Friday, September 26, 2008

Motif

PAUL KRUGMAN: Well, yeah. I mean, a friend I was talking to last night, as everything went to hell, said, you know, we’re turning into Argentina with nukes. This is not—this is not encouraging. I mean, you know, what are we—we’re not going to, I hope—actually, I shouldn’t say that. I was going to say, you know, we’re not going to start trying to conquer our way out of debt, but God knows, if we have this crew still in power next year, who knows what they might try?

But it’s—you know, we’re the linchpin of the world system, like it or not, and if the United States is in a financial mess and in a political deadlock, which is where we seem to be, this can’t be good for the world. I have to say it, the reaction I had—I mean, I used to do a lot of third world disaster stuff. I was kind of an ambulance chaser. And looking at this, the scenes that we saw last night were the kinds of things you expect to see in Buenos Aires or Jakarta or Bangkok, not in the United States. But I guess we aren’t that country anymore.

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Mukoma Wa Ngugi : The devastation of New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina is being compared to disasters in the "Third World" but with no specific countries or disasters named. And if not compared to this black hole or repository of disaster that is the "Third World," a comparison to Africa is as specific as it gets. "New Orleans is a scene from the Third World", "like the Third World", "US Handles the crisis like a third world country", "bodies floating on water reminiscent of Africa" etc. This has been a constant with news commentators, analysts, members of the senate and congress and other sections of America commenting on New Orleans. The accompanying statements to this have been "I cannot believe this is America" or "This is not supposed to happen in America". It is supposed to and can only happen somewhere else. Attending a food festival event in Madison, Wisconsin I overheard a joke - "Where is New Orleans again?" New Orleans is next to Somalia".

What role is the "Third World" playing in how Americans are dealing with the disaster? Where does the "Third World" fit in the imagination of the American? What does it mean to say that this is not supposed to happen in the United States?

2 comments:

  1. kenoma1:05 PM

    I mean, you know, what are we—we’re not going to, I hope—actually, I shouldn’t say that.

    I wish he'd just say what he wanted to say.

    ReplyDelete
  2. a times columnist he always has to think about what he should and shouldnt say. he shouldn't say i hope we're not going to become a dictatorship. interesting it comes out like that, so normal; people are so tense we are hearing that stream of silent self management bubble up.

    ReplyDelete