The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current, January 29, 1998, Page 5, Image 5

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    Us and them
Understanding is key to Middle East conflict
is a sophomore English
and religious studies
major and a Daily
Nebraskan columnist.
“Why not bomb the hell out of
them and beat them to it?”
That’s what a friend of mine said
about the whole Middle East
Situation. I’m using Situation with a
capital “S” to show this means more
than the Iraq Thing, although that
one was probably hot on his mind.
He was kidding, of course,
although the rest of us thought he
crossed the line.
Just a tad.
And just a tad is all it would take
for many U.S. citizens to agree with
him. Who isn’t tired of Saddam
Hussein acting like an idiot? Who
isn’t sick of valuable info-tainment
space being taken up by the latest
Israeli/Palestinian gunman when we
could be reading about cloned
calves and Ernie Chambers? In
short, it’s old news. Worse yet, it’s
old news we never really understood
in the first place.
Sure, madman dictator invades a
neighboring country and oppresses
his people - that we can handle. So
we go over there and gut his forces
with our superior military; hey,
good clean fun. But what is up with
these people? Suicide bombings,
fighting over desert, thumbing their
noses at us, the United Nations and
each other any chance they get.
Can’t they behave like rational,
media-fearing westerners?
Ah, there’s the rub. We just don’t
understand them. We see Middle
Easterners, Muslims in particular, as
savage, backward and bloodthirsty.
When someone says “Muslim,”
(putting aside the fact that most
Muslims don’t even live in the
Middle East) there’s usually one
image on our minds: that of the Mad
Arab, wielding a huge, curved
sword and slaughtering everyone in
his path, keeping harems and doling
out oil for insane prices, all in the
name of Allah. It’s an image that
goes all the way back to when the
Muslims first surprised the hell out
of the Byzantines, and was rein
forced when Europe in turn sur
prised the hell out of them, first
with the Crusades, then with colo
The problem is we’re completely
off in this assess
ment. The religion of Islam is, in
principle, every bit as peaceful as
Christianity or Judaism (and we’ve
all seen how peaceful those two
faiths can be). In some ways, it’s ;
great deal more tolerant.
From the very start of the
great Islamic empires,
Christians and Jews were
allowed complete religious
freedom and protection under
the law in exchange for a poll tax
They were much more lenient
than the Christian empires,
which more than mishandled
their Jewish populations and
couldn’t even fathom dealing
with resident Muslims. Even
today, Christian Serbs are slaughtei
ing Bosnian Muslims by the thou
sands, while Christians within most
Islamic states are permitted at least
grudging respect.
And it’s not as if the western
world has been a role model in the
peaceful coexistence department. It
was only 50 years ago we were carv
ing eacn otner up in tne Dattietields
of Europe, and only 10 years ago we
were ready to bomb the bejeezus out
of the Red Menace in the name of
democracy. The Middle East hardly
has exclusive rights to petty wars
and senseless bickering.
It’s not that difficult to under
stand. What we are looking at is a
group of nations that feel as strong- j
ly about their individual sovereign
ty as we do. But since none of /
them wield a stick that’s much big
ger than their neighbors’, there’s no
Big Boy to quiet things down when
they step on each other’s toes.
We’re looking at a group of
nations that until mere decades ago
were being openly exploited by
countless western nations. We even
made it a point to compete with
each other to see who could exploit
more of them. For quite awhile the
head of Iran was little more than an
American puppet. Understandably,
many Iranians weren’t very happy
about this. So when Khomeini took
over, they were glad to finally have
one of their own in charge, even if
he tended to go overboard once in
awhile. We often view ourselves as
decadent, materialistic and amoral.
How do you think they see us?
I’m not minimizing the prob
lems in the Middle East by any
means. I get just as frustrated,
depressed and apathetic as anyone
else when yet another snag in peace
talks comes on the news, or
Saddam starts getting snot
ty again.
But maybe if we
tried to start understanding the rea
sons for all this conflict and respect
the sovereignty and dignity of
Middle Easterners, we could handle
this more intelligently than just rat
tling our sabers every year and
grumbling about how much easier
things would be without them.
Amy Martin/DN
senior English and
speech communication
major and a Daily
Nebraskan columnist.
Who out there is having a bad
What if I gave you 20 bucks?
Would that help?
Tell you what I’m going to do;
The first 10 responses to this column
from people describing how bad their
day was, will receive 20 bucks, com
pliments of yours truly. As I await the
flood of letters, I’m going to go
through my mail.
Unpaid University of Nebraska
Lincoln parking ticket: 25 bucks.
Overdue Love Library fines: 20
bucks. Special fees on English class
es: 40 bucks. University Health
Center bill: 75 bucks. Career
Services: 25 bucks. Application for
graduation: 30 bucks.
Well, this sure sucks.
Please disregard the first para
graph of this column because I’m
now looking for the nearest plasma
Show me the money!
Graduates should get as good as they give
clinic. !
Let me understand this - in addi
tion to the $ 1,600-plus a student
drops on tuition and books per
semester, the university wants an
additional $200? If you drop $1,800
on something, don’t you want the
best value for your money?
Let’s break down all of the perks
and high-performance options you
get for your money:
You get parking 358 days a year.
Plan on $5 and an extra mile hike on
game days.
You get to spend extra money
after four or five years of education
to actually accomplish what you
were there for (a degree), graduate
and find a job.
You get the assistance of student
advisers who assure you that
Nutrition 101 will count as a biologi
cal science credit.
You get mandatory attendance
policies on classes that you pay to
- You get to attend Husker games
with church service-like excitement
or risk getting thrown out of the sta
You get to not drink on campus
property, even if you live there and
are 21 or older.
Finally, you get an education that,
in my opinion, ranks up there with
home schooling.
This seems like a poor exchange
for your education dollar. You can
correct some of these injustices with
a little advice.
Never talk to a student adviser.
Demand to see the head adviser, if he
or she isn’t out writing a book for
next semester.
Go on to grad school, someplace
where the classes are taught by the
professor, not the TA.
You can bypass the graduation
and Career Services fees by transfer
ring, dropping out or simply never
As for parking, cheering at foot
ball games and (kinking, all you have
to do is give the university more
money. Twenty years and a couple
thousand dollars’ worth of donations,
and you can partake in these indul
gences that you are currently denied.
You will even have the pleasure of
being one of the “distinguished
Let me attempt to explain the uni
versity’s apparent thinking on this
issue. I imagine the conversation
went something like this:
“Our distinguished alumni are
being inconvenienced with a $5
parking charge.”
“Well that seems unfair. Is there
anyway to correct this blatant injus
“I was thinking that we could
give away some of the student park
ing areas to the alumni. This would
fix the problem, and it would be fun
for the parking attendants to belittle
the students who foolishly thought
they had a right to park there.”
“That sounds great. We should
also let diem park in the faculty lot
by Memorial Stadium. This way,
their children could play catch in the
grassy area while mommy and daddy
get trashed on campus.”
“OK, send out a flyer, but don’t
let the students know what’s going
“My lord, we’re brilliant.”
Obviously no business or organi
zation is without its flaws. All stu
dents expect a little inconvenience on
a campus of more than 20,000 stu
dents, but this is ridiculous. It seems
that a little consideration should be
thrown the student body’s way. I do
believe the students who are being
nickel and dimed to death now are
the same people who will be asked to
donate money and time in the future.
Would these same people deny their
children care and consideration but
then expect their children to care for
them 40 years down die road?
I have no problem donating my
time or money to an institution or
organization that deserves it. All stu
dents want to give back a little some
thing to the people who made their
college experience unique and fun.
Let’s set up a donation fund for
the downtown bars, Amigo’s at 12th
& Q, La Bamba’s or even a local
charity organization. Set up a schol
arship in your name if it pleases you.
Show the university you care about
education but not for the torment or
pains that you endured while here.
And as for this future alumnus, I
will politely ask for my name to be
removed from any future donation
list for the simple fact that I received
from this university only what I
could steal while the administration
wasn’t looking.