Tuesday, September 06, 2005

The longitude without the wrongitude.

Johnson Mies Corbusier deconstructs a rather interesting letter which he called my attention to which typifies the bad juju on the east side of the pond:

translation:

«"France has proposed to help and we are happy to do so. It should help (and I think it will), especially in a region where the French culture most maintain its presence."»
Corbu’s interpretation:
«This is in keeping with the French tendency to lay claim to all of its former colonies, whether they lost them 200 years ago (Haiti, Louisiana) or 50 years ago (Vietnam). Having lived in Louisiana, the affinity between Cajuns and French nationals is like settin side by side West Texas cowboys with contemporary Czech citizens. I hate to break it to them, but nobody speaks French…»
translation:
«"I think that Mister Bush should use the army to bring in aid at the devastated population instead of shooting at looters. And to continue quietly his vacations was shocking for us in France."»
Corbu’s interpretation:
«Am I to understand that the French perceive that the National Guard was brought in strictly to shoot at the looters and that they are not bringing aid? That it isn't the looters shooting back at the army or police but rather a case of the armed forces just targeting helpless victims just trying to survive? As I've seen it reported in every news outlet, the looters have taken up arms and have shot at innocent people taking care of the sick, or attempting daring rescues of the stranded.»
Corbusier is right on the money. There is an absurd subtext floating around in what the situation looks like from what the letter writer is seeing in the press. To accept the way France 2 and France 5 reported it, you would have to believe that the Police were NOT there to actually help, bacuase that’s what the next group was supposed to come in to do ‘instead’, and likewise with the National Guard, etc., etc., etc. It like some fool on BBC R4 said about using cruise ships to house 7000 people temporarily – “only 7000?” The ‘co-presenter’ had to correct her saying that that certainly wasn’t the only thing being down. Response was a quiet, confused hush. Likewise:
«And for the amount of aid, we Americans are grateful for any offer but France's contribution is just a drop in the bucket. A couple of planes and a few million dollars doesn't come close to a private fleet of leased helicopters, a cavalry of privately owned rescue boats and hundreds of buses. I have a feeling that some French are completely unaware at the massive resources at our command.»
Certainly. With a press manipulating the perception of events so wildly, how could anyone understand the magnitude?