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May 03, 2005 - Image 5

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Publication:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2005-05-03

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VIEWPOINT
Not today, buddy

The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, May 3, 2005 - 5
A view from the wrong side of history
KARL STAMPFL (} : SiCONtV SATIONS

I ---

BY IAN HERBERT
The weather screwed up my plan
for this article.
In a naive plan to gain some
sort of understanding of what it must
be like to be homeless, I was going
to be homeless in Ann Arbor - for a
mere 36 hours. I see these guys every
day on my way to class, and I noncha-
lantly pass by them on my way to work.
Sometimes I reach into my pocket and
give them a few coins. But mostly I just
walk past them while muttering, "Not
today buddy." I am pretty understand-
ing and extremely sympathetic, but I
still don't really understand what they
have to go through every day.
I was in Ann Arbor for about 10 days
after my last paper was due, and I was
sure that I could take two nights away
from partying and movie-watching to
get out onto the streets of Ann Arbor.
Even though I didn't know exactly
what I was going to get out of this expe-
rience, I imagined that the first night
would be tough. I can sleep just about
anywhere, but I don't know if I could
get a good night's sleep on the cement.
I was planning on wearing many lay-
ers to keep my body comfortable and
warm, but I obviously wasn't going to
have a pillow. I could have moved to the
grass in the Diag, but, you know, grass
is itchy. And I wouldn't want to be up
all night scratching my neck and face.
Plus, I'm afraid of bugs, and I don't like
insects crawling on me.
It probably would not be easy to get
to sleep, but I'm sure that I'd be able
to do it that first night if I got tired
enough. I don't know how happy people
would be with me out there. I imagine
that business owners, policemen and
drunken University students would be
pretty upset. They might even harass
me, kick me out of my "bed" or claim
that I, the man sleeping on the streets,
was hurting them by being out there.
When I awoke in the morning,
I would probably be pretty tired and
awfully sore. I'm not the most pleasant
person when I'm tired, but I guess I
would have to be. The plan was to leave
all my money at home, so I would have
to pleasantly ask passersby for money
just to get enough to eat. I can't even
bring myself to use a coupon at Meijer

- how was I going to sit there and beg
for money?
Of course, since I spend most of my
days as a college student eating Cot-
tage Inn and Jimmy John's, I have a
good amount of meat on my bones. I
can certainly afford to go a full day
without eating, so maybe I would just
do that = for a day.
I'm sure the difficult part would be
trying to get to sleep on the second night.
Having spent the entire night before
awake on the cement and the entire day
sitting on the cold sidewalk, I'm sure
that I would want to get to sleep more
that night than any night in my life.
But in order to sleep that second
night, I would probably need some
help. After all, I always sleep a little
better after a couple drinks, and I never
sleep very well on an empty stomach. I
would just need to gather some money
for a little booze and munchies, but
I would probably still be too embar-
rassed and too prideful to actually ask
a random stranger for money. How else
could I get money? I suppose I could
dig through trashcans looking for
10-cent cans and collect the change.
I could scour the porches of rich col-
lege students who carelessly leave dol-
lars worth of recyclables lying around;
there are probably enough cans on my
own porch to get something to eat. I
could probably scrape together enough
money from cans to get myself a piece
of day-old bread from Jimmy John's
and maybe a 40 of Colt 45. And I would
have to hope that would be enough to
get me through the night - until the
next day.
So that was my plan - nothing spe-
cial, just someone trying desperately
to get an understanding of someone
else's lifestyle. But I chickened out. I
honestly was going to do it, but the
weather changed my plans. It went
from 70 degrees and sunny - the
weather I was planning on - to 30
and snowing practically overnight. I
couldn't bring myself to go outside for
more than a few minutes, let alone an
entire 36 hours.
I guess it's a good thing I have that
option.
Herbert is an LSA senior and the Dailys
fall/winter managing sports editor.

My Ger-
man-
born
grandmother's ini-
tial reaction to the
white smoke signi-
fying that Catho-
lics would have
the first German
pope in five centu-
ries was excitement. But as the days
passed, she grew less enchanted with
the idea. My father - who was not
born in Germany but whose childhood
was dipped in the culture of Sauer-
kraut and liverwurst - agreed.
"This isn't good for Germans," he said
as we watched the pope's inception cer-
emony. "Especially your grandmother."
Neither my grandmother nor my father
doubted Pope Benedict XVI would lead
the church honorably. They were upset
because when people talked about the
man formerly known as Joseph Ratz-
inger, they were foregoing additional
discussion about his doctrine in favor of
speaking about his ties to the Nazi party
during World War II.
"He was so young," my grandmother
said. "How could he have known?"
I suspect she was asking the question
more of herself than of the pope. Like
Benedict, my grandmother was in Ger-
many during the war. Born in 1935, she
took her first steps and said her first word
with Hitler's stern voice booming through
the radio as background noise. Before her
10th birthday, she never knew anything
other than Nazism, especially with her

father working as a military firefighter.
What 10-year-old girl would not believe
in the cause her father and everyone else
she knew was fighting for?
All her life, the distinction of being
a former Nazi sympathizer has fol-
lowed her. Conversation naturally fun-
nels toward it, moreso lately with the
pope's past in the news.
"Where were you born?" someone
will ask her. She'll answer, they'll gauge
her age, and then you'll be able to read
it in their eyes - oh, so you were one
of them, the most notorious evildoers in
recent history.
One of the 20th century's greatest vil-
lains: my grandmother.
Now she's worried that what the pope
was busy doing during World War It will
define his papacy.
"The first time he does something the
media doesn't like, they'll blame it on his
German heritage, and all we'll be talking
about is what he did when he was 14 years
old," my father said.
Not much is known about the pope's
role during the Nazi era. What is known
points toward an unwilling relation-
ship with the Nazis, including a forced
involvement with the Hitler Youth. But
the media still wants to know ifhe housed
any Jewish people and, if not, why didn't
he? No matter what really happened,
the pope will remain tainted by his past,
especially in England, where a host of
newspapers have criticized his involve-
ment with the Nazis and questioned his
character because of it.
The whole issue forms a dilemma. It

wouldbe unwise to forget the Nazis' evils,
but it would be unfair to allow a connec-
tion to Nazism from his formative years
define a German's life 50 years later. For
too many, their only fault was being in the
wrong place at the wrongest of times.
Up to now, it has been fair to investi-
gate and talk about Ratzinger's past. The
public needs to know about his character,
and when you become pope - a pub-
lic figure - you're fair game. Now that
everything has presumably been uncov-
ered, it's time to judge him on his papacy.
Every unnecessary concern raised about
his past not only burdens him, it burdens
people like my grandmother.
As you read this, she's probably sitting
at her kitchen table, a gentle woman with
a bad hip. Someone will call, and she'll
talk with a slight German accent that
still hasn't completely worn off. Mostly,
though, it's gone. After 50 years here,
she's not really a German anymore; she's
an American.
If you won't reconsider your preju-
dices toward certain World War II-era
Germans for her at 74 years old, do it for
her at 19 as she was crossing the Atlantic
alone to come to America. If that still
doesn't work, picture her at 10, a young
girl overwhelmed by her war-torn world,
struggling to simply stay alive - a bomb
once landed inside her house but didn't
explode - let alone be on the right side
of history.
Stampfl is a Daily fall/winter administra-
tion beat reporter. He can be reached at
kstampfl@umich.edu.

Keep ur spiritual beliefs off my bod
ALEXANDRA JONES CEyl is-r Ss UNE. .P3pDREAM

LETTERS POLICY
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, col-
lege and school year or other University affiliation. The Daily will not
print any letter containing statements that cannot be verified.
Letters should be kept to approximately 300 words. The Michi-
gan Daily reserves the right to edit for length, clarity and accuracy. Longer
"viewpoints" may be arranged with an editor. Letters will be run accord-
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Letters should be sent over e-mail to tothedaily@michigandaily.com or
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oer hosen dronned off in nerson or sent via the U.S.R Postal Service.

'o walking
- OK, running
up the steps of
the UniversitvHealth
Services Building
What I'm about to
do has been playing
through my mind in
bits and pieces ever
since late last night,
or, depending on how you think about it,
very early this morning. Idon't know what
to expect, or how exactly I'm supposed to
ask for what I need. All I really know is
that Ihave to do it. It has to get done.
I check in at the walk-in appointment
desk, grab a clipboard and sit down in
the waiting area to fill out the form. This
much I'm used to. Icheck the right box and
wait until I'm called. When itsfinally my
turn - by now I'm feeling physically ill
with anxiety - I step up to the UHS rep-
resentative's cubicle and briefly, absently
explain my situation. After a pause, the
second person I've told about my problem
pulls a green paper square the size of a
Post-It out of a desk drawer and affixes it
to myfile. The square reads a bold, black
"EC." The speedy and casual procure-
ment ofthis bit ofpaper brings on theflrst
reassuranceI'vefelt all day.
A few hours later, after a slightly com-
forting, sort of sary discussion with a
nurse practitioner and a trip to the UHS
pharmacist, I got home and popped the
first of two Plan B pillsI'd have to take that
day. It was done. I couldn't do any more.

If we're to let idiots in high places like
Pharmacists for Life president Karen
Brauer decide what's morally and medi-
cally right, conscientious, consenting
adults like me (andmost ofyou) wouldbe,
as it were, screwed. In a Washington Post
op-ed printed March 28, Brauer compared
a pharmacist filling a prescription for
emergency contracceptionto a doctor vio-
lating the Hippocratic Oath. Pharmacists
like Brauer - in Tennessee and Wiscon-
sin and my home state of North Carolina
- confuse or willfully disregard the dis-
tinction between an abortion and the way
emergency contraception works.
Let me setthe record straight: Like con-
doms, spermicides and birth-control pills,
emergency contraception prevents the
implantation of a fertilized egg. It won't
have any effect on an already-implanted
fertilized egg (a pregnancy); emergency
contraception prevents pregnancy at a
stage where there's simply nothing to
abort. My medical education pretty much
ended with high-school health class, but I
can make the distinction between the two
- let alone between proper patient care
andreligious vigilantism.
According to these maverick phar-
macists, who cite spiritual beliefs when
they refuse to fill prescriptions or return
physicians' orders to patients, neither I
nor my doctor have the right to determine
whether I receive emergency contracep-
tion. It doesn't matter that I'm in school
and have a 3.6 GPA, that I want to build a
career after college or that I'm basically a

decent person. It doesn't matter that get-
ting pregnant anytime in the next 10 years
is my worst nightmare, that I take double
precautions when having sex, that at best
they're just making my life hell for the
few moments I'd have to deal with them,
and at worst they're threatening to take
away my peace of mind, my self-esteem,
ay clear conscience, my sanity. I should
burn for what I did, and they're sure as
hell not going with me.
What surprised me most about the
only time I've ever gotten emergency
contraception was the shame I felt until it
was over. Not from the conviction that I
shouldn't have had sexhbefore marriage, or
that I should have been more careful -
there was no way I could have been more
careful-butbecause I feltstupid. Stupid,
clumsy, unlucky, tragic.
Whether a woman ismarried, in arela-
tionship or single, whether she has five kids
or none, whether she has been prescribed
a time-sensitive drug after carelessness or
sexual assault, she should be treated with
respect and fast, quality service. For about
12hours, I was in danger of losing my life-
style, my academic career and probably,
as a result ofmy own disgust with the situ-
ation, my relationship with the person I'm
closest to. I don't deserve that - nobody
does - and I thank those physicians and
pharmacists who agree with me.
Jones is a Dailyfall/winter associate arts
editor. She can be reached at
almajo@umich.edu.

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