Letters to the Editors

Photo of hate graffiti unnecessary

Dear Editors,

Re: “Hate graffiti found on West Campus” (Journal, Sept.17, 2004)

I’m writing in regards to the article entitled “Hate graffiti found on West Campus” in the Sept. 17 edition of the Journal.

While this was an interesting and well-written article, I am at a loss to understand why a photograph of the offending hate speech was published along with the article. By including a photograph where the hate speech and swastika are clearly visible in a publication like the Journal with such a wide reader base, that offensive message was brought into a wider arena, where more people were able to see it than probably would have, regardless of the fact that it was not dealt with for six days.

I don’t know how many people pass though the male change room of Duncan McArthur Hall’s gymnasium over the course of six days, but I feel safe in assuming that number would be significantly lower than the number of people who read the Journal and would see the picture.

Inadvertently, the Journal did a favour for the person who put the hate graffiti up there, by allowing that message to reach a far wider audience than it otherwise could have.

Perhaps I am being cynical in thinking that people who see the picture in the paper might not think that the hate graffiti is disgusting, offensive and wrong, but I would hate to think that someone might unite in the common cause of racism and discrimination because of a photograph they saw in the Journal.

Perhaps a photograph of the wall being washed would have been more appropriate.

Colleen Arsenault
Law ’05

Frosh Greasepole success lacks merit

Dear Editors,

Re: “Pole climb ‘too straightforward’” (Journal, Sept. 17, 2004)

As a graying member of the Engineering alumni, as well as a former Internal Affairs Director of EngSoc, I felt the need to re-check the constitution I helped maintain a few years ago to make sure I hadn’t started going prematurely senile.

As the Journal stated in the Greasepole article: “Even Derek Zwaan, Sci ’08, the six-foot-seven frosh who scaled his peers and stretched himself up the final lengths of the pole to tear off the rim of the tam, agreed.”

Now I may be old, and I may be losing it, but I’m pretty sure the frosh need to grab a large portion of the tam—bylaw 12, Part II, 11a of the EngSoc Constitution. The rim doesn’t really qualify as a large portion of the tam—they didn’t even rip the beer cap washer off the top if all they got was rim. It didn’t even include the ball of the tam! Come on, frosh, you can do better than that!

As I count it, the pit time now stands at about 180 hours. Keep climbing frosh, like my mamma always told me, “If you ignore the ball, then life is pretty much meaningless.”

Mat Siscoe
Sci ’03

Declaration of illegal war in Iraq has little effect

Dear Editors,

The National Post’s main editorial today had the title “18 months later, still a just war.” The crux of the argument boiled down in essence to the following: “Absent a war, Saddam Hussein would still be in power, running his country in the way he always had, and threatening to turn the entire Persian Gulf into Greater Iraq at nuclear gunpoint”.

It is not as simple as all that. The war is not justifiable, at least not with such a simple argument. If the war was waged because of the threat of weapons of mass destruction, then the justification for war in Iraq demands that the United States immediately and unilaterally declare war on Israel, Iran and South Korea.

All three states show evidence—at least as credible if not more in comparison to Iraq—that nuclear weapons development is occurring.

They are all states that have shown hostility to their neighbours. They are all subject to the unilateral invasion according to the logic of the Iraq invasion.

Moreover, why is the United States actively co-operating with Pakistan, a new nuclear power with regional hostility, strong fundamentalist sentiment and territorial ambitions?

And surely no one is so slow-witted as to believe that the war in Iraq is justifiable according to the abuses of Hussein on his own people. If that were the case there would be a very large list of countries for the U.S. to unilaterally invade. Iraq did not and does not hold a monopoly on the abuse of prisoners and minorities. It is simply convenient for Hussein’s Iraq to be painted a brutal dictatorship while other nation’s crimes against humanity go un-noticed, un-addressed and un-prevented.

I understand that the argument by comparison gets old. Just because injustices are tolerated in other parts of the world does not mean that injustice in Iraq must be. However, before the war in Iraq is justifiable, the following conditions must be met: the situation for the people in Iraq prior to its invasion must be proven to be better than afterward. And don’t tout the word ‘democracy’ like it feeds people, provides them with security or a job or some sense of satisfaction that makes everything happening there all seem better. People are dying there, every day.

The thousandth American military death means nothing to provide some sort of estimate as to the level of violence and unrest in that country. American soldiers rest and are fed in barracks, protected by various fatal implements from attack.

The average Iraqi has to get on a bus and go to some sort of work to feed himself and his family. He is under the constant threat of death from insurgents. If you added up all the Iraqi deaths in the last 18 months, and compared it to the 18 months before that, I bet the first figure would be higher. But then again Iraqi deaths are a price you have to pay for democracy, isn’t it?

“Appeasing Saddam would have been far worse.” A fact. Undeniable. Of course you can bring out ol’ Hitler from the argument bag and say “see what happens when you appease a dictator? You can’t deny me now. The Iraq war is justified.”

Really now? I don’t believe it for a second. Iraqis are dying in droves, reconstruction really hasn’t occurred and stability in the Middle East is not exactly at a high point. Will this get better? I’m sure at some point the troops occupying Iraq will move out, and so news coverage of the area will dwindle to a negligible amount.

We will believe that stability has returned to Iraq, and in some sense I believe it will have. But it will be the stability of another totalitarian regime “cracking down on terrorists” in a manner that makes words like ‘democracy,’ ‘due process’ and ‘social justice’ look like a taunting, bad joke.

The democracy brought to Iraq will either a) be short lived, followed by a civil war or dissolution of any fair electoral process or b) rigged to all hell, which is surely what the January election there will be.

The fact of the matter is that a democracy can really only thrive when certain necessary preconditions have been met, including stability, an educated and fairly secular middle class and some modicum of national identity. Iraq has none of these things in the necessary proportions.

Tyranny will return to Iraq in short order, if you believe it to not be there already. So all that will have been done, in the end, is the removal of one man from power. I hope all those dead Iraqis were worth it.

Sean Kennedy
ArtSci ’04

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