What if they gave a disaster and nobody cared?

Day in and day out, this cartoon of a poor African kid getting hit by a tsunami of drought is among the most popular posts on this blog, and one of the most popular cartoon images on the web. I think the cartoonist Alberto Sabat was trying to make a point, that kids in SubSaharan Africa were (are) being clobbered by a disaster as great as the great tsunami that hit the Indian Ocean after Christmas 2005.

In other words, there were other disasters, other victims, and we ignore them.

If Al Gore had a lot of media clout and enjoyed bias from media in his favor, you’d hear about a great storm ready to smash one of the poorest, lowest countries on the planet, where recent increases in povery-struck populations has put millions of people in a great river’s delta, in a most dangerous place to be in a cyclone. But you’re not hearing the story.

If our news media were biased to the liberal side, a story about such a pending disaster would be on the front page of every liberal newspaper, and leading every liberal television news broadcast.

If our private charity groups were groveling to the climate change Cassandras, they’d be begging for money to evacuate people from the path of a category 5 cyclone, now.

If Katrina’s aftermath alerted us to the dangers of powerful storms hitting areas of great poverty, we’d be glued to our television sets if there were another such drama unfolding anywhere on Earth.

If the Bush administration were concerned about preventing the growth of al Quaeda and similar movements, it would be doing what it could to help out a nominally friendly government of an Islamic nation in the path of a great storm.


The photos are spectacular. The news is . . . eerily quiet.

Cyclone Sidr, on the way to Bengla Desh

This is Cyclone Sidr. It’s a category 5, and it keeps defying predictions that it will weaken as it moves north, oddly acting as if it has targeted the low river delta regions of Bengla Desh. Chris Mooney calls it “beautiful but deadly.P. Z. Myers raises an alarm about our ignorance of the storm. More details from Mooney. Lamentations from Mooney’s co-blogger Kirshenbaum (are they playing the role of Jeremiah or Cassandra? Rather depends on your reaction, no?)

Do any high school geography, world history, government or economics courses still do current events? Here’s the raw material for a good, consciousness-raising warm-up. Prelude to a disaster, we hope not. The lack of news coverage is disturbing.


Horrible thought: Is the dearth of reaction partly because broadcasters don’t know how to pronounce the name of the storm?

5 Responses to What if they gave a disaster and nobody cared?

  1. This should surprise no one who remembers the Pakistani Earthquake that took place about a month after Katrina. That got a little media play here in the US, but the only way I knew the details was because I was on a Pakistani Forum and a number of very valued members were incommunicado for a couple of days afterwards — fortunately none of them were victims.
    But Pakistan was and is an “important” country. No one in America seems to pay the slightest attention to Bangladesh — no tourist attractions, not involved much in World Political Disputes, no entertainment industry like Indian films or Pakistani Pop Music that might drift into American consciousness, not even a major cuisine.
    Just a bunch of very poor people — Muslim people at that — whose death will go unmourned by the outside world.
    (Fortunately, the toll was much less than expected — much less than the 500,000 people who died in a similar storm in the Early 70s. And I remember when the Satellite Program was being viewed as a gigantic waste of money on a totally useless ‘prestige achievement’ even by many of my fellow liberals.)

    To show the ignorance of most Americans about the country, I’ll ask the following — and e-mail Ed with the answer:
    In June 1996, the Parliamentary elections were the first in the world to feature something unique — and something even more surprising in a Muslim country. What was this?


  2. This was at least mentioned on NBC news last night.


  3. Dickeylee says:

    My best guess is that a bunch of brown people don’t really matter as long as they are not sneaking into our country. Hell, you still hear about those looting, stealing, lazy black people from NO on Limbaugh, Boortz, O’Lieley and Hannity’s shows. As long as it can remotely be associated with “Global Warming”, it’s all a hoax to the right wing loonies and drug addicts.


  4. Ed Darrell says:

    Thanks for the catch, Pete.


  5. Pete says:

    Mooney’s co-blogger Sheril Kirshenbaum penned the lamentations link, so the comparison is inaccurate. I agree with her. We should prepare to help. This is a serious storm.


Please play nice in the Bathtub -- splash no soap in anyone's eyes. While your e-mail will not show with comments, note that it is our policy not to allow false e-mail addresses. Comments with non-working e-mail addresses may be deleted.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: