A Perfect Michael Moore Moment
Yesterday, I was working out at the gym, and rather out of character for me, watching CNN on TV. Not listening, watching. Without a personal FM radio I can't hear the TV. But there is a CNN ticker across the bottom. Subtitles butchering English scroll across the screen, occasionally eliciting serious laughter from many of us (My gym is frequented by tech's from Microsoft).
Anyway, CNN was showing the devastation in Asia. Heart-rending, sad images. Nearly unbelievable images. The kind of picture that makes you want to go over there personally and hand-deliver food and water and clothing and hugs and more hugs.
The next images are a terrorist training camp, and a discussion of how terrorists, particularly the great bogeyman Al Qaida, are sure to use this disaster to recruit new terrorists from amongst the orphaned children (more pictures of small brown-skinned and ferocious looking people belly-crawling under barbed wire), and to infiltrate America by showing up at our embassy wearing nothing but a bathing suit and claiming to be lost Americans. (Thankfully, no pictures this time).
The immediate picture it put into my head was from Michael Moore's flawed-but-brilliant film when he discussed the tendency of Bush and his crowd to attempt rule by fear. No kidding. Yes, this was the media and not the President, but how different are they any more? It's getting hard to tell.
Now, to clarify, there may or may not be some real terrorist threat there. I have absolutely no way of knowing, just a reasonably educated suspicion that there is some, but it is being exaggerated in the media, or at least this show exaggerated it. My issue is that we should be reaching out these people wholly and completely and lovingly, not like half-scared rabbits peering over our shoulders. Any competent government would recognize this threat if it exists and deal with it as well as it can, quietly. Not by mixing up fear and hatred with disaster relief. The show seemed to imply that there was a terrorist threat because these are Muslim countries. I'm pretty sure the waves didn't care, and that we shouldn't either.
By the way - a great editorial in today's Seattle Times is titled "Tsunami Relief Isn't About Us," and is written by Danny Westneat.
As an aside, there was another recent reminder of Fahrenheit 9/11. Remember when Bush sat in the kid's classroom and licked his lips and didn't react right after he got the news from 9/11? Well, it took three whole days for him to react to the tsunami. What would have been so hard about a simple statement of empathy and care, which should have come out right away? Why did we have to try for a coalition as if this were a political prize? And by the way - it looks like we missed again. I can picture frantic calls to Europe requesting countries to join in a coalition under our leadership to "fix" this - and Europe laughing politely and trying to get off the phone as fast as they can and get back to the real relief work.
Or maybe that's just my imagination and Bush's handlers were just out enjoying the Christmas holiday?