< meta name="DC.Date.Valid.End" content="20050825"> Amendment Nine: On the Tsunami

Thursday, January 06, 2005

On the Tsunami

I have a lot to say about the tsunami relief effort. My wife originates from Sri Lanka. However, I will wait to comment on the disaster itself until I've witnessed it firsthand. This post will concern the response by our current President, as well as some of the dialogue surrounding that response.

First of all, a wise man once said, "All men are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality." Before reading more, reflect on that quote again. All men are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality. All men. The goof-up of offering $15M is not really the problem. The problem is that we waited in a way the world did not wait when we were struck on 9/11. Rather than quote a figure, we could have done as they did, pledged to get the job done no matter what it takes. Loyalty, for this administration, is something bought and paid for, not something reciprocated. The world stood by us on 9/11, offered unprecedented cooperation, virtually unanimous support for our troops to eliminate the al-Qaeda menace. We have now failed to reciprocate. We have the Bush Administration, and them only, to thank for that. I say them only because this attitude of the current Administration is completely foreign to the American spirit. Americans are generous. We are caring. Our spirit is one informed by Christianity. Love thy neighbor.

Secondly, I've noticed the liberal blogs are fond now to say that we've lost a great chance to appeal to the Muslim world by the initial flub with the $15M pledge. In the words of one prominent blogger, "a strong initial response would've been PR gold and shown the world that the US's first impulse was to help, not to bomb."

The crassness of this argument is surpassed only by its paternalism. America's acts of goodwill are not some type of anti-bombs we use to sway those illiterate masses incapable of reading about our good deeds. It all reminds me of the arguments popular in pre-Civil War America where slavery for poor white Southerners was contemplated as a way out of poverty. Aid is not PR, it may achieve that effect, but one should not mistake results for the thing itself. The world stood with us on 9/11 because it was the right thing to do, not because they were hoping to win a popularity contest.

What the Bush Administration has done is unforgivable, but perhaps forgettable. But what we do from here on out will be remembered for all time, by all people. Let's not play these games. Remember what Dr. King said, the mutuality is inescapable; it is everywhere.

Finally, I have also noticed a tendency by major news commentators to dismiss any and all criticism of the President's alleged "stinginess" as politically motivated or "a tempest in a teapot." The people offering this argument are not paternalistic; they are simply far too fat and wealthy to be speaking with conviction about any topic except greed. If George Will, or his type, finds criticism of the stumbling response to this disaster “disheartening”, then he simply has no heart. 40,000 Indonesians, so far, are dead from this disaster and our President has yet to travel there. Faith without works is indeed dead. And commentary without empathy is in fact useless.