A Little Something to Fight the Poison

Monday, February 03, 2003
THE SURLY BONDS OF EARTH: I didn't really feel like posting on the Columbia tragedy this weekend because I knew that I'd be quickly exhausted both by the sadness of it as well as the stupid politicization that would inevitably pollute the mourning.

And, as expected, I was quickly greeted by some stupidity that Demosthenes had discovered on the right and Jay Caruso had discovered on the left.

I know everyone expresses their sorrow in their own way. But however sad or distressed you may be, in the case of mourning a true accident without any obvious guilty parties, it's pretty inappropriate to use collective sorrow as a club to bludgeon people you disfavour.

Unsurprisingly, my perspective caused me to be a bit more irritated by the intimations of a certain southern law professor and other rightish bloggers that the people of Canada, France, and other skittish American allies in the Iraq affair would be judged according to their reactions to this tragedy. But I'm not in the mood to slam anyone. It simply depresses me--you can jump to Demosthenes, CalPundit, or Kieran Healy if you want to read some well-targeted skewering, because I really don't have it in me right now.

In the hope of achieving some mutual understanding, I just want to say the following to any wary Americans out there who can't help but see evidence that the world is unable to control its Hate of America even in the wake of tragedy:

I'm not blasting this phenomena or anything, but I think Americans should try to appreciate how privileged they are that so much of the rest of the world does share their collective sorrow, in contrast to everywhere else which rarely gets worldwide attention for their tragedies. How many of you people know that on the same day as Columbia, more than 30 people died in an explosion in Nigeria and 7 high school students were killed by an avalanche in B.C.? I'm not saying it's wrong that not all tragedy gets the same attention, since that's obviously impossible. I'm just saying that before you complain about the people in the rest of the world who don't share the U.S.'s pain or who are haters, consider the following: these ignorers and haters are vastly outnumbered by the mass of foreigners who do share Americans' pain. No other country gets the amount of foreign hate the U.S. does, but no other country gets anywhere close to the amount of foreign love or attention. These are just facts of life/media dominance that you have to take together.

Right now, I can assure you that most of the world feels your pain. What happened on Saturday was horrible for everyone inhabiting this little blue marble. It reminded us in a most shocking way of the common fragility of humankind--no matter what society we inhabit, our most intrepid heroes can be taken away from us through no lack of virtue or bravery. So peace, OK?

(originally posted on The Daily Rant, first as a comment and then as a warm highlight by Jane)