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December 29, 2004

Comments

joe

"At least 12 U.S. citizens died Sunday in massive tsunamis caused by a 9.0-magnitude quake off the Indonesian island of Sumatra, State Department spokesman Adam Ereli said Tuesday" from MSNBC

The articles caption showed white people morning their loss--can you believe that.

What a poppycock observation. As absurd as it would be to mention all the rich white folks who are going to be contributing the majority of the relief.

Camassia

It's pouring down rain here, Hugo, so you're not missing much sun.

Xrlq

First, I'd like to second Camissia's comment about the weather here in SoCal. It sucks.

Second, I'd like to be the first to comment that your race-based comments are off base. Richard Attenborough is famous, and English to boot. That's why he's on the front page, not because he's white. The Swedish orphan is more of a novelty item, I think.

Hugo Schwyzer

Uh, XRLQ, I think you're the second to accuse me of being off-base... l think joe thought i was dispensing poppycock!

joe

i was aiming more for the leftist hegemony of having the "deeper and richer imaginations than others". but when one sees an opportunity to mix up an issue with race, why the hell not take it!

Michelle

How weird...you and I have had the same dream. In a sense, I feel as though I have experienced this event over and over, albiet not to it's full extent. In my recurring dream, I am relaxing on the beach, and a big wave comes and tries to take me. I always fight and escape from it. It is so awesomely powerful, though. I have always thought this an odd dream, since I love the beach, and have attributed it to feeling overwhelmed.

This horrific event has me pretty freaked out. An overabundance of empathy, and concern for my fav teacher on my team, who is in India. I haven't heard from her, nor have I heard from her band manager, who I called. I feel really dumb now for asking her to remember to bring me saffron.

The parents who have lost their children. I can't fathom their grief. I hope that everyone doesn't get too bogged down in arguing about aid, media, etc. to donate. I would hate for us to make this an abstract event.

Jonathan Dresner

Cadbury Cream Eggs ranked as one of my favorite candies of all time... until I discovered Cadbury Caramel Eggs, and then it was no going back.

I haven't been monitoring the reporting in any consistent fashion, but it does seem to me that there's a laziness about it, a very traditional and conventional laziness, quite typical of our reportage: Highlight stories about fellow citizens; get information from the easiest English sources (usually government or big NGO); interview locals who speak English; only when that's been exhausted do you snag a translator (because we don't actually have reporters who speak any languages, or local stringers who speak English; that'd be expensive, and they probably wouldn't be as cute) and find some local stories, preferably ones with great visuals.

It's too soon to expect much depth from any reportage, but by the time you might expect some in-depth questions and structural analysis, they'll have moved on. Until the anniversary, or if a foreign aid distribution scandal hits.

Amanda

If the right doesn't want us to mix up issues with race, their newspapers would do well to avoid seeming racist.

zuzu

Cover of the NY Post today? Swedish father and son reunited. Cover of the Post a few days ago? Hot Czech model who survived by hanging on to a palm tree.

Other papers featured images of the very brown father weeping as he held his 8-year-old son's hand to his forehead.

Which is the Murdoch paper?

BTW, Creme Eggs are way too sweet for me. I'm on the Mini Eggs train.

thisgirl

"Which is the Murdoch Paper?"

Most of 'em sadly!

The Times, The Daily Mail and The Sun are all Murdoch-owned if I remember correctly.

zuzu

Heh. So is the aforementioned NY Post, as well as the Fox News empire.

Chris Leib

That's weird, I used to have dreams about being attacked by otters on Carmel beach. (!)
Sitting around and was wondering what happened to some of the people I used to know. Google sent me here. Hope you don't mind. Thought I'd say 'hello."
Glad to see you are doing well.

Chris Leib

That's weird, I used to have dreams about being attacked by otters on Carmel beach. (!)
Sitting around and was wondering what happened to some of the people I used to know. Google sent me here. Hope you don't mind. Thought I'd say 'hello."
Glad to see you are doing well.

John

Hugo, Poppycock was far too nice. Your comments were offensive. Not to mention complete baulderdash. I read the Telegraph, and propose sending money to the Red Cross for relief of children who are emphatically NOT white. Your stereotyping is ghastly, unkind and untrue, not what I would have expected of you. I'm disappointed. You have just called upwards of 400,000 Britons, and inumerable overseas readers (including me) racist.

John

It would have been better if you had stuck with "Nothing useful to add", since that unjustified slur is emphatically not useful.

Hugo Schwyzer

John, you have often correctly pointed out my errors -- but here, my brother, I think you are overreacting. I accuse no one of racism. I am simply pointing out that some folks are stimulated to compassion by different images. All the British papers are calling for massive aid to the affected areas, and I am sure that concern for the victims of the catastrophe is found among those of all political allegiances. But if you had been with me in the newsagent last week and noticed those papers together, you might also have been struck by the editorial decision-making.

John

No, no. The partisan congratulatory tone in which you assign greater "imagination" and acceptance of difference to liberals (leading, no doubt, and springing from to increased compassion and general broad-mindedness about the world which supposedly can be found on the liberal side) sticks in my craw. Sir David and thousands of Swedeish tourists have suffered a loss no greater, but no less, than that of the most pathetic black orphan, or one-legged lesbian or anyone else the Guardian chose to illustrate its cover.

John

Oops, that was Richard Attenborough wasn't it? Have they knighted him yet? Sorry for the mistake.

Will

I am wondering not so much about the choice of colouring of the pictures referred to as about the almost total lack of British media interest in the fact that the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office has steadfastly refused to give a figure for the "missing". Since most countries have acknowledged that "missing" = "dead for seven days" and probably "not likely to be identified or even found", and since every other European country, including nations of commensurate size and population (Germany, Italy, for starters) has managed this feat, I'm left to wonder if someone isn't playing "softly-softly" or if they are quite simply incompetent.

It is one thing to say the death toll is 35, or 45, or 55 - this is within the parameters of a horrible fire in a discotheque, but if it is discovered that the British death toll in fact runs into the several hundreds (and one must assume that the only way this will NOT happen is if the Brits enjoyed divine intervention in their choice of holiday spots in Thailand), then it will not look at ALL good for Mr. Blair that he has not returned home in short order.

I'm somewhat puzzled by the media's concentration on "miracle rescues" and on individual tragedies, and not on the big picture, which is - I am very much afraid - that the numbers will skyrocket.

I live in Finland. We have fifteen dead, and 180-something missing, presumed dead. Our population is just over five million. Two hundred victims is nothing by comparison with what our neighbours in Sweden are facing, and equally it is only a gnat-bite by comparison with what the locals in the Indian Ocean will have to endure, but it is a national disater, and yet the government here has not run from telling people what they are in for.

Why has the FCO been such a shrinking violet on this subject? And why is nobody asking this question?

Any comments?

Amanda

Once again, I am astonished at how it's nowadays considered ruder to call someone out on their racism than to be racist.

joe

“Sir David and thousands of Swedeish tourists have suffered a loss no greater, but no less, than that of the most pathetic black orphan, or one-legged lesbian or anyone else the Guardian chose to illustrate its cover.”

Coincidently, the other day I was reading Thomas Fleming’s “The Morality of Everyday Life” and came across some interesting and related passages. In one of Fleming’s subchapter headings “The Pornography of Compassion”, he gives this definition, “The attempt to arouse desire or stimulate passion for strangers by use of words and images goes by the name of pornography.” And later, “Many, if not most, ‘human interest’ stories are reported without any object other than the arousal of passions for strangers, and to that extent they are pornographic.”

But if we were to explore this issue more in-depth, verses the lack of depth that was suggested prior—liberals may be every bit as exploitive and therefore not blameless. Sorry, you racist caller outers, you aren’t the only ones carrying a cross.

zuzu

Will, I think one of the obstacles to getting a tally of the missing is just that there's little access to some places and no fuel -- in many places, they're removing debris and bodies by elephant.

I spoke with an aid worker who'd been all over the place setting up aid stations. In fact, when I spoke to her, she'd recently been in Rwanda, at the refugee camps. Her first day, she passed thousands of dead bodies on the way to the station. Interestingly, she told me that the very first order of business, before even putting in wells, was to take a census so that they knew how many and who they were dealing with. I would imagine that with the scale of the devastation and the disruption in communications, that's been rather difficult.

John

Amanda: And I find it amazing that both you and Hugo can accuse upwards of 400,000 people of "having difficulty feeling compassion for people who are different to ourselves" (ie: being prejudiced), and expect no reaction, because, ipso facto, to be conservative is somehow to be racist. The little Swede has just as much right to a front page photo as any other brown, yellow, black, red or white child who has lost his parents. To use him as fodder for an accusation of racial prejudice is absurd, and offensive, and I won't back down from saying so.

Will

"Will, I think one of the obstacles to getting a tally of the missing is just that there's little access to some places and no fuel -- in many places, they're removing debris and bodies by elephant."

So how come the other countries managed it?

thisgirl

Today's figures say 40 Britons confirmed dead and 159 missing presumed dead;

http://www.guardian.co.uk/tsunami/story/0,15671,1382621,00.html

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