Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Letters to the Editor

Campus does not need ASG to take a stand against war in Iraq

I am extremely concerned about the proposed Associated Student Government resolution to condemn a unilateral or preemptive war with Iraq. The Daily reports that the “bill’s sponsors say ASG needs to take a stand”; what the sponsors are really saying is that ASG needs to endorse an anti-war position.

The war debate aside, I believe that an ASG-sponsored anti-war measure would set a dangerous precedent for a student group that purports to represent this campus. The resolution passed in the fall of 2001 about the Sept. 11 terrorist victims can hardly be construed as “political” — would anyone really argue that those victims do not deserve respect?

Taking a stance on a very volatile issue, such as war in Iraq, would undermine the diverse and open-minded discussion that belongs in a school such as ours. Is it not clear from the “Rock wars” photos on the cover of Wednesday’s Daily that this campus is not united against a war in the Middle East? It would be irresponsible for ASG to adopt a stance in light of the fact that students are divided over the subject.

Northwestern students have their own opinions about this heated topic, and they certainly do not need ASG endorsing one side or another. Furthermore, they do not need a resolution to authorize a campus dialogue that has existed from the start.

Mike Wong

Weinberg sophomore

ASB is worthy of activity funds, regardless of how senators vote

Even four years after I graduated from Northwestern, Associated Student Government is showing the same inane decision-making that took place when I was on campus. I participated in Alternative Spring Break during the spring of my senior year, going on a trip to West Virginia. It was one of the most enjoyable experiences of my time at NU. I met 10 other undergraduates and bonded with them for a week. We all experienced life from a perspective very different than what we were used to.

Does ASG believe that it has the moral authority to decide which events are most worthy of funding? Why are some activities more important than others? Not once during my undergraduate career did I ever attend any of the “big budget” events that my activities fees went toward.

I would bet that very few graduates can remember which A&O band performed on campus in 1998. But I guarantee that all ASB alumni remember the trip they went on.

Andrew DuKatz

McCormick ’99

Signing petition doesn’t mean supporting every Israeli action

I was a bit disappointed that The Daily allowed Ben Winograd to write a guest column Tuesday that was misguided and judgmental of the students who signed the petition for Israel. Winograd claims that what was not printed in the petition showed the students’ attitudes about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He is absolutely incorrect when making that assumption about my signature and those of other students and faculty members.

By signing a petition in support of Israel, we were not trying to quantify how many students support Israel and how many don’t. We were trying to express our support for Israel, which is sometimes difficult on a college campus because people like Winograd jump down our throats once we do. All of the sentences of the petition applied to me, so I signed it. If Winograd circulated a petition that denounced the killing of Palestinian civilians, I would sign that, too. If anyone circulated a petition that urged both sides to make concessions and to stop exacerbating the problem, I would sign that, too.

Not everyone who supports Israel also supports the bulldozing of homes or the killing of the 14 innocent Palestinians that Winograd refers to (an incident that was harshly criticized by the world community, including the United States). Winograd clearly has problems with U.S. support for Israel, but rather than urging us not to upset Europeans and Arabs, shouldn’t he question why our support upsets them so much?

If Europeans and Arabs who oppose support for Israel do so because of Israel’s seemingly violent actions, then why didn’t they raise such a fuss when genocide was going on in Cambodia and Rwanda? Israel is in a historically difficult situation right now, and in trying to deal with its problems, it sometimes commits the wrong acts. Please don’t confuse support for Israel with support for all Israeli action, as Winograd does. We do not apply that standard to supporters of any other country in the world.

Nate Asher

Weinberg sophomore

Letter’s Afghan death toll claim comes from unreliable source

Reading Shom Dasgupta’s Friday letter, I question one of the assertions of “fact.”

The claim of more than 3,000 civilian deaths in Afghanistan is an old one, first espoused by University of New Hampshire professor Marc Herold. It has since been taken up, variously, by anti-war groups and groups such as Act Not to Stop War and Racism, the Worker’s World Party and the International Socialist Organization.

Both pro- and anti-war groups, however, debunk this claim and say it is based on reports by the Afghan Islamic Press, a media mouthpiece for the Taliban regime. The AIP has been discredited due to its fabrication of civilian death figures, which are designed precisely to appeal to leftist protesters such as Dasgupta.

The real tragedy is that the number of civilian deaths is still estimated at between 1,000 and 1,300, and that at least “several hundred innocent civilians” were killed in the raid on Tora Bora.

Repeating a number that originates from the propaganda wing of a government that could hardly be called “aligned with leftist virtues” doesn’t serve anyone, not even those Chomsky-ites who would like nothing more than to see the United States fall and be reborn as the new “Worker’s Paradise.” If one reports previously discredited numbers as truth, one’s other assertions come into question. Dasgupta should be careful of that trap.

Finally, Dasgupta mentions the almost-certain casualties of Iraqi children in the event of war. These will be terribly unfortunate. But what about the men and women? What about those women who are brutally and repeatedly raped in front of family members until those family members tell Saddam Hussein what he wants to hear? What about those men who are tortured with electric drills and genital electrocution? Shall we stand idly by and allow Hussein to perpetuate these evils?

Does Dasgupta think that if we ask Hussein really, really nicely — and maybe buy him some ice cream — that he’ll stop slaughtering his own people wholesale? I hope for the sake of the Iraqis that he does stop. Wouldn’t it be nice?

Jonathan Hawkins

Weinberg sophomore

Although discussion of war is needed, ASG is wrong forum

Please raise your hand if when you were voting for your Associated Student Government senator, you took his or her position on war in Iraq into account. Anyone?

ASG senators are not elected because of their political views, but because of their positions of student-life issues. The ASG Web site lists campus lighting and bed lofting as some of the more pressing issues with which it deals, and I cannot deny that ASG is an excellent forum for these issues. From this same Web site, one finds out that the External Relations committee — the one that approved the Iraq resolution — deals with “Evanston and Chicagoland issues.”

The situation in Iraq is clearly beyond the competence of ASG. The comparison of this issue to a resolution “paying respect to the victims” of Sept. 11 is absurd. That was a tragedy, this is a debate.

While it may be true that the majority of students on campus, myself included, support the wording of the proposed resolution, it is irresponsible of ASG — elected to get students more lighting, new majors and better meal plans — to express one view as if it is the opinion of the entire student body. While I agree with
Ben Cherry that this issue warrants discussion, I firmly believe that ASG is not the appropriate forum.

David Edelstein

Weinberg junior

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