THIS SAYS IT ALL: A letter from Switzerland on Katrina
Sun Sep 4th, 2005 at 20:33:36 PDT
NOTE: A close friend passed along this searing letter which he received via email from a friend in Switzerland. With Swiss precision, it summarizes just how America looks, in the wake of Katrina, to the rest of the world.
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Saturday morning, 3 September 2005
Watching the events in New Orleans unfold from here in Europe, mostly via BBC World, we have the impression that the storm blew up a corner of the carpet beneath which America had long been sweeping some of its fundamental problems.
Among the fundamental problems revealed are:
(1) the enormous divide between rich and poor (which has expanded rapidly in the past two or three decades);
(2) the racial divide leaving blacks in the poorest class (nearly all the stranded, angry, unassisted poor we see on the TV screen are black),
(3) the failure to invest in infrastructure (not only the failure to protect the dikes and levies, but the failure to storm-proof the electric and telephone systems by burying cables, etc.);
And, perhaps most striking of all,
(4) the bizarre law-and-order mentality which orders the National Guard to shoot-to-kill looters (that is, to give priority to protecting property more than human lives).
Perhaps it is going too far to state that we are watching a collapse similar to the collapse of the Soviet Union fifteen years ago. Much as the total-collectivization and total-centralization of society in the USSR collapsed, eventually, of its own internal contradictions, we wonder whether or not America, too, with its ultra-individualistic, ultra-material ideology and its absence of much concern about the collective needs of society (health care, education, infrastructure, etc.) will collapse of its own internal contradictions.
One thing is for sure: America, whose reputation in Europe was already tarnished by its go-it-alone pre-emptive invasion of Iraq, has lost even more respect here thanks to Hurricane Katrina. This is only partly due to the slow and stumbling response of the federal government to the tragedy. It is due more to the revelation of some of America's carefully hidden social problems.
All the best,
From Daily Kos
Ouch! I thought the rest of the world knew how ugly our social problems are.