I’ve been trying to figure out what to say about the catastrophe in New Orleans, but while I’ve been thinking, most of it seems to have been said.
Our Swedish TV news let president Bush’s speech from today be illustrated by helicopter images of people running for their lives through the streets of a New Orleans in ruins. The contrast couldn’t be clearer as he said “…and we will show, once again, how the worst of times brings out the best in America…”
That is just the thing. I don’t hear about the “best in America” at all. The news’ stories are instead more about looting, racism and violence. It really shows humanity at its worst when there are people taking advantage of, rather than helping, each other at a time of crises.
It is difficult not to compare with the much bigger disaster of the tsunami in south east Asia, but only because that is the most recent nature catastrophe of magnitude I guess. Because the comparison stops there. For example 120.000 lives is a lot more than 10.000 even though both are scarily large numbers.
After the tsunami we heard about the world coming together to help, and even the day after we got stories about every day heroes rescuing strangers, caring for somebody else’s child minutes after losing their own and of people looking out for each other. I am sure that New Orleans also is full of heroes right now, and the world is coming together to help the victims, and I’m sure there are plenty of stories about heroes and humanity in the aftermath of this catastrophe. And yes, there where looters along the beaches of Thailand too, but as I said… It is difficult to compare the two.
Politically I place myself to the left of the scale, since human rights and solidarity with everyone is always at number one of my political agenda. That has also been my biggest concern about “the American Dream” as a political platform of some sort. If a nation is basically based on the belief that everyone’s in it on his own, then maybe I shouldn’t be surprised that evacuated homes are being robbed, people are shot dead and bodies robbed in the streets and half of the news being about the opposite of helping out, rather than anything else. But according to mr Bush, this disaster was supposed to show the rest of the world how united they stand and it was supposed to bring out “the best in America”. It seems to have brought out looters, blame that’s passed around tables and a lot of chaos.
Sometimes this planet is nothing but scary.