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November 23, 2004 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2004-11-23

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, November 23, 2004

OPINION

+ 420 MAYNARD STREET
ANN ARBOR, MI 48109
tothedaily@rmichigandaily.comr

ik

EDITED AND MANAGED BY
STUDENTS AT THE
UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN
SINCE 1890

JORDAN SCHRADER
Editor in Chief
JASON Z. PESICK
Editorial Page Editor

Unless otherwise noted, unsigned editorials reflect the opinion of the majority
of the Daily's editorial board. All other pieces do not
necessarily reflect the opinion of The Michigan Daily.

NOTABLE
QUOTABLE
Dates are not
sacred. What is sacred
is the process.
- Jordanian Foreign Minister Hani Mulki,
commenting on speculation that elections
in Iraq scheduled for January may be post-
poned due to increasing turmoil, as reported
yesterday by Agence France Press.

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HE N~N'TrPA'"IFYIN' NOTHIN'

Thoughts on leaving the country
STEVE COTNER RB ED) A LERT

hy do Ameri-
cans leave their
country? Some
go on cruises, some become
eco-tourists, some renounce
citizenship entirely and some
take up arms alongside mul-
lahs. Something drives even
the most tethered teens to
"do" Europe, if they have
the means. The freer, hairier sorts go diving off of
cliffs and bungee jumping from third-world bridg-
es. They smile when words fail, give the shirt off
their back as a sign of goodwill and iron Canadian
maple leaves onto their bags, just in case. They feel
their whiteness intensely or their color richly. They
get diarrhea, endoparasites and an enlarged sense
of self. And if they come back, they have the jolt
of seeing home through a stranger's eyes. It's a pil-
grimage Americans take to no place in particular.
For a certain portion of the country, it is the closest
thing we have to religion.
Today, people are talking about leaving in a
more urgent way. Before the election, Republi-
cans mentioned leaving if they lost (Imagine!),
and now lefties are making it the new slogan. It's
a joke of course, mostly because people name
Canada when asked where they're going. But
there is also a sense that people are testing each
other, saying the inappropriate to see who's with
them, and how far.
The coastal states and blue puddles probably feel
confident going abroad, knowing that everyone but
Poland and Turkey would have voted for Kerry.
They don't fear terrorism the minute they cross the
border separating America from the world. They
know they'll be able to find like-minded people

somewhere on the planet. But it is getting tough to
be an ex-pat. The State Department will only let you
give up citizenship once you have the right to reside
in another country, and the process of becoming a
citizen somewhere else can take years. A person
can sidestep all this by going through the "World
Service Authority" in Washington, D.C., which has
made more than 1.2 million people "world citizens,"
but many countries refuse to recognize the title.
An alternative would be starting your own
republic. When things got bad in Nigeria in the
1970s, the popular Afro-beat singer Fela Kuti
set up his own Kalakuta Republic. At one point
he had something like 29 wives, all backup sing-
ers, whom he called his queens. But when his hit
record insulted the Nigerian soldiers by calling
them zombies, they came and burned his place to
the ground. Never mind, then.
If anyone still has a wanderlust, just remember
that there are certain places you probably don't
want to be. Fifty serious incidents occur each day
in Baghdad, mostly bombings, kidnappings and
snipings. And there are parts of the world that
no one sees - who could say how bad they are?
Since the 1980s, Algeria has been so dangerous
that even Paul Theroux, the travel writer who
will go anywhere, will not risk it. In the United
States we argue over the number of votes stolen.
In Algeria they argue over the number of people
recently massacred.
Some experiences of my own include being
yelled at by Sowetan motorists for being a white
American tourist and zipping into Robert Mugabe's
Zimbabwe for a day - a place where U.S. citizens
are told to stay out or else use extreme caution. Zim-
babwe is in the middle of an economic and humani-
tarian crisis with half the country facing famine, but

like a good eco-tourist, I just came for the horse-
back riding. Aside from the guard who pointed an
automatic rifle in our van, my biggest threat that day
was a cape buffalo that, had I not been on the horse,
would have charged me, gored me, stamped on me
and then urinated acidic pee on me to make sure I
was done. If I moved, it would repeat the process
as needed.
The thing that I learned, besides that the word
"nature" is often shorthand for "things that can kill
you," is that no one ever leaves politics behind. Boys
learn that girls can talk about their bombed-out city
and flirt at the same time. Girls learn every whistle,
click and cat call for their rubia hair. Politics is there
to greet you, wherever you touch down. And even
stranger, it's not your politics. If you go to the Hector
Peterson Memorial Museum in Soweto, you might
cry at the sight of a slain boy being carried through
the streets, but you neither killed him nor carried
him, and you're not crying for apartheid, because
you can't really know what that was. You are crying
for humanity at that point, which is very unsettling.
Politics becomes another name for misery, and it
finds new forms every day.
But perhaps knowing that is the first step toward
a life worth living. America is not the worst place in
the world, but neither is it the only place. Every time
we leave it, for a week or a month, we are like an
airplane skidding off the ground. We begin to see
the world more clearly. We think of how little we
are, but also how free and we wonder what held us
in place for so long. And maybe if we can break the
tether once and for all, we will really feel at home
in the world.

Cotner can be reached
at cotners@umich.edu.

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Culture show is expressing
culture, not defining it
TO THE DAILY:
The recent column written by Sravya Chiru-
mamilla (My culture is mine own, 11/17/2004)
regarding the Indian American Students Associa-
tion cultural show struck me as rather interesting,
especially considering that it came out two days
before the actual show. Unfortunately, she misun-
derstands the role that IASA's program fulfills at
the University.
First of all, IASA provides an environment that
gives students the opportunity to meet other stu-
dents of the same cultural background. Chiruma-
milla extrapolates her experience with the Telugu
conference to somehow insinuate that IASA is
meant to be a program to "hook" people up. This
could not be further from the truth. Unlike week-
long conferences held in cities secluded from the
rest of the world, IASA interacts with the sur-
rounding environment. This intrinsically provides
IASA members with a connection between the
South Asian culture and the American culture,
and in the process, provides students with the abil-
ity to make a comparative assessment of the dif-
ferences between the two cultures. The melding
of the two is not something that should be deni-
grated, but something that should be celebrated,
as it is the result of a complex process of choice
- the defining character of culture.
It is true that the Indian culture is diverse, but
IASA's cultural show should not be misinter-
preted to be a definition of the Indian American
culture. Rather, it is a showcase of the attempt by
students of Indian heritage to connect with this
heritage. The variety of dances, while not inclu-
sive of South India's kuchipudi, koolaatam or the
vibrant Telugu movie industry, shows that India is
indeed a diverse land; it is one's own responsibility
to take this to the next level and learn more about
this diversity. It makes no sense to cancel an entire
program because it cannot include every infinitely
regressive detail.
No one is fed culture through IASA or its cul-
tural program; rather, the participants recognize
the work that must be exerted to begin to under-
stand their culture. They meet other students with
a genuine interest in South Asian culture. This is a
crucial step in the process of cultural recognition.
I applaud Chirumamilla for realizing that IASA's
cultural show does not define her cultural iden-
tity; however, I feel that her column merely states
the obvious in an attempt to insult the hard work
of more than 250 sincere members of the South

ing, which draws even staff members of the Uni-
versity.
While raas and bhangra may not be the sta-
ples of Indian culture, one's voluntary exposure
to these elements underlies a sincere attempt to
understand one's culture - whatever one may
decide this to be.
Shailesh Agarwal
LSA junior
The letter writer is an IASA board member.
New admission policy is in
the B-School's best interest
To THE DAILY:
I am writing in response to the recent editorial
concerning the Business School's new admission
policy (A four year mistake, 11/19/2004). First, I
would like to point out the irony that a newspa-
per that champions itself as progressive has taken
a stance promoting the status quo. My guess is
that the stance stems from the editorial board's
extreme lack of qualifications to be editorializing
on this subject. At a school so vast, it is simply
amazing that such a small group with only a few
years of time here feels capable of evaluating the
decisions of those in niche areas of campus.
That said, let me give some additional insight on
why changes are being made to the program. The
Bachelor in Business Administration program cur-
rently is almost a direct model of the Masters in
Business Administration program at the University,
short some action-based learning programs and
with the addition of the two-year liberal arts back-
ground that students get before entering. The pro-
gram has been this way for more than 30 years, and
while well rated in U.S. News & World Report, has
never really been looked at in the context of what
might make it better suited to undergraduates. Last
year, the administration instituted a director posi-
tion for the program and commissioned a group of
faculty, alumni, and students to examine ways to
make the No. 2 program in the country even bet-
ter. Students expressed a desire to be less restrained
by the program in terms of going abroad, double-
majoring and taking additional business electives.
They also noted that the first semester of business
school is too rushed, with too much information
about careers and courses flooding over them.
The solution was actually quite clear - a longer
program. Though the Daily asserts that this could
be done internally, with no change in length, I chal-
lenge an editor to come over and draw up a work-
able scenario on the white board. Trust me, we've

service, and this is a move to provide it better to
students. If the school's mind were on the reve-
nue, this change would have been made long ago.
In terms of underprivileged applicants, students
will have no less of a shot at the Business School
now than they did before. 'The Business School
honors the University's race-based affirmative
action policies and will be working together with
LSA admissions to make sure all applicants get a
fair review. Students applying will be judged on
their performance in whatever environment the
grew up in and their reasoning behind getting a
business education. To suggest some scheme that
blocks out some group is a classic example of this
newspaper's unfounded discovery of discrimi-
nation in every subject it tackles.
Michael Phillips
Business senior
The letter writer is vice president of BBA affairs
for the Student Government Association of the
Stephen M. Ross School of Business.
Evaluate Detroit's problems
in a historical context
To THE DAILY:
Alexandra Jones's documentation of her
entrance into Detroit's old Michigan Central
Depot (Michigan Central Depot an ostracized
memento of a once-great city, 11/18/2004) is
patronizing and demeaning to the city of Detroit.
Jones writes about the city as if it were some type
of exhibition for her and her fellow "urban explor-
ers" to rummage through. She describes the fear
she feels while seeing "boarded-up windows" and
"abandoned restaurants" and rejoices when she
sees the sunset over the Detroit skyline and feels
"for the first time today the city doesn't look like
something to be ashamed of." While Jones writes
about Detroit as if it were a relic from the past,
she fails to take into account that people live in
the city and could find her comments extremely
offensive. Perhaps before proclaiming Detroit as
something to be "ashamed of," she should ana-
lyze the historical causes for the city's current
struggle. Dating back to the 1940s, it was mid-
dle-class whites that deserted the city, frightened
by African Americans who sought to exercise
their right to live in desegregated neighborhoods.
Along with this white exodus came the de-indus-
trialization of Detroit, as many factories followed
and left behind poor, struggling minorities that
had little access to jobs and other services.
Today, Detroit faces a weakened tax base as
a city that at one point had a population of nearly

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