Just get out of the way if you just want to complain

I am truly disappointed and saddened by the extent of anti-American prejudice I see displayed among the world’s chattering classes. Let me hasten to admit that opposition to U.S. policies is not necessarily anti-Americanism and that some of the most virulent strains of anti-Americanism are found - well - in America, sort of self-hating Americans. The criticism I am talking about is not aimed at particular policies. It is more akin to a type of bigotry, where otherwise reasonable go against their own principles out of dislike for the U.S.

I noticed it recently with regard to Ukraine. Some in the punditry seemed to love freedom less than they disliked the U.S., when they saw in legitimate Ukrainian desires for freedom, some kind of American plot. Take a look at this Guardian article for a taste. It is hard to believe intelligent people harbor such silly ideas, but they clearly do. Now with the tsunami, we see people more interested in criticizing the U.S. than in helping with disaster relief.

Debra Saunders explains some of this in the San Francisco Chronicle. For those of you who might not want to read the article, these paragraphs are good.

"Secretary of State Colin Powell expects U.S. aid for tsunami relief to exceed, eventually, $1 billion. (Now you'd think that $1 billion figure would be a big story. But in a show of unabashed solipsism -- in a world where what you say always trumps what you actually do -- Beltway pundits are more interested in the fact that Bush didn't hold a press conference on the tsunami until Wednesday than in the fact that the United States is talking about spending $1 billion to help tsunami victims.)"

When all the confusion clears and all the recriminations are over, the U.S. will be the biggest donor in alleviating the tsunami disasters. Of that I am certain and I suspect the American haters know this too. Money already raised and committed by U.S. citizens, charities and firms already surpasses 100 million dollars. The American Red Cross raised $18 million in three days. Baltimore based Catholic Charities pledged $25 million. Pfizer will give $35 million in kind and in cash. Wal-mart is giving its employees time to help and so far has raised $2 million. Charles Schwab is matching grants. Bill Gates foundation gave $3 million. The list goes on.

These are private American donations because that is how we do things in America. It is something many others don't understand. The American private charity sector is about six times as big as that of continental Europe. (The UK, Canada and Australia are more like the U.S.) But I will also point out that because of tax deductions about one in every five of those dollars should be counted as U.S. government aid. By the time many of you read the totals will be much higher. The U.S. military that will deliver most of the aid cost millions of dollars each day. Official aid will come on top of all of this.

Other countries have also been very generous. The Australians can be especially proud. They have quietly done much more than anyone could expect and more than the grandstanders or the UN. The Japanese are also putting their money and their defense forces where their mouths are. It is truly an international effort, of which the U.S. is a key part.

The fact is that some people are doing something to help while others are complaining that others aren't doing enough. When it is all said and done, a lot more is said than done. What can we expect from the chattering classes except chatter? From America, Australia, Japan etc. we need action.

Posted by Jack at December 30, 2004 11:43 PM | TrackBack (1)