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May 10, 2004 - Image 5

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Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2004-05-10

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The Michigan Daily - Monday, May 10, 2004 - 5

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Keep an eye on Fleming
ELLIOT MALLEN NCONVETNTIO:NASL DOM

Reader asks open
question about
abortion march
TO THE DAILY:
I too went to "The March For
Women's Lives" to see what kind of
women would march in a parade to
pport abortion.
Standing on the sideline, I heard
the word "choice" chanted over and
over again - as if the marchers
were trying to convince themselves
that the choice they demanded did
not involve the life of a baby.
When I tried to tell some women
that the choice was not what color
they wAnted to color their hair, but
whether they would kill their baby or
not to kill their baby, I was verbally
assaulted. In one case, I had water
rcwn on me.
I would like to ask University
students the same question I asked
some of the marchers: "What kind
of woman is capable of murdering
her own child by abortion?"
DON SPITZ
Alumnus
Risch offers valid
*ommentary; fails
to achieve balance
To THE DAILY:
First, -on the lighter side, I found
it amusing to read the part of Jessica
Risch's viewpoint (Who cares about
Israel? I do., 05/04/04) in which she
referred to hummus, falafels and
kabobs as "Israeli delicacies." I'm
assuming that she means to say that
Israel has adopted these foods as
*opular delicacies because, in reali-
ty, hummus and falafels are both
Arabic, while kabobs are a dish that
the Armenians picked up from Turk-
ish invaders.
This, of course, has nothing to
do with the gist of Risch's piece. I
just thought it needed to be noted
that these dishes are no more Israeli
than potatoes are Irish. In truth,
Aisch's piece deals with a subject of
ar more import than mere dietary
nationalism.
She addresses the daily psychol-

ogy of Israelis, and it is a subject
which has been pushed aside for far
too long by the more flashy argu-
ments about government policies,
international philosophies and the
sophistry of tit-for-tat vengeance.
She touches on the long-term effects
of living in what amounts to a war
zone, the mind-sets that are formed
on the Israeli population by being
forced to live under such conditions.
I give her high marks for addressing
this often ignored reality.
However, I must then ask about
the other side of this coin. What is
the experience of Palestinian people
living under the occupation of Israel,
which, in 2004, has still not honored
the treaty she signed in the 1960s?
Risch mentions the killing of chil-
dren, and that is certainly a tragically
valid subject. But between Oct. 2000
and March 2004, there were nearly
five Palestinian children who died at
the hands of Israeli soldiers for
every Israeli child who died in
attacks by Palestinians. The numbers
game may, in the final analysis, be a
totally invalid reference point, but it
does grab your attention.
I commend Risch for the direc-
tion of her piece. I only wish that she
had carried it to its logical conclu-
sion by making it balanced. I realize
that such balance can be hard to
maintain, sometimes painful and
often unpopular. Frequently, those
who try to show a balanced view of
the Arab-Israeli conflict are
slammed with the misnomer "anti-
Semite," but that's incorrect as well.
Semites are, or were, convential-
ly considered to be those of Arabic,
Aramean, Babylonian, Carthaginian,
Ethiopian, Hebrew and Phoenician
heritage. While most are pretty well
out of the mix these days, we're still
left with the Arabs, Ethiopians and
Hebrews. So, when people start
slinging insults and names at each
other, they might want to be a bit
more careful. After all, since Pales-
tinians are "Arabs," and "Arabs" are
Semites, it's possible that we might
find ourselves in the interestingly
ironic position of having to admit
that some of the anti-Semites just
happen to be Jewish.
ALLEN CURRY
Resident, AnnArbor

Un i v e r s i t y
pride is in
many ways
similar to national
pride. Loyalty to one's
university is similar to
loyalty to one's home-
land: we're happy
when our sports teams
beat their rivals. We're
happy when we're highly ranked and we
feel a sense of closeness with our fellow
Wolverines that we don't get with other
students. As such, we trust the people who
run the University. After all, we're all on
the same team. Why would the administra-
tion do anything that won't make the Uni-
versity a better place for students?
However, unconditional trust in the admin-
istration is a dangerous thing, and it is
naive to count on them to always act in the
students' best interest. Much like we hold
the politicians who run our country to a
high standard of accountability, so too
must we constantly question the legitima-
cy and motives behind the decisions made
by the University administration.
Firstof all, University administrators
are not always as loyal to our institution as
we expect them to be. This is especially
true in the case of University presidents.
Presidents shift between schools in the
model followed by corporate executives.
They act as if they're professional athletes,
making universities compete with one
another over who will pay them the most
and bring them the most prestige, and
often they will abandon ties with their
original schools to head up new ones. Uni-
versity presidents are no exception: Lee
Bollinger left the University to become the

President of Columbia University, and
University President Mary Sue Coleman
gave up her post as President of the Uni-
versity of Iowa before coming to Ann
Arbor. Instead of establishing roots with
their universities, presidents are sold to the
highest bidder. No amount of rhetoric
about how loyal they are to their universi-
ties can make up for this fact.
The administration does make token
gestures to appear open and accessible to
students. Coleman holds monthly "Fire-
side Chats" where a number of randomly-
selected students informally talk with the
President about student issues. The Uni-
versity Board of Regents allows for any-
one to make public comments before the.
meetings begin. While giving students the
ability to speak with the administration is
admirable, idle listening isn't enough.
Advisory committees are favored by
the administration as means by which stu-
dent input guides decision-making. These
committees typically are made up of stu-
dents, faculty and administrators and have
a great potential to act as an intermediary
between students and the administration.
They are one way in which students can
have oversight over decisions made by the
University and can lobby the administra-
tion on their behalf.
In her April 1 letter to students, Cole-
man outlined a strategy involving four
advisory committees in order to deal with
complaints regarding a wide variety of
issues brought to the administration by
Student Voices in Action. While it is possi-
ble that the committees will do their best
to act on the students' behalf, itis impossi-
ble for any headway to be made without
significant student involvement. The com-

mittees function with ample built-in iner-
tia. The purpose of committees is to be
methodical and deliberative. While this
slowness has obvious advantages, more
often than not it acts to the detriment of
students. We're only here for four eight-
month sessions, and committees have the
ability to stall issues in the name of delib-
eration until the summer or until vocal stu-
dents graduate, making progress difficult.
What most people don't realize is that
many of these advisory committees simply
would not exist or function if it weren't for
significant student action. The Advisory
Committee on Labor Standards and
Human Rights would not have been
formed had Students Organizing for Labor
and Economic Equality not occupied for-
mer president Bollinger's office. Nonethe-
less, this committee is plagued with
bureaucratic inertia and it still needs sig-
nificant lobbying from SOLE in order to
do what is required of it. While beneficial,
advisory committees alone can't provide
the oversight necessary to ensure that the
administration acts in favor of students.
In short, I am encouraging students to
become involved in engaging the Univer-
sity. Don't accept its motivations as pure.
We're always told to constantly question
the motives behind government officials.
It took Watergate to get the general public
to see the importance of public scrutiny in
government affairs. I'm encouraging stu-
dents to become involved now so that
greater oversight will prevent a Watergate-
like scandal here.
Mallen serves on theAdvisory Committee
on Labor Standards and Human Rights. He
can be reached at emallen@umich.edu.

Is there a different answer in Iraq?
SUHAEL MOMIN POINTS TO PONDER

SAM BUTLER T E SOAP ox
Did you hear that
Nancy Reagan came
out in Support of
stem cell She can't do
research? that! That's
_ Heresy^
-- w
Y~ i
g s

What 1 am
about to
suggest
will be shocking. It
will strike at the core
of a commonly
accepted and uncon-
tested truth. To many,
it will be nothing
short of full-fledged
heresy. Nonetheless, it needs to be said.
As anyone who has watched a televi-
sion news program in the last 18 months
knows, the United States wishes to create
a democracy in Iraq as soon as possible.
However, is it true that perhaps, just
maybe, Iraq would be better off without
immediate democracy? In the long run,
without a doubt, Iraqis should preside over
a self-determinate and sovereign democra-
tic state. But for now, and until the time is
right, democracy with open and universal
elections might not be the best route.
Before progressing, a clarification is
in order. When one commonly thinks of
democracy, one is not thinking of simply
democracy. One is thinking of a liberal,
constitutional and representative democra-
tic system that respects human freedom,
adheres to the rules of law and permits fair
and contested elections. The United States,
Britain, Canada and France all fit this
mold. "Democracies," such as Zimbabwe,
despite having electoral processes and
popular referendums, do not. This distinc-

tion is of paramount importance; while
democracy is regarded as a panacea of
sorts, corrupt, non-liberal democracy is
not a positive force. In Iraq, democratiza-
tion must only occur after the groundwork
for successful democracy exists.
The common factor that pervades vir-
tually every true liberal democracy is the
existence of a civil society or a middle
class has a vested stake and interest in self-
determination. In Britain, major reforms
towards democracy began only after the
Industrial Revolution, and the emergence
of a non-aristocratic entrepreneurial class
that drew its wealth from reaping the fruits
of capitalism, not the land. Some of the
world's newest democracies, such as South
Korea and Singapore were, at creation,
remarkably autocratic. However, after eco-
nomic revolutions within the past few
decades, both these nations soon turned
towards democracy - only after experi-
encing economic stability and growth did
the process of democratization truly begin.
It seems that capitalism and economic lib-
eralism are the engines that drive econom-
ic growth, which in turn fuels
democratization.
When looking at Iraq, it becomes clear
that the basic economic and social ground-
work for democracy does not exist. The
nation, as it emerges from decades of war
and tyranny, does not appear to have either
a functional economy or defined middle
class. It can be aruged, with a good degree

of certainty, that these fundamental seeds
of liberal democracy will not be adequate-
ly developed next year, when elections are
scheduled to be held. Thus, the questions
are raised: If elections are held, and
democracy is created prematurely in Iraq,
what will its future be? After the United
States and United Nations leave, who will
enforce the rules and procedures essential
to a functioning constitutional democracy?
Most importantly, when a government is
elected, what is the guarantee that it will
rule in a manner that keeps Iraq on contin-
ued course of freedom and liberty?
Liberal democracy, when properly
implemented and respected, offers unpar-
alleled advantages. However, in Iraq,
where even basic peace is fleeting, the
future of any democratic system created
within the next year is at best tenuous.
While it may seem paradoxical, democra-
cy does not hold signficiant promise for
Iraq at the moment. To ensure success in
Iraq, the United States needs to abandon
its plan for immediate democratization,
and instead work closely with the Govern-
ing Council in establishing stability and a
functioning economy. Only when that vital
groundwork is complete should leaders
begin to seriously entertain the idea of
transferring power to a democratically-
elected government in Iraq.
Momin can be reached at
smomin@umich.edu.

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