Saturday, May 17, 2008

When disasters strike...

Image: Jessica Hagy

B = Transparency regarding the scale of the disaster, and of the progress (including lack thereof) of search and rescue efforts
C = Media
D = Seeking political advantage from natural disaster, whether actual (cf. the Burmese junta), or rhetorical (cf. mainstream media and in the blogosphere).

The fierce debates stemming from the Tibetan protests - identity politics in action - were another example of B before disasters struck, but they have the danger of shading into D when people used the natural disaster to burnish their rhetoric and further their own political aims. Sadly there have been too many instances of the latter [eta: yes I'm looking at mainstream media commentators like Li Yi at the Apple Daily, as well as blog commenters like Bushwacker et al; even though they are seeking vastly different, if not diametrically-opposed, political advantages from the catastrophe, they both stink IMNSHO]. Such fools should not be equated with those earnest critics who genuinely sought to improve government handling of disaster events, both in the immediate and for the long haul.

The question of "who we are" predicates on us being here in the first place. And in trying times brought on by natural disasters such as the Sichuan earthquake and the cyclone in Burma, we are all Chinese, we are all Burmese, no matter what our nationalities and the various political stances we take.

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