Monday, September 12, 2005

No Heart 4 Fugee?

Davey D's untitled Hurricane Katrina mix (via Spine)

The debate over the appropriateness and offensiveness of the word "refugee" is hardly just an exercise in rhetoric. As Don Wycliff (Chicago Tribune) alludes, the US has been called out on its exceptionalism, its projected sense of privilege. So when the US distances itself from Third World-linked terminology (in light of Tsunami comparisons), it is a deliberate, political statement: We're in the shit, but we are not shit. Like Them.

Nor is it a complete surprise. It was in defense that Kanye said, "I hate the way they portray us in the media... You see a black family, it says they're looting. You see a white family, it says they're looking for food... George Bush doesn't care about..." Master P tried the diplomatic route, "I think a lot of those people just panicking. Can't judge the city by the people that are panicking." And although Jackson's blunt assertion, "It is racist to call American citizens refugees," was not backed by any further explanation, the resulting debate over "refugee"'s usage can be seen as an assertion of dignity. But at what and whose cost?

Reuters places the comparison in perspective by pointing out the practical differences between the recent tsunami in SE Asia and Hurricane Katrina. Additionally, one was a tragedy for its largely unavoidable swiftness; the other borders on a national disgrace for its lack of a proper response. However, is the US truly in a place to distance itself from the global community? When the UN recently warned of increasing inequality across the globe, the States were listed up there with the UK, Canada, China and India.

Hence, the myriad of emotions and thoughts covered in Davey D's collage piece seems appropriate. Frustration, anger and fear; but we still have plenty of people in need of help. Big ups to Jeff Chang for posting a couple relief groups at Ground Zero that could also use our help.


Blogger The Humanity Critic said...

Good post. Just passing through, I'm liking the blog by the way.

4:17 PM  

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