Marquette Warrior: European Elites React to Hurricane Katrina

Friday, September 09, 2005

European Elites React to Hurricane Katrina

From Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture, a summary of European reactions to the recent disaster in New Orleans. Here are some selected passages:
On the whole, European opinionmakers have reacted to hurricane Katrina with barely concealed Schadenfreude. Two common themes are that that “the colossus revealed it has feet of clay” (La Croix) and that America is suffering the consequences of its refusal to sign the Kyoto Protocols on global warming.

The Left in particular adopted the disaster as a symbol of environmental calamities awaiting the world thanks to global warming, and proof positive that America needs to reverse its policy of playing down climate change. The tone was set by the German environment minister, Jürgen Trittin, who effectively declared that the United States was to blame itself for the disaster. In an article in the Frankfurter Rundschau Trittin wrote that greenhouse gases have to be radically reduced worldwide, but “the US has, up until this point, had its eyes closed to this emergency.” He compared the scenes along the Gulf Coast to Roland Emmerich’s Hollywood spectacle The Day After Tomorrow, and warned that if President Bush continues to reject the Kyoto Protocol to reduce emissions, America and Europe should expect similar disasters in the future.

Katrina prompted Gero von Randow to complain in Die Zeit of Hamburg that “even in Germany, the idiotic fashion from the United States has found supporters to cruise the cities with tank-like four-wheel drives.” But the award for tastelessness goes to Der Tagesspiegel’s Washington correspondent Christoph von Marschall, who wrote that “in America, hardly anyone seems to believe that such ordeals could be avoided” and lamented that “we hardly hear any criticism of President Bush’s climate policy.”

In the same spirit Lucia Annunziata announced in La Stampa of Turin that “The Giant is On His Knees” and wrote that the tragedy of New Orleans has unveiled “a reality that we would have never attributed to the United States: the difficulty in rescue, the impotence of the engineers, the fires, the violence of the pillagers who raid stores.”
Voices that dissented from this chorus of anti-Americanism do exist.
A solitary discordant note came from Claus Christian Malzahn, who noted in Der Spiegel that the same people who point their holier-than-thou fingers at the ghettos and slums in the US, the same ones who describe America as an out-of-control capitalist monster, are devoid of any human sympathy. Trittin’s article had 493 words, Malzahn wrote, and not a single one of them expressed any sympathy for the victims:
The worst of it is that Trittin isn’t alone with his cold, malicious tenor. The coverage from much of the German media tends in the same direction: If Bush had only listened to Uncle Trittin and signed the Kyoto Protocol, then this never would have happened . . . [W]ith German elections looming, the environment minister is using a natural catastrophe as an excuse to once again campaign with subtle anti-Americanism and to unabashedly pat himself on the back… It’s not the American people’s fault that the storm hit and they couldn’t have stopped it. The Germans, on the other hand, could have done a lot to prevent World War II. And yet, care packages still rained down from US troops. Trittin’s know-it-all stance is therefore not only tasteless, it is also historically blind.
In spite of some sensible voices, the bottom line is that:
It is worthy of note that as of this writing (September 6) we have not been able to find any European newspapers or charities appealing on the public to donate money or articles to the victims of Katrina.
Elites in Europe seem to be combining the worst intellectual vices of the left with the worst intellectual vices of Europe: elitism toward a nation that is strikingly more populist and democratic than theirs as well as strikingly more economically and culturally successful, a tendentious political agenda and a moral self-righteousness that somehow easily coexists with a cold-hearted scorn toward people who are suffering.

We would say it is puzzling that liberals in America think that Europe has great moral authority. But it isn’t really puzzling at all.


Post a Comment

<< Home