EDITORIAL : Things to be proud about?

As war set in, the world felt its weight.
Miami seems to be ignoring that weight. South Beach experienced no shortage of patrons this weekend. Televisions in the UC and the campus cafeterias, set to CNN or Fox News last week, are now set to NASCAR racing, and nobody seems to mind. Protests on campus have seen little support and fizzled out. Apathy seems related to ambiguity: as no one is sure what to think, what to do, and how to react to war, they change the channel, turn their shoulder, and question America.
You may not be proud to hear that Coalition forces laid siege to Baghdad as Nazi forces laid siege to Britain in World War II. You may not be proud to hear accounts of innocent Iraqi civilians caught under the bombs and tanks of Coalition advances. You may not be proud to hear of violent anti-war and pro-war demonstrations in America and around the world this past weekend. Some of you are probably searching for reasons to maintain faith in American society, politics, and life.
You can be proud, however, of the people of Goodwill Industries. Yes, that innocuous, run-down, back-alley thrift shop you frequent when looking for cheap clothes is a major component of the military-industrial complex. Surprising, but the nonprofit social-service organization is a major supplier of camouflage fatigue trousers, military fleece jackets and coveralls. Goodwill Industries is also the sole maker of internment flags for American soldiers. Recently, as war revved up and we the students grew increasingly uneasy and confused, orders for many products from Goodwill Industries went up markedly. What separates Goodwill from other military-industrial contractors, such as Boeing, is that Goodwill’s mission is to provide education, self-confidence, and employment skills to people with disabilities.
Also this past week, overshadowed by 24-inane-hour war coverage, was a huge victory for the environment. The U.S. Senate voted 52-48 last Wednesday to block oil development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The pro-environment vote was even more remarkable coming when it did, on the eve of war, with every Senator under enormous pressure to approve the centerpiece of President Bush’s energy plan.
For months, lobbyists have been making the case that drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is the slowest, most expensive and most destructive way to ensure America’s energy security. In the end, eight Republicans joined most Democrats and proudly defended America’s most spectacular birthing ground for Arctic wildlife.
How are Iraq and the Arctic related? With oil, that most precious commodity. What the environment and its supporters won was a life-saving reprieve for the Arctic Refuge, not permanent protection. The champions of big oil are sure to be back within weeks, if not days, with more pro-drilling bills. Now with war and instability in Iraq-a nation with the world’s second-largest oil reserves (up in flames)-the energy debate will soon intensify.
Just as many anti-war demonstrators claim to be against the war but in support of American troops, you can still oppose the war but be proud of the people of Goodwill Industries in their mission to promote disabled citizens upward through the strata of society. Moreover, with bombs over Baghdad and rioting in the streets, you can still be proud that the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is, at least temporarily, safe from destruction.
So, find more things to be proud about in this era of violation, of invasion, of “shock and awe.” Look to the streets of Tel Aviv, where people feel safe enough to walk around and NOT carry government-issued gas masks and poison gas antidotes. Look to elementary school classrooms, where at least now children are getting a comprehensive education about Middle East geography, culture, and politics. Pride and disgust, in these times, are two sides of the same coin.