Wednesday, September 21, 2005

After the Flood

I left for Berlin the day the floods hit New Orleans. I watched it on TV in airports, and then talked about it when I landed. When people found out I was American, they asked if I knew anyone in New Orleans. I said, "No, I only have a friend who lost a house, and I'm glad he wasn't there." The consensus of the people (as far as I could tell, from overheard conversations and newspapers) was something to the effect about this being more of the USA's descent, which started at September 11th, and how it just seems like hell over there. How we treat our poor, how we treat other races, how our arrogance is coming back to bite us in the ass... Well, they've stated it in a much kinder way than that, sort of.

But Germans are also very into America. My friend was saying that after September 11th, people busted out red, white and blue clothing and trinkets and stuff, to show support. During my visit, I saw a woman at one subway stop flaunting her "We Be Jazzin'!" New Orleans tote bag.

Hence this note:

Rough translation:
Regarding: Hurricane USA. Everyone blames George Bush for not reacting in time. Of course the affected surface area is great, even our polititians couldn't do it. All the people are responsible = environmental change. After 16 years Germany has not managed to rebuild East Germany.

This was found (with many, many copies) scattered around the base of the Victory tower (of which I posted an "artsy" photo yesterday). You can just imagine the kook who was shouting in defense of George W. while passing them around to hapless tourists.

I was very happy when I got back to the States and found that a lot of people also believed, not what this German had flyered, but that Bush fucked up royally. From Professor Immanuel Wallerstein at Yale University:

The entire world has been following with stupefaction the incredible performance of the U.S. federal government's response to the physical and human disaster of the hurricane Katrina. All the television networks of the U.S. and of many other countries plus all the major newspapers have been following the story in detail. The general reaction has been to ask how could the government of the richest and most powerful country in the world have reacted to this disaster as poorly as, or even much less well than, governments of poor Third World countries? The simple answer is a combination of incompetence and decline. And the results of this disaster will be a further diminution of respect for the president within the United States and a deepened skepticism in other countries about the United States' capacity to put action behind vacuous rhetoric.

For more, go here.

May Rita downgrade by Saturday.