Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Brad Pitt might save America


Thought I'd take a few minutes between writing a letter to the town where I am hoping to do research and studying for comps to jot a few words.

I heard an interesting little snippet of radio today. It was a female talk radio host--conservative woman, not sure of her name--and she was talking about Brad Pitt. Apparently he and Angelina are now living (at least part of the time) in New Orleans. My first inclination was to make some snide remark about THAT, but when one realizes that Lindsay Lohan and Britney Spears are also out there, I suppose you have to give a little props.

However, Brangelina's charity work is not what I am getting at here. This woman on the radio was expressing her astonishment at Brad Pitt stating that Katrina was not a natural disaster, it was a human-made disaster. The radio host's reaction reminded me of a comic I had seen post-Katrina that depicted Bush nailing a wanted poster of "Mother Nature" to a tree.

The message seems to be: Americans are RIGHT, and whether it's terrorists or hurricanes harming us there is no culpability on our part. Terrorists are religious fanatics and hurricanes are freak events--not our fault. Fault--right or wrong--here lies the problem. Perhaps neither terrorism nor "natural" disasters are our fault, yet this doesn't mean we are not culpable in a very real sense.

What Americans witnessed with 9/11 and Katrina were the culminations of complex intertwined sets of historical and natural processes. In an article entitled, The Rat That Ate Louisiana: Aspects of Historical Ecology in the Mississippi River Delta, Tristram R. Kidder explains how human introduced rats set off an ecological chain reaction that decimated wetlands, leaving coastal areas vulnerable to tropical storms. Likewise, one need not read too much Middle Eastern history to begin gaining a sense of the complex socio-political boondoggles that are now the legacy of our post-colonial world.

Now, I know Bill O'Reilly would scream that I am a BAD American for saying such things. But, perhaps it's time that ALL Americans began to deal with the fact that we are all at least a little BAD. America was created through bad deeds, and perhaps admitting to that and dealing with it is the first step towards becoming a good country.

But, what do I know?

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