Saturday, February 2, 2013

A Tragic Trifecta

Today Hillary Clinton officially resigned as Secretary of State, referring to the United States as a force for good in the world.

In two days, New Orleans will host the Super Bowl, and tonight, the BBC marveled that the city ravaged by a hurricane in 2005 is to host the biggest American sporting event. In a rare moment of candor, the British news channel pointed out that there are two realities in ‘The Big Easy’: the lower ninth ward where, it notes, Brad Pitt and friends built some houses, is still a wasteland. According to one of the neighborhood’s residents,  the money donated to rebuild the lower class neighborhood devastated by the hurricane was diverted to the business area. (The Super Bowl will take place in the giant indoor Superdome that housed more than thirty thousand evacues from Hurricane Katrina.)

How familiar that sounds to anyone who is aware of Haiti’s fate after the 2010 earthquake, which was followed by a cholera epidemic: three years later thousands of Haitians are still living in tents and shelters, but several new tourist hotels have been built. I’ve already mentioned the recent Nation article about the shocking set of priorities adopted under the auspices of former Presidents Clinton, and George H.W. Bush, who were put in charge of the Haiti relief operation by the international community.

New Orleans and Haiti, together with the transformation of Kabul into an American replica complete with shopping malls and gated communities, illustrate what the Clintons and Bushes mean by ‘a force for good’.  The problem is,  public events such as the Super Bowl, ensure that most citizens remain oblivious to the spectacle of tragedy.

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