[Mb-civic] Whose Victory,
Exactly? - Anne Applebaum - Washington Post
swiggard at comcast.net
Wed Sep 14 04:18:08 PDT 2005
Whose Victory, Exactly?
By Anne Applebaum
Wednesday, September 14, 2005; Page A31
Last week my son's elementary school raised several thousand dollars for
hurricane victims by washing cars. My other son's preschool announced
without fuss that a boy from New Orleans would be joining the class. My
employer is organizing help for the company's Gulf Coast employees, my
local bookstore is collecting money for the Red Cross and my favorite
radio station raised $54,000 last weekend. Every church or synagogue
attended by anyone I know is, of course, raising money, housing evacuees
or delivering clothes to victims.
To put it differently, nearly every institution with which I come into
daily contact -- my library, my grocery store, my search engine -- has
already donated time or money to the victims of Hurricane Katrina, and I
don't think this makes me or my community unique. A Zogby poll conducted
last week found that 68 percent of Americans had donated money to
hurricane relief. An ABC News/Washington Post poll published yesterday
found that 60 percent had already donated, and a further 28 percent
intend to. Those percentages mean that donors must represent a huge
range of political views, economic classes, even aesthetic preferences.
Indeed, among the fundraisers listed in last weekend's Post were a jazz
concert, a tea dance, a "Christian music" concert and a rehearsal of
Verdi's "The Sicilian Vespers." No wonder the Red Cross has already
collected more than half a billion dollars; no wonder it was impossible
to get on to the Salvation Army's Web site at peak times last week.
But those percentages also mean that it is important not to draw hasty
conclusions about the ultimate political impact of this tragedy. More
specifically, it's important to ignore the hasty conclusions that have
already been drawn, both here and abroad, about the victory of "big
government" and the death of a certain kind of American individualism.
The German chancellor -- once again using American politics in his
election campaign -- has already called the disaster an argument for
"strong government." Polly Toynbee, a columnist for Britain's Guardian,
declared that Katrina revealed "a hollowed superpower . . . a country
that is not a country at all, but atomised, segmented individuals living
parallel lives as far apart as possible." A Los Angeles Times article,
headlined "A Comeback for Big Government," more objectively quoted lots
of experts agreeing that in the wake of the hurricane, the
administration will "put aside its interest in small government."
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