Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Like Removing Santa Fe, New Mexico ... or Saginaw, Michigan ... or Iowa City, Iowa

Each of those cities has a population of around 60000 people (according to the 2000 Census data).

That's the only way I can get my head around just how large of a tragedy it is in the countries around the Indian Ocean, where they expect death tolls from the earthquake/tsunami to reach 60000 people.

Granted, this isn't even close to being one of the largest disasters of the past 50 years or so, but it's probably the first natural disaster since I've become old enough to comprehend the shear scale of the situation. Santa Fe, New Mexico -- wiped off the face of the earth.

Sadly, my above analogy is a very minor element of the ethno-centric view that the United States seems to be taking towards this calamity. Any time something befalls another area of the world, another people, especially people who are darker skinned and less westernized, the American media and people seem to be very slow on the uptake of the scale of the situation.

I can understand that point of view -- like I said, I couldn't really grasp just how large that is until I could couch it in terms of somewhere I've been. And, without getting off on too much of a tangent, that's the downfall of the American media. 99% of American citizens first reaction is to see the number of American dead, see that the number is low, and move on. The news organizations, having to deal with the ever fickle Mr. and Mrs. Nielsen, mix in coverage of tens of thousands of dead non-Americans with stories of the Michael Jackson trial and those cheerful Christmas travelers stuck in the airport.

I really do think this is one of the areas that the federal government needs to take advantage of its size and scale and bring this to the attention of the bulk of the populace. Not that smaller groups of citizens can't make a difference. The internet makes it much easier to feel like you know people from all over the world and get motivated to make a difference.

But the federal government could make a much bigger difference. And not in monetary terms -- even my warm fuzzy liberal tree hugging blue stated heart thinks the US government does a pretty good job of getting money out in aid. The government could raise the stature of the issue with the bulk of the American populace, those of whom haven't made the cognitive connection between the disaster and Santa Fe or Saginaw or Iowa City. Alas, our President remains mum on the issue, enjoying a vacation with his family in Crawford, TX.

That's Crawford, TX, approximate population: 700. Erase Crawford, TX 85 times over and you'd have the same number of dead as in the countries affected by the earthquake/tsunami. I'm just trying to help make the connection.

That's enough rambling for now.

For the five folks who read this, if you're unsure of how to contribute, The Command Post has many ways to help. (Link found via Scoble.)


At 12/31/2004 11:54:00 AM, Blogger Jeff said...

Hey Mullet, we're giving aid.

Get a job, hippie. Support our trooopes!


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