to have an aversion to doing the
and the Workers Rights Consortium - to extra work to decipher the words. In the
make its existing code of conduct more case of accents, we can take the positive
effective. University President Mary approach of viewing it as an opportunity
Sue Coleman accepted these recom- to increase our ability to communicate
mendations. The advisory committee's comfortably in the global world.
April 2006 report, President Coleman's However, if someone doesn't want to
response and her original charge to the do this, I think it's laziness, not racism.
committee are available at http://www. Consider the case of a GSI who mumbles
ilir.umich.edu/CoLSHR/Index.cfm. or speaks too softly - ina perfect Ameri-
Most universities that have signed on can accent. Not wanting to strain yourself
to the principles of the DSP have done to adjust is perfectly natural.
so with caveats and qualification. Michi- Of course, using this as an excuse for
gan continues to monitor development academic failure deserves criticism, but
of the DSP and has been participating as let's watch the inflammatory condemna-
an invited observer in the DSP planning tion - it is helpful to no one.
meetings. We think apparel workers will
ultimately benefit because of the tough. David Pederson
questions that the advisory commit- LSA sophomore



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