This is our debate
Driving to a friend's house last night, I saw a news advertisement on the side of the road that read "KATRINA: THIS IS OUR TSUNAMI." Firstly, I was suprised to see such widespread coverage of the hurricane here in South Africa. Before the storm, this was a story only followed by American news sites. But yesterday and today, the story was covered on the front page of several South African newspapers. So Katrina certainly made it to South Africa in the form of news coverage, if only amidst the aftermath.
I found an article in the Daily News (a Durban newspaper) and learned that the author of this quote was mayor AJ Holloway of Biloxi, Mississippi (I have since found it in many international newspapers). I thought about it a moment, and recalled the unimaginable death and destruction that occurred with the Tsunami that hit countries in the Indian Ocean in late 2004. Over 100,000 deaths, millions who were already poor lost everything they owned. I do not at all want to detract from the very dangerous hurricane that struck the Gulf Coast, but really, there is no comparison as far as sheer numbers are concerned. Sure, they both were both tragic natural disasters that resulted in flooding and devastating high waters. But in my mind, this is like comparing Hiroshima and Nagasaki to September 11th. They were both deliberate events, but are vastly different when you compare them on a scale of death and destruction. Not to mention the fact that those in New Orleans were well warned about the hurricane and had ample time to evacuate while Asian islanders were struck by flooding with absolutely no warning at all.
I worry that this is an example of some American's view that when it happens to us, its so much more important and dramatic than anywhere else in the world. Its a thought I have had lately, but dont know how much stock to put in a concern like this. It seems like every one is guilty of this accusation, including myself.
So while I feel nothing but genuine concern for those who lost their homes, their loved ones, or even their pets in Lousiana, Alabama, and Mississippi, this was no Tsunami. And I would feel the same if Katrina had flattened my home in Galveston.
Ok, I am getting potentially political here. I fear the backlash of someone who might have been affected by Katrina (and if so, I apologize in advance). I hope I havent offended anyone. But I would be curious to hear what others think. Is the devastation caused by Katrina comparable to the recent Tsunami that struck India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Indonesia? Is it appropriate or disparaging to make such comparisons? I dont necessarily know the answer the these questions, but would like to hear your thoughts. Please feel free to leave rational, respectful comments.