Sunday, January 02, 2005

Tsunami: politics of an "act of nature"

The terrible destructive force of the tsunami in South East Asia has been laid bare for us all to view on our TV and internet web sites. This TV watching of-course, does not even compare with what so many millions are now faced with: loss of homes, families, land, and the possiblity of desiease that may result in deaths of even more thousands.

No doubt, we must do what we can, donate whatever we can - monetarily, and any human skills we may have that might benefit the people of the region.

At the same time, I think, we just cannot ignore the context of this tragedy: By now, most of us know that a Tsunami warning system, in an earthquake prone area, might have saved tens of thousands of lives. We also know that the US portion of pledged aid (so far) is lower than what the Bush inagural ball is going to cost ($35 million for aid - and $40 million for the ball).

Unfortunately there is more to all this:

One of the hardest hit areas is the Aceh province of Indonesia, Sylvia Tiwon, and Ben Terrall write in Counterpunch:

As the area suffering the most direct hit from the great quake and the colossal waves, Aceh was strangely missing from early reports of the catastrophe, although we quickly learned that Exxon's liquefied natural gas (LNG) plants were safe. Only part of this can be blamed on the international media penchant to zoom in on English-speaking tourists and celebrities at exclusive resorts, for the province has been virtually closed to international press and humanitarian agencies since the Indonesian military occupation of the region began.

... What Amy Goodman called a "man-made catastrophe" on Democracy Now (Dec. 29, 2004) has involved systematic application of torture, rape, and abduction on unarmed civilians and human rights workers.

And what about all the hundreds of thousands that have been killed in this so-called "US war on terrorism..." Mike Whitney writes:

The American media has descended on the Asian tsunami with all the fervor of feral animals in a meat locker. The newspapers and TV’s are plastered with bodies drifting out to sea, battered carcasses strewn along the beach and bloated babies lying in rows. Every aspect of the suffering is being scrutinized with microscopic intensity by the predatory lens of the media.

When it comes to Iraq, however, the whole paradigm shifts to the right. The dead and maimed are faithfully hidden from view. No station would dare show a dead Marine or even an Iraqi national mutilated by an errant American bomb. That might undermine the patriotic objectives of our mission: to democratize the natives and enter them into the global economic system. Besides, if Iraq was covered like the tsunami, public support would erode extremely quickly, and Americans would have to buy their oil rather than extracting it at gunpoint. What good would that do?

And what does the future hold? Paul Kincaid Jamieson, makes an important point on how climate change may well bring on even more disasters:

This is a model for the future. As global climate change becomes reality, disasters on this scale will gradually become more and more frequent. And the cost to insurers and aid agencies will skyrocket. There will come a time when a line will have to be drawn. A time will come when the orchestra will be asked to continue playing as the ship goes down with those passengers in steerage who simply can not get out. There are only life boats for the rich, don't you know. Sorry. Can't swim? Try drowning.

This, then, is just some of what we are faced with - and as Muslims (especially those of us living in the US, and/or in "the west") our responsiblity extends way beyond attempts to "fit in" and/or "assimilate" into the "melting pot" myth.

Allah enjoins justice, and goodness (ihsan) and giving to relatives (duh 'l-qurba), and forbids all that is shameful, and that which is wrong (al munkar) and injustice, cautioning you, so you may remember (zikr). (Quran 16:90)

4 comment(s):

  • The ever growing gap between the rich and the poor is going to further destroy our climate. It is as if the United States is leading the effort to create a safe haven for itself, and whoever it chooses to save. Much like the Pharoh, it is acting like it is a "god," it will suffer the same fate as all false gods.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1/02/2005 11:26:00 AM  

  • This also reminds me of the behavior of organized crime families, whose neighborhoods are reputedly very safe to live in. (They'd better be!)

    It was strange to be experiencing the shock and sorrow of the first days of the tsunami along with the rest of the world and then to suddenly realize, "Well, the number of dead (77,000 at that point)is still short of the number of Iraqi civilian victims." Yes, where are the donations for those 100,000-plus dead civilians, and the photos of the dead fighters on both sides?

    By Blogger Karima, at 1/02/2005 01:46:00 PM  

  • The so called 'Great Moslim Nations' of the world should direct, even if only a small percentage, of their ignorant hate to thir Moslim brother victims of the tsunami.
    Make us believe Moslims of the world care as much as the civilized religions of the world or be exposed for what Moslims really believe in. Hate.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1/07/2005 03:11:00 PM  

  • Allah enjoins justice, and goodness (ihsan) and giving to relatives (duh 'l-qurba), and forbids all that is shameful, and that which is wrong (al munkar) and injustice, cautioning you, so you may remember (zikr). (Quran 16:90)
    What modern religion calls beheading and suiside and random murder 'goodness' or 'justice' and not shameful?
    My religion would excommunicate anyone guilty of these crimes. I guess they would have to become a moslim then.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1/07/2005 03:26:00 PM  

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