Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Three Lessons From Foreign Tourists in New Orleans

Brian Knowlton's article on foreign tourists abandoned in New Orleans provides three telling lessons:
Jacques Salin, 47, a French resident of New Orleans now staying with relatives in Houston, complained that French officials should have done more. "When I contacted the French consul in Houston all they did was offer to reserve a place on an Air France plane for me," he said. "I could get the same services from a travel agent."
Lesson one: The claim that European governments would naturally — mais naturellement! — be far more ready, humanitarian, and efficient than Washington is not necessarily true. Certainly, it is not a viewpoint shared by the European citizens dans le feu de l'action.
Salin weathered the storm at his home seven blocks from a levee that was breached. Referring to his government, he said: "They should have created a place where French people could gather together. It was a case of every man for himself."
Lesson two: Those people who are in symbiosis with the rest of humanity and are reknown the world over for their generosity and for their tolerance and for their solidarity-mindedness, what seemed to be their fondest wish? To help their neighbors, Americans or other? No, to have a place where they could gather together amongst themselves (and, presumably, râler about those oafish Américains)…
But French diplomats said that, with probably the largest European community in Louisiana — about 900 French nationals living in Louisiana have registered with the consulate, and many others were not registered — the government had been working around the clock to help.
Lesson three: Whereas in regards to Uncle Sam, the mainstream media, in America as in France as elsewhere in the world, will lead with the government's statements followed by criticism thereof; in regards to other governments, the MSM will lead with the criticism, waiting until the end to provide the government's response thereto (justifications, denials, etc) — thus allowing the authorities to have the final word, that final word being a piece of self-serving reassurance that all is well and that trust is warrented. This, in my view, is part of the double standards that amount, consciously or not, to anti-Americanism.
"We have special staff coming from Paris and consulates throughout the United States, going to shelters, hospitals, everywhere they can in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Texas to make sure everyone is O.K.," said Nathalie Loiseau, an embassy spokeswoman.

"Thank god for the moment," she added, "no casualties."
Dieu merci, quel bonheur. (Lesson two again.)

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