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Jumping to conclusions

Letter to the Editor | Friday, September 2, 2005

In a letter dated Aug. 31, Sarah Harward complains, “The apathy of the global community to our disaster is utterly insulting to the donations of individual Americans last December.” I don’t expect a massive global contribution to the Katrina relief effort, but is it too much to ask for acknowledgment of our loss, or at least a break in the anti-Americanism?”

However, five minutes of cursory research on news.google.com (Sept. 1, 1 p.m.) reveals that President Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz of Pakistan, Prime Minister Tony Blair and Queen Elizabeth of Britain and Kofi Annan, Secretary General of the U.N., have all issued public statements or sent letters to the White House expressing condolences, shock and sympathy for Katrina’s victims. (And those are only the names I Googled; many other world leaders have probably sent condolences, as well.) Reuters ran a news article dated Sept. 1 headlined, “Asia tsunami survivors sympathize with Katrina victims.” It quotes Tsunami victims and disaster workers from Indian, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and of course Banda Aceh. All express sympathy and fellow feeling with Katrina’s victims. In addition, the Houston Business Journal reports that Venezuela’s energy minister, Raphael Ramirez, has offered to help supply fuel to the State of Louisiana during this emergency. And Newsday reports that France is already examining ways of providing aid for Katrina’s victims, probably from the French Antilles. “France expresses its readiness to bring this aid based on the needs American authorities express,” said a spokesman from the French Foreign Ministry.

Perhaps these international expressions of support and offers of aid will be reported in the American press. Perhaps not. The American press rarely reports foreign news in much depth.

What seems clear is that Harward jumped to conclusions about this alleged “double standard.” Regardless of nationality, those who have enough owe aid and support to those who are suffering – and enlightened people, all over the world do recognize and act on this fundamental principle.

Gail BedermanprofessorSept. 1