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Perspective from Switzerland

Got this in an email thought I would share -
Letter from Switzerland
Mon Sep 5, 2005 2:10am
Saturday morning, 3 September 2005

Watching the events in New Orleans unfold from here in Europe,
mostly via BBC World, we have the impression that the storm blew up a corner
of the carpet beneath which America had long been sweeping some of its
fundamental problems.

Among the fundamental problems revealed are:

1) the enormous divide between rich and poor (which has expanded
rapidly in the past two or three decades);

2) the racial divide leaving blacks in the poorest class (nearly all
the stranded, angry, unassisted poor we see on the TV screen are black),

3) the failure to invest in infrastructure (not only the failure to
protect the dikes and levies, but the failure to storm-proof the
electric and telephone systems by burying cables, etc.);
And, perhaps most striking of all, 4) the biza rre law-and-order
mentality which orders the National Guard to shoot-to-kill looters
(that is, to give priority to protecting property more than human lives).

Perhaps it is going too far to state that we are watching a collapse
similar to the collapse of the Soviet Union fifteen years ago. Much
as the total-collectivization and total-centralization of society in
the USSR collapsed, eventually, of its own internal contradictions,
we wonder whether or not America, too, with its ultra-individualistic,
ultra-material ideology and its absence of much concern about the
collective needs of society (health care, education, infrastructure,
etc.) will collapse of its own internal contradictions.

One thing is for sure: America, whose reputation in Europe was
already tarnished by its go-it-alone pre-emptive invasion of Iraq, has lost
even more respect here thanks to Hurricane Katrina. This is only partly
due to the slow and stumbling response of the federal government to the
tragedy. It is due more to the revelation of some of America’s
carefully hidden social problems.

Posted by loni on 09/13 at 11:44 AM in International

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