Tuesday, September 13, 2005

America the greedy? You wish!

Crooked Timber has a post that perfectly illustrates the pathetic need a lot of Europeans seem to have of convincing themselves, in the face of all evidence, that everything is worse and more barbaric in America. As a European I am firmly convinced that this attitude is partly the fruit of misinformation and partly of an inferiority complex and frustration.
At any rate, Megan McArdle has an excellent dressing down of the despicable rant:
I am second to none in my horror of what happened in Katrina, and I too was shocked that such a thing could happen in America. But to compare inept emergency management to a deliberate campaign of raping and killing members of an ethnic minority reveals a moral imagination so beggared as to be useless. And to imply that it happened because George Bush hates black people and cares more about Wal-Mart's stock of televisions than he does about the occupants of the 9th Ward is simply grotesque. There have been colossal screw-ups from the level of the police department all the way up to the head of the Department of Homeland Security, and some of those are Bush's fault for appointing the people he did. But to suggest that this is part of some sort of campaign against the poor, organized or otherwise, is ridiculous. The worst you can say about George Bush's poverty policy is that it is unambitious; despite liberal rhetoric, he done very little at all in the realm of poverty policy, for good or ill.
Do read the whole thing. And see this too. That incredible outpouring is also borne of racism and greed, no doubt!
I can confirm that these absurd ideas are unfortunately shared by many Europeans and I am increasingly worried about the lackadaisical approach that the US takes in facing this serious problem, as is starkly underlined by the way American ambassadors are chosen (via Davids Medienkritik):
Faced with such a hostile environment, surely the president is sending his most apt campaigner to the arena? Enter William R. Timken, the new U.S. ambassador to Germany. His appointment is a reward for generous contributions to Mr. Bush's presidential campaigns. We are not fond of this fact, but we understand that this is a long-standing tradition and part of the American system.
However, in today's fast-paced battle of information and ideas this is a practice the United States can no longer afford. As the natural focus point for the media, the ambassador should be thrown into the public debate. But Mr. Timken is a successful businessman, not a proven intellectual combatant. He does not speak German. I fear he is likely to follow in the footsteps of his predecessor, who, as far as I am aware, never appeared on Germany's most popular political talk show reaching a weekly audience of five million. What a wasted opportunity.
The German case is symptomatic for failure on a greater scale. At a time where its foreign policy lacks the legitimacy that a broad coalition of democracies could provide, the American contribution to fostering pro-American sentiment is feeble.
There is simply no way to overstate the incredible importance of changing this damaging policy and sending qualified, talented and dedicated individuals to represent America abroad, who will contribute all their energy to fighting this daunting battle of the minds and hearts.

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