Perhaps all hell is about to break loose because I’m writing this (if so, I apologize), but this has been a particularly news-free holiday weekend. I’ve seen nothing in S.C. or nationally worth commenting on. Imagine my dismay after spending 75 cents on the paper this morning.
But one advantage to these periods of quiet is that they make it slightly more likely that we in this self-absorbed nation might notice what’s going on elsewhere, such as:
- Iran shutting down Facebook to try to stack an election in Ahmadinejad’s favor (which is a bad thing, my facetious comment on Twitter notwithstanding).
- North Korea setting off another, much bigger, nuke. (And we might as well pay attention to them for doing so, since that is largely why they did it. If we ignore them, they’ll just set off a bigger one, or at least try.)
- Sikhs rioting in India over an incident of violence in Vienna. (Odd how people — and obviously, not just Muslims — do that in that part of the world. It makes you wonder about how they perceive cause and effect. What effect do you suppose the rioters expect they will have, and upon whom?)
Interesting thing about that last item: It underlines that in other parts of the world, people DO pay attention to what happens elsewhere, even if their response seem irrational by Western norms. For instance, while I don’t expect Christians here to riot about anti-Christian violence elsewhere — I certainly hope they won’t anyway — one wonders if they’re even aware when such things happen. Call the rioters beknighted if you will, but at least they have a sort of rudimentary international awareness that we tend to lack.
One reason I like to read The Economist and other Brit publications is because they do tell us about the rest of the world, and not just on news-free weekends, but all the time. American publications downplay the international stuff, or ignore it altogether, for the simple fact that their audiences are uninterested.
Oh, we pay attention to a briefly riveting pirate drama, or a famine with dramatic pictures of babies with swollen bellies, and other things that portray the rest of the world as unappetizing places we’d just as soon avoid. But we miss the routine, and therefore lack context when problems do occur. Doubt me? OK, ask the next person you meet on the street who the president of Mexico is, or which party leads the governing coalition in Canada, or to name four European heads of state.
I’m not sneering. Those would be tough for me, too (I can name 3 Europeans — Brown, Sarkozy and Merkel — but I said 4 because that exceeded my own grasp, without looking it up). We’re just a very insular people.