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May 12, 2003 - Image 4

Resource type:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2003-05-12

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Monday, May 12, 2003
Aletters@michigaNADly.com Editor in Chief Editorial Page Editor 4
STUDENTS AT T hE Unless otherwise noted, unsigned editorials reflect the opinion of
UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN the majority of the Daily's editorial board. All other pieces do not
SINCE 1890 necessarily reflect the opinion of The Michigan Daily.

As Ann Arbor residents say good-bye
to longtime Ann Arbor businesses
such as Decker Drugs, Ethnic
Creation, Shiva Moon, Lure and Boss
Guitar, they will be saying good-bye to
independent mom-and-pop-type businesses
and good-bye to diversity and originality.
On April 29, one of campus's two drug
stores, Decker Drugs, closed its doors as a
result of the steadily increasing Ann Arbor
rent rates, leaving students with only one
campus pharmacy. Ethnic Creations is
soon to follow as it wraps up sales and
prepares to move to its new location in the
Westgate shopping center on Old West
Side. The recent departure of so many
local businesses this year has left students
and residents alike to wonder who is next
and for how much longer Ann Arbor can
maintain its unique and bohemian motif.
Over the past few years, the streets of
Ann Arbor have begun to shift from a hub of
independent, novelty stores with local flare
to a commercialized network of franchises
and chain stores. While commercially oper-

Starbuckization of A2
Decreasing number of local businesses is troubling

ated stores may be easier on the average stu-
dent's wallet, many students overlook the
importance of supporting local businesses.
The effort to maintain a local identity in
downtown Ann Arbor has been a struggle for
quite some time. Ten years ago, Ann Arbor
had a diverse selection of record stores,
department stores, among others. Then, in
1999, Ann Arbor began to lose its special
atmosphere with the loss of Schoolkids Indie
Records and Campus Bike and Toys.
State Street has been metamorphosizing
into a row of franchised bagel and coffee
shops, yet hidden away, are the independent
stores that supply downtown Ann Arbor
with a flare unmatched by other cities of its
size. Local stores planted the seeds of Ann
Arbor, and it is because of these local busi-
nesses that the downtown has grown into

something beyond a consumer haven; it
gained its edge over other cities by develop-
ing a rich cultural experience.
The independently owned stores continue
to make the city attractive because residents
cannot find similar stores anywhere else.
Independent stores are also dedicated to the
city, involved in its improvement and devel-
opment. They are often the first to participate
in and help fund local meta. They also sup-
port University club teams and organizations.
Furthermore, quality customer service is
far superior at these institutions, as many local
proprietors take the time to get to know their
regular customers. The independent owners
give themselves wholly to their businesses, as
well as their city. Rod's Diner, for example,
would not have the same ambience without
the pictures of their patrons on the walls.

Yet, one by one, these stores are disap-
pearing. The closures cannot be blamed on
just one factor, but a combination of many,
including rent increases, poor economic sit-
uations, downtown commercial competition
along with commercial stores that are also
beginning to spring up on the outskirts of
the downtown area, drawing in customers
with low prices and more selection. The
continual development of such circum-
stances will eventually diminish the number
of options available to consumers. If local
stores continue to vanish from the streets of
Ann Arbor, consumers will be forced to turn
toward chain stores for all of their needs.
The local government, students and resi-
dents must make an effort to keep these inde-
pendent shops open. It is time the govern-
ment allocated resources and worked with
proprietors in order to aid these local busi-
nesses. It is time for students and residents to
consider shopping at more independently
owned stores. For when these independent
shops go, so do novelty, diversity and famil-
iarity. In a sense, so does Ann Arbor.



Lending a helping hand
The University community can have positive impact

The supremacist Blue Block

In an act of compassion, Michigander
James Thornberry helped bring a 15-
year-old Iraqi girl, Hannan Shihab, to the
University's hospital for treatment of 2nd-
and 3rd-degree burns. Thornberry, a father
of three girls himself, saw Shihab on CNN
after she had been severely burned when the
thunder of nearby bombs caused an oil lamp
to fall on her. Horrified by what he saw,
Thornberry contacted the University's hospi-
tal and his congressman to set in motion a
series of events that brought Shihab and her
mother here to United States.
Mr. Thornberry should be applauded
for his noble efforts. Quite often, it is
much easier to dismiss tragedies on TV,
but instead, he showed sympathy and kind-
ness for others, which are sometimes put
aside as they are often inconvenient. His
kindness, along with donations from
Northwest Airlines, the University and
Arab charitable organizations have given
this young girl the hope for a better life.
The University's efforts in bringing
Shihab to the United States should be com-
mended. The University trains its students to
be leaders, and it is essential to teach tomor-
row's leaders about compassion and kind-
ness. By using its resources to assist the
community, the University has set an exam-
ple that its students should follow. The
University is capable of providing a wide
varietyof assistance to, the local, national
and global community. Its medical facilities
are among the best in the world - and as the
case of Shihab shows - can be used to help
those who are unable to receive proper treat-
ment. In addition to great medical facilities,
the University has an excellent faculty that
could provide expert advice to nations, like
Iraq, and the local community, in areas such
as urban planning, engineering and business.

A greater effort should be made to make
these resources more widely available.
Perhaps students do not have the
resources or influence that the University
has, but nonetheless, they too can make a
tremendous impact. Take for example
Dance Marathon, which raised more than
$197,000 this year to help children in need
of rehabilitation. This kind of fundraising
and leadership can serve as an example for
other students to follow.
Students do not necessarily have to
organize events that raise large amounts of
money like Dance Marathon. Instead, by
providing their time, they can help bring
hope and inspiration to the lives of the
young, sick and elderly. Students can have
an enormous impact, for example, on high
school students. High school students look
up to those in college, they view college
students as their peers, rather than author-
ity figures. Taking a genuine interest in a
child's interests, goals and concerns helps
develop a bond that allows a student to
guide a child and help him stay dedicated
to his studies. Through mentoring and
tutoring programs, University students can
offer the kind of individual attention that
today's overcrowded schools have trouble
providing. It is impossible to bring every
injured Iraqi to the United States for med-
ical treatment or to help every person who
needs such care; however, the University
community has the ability to make a dif-
ference in the lives of others and should
replace any apathy with the kind of sym-
pathy exhibited by Thornberry. The
University community should continue to
live up to its mission of serving the people
of the state and the world by continuing to
reach out and help those in need like
Hannan Shihab.

The proposal to divest from Caterpillar
Corp. was tabled until next year, and it
probably won't pass then either, that is if the
Blue Block - the zombie army wearing
"We Stand with Israel" T-shirts - keeps up
its tactics of intimidating MSA representa-
tives. At the meeting about which MSA
Representative Brad Sugar and alumnus
Fadi Kiblawi are publicly bickering, the
scariest detail mentioned has been com-
pletely ignored.
Incoming American Movement for Israel
Co-chair Jonathan Goldberg has summed up
the main point some of the leaders of the
Blue Block made in defense of Caterpillar's
sale of bulldozers for the use of home demo-
litions by saying, "Caterpillar is a free com-
pany; they're allowed to trade with whoever
they want."
Really? Let's set the stage for a different
era: World War II. A human rights' group at
the University has just put forth an MSA pro-
posal to divest from Mercedes-Benz and vari-
ous U.S. motor companies for manufacturing
goods for sale to the Nazi regime, using such
products for the advancement of their con-
quest of Europe and genocide. Had Goldberg
been around for that MSA meeting, would he
have used the same defense for these compa-
nies, even though they were producing goods
supporting the mass murder of his very own
people? I would sure hope not, and I bet he
would have been an ardent supporter of that
divestment, seeing as the welfare of his people
would have been the issue at hand. But flash
forward a half-century later, and Goldberg is
on the other side of the human right's fence.
To make matters worse, the Blue Block went
on to say that condemning Israel's human
right's violations is not only anti-Israel, but is

often times, anti-Semitic.
So let's go back to our make-believe MSA
meeting during World War H. If I had publicly
called for the divestment of these participants
in the Holocaust, under Goldberg's logic, that
would have meant that my concern for univer-
sal human rights was rooted in my hatred for
all German people. That is lunacy. I had the
pleasure of meeting with Goldberg's predeces-
sor, David Livshiz. I asked him tojustify why
a Jew from New York should have the right to
Israeli citizenship when someone whose fami-
ly had lived there for centuries was forced into
exile. His justification was that "England was
conquered by the Saxons." Therefore, because
England was a legitimate state, so was Israel.
Great, so if one day the Syrian army
invaded Israel and proclaimed it as the next
province of Syria, that would be kosher by
Livshiz' standard because that has hap-
pened to other states in the past. Of course
he wouldn't support that, because the wel-
fare of his people would be at stake. And
while it is natural for one to look after one's
own people, holding such blatant double
standards is the kind of ethnic supremacy
inherent in Zionism, or any form of nation-
alist rhetoric, that breeds a very real and
devastating racist fervor.
The intransigence of the Blue Block to
admit that Israel shares much of the blame in
the Middle East conflict is the central obstacle
to ameliorating both the condition of the
Palestinian people and the fearful prospects of
terrorist acts in Israel. It is this kind of half-
baked logic such as Livshiz' that gives rise to
extremism. And more and more people are
thoughtlessly signing on. How do I know? I
hear they're ordering more T-shirts.
Paul is an LSA senior and a member
ofthe Daily's editorial board.

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